Canadian GP: Thursday press conference

Present: David Coulthard (McLaren), Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), Jarno Trulii (Renault), Mark Webber (Minardi). Q: Mark, have you seen the circuit, were you here last year? Mark WEBBER: Yes, I was here last...

Present: David Coulthard (McLaren), Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), Jarno Trulii (Renault), Mark Webber (Minardi).

Q: Mark, have you seen the circuit, were you here last year?

Mark WEBBER: Yes, I was here last year with Renault. I had a look around on Tuesday, it's a lot tighter in places than you think. The barrier is very close to the circuit. It also looks pretty interesting. It looks like they've done a lot of work on the last chicane with the tyres there. I've seen a lot of cars crash there so it means a lot of respect for that. I'm looking forward to getting out there.

Q: You've had to learn a lot of circuits this year, do you find it difficult?

MW: I enjoy the challenge. Obviously you've got to pull your head in a little bit during the first session, the track being quite green and still trying to get grip with the tyres. No, I enjoy it, it's part of the job.

Q: How much are you affected by Minardi's cost-cutting?

MW: It's not affecting me in terms of driving, obviously, but the team is obviously in a difficult situation at the moment. There's a lot of stuff going on at the moment which is not good for us, but I'm just keeping my head down and concentrating on what I can do. There's not a lot that Mark Webber can do about the situation so hopefully everything will turn out OK.

Q: Is it mainly a lack of testing, that kind of thing?

MW: Yeah. We had some things planned at least, but they just haven't happened because of getting the guys to those circuits and obviously the costs of that as well, so it's been a shame that we haven't been able to do the running we would have liked to have done together with Asiatech and develop a few things and also our wind tunnel time and things like that. For sure, we have suffered.

Q: How far are you able to look forward to next year?

MW: I'm still concentrating a lot on this year at the moment so doing the best I can, but we'll see. Next year will come quick, I'm sure.

Q: Has Flavio told you what he's doing for you?

MW: Not yet, no. Obviously I'm still under contract to Renault as well. When things start to fill up in the next eight to ten weeks, I think things will be under way.

Q: Jarno, is there a little relief after scoring your first points in Monaco?

Jarno TRULLI: Yes, a little bit, especially because from the beginning of the season, I felt I could finish races and then have retired so many times from races so to finish in the points was a great thing for me. It was a great weekend, we never had a problem and we performed very well. I can say that we probably could have achieved even more because our package was really strong in Monaco, but unfortunately qualifying didn't go so well so in the race, we were struggling a little bit. I say struggling but we were right behind the top teams, but in Monaco it's difficult to overtake, difficult to race to attack and being in some position, but fourth place was definitely a good result for us.

Q: Up until then, had the challenge gone off track a little bit, had you lost some performance?

JT: Only in some stages when the tyres were going off, especially when I had some graining at one stage. It looks like we suffered for longer while we were waiting for the tyres to come back and the lap times to become competitive. But definitely at the end of the race, they probably looked worse than they really were because I was stuck behind Heidfeld for probably twenty laps. I was much quicker but he didn't get blue flags, so I was stuck behind him, keeping up the pace and trying to finish the race without any problems.

Q: So will this race be a good one for you?

JT: I think so. I've always performed well here. I've finished races here or had mechanical problems. The Michelin tyres were strong here last year. The team is definitely going up and they are always bringing new parts on the car. It's very promising, so I'm confident we can go well.

Q: Juan Pablo, your thoughts about this race and Michelin's tyres. Are they the deciding factor?

Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I think from what we saw last week, the tyres can be crucial for qualifying. A lot of races can be decided where you qualify. I think it will play a big part as always, but for BMW and everyone it's a good track.

Q: The team won last year...

JPM Yeah, it should be pretty good. I like the circuit, it's OK.

Q: After the starts in Monaco and Brazil, do you have a problem with launch control?

JPM I think it's three: Monaco, Brazil and Austria as well. I lost two places in Austria at the start. I don't know what's going on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't so it's not very consistent at the moment. We have to figure it out. Everybody's working on it but it's not the only thing we're concentrating on, it's one of the things. One of things we need to improve is traction control. It was really strong last year, I think it will be really strong again. We need to have the edge that we had before.

Q: What are your feelings about Montreal as a city?

JPM Yeah, it's nice. Last year I spent a few days here and it was really good. This year I just arrived yesterday. I was doing some commercials back in England.

Q: David, was Monaco really a one-off?

David COULTHARD: I don't know anybody who has the ability to see in the future but certainly it was what we expected it to be our best opportunity in the first half of the season because of the areas where we think we improved the car over last year. We had more downforce and it's only logical that if you hang all the wing on it around the streets of Monaco that that's going to help you. Naturally we wouldn't expect to be quite as strong around this circuit although we do have some improvements and we do have a little bit more horsepower for here. You never know, the tyres could be a big factor. There are a lot of straights here, you don't run a lot of downforce on this track. We're not exactly sure where our performance is going to be. We would be very surprised if we were on the front row but obviously that's going to be the goal.

Q: Looking back at Monaco, was that one of your best races ever?

DC: No, not really. I've driven stronger races, but while Monaco is obviously a big challenge for a driver, you've always got to be one per cent below what you think you can do, because if you take it to 100 per cent and find that that was maybe just a little bit too much for the tyre on that particular corner you're going to hit a barrier. So it was maybe one of my better races in terms of self-control and just accepting that that was where the tyre was at that time and there's no point in pushing beyond that point. It was a drive of maturity if I can use that word. To have a really satisfying Grand Prix is the one where you push 100 per cent the whole way, where you pass people and do all that sort of thing and then come out winning. I can think of some races where I've done like that.

Q: Brakes are a big thing here; do you have any brake problems?

DC: No, it's one of the strengths that McLaren have had over the last few years. We haven't had any brake problems. I would be surprised if we had any issues this weekend.

Q: Giancarlo, you often seem to go well here, what is it about you and Montreal?

Giancarlo FISICHELLA: I did very well in the past. I was on the podium four times. Of course, I've got a good feeling. I like this circuit, I am hopeful for the weekend because in the last two races I have been quite competitive, I've been in the points, so I'm looking forward to it.

Q: Do you think the team has turned the corner now, that you're going to get more points?

GF: It's difficult because it's not easy to be competitive everywhere, but in the last few races we've had new parts, put on a new suspension, a new front wing and it was better. Now we are pushing, but we need more development.

Q: Are Honda bringing their new engine here?

GF: Unfortunately not. We tested in Silverstone and at the moment the power is nearly the same but the reliability is still not good, so we are going to use it in the future.

Q: There's a story in England today about Eddie Irvine perhaps joining the team. How do you feel about him as a potential team-mate, and what about your current team-mate?

GF: I just heard the same story just now. It would be great. I think Eddie is a very good driver, he's a nice guy, very friendly. He did well in the past so it would be nice.

Takuma doesn't have experience. Sometimes he looks quick, but maybe too aggressive. He's had a couple of bad accidents. I think he's been unlucky. I'm sure it's going to be easier for him in the second part of the season.

Q: To Juan Pablo. You have been in Formula One for one and a half years, can you compare the relationship between the drivers and the fans in CART and the drivers and fans in Formula One? And have you changed in that respect?

JPM I don't think I've changed at all as a person. It is very difficult to say you have changed but I feel the same way with the fans. It is just the way it works here is completely different, it is probably a lot better for the driver that you can walk in the paddock but when I was in CART you couldn't even get out of the motorhome because 50 people stand in front. It was good for the fans but it was very tough and from a driver's point of view (Formula One) is much better because you can basically hang out in the paddock.

Q: David, you obviously had a chance to talk to Mika Hakkinen in Monaco. What is your feeling, is he in full retirement mode, is he coming back, and if he does come back how do you fit three drivers into a two-car team?

DC: I can't really answer any of that with any accuracy because only he will know what he is going to do other than the last part, that car number three, if that is my number, is contracted for the future so it is not a question of trying to fit two drivers into that.

Q. What was your own feeling, though, from Mika. Did you feel he wanted to come back?

DC: I didn't feel him...missing those vital round bits I like to play with.

Q: At this stage last season Juan Pablo, you came here with one finish in seven races and you didn't finish here either. How much of a watershed was it what happened in Monaco because this season until the last race you and Michael (Schumacher) were the only drivers to have finished every race in the points.

JPM It was a bit disappointing that we didn't finish the last race in Monaco because we had a technical problem, but sooner or later it was going to happen. But this year I am a lot more experienced, the team understands me a lot better and it just makes things a lot easier. Last year I had a lot of races where we were in the points and the car broke down. We had a lot of reliability issues and I had two crashes - one in Monaco and one here (in Canada) last year - and I was just trying to compensate for the job we were not doing with the engineers. I think it was a difficult point for me because I was telling the team I've got this and I've got that and they say you can't have that sometimes. Rather than have that you couldn't really have that and it got to a point where I said just change it and from then on things started to go better and they changed this to suit my driving and that really helped.

Q: David. You have been in a situation where you have had a dominant car and not worry which circuit you can be competitive at or not. What is it like to be in a situation where you have to have your spots picked for you?

DC: Well, your goal doesn't change, first of all. You still want to be quickest and you still want to win, so that is a constant. But your realistic expectations for the performance of the car vary with the circuit and ultimately you go out and try to give it 100 percent. The feel good factor of being quick or quickest at a lot of the tracks obviously isn't there when you don't have the performance, but I don't think it really changes a great deal. The good thing is, having had the performance in the past with the team, then you know the key people are there to get the ingredients right for the future, and we just have to be patient.

Q: Juan, has your style of driving changed since last year and since CART?

JPM Of course, it changes a little bit, to try to get the maximum out of the car. Every car you have got to drive in a different way. There are some cars that if you brake really late then you make more time than going high speed through the corners and stuff like that. The Champ Car was a very heavy car compared with the Formula One, and the way you drive it was completely different, but it never really was an issue how I needed to drive, the issue was I couldn't really get comfortable with the car. Monaco last year, I hardly qualified seventh and I struggled all weekend, and this year I put the car on pole by four tenths. If you are happy with the car and you feel comfortable pushing you are going to go further than anybody else.

Q: To all the drivers, do you have any thoughts on the modifications made to the track?

MW: I had a look at it, I am just interested in where they are going to have us released in terms of the pit limiter running down into that turn on the outside of turn two because obviously the track is designed for a slow-speed corner and if we are released quite close here then we are going to be running down there pretty quick, so I don't know what is going to happen with that. It looks safer than what we have seen in the past, where guys are obviously running out and it is really difficult when your mirrors are facing back that way and the other guys are on line.

Q: To all the drivers, are you following the World Cup, and if so what is your expectations?

GF: Not bad. If you talk about Italy, I think now it looks the strongest team, honestly. And obviously Brazil, Argentina and then Senegal look good too. France doesn't look fantastic because this morning they drew, so it is going to be difficult for them. I am sure Italy is going to be in the final, I hope so.

DC: We have been too busy celebrating our victory in the Monaco Grand Prix to pay attention to what is going on in the rest of the world!

JT: Yeah, I am watching it even though I am not a big fan of football, I am definitely following this experience. And even though they are so far away and the time zone is so different I try to follow it. Two nights ago I didn't sleep too well, so I woke up at about five o'clock in the morning and I watched all the football matches and even this morning I watched France, and as Giancarlo said, we (Italy) are looking pretty good and hopefully we will be in the final. I just hope it is not going to finish like the last European championship in the last minute, so I hope we are going to do well.

MW: I always enjoy watching sport. They are the best in the world at what they do so it is good to enjoy watching them do it, even though Australia didn't make the final. I'm with Fisi, I hope Italy win.

Q: Giancarlo, as someone who has done well at this track, is there a secret?

GF: Not really, it is just I have been very lucky and obviously I did well and the car was good in the last few years. It is important to be strong into the chicanes, but I don't know what I have done so well in the past.

Q: Juan Pablo, you are hugely popular around the world. I don't think it came just from your results. How do you explain your huge popularity at this stage of your career?

JPM Probably it is because there is not a lot of overtaking in Formula One and I do a lot of it and people enjoy it. Sometimes when you look on TV, even myself, I think I drive really smooth. Probably a lot of people think this is a joke but it is serious. The car gets sideways and stuff and people like that, they want to see something different.

Q: Why should people be watching Formula One when there is the World Cup going on and it is full of surprises where as everyone more or less knows what is going to happen in F1 now?

JPM What's going to happen, then? Tell me who's going to win.

Q: Let me re-phrase that...where there is such a lead now that all the other teams are struggling to stay with Ferrari?

DC: That's probably not a permanent pass you have around your neck. You might find it doesn't work tomorrow! That was a joke, sir.

JPM There is always going to be a lead team. Four years ago it was Williams, three years ago it was McLaren, and it is always going to be like that. That is part of the sport. I think every race there is new things and everything is going to be different - look at Monaco for example. Everybody was expecting Michael to go and win and lap all the field and it didn't happen. The first four races were very competitive. Here every race you could take a different winner. Whoever won a match yesterday or today could be out of the world cup tomorrow, it s completely different. The world cup is every four years, so if you put football just as a world cup, how does it work - you are a fan for just two months every four years? You answer me that one.

Q: I don't want to have a conversation with you.

JPM No. I do want to have an answer. If we need to answer, it would be good to know what you think.

Q: Personally, I think there are plenty of reasons to enjoy Formula One, but I think it is a question from the general public...

DC: I think the hardcore fans are going to follow it irrespective, and you are always going to get fair weather fans who get turned onto it when there is a big event, something that brings the sport off the sports pages and onto the front pages, which happens occasionally, but I don't think anything has really changed throughout the history of the sport. You go back to 1988, when McLaren won 15 out of the 16 races, you know people at the time probably thought that was not the most exciting. But it is still more popular today than it has ever been in the past. Something has happened to allow the sport to grow, and I think there is many many good reasons why people tune in - the technology involved, the uncertainty, the fact that it changes year to year, and anything can happen, as you saw at the last Grand Prix. Anything can happen here.

GF: I agree with them.

MW: It happens once every four years. The world cup is a phenomenal event, and everyone is excited to watch that. But, like David and Juan Pablo said, we have 17 races, it is massively popular, Ferrari might have first and second on the weekend, we don't know, but for sure it should be a good race, and the World Cup will still be good to watch as well. There is no real comparison between the two.

Q: Do the drivers feel that Formula One is going through a crisis or is this just another lull in the history of the sport?

DC: I think it is very difficult to just give a quick answer that would be informed because I don't have the big picture. I am just concentrating on my ride heights and my downforce and obviously there is people in the team concentrating on the finances and the long term strategies for getting sponsorship. Economies go through cycles and that hasn't changed as long as the market is in it, I don't suppose it is any different in Formula One than in any sport. You are going to go through those cycles and when people are feeling flush they re going to spend the pennies and when they are not everyone is going to breathe in, but it is always going to be survival of the fittest and those that do the job better are going to find themselves being more lucky than those who don't, so that's life.

Q: For Juan. As you are sitting second in the championship...in three weeks, Ferrari have their hearing with the FIA. If you were in change, would you just give them a slap on the wrist or take away some points?

JPM I think I am not a very good person to answer that question. If I was in Ferrari's position I would probably just say slap the hands, but it is very difficult. In a way they are in the right to do what they did, and I think what the FIA is going to question is what happened on the podium and if you won, why are you not on the top of the podium? I don't really get involved in it. I don't want to.

Q: If you compare the car you had in Melbourne to that here, what percentage remains and how much has changed?

JPM Things always change a little bit, the engine evolves, the chassis evolves, you have new aero things in the car. It's all part of it. This is one of the races where you see a lot of different things because there are the long straights a lot of people try to take a lot of downforce off. In Monaco, everybody is trying to put a lot of the downforce on, little wings here and there. Here it is completely different and everybody is trying to take everything off the car.

DC: I couldn't put a percentage on it but certainly we have obviously got different wings, different floor, different engine, so a lot of things have changed. The only thing that is probably constant is the fundamentals like wheels and steering columns and stuff like that.

GF: We have better power, better aerodynamics parts, and especially with the last front suspension the car was better. A big improvement, but still a lot to do.

Q: Mark. Has much changed?

MW: Not really, no. We had a little step in Brazil, but we have had very little developments coming our way race by race.

Q: Jarno?

JT: As I am in a top team, it is the same story as any other top team. There has been a lot of development going on in the last month, so obviously the car is really different but it is difficult to say how much. A lot has been going on.

Q: Juan Pablo. There has been a suggestion that there is going to be a B-spec version of the car coming out...

JPM Oh, yeah. I don't know when it is coming out. As far as I know it won't be at the next race.

Q: David. When is your next big improvement coming?

DC: We have had a bit of power this weekend, which is obviously gladly received, and beyond that I am not sure what the next development will be until we get to the next test. Tyres is probably the biggest thing non car related. You know, the tyre war, every time you go testing you spend a lot of time developing.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan