Malaysian GP: Friday press conference

Present: Ove Andersson (Toyota president and team principal) Flavio Briatore (Renualt team principal) John Hogan (Jaguar Sporting Director) David Richards (BAR team principal) Peter Sauber (Sauber team principal) Q: Ove, how do you feel about...

Ove Andersson (Toyota president and team principal)
Flavio Briatore (Renualt team principal)
John Hogan (Jaguar Sporting Director)
David Richards (BAR team principal)
Peter Sauber (Sauber team principal)

Q: Ove, how do you feel about the new rules so far this year?

Ove Andersson: Well, I think in our opinion it was necessary to change something. I'm not sure how this will improve the racing because we have only had one race so far, but from our side we fully support the changes that have been made up until now.

Q: Were you tempted at all to go for Friday testing?

OA:</B> You can always consider what is the best, and I think we took the view that we are new in the business. We need to work a lot to understand Formula One and two hours on Friday morning might give you an advantage for each race but I think in the long run we are better off the way we have chosen.

Q: Now Christiano obviously would have benefited from that Friday morning testing; how do you think he's settling in? You've also got Olivier Panis as a new driver as well, how are the two settling in?

OA:</B> Well, I think Olivier is a known quantity in Formula One for many years and he has been a big help obviously for the team technically. He's a good driver. Christiano, I think, is doing very very well. He does a couple of laps here, it's the first time he's seen the circuit. He did 20 laps this morning and he's in eleventh place. I think that's very very good. He could have been higher but we are very impressed with him and his performance.

Q: Peter, this is one of your home races, how do you feel about the support from Malaysia here?

Peter Sauber: Very strong. Now we've worked together for eight years and we're going into the ninth and it's a very very important sponsor for us and we have a very good relationship. For sure it's one of the important Grand Prix for us.

Q: To what does this extend these days; in the past you've done engine development for Malaysia; what are you doing these days?

PS: We do different things. We have between 15 and 20 engineers in Hinwil. We have a technical transfer programme with them and now we have the third step in Hinwil. They are working on different programmes on prototype engines, but also they are involved in the Formula One programmes.

Q: You've opted not to have Friday testing; does that mean you are going to establish a test team, which you haven't really had for the last few years?

PS: Yes, we have a test team, but only with one car. Normally we will do 12 tests of three days, that's 36 car test days. We have the possibility to test with two cars if it's necessary. But normally it's too expensive for us.

Q: Heinz-Harald was saying that you need the new wind tunnel. It's been a long time coming, is that normal?

PS: Yes. It's been two years. I think for this wind tunnel it is necessary. Maybe you can do that faster in another country, maybe, but it's not the same good thing. I hope it's going to make a big difference.

Q: David, one of the thing that is pre-occupying everyone is the spat between your two drivers. Apparently a Sunday paper was told that it was all about Jacques' earpiece falling out. Is that the case?

David Richards: Well, one of the ear-pieces wasn't working. It wasn't working.

Q: So the other one worked for the rest of the race?

DR: Yes, but one of these cars, if you try hearing on the radio... just even today we've got a discrepancy between the two cars: Jenson's radio is very good and Jacques still has problems with it. These things do happen. I'm sure every team has problems with radios at some point in time and Jacques certainly is very sensitive on the hearing side, turning it down on the volume so no, that's what happened.

Q: How long can this spat go on? When does it become damaging?

DR: Well, you know you have to accept that inside teams the biggest rival is going to be your teammate and they both now see that they have a competitive car, they can both prove themselves, they've got a lot at stake and clearly they are both highly competitive, so these odd little eruptions are going to happen. Behind the scenes of course, the engineers still co-operate, the team still functions very well and so it's not an issue.

Q: Not even when Jacques criticises the marketing and PR department?

DR: No, I'm sure they are thick-skinned enough to take that sort of criticism.

Q: So you're not worried about it?

DR: Not in the slightest.

Q: How did you feel about the new rules?

DR: I think we've got to give them a little bit of time to really let things settle down. Clearly when you introduce anything new there's a bit of scepticism and you have to wait. The initial reactions are often not the reactions you come to or the conclusions you come to after a few races. So I think the timing is right to review things after Brazil and see if there's anything needs to be looked at then.

Q: Anything particular at this stage?

DR: No, no. I'm very open-minded about it. I think, as Ove said, something had to be done. I think we don't always all agree with the same ideas but nonetheless some positive things have come out of it and let's just leave it for a couple more races and see how things get on.

Q: Flavio, what about your feelings on the new rules?

Flavio Briatore: No real feeling. I believe nothing has changed. It's exactly the same as before and today was quite clear. You know whatever we've done, especially at the beginning of a season like this doesn't modify at all what happened last year. I believe Formula One has more incertitude, especially for the race. If our show, our race is too evident, we lose spectators and we might lose everybody before we make some decision. But nothing changes, honestly.

Q: A lot of people say that we shouldn't qualify with fuel on Saturday, would you like to see that changed?

FB: I have my ideas and it's a bit different but I believe that at this moment the best thing is the aggregate time, Friday and Saturday, and give a run to the best ten top drivers, and no fuel. I think so. The fuel is something that cannot manipulate qualifying a little bit. We never know who is the quickest driver on the grid. In the meantime, if we aggregated the times on Friday and Saturday, sure you need to go flat out on Friday and Saturday and the best ten could maybe do one lap for their grid positions or maybe some points in qualifying. I don't know. I believe that we need change but in the end we changed nothing.

Q: Is Friday testing bringing the results that you hoped it would?

FB: My idea was quite simple. I believe that last year, the year before, and the year before, I've seen all the tests we've done, I've seen all the results of the tests, basically it was zero. In the meantime, I have two hours to run. It's an engineering problem, this, to run like mad for no reason. I believe if we're racing, doing two hours more in the morning you have the time to set up the car better, evaluate the tyres better, because the tyres are very important and then we still have 20 days testing. It's very good, 20 days testing, especially as Fernando is in his first year with us. He's very young, he's 21; two hours more every Friday makes a lot of difference to him and I hope it's right. I believe that if everybody did this, it's much better for Formula One. Maybe doing Thursday as well, Thursday, Friday. We're here, all the expenses are here, the hotel, the containers, everything is here. I think testing should be banned and we should just do Thursday and Friday. For everybody it would be the same. I don't see the difference - to run like mad and spend a lot of money for no reason.

Q: What about your new job as managing director of Viry-Chatillon. Are you on top of V-angles and things like that?

FB: I think so. I had a lot of spare time and now I'm a bit more busy. Now I believe I own my destiny and it's much better I only have one boss and I think it was the right decision. I know that we are very under-powered, if you see the speeds today, compared to everybody else. But we will improve and I'm sure that after Monte Carlo we are there. We are missing a lot of power, basically but the chassis is very good. I don't expect to be there this year, especially when you see our straight line speeds at the beginning of the season, but now I'm quite confident, if we improve the engine a little bit, and I know that we have a big step with the car in two races. Maybe we can look for some podiums this year.

Q: John, what exactly is your job, it seems to have two different angles?

John Hogan: The way I describe it is: Jaguar is one of the most prestigious automotive brand names in the world and I think part of my job is to build on the values of that in order so that we can attract sponsorship. So I think that's a key part of it. Given that I've only been there a couple of weeks and therefore only in the office about three or four days so far, I haven't found out everything else but in overall terms, it's to run and look after the general business side of the company. In other words, I'm not an engineer.

Q: But the sporting director side of it...

JH: I think that's a strategic option. It's basically to talk and think about where we should go as a team, where we should go and how we should get there.

Q: So how have been your first impressions of the team so far?

JH: Very enthusiastic, it's actually a fairly young team. I've been around Formula One for a long time and there's quite a few people in the team that I haven't met before or seen before, so in that sense it's actually a very new team with young drivers so it's a bit like being in the early phase of a new team, in that sense.

Q: Mr Hogan, can you tell us the chain of command, not only in the team but perhaps leading up to Ford as well?

JH: OK. A guy called Tony Purnell is actually the CEO. A guy called Dave Pitchforth under Tony Purnell is actually the Managing Director of the team. Tony Purnell reports into Richard Parry-Jones who is the chief technologist of the Ford Motor Company. I report to all of them.

Q: Another for Mr Hogan. The team has taken a new approach of having no named designers and no real stars. What do you think of that approach?

JH: If you look at every Formula One team in the pit lane while superficially they seem to be the same, actually they are not. They are all doing their own thing. And the approach that Jaguar and Ford have decided upon is a unique approach. It is to give up-and-coming individuals a chance and that's the programme we've actually ... I mean there are few old soldiers about like me but essentially it's a pretty young organisation.

Q: Final one. After your career at Philip Morris why not sit back and go to the beach and take a holiday? Why take on a new challenge like this?

JH: Because of my wife! She didn't want to see me at home! She got to the point where she said I should sail around the world so I thought I'd come to work. It's much easier.

Q: David Going back to the feud. Are you happy to for it to ride its course in a free manner?

DR: I very much have the opinion the drivers should be individuals and characters in their own right. I don't believe in gagging them for some sort of corporate speak. I let them get on with things. Unless of course it goes one step too far and starts to damage the team at all. But at this moment in time it'll run its course and I think you that guys, I'm sure, will keep stirring up it up so that's how it is.

Q: You haven't banged their heads together yet?

DR: Oh we'll have chats over this weekend I'm sure about it but you can't ... these things have to be allowed to sort themselves out. You can't resolve things for people. You just have to facilitate it and try and help it go along and that's that. Flavio and I were just talking just now and he was asking my opinion on the testing you were talking about a while earlier, and I share his opinion that, very much, so that if we could all get together, all the teams, and control our testing for next year possibly, so we have restrictive testing, maybe on Thursday, Friday. The reason we didn't do it is because ... I would have happily - if we'd all voted to do the same thing - I'd have voted for it completely. But I think if we could all do something like that it would be far more sensible for the sport and for all of us.

Q: Don't we all know that there are three people who would never vote for that?

DR: Well you live changes and we all have financial pressures on us and things do change so I wouldn't regard that as being always the case

Q: On the radio side, about Jacques' radio, are you going to be using a bigger pit board or something?

DR: We're going to turn the volume up on the radio and just shout down it!

Q: What? Bigger radios?

DR: Yeah! Like the old ... one with valves in it! Like Grundig radios. Yeah. We're working on it. We're working on it.

FB: I tell you I had the same problem with Jean Alesi once driving. I don't know if some of you remember? He missed the refuelling. And the excuse was the radio's not working.

DR: Come in! Come in! (laughter)

FB: It happens to everybody, though.

Q: You've only got suggest a heavier radio and I'm sure all of a sudden their hearing will pick up.

DR: Exactly.

FB: Or cut their salary. It's the same (laughter all round).

Q: To all five of you. McLaren and Williams are going to arbitration with the FIA. Where do you stand on that? Will you support the two teams or what?

OA:</B> I feel our position in Formula One is not so strong that we can't really take any kind of position.

PS: My English is not good enough to give you an answer to this political question!

DR: I respect Frank and Ron's views as very sincere in the way they put this forward. I don't share them. But they're doing it for their own valid reasons but I just feel it was unnecessary to bring it out into the public domain a week or ten days before the start of the season when everything was looking so positive and there was such a positive momentum behind the championship at that time.

FB: I think Formula One needs to talk about sport and not arbitration. It's not nice, it's not good, it doesn't bring anything good to us. We have so many controversial issues and we need to talk about these and you need to make sure that people who are watching the races are enjoying watching the races, make sure that sport is coming back into Formula One, make sure we have stability. I think this is what we should be looking at for the future. The rest is not interesting.

JH: At the end of the day it's a sport and, as exactly as Flavio said, arbitration has nothing to do with sport. I respect them for what they are trying to do but it isn't smart.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jean Alesi , Olivier Panis , Flavio Briatore , Peter Sauber , David Richards , Richard Parry-Jones , Philip Morris
Teams Sauber , McLaren , Williams