FIA "Thursday Four" press conference

FIA press conference with : David Coulthard (McLaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Jarno Trulli (Prost) and Jacques Villeneuve (Williams). QUESTION : Jarno, after your disappointment here in last year's race, what are your expectations this...

FIA press conference with : David Coulthard (McLaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Jarno Trulli (Prost) and Jacques Villeneuve (Williams).

QUESTION : Jarno, after your disappointment here in last year's race, what are your expectations this weekend ?

Jarno TRULLI Obviously I am hoping for something better ! Last year I had a problem with the gearbox in the warm-up lap. This year should be better although we still have a lot of things to improve on the car. But I am confident that our car will be suitable for a high speed track like Imola, especially with a strong engine like the Peugeot V10. We are working to get the car better for qualifying, because to do a quick lap with only a little fuel on board, at the moment we really have to fight the car. This has meant that we have been starting too far back on the grid. Naturally I want to get things better because this is my home race.

QUESTION : What is the situation with your gearbox design which has given so much trouble ?

Jarno TRULLI We had many problems with it in testing, which prevented us from developing the car. Now this problem has been solved, but already the other teams look very strong and reliable, too.

QUESTION : Michael, what developments will we see on the Ferrari at this race ?

Michael SCHUMACHER We have a couple of things, basically on the aerodynamic side. The new "X-wings" are a step forward, not a big one, but good enough. We have one set to use tomorrow and we will have three sets from Saturday on. Only Eddie has tested them so far, at Fiorano yesterday, and so far all I have seen of them is the photograph in the newspaper.

QUESTION : Will you use the new body-top exhaust system here ?

Michael SCHUMACHER No, not here. We are not ready yet because there are still some things to sort out on the reliability side. But it should be ready for the next Grand Prix.

QUESTION : How confident do you feel about this race ?

Michael SCHUMACHER I would say it's about the same as it was in Argentina. I know that since then some improvements have been made on the car. The main question here will be how good the tyres are, in the competition between the two manufacturers, and I cannot foresee how much better one tyre will be against the other. Car-wise there is no reason why we should not do as well as we did in Argentina, where we were not too far off the pace. We certainly have reason to be confident here and it's worth mentioning that in Argentina we were closer to the McLarens in the race than we were in qualifying. But we don't yet know how well our tyres will suit the circuit.

QUESTION : Jacques, both you and Heinz-Harald have been testing at Jerez. How much progress have you been able to make ?

Jacques VILLENEUVE The test was very useful, and it got us started working on different things for the future, although they aren't ready for this race. Some of them will be ready for Barcelona and the rest of them for Monaco. We have a problem with the back end of the car and the way it was set up for Argentina was about as close to the best as we are going to be able to get it. That is probably our limit right now.

QUESTION : So there is something on the way to solve that problem ?

Jacques VILLENEUVE Yes, at least to help it. There was one thing that we tested at Jerez, which we hope will solve it, and it worked as soon as we put it on the car, without doing any setups. Once we get it working properly and have tested it, it should be a big improvement at the races. All I can tell you is that it is a major part involved.

QUESTION : After the incident in Buenos Aires involving your colleagues David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher you suggested that it was a "racing accident" that wasn't worth an argument. Do you still believe that?

Jacques VILLENEUVE Yes, definitely. In my case, David had been stuck behind me for 40 laps and he was potentially quite a bit quicker than me, so I am sure he was very frustrated. At that point we both tried to go into the hairpin together and it just didn't work.

QUESTION : Is it possible to define a "racing accident" ?

Jacques VILLENEUVE No, you can't open a book and read exactly what a "racing accident" is. It depends on how you feel. There will always be drivers who say it was the other guy's fault when it was blatantly theirs. It just depends how you judge different situations.

QUESTION : David, do you agree with that assessment?

David COULTHARD As Jacques says, there isn't a book which defines a mirror, signal, manoeuvre type of procedure for passing in an F1 race. Much of the time it comes down to the two drivers involved, because only they know the lines they should be on. If you have enough time to know where you are on the track, and what you are doing at that moment, you will know whether what you have done is normal or wrong. But ultimately it is the Stewards who will make the judgment on matters like these. Sometimes they pick up incidents which don't merit discussion, and other times they turn a blind eye to incidents which clearly deserved to be punished.

QUESTION : Have you reappraised the two incidents in which you were involved with these two other drivers here in Argentina?

David COULTHARD I haven't given them much thought, although I knew it would be inevitable that I would be asked about these things in this conference here. But that's the only thought I have given to the matter. The past is gone and it cannot be changed. My focus now is on trying to win this Grand Prix, and that is what I need to do in order to mount my challenge for the championship.

-------------------------------------------------------- Steven D Scott Peterculter, Scotland -------------------------------------------------------- F1 Home Page : e-mail : Alternative : -------------------------------------------------------- Go Damon ! Go Jordan ! --------------------------------------------------------

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Jacques Villeneuve
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Jordan