San Marino GP: Friday press conference

Present: Eddie Irvine (Jaagur), Olivier Panis (BAR), Mika Salo (Toyota). Team Principals: Giancarlo Minardi (Minardi), David Richards (BAR), Jean Todt (Ferrari). Q: Are you sorry not to use the R2 or are you happy with the R3? Eddie Irvine: I...

Present: Eddie Irvine (Jaagur), Olivier Panis (BAR), Mika Salo (Toyota).
Team Principals: Giancarlo Minardi (Minardi), David Richards (BAR), Jean Todt (Ferrari).

Q: Are you sorry not to use the R2 or are you happy with the R3?

Eddie Irvine: I am not happy with the R3. At this moment in time, we know the R2 is the quicker car but potentially it is not. We did the test, we've proved what we needed to prove. We have seen quite clearly the R3 has more potential but there is a problem and we are trying to figure out what the problem is. We know the symptoms but we don't know what the disease is at the minute. That is what we have to figure out.

Q: Do you feel you are moving in the right direction - it doesn't sound as though you are?

EI: We are eliminating things slowly but surely. That's all we can do because we don't know what the problem is. We changed so many things from last year to this with probably not having testing them before we changed them. Now we are going to have to go back to all those things to figure out which one is causing this problem that we have.

Q: When do you think we are going to see some changes, some improvements?

EI: It depends what it is. If it is the thing we are testing on Tuesday...We were pretty confident we knew what it was after the last race. Everything stacked up. We had things that we were testing at Valencia that at least would have said 'yes, this is probably the answer' but it at least would have said 'this is having an impact on the problems so this is what a substantial part of it must be'. But we tested two quite major changes and it didn't impact the problem whatsoever. So that has obviously suggested that is not where the problem lies so we are testing something else at Silverstone and it might be the answer, it might not. We are really a little bit lost to be honest because we changed so much from last year.

Q: Mika. How has it worked out - better or worse than you expected so far?

Mika Salo: It's been quite good, the beginning of the season. We have been reasonably quick all the time, the car is not too bad when it is dry. We still have lots of little problems with it and we don't seem to get a whole weekend together. We manage to screw up at some point in the weekend always, we don't get the complete weekend yet. But it is going in the right direction and every day is still better. Every day is big improvement in the team.

Q: So what has happened today?

MS: It's just slow. There is no grip. We knew we would struggle if it is raining. We haven't had a good rain test or the car has never been quick when it is wet. We will try to work on it for tomorrow to make it better and I am sure we can make it a little bit better but I don't think we can find five seconds in it.

Q: So, when is it likely to improve?

MS: When the rain stops.

Q: No water for the rest of the season then?

MS: No. Everything is going ahead, there are always new parts coming. We have a test next week again and we have a lot of new stuff coming so we hopefully can prove them for Barcelona. We need to improve a lot because there are a lot of guys around us who will improve and there are some who want to catch up and they will improve so we will fall quite far behind if we don't work hard now.

Q: Olivier. Have you been a bit disappointed so far?

Olivier Panis: Sure we have had a difficult start to the season and the car is not the car we had expected during the winter and for the first Grand Prix, but we know the problem we have now, we need to agree hard and I know David is (sitting) behind me but I am quite positive about him, he has managed the team quite well, made many changes, very positive and Geoff Willis has worked now for one month and I think he knows what has happened really, and we need to wait for the improvement of the car, I think, for Canada.

Q: How much of it is engine, how much chassis?

OP: You know we need the best package possible to fight with the best team but anyway I think Honda making a completely new engine for this year and we need to continue to work hard to improve the engine anyway but also we need to improve the chassis side and we have not very good aerodynamics at this time and the engine is not the best engine for this moment but everybody is working hard.

Q: Giancarlo, things have changed over the last couple of years. How much of the team is Italian and what are their responsibilities?

Giancarlo Minardi: The team is a team, so the responsibilities are not split in two. We are working very well together, and we are looking forward to improving our co-operation together. In Italy, we design and build the cars. In England we have all the research and development departments and we are also expecting the new wind tunnel to be ready soon.

Q: When you look back at the problems that the team has had over the past few years, what's its situation now?

GM: We've changed the organisation. Paul Stoddart is now the president and it's clear that there are two different ways of operating but we are very optimistic, we are confident that we can continue in this good direction.

Q: Jean, you have two F2002s here. What does that change?

Jean Todt: It changes things more for Rubens because obviously he is very happy to drive a F2002 car and it is probably easier for the mechanics because we don't have different toolings and we have better unification of what we need for the Grand Prix. We should have two cars performing quite well. It should multiply the F2002's competitiveness by two.

Q: For both you and David Richards, what is the significance that the Kirch Group has gone into receivership and the manufacturers' representatives are meeting here tomorrow?

JT: Number one, it is not up to me to speak about that, because you know that the manufacturers are represented by the managing directors of all the motor car groups and Paolo Cantarella will be here attending the meeting tomorrow with Luca di Montzemolo on behalf of the Fiat Group. Saying that, it's an on-going project, due to happen, if it happens, in 2008 so it's still a long time before something will happen and the Kirch situation may accelerate the process in one way or another but I think it's difficult to say more.

Q: David would you like to reply?

David Richards: I suspect that the arrangements for a meeting here tomorrow were made some time ago, before the Kirch situation this week, so I wouldn't link the two together necessarily. It's the first round in Europe and I suspect the key people from the manufacturers were going to come down here. But nonetheless, as Jean says, the situation may accelerate some of the discussions and come to a sensible solution sooner rather than later and hopefully one that brings everybody together rather than separating them in two different directions.

Q: You've made a number of changes in the team; can you tell us about them, are there still more to come?

DR: No. I've always said that I needed three months to really understand what we've got inside the team, how to organise the team appropriately. I made those decisions a few weeks ago and implemented them about two or three weeks back now, just prior to Brazil. We've changed the design team, changed the number of people at the top of the company, we've slimmed down the organisation. There was duplication of functions and we've tried to build a clearer structure in which the team and the people concerned understand their roles and responsibilities. There is no great magic about it and it's certainly not going to have any overnight results. It's building for the future.

Q: David, to follow up on that, there were stories that you were going to hire a sporting director. Any truth in that?

DR: It's quite amusing reading some of the websites. The young chap who has joined me as my assistant, and no more than that, is the son of Domingos Piedade who many people know, who runs AMG in Germany and he's just joined me to help me organise various things as an assistant and no more than that.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Olivier Panis , Mika Salo , Paul Stoddart , David Richards , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari , Minardi