Toyota's Olivier Panis talks about the French Grand Prix and other topics Q: Did points in your 150th Grand Prix at Indianapolis give you a warm feeling? Olivier Panis Certainly my four points at Indianapolis was a good reward. I'm a ...
Toyota's Olivier Panis talks about the French Grand Prix and other topics
Q: Did points in your 150th Grand Prix at Indianapolis give you a warm feeling?
Olivier Panis Certainly my four points at Indianapolis was a good reward. I'm a racing driver and it is better to finish in the points than out of them, but at the same time it's not a win. That's what I'm aiming at, the same as everyone else at Toyota. What was actually more satisfying than the result at Indy was our performance level. I set the fourth quickest lap of the race, within 0.6s of Michael Schumacher, and that was a good boost for everyone.
Q: Did you have any more 150 Grand Prix parties?
OP: After the celebration in Indy, I also had a very enjoyable time on the Champs Elysees in Paris at an event called Le Rendezvous Toyota on Wednesday before we left for Magby-Cours. I ended up signing autographs for quite a long time and chatting to fans. It's nice to be able to get the public's perspective on F1 and listen to what they have to say.
Q: How much of a surprise was it when you got to Magny Cours and discovered that the FIA president, Max Mosley, is retiring in October?
OP: It was quite a big shock that Max Mosley has resigned as President of the FIA. Max was in charge at a time when Formula 1 had some difficult times, like the accidents to Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger 10 years ago. It is a difficult job and, as Michael Schumacher said, while you may not always agree with everything, there is no denying that he has done a great job for the sport in general and Formula 1 in particular. It will be interesting to see whether his successor can move things on even further.
Q: What about the new regulations for Formula 1 that Max outlined at Magny Cours; two-race engines, aerodynamic changes, 2.4-litre V8s for 2006?
OP: It's difficult to say much about the proposed technical regulation changes for 2006. While it is important that we keep the cars within acceptable safety margins for the circuits and many people are concerned about cost issues, I think it's also important that any changes are well thought through. We need to make 'the show' more appealing for both TV viewers and spectators at the circuit. It is already a great sport but we can make it even better.
Q: The changes appear to be being introduced ahead of time on safety grounds. Do you agree that the cars need to be slowed?
OP: If I felt that the cars were too quick then I'd stay at home! No, seriously, you obviously have to keep a cap on speeds over time but, as I said, I think you have to think things through very carefully. You can never become complacent and we should always continue to evolve the safety of the cars and the circuits. But we should also be careful not to over-react.
Q: How was your Magny Cours weekend?
OP: On to the racing at Magny-Cours, I have to admit I have had better weekends! I was hoping for a repeat of last year when I scored a point, but it was a tough weekend. At Indianapolis we weren't hurt as much by lack of downforce as we were in France. It's something we are all well aware of and which we are all working hard on with the aero department in our wind tunnel at Cologne.
At Magny-Cours we weren't helped by much of the free practice being washed out by the inconsistent weather conditions. My qualifying set-up was not quite right and the car was bottoming out at a couple of places. I qualified 14th when we've shown the potential to be in the top 10 at a lot of places. Then, in the race, I had a problem with the clutch at the start and was last at the end of the first lap. From then on I attacked as hard as I could but in a race which saw 18 cars finish, there was no way back from there.
Q: How do you keep motivated when things are not so positive?
OP: Silverstone will be our eighth race in 11 weeks, so our feet have barely touched the ground. Forgetting us drivers for a moment, you've got to spare a thought for the guys in the race team and at the factory during such a punishing schedule. It might be a harsh physical environment for the driver when he's racing, but we do get to relax a little, which is more than can be said for some of the factory guys. Everyone has been working eleven-tenths on the revised car for Hockenheim on July 25 and my motivation could not be higher. I really want to see them reap some reward and also a return for all my hard work over the last two seasons too.