Italian GP Thursday Press Conference

Thursday 10 September 1998 "Thursday Four" press conference -- Drivers: Damon Hill (Jordan) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari); Team chiefs: Jean Todt (Ferrari) and Eddie Jordan (Jordan) Q. Michael, we understand that you have...

Thursday 10 September 1998 "Thursday Four" press conference -- Drivers: Damon Hill (Jordan) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari); Team chiefs: Jean Todt (Ferrari) and Eddie Jordan (Jordan) Q. Michael, we understand that you have now had an opportunity to discuss the events in Belgium with David Coulthard. What can you tell us about the conclusions you reached together? MS: David and I have generally got on well in the past, and we can still get on well. As you may have expected, it was good and necessary to have a talk between ourselves to sort out some questions. That is what we did. And there are no further problems. Q. We can say, then, that it was resolved amicably. But have you got over the disappointment that you so obviously felt in Belgium? MS: Oh, yes. Naturally you can be very disappointed in a situation like this, and it was pretty easy to see [my disappointment]. But after a couple of days spent thinking about it and going through the incidents, you just go on [normally]. We came here testing in the week after the Belgian race, so you just get on with your job and forget about it because you can't put the clock back. What happened has happened. Q. Jean, Ferrari has just celebrated its 600th GP, and Monza is a special place for the team. In what way does the crowd here affect the team? JT: We tend to be so concentrated on the job that we are not really aware of the crowd around us here. Michael just mentioned the 1996 win, and I must say that was a special feeling for me, too. When I went on to the podium to accept the manufacturer's trophy there was a human sea at my feet. Something like that explains Italy's fascination with Ferrari. But otherwise we try not to put too much pressure on ourselves because this happens to be the team's national Grand Prix. Q. A suggestion has been made that Ferrari is at a disadvantage here because the F300 doesn't handle as well over the kerbs as the McLaren. Is that correct? JT: Generally speaking, we know that on very fast circuits like Hockenheim and Monza the Ferrari is not at its best. We have the aerodynamic efficiency, but the car's suspension is not as soft as it is on other cars. We are still working to improve that situation, and I would say that although it doesn't look as good as some other cars do, the car is still quick. It may not be as quick as some others, of course, but we have to cope with that. Q. Eddie, what are your feelings about that Belgian 1-2? EJ: It's been a special feeling for all of us. Damon knows that he played a major contribution in this achievement, and it will be special for him when he comes to look back on it with his grandchildren to know that he we as the first man to win a GP for Jordan. There are only 25 Grand Prix teams which have ever actually won a world championship GP, and for a long time this year I would have said it was total fantasy to imagine us being able become one of them. This has been one of the greatest turn-arounds in the history of F1, and although luck played its part, we were very strong both in performance and strategy. The most impressive thing is the way the team has moved forward. Now, though, we want to forget the win and just get on with this race. We have a very good car and a fantastic engine which is making big steps forward at every race. All things being equal, we should be competitive. Q. You just announced your line-up for 1999, with Damon being joined by Heinz-Harald Frentzen. This is quite an contrast with your past choice of drivers: for example, last year you had Fisichella and Schumacher Jnr, both of them very inexperienced, while now you have two veterans. What is the reasoning behind this? EJ. We have moved on. Only a few years ago it would have been unthinkable for Jordan Grand Prix to have gone racing without the budgets that come with most young drivers. We have gradually hauled our way up from that situation, and it is a long process trying to drag yourself in front of the teams that have traditionally been ahead of you. Unless you have institutional money behind you, you will be delayed, and the fact is that I don't want this team to be regarded as a kindergarten anymore. Q. Damon, how special was Spa for you? DH: It was a new experience for me in F1 because I had never won a race in any car that was not a Williams. Now I am privileged to be the guy who won the first GP for Jordan. It was a thrill to see the faces of the people who go through a lot of pain on our behalf, not only those who work for the team but those of the Mugen-Honda engineers and our sponsors, too. To see them all looking so happy together was something special. Q. What is your reaction to having Heinz-Harald Frentzen as your team mate next year? DH: I was quite surprised because I had expected Eddie to be looking for a younger driver, maybe even someone who was new to F1. Looking at it now, though, I think it is a smart move. As Eddie says, we now have two drivers who have both won GPs. It is a formidable package now and Eddie now has two drivers who will bring home results for the constructors' trophy. Q. What was your evaluation of the team orders that you and Ralf were asked to respect at the end of Belgian GP? DH: It evolved from the situation that as so obvious from the moment that the Safety Car came, leaving two guys desperate to win the race with only a few laps to go and running very closely because of the effect of being slowed by the Safety car in the rain. It was equally clear that Eddie wanted to preserve that situation, whatever the arrangement. The safest thing for him to do was to suggest that the two drivers didn't race each other. But in fact I don't remember either of us slowing up too much in the period between the Safety Car being withdrawn and the end of the race ...

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , David Coulthard , Eddie Jordan , Damon Hill , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Jordan