Drivers: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) David Coulthard (McLaren) Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) Team personnel: Flavio Briatore (Renault) Eddie Jordan (Jordan) Q: Flavio, what can you tell us about Jenson Button and whether he will be driving...
Flavio Briatore (Renault)
Eddie Jordan (Jordan)
Q: Flavio, what can you tell us about Jenson Button and whether he will be driving for Renault next year?
Flavio BRIATORE: This is quite interesting. Honestly, we haven’t decided yet. We don’t know. At this moment, we are looking at different options which are the best for our team, and Jenson and Jarno have both done a very good job this year. I hope they are doing better in the future, but I don’t know, honestly. I believe in one month’s time we make our decision but for the moment, no decision has been made.
Q: Everyone is saying that Fernando Alonso would take over from him. Does he really have enough experience?
FB: I don’t know about experience, but he’s done one full year in Formula One with Minardi and testing our car and we don’t know if Fernando is driving for us next year or for another team. Really, it’s quite simple. We haven’t made up our mind and I know there is much interest in what people are writing.
Q: Flavio, an interesting story appeared that you were going to pose nude for a charity book. Is this true? (Laughter from Eddie Jordan)
FB: Why are you laughing?
Eddie Jordan: He frightens them away already. He doesn’t need to do it any more. Jeeesus, what a sight that would be!
FB: It’s for charity, but not completely nude. It’s for charity.
EJ: What, are you going to hide your head? I’m better recognized by my face…
FB: It’s a proposal but not decided yet. Like for the drivers, not decided yet.
Q: David, you’ve posed in the nude before. Any advice?
FB: Yes, but there is no competition between me and him. I saw a picture of David in Sardinia last summer, which was quite good.
David COULTHARD: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head because when I did the nude shots it was in Miami and it was with natural light so the sun was on me and that’s very important, let everything hang down low. It wasn’t as embarrassing. I certainly wouldn’t have done it in Scotland.
Q: Eddie, how much would charge to pose in the nude, for charity of course?
EJ: The funny thing is that, unlike David and Flavio, I am better recognized by my face. So I’m not sure what part I’d cover.
DC: You’d show your face?
EJ: Can we have a sensible press conference or are you going to degrade this into some meaningless thing? Can we have some serious questions because we’re serious people up here? Aren’t we Flavio?
Q: OK, you asked for it. What about this new Honda engine, somebody says it’s slightly heavier and doesn’t actually show much improvement?
EJ: That is a rumour, it’s not true. It’s lighter and there is more power.
Q: Now you’ve just had a trio of fifth places. Is that about as much as you can expect from this year?
EJ: To get points at all at the moment it’s a big struggle for anybody, other than McLaren, Williams and Ferrari, and Flavio seems to have a handle on the next position so there’s a little bit of a fight between Flavio who has shown better than we have for sure, but we’re going to try to catch him. It’s going to be incredibly difficult but there’s a fight between Sauber, ourselves and Flavio and Flavio seems to have, at this moment in time, a better chance. So to get fifth places and points, I promise you, in the current environment, is not bad. That’s not being complacent, it’s being realistic. It is extremely tough and as this season gets longer, the big teams and hopefully it’s David’s turn to take Juan Pablo off this time so maybe we will have the chance of getting some points if they continue to do this, for which I will be eternally grateful. Please continue lads, it’s great sport. But that’s the only way you can do it. If they all finish, we’re dead.
Q: David, you’ve had a fantastic record here at this race, what can we expect this time?
DC: I think on previous race performance we will probably be third row-ish in qualifying and seeing how the race unfolds, unlike in the previous races where there’s been quite a soft tyre which obviously has benefited us over Williams. Compounds are obviously a little bit harder for these faster tracks so to be honest, I don’t know just how that tyre is going to perform or how the two tyres we have are going to perform. But I suspect it will probably be a bit more durable, so it may be a case of if the Ferraris are running reliably and the Williams are running reliably then we will be in behind them.
Q: So will you be battling with Juan Pablo again?
DC: There’s always that possibility. That was the first time we’ve been running wheel to wheel this year, in fact the first time since Juan Pablo came to Formula One, so it’s good, in many ways, to get the first shunt out of the way and then we can concentrate on the next one.
Q: Rubens, no Ronaldo haircut then?
Rubens BARRICHELLO: I was afraid that my hair wouldn’t grow any more, so that’s it. I let the guys, my friends at the CART race do it.
Q: Have you had a word with Michael about the result of the World Cup?
RB: Oh yes. See: (reveals T—shirt with 2-0 written on it). Made specially for him.
Q: What has he had to say about the result?
RB: Not much, not much. It was good fun. After the game, I tried to call him everywhere, but he wasn’t anywhere, I don’t know where he was. He really didn’t answer.
Q: Where did you watch it?
RB: I watched in Portugal this time. I was there for a golf charity tournament, there were a lot of Brazilians so it was good.
Q: What have you been told to expect for the rest of the season, following the result of the European Grand Prix?
RB: I don’t think there’s anything to be told. We are free to race. It was a good race in Nurburgring. I had a fantastic first lap and I was allowed to race. It was a time in the race when I was a little bit scared of blistering my rear tyres but that would have been my only problem, because, after my first pit stop, if I had pushed and then I had had a blister, of course Michael, if he was OK with the tyres, he could have caught me and overtaken, so I just took care of the situation, allowing myself to have three or four laps just taking care of the tyres and then pushing at the right time. People were saying that Michael did a 32.2s whatever he did and he was half a second faster than everyone but I think it was a case of pushing when the tyres were new or not and I think it was a fantastic race in terms of letting us race. And then, of course, I think every team would do the same, after ten laps to go there was no reason why both of just should fight for position and then crash. So for the rest of the season it will be the same thing – just see what’s happening close to the final stage of the race.
Q: We have nice English weather expected here with the possibility of showers. That’s nice Barrichello pole position time, isn’t it?
RB: Well, sometimes it works your way and sometimes it doesn’t. You just have to be there at the right time and in a way it’s very funny because you can put the Silverstone race to whatever date you wish: July, October, May, January, sometime it’s going to be raining anyway.
Q: Juan Pablo, I am sure the frustration continues after the European Grand Prix, the third pole position and the third failure to finish?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Well, not really. I can’t really do anything about it. I have been a bit unlucky on the engine side in the first two and in the last one I was fighting with David and my tyres were completely gone and I just spun. That’s it.
Q: Is that what it hinges on, this weekend, will it be tyres again?
JPM: I think every race is mainly the tyres. Sometimes you get a really quick qualifying tyre and then you struggle in the race. In Canada it was quite good because it was quick in qualifying but we had a good race there as well.
Q: I read that you said Michael is not unbeatable…
JPM: I don’t think he is. Rubens beat him in the last race. I think the guy is really good but he has got a really good car as well. I think the big issue we have got at the moment is the difference in the tyres. As you say, the Bridgestones can do the same lap time after 16 laps as in the first lap.
Q: Have you got a feeling something is coming?
JPM: Michelin are working really hard to do better tyres and they have, and it is just a matter of time to get everything right. I think it is going to be a bit tough this weekend for us because of the cold conditions, but the next few races coming are going to be good for us.
Q: A couple of races ago David made a very interesting comment about the pressure on sportsmen and said that he would much rather be sitting in his McLaren than being a sportsman playing for a country in the World Cup. Rubens, do you feel the pressure that was on the players in the World Cup is greater than the pressure that is on you at the start of the race?
RB: I think it is a completely different thing, but I think you can compare to if they have to go for penalties, for example. If you go for penalties and then you have all the 12 behind you and you have to score for some reason it is your duty, it is going to be a good thing and it is the same thing with us probably at the start. The only difference is that we have a helmet and a black visor and you cannot see our eyes. In all the sports you have a certain amount of pressure in terms of Formula One and people taking a penalty and during the game itself you can rely not just on you but you have to rely on your team-mates as well.
Q: David, Nigel Mansell always talked about people power. Do you feel it and do you feel it less this year because there are 60,000 people rather than 90,000 or the 130,000 he had.
DC: I guess that Nigel had an advantage. Home support, it is always nice to see a few more. And also coming from the Nürburgring, although it was a home race for Mercedes, Michael was very popular there so there was a sea of red when you go around the track except for the Mercedes-Benz stand, which obviously was made of silver. But yeah, it’s nice to be at home. I was surprised actually when I drove in today that you normally see the campsites full on Thursday and they have obviously closed the campsites down by the Jordan factory because there is no-one there.
EJ: What, in the Jordan factory?
DC: Apparently there’s no-one there either!
Q: Lawyers representing the Arrows team have said outside the High Court today that nothing short of a miracle can save the team from going out of business. Can we have a reaction please?
EJ: I have known Tom for a long time, I have raced against him in Formula Three and whatever, and I would say on that basis that Tom is a miracle maker because I will promise you he will be here, hell or high water, tomorrow. I can guarantee it to you. I know the guy, he is a great fighter.
FB: I don’t know so much about what happened today in the court but I am with Eddie. Tom is a fighter and I am sure that tomorrow he will be with us. Maybe he is a bad lawyer, I don’t know.
EJ: He is certainly a noisy one if he comes out with rubbish like that. You wouldn’t want to be paying him too much an hour, would you!
Q: Did you have any indication from Tom that he might be in difficulty?
EJ: Not to my knowledge. I would imagine that this is probably new to Tom. I am not sure whether he just kept it quiet. If that is the case, I mean I am not familiar. This has been a hectic week for everybody, problems with sponsors and various other things and a disaster during the week, and this we know, so I haven’t been keeping in touch with what is going on with other teams, I have just been concentrating on my own situation and trying to make sure this is a good weekend for those that are here and as I said I have great faith in Tom. I do not recall him saying to me that he was in any way shape or form like this, if what is reported to be is accurate.
Q: Not in your presence?
EJ: No, not. I am not looking for dodgy words here. I am saying as I said, I do not recall any information coming to me either from him or a group at any meetings I have had with him.
Q: Do you think that his absence from this press conference indicates a serious situation?
FB: I was absent myself as well. This was five weeks ago. Something urgent happened. Because Tom is not here it is not so dramatic.
EJ: My view is the same. I don’t know, but if you have a court case and you can have your team here then is it not better and wiser to be representing your cause when, with no disrespect, there are five other people here to be able to cover the breach if there is one person not available? Of course it is normal that he should be there, and we wish him well.
Q: You were talking about a very bad week for you. Can you talk us through that a bit?
EJ: Every week’s a bad week… No, my title sponsor was involved in a very big air crash and a lot of those guests were coming here at the weekend and it’s one of those things. You have to commiserate not just with the children who were killed, which was a very unfortunate situation… We are very lucky, I keep repeating this, we are the luckiest people on the earth, to have this business in this sport and there are a lot of people around to whom we don’t give due credit or due notice to that are not in such a lucky position. They were extremely unfortunate children that happened to be on that particular plane. One of my sponsors was involved in that particular accident, and it is with regret that that happened, and I think we all share that.