French GP Friday Press Conference

Grand Prix of France Magny-Cours _________________________________________________________________ Friday 26 June 1998 Drivers: Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams), Olivier Panis (Prost) and ...

Grand Prix of France Magny-Cours _________________________________________________________________ Friday 26 June 1998 Drivers: Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams), Olivier Panis (Prost) and Jos Verstappen (Stewart). Team principals: Craig Pollock (Tyrrell & British American Reynard) and Jean Todt (Ferrari) _________________________________________________________________ Q. Craig, you have announced that your new team will be using Supertec Sport engines next year. Can you give us more information about the deal? CP: For the past six months we have been trying to put together an engine package and I had been talking with Renault Sport, though not with Mecachrome. At the last minute the new Supertec Sport [organisation] came into it -- and we are very pleased to be in the position to have a competitive engine. Q. When will you receive the first engine? CP: We are hoping to have it at the end of August, so that it can be fitted into the car. It will be testing during the first week in September. We had always expected to have the car ready for testing at the end of August or the beginning of September, and that's exactly where we stand. Q. Looking at the Tyrrell operation, is Ricardo Rosset still under the threat of being replaced? CP: Today Ricardo has shown that he can do a very good job. Maybe he needed a bit of a push with the threat [of dismissal] in the background. Obviously we are happy with what he has done. We hope that there is no threat of him being replaced. Q. Jean, with Irvine 2nd fastest and Schumacher 5th, what can we read into today's results? JT: I think that among the first ten drivers Michael was the only one to use just one set of tyres all through the session. With fresh tyres he would have been one whole second faster. Q. Do you share the confidence about his chances that Michael showed when he spoke to us yesterday? JT: I prefer to be confident when I have seen the final qualifying times. But we could see from the testing last week that the car/tyre package is quite strong. So I think we should be able to defend a strong position. But there are still nine races to go, and the situation is therefore still open. Everything depends on what happens in the next two races. If the situation is still quite balanced [after Silverstone], then I will say again that we have to wait for another couple of races! But if one team or the other pulls out a gap, the situation could be entirely different. Q. This is the fifth anniversary of your appointment by Ferrari. Perhaps inevitably there are suggestions that you now wish to leave the team. What is the situation? JT: The situation is stable and I think I will be here for another few years. It has taken four years to rebuild the team. I must say that [President Luca di] Montezemolo has helped me a lot, and we are now all looking forward together to a future in which we hope to see some good results. I don't wish to discuss my contract except to say that I have a long term commitment to Ferrari. Q. Olivier, how much progress has your team been able to make this year? OP: We have had many problems with the car, but we are now making good progress with the rear end of the car. Everyone on the team is working tremendously hard to improve things and it is a very important project. Our objective for this race is to get the two cars into the top ten places. It is a realistic objective, because we we had a good week's testing here last week, when the Bridgestone tyres showed themselves to be very consistent. That is a very important factor in our efforts to score points with both cars. Q. How much progress have you made as a driver since last year? OP: After my accident in Canada I had to make a lot of effort to get back to a competitive position. Now I am having no problems at all, in fact I am as competitive as I was one year ago, maybe even stronger. I am perhaps a little more calm and positive about things now than I was before the accident. Q. Jos, welcome back to F1 with the Stewart team. It hasn't been as happy a return as you might have expected, though ... JV: Yes, we had an oil leak this morning, on the installation lap, which meant we had to change an engine. So we lost the first hour and a lot of time on the circuit which I needed. But tomorrow is another day and I look forward to finding a better setup and being more confident in the car. We just need a lot more testing ... Q. After losing your place at Tyrrell this year, what has been your situation? JV: It has been difficult. That is why I haven't come to the circuits to watch the race. Instead, I stayed at home and watched them on TV. It is frustrating to see the boys driving round while you are sitting at home. I had been talking to a number of teams, of course, but they all had two drivers. Then I suddenly got a call from Paul Stewart, who said he was interested in me. Q. Heinz-Harald, how is your condition following the big accident in which you were involved here during testing last week? HHF: Thank you for asking, but I am feeling quite alright. I still have a slightly stiff neck, but it should be OK for the race. The accident happened when I was accelerating out of the Adelaide hairpin towards the Nurburgring chicane. The unfortunate thing was that when the car ran over the kerb a bollard got caught underneath the car, the front wing broke off underneath the car and I couldn't steer it or brake at all. I went head-on into the tyre wall. It was the heaviest impact which I have ever had in an F1 car. My neck is still a bit stiff. I guess it must be like swallowing a Viagra tablet and then having it stick in your throat.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Olivier Panis , Ricardo Rosset , Paul Stewart , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari , Williams