Monaco GP Thursday press conference

DRIVERS: Jean ALESI (PROST) Pedro Paulo DINIZ (SAUBER) Pedro de la ROSA (ARROWS) TEAM PRINCIPALS: Flavio BRIATORE (BENETTON) Adrian NEWEY (McLAREN) Neil RESSLER (JAGUAR) Q. Pedro, since the start of the season there have been some changes ...

DRIVERS:
Jean ALESI (PROST)
Pedro Paulo DINIZ (SAUBER)
Pedro de la ROSA (ARROWS)

TEAM PRINCIPALS:
Flavio BRIATORE (BENETTON)
Adrian NEWEY (McLAREN)
Neil RESSLER (JAGUAR)

Q. Pedro, since the start of the season there have been some changes in your team. How do you feel about those changes?

Pedro Paul Diniz: At the beginning of the season we had a pretty competitive package. But unfortunately we had a few too many reliability problems. Also, the incident with the wings in Sao Paul forced us to miss one race and made us lose quite a lot of development time. It took so much time to resolve the reliability and to sort out the wing that we haven't been able to do much development. Now, although we are trying to catch up, it is never easy when you have to manufacture new parts and start all over again.

Q. But that's what's going to have to happen, isn't it?

PPD: Yes. We are sorting out the new parts and trying to improve the aerodynamics, which is probably the weakest area on our car. The car is not too bad in the end, but there are things we still have to do before we can be considered a top ten team. This is a very competitive year and it is pretty tough.

Q. Last year you had Jean Alesi as your team mate, and this year it's Mika Salo. Which of them has pushed you hardest?

PPD: I think we had more fun last year with Jean. It was a great challenge to do the same time as him. But Mika is a quick driver, and he is a challenge too.

Q. Jean, what is the situation now at Prost? It seems to be on a knife-edge, in a way ...

Jean Alesi: Today's performance [7th on Thursday] has been quite good for us. We had a very difficult beginning of the season. But the championship is very long and now we are looking for getting points as soon as possible, before it starts to be really difficult. Monaco is one of the places where we can score points. That's why we have to be really careful about what we do in qualifying and in preparing for the race on Sunday.

Q. Is this one of the most important GPs of the year for you?

JA: It is one of the circuits where it is possible to make a good result, and that will be the same at several other circuits. But here is the first event where I think it is possible for me to get a good result. Alain and I were really optimistic about this season, but with the lack of testing we really didn't know where we were going. We had so many problems and we were not able to be as quick as we wanted.

Q. Pedro, how important was that point you won at the Nürburgring?

Pedro de la Rosa: Well, it is always important to score your first point of the season. But it is more important to keep on scoring them. It is good for the team and felt particularly good because nobody in front of us went off the road and it was well deserved. One thing is for sure, which is that the team will become more competitive as the season continues. I don't know how high our maximum level can be, but we will keep on working. We have new things to try at every race, which is a new thing for me. It is just a question of how much development you can do compared to the rest.

Q. Adrian, at your end of the grid is the pace of development greater than you can ever remember it?

Adrian Newey: No, I don't think so. This is something that has changed, certainly over the past decade. Through the Nineties things have changed, to the extent that the car with which you start the season is no longer [very close in specification] to the car with which you finish it. For us, the pace of development is similar to what it has been in the past two or three seasons.

Q. You had early season unreliability. Are those problems behind you now?

AN: I hope that the particular problems from the early races are over. As most of you will know, we did a lot mileage over the winter with the engine, so to have problems with it in the first few races was particularly frustrating for us, and for Ilmor. We think we have now overcome those particular problems. We will have to wait and see whether there are any more problems waiting to bite us.

Q. Neil, since we last met you in Australia you have taken overall control at Jaguar. Without being rude about this, it must surely be quite a challenge for someone to take such a big job at your age ...

Neil Ressler: Especially at my age, yes! Of course it's a challenge. I have been around F1 [for several years], but not in a position like this. It is a full-time job for me now. I have to concentrate on it as much as I can -- which is what I am doing -- and I have delegated all my other responsibilities to some subordinates back in America. They're doing that job. I am doing this job.

Q. What about Johnny Herbert's future. That has been discussed a certain amount.

NR: Nobody wants to do better than Johnny himself does. I have talked to him and in fact he has said the same to the press. He is as eager to improve his qualifying performance as we are eager to improve it. He did that last year, starting around mid-summer. This would be a good place for him to start [again].

Q. Flavio, there is a similar situation inside your team. What is the future for Alexander Wurz?

Flavio Briatore: I have no idea. I don't know. I honestly don't know whether he will stay with the team.

Q. Might you get rid of him?

FB: I have no idea. We have been running Benetton for the past two months. As everyone knows, Benetton finished 6th in the championship last year. I believe the team does not deserve to be in this sort of position and now we are trying to build up the team again. It is not something that can be done in just two months. Renault has announced a plan to be [competitive again] in F1 by 2002, which leaves us two years to prepare the team in the best way possible.

Q. Are you planning to change a huge amount of things?

FB: I will change what needs to be changed. I don't have to tell the press what will be changed, because I get no help from the press. I will just change what I feel is necessary to change. But I don't want to start any revolution, because the basis is there. It just needs a few changes and then the team will be there.

Q. Flavio, how much would you like to see Jacques Villeneuve joining Benetton? How do you rate your chances of signing him for 2001?

FB: You know, everybody wants a driver like Jacques Villeneuve. To win races you need a top driver, but I don't think we are ready to give him the right car. To get a driver like Jacques I believe a team needs to have the technical situation under control, and you need to have a winning car. You don't want to see the same thing happening that he had last year, with zero points in the championship. A guy like Villeneuve deserves a better team than Benetton has at the moment.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Pedro de la Rosa , Johnny Herbert , Jean Alesi , Jacques Villeneuve , Alexander Wurz , Flavio Briatore , Adrian Newey
Teams Benetton , CIP