Ryan Briscoe is the new F3000 driver for Nordic racing and the reserve driver for the Toyota Formula One team. Following is a transcript of a recent telephone interview by Australian media with 20-year-old Australian racing driver Ryan Briscoe,...
Ryan Briscoe is the new F3000 driver for Nordic racing and the reserve driver for the Toyota Formula One team.
Following is a transcript of a recent telephone interview by Australian media with 20-year-old Australian racing driver Ryan Briscoe, who will race this year in the International Formula 3000 Championship, starting in Brazil at Easter. Briscoe is also the reserve driver for the new Toyota Formula One team.
Host's introduction: Good morning to everyone in Australia and good evening to Ryan Briscoe in Italy. Ryan is no stranger to most of us now and we just wanted to catch up with him ahead of the start of the International Formula 3000 Championship in Brazil. Ryan will be driving for Nordic Racing, the team with which Englishman Justin Wilson won the F3000 title last year in front of Australia's Mark Webber. In addition, Ryan is already the reserve driver for Toyota's new Formula One team, so he is attending all the Grands Prix this year, irrespective of whether there is an F3000 round at each particular event. Ryan drove a Toyota F1 car this week in Barcelona and he will be leaving his home in Italy for Brazil early next week. He drove a Ferrari Michelotto in the Cleanevent Nations Cup at the recent Foster's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne and you will recall that he won one of the three races in that category. As usual in these conferences, everyone will be invited to ask a question in turn and once we've all had a turn Ryan may be happy to take a few more questions, provided we don't keep him up all night - because it's already quite late in Italy.
Q Ryan, Mark Webber said last year that he had a bit of difficulty swinging back and forth between the F3000 car and the (Benetton/Renault) F1 car he tested. Are you anticipating a similar challenge or are you comfortable you can make the change? You've now tested the latest F1 car and presumably you've been in an F3000 car quite recently too.
Ryan Briscoe: The transition going F3000 to the F1 car probably isn't going to be the problem, as I've just done, but with Brazil coming up now just after my last test in the F1 car, hopefully it won't be too much of a problem. I have spoken to Mark (Webber) about it and he said you've got to be careful, especially with the braking, and also in the fast corners, so I'm going to be preparing myself, but this really will be the first test going into qualifying in Brazil (on Friday, March 29).
Q Being a reserve driver and having to go to every GP, as opposed to a driver who tests maybe occasionally or even quite a lot, is there any special training a reserve driver has to do because you could be called on to race if anyone gets ill suddenly or gets hurt quickly?
Ryan Briscoe: I guess you have to be physically fit and prepared for that occasion, and also you've got to know the rules and regulations of the racing and F1 - probably the only two differences from the test driver who only does testing, but in any case if I wasn't the reserve driver they'd be the norm anyway.
Q How's your week been with the F3000 testing and then F1?
Ryan Briscoe: My last test of the F3000 was in Silverstone (in England). The weather was all right. We started off both days in wet conditions, which was all right, good to get a feel of the car in the rain, and we made good some progress with the set-up of the car. We have sort of changed directions a bit with the settings and sort of taken a new road from what we started with and it was all looking pretty positive. We didn't really get to put it into use in good circuit conditions in Silverstone, but it was looking quite good. This week I was in Barcelona testing the F1 and it was interesting, it was good to get back in the car, but we had lots of problems with car hydraulics and electronics, they were trying lots of new systems, and they seemed to be quite unreliable, which was expected anyway, but I would have liked to have gotten more running in while the track was good. At the end of the day we completed a couple of long runs where the car held together, but we were on around 100 kilo fuel load. It was all right and lots of things were found out, that the reliability wasn't so good.
Q How are you are feeling going into the F3000 season? How competitive do you think you will be?
Ryan Briscoe: I'm hoping that I will be up there. My aim for the first race is to get points, being the top six. I think in practice so far we have been a little bit behind the top guys and we are working hard to lessen the gap. I have had a few meetings with the team engineers and been talking through a lot of stuff and a lot of the things we tested in Silverstone turned out to be very good and hopefully they will bring me close to the front guys in Brazil.
Q It's been an amazing start really in relation to what a lot of critics suggested might be the case with Toyota in F1 this year. How is the mood in that team?
Ryan Briscoe: The mood is excellent. Everyone is really motivated. I think that (world championship) point they got in Melbourne has really uplifted everyone working there and they can see the car is quite competitive - a lot more competitive than what anyone was expecting. So hopes are high and it's a good atmosphere within the team.
Q So does this make it harder for you mentally to go back to F3000?
Ryan Briscoe: No, I wouldn't say so. It's a separate thing really.
Q What are you finding are the big changes going from the Formula Renault and Formula 3 cars you were running last year to F3000 and then to the F1 car? What are you finding perhaps the most difficult to become accustomed to?
Ryan Briscoe: It's the beginning of a season and coming out of Formula Renault or at the end of the season my car was working very well. I'd sort of worked on the set-up all during the year and from halfway through the season on I had a car that was working pretty much perfectly for my driving. Getting into this new F3000 car, where the set-up hasn't been terrific for me, we're still at the beginning and trying to work it all out. The basic car is quite a lot heavier and bigger, it has got more horsepower, bigger brakes, but that's not really a concern. It's more about just trying to find the right set-up, which at the moment has been a bit of a problem.
Q With the F1 car, do they (Toyota) allow you to fiddle with set-up to suit yourself or do you run with parameters that they set and just see how it works?
Ryan Briscoe: At the moment I'm just sort of testing stuff they want to try and it's not necessary to improve lap time, it's just to try and get data on the telemetry, so up until now it hasn't been really set up based around my driving.
Q How many circuits in the F3000 championship have you raced on or tested on?
Ryan Briscoe: I'm missing (have not been on) Spa, Monaco, Nurburgring, Hockenheim - I think that's it. I've done a test in Brazil in an F3 car in January, which was just 40 laps, so that will be quite new as well.
Q That would seem to be about one-third of the tracks? Are there 12 races at 12 different tracks this year?
Ryan Briscoe: Yes, there are 12 races.
Q So, starting in Brazil, then doing an F3000 race at each of the European GPs, missing Canada, and is there a race at Indianapolis?
Ryan Briscoe: No. Brazil is the only non-European race we (F3000) do; the rest of the races are all in Europe.
Q So Monza would be the last race?
Ryan Briscoe: Yes, Monza is the last race in September.
Q Pertaining to your F1 role and ambitions, do you feel under any pressure particularly to put in a good performance in F3000 this year?
Ryan Briscoe: For sure I've got to perform and there's always pressure and it's always going to be a part of anyone's motor racing career, but I'm just going to be out there and trying to do my best, and when I'm driving the car and trying to win Toyota isn't in my thoughts.
Q What's it like being at the GPs with the Toyota team, knowing that you are very, very close to being out there competing in the F1 car?
Ryan Briscoe: It's very interesting. I'm still very new to the scene and it's just really interesting for me being there in amongst it all and just listening to everything that's going on. At the time when I'm there it's quite a funny thought thinking that maybe I could be out there some time soon, but basically while I'm there I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from the other two drivers (Mika Salo and Allan McNish).
Q How do you get on with the other two drivers and do you attend the debriefings after practice, qualifying and the race?
Ryan Briscoe: The attitude of others, I get along fine with them; they are really good guys, they are happy to give me advice most of the time. With the briefings, sometimes after qualifying if it's all a bit heated I try and stay out of the way, but a lot of the briefings I get involved with.
Q You said that you had spoken to Mark Webber about the business of switching between F3000 racing and F1 test driving. When did you talk to him - before or after his F1 debut in Melbourne? And what did you think of Mark's debut?
Ryan Briscoe: I've spoken to him throughout last year, so it was well before he even knew he was going to be racing F1. I spoke to him quite a bit during the season last year and he was just saying he was having a few difficulties with the switch, but about his GP debut in Melbourne I just think it was fantastic for him. It couldn't have been any better.
Part II Brisco interview