US GP: Bridgestone press conference

Bridgestone Motorsport Press Conference June 17th 2004 Jean Todt Managing Director - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Hiroshi Yasukawa Director of Motorsport Bridgestone Motorsport Hirohide Hamashima Head of Tyre Development - Bridgestone...

Bridgestone Motorsport Press Conference June 17th 2004

Jean Todt Managing Director - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Hiroshi Yasukawa Director of Motorsport Bridgestone Motorsport
Hirohide Hamashima Head of Tyre Development - Bridgestone Motorsport

Q: Mr Todt, congratulations on your new role as Managing Director of Ferrari. It seems your responsibilities have grown with the team, and you are also a strong supporter of a brain and spine institute. How do you balance your responsibilities at and away from the track?

Jean Todt: I have a responsibility inside the Ferrari company which is covering the whole company, which is very interesting and very challenging. We have fantastic people in the racing department, so I need to delegate a bit more to them. There are very good people in the road car department, and Ferrari is producing the best GT cars on the market. We have very committed people and we have very competitive programmes in front of us, and I will give some contribution. So it's not a revolution in the company. Luca di Montezemolo has been appointed President of Confindustria and President of the Fiat Group and he remains President of Ferrari. It's just a redistribution of the role. It's true that I'm involved in a medical project based on research for the brain and spine, which is a very interesting subject, and I give some of my time, like Michael does, in favour of this project. It has some fantastic doctors and some fantastic friends who are really looking to do something.

Q: Bridgestone and Ferrari have a very successful long term working relationship. How important a role has the continuity of the partnership played in Ferrari's success?

JT: It's simply crucial. Without the support of Bridgestone we would be far away from the success we've had for these past years. We have built together with Bridgestone a fantastic partnership, on a human level and a technical level. We have integrated both structures, and we have made a fantastic step forward. Together we are very proud to write a nice page of Ferrari's history in F1.

Q: Mr Yasukawa, looking at the results of the teams on Bridgestone tyres so far this season, you have to be quite satisfied. How successful has the programme been in 2004?

Hiroshi Yasukawa: I'm very happy with these results. These results come from our people on the technical side and our partner team Ferrari isco -operating with a lot of effort. This effort is super, especially the human relationship and also the technical side. We have learnt a lot from Ferrari, and this has helped us achieve this result.

Q: Mr Hamashima, what do you take into consideration when you decide which tyre specifications will be used by teams at a particular circuit on a given weekend?

Hirohide Hamashima: About 20 years ago experience played a large part in the decision for the tyres. Now we make a map of the severity of the circuit, according to the longitudinal forces and the lateral forces. Then, after that, we decide the compound range.

Q: Mr Todt, how much collaboration is there between the Ferrari team and the Bridgestone engineers when designing next year's car?

JT: We have now been with Bridgestone for several years, and we have been very successful together. We have learned to know each other and to work together. The exchange of information is very deep, very much in detail. We have a specific group working together with the Bridgestone engineers under the responsibility of Mr Hamashima. I would say it's so crucial, the link between the tyres and the car now in F1. We have to do a lot of testing we do about 35,000kms tyre testing, which is a lot. We test compounds, we test constructions, and obviously we work on wet and dry tyres. We are working for the future as well, because development takes time. Very often before arriving at the final configuration it can be weeks or months. We are starting to develop the 2005 cars, and of course we involve the Bridgestone people. There is a big communication, because we have people travelling to Tokyo very often to participate in the definition of the tyres, and we have people from Bridgestone regularly coming to our plant in Maranello.

Q: Mr Yasukawa, what are your thoughts on the possibility that we could see just a single tyre manufacturer in F1 by the 2008 season?

HY: I've heard about this matter. We prefer a competitive situation, it's the best way, but of course if the regulations are going to change to a monopoly we prefer to stay in this field, because F1 is a very important business for our commercial side. Anyhow, we will aim to stay in F1.

Q: Mr Hamashima, looking more specifically at this weekend, what characteristics do you require from Bridgestone tyres? It must post some interesting challenges when you come to a track that gives you a banked corner to deal with.

HH: This circuit is a very, very difficult circuit, one of the most difficult circuits to decide the specification for. The last corner for F1, but the first corner of the Indy 500, leads to the long straight. That demands tyres with very high stability, and also heat durability. However, the infield requires a lot of grip from the tyres. Basically, the teams want a very low downforce car here, so the mechanical grip is very important. The tyre has to have high grip and also good heat durability.

Q: All but one race in 2004 has been won by Ferrari. Last week your cars were sixth and seventh on the grid, and yet you took a one-two finish. Can Ferrari win 15, 16, 17 races?

JT: No! I wish we could win every single race, but every race is a big fight, a big battle, because we are facing very strong competition. We must be very humble, because it's very difficult. We have a lot of competitors, who are very strong. The biggest manufacturers in the world are involved in F1, and if they are involved it's to succeed, to win. So you can imagine the pressure we have behind us. So I'm not able to tell you how many races we will be able to win. I hope that we will be able to win more races, and of course to win the championship. It's true to say that it seems as though we're in a good situation in the championship now, but there are still 10 races to go. Indianapolis will be, at the end of the race, the half way point in the season. There are still many things that can happen. We have to be very focussed, very concentrated, and very cautious.

Q: Mr Todt, I wonder if you might speak about the issues revolving around the smaller teams like Minardi and Jordan. There is some question as to whether commercially and financially they have the resources to continue long term. Will that force the larger teams to field three cars?

JT: We are running to the current Concorde Agreement, which says that 20 cars have to participate in each race in the F1 championship. It's true to say that if it would be less than 20 cars, then amongst the teams we should decide who is going to enter three cars, even if the third cars would not compete to score points. It's something that could happen, but we don't wish it to happen, because we feel it's a very balanced championship with 10 teams. We feel that it's important to have teams like Minardi and Jordan, who are doing a very good job. We know that F1 is very expensive, and we're having long discussions at the moment for the future of F1 to try to improve the revenues and try to reduce the costs. We know that for the moment F1 has become extremely expensive, and that's mainly due to this high competition between the top manufacturers.

Q: Quite clearly Max Mosley's plan is to drastically cut the cost of F1 in many areas, including a huge reduction in testing. That seems to be where it's heading in 2008. How do you sit with all this, because you already have an incredible infrastructure, including your own test track is Ferrari in accord with Max's proposals for the next generation?

JT: As I said we have had several discussions and ongoing discussions about the future of F1. We must be very conscious that what is changed does really cover the problem, because sometimes when you decide some changes you realise afterwards that if changes are made with too much emotion, without enough thinking, that you don't achieve what you want. We have one example with qualifying at the moment. At the end of 2002 it was decided to have a different qualifying because the intention was to have more unpredictable racing, because Ferrari was too dominant. I remind you that Ferrari won 15 races out of 17 in 2002. To try to avoid that, there were some changes. Qualifying was one of those changes. Probably from Silverstone on we will go back almost to what we had before. We are completely in favour of introducing changes for engine, for chassis, for testing, if it does achieve what we want it to achieve. So it's a decision which has to be very carefully thought out, and if it's in this direction, we're happy to support it.

Q: Would you be geared to running a much leaner operation, if the costs are cut so radically?

JT: We will only be happy to have the costs cut, as long as it achieves what it has to achieve. We are not happy when we spend a big amount of money we would prefer to spend less.

Q: So you'd be happy to reduce your staff, reduce your facilities, reduce the number of hours you spend in the wind tunnel, reduce the number of hours on the test track?

JT: You are mentioning so many things in 15 seconds, but tell me, what can be the rule to reduce the time in the wind tunnel? There is no rule to stop you having five wind tunnels if you want to. That's the danger, even if we exploit it by doing things which you don't see. If you reduce [testing] costs, then you will increase simulation facilities, and nobody will be able to control what you do in terms of simulation facilities.

Q: The manifesto that Max put out is it heading in the right direction?

JT: Part of the proposals are interesting, and we have to carefully study those proposals.

Q: There have been some conflicting reports in the European press about your future after your Ferrari contract is over. Can you clarify what's going on in 2006 and later?

JT: I have a contract at Ferrari until the end of 2006. I will remind you that I joined Ferrari almost 11 years ago on July 1st 1993. I had a contract until the end of '95, which was renewed until the end of '98, 2001, 2004, 2006... In our business we have contracts with a specific duration. It is true to say that nobody has stayed such a long time in my position at Ferrari, and I'm very happy about that. And I think the company is happy as well. So it's a good combination. We are living in a world with a lot of speculation. We have to cope with that, but I would be very cautious about that speculation, particularly concerning myself.

Q: Before too long you'll have to start searching for a driver to replace Michael Schumacher. Can you find a driver of his equal is there one on the horizon?

JT: Michael is an outstanding driver, and an outstanding person. He has won already six times the drivers' title. He's 35, he's more motivated than ever. Nothing says when he's going to stop F1, but something is sure, one day he'll stop. Our responsibility is to look around and see who will be able to take over his position, who will be able to take Rubens' position, my position, the positions of the key people in the team. We are considering of course for the future, but it's not a question for today.

Q: Mr Hamashima, how much information do you come away from an event with?

HH: Ferrari gives us so much data, and this is very important for example in deciding the severity map of the circuit. And also we are thinking about new generation tyres, and in that case that data is very effective. That analysis is even going into new passenger car tyres as well. Anyway, our F1 activity is very important.

Q: Lap speeds are up quite significantly this year, so the FIA will undoubtedly look at slowing the cars down, and the most natural way to do that is to attack the tyres. Are you expecting the FIA to ask you to make the tyres harder or slower for next season?

HH: At the moment we don't know the official action from the FIA. However, we are working with the Technical Working Group to reduce speed. Which parts are the most important things to reduce speed? If tyres are the most important thing, then in that case we'll respect the FIA's decision. But in my personal opinion, in competition, I believe it's very difficult to reduce speed.

HY: I also think the same thing. Of course, if we can do something, we will co-operate with the FIA. But car speed is not only about the tyres. We have to speak about the whole package. This matter we have to discuss.

Q: It's difficult to compare apples to oranges in terms of eras of F1, but in its current incarnation, is this Ferrari's greatest era?

JT: Ferrari is the biggest brand in motor cars and motor racing. It's very difficult to judge from one period to another one. If you ask about the last 10 years, my answer is definitely yes. Even the last 20 years. But I mean, since the beginning we have had fantastic drivers winning with Ferrari, like Ascari, Fangio, Surtees, Lauda. It has been a fantastic period for Ferrari. I'm not able to judge what was the best period, in the same way you can't judge the best driver ever. How can you compare Fangio to Michael? It's two different times.

-bridgestone-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Luca di Montezemolo , Jean Todt , Hiroshi Yasukawa
Teams Ferrari , Minardi , Jordan