Japanese GP Friday press conference

Drivers: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) David Coulthard (McLaren) Mika Salo (Sauber) Team principals: Flavio Briatore (Benetton) Eddie Jordan (Jordan) Alain Prost (Prost) Q. Eddie, what has [your former Technical Director] Mike Gascoyne...

Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)
David Coulthard (McLaren)
Mika Salo (Sauber)

Team principals:
Flavio Briatore (Benetton)
Eddie Jordan (Jordan)
Alain Prost (Prost)

Q. Eddie, what has [your former Technical Director] Mike Gascoyne been doing since he parted company with Jordan in July?

Eddie Jordan: He's been sitting in his garden. He has also got a new boat - everyone in F1 seems to have a new boat - and he has been sailing that. Flavio has been asking me to release him, though, and I thought that [Mike was] in an inhumane situation because it was quite clear that he felt handcuffed at Jordan. I felt he would be much happier in a new home with Flav.

Q. Has Flavio paid you an enormous sum of money to release Mike?

EJ: I don't know where this story has come from. Everybody thinks Flavio is generous, but in fact he is SO tight. I tried to get a few pounds from him, in my usual style, but in this case I thought the greater need was Mike's. So I have released him.

Q. Are you planning to spend money to persuade Tom Walkinshaw to release Egbhal Hamidy?

EJ: That is a different story. Flavio and I have been in court together so many times, with money always changing hands there. This time it happened that we tried to do it without exchanging money, so we didn't go to court. The great thing about being in court against Flavio is that when you lose against him, you get the money. So I don't know what would happen if we had won.

Q. What happens when you go to court against Tom Walkinshaw?

EJ: That's a different story. I'm sure Tom will be able to tell you what the deal is.

Q. Flavio, now you've got Mike Gascoyne, will he be starting work for Benetton on Monday?

Flavio Briatore: I think so. I don't have anything bad with Eddie. It's the same situation we had when Ross Brawn wanted to leave us to join Ferrari. You need people to concentrate 100 per cent on the job, and sometimes the people want to change. I don't know when Mike will start with us, it hasn't been decided yet. But Mike is part of the new structure of the team, which Renault has always said will only be ready in 2002. We [will] have [had] two years - 2000 and 2001 - to get the right people and to put the team together. We will continue this process until we feel the team has been set up and is ready to be competitive.

Q. Where will Mike fit together with Pat Symonds, your Technical Director?

FB: What you need in a team is good people, and whatever your [job description might say] about your position is not important. I believe everybody is working in the same direction, and it makes no difference to me what it says on your business card.

Q. Giancarlo Fisichella had a very good first half to his 2000 season, and he has hardly finished a race since then. What has gone wrong there?

FB: I don't think it's only Giancarlo: it's the team as well [that has gone wrong]. When [this year's car] arrived we decided immediately not to improve it at all [because] the team did not have the technical capacity to undertake both programmes, i.e. to work on the 2001 car at the same time as developing this year's chassis. Everybody else, though, has been improving: Jordan and BAR, for example, have [made progress], while we have done nothing. In F1, everyone wants results yesterday, but when you're planning to build up the team you need to take time. We preferred at this point to concentrate our efforts on 2001. For example, we will have a completely new engine, which will be quite difficult to fit in the car. This sport is completely different from soccer, where you have to move down to the Second Division if you're bad. In F1 there is no Second Division ... and I hope everything changes next year.

Q. Alain, you have announced your engine deal with Ferrari for 2001, and also the departure of Gauloises as a sponsor. Obviously you will need a lot of money to pay for those engines. Are you still confident of the situation for next year?

Alain Prost: Yes, sure. It is not an easy situation, but we have known about it for a long time and we were prepared. You cannot find all the money in one month's time. But this is October and we still have all the winter in which to finalise the budget. We are quite confident now that we will be able to cover it.

Q. You still have unfilled positions for a second driver and a technical director. Is there any news about who will take those places?

AP: It's part of a new programme, a new structure, which I would like to be able to [announce] in the next few weeks or months. It is looking quite well but I cannot say anything more at the moment. Anything I might tell you could be quite negative for me and the team. It is obviously no secret that the second driver will be chosen in consideration of a new number 1 sponsor coming in. I am waiting a little bit longer. I also want to make it clear that Jean Alesi Will be driving for us next year. The technical director will be announced later, too.

Q. What is your own future as a team owner in F1?

AP: It's no problem. We have a good new engine and big motivations ... much credibility, too. There are more people who are ready to join us than there were before. It is still a difficult time, but it is still nice for me to be putting things together, just as I did three years ago. It's like a new project, and I have no problem with that.

Q. Rubens, you had a rather strange half-spin under braking this morning. What happened there?

Rubens Barrichello: I have been fighting with a light rear through the whole day, and I went a little too deep into that corner. It's not cured yet, but it's better in a way. The tyres were not affected, so I was still running the tyres this afternoon that I had this morning, and I had a chance to improve the car. But I had quite a busy day today, with small, silly problems. The result wasn't too bad at the end of the day, but we need to improve the performance for tomorrow.

Q. In terms of the world championship this is obviously a crucial weekend for your team. How do you see your role?

RB: Everybody has been asking me that. But it's just a normal situation for me and I don't want to put any more pressure on myself that I need to do anything [different from usual]. The situation between Mika and Michael is quite clear now. They have to fight for this championship. Now we must wait until mid-race to see where we are, and if I can help I will help 100 per cent. But if I start thinking now that I have to start doing something else to help the situation, then I would be putting pressure on myself - which I think would be the completely wrong thing to do.

Q. Let's put the same question to David, then ...

David Coulthard: It's the same answer. Like Rubens, I'm getting the same question. It almost seems that everyone's seeking the answer to the question before the weekend's over, but none of us knows what's going to happen, either tomorrow in qualifying or at the start of the race itself. We have to be patient. There's no plan we can make, other than to do the very best that we can.

Q. You had an unfortunate start to the U.S. Grand Prix, with a penalty for starting too soon. Can you talk us through that?

DC: The first thing is to wait until the red lights go out. That's all. You can't anticipate when it will go out, although you can prepare yourself, which means staring at the lights and making sure you don't blink. But to actually anticipate it [without penalty] is difficult to do, although there's a rhythm that's built up through the season [that can suggest] how quickly the lights will normally change. That may be because [the FIA's official starter] Charlie Whiting has a rhythm over when he pushes the button. But it will always vary by half a second or one second. [At Indianapolis] I obviously just moved a bit too soon.

Q. Mika, do you feel to some extent that this is a home race for you?

Mika Salo: In distance, no, but in feelings I guess it is. I race here in Japan for a long time, and my wife is from here. I have already been here for a week and I will be staying for one week after the race.

Q. Is that to allow you to see Toyota?

MS: It's not planned, although I am sure I will run into [their people] in Tokyo. I have already been to see their factory [in Cologne], and it was the first time I was able to go in through the front door. It was quite nice and I was impressed with everything there. There is so much space inside the factory that you could build an indoor circuit there if you wanted to. I met everybody who is working there and I was surprised to meet so many people, many of them friends that I already knew from years ago. I am very impressed with what they have there.

Q. Do you know when there will be something for you to drive?

MS: I haven't been given a test schedule yet, but as far as I know the car will be ready for March. If they have some other car for me to test before then, I will be happy to start with them. Otherwise I will have a five months break. I am sure I will find something to do ...

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Rubens Barrichello , Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Eddie Jordan , Mika Salo , Ross Brawn , Alain Prost , Flavio Briatore , Mike Gascoyne , Tom Walkinshaw
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Benetton , Jordan