Present: Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), Jacques VILLENEUVE (BAR). Team Personnel: Flavio Briatore (Renault), Patrick Head (Williams), Norbert Haug (Mercedes) and Eddie Jordan (Jordan). Q: Can I have your reactions to the new rules as published...
Present: Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), Jacques VILLENEUVE (BAR).
Team Personnel: Flavio Briatore (Renault), Patrick Head (Williams), Norbert Haug (Mercedes) and Eddie Jordan (Jordan).
Q: Can I have your reactions to the new rules as published by the FIA:
Jacques Villeneuve: If you get punished like that, I don't understand why it's not all the way to the back of the grid. Why ten spots? So you get moved ten places and then the guy in front of you gets moved as well and then the other guy in front gets moved as well, so do you get moved up another two spots or do you get moved up eight? It becomes a little bit complicated. Considering the engines, that's a rule as well for the future? The problem with the rule of only one engine and if you change you get moved ten spots back is: what is stopping someone from having a qualifying engine, qualifying on pole then being moved ten spots back and then having an engine that will just do the race and have fifty horsepower more than the rest of the field. Or, on the other hand, you may have people not driving on Friday to save mileage. So I don't think it's a very positive thing. They won't save money anyway.
Patrick Head: I think the ten slots back is probably with a view to try and mix up the field a bit and get some faster cars further back in the field. I think it's a bit artificial but it may create more excitement but I'm not exactly sure what the purpose is. But in terms of the stewards moving people back, I think the important thing is that we consider that the judgements are made evenly at each venue. I'm not sure that that would be the case, because the stewards aren't the same at each venue. But it did occur to me that Barcelona (corrects to Austria) is the Grand Prix before Monaco. I think all the drivers will be being very cautious at that race. You would not want to be moved back ten places at Monaco because it would just destroy your race weekend really. (Concerning the engine rules) I think somehow in this business that people who can afford to spend the amount of money trying to achieve the best result really isn't related to the amount of money you can get in, so I'm not convinced that it will save money for the leading teams but I imagine for the people lower down it may well save money but I think it will widen the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots.' The field will open up, because the people that have the money will be able to spend the money on the technology to make engines that last a bit longer but also have very high power.
Juan Pablo Montoya: Really my only point of view is on the ten places. I don't think it's the right way to do it. It's always, as Patrick says, having different stewards at every race. You look at the first race: nobody got penalised. I touched with Michael in the second race and I did get penalised. It's got to be very difficult and there are going to be a lot of problems with that. I think you're going to see a lot of people with not too many happy faces around here.
Q: Will it make drivers more careful?
JPM: No, at least, it's not going to change anything with me. I think you're never going to think: if you pass somebody, the sacrifice might be that you are put back ten places. From what I understand, when they're going to move you back ten places is when you do something really really stupid. We'll see.
Norbert Haug: Well I think the most important point is how the rules will be applied. As Patrick pointed out, having different stewards at the race meetings I'm sure there will be a lot of discussion and if I look at the last example, I would find it quite harsh, if Juan Pablo had to start eleventh here if he's on pole tomorrow. I think we have to carefully think this thing through. Let's wait and see.
Q: What about the one engine rule?
NH: I think the process was a little bit quick and I'm still not sure what the outcome is, what the basic plan is behind it, and as Jacques pointed out, the engineers and the FIA need to sit together and to discuss very carefully the rules that describe the whole procedure. I think that is the most important point right now.
Q: Is there a lot more to come still?
NH: No, I think rules must be written right now to avoid issues like using a qualifying engine on Saturday and starting from eleventh, and starting with the race engine for example.
Eddie Jordan: My view is that it is a very positive step. It was vital and it was needed. I'm not giving any secrets away, it was made very clear by Patrick's partner, Frank, who made it very clear that by the end of the year he would have 900 horsepower to qualify with or maybe more. I'm not sure that the people in the stands can understand or relate to this kind of engine where it does 50 kilometers, and I think it is right and prudent that Formula One is not immune to the downturn of the current economic climate and must take radical changes to make sure that the welfare of all people, including the journalists, including the teams and all participants in this sport, are given a fair and equal chance and that's rudimentary. When you said about manufacturing results, this is a nonsense, with respect to Jacques, because he does know and I respect him. But so is the qualifying. If you, today, spin off in the morning, halfway through the session, you can't compete in the rest of the session. That's manufactured too. There's lots of manufacturers. There's only seven sets of tyres. We only know a few years ago that the major teams would have a mountain that you couldn't get a shipload of tyres into this track to make sure that they had enough tyres with the right combinations for the weekend. Thank goodness somebody had the foresight to make sure that the controls were seven sets of tyres and no one has lost on that. In fact the sport has become better for those types of controls. I think we're being very naïve not to give the FIA good credit for having the vision to come up with something, because had they not, we would have all being going down the road for qualifying and engines, and the development and the creation of these engines.... This, I plead to the FIA, is the start and let us have meaningful rule changes that make sure that this sport is for everybody to enjoy not just the select few.
Flavio Briatore: I agree with Patrick and with Norbert. We need stewards that are consistent and make sure that if they going to penalise somebody it is correct. And with the cameras, the stewards in the control tower, if the stewards are genuine it is very difficult to make a mistake, being consistent with the stewards. I believe it is a good rule, maybe the drivers will be more careful before they throw away three or four cars before the race. This has happened many many times. Regarding engines, Renault is very happy and like Norbert said, maybe it was a little bit too early but we are working to make sure that by 2004 it is organised for the weekend. It is good to save as well. We are very happy.
Q: A question for all the team bosses: F3000 is meant to be the staircase to Formula One. How much notice do you take of it, how much do you look at it?
FB: Like any junior formula that is for young drivers, you need to develop the drivers. Formula 3000, only because it runs coincidentally with Formula One, is very interesting for us to see young drivers in those cars. I believe it is still very expensive. The team bosses in Formula 3000 need to do something. If you see Formula 3000, it is exactly like Formula One. These people have more motorhomes than us and they complain because of money. It is very easy. If you make Formula 3000 less expensive, I believe for a team like us, and I don't know, Williams or Mercedes, we would be very happy to support a team. But now the price is very high.
EJ: I think there are only a few teams which pay good interest in Formula 3000. It's sad in a way because I'm a great believer in young talent. I believe they need to be given a chance, they need to be given some encouragement and I think it's no big duty for any of us to go onto the grid and see these drivers. It's a big boost for them to see interest form a Formula One team. It's not a financial loss or cost. It's our duty to support other formulas because that's where I came from and I'm a big supporter of them, but you're never going to get the big teams and that's understandable, to do that because it's not in their nature or their philosophy to take drivers. It's much more interesting for smaller teams to take the risk, build up the driver and then hopefully make a decent deal out of it and sell them onto a top team. That's life, it's legitimate business. Everyone understands that. But for me, I find F3000 and F3 very interesting and it's where I started from so why shouldn't I?
NH: I think we have a long tradition in supporting young drivers and certainly, I, we follow F3000. We have quite a good example, like Juan Pablo or Nick Heidfeld, they won the championship and they are in Formula One and I think the best drivers have a chance and they learn but at a race weekend, sometimes you are in a press conference and you can't follow the practice!
PH: Firstly, if I could correct Eddie. I don't know what Frank said at whatever meeting, but we don't have and have never had a qualifying engine. Any engine we qualify with, the same specification is available on Sunday. Every now and then there may be a new development that we may use in qualifying first and then in the next race it will be a race spec, but there is no such thing as a qualifying engine. There never has been.
But on Formula 3000, obviously we have got Antonio Pizzonia, who is a test driver with us and I am sure has a really good future in Formula One, he looks very impressive. We supported Juan Pablo back in 1998 in his championship year and we take quite a close interest. Obviously there is the Petrobras connection between the teams and we keep a close interest on what is going on in Formula 3000.
Q: Jacques. Major re-organisation at BAR. What do you think of it?
JV: I think it was very needed. I just wish it had happened earlier because any change like that, once the year has started, takes a long time to get going and to get everybody comfortable and working properly in their positions, but I hope we will see the effect very soon because it is very needed.
Q: Patrick, was there a problem today with Ferrari's wheel rims, something you are not happy with?
PH: Always got to grump about something! Well, we are still not quite clear what the situation is but from what I hear the FIA have approved that Michael, tomorrow, can have four sets of tyres available for the 2002 car and four sets available for the 2001 car. If that is correct then it is completely against article 80C of the sporting code that says that the driver, not the car but the driver, is allocated four sets of tyres. I understand they have got a problem that the wheels off one car do not fit the wheels off the other car, so I can see why they would want to do it, but, in our understanding, it doesn't comply with article 80C, so we will certainly be having some discussions. It may not be the case. Every now and again a wind-up goes up and down the pitlane and one has to be careful not to over-react.
Q: Juan Pablo. Is this the closest you get to a home race?
JPM: Yeah, I think this and Indianapolis are the closest ones. This is more, because the Latins and everything, but it's pretty good. It is a little bit harder, there are a lot more fans from Colombia, a lot of fans come here to cheer for me and that makes it more complicated, everywhere you go, you know, but it is part of life.
Q: Flavio. What was the effect of the performance in Malaysia and can it be repeated?
FB: I hope. We always hope to do a little bit better. Jenson did a very good job, especially in the first two races I have been very happy with the performance of Jenson and Jarno. The team is psyched up, the car is improving, the engine is improving a little bit, we want to develop the car very aggressively for every race and we are hoping for something better at every race. This is a good starting point in Malaysia and now we are improving. We are behind Williams, McLaren and Ferrari, and we want to close the gap.
Q: Eddie. Takuma seems to have had a drama-filled first two and a half races. Has it all been his fault?
EJ: Malaysia certainly was. Australia was the team's fault, I understand. For sure he's made mistakes, we've made mistakes. I think he is a first-rate young driver, I think he will be a good asset to Asia and particularly to Japan and he will make certain mistakes in the future. What we need to do is to be tolerant, but nevertheless be supportive but be critical as well so he doesn't make the same mistake twice. I don't think he will do what he did in Malaysia again in a hurry, but he was extremely apologetic, very magnanimous and a very sporting young man. He is also very quick and when people are really honest with themselves and inside the team, then it is your obligation to support them because they are the calibre that will bring you the success in the long-term.
Q: Norbert. In the preview it mentioned Stuttgart and Brixworth have been working very hard to solve the problems and increase the power. Have you solved the problems from Malaysia and when can you expect a power increase?
NH: You always have to increase the power but first of all you have to have the reliability which we did not have in Malaysia with two engines. We had two different failures there and we have obviously worked a lot but you never know what the outcome of the weekend is until after the race is over. I hope our improvements are good enough. We certainly are a little bit late but on the other hand we have been very reliable during winter testing and so I am quite sure we can solve the problem.
Q: And when will the step forward in power be?
NH: From race to race
Q: Montoya. Can you analyse today's practice, the fact you are ahead of the Ferrari and behind Coulthard, and is his time realistic or just a Friday miracle or something?
JPM: I wouldn't say anything about Coulthard's time yet. We have to wait and see what kind of fuel they are running. Friday is always like that, there are always people using different tyres, different fuel. I think in qualifying tomorrow we will really know where we are at. I think the car was working quite well, and part of the work was to make it suitable for my driving around here, but there is quite a lot more room to improve the car so that is quite good and I think we should be pretty competitive tomorrow. We might have a bit of a surprise with the new Ferrari, we might not, you know, they might be keeping a surprise.
Q: Patrick. How complicated is it for a team to run two different cars in a race?
PH: I think we have done it before, quite some time ago but we have done it before. Ferrari are a very competent team and I am sure they will be able to do it.
Q: Eddie, you have Giancarlo back after a long stint. How has he changed in the time he has been gone?
EJ: He knows the value of money having been with Flavio, that's for sure!
FB: This is not true!
EJ: This is true! When he came with the request for the money that he wanted I knew that Flavio had some act in it. But he is a special boy, Flavio knows also, and I hope we can give him a good enough car because he deserves every success that he gets and we would like to see him winning some races this year if it is possible. He deserves it and he is a very easy man to work with, he is a joy to work with.