Monza, September/ 10/ 1999 1999 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX - PRESS CONFERENCE Excerpts from the Bridgestone press conference held at Monza on Thursday September 9. Taking part: Mr Hirohide Hamashima (Bridgestone Motorsport); Alessandro Zanardi ...
Monza, September/ 10/ 1999
1999 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX - PRESS CONFERENCE
Excerpts from the Bridgestone press conference held at Monza on Thursday September 9. Taking part: Mr Hirohide Hamashima (Bridgestone Motorsport); Alessandro Zanardi (Williams), Luca Badoer (Minardi), Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton), Jarno Trulli (Prost).
Q: Mr Hamashima, can you tell us about the tyres that you brought here, and how you made that choice?
Hamashima: We've brought a medium and a hard compound because this circuit is very severe for tyres as it's a very high speed track. We had some blistering with soft tyres at the first test in July and it's very risky if we suffer blistering. So we abandoned the soft tyre.
Q: Were those blisters because of temperatures, what sort of temperatures are you expecting?
Hamashima: The blistering was because of temperatures but also because of speeds. Here, we would expect a maximum of 30 degrees ambient temperature, and a maximum track temperature of perhaps 40 degrees.
Q: How will that choice of tyre affect other factors such as braking, which is so severe here?
Hamashima: Of course a softer tyre makes a car more stable under braking but if it blisters, then degradation is considerable, so maybe a medium compound tyre would be quicker over one stint. Braking distances are about ten per cent longer with the harder tyre.
Q: How does this choice affect the potential for the problems that you experienced at Hockenheim?
Hamashima: We are still not sure of the causes of the problems that we had at Hockenheim, and we're still investigating them. One of the dangers is blistering, so we are trying to avoid that. The medium and hard choice is a safer option.
Q: There have been stories about Michelin coming into Formula One; how would you view that?
Hamashima: We would welcome them. They have been our competitors over 18 years. The first time we met them was in 1982 in Formula Two. Afterwards we fought them in DTM, Group C and so forth and we would like to fight them in the top category of motor sports.
Q: To all four drivers, what are your feelings racing here at home at Italy, and your feelings about the Monza circuit?
Zanardi: Well certainly Monza is a very fast circuit, so the performance of the car is very important, but on the other hand it is a circuit where, by attacking the kerbs, knowing some of the tricks around the corners, you can get a lot out of yourself. It is relatively small advantage considering the amount of testing that everybody does at every circuit in the calendar. Nevertheless, it's nicer to be competing on home ground rather than at Silverstone which it is the British home of motor racing. Suddenly the commitment and desire is at the highest level and the warm feeling that you get when you go home with a good result would certainly be higher because it would be in front of your home crowd.
Badoer: It isn't a special circuit because there are a lot of straights and not a lot of corners but if you get it right then it's good. But to me this is my home circuit. I prefer Monza to Imola, more family here than in Imola and it's good for everyone around the circuit. Yes, maybe the crowd is good for a little bit of time - I don't know whether it's as much as half a second. Sure, you feel that people are pushing for you. However, I think our position on the grid is pretty much known. I don't think the fact that we are in Monza is going to alter very much.
Fisichella: My feel is very good, it's very exciting, it's very important and there are a lot of fans. Monza is one of the best circuits in the world for me. I like the circuit but it's difficult to drive because it requires very low downforce and when you're doing 350 kph at the end of the straight, and you have to brake very hard for the tight chicanes, it isn't easy. Even so, it's one of the best circuits in the world.
Trulli: I don't know why but there's a very different atmosphere in to most other circuits. Maybe it's the fans. It was amazing, wonderful, during the test here last week when there were a lot of people waving flags. It was very good. Monza is very special. It's the most important race we have in Italy. Because of the low downforce, it's very easy to lose the car in the corners. You have to jump over the kerbs through the chicane, and then you have corners like Parabolica or Lesmo where you have to push hard to be quick.
Q: Jarno, Prost's performance this year has been very up and down. Is it that due to high and low downforce circuits?
Trulli: It more or less depends on the circuits but not really because of downforce, more because of the acceleration that we have, from the types of corners. To be honest, we sometimes don't know ourselves why we are quick or not competitive. We started the season quite well in comparison to everyone else, but then we slipped back as they improved and we stuck there because we didn't. However, we have improved recently because we're doing something better. We're still some way away from our rivals. Last week, here in Monza, wasn't so bad. We did a lot of laps. We will have some new parts on the car on Saturday for qualifying, so I am quite optimistic. There's quite a lot of development coming in the last few races and I'm really happy about that because I'm always trying to do my best. So that's good for me and the team.
Q: What about your feelings about Jordan for next year?
Trulli: To be honest, I don't know them very well. I can just see that there is a really nice atmosphere. I don't want to talk about the technical side, but it's obviously a good team in the championship as they're lying third. There's a very relaxed atmosphere but they have also showed that they can push very hard. Last year they proved that after starting the season not very well and then changing the situation completely mid-season and scoring good results. I think it's going to be a really good chance for me. I'm looking forward to it.
Q: Alessandro. In a way you've been looking for something like that, a big change. It's got better, but it's still not fantastic.
Zanardi: First of all you have to identify what the problems are. I have to say that we have had a lot of problems with the car which have been cured. We had a lot of reliability problems, unfortunately just on my car which hasn't helped, and I have to say that Ralf has been luckier than me, not having my problems. And he's done a superb job bringing the car into the best position possible in some races. I've been trying not to pass the very slim limit between driving beautifully and over driving without the kind of success which I'd been hoping for. However, things have been getting better. I've seen the light at the end of the tunnel recently. I've performed better and consistently over the last few races. I'm encouraged if not happy or satisfied. I deeply respect the value of all my opponents - I'm not saying I'm the best driver - but I think I'm good enough to win, because I've done it before and therefore that's what I want to do. I won't be satisfied with just scoring points, although that would be a start. I want to do that this weekend, but where I want to get to is somewhere else. I found it difficult at the start because I came back to a Formula One that had changed a lot, and other had had the chance to get used to the new style of Formula One, whereas I've had to do everything in a rush. But now things have got better and I hope I can finish this season well in order to start next season better again.
Q: You've had differential problems; is that just bad luck, or is it something that you've induced?
Zanardi: Well, I've posed this question many times to myself and the many smart engineers at Williams but in spite of looking at computers all day long, they don't have an answer for me unfortunately. I can't believe in bad luck after all the problems that I've had. If that's the case, I should be OK for the next 14 years now! Or is it something that I do - not on purpose - that affects the control of the differential? They say that's not the case, my driving is very smooth, a lot smoother than many other drivers. So I haven't really had an explanation, but recently things are getting better, so if that's the price I have to pay, then I will pay it, especially now the car is getting better. The past is something that I cannot change, the future is something that I can affect.
Q: Luca, has it been difficult to conduct your dual role of test driver for Ferrari and race driver for Minardi this year?
Badoer: I haven't got a lot of work to do with Ferrari at the moment because Salo is doing most of the tests. Before, it was very hard because I was testing every week, either with Ferrari or Minardi, plus Grands Prix. But I like to drive Formula One cars. It may have been hard but I was enjoying it. I've probably done a lot of kilometers.
Q: What are your prospects for next year?
Badoer: At the moment, I've been offered a renewal of my Ferrari contract but we're waiting because I want to see what happens at Minardi as well. I can only wait on the Minardi situation. We're improved a lot since the start of the season. We have one big limitation and that's the budget. We don't have a big budget. We have ideas of how to improve the car but not the money. Technically, it's very good and with a good budget for next year we could do all the things that we want.
Q: Giancarlo, Benetton's season seems to have been good in parts, but not everywhere. Is that because of low downforce circuits, that kind of thing?
Fisichella: I hope it's going to be good here. Normally our car is better in high speed corners and high speed circuits. At the last test we had grip problems, but I think after Hungary, we've seen that our problems are aerodynamic and that's what we've been concentrating on. In Hungary, we thought we would qualify halfway up the grid, but I was fourth and quite quick in the race. From there, we understood the aerodynamic problems and the team is still working on them. We're not testing at Magny Cours next week but doing aerodynamic tests in England.
Q: What would like from next year's car that you haven't had from this year's?
Fisichella: I would like to have a better car, better grip, better engine - everything. I would like to get on the podium at each very race, but that's normal. At the moment it's quite frustrating because the car is difficult to drive and you don't really know what to do for the next race. Here, for my home race, I'm happy, I'm pleased, I'm excited but I don't know if the car is good enough to be in the top six.
Q: A final question for Alessandro Zanardi: you came last year from a formula that had two different tyre companies; did you prefer that to the single tyre formula that is Formula One?
Zanardi: I preferred last year's formula because I was with Firestone! It's certainly exciting and nice to be chosen to do tyre testing work. I found it good because when you're running slick tyres, it's much more marginal to find more speed in the tyres. You change constructions, you try six different tyres and you find big differences. There's the possibility of more development for the tyre manufacturer. It's very challenging, very exciting and to do the tyre testing is very nice. I enjoyed that. I haven't done a lot of that in Formula One with Bridgestone. I don't know what more can be done But it's incredible how much more they want to develop the tyres and they're still hungry for information - they always come to find out about their products. It's as though they're getting ready for another tyre manufacturer to come and challenge them, but for sure, they're still working on it.