Canadian GP Friday press conference

Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve Eddie Irvine Giancarlo Fisichella Team Personnel: Sir Frank Williams Eddie Jordan Tom Walkinshaw Why is your form so good here, and is it likely to be repeated? Giancarlo Fisichella: I think this weekend is going...

Drivers:
Jacques Villeneuve
Eddie Irvine
Giancarlo Fisichella

Team Personnel:
Sir Frank Williams
Eddie Jordan
Tom Walkinshaw

Why is your form so good here, and is it likely to be repeated?

Giancarlo Fisichella: I think this weekend is going to be good, but I don't think it's going to be as good as in the past. We did very well in the past. I was on the podium here for the last four years. It was great, but I think it's going to be very difficult to do the same this year because, as you know, we're not competitive enough at the moment and we need a lot of power here and we haven't got a lot of power at the moment. But the car is getting better, we need some aerodynamic improvements. Today I did quite a good job, more than 45 laps and it wasn't too bad, with a lot of fuel. Tomorrow's it's going to be difficult to be in the first six or seven rows.

When are you going to be get the aerodynamic improvements?

GF: We've already had some improvements but there's a big step maybe for the next race, I'm not sure, but especially for Magny Cours, as you know, there is a big jump on power.

Where do you think that will put you when you have those improvements?

GF: It's difficult to say but maybe in the top ten. That's the target.

Can you give us a progress report on the Moscow project?

Tom Walkinshaw: They're working hard on it at the moment. They're doing the geological surveys, they're doing all the bore holes for the track, so it's progressing along quite steadily. The outline designs are done but the detailed ones will take a couple of months I think and then we can get on with the rest of it. That's the schedule at the moment. The first design phase is about three months, so we're a month into that at the moment.

From a team point of view can you tell us about Asietech, how long the co-operation is and the progress being made?

TW: Well, obviously the engines are beginning to be quite reliable this year. Now they've got to do a lot of work getting a lot more power. When you come to a circuit like this, you can see the difference between the really powerful engines to the ones that are lacking a little bit. But they've done a lot of work, they've done a good job over the winter and early part of the year making it reliable. Now they've got to focus on getting some real power.

When you can see that happening?

TW: I hope that we'll have it within the next month. They've promised us that we'll have an upgrade in about a month's time. I don't really know how much that's going to be but they say that's the first performance upgrade, about a month from now.

How long is the co-operation for?

TW: We've signed a two year contract but we've both got options at the end of the year, whether we continue it or not, we need to convince each other that it's a good idea, so we'll see what happens. We have to make a decision on engines for next year definitely within the next months to five weeks at the latest.

I have to clarify first of all the rumour that Honda are considering chosing one team in the future. It is a rumour. Is it something that worries you? Is it something that you've heard of? How long is your contract with them?

<B>Eddie Jordan: I believe it is absolutely a rumour. I think it's probably the time of the year when the press like to speculate on things as they do, quite within their entitlement and some of these things can be quite hurtful and malicious and there is absolutely no rumour whatsoever in this particular speculation. I'm particularly pleased, this is our eighth race with Honda, it's a very long term contract as I made it very clear at the time of the announcement and we're anxiously looking forward to a long term and successful arrangement.

Your last couple of races haven't been too good and you've had problems here with brakes in the last couple of years. Are you confident of the brakes this time?

EJ: Well we've had bitter/sweet relationships here. I think our very first year we finished fourth and fifth and we our first ever two cars on the podium here with Eddie and Rubens, and Giancarlo was on the podium with us here as well. So we've had a couple of failures last year and the year before when Heinz had a brake explode with a couple of laps to go in second place, so that was fairly disappointing. So you never know. In this place you really really have to look after the brakes. It's a long race. It always throws up an uncertain championship. You may remember people coming out of the pits at speed. I think it's a good race. I'm encouraged by the fact that the organisers are putting up bigger and bigger grandstands. It's obviously attracting more and more attention. I think it's one of the key races of the calendar and I love coming to Canada.

Obviously a good performance today. Do you feel that the Monaco promise has been confirmed today?

Eddie Irvine: It's a step in the right direction. It wasn't a particularly good lap, I have to say. The car's reasonable. It's not as good as I thought it would be here but we've got new bits on the car again that are affecting the handling, but maybe they are making it go a bit quicker. We didn't really have a chance to confirm it properly at Magny-Cours, but we thought we'd just go with them and see.

So are you encouraged by today?

EI: The jury's still out! Friday is Friday and Saturday is a totally different story so we'll let people sweat a bit tonight and then we'll see what the story is tomorrow.

Is there any difference in the team atmosphere since Monaco?

EI: I haven't been able to say to be honest. I've been doing too busy doing the work that needs to be done to appreciate that sort of thing.

Surely that helps the impetus, it helps the whole thing go forward, doesn't it?

EI: For sure it does. The car, when it came, was massively slow as we know and it wouldn't have been hard to improve it. We have a good step and there are more good steps to come in the next two or three races. That's what makes the difference, the guys back at the factory making the car go quicker. That's what drives everyone along. If there's no ideas coming out of the factory, the car isn't going to go quicker. At the minute they're doing a good job back there.

What happened today in the accident?

Jacques Villeneuve: I'm not sure. It looks like something failed on the car but it's very difficult to know because then I hit the wall because other things broke once I hit the wall so it's very hard to know what happened but it was a bit surprising.

But from your point of the view, what happened?

JV: I was actually at the point where I was deciding to brake and I just came off the throttle and turned into the wall.

How far away were you from getting out this afternoon?

JV: We've got a new tub for tomorrow.

How far behind are you going into tomorrow:

JV: Well, we didn't do any work but at least what is good this year is the work being done because both drivers can do it and Olivier has been working on some stuff today which we can use tomorrow.

How important is this race as a whole?

JV: It's very important. It's always been a very very difficult race weekend and stressful race. You put together a result mostly after a good one in Monaco.

Monaco hasn't been a favourite race where you haven't seemed to have done that well, and this one seems to be the same?

JV: Well, there's been one good year in '96 and then every year after that has been very difficult result-wise. It would be good to change that, so that people don't think that it's a bad race for me.

Did you make contact with Montoya today?

JV: Yes, Juan Pablo ran into the back to me a couple of laps before the crash.

Did that have any effect (on the crash)?

JV: Who knows.

I think you recently summed up the season so far as not being very good; can you tell us what you did say?

Frank Williams: I don't really remember what I said, but the facts are that we've done 14 starts this year and finished three times only which is a pretty deplorable record actually.

What are you doing about that to improve it?

FW: Well, some of the problems are technical so we are trying to make sure they don't happen again.

Patrick has commented that he feels that the drivers lack maturity, do you agree with that?

FW: I'm unaware of that comment. I haven't seen it. I wouldn't even begin to say that in public.

Big fuss about your ex-designer, Adrian Newey. BMW have a very talented man in Dr Werner Lorenz. How can you prevent the poaching of technical staff?

FW: It would be very, very difficult given the liberal views which everybody supports these days on human employment and human rights. There have been talks about having a second contract recognition board for nominated senior executives but whether that can stand up in law is being investigated.

From a BMW point of view, do you think they would be better if they supplied two teams?

FW: It would certainly not suit us and I believe, but I can't be sure, that they said they would be reluctant to do so because they would not have the resource but that's not my judgement.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Jacques, are you upset at all with Montoya for that bump?

JV: I am upset because it must be the fifth or sixth time this year that he's been blocking and he's on a mission for something. I'll have to have a word with him. Normally when you get blocked - I've blocked some people also - you try to get out of the way and sometimes you don't make it but you still make an effort and give some room to the other person. It seems like Juan, every time he sees someone in the mirror, he slows down and stays on the line purposefully so I really don't know what kind of game he's trying to play.

For the team bosses, both Craig Pollock and Bobby Rahal called for an end to the screens and covers on the cars. They say that Formula 1 is forgetting its sponsors and its fans - what do you think?

EJ: I would agree with them but until you can stop photographers, until you can put some meaningful controls over, if you like, espionage of photographic material into the car, then I don't know how you can do it because we are all spending fortunes making the very best car we can. And within two seconds flat all of those pictures are on virtually every Formula One team. It applies to me and it applies to every other team principal. Please, we say to the photographers - I know it's a source of income and a lot of you need it - this team can only take precautions and I will protect my team's intellectual properties and technical rights as long as I can. If that means putting up screens I will do so but I will say this, I will be the first one to pull them down if I was given an undertaking that that won't happen.

TW: I think what Eddie says is right. You spend a huge amount of time and money trying to develop something that makes your car quicker than the other cars and with digital cameras now things can be scaled and everyone else can be making them within a matter of days. That's what's driving it and it's very difficult. I think everyone wants to promote the sport, at the same time it is the sport that one team's trying to go quicker than the other so it's a very difficult compromise.

FW: To find one tenth of a second out of a car these days you may spend easily half a million pounds and I don't exaggerate. Seeing half a million quid taking a trip down the pit lane is not very funny and should not be happening.

What help will the driver aids have at this circuit?

EI: You just don't have to concentrate as much on the exit. It just makes your life a lot easier when your out on the circuit.

GF: It's normal.

EJ: They've had it all the time, it makes no difference to them. They've had it on the car since '92.

GF: Compared to Monaco there is much more wheelspin but it's okay. Not for the start, we don't use launch control.

Eddie with the screens in front of the cars, haven't the punters got rights too? Are there really digital pictures that can be taken in the garage that can't be taken elsewhere?

EJ: I have seen a full digital copy of a race engineer's sheet as he was writing it taken by somebody above him in the Paddock Club. This is a fact. Don't think it doesn't happen. It can happen in war and it can happen in Formula One, make no mistake. The whole set-up of the car is there. How can it be right? This is not an issue where the teams should be labelled as the bad boys because we do not instigate it. But you could say we do pay for it because we do pay for the pictures the same as anybody else. I agree that the screens should come down but not before we have some form of a truce. I think it can happen because if we address it and if we have some form of a code of practice. The one thing about Formula One is that when we have come together and they agree themselves I can promise you I have never known that agreement to be broken.

Can you get among the top two or three without a manufacturer relationship?

EJ: History says that you can't. Formula One is steeped in history and I don't see how a non-factory programme with the full R&D. I think I've seen both sides and it is certainly a lot easier and beneficial if you have an engine partner.

TW: We're looking for one. I think you can win the odd race but you're never going to win a championship away now unless you have a manufacturer as a partner and we need more manufacturers in this formula.

FW: No.

-FIA

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Jacques Villeneuve , Eddie Jordan , Bobby Rahal , Frank Williams , Adrian Newey , Tom Walkinshaw
Teams Williams , Jordan