Friday 30 April 1999 Excerpts from the "Friday Five" press conference: Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton) Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Jarno Trulli (Prost) Alessandro Zanardi (Williams) Team owner:...
Friday 30 April 1999 Excerpts from the "Friday Five" press conference:
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton) Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Jarno Trulli (Prost) Alessandro Zanardi (Williams) Team owner: Eddie Jordan
Q. At the start of most seasons the drivers usually say that they are unable to judge their cars' competitiveness until the start of the European season. Giancarlo, now that we are at Imola, what are your feelings about your car?
Giancarlo Fisichella: We have no news for this race except the new qualifying engine. Also, last weekend I was at home awaiting [the birth] of my daughter soI missed the test in Jerez.
Q. Today wasn't so good for you on the track. What happened?
GF: That's true. My expectations until yesterday were much higher than what happened today. The car is not fantastic, but the setup is wrong. I also lost the second session after my accident at the Variante Alta. I had a problem with the brake position. Tomorrow it will be very difficult to get into a top ten position.
Q. Has the Benetton FTT (front torque transfer) braking system given you any advantages in the first two races?
GF: I feel more confident under braking when I use the FTT. But my team mate [Alexander Wurz] has been running without it for two days and the lap times have been quite similar. In terms of lap time there is no advantage, it is just that I feel more confident using the FTT. And normally I prefer it.
Q. Jarno, your Prost performed well in the recent Jerez test and in Brazil Olivier Panis showed how competitive it could be. With two non-finishes on your own record, do you feel frustrated?
Jarno Trulli: Yes, of course. I was running in the points at two races but I came away with nothing. In spite of the frustration I must be strong. The season is long and I feel confident because I am always pushing hard. I am trying to develop the car and the team is working well. We are not at the top yet, but at least we can be fighting for points.
Q. Where is the natural position for Prost?
JT: In qualifying this year we have shown that we can expect to be in the first eight or ten places. Under race condition I believe we are more competitive than in qualifying, so we should be able to fight for points.
Q. Alessandro, you're looking good today with 6th fastest time, also using a Supertec. What are your feelings about the engine?
AZ: From the beginning of the season we have been sometimes two seconds behind pole position, and with a gap as big as that you can't entirely blame the engine for the lack of performance. I don't want to make bad publicity for the people at Supertec, who have all been trying very hard. We certainly appreciate their efforts and I wish to take the opportunity to thank them for the few extra horsepower which they have found for us at this event. It is very welcome, but it is still not enough. Williams is trying hard to make a better car because we know our car is not good enough. At the same time everyone at Supertec is trying to give us a better engine because we all know that it is not yet as good as we want it to be.
Q. Having returned from Indy cars, are there still things for you to get used to in Formula 1?
AZ: It is too strong an expression to say that I am not happy about having returned to F1. But I must not [put] too much pressure on my shoulders by expecting too much from myself. I think I am competitive and I don't believe I am leaving any performance behind in the car provided I get a decent number of laps. But today I have been like a diesel engine: I need to get warmed up and on the first lap I take a look around. On the second and third laps I go a little faster, then finally -- if I get enough laps -- I get the best out of the car. If it stops early, though, I cannot get the best out of it. In my third year [of CART racing] in the United States, all I needed was one lap. If the car was good enough to work for one lap I would have taken it on to my shoulders to get it together and get the job done, just as Michael is doing these days. All you need is one lap: if the car is there, the driver will be there. That may be what is lacking on my part. But that is normal because the cars have changed quite dramatically in the last few years, and when I came back I found those changes. If we can be sure of less trouble than we had in the first two races, then this weekend we can score points and go home with a smile on our face.
Q. Eddie, there have been suggestions this week in the British press that Damon may be considering retirement. Does he seem to you like a driver in his final season?
EJ: He has certainly never mentioned anything like that to me. Maybe the magazine needed to fill some space, but the matter has never been discussed with me. The same magazine had a story about Eddie Irvine rejoining Jordan, but I know that is also pure speculation because I have never spoken to Eddie about this sort of thing. The last time I even spoke to him was, I think, in Melbourne, to congratulate him on his win. We must be crazy to be discussing driver movements when only the first two races have been contested. We are trying to form a fruitful bond with the drivers we have, to give then the best -- not just with a good car but by providing the tangible feelings that will make them better psychologically. It doesn't make sense to pay any attention to the stories in the papers, because it is a huge financial investment now to bring on young drivers.
Q. Your engine contract expires this year. What can you tell us about the possibility of continuing with Honda?
EJ: Well, the same magazine is full of speculation this week that something had been secured [between Honda] and another team. I really have no idea. I am probably the last person you should ask. And I don't want to answer the question anyway. Can we have the next question?
Q. It's for Michael Schumacher. What happened when your car stopped on the circuit this afternoon, Michael?
MS: A car in front threw up some stones, one of which got between the brake and the wheel rim, making a hole in the rim.
Q. Have you been encouraged by the recent testing you have done?
MS: Yes. We made some improvements to the car. But F1 never stands still, so we won't know until qualifying and the race whether we have made any real progress. It is too difficult to say from today's times.