French GP Thursday Press Conference

French Grand Prix Magny-Cours Thursday 25 June, 1998 Press conference -- Drivers: Jean Alesi (Sauber), David Coulthard (McLaren) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari). Team owner: Alain Prost ...

French Grand Prix Magny-Cours Thursday 25 June, 1998

Press conference -- Drivers: Jean Alesi (Sauber), David Coulthard (McLaren) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari). Team owner: Alain Prost _________________________________________________________________ Q. David, after the car failures at Monaco and then again in Canada, where you were leading, you must be wondering when the season is going to start going right for you. What were your feelings after Montreal? DC: When you are leading a race and feeling pretty much under control, it's understandable to be disappointed when that sort of thing happens. But it has happened before and it will happen again. I just have to put all that behind me and concentrate on getting maximum points here. Fortunately it is not the case that we have a major problem of reliability with the car, it has just been little things popping up. We have to give credit to rival teams for having found reliability and getting their cars to the finish, which is what this sport is all about. Q. What can you do about the 17 points advantage that Mika has built up over you? DC: It is quite a few points, but in the same way that he has been able to pull out his advantage after seven races, I could pull it back again in the next seven. In fact I don't look at the gap, I just take each race as it comes and try to do my best. If I continue to do that, and the reliability is with me, then I will be scoring good points. Q. Has the testing allowed you to build up the sort of confidence in the car that you need to win? DC: Yes, although it is difficult to get the car working well on every single lap at Magny-Cours, because of the nature of the corners. First we have to think of qualifying, which is especially important now because it affects the way you can race. But we did some long runs here in last week's test, so I am also comfortable with the car under race conditions. The main thing to work on now is to get the maximum out of the car on Saturday. Q. Alain, why does Magny-Cours present problems which are not found on any other of the championship circuits? AP: It is tricky because of the low speed corners. There are the chicanes, too, which are not very wide. It is a nice track, with a good surface, but it can be difficult to push hard because that increases the risk of making a mistake in the chicanes and at the corner before the pits. One peculiarity of this track is the difference in performance that you find between hot and cold conditions. Because it is so smooth you can run the car at its lowest, without having to worry about any bumps, and that can mean there will not be a big difference in the performance of the leading cars. But it is always difficult here to find the last few tenths. Q. Your team tested a revised car last week. What are the changes you made, and which configuration do you intend to use this weekend? AP: We tested a lot of modification, notably a long-wheelbase version. We are not going to race with the long wheelbase because we believe we still have better potential with the shorter car. We are still working on a lot of modifications to the front of the monocoque, and to the rear suspension, and that is the reason why we will concentrate on the short configuration. We don't want to get confused by using two differently set up cars. The car is already much better for sure, especially with the modifications that we had on it at the last day of the test. The latest Peugeot engine is also a big step forward, and we will be using it in qualifying. But the other teams are also improving quite a lot now, so it is still going to be difficult. Q. Jean, you won't need to be reminded of the two first corner accidents in Canada which cost you the race almost before it had begun. Were you angry about the behaviour of the younger drivers involved in those incidents? JA: You cannot blame the drivers directly, although I was expecting things to be calmer at the second start. But that didn't happen. It is difficult to go back over exactly what happened, but it was important to discuss it with the drivers, in the hope of getting something useful from the experience. I had a good reception from the other drivers, because communication between us has been much much easier since the GPDA was revived. Q. You must be pleased to have been quickest here on the first day of last week's test here in France ... JA: The team did an excellent job. Too often, new things don't work very well when you introduce them, but this time the new parts seemed to offer a very good solution to the problems we have been having. The car looks very competitive at the moment, and I am very happy about that. I want to get some points in my home Grand Prix. With each race I have been getting better feelings with my new team, and I feel we have now reached a very good level. Q. Michael, after seeing the performance of the two brands of tyre in testing here, will you be hoping for hot or cold weather this weekend? MS: We now have a tyre which is good for either circumstance. But it is probably slightly better in hot conditions. Q. What is new on the Ferrari 300 this weekend? MS: We have a new adaptation of the front wing from the one that I used in Montreal. We also have a new floor and sidepods -- "cokes" -- which are new since Canada. We feel quite optimistic. The test last week was good, without those modifications, and after the short run which Eddie did with them at Maranello on Monday things look quite promising. After Canada I wasn't quite sure where we were in relation to the opposition, but we seem to have closed the gap. First it was the improvements that we had from Goodyear, and now we have modified the car. We could be there this weekend!

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Alain Prost
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren