Canadian GP: Thursday press conference

Present: Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) Olivier Panis (Toyota) Jarno Trulli (Renault) Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) Jacques Villeneuve (BAR) Q: Jarno, they say the Renault is going to be pretty well suited to this circuit. What are your ...

Present:
Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams)
Olivier Panis (Toyota)
Jarno Trulli (Renault)
Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren)
Jacques Villeneuve (BAR)

Q: Jarno, they say the Renault is going to be pretty well suited to this circuit. What are your feelings?

Jarno Trulli: Well, I'm sure we have to wait and see but chassis-wise you can say that we have always had good performance here, good results, the track suits the chassis. The only problem is that, as you know, we could be struggling a little bit on the straight. Let's see if we can find a good compromise and then make the package work. We also have the Michelin tyres which we feel are very competitive at the moment so it could be another good weekend - for sure not the best one, but we're still confident.

Q: You've had a couple of sixth places here. Do you like the circuit?

JT: Yeah, I like the circuit apart from the first corner, which is always very narrow for everyone. The first corner is one of the hottest parts of the race in every Grand Prix but for sure it is one of the most difficult ones. It was also difficult in Monaco when I was held up by Kimi, who had a problem, but anyway, it's just important to get away from the first corner and then see.

Q: You seem happier today, but you often seem to reflect a certain amount of frustration to your season. Is that the case?

JT: Yeah, because I've lost most of the races where I really wanted to be like Barcelona and Malaysia, where I lost big chances that you only have rarely. Our car, for sure, is a very competitive car, and hopefully we will have our races where we will be as competitive as we were on those occasions, but for sure I feel that I lost many big chances during this first part of the season.

Q: And does that weigh heavily on you?

JT: No, it's just frustrating because it looks like every time I'm there something happens, something goes wrong.

Q: Olivier, the Canadians seem to take you their heart, perhaps because of your accident a few years ago. What is it about you and the Canadians?

Olivier Panis: Well, for me I think it is two different things. Definitely because I am French, and the Canadians like me for that, and it's true, I like to be here - I like the people, I like the place. And I'm sure that after this accident -- I had the accident here, but it's possible to have it anywhere -- but this way I continue to like this track, to like the people and maybe that's why the people like me, because we have small history together.

Q: One fourth place here, what about this weekend?

OP: Well, I need to stay really positive, to be honest, because we had a very good test last week in Monza. I think we found some solutions for the problems that we had at different circuits and I want to be positive. We have a very good engine which may be a help at this circuit and the tyres are working very well at the moment. I think it's quite a good package for here.

Q: You told me in Brazil that Toyota could be the surprise of the season, but to some extent you're a little bit frustrated, like Jarno...

OP: Yes, this is true. I'm a little bit frustrated but I think we have a very young team, I like the team, we have a very good relationship, we push really hard, we test a lot to find the best solutions in the best way. Definitely, we are very competitive on some circuits but we are not very competitive on some others, but I think we have found the problem that we had and now we need to improve very quickly, to fix it. But I'm still very positive about the end of the season and about the team also, to be honest.

Q: What sort of problem have you had? How quickly can it be fixed?

OP: Well, it's two things. I think we have some problems under very heavy braking turning into low speed corners. And I think it's a pitch sensitivity problem. And also a little bit mechanical, but I think we know the way to improve that.

Q: So, can it be improved for the next two races, for instance?

OP: I hope so but I think we have something new for here which helped a lot last week in Monza and I hope it will help here.

Q: Juan Pablo, a win at the last Grand Prix. Was there a certain amount of relief to that?

Juan Pablo Montoya: Yeah, I think it was a big relief. I think it took a lot of relief off my shoulders. There have been quite a few races where I have been close, close but it wasn't happening and I was a bit frustrated. And to get it in Monaco was very special.

Q: Now tell us about what happened a couple of days ago at Indianapolis.

JPM: Well, I went to drive Jeff Gordon's NASCAR and it was quite different. The thing that most impressed me, surprised me, not impressed me...I think the power's quite good, but what really surprised was the braking. Into turn one there's only markers for 150 meters and you probably have to break 100 meters before that, just to make the corner! (Laughter).

Q: So how many laps did you do?

JPM: Probably six, seven laps. It was fun. It doesn't slow down and you really have to throw it in. It's just different.

Q: Was it physical?

JPM: Not at all (laughter). No it's not. You've got power steering, like serious power steering. It's so light the steering wheel. At high speed if felt quite light. You know when you go onto the banking in the F1 into turn one of the oval it's pretty easy to be flat. With this, you have to lift. You have to put your hands somewhere down here (indicates with arms wide apart) just trying to control the car. (Laughter again).

Q: Are you going to do any more?

JPM: At the moment, no.

Q: And how did Jeff Gordon get on in the Formula One car?

JPM: I think surprisingly well. He did pretty good. I did some laps in the morning, and I think he ended up just over a second slower, which I thought was pretty good for the first time in a Formula One car. I think the track itself is not very difficult but he seemed to adapt quite well. The first time he braked, it was quite funny - you couldn't even see his helmet. It was like... (indicates moving forward, laughter).

Q: He just completely disappeared, did he?

JPM: Yeah, it was quite funny. You look at the inboard, he was turning right and his head was going in the other direction. It was fun.

Q: What about here, what are your chances here?

JPM: I think we should be pretty strong. I think we probably should be stronger here than in Monaco. We won Monaco, so we should be quite competitive here.

Q: Jacques, I think this is number two or three today, isn't it? Do you feel there's a huge amount of pressure on you this weekend?

Jacques Villeneuve: No, if we had come here after winning a few races this year then there would be pressure, but the way the season's been going, we either do the same as every other race which is the car breaks down... The only bad thing that could happen is that the car finally doesn't break down but I go off! That would be a bad one! We should be competitive, definitely. The car's been a big improvement this year. I don't know. I just hope the monkey will jump off my back, because it's been a little difficult this year.

Q: The local press seem to be giving you quite a hard time, what's your reply to that?

JV: I wasn't aware of it, so I'm not sure what you're talking about.

Q: They seem to have written you off... You're a has-been man...

JV: It will make some fun reading. I'm feeling good. I didn't even read one paper, so I have no idea what you're talking about and now that you've told me what they're about I probably will not read them.

Q: This weekend is the 25th anniversary of your father's win here. What does that mean to you?

JV: Oh, I didn't know. Um. Great, it's great. I guess I'll call my mum and it will be nice. I don't know. It's not something that has much importance to me. The day I stop racing and I have children and grandchildren and great grandchildren then I will probably look at all these numbers and it will be great to have memories, but right now, while I'm racing, all that matters is that we do a good weekend.

Q: How's the restaurant business?

JV: It's good. It's not as hard work as the racing this year so it's good.

Q: In terms of the racing, is there more to come, more from Honda, more from BAR?

JV: Well, there has to be more from Honda to come because there's still a lot of work to be done. We have a different spec engine here, we tested it at Monza and it was working fine, so I'm quite happy that we can use it here. Hopefully there will be a lot more steps during the season. The car's been a huge improvement from last year, so I think the big steps will not happen during the season, it's more for next year's car.

Q: But it's really reliability you're looking for...

JV: Not even that, because Jenson's car hasn't broken down. It's only stupid little mechanical problems that aren't...because there's a weakness in the car, it's just because a wrong cable is being mounted or whatever. It can be in the engine, it can be in the steering, it's just stupid stuff like that which at the end of the day costs you the race as much as a suspension failure.

Q: Kimi, you have had a couple of fourth places here, you come here leading the world championship just coming up to the half-way point of the season. What would you be happy with here, another fourth?

Kimi Raikkonen: No, of course we try to win the race. I think last year we were quite good in the race but I had some problems with the car, we had a refuelling problem and the team asked me to slow down otherwise I would not finish the race. But I think the car should be good here and the tyres are working well and we should be in good shape.

Q: Now, you have driven the new car. How badly do you need it?

KR: I think we are doing well with this car still because we are finishing all the time on the podium. We have been close to the win a couple of times but it hasn't happened but it is always good if we can get the new car because it is going to be quicker but we try to get it as soon as possible.

Q: What are the chances of having it at the Nurburgring?

KR: I don't know, you'd better ask the team. Everyone is doing their best to get everything sorted out for the next race.

Q: I believe you had a bit of an incident at the last corner in Barcelona

KR: Yeah, I had a shunt there but it is good that I didn't hurt myself and you can always fix the car. That is the main thing.

Q: How badly damaged was the car?

KR: Enough to not be able to test the next day but they can always fix it.

Q: So what happened?

KR: I just lost control, just dropped a wheel and then went off on the last corner.

Q: So, what is the test session coming up? Are you testing at Silverstone next week?

KR: No, we are testing in Jerez with the new car for three or four days and it all depends what happens there when we are going to bring the car.

Q: For everyone, Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari superteam have signed through 2006. This will tie up the driver market and we are also looking at probably many more wins and championships for Michael and Ferrari. What do you think about facing that combination for the next three years?

JPM: It doesn't change anything. If he is there you have to try to beat him, if he is not there you have to try to beat somebody else, whoever it is. The team had a big difference in the car over the past few years, this year it has been getting a lot closer and he is not winning as easily as before and he is not even leading the championship at the moment. It doesn't change anything. I don't care.

JV: It is not really a surprise that they stayed together. They have had a good few years. Basically I don't think he will ever go to another team, he will retire when he leaves Ferrari and why should he retire now?

KR: Yeah, I think like they said it is not going to change anything. We are going to race as hard against him as we do now and hopefully the team and Michael is the one who is catching up in the future.

JT: It doesn't change much. It is good to have Michael on board for a few years more and it will be tough for everyone as usual.

OP: Well, I think for me it is like everyone, it is not a big surprise and I think there is a good relationship between Ferrari and Michael and now we have to work very hard to close the gap to them.

Q: SARS is something that a lot of fans have been concerned about especially with what is going on in Toronto. What is your thinking about it?

(Shrugs from everyone)

JV: I don't remember discussing it with anyone either before coming here so it has never been really in our minds.

Q: Jacques, inevitably every time you come home there are always questions of your past performances and comparisons to Michael Schumacher. There was a golf tournament that took place a couple of years ago between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods, it was called 'the battle of Bighorn' and it was a made for TV prime-time event where the two supposed best golfers in the world squared off. Would something like that, if it ever came off, interest you in terms of throwing some rabbits out on the track for you and Michael to chase and in the exact same cars battle head to head?

JV: You can't work on that because the same car will suit a driver better than another, especially if you don't have time to work on it. So if you just jump in it and you are lucky and it suits you, you will end up winning. So that type of thing is great for TV viewers and everybody thinks they know the truth but it is only perception, it is not reality.

Q: For Raikkonen, you are on top of the standings right now almost halfway through the championship and it is the first time that Schumacher is not on the top at this point since 1998, I believe. Have you any comment about it?

KR: No, we try to keep the leading position the whole season until then and it is going to be difficult but we are working hard and we will do our best to stay there.

Q: Jacques, as the only one of you guys up there using the Bridgestone tyre at the moment, could you give us an assessment of where you think they are relative to Michelin?

JV: It depends on which race you looked at during the season. Monaco was a bit of a surprise the way it turned out because on Thursday Bridgestone was definitely ahead and by the end of the weekend it was the other way round so the way the track rubbered in seemed to have added an effect. This track is so different to any other track that I think it will be a surprise for everybody. There was a test in Monza but Monza is not really what Montreal is. Montreal is just low speed corners so we will find out on Friday and it will probably be the opposite by Sunday anyway. A lot of it will be down to temperature anyhow. I think the cooler it is the better it is for us at this point.

Q: About Michael Schumacher. Do you think he will really go on until 2006 or will he retire before?

JPM: Well, if he is not winning he will probably retire before. At the moment for him to make a decision of staying winning it is not as difficult as when Ferrari starts to struggle. I think everything could change, I don't know Michael so I don't know. But I would be surprised if he is not winning that he stays for more years because it would not look that good.

JV: You retire if nobody wants you and you can't earn a living any more or if you have had enough and you are not winning races. He is in a team where he is winning races and he makes loads of money so why should he retire?

Q: Juan, yesterday Jeff Gordon was marvelling at the traction control. How much easier did that make his job and how much easier does it make your job as well.

JPM: I am surprised he made that much of an issue of it because the traction on the NASCAR is not that bad. In a straight line it was pretty good traction. Something he said was really surprising -- he said 'it's good that it is there, but you still have to drive it and push the car to the limit' and I think that a lot of the press don't understand that. I think a lot of the press believe that all the driving aids take a lot of the driving out of our job, basically, but that is not the case and I though that was quite a good comment.

JV: What you have to understand is that when you drive a Formula One car if you drive lower than the limit and you just step on it then the traction control will save you, which when Jeff was driving probably made a big difference. But when you are driving on the limit you are still sliding, even with the traction control, and that is when driving becomes special.

Q: Jacques, I want to ask you about your future. Craig Pollock said yesterday that you will definitely be racing next year.

JV: Unless he does a very bad job, yes.

Q: Well, if we analyse things there are three teams that would be suitable for a man who has won a world championship. One of them is Williams, where you have been, one of them is Ferrari, where you wouldn't go because you have said you wouldn't drive with Michael Schumacher...

JV: No, I didn't say I wouldn't drive with Michael Schumacher. I wouldn't drive in Rubens' position - and that is different - which means that you are not allowed to have anything, then no, that would not suit me. But you can always have a team, like McLaren do, they don't have a number two and a number one, they have two number ones and that works out fine and it is the same at Williams.

Q: Well, my question was going to be, since it looks as though there might not be a place for you in one of the top teams -- you may yet surprise us there -- are you prepared to go with a team that is at a slightly lower level and wait a few years longer in order to start winning races again, and would you do so for a smaller salary than you do now?

JV: I don't want to wait until I am 50 to be in a position to be competitive again. What you have to understand is that the BAR car has made a huge step forward this year. We have closed the gap with Ferrari a lot and for us that is a very important thing. When you make a decision you have to see what is available and what your options are and it is impossible for me to give you an answer until I know what the options really, really are. It is easy to say now 'oh, I only want to drive in these kind of teams' but then when the question is you drive in another team or you stay at home then maybe you change your mindset so I cannot give you an answer right now.

Q: What about the salary requirements?

JV: The teams will do everything they can to bring down your value and as a driver, your management will do everything they can to bring up your value. That's the law of the market.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams