Monaco GP Thursday Five Interview

Grand Prix of Monaco _________________________________________________________________ Thursday 21 May, 1998 Excerpts from the "Thursday Five" press conference: Drivers: Damon Hill ...

Grand Prix of Monaco _________________________________________________________________ Thursday 21 May, 1998 Excerpts from the "Thursday Five" press conference: Drivers: Damon Hill (Jordan), Jean Alesi (Sauber). Team Personnel: Adrian Newey (McLaren) and Alain Prost (Prost). Industry : Perry Bell (Goodyear) _________________________________________________________________ Q. Alain, with so many changes to your team this year, you said you expected a quiet start to the season. How would you describe the progress in the first five races? AP: I feel much better now. In fact we had a very difficult start to the season. We moved the factory [from Magny-Cours to Paris], we had a completely new car, a new engine and new regulations, which was not easy. We were only 78 people at the start of the season when we started the project, but that is in the past now. There were also a lot of problems with the gearbox, which reduced the testing we were able to do. Now we have identified a lot of problems on the car and we will be making improvements very soon, with effect from the Canadian GP. The big step comes at the French GP. We are much more optimistic now and the team is working much better now we are in the new factory. It takes a little time to bring everyone together, and I would say that what happened in the early part of the season was only to be expected. Q. In terms of setup, are the requirements of Jarno Trulli similar to those of Olivier Panis? AP: No, they require different car setups. They also have different engine mapping systems, because of the different ways they use the throttle. Also, Olivier, with his greater experience, can still drive the car when it is a little more nervous. Jarno doesn't like that. Q. Damon, the Jordan team still seems to be struggling. What happened today? DH: I lost this morning's session when I crashed. Then I completed a couple of runs in the afternoon before I had a problem with the gearbox. At the same time Ralf had an engine problem. So we never completed enough laps as a team ... and when we did complete some laps, they were not very quick. We have a serious amount of work to do in order to understand what's wrong. Q. You don't have any points in the bank yet. What have been the problems? DH: When we have been running, we have not been competitive. There is no other explanation. There were engine problems at Imola and Barcelona, but on neither occasion were we in the points. Until we start qualifying in the top six, and can stay there, the only points we can expect to get will be due to luck. Q. You changed to a longer wheelbase before Imola. What effect did that have on the car's handling? DH: All it did was to make it easier to be consistent with the car. Now I can get a balance in it, and repeat lap times. It means we have been able to do some meaningful testing. But it has not been as successful as we hoped. Q. What does a new-generation F1 car feel like to drive here at Monaco? DH: The only thing that I believe may be slightly different is the Loews hairpin, which seems to be easier to get round. Maybe that is because the cars are narrower this year. Apart from that, driving here is no different. This year I am not conscious anymore that I am driving a narrower car on grooved tyres. Most of the teams have set up their cars to cope with the changes in the regulations. Apart from that, things are a bit more slippery, because the tyres have to be harder, and that makes it a little more tricky to drive at Monaco. But apart from that it is difficult for me to compare, because I don't know where I am and not where I would like to be. I don't know whether that is because of the car [being bad] or because of [the change in] the regulations. Q. Adrian, is Michael Schumacher the biggest worry for McLaren? AN: Schumacher is always the major worry! It was difficult to tell exactly today, though, because everyone was running different fuel loads and Schumacher wasn't on the track at the end of the session. I think this is shaping up to be a pretty close race. Q. What is McLaren's greatest problem here? AN: Nothing in particular. Some people like to regard Monaco as a totally different type of circuit, but I don't believe it is so different It is just a strip of asphalt. We have the usual problems: trying to get the car set up correctly, finding reliability and all the other concerns. Q. Your drivers both came off the road at Ste Devote today. Was that significant? AN: No, it was indicative of two drivers trying hard and leaving their braking as late as possible. Everyone is trying to find the mark. Even Michael runs off [the road] in a fairly big way. Everyone stretches things as far as possible. Q. Perry, you have brought some new rear tyres here to Monaco. Tell us the story behind them. PB: Following Argentina, where we introduced the new wide front, we concentrated the majority of our development work on the rears. This new rear construction which we have brought to Monaco is the result of this work. It is designed to offer more traction out of the slow corners. We have also introduced a new family of compounds for the street circuits, where there is not a lot of mechanical grip. We will probably also use them on circuits like Canada and Austria. Q. Jean, you have a new helmet design here, with a lot of chrome on it. What is the story behind that? JA: Shoei wanted to make a special helmet for this circuit, and they sent it to me to try, without saying anything. At the moment there is only the one helmet and I will probably only use it here. It was a nice surprise. I like it, but it is not all that interesting. Q. How do you feel about the new rear Goodyear tyres? JA: They showed a good improvement when we tested them at Magny-Cours. I am very pleased about the testing, because we have already seen some good improvement with the wider front tyre, and the changes seem to suit our car quite well.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Michael Schumacher , Jean Alesi , Olivier Panis , Alain Prost , Adrian Newey
Teams Sauber , McLaren , Jordan