Japanese GP Friday press conference

Drivers: Damon Hill (Jordan) Toranosuke Takagi (Arrows) Jacques Villeneuve (BAR) Team owner: Sir Frank Williams Engine supplier: Hirotoshi Honda (Mugen) Tyre engineer: Hirohide Hamashima (Bridgestone) Q. Toranosuke, can...

Drivers: Damon Hill (Jordan) Toranosuke Takagi (Arrows) Jacques Villeneuve (BAR) Team owner: Sir Frank Williams Engine supplier: Hirotoshi Honda (Mugen) Tyre engineer: Hirohide Hamashima (Bridgestone)

Q. Toranosuke, can you tell us what the future holds for you in F1?

Toranosuke Takagi: I am talking to Tom Walkinshaw and I hope to stay with him next year. This year has been difficult except for the first two races when there was no problem with the reliability of the car. After three races we started to have trouble with the engine and the car -- everything -- and we have failed to finish several races. After half season we had no testing, nothing.

Q. Mr Honda, Jordan will be using a new version of your engine for qualifying tomorrow. What can you tell us about it?

Hirotoshi Honda: Sure, it is special, and I know that you journalists have been calling it the 'SS' or even 'SSS' version. I asked my own employees about this, but none of them knows the real name for it. If it proves to be really good, maybe we will add even more 'S' designations. But we won't do that until after qualifying.

Q. Honda has just announced a few details of the RA000E V10 engine which BAR will use next year. Do you expect to supply Jordan with another version of the same engine?

HH: No, the Mugen engine will be different. What Honda will be doing with BAR is none of my business, of course, but I can tell you that the engine we will be supplying to Eddie Jordan is completely different. There is plenty of development potential in it and we will continue to make a big effort with it next year.

Q. Mr Hamashima, this year Bridgestone has had four compounds of dry weather tyres. Do you plan to have a bigger range next year?

HH: No, we would like to introduce four new tyres of a similar specification for next year. First we have to test them through next winter, though. The specifications of our current tyres worked well in winter testing last year, so I believe the new specification will also respond well even in the cold conditions of winter testing.

Q. There was a suggestion in Malaysia that the performance of your Extra Soft tyre actually improved when the grooves had completely worn away, leaving what was in effect a slick. Can you comment?

HH: The performance of the tyre itself went down as it wore out. In a comparison test of a brand new grooved tyre, our data showed that the performance itself was going down [as the tyre wore out]. However, if anyone was able to do a good lap time on our tyres after many laps running, it was because the balance of the car was holding on well.

Q. Frank, you have been close to Goodyear for many years. What do you think the situation there is as far as a return to F1 is concerned?

Sir Frank Williams: In my opinion, there is nothing happening in Akron. I haven't spoken to [their CEO] Mr Gibara for a number of months -- and I think Williams would be high on his list of people to call if he had anything to say. I don't think there is any activity there.

Q. There is a danger that your team will be pushed down to 5th place in the constructors' table after Sunday's race here. How would that affect your relations with BMW, your engine partner next year?

FW: It doesn't affect BMW in any way. Clearly the performance is disappointing for all members of the team, including our two drivers. In F1 teams' fortunes go up and they go down. We are working on going up again. The first official BMW-Williams test is scheduled for the early part of December, when we will be using the latest BMW engine in an FW21 chassis. Several BMW engines have already done well in advance of a full race distance -- well over 350 kms -- in circuit testing. Formula 1 is meant to be very, very difficult and there's no reason to be optimistic. It will just take BMW a little while to be competitive -- we hope it will be less than it took their predecessors to get there -- but it will be a tough mountain to climb.

Q. There have been rumours that Alessandro Zanardi may be about to be replaced at Williams. What can you tell us about his situation?

FW: None of those rumours have emanated in any way from Williams. That's all I can say because I don't know their source. But if you look at Alex's performance today, he's done a good job. It is correct to say he is not going to be replaced for next year. It is also correct to say that he has a contract [with Williams] for next year.

Q. Jacques, there are rumours about you having bought a ring [for your companion Dannii Minogue]. Are they true? What does this signify?

JJV: It's true. It signifies whatever a ring signifies, I guess: we have got engaged. That's it.

Q. What do you expect from the Honda engine for next year?

JV: The expectations are very high, and not just from the engine. The whole season has been so disastrous this year that anything we expect from next year can only be good ... because it can't be as bad as this year. But this year the team has been [in the process of] building up and it needed to be built up in the right way from the start. If this has been a hard season, it will pay off next year. I couldn't wait for the team to start performing before I joined it: I had to be part of the building up process. I am happy with the fact that we are going to be competitive next year.

Q. Damon, you had a great race when you clinched your world championship here three years ago. There have been other emotions this year, though, I guess ...

Damon Hill: I have certainly had some exciting experiences here at Suzuka. I would like to say that I expect to do well here this weekend, but just in case I don't make it to any of the top three press conferences between now and the end of the weekend, I want to say thank you to everyone from the press who has grilled me and put me under pressure throughout my career. Maybe you will see me again in some other role, but not as a driver. This is therefore likely to be my last FIA press conference.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Eddie Jordan , Tora Takagi , Damon Hill , Frank Williams , Tom Walkinshaw
Teams Williams , Jordan