Brazil Thursday Press Conference Transcript

Thursday Four Press Conference On Thursday, the 26th of March, the FIA conducted a press conference, prior to the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend. The conference on Thursday was scheduled for 15:00 and was with world ...

Thursday Four Press Conference On Thursday, the 26th of March, the FIA conducted a press conference, prior to the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend. The conference on Thursday was scheduled for 15:00 and was with world champion Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve, Stewart driver Rubens Barrichello, Australian race winner and McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen and McLaren team boss Ron Dennis. What do you feel on team orders Rubens? Rubens Barrichello : "It's very difficult to say because I wouldn't like to see two drivers crashing on the first or second lap, so I don't know how the FIA will react to that or know whether there were any team orders or not. As far as I know, in Melbourne there were not any team orders, it was a driver decision, so it is quite difficult. I think drivers must know what they are doing anyway, more so than the team." Have you been surprised how much fuss there was about Melbourne? Rubens Barrichello : "It was a terrible situation in Melbourne where everybody was expecting something that didn't happen, even though it has happened in the past - a lot of times. In recent times it has happened a lot, so I was surprised at this." Mika, what was your reaction to the new ruling? Mika Hakkinen : "First of all I think it is very difficult to give a comment about this ruling. What is happening in the race is that drivers have to go at the maximum all the time and even with the new ruling that has to be the case. It is difficult to understand how the team will do the tactics." Have you discussed this matter with Ron? Mika Hakkinen : "You can imagine what has been happening, and you are all responsible for what happened out there, so it has been fully discussed." What would have changed without this ruling? Would you have raced flat out in Melbourne if this ruling was in place? Mika Hakkinen : "Definitely, of course." Ron Dennis : "Maybe..." OK Ron, what are your views on the ruling? Ron Dennis : "It's not a ruling, it's a reinterpretation of an existing rule. There are many examples, some of which most of you can recall, others you can't because you didn't understand what was going and couldn't have done knowing what was happening on the circuit. The team tactics have been in play and they in my opinion will continue to be in play, they are essential, they are fundamental to the spirit of Grand Prix racing, I think there is a misconception about what happened in Australia, our strategy was never designed to favour one driver over another, it was very specifically there with a view to optimising the performance of the team as a whole and if different circumstances led to that point of the race, the race result could easily have been reversed." "The fact is the drivers worked for the team and I can see nothing wrong in them driving for the team and they enacted the strategy to the letter and consistent to their commitments to that strategy and what you saw was two drivers doing nothing but what they were asked to do in a set of circumstances in which I challenge anyone in this room to put forward any logic as to why there should be a different set of circumstances. We had an advantage which was only apparent after practice which we used to enhance the reliability of our two cars." "We are in a no win situation because if both cars had screamed off into the distance , achieved greater gaps to the competitors and blown their engines or run out of brakes, who would have been at fault? The team. If you have an advantage, you choose how to use it and we chose to use the advantage we had to improve relibaility and to emerge from the Grand Prix with 16 points which is our objective. We will continue to do that, but we will not breach the interpretation of that article." But in motor racing, isn't the idea to win at the lowest possible speed? Ron Dennis : "It's understandable that people would be upset, I can understand that, and of course not only McLaren but the FIA were inundated with letters. A good 90 per cent of letters of complaint stem from people losing money on the outcome of the race, I have no sympathy. I didn't receive one single letter from someone thanking me for putting money on Hakkinen. This isn't a sport for gambling and if you do gamble on this sport, and I don't think this is a sport designed for gambling, you should understand the sport. You should gamble on a team not on a specific car because team tactics have been in Grand Prix racing since the beginning of Grand Prix racing. " "They should be there for two objective, for constructors' championships and, in a certain set of circumstances, for a driver to help his team-mate become world champion only when it is mathematically impossible for the other driver not to win. That's the only time team orders will come into play." Is it going to be a problem paying back Coulthard? Ron Dennis : "There are a completely different set of circumstances to those we faced in Australia. We do not believe that we have the level of dominance that you believe we have, I don't want to say anything about the other teams, but I do think that whilst we did a very good job and other teams didn't do a good job with what they had, but I would be surprised if there was such a gap here if there is any gap. Now is not the time to predict the outcome of this event." Rubens, tell us what it means to race in Brazil. Rubens Barrichello : "In the past it was quite difficult to come here. It is a difficult race for everyone because it is the first or second race of the season and normally the cars are not fully prepared. Especially my situation because I haven't completed 1000km yet, but at the same time it is great coming here because if I achieve a good result it will be the most impressive -- and the biggest party ever. I had a tough time in 1995, because when we lost Ayrton in 1994 we were already in Monaco and so on, but it was just in 1995 when I felt the loss because it was here at my place that I felt that I had to deliver something that I could not and that was a moment that was very difficult for my career, I was nowhere, I had problems driving with left-foot braking and I had a tough time and it taught me a lot. It means I feel good coming here now. I am playing at home and that should be better." How has testing gone since Melbourne? Rubens Barrichello : "Jan and I did one day each, which was not enough, but in terms of reliability the car went a lot better and performance wise I think the car is really good. We were doing very high speeds into the corners, but we did not have enough time to sort the car out. So Interlagos is going to be something of a test -- Friday and Saturday must be our test in terms of sorting out the car. The car is much better prepared than Melbourne -- this time in Melbourne the car was not even in one piece." Mika since Australia, chasing your third consecutive victory. What's testing like? Mika Hakkinen : "We did a few days at Silverstone, which was good, and we did some certain work on the engine and chassis. I haven't got the detail, but it was good testing, good results and I am looking forward to this race." Ron, does the threat of a protest worry you at all? Ron Dennis : "No, not at all. It's time consuming which is a bit annoying, but if a team is not satisfied with the FIA's interpretation of the rules, the process is there for them to challenge that interpretation. I find it a little strange that a team should choose to challenge the interpretation based on the regulations by the FIA [because] the system in question is the result of numerous communications with the FIA, all of which substantiate its legality." "I think all the teams don't have an understanding of what it does and why it does it, and it's not particularly difficult to understand why they are trying to challenge the whole system. But there is a process there, we've followed the process and up until this point most teams have been satisfied with the ruling of the FIA and haven't seen it necessary to protest. But that's their prerogative and we will go through the process if that is what we are asked to do. And unless something changes I anticipate the whole thing being verified as legal all the way through to the appeal process." Is there a chance of the protesting teams finding out how your system works? Ron Dennis : "That's possible. That the difficulty, I don't think if we find these issues resolved in the court of appeal, I don't think that's the forum for establishing the legality of the car. There is a system there, it's worked quite well until now, we've used it and what more can we do to follow those processes." Jacques, will you be using a brake system in the future? Jacques Villeneuve : "No. I did a few laps with it and didn't like it. Our system is not advanced enough for it to be very useful so I prefer concentrating on set-up. We made progress in testing, we are not at McLaren's level yet and that will take a long time to get there, but hopefully we won't get lapped this time." Was that a surprise? Jacques Villeneuve : "Yes. The team didn't say anything on the radio so I thought Mika must have had a huge problem in the pits stop. I couldn't understand why he was behind me and then I figured out he was actually lapping me. As soon as I realised I got out of his way, but that had been after a few corners." What are your chances of beating McLaren? Jacques Villeneuve : "They are very slim, but I will give it a good try. I will never give up and as long as we are in the race we will try as hard as possible to try and beat them but it is going to be very difficult. We've already have some good ideas on what to change, I don't know how long it is going to take to implement them, so every race we will be more and more competitive. Last year, we were dominant at the start and everyone else caught up." What do you think of new team orders? Jacques Villeneuve : "If you have two drivers fighting for the world championship and there are a few races left then it is understandable that there will be team orders. I would never accept team orders at the start of the season but that is something personal. I guess it depends on how your contract is signed." Would you pull over if your team told you? Jacques Villeneuve : "No but that is also because of the position I have in the team and the way the contract is written. If you were a number two driver and you had to move way for the other guy, then I guess you have no choice." Ron, what is your position on team orders? Ron Dennis : "The FIA has chosen to reinterpret the rule, we will respect that and we will respect it to the letter. But we will continue to race as the team because that continues to make sense. We come as a Grand Prix team, we always race as a team and we will always function as a team. As regards what is going to be the outcome of this event, the circumstances are different but we will stick to the letter of the interpretations." Ron, have you any other thoughts on espionage? Ron Dennis : "It is just about the limit you go to -- and no further. My view is the limit has been passsed by several teams. Enough is enough."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Rubens Barrichello , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve
Teams McLaren , Williams