Friday 31 July 1998 "Friday Five" press conference Drivers: Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams) Eddie Irvine (Ferrari) Team principals:Norbert Haug (Mercedes) Dr Harvey Postlethwaite (Tyrrell) ...
Friday 31 July 1998 "Friday Five" press conference
Drivers: Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams) Eddie Irvine (Ferrari) Team principals:Norbert Haug (Mercedes) Dr Harvey Postlethwaite (Tyrrell) Jackie Stewart
Q. Heinz-Harald, what are your plans for the future? Do you see a rosy future for Williams?
HHF: I am making plans now and thinking about what I will be doing next year, but it is difficult for me to tell you what I am thinking. Williams also faces a big responsibility with the new BMW engine. It will take a couple of tests to get everything sorted out together, and it will also be a big challenge for BMW to make a successful return to Formula 1. At the moment I can't say whether there will be a Frentzen/BMW combination in the future, because my contract with Williams comes to an end this year and everything is still open.
Q. Patrick Head has not exactly been delicate in his comments about you. Are those comments justified?
HHF: It is Patrick's cup of tea if he wants to talk about the team's internal matters. But it is not in my character to discuss internal difficulties with people outside, and I don't want to start any fresh discussions on such matters. Of course I have explanations, but I don't think it is necessary for me to speak about them here.
Q. Harvey, so far this year you have seen the resignation of Ken Tyrrell from his team, and now you have lost your own chief engineer Mike Gascoyne to Jordan. What is your personal situation as far as the future is concerned?
HP: Well, at Tyrrell at the moment I feel rather like the executor of somebody's will. I find myself in a not particularly pleasant situation which is not of my making, but I have to perform my duties in a professional and thoughtful manner. The team, I wish to say, is working just as well as it has ever done, because Tyrrell has always had strength in depth. I wish we had better resources and were able to do a better job, but the morale in the team is still very high and I would not be surprised if we got a good result before the end of the year.
Q. There have been rumours as different as the possibility of you being with Honda, or even joining the FIA in some advisory role. What can you say about your own future plans?
HP: For the last 18 years in F1 I have worked for two teams, Ferrari and Tyrrell. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with them, and when I wake up in the morning, I think about motor racing. Motor racing is also probably my second last thought before I go to bed at night. Whatever I do next year will have to be something in the same area of activity.
Q. Eddie, you have signed to stay with Ferrari for just one more year. What were the advantages and disadvantages of staying with the team for a fourth year?
EI: On the 'pro' side was the technical strength of the team, which has taken great strides forward in the last few years. On the other side was being in the team with Michael [Schumacher], who virtually controls the whole show. For me, staying for one more year was the right thing to do: I have had six podium finishes this year and I felt it would be better to continue so that I can get another very good season of racing behind me. I can wait to see what could be available in the middle of next season.
Q. Jackie, last month you controversially signed Jos Verstappen to replace Jan Magnussen in mid-season. Has he lived up to your expectations?
JYS: Yes, Jos has done a very good job. He joined us for the French GP, which was not a particularly good race for us -- and neither was the British GP. He is adjusting well to the team, and to returning to F1. He provides very good technical feedback, which the team needed, and he has helped his group of mechanics in many different ways during his short time with us.
Q. Now that Ford has become the owner of Cosworth Racing, what do you expect from the new relationship between the companies?
JYS: It is a very healthy relationship, because previously Cosworth was a separate engine-making company, responsible for making an engine that carried the Ford name. Now that Cosworth is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Co, I expect to see considerable change which can only benefit both sides. Ford did a similar job with both Jaguar and Aston Martin, which turned out to be of considerable benefit to both. In quite a short space of time, Jaguar, for example, was turned from a somewhat old-fashioned company into a state-of-the-art car maker. I am confident that Ford will be able to bring Cosworth more comfortably into the 21st century, with the help of more equipment, people and investment.
Q. Norbert, everyone is waiting for you to clarify your team's drivers for next year. When can we expect an announcement?
NH: We only have a few points to discuss and I think you will know our decision sooner rather than later. I expect it to be within a matter of days. McLaren and Mercedes are good partners and we will make the choice as soon as we are ready to do so.
Q. You tried to recruit Michael Schumacher. How close did those talks get?
NH: It's not appropriate to give away any details, although we sat together and had a good discussion. I would just like to say that we at Mercedes still have enormous respect for him, and when he was sitting together with me he expressed his respect for what we are doing. We just didn't find a way. But in the meantime we are happy with our existing drivers. They were signed at Spa last year, since when we have won eight of the intervening 16 races. If we had not had certain technical problems, which were our responsibility, they would have been able to do an even better job. We would be pleased to work together with them again and there are still some points to be clarified. But we should be there within the next couple of days.