AUSTRALIAN GP - FRIDAY - QUALIFYING REPORT

Ferrari ahead but McLaren and BAR impress

Rubens Barrichello, Australian GP 2003

Rubens Barrichello, Australian GP 2003 

 Â© The Cahier Archive

The first qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix, the first session to be run in the new car-by-car format over a single flying lap resulted in the fastest time for Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello, who was faster than Michael Schumacher.

"I am not sure that everyone was running low fuel today," said Rubens, "so we will have to see what happens tomorrow."

Michael Schumacher was disappointed to be only fourth fastest and complained that he had suffered from having to run first in the session because of the dirt on the race track.

"It seems that I was the track cleaner today," he said.

Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest in his McLaren despite a small mistake at the first corner on his flying lap when he braked too late.

"I pushed too hard and went wide," he said "but otherwise it was a good run."

The biggest surprise in qualifying was the speed of the two BAR-Hondas. This was made all the more impressive as the team has serious engine trouble in the morning session and Jacques Villeneuve had done only a handful of laps before the qualifying session began.

"I was really surprised," Jacques admitted, having said the third fastest time. "I only completed a few laps and I did not know where to be on the racing line or where to brake. The car was very easy to drive but in the first two corners I was not as quick as I could have been."

Villeneuve's BAR team mate Jenson Button was fifth, three-tenths down on the Canadian driver.

David Coulthard was sixth fastest in his McLaren after what he called an "average run" while Renault drivers Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli were seventh and ninth, the pair being split by the Toyota of Olivier Panis. Panis's time was impressive as he made a bad mistake at one point and yet was still less than a second off the fastest time. His team mate Cristiano da Matta was 11th fastest. The team in the biggest trouble was Williams with neither driver having any real complaints except to say that the car was just not quick. Ralf Schumacher had a very bad time with a big moment and he ended up 16th overnight.

FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 07/03/2003

TEAM PRINCIPLES: Gerhard BERGER (BMW), Eddie JORDAN (JORDAN), Paul STODDART (MINARDI), Frank WILLIAMS (WILLIAMS), Jean TODT (FERRARI), Ron DENNIS (McLAREN)


Q: We will start at the back. Gerhard, if I can begin with you. Just your general view on the new rules, how they worked out today, how you think they are going to pan out tomorrow?

Gerhard BERGER: It was very interesting when the practice started, it was such a different picture than the past, to what we are used to seeing, but I think everything went well. I think there were no big problems and it was quite interesting to watch and especially with one car on the circuit, the camera on the car, you have time really to see each car, to concentrate to see what they are doing. I found it a nice Friday practice and more interesting than in the past.

Q: How do you see things panning out tomorrow with the fuel load potential?

GB: Everybody is speculating, nobody really knows what is the right thing to do. In the first three races, particularly, we are going to see different ways to approach this new regulation. I think everybody is just looking forward to seeing how it really works and what are going to be the problems, what is going to work out well. It's very interesting.

Q: Your situation: you made an announcement a couple of days ago that you're going to leave at the end of your contract. I was told that you stopped working now for the team but you are still wearing the shirt. What is the situation?

GB: The situation is that I have a contract until September but we decided, after this race, to go out of the daily business. I'm still going to be involved in some strategic questions so, as Frank likes to talk with me and we do our negotiations together for the future, I'm still helping and I am coming from time to time to races but basically I'm dropping out after this race.

Q: We will miss you. We will move on to Eddie. Eddie, what were your feelings about the new regulations, how did you think they worked out today?

Eddie JORDAN: Maybe because they were new regulations I was slightly more apprehensive. I think it's more daunting, maybe because you are focussed on one thing. Slightly different to Gerhard, my thoughts were that I got three and a half minutes of uninterrupted television. My sponsors should be happier because it's a more equitable situation, which is very important to me particularly. I like that. Apart from that, it was different and I'm still not sure whether it's better or not, time will tell. But it's certainly different and it gives me, right at this moment, something that I wouldn't normally be able to guarantee which is coverage, and that's, is important.

Q: What about the morning session, was that beneficial to you?

EJ: Looking at the times this afternoon, you would have to say maybe not. I think for a new driver - and Jordan has always, in many cases anyway, been instrumental in bringing on young blood, and somebody has to do it - in that case I think it is a big benefit because for the driver to come and do a lap in these difficult situations, the extra time on the circuit is particularly beneficial and not just beneficial in terms of time but also in terms of safety because he is building up on his own, if you like. He knows where his braking points are and the strategy towards that lap. I think for us every case is different. For Jordan right at the moment it is the right thing to do.

Q: Do you think overall in the commercial climate at the moment things are looking positive for Formula One especially with this new look?

EJ: I certainly hope so. I'm a total optimist and on that basis I have to say yes. But we always try to do our best, we all have to work as one. It's our responsibility as well to make sure that in times of difficulty we must always do what is best for the overall championship. This is not a political reply, this is just my opinion that we all need to be, off the track, our very, very best friends and, if possible, to assist each other to achieve that.

Q: That's something I might bring up with Paul in a moment but, first of all, how did things go for you, how did you feel the new look went today?

Paul STODDART: For us it was fantastic. We needed those two hours this morning. We had a few technical problems through very limited testing over the winter, both cars only having had one run each before they came here. We would have been in trouble without it. Also, as with Eddie, we have got a new driver in Justin Wilson and he needed the track time. It would have been very hard for him to go into a single lap without having had a little bit of knowledge of the track. As we saw, although it didn't affect them, with BAR, in the reduced Friday time now you can have a bad day and you could be in a situation, particularly with a new driver, technically putting him into a session like we have just gone through without having had any track times. So for us the Friday morning session worked quite well.

Q: And the qualifying, how did you feel that looked?

PS: Very, very exciting, and that is what it was supposed to be. I think today we've seen the closest thing we will see to qualifying in that all the cars were running undoubtedly low fuel and closest to their qualifying trim, whereas tomorrow strategy is going to play a lot. I've done a few interviews back to the UK after qualifying, and it seems to be going down very, very well back there and it has got people talking about Formula One and they're going to be talking about it more tomorrow: what was Michael on, what was the fuel load, what was it really compared against McLaren or Williams? And if we can get people more interested in Formula One and more interested in talking about Formula One we have achieved what we are looking to do, which was to brighten it up a little bit.

Q: We have heard quite a lot over the last three or four weeks about the Fighting Fund. What is the situation with that and how important is that to you?

PS: I think it's fundamental to us. Still under discussion at the moment. We don't make any secret about the fact that we are struggling this year to find enough budget to compete against these guys but basically we are doing the best job we can do and I think it's important that we keep 10 teams in Formula One, it's a bit of a special number, and if that takes a bit of a fighting fund to do then really so be it, because I think all the 10 teams, as Eddie said, need to stick together and we should be looking at the good of the championship and not any individual issues.

Q: Frank, your feelings about qualifying today, the new look to it all, the new look to the weekend, how it's going to pan out tomorrow?

Frank WILLIAMS: Eddie and Paul have touched on it very appropriately. The two matters which drove its introduction were, one, to be sure everyone got a good share of the television exposure available, which to date hasn't always happened, and secondly to spice up the show and therefore that second question is best answered somehow by fans, by people who watch - TV figures in the end will speak for themselves - but that's why it's not for me to say it will work: the people who matter will tell us.

Q: How much of a handicap do you think it's going to be for Ralf, that little mistake of his?

FW: It's a handicap and it's regrettable but both cars are rather off the pace today. I do believe in miracles, though.

Q: Frank, this arbitration case that you and Ron are bringing against the FIA, could you just tell us what the schedule is for that now?

FW: The schedule I can tell you about but the whys and wherefores we went through that 10 days ago very extensively and globally, and I'm not going to go through it again for the benefit of anyone's perverse pleasure. Simply, arbitration is unlike a court of law, it's pretty private, it takes a long time and in this case there is only one lawyer who is an appointed judge by the Geneva or Swiss Chamber of Commerce and he will deliberate in due course and make his own decision. Once the racing begins, I guess it won't be mentioned again for 12 months. Maybe longer.

Q: Frank, the other thing today is from you, from the team, is that you signed a new sponsor. Is that a changing climate, do you think? It's very important for Formula One obviously, but from a commercial point of view?

FW: It was not a major sponsor; I must clarify that, but a welcome one. We have had some modest success but only modest success this winter. To date we have not appointed, if you like - a pompous word, I should withdraw that - we have not succeeded in obtaining a major sponsor on the car. That must reflect even more on people like Eddie and Paul because their task is more difficult trying to find fresh money for the car but there are a few green shoots about. There is still a lot of global business going on despite the low stock market, everyone in those markets is driven to deliver profits. That means they have got to sell things, some people may use the tool of Formula One to help themselves, that's how we look at it. But it's all uphill right now.

Q: Jean, your feelings about today, how it went, the new look, and how it may pan out tomorrow?

Jean TODT: Today, the major change - two changes, one the free practice was divided by two so we had to change our program between 11 and 12, which is quite a significant change taking into account some other competitors are running two hours before. And the second big change is one timed lap, which is determining tomorrow's qualifying and the only lap during the whole weekend when you have fresh tyres and low fuel. It's different and the biggest changes are coming tomorrow because, as you know, after free practice we will have to put a new package together for qualifying and for the race and then we will not be able to touch the car, to change the set-up of the car, which will be the biggest change and you will qualify the car on the one lap with fuel and on the one amount of fuel which will make the thing more unpredictable.

Q: You've been very positive about the changes so far. Do you still feel the same way?

JT: I don't think you can say we have been positive. We have accepted them. On behalf of Ferrari we were more in favour of no change and I think it's quite understandable: why should we ask for some changes considering the season we had last year? But saying that, we wanted to avoid any controversy and we feel that what has been finally agreed is the maximum we could accept even if with some points we don't feel very comfortable. But hopefully we will be able to make a point after two or three Grands Prix to see what has to be restructured in all those changes.

Q: Ron, first of all your feelings about today and about tomorrow?

Ron Dennis: I think today was the first of, let's say, changes that the teams suggested - I think that's an important thing to remember, the single lap qualifying that we experienced today and tomorrow is something that came out of the teams as a sort of think-tank of how could we put a fresh face on Formula 1. I don't think it's for us to judge. We are fiercely competitive individuals, passionate about motor racing, so you tend to watch the performance of your own cars in a very different way to that of the others and therefore there is a sort of a tension that you feel when your own cars are qualifying and a more relaxed approach when other people's are qualifying, which is understandable, so really the judge has got to be the spectators and the TV viewers. And how well it works I think is very much going to be linked to the quality of the commentators and how well they have researched and what sort of material they've got to stimulate what is a different show and a show where they are focusing on one individual. So I hope that those people who have got the task of covering that single lap have put the effort in because I think that the sport in general lacks in TV presentation. You can see something as slow as the America's Cup and it's pretty interesting and exciting, as is some of the golf coverage and some of the other sports which could be almost tortoise-like in their presentation. So the success of the single lap qualifying I think is going to be very much linked to the quality of commentary.

Q: On another subject you have been involved in a bit of a war of words. I don't want to go into it at the moment, but I think the feeling is you are here to race. Is that the situation, have things calmed down a bit?

RD: You say calmed down, I don't think it was anything other than calm. As Frank said, we sort of tend to act in unison because we are a sounding board for each other's opinions. We represent our companies but the decisions that we took together were not even in isolation, they involved technical directors and the management of our companies. And I think we, to be honest, quite reluctantly brought into the public domain a very clear understanding of what our position was. Because it was very clear, I don't feel it's necessary to elaborate on it here. We're here to race, we are here to make the best out of the regulations that we have governing this event. I think Jean alluded to the fact that I think we all feel that there is a necessity to look to three races - I think the FIA has agreed to look at the whole thing, three races from now, and see if things have worked that we should adopt in a more structured way and things that maybe haven't worked that we should consider changing. And I think if there is that openness then perhaps the controversy that surrounds the lead-up to this race can be best tempered but I think that's pretty much all I have to say about that.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR:

Q: So many questions and so little time. Ron, you weren't always the boss of a mega successful team, you have humble beginnings like some of the other gentlemen here. You made some disparaging remarks about Minardi. I'm just wondering why you did that and are you perhaps a little embarrassed about that in retrospect?

RD: First of all, I think there has been some pretty good amplification, interpretation of what I actually said. I met with Paul yesterday afternoon, we spoke about it. The only thing that I said about Paul's team was in one particular interview, which was recorded, and in which I really came to the support of Eddie who had been continuously positioned as being exactly the same as Minardi in its form and its history. The remark I made, which I can't remember the exact words, were just that that wasn't the case. Why did I make them? Well, it was one of those rare moments that I listened to Eddie and I thought I was trying to help Eddie, in trying to separate the two teams. I don't think it was particularly wise to say it but it was two or three days of intense media work that I was involved in and I think Paul understands very clearly from our conversation that I don't wish him anything other than a positive future. Perhaps in my support, I could say that the Fighting Fund that everybody keeps referring to was initiated by myself. There is a belief that all of the teams have pulled away from that. I can say that neither - and I can't speak for Frank but I think he will nod - neither of Williams or McLarens have pulled away from that as a concept, we have made it very clear that we are very keen to resolve a range of outstanding issues and in resolving those issues we've made it equally clear that we do not expect, irrespective of the rights or wrongs of the amount of money that Paul received last year, we do not expect him to pay it back whether he is right or wrong. That leaves aside other things that Paul and I discussed yesterday which I think perhaps gave him a different perspective on what the roles of some of the senior teams are and how they have been a bit more supportive than is perhaps apparent in the media.

Q: To clarify, you had a long meeting with Paul and you've cleared the air, you have a truce. Did you apologise to him?

RD: To be honest, I think what I said pales into insignificance beside what Paul said but we are not into a game of verbal tennis, I think we both respect each other's position. I know you seek, as always, the controversy of these issues but the fact remains that there is a lot of things and at the end of the day we are two professional individuals, we perhaps differ in our opinions occasionally, but nevertheless I think we respect our positions and we are now getting on with the job of trying to compete at this Grand Prix.

Q: I need to know: why is this money that you're fighting to keep or to redistribute so important to you guys when to me, and I guess to other people it seems to be nickel and dime stuff? For your operations, Frank and Ron, it's a drop in the ocean but for an organisation like Minardi it's survival money. It just looks really mean, you look like a couple of scrooges really.

RD: As is often the case, especially with yourself, you lack the knowledge or understanding of the situation. First of all, it's $22 million. If you think that's a small amount of money, then maybe you are overpaid. The second thing is it isn't to do with money. It's to do with some inadequacies, and there are many inadequacies in the Concorde Agreement, and a desire by a quantity of teams, not just Williams and McLaren, a quantity of teams, to properly resolve these shortcomings in how certain aspects of the fiscal arrangements of Grands Prix are currently structured. No one wants that resolution to impact on any specific team, and there is a whole package which is a compromise which both Paul and Eddie are aware of which does not require, and the other guys at the table here, does not require anybody to give any money back but which will lead to a clear resolution of the situation. If you say: well, you are being cheap- skatish, we are talking about the amount of money that is in question to date. If you extrapolate that through to the end of the Concorde Agreement it could be a hundred plus million dollars, and all we want is clarity and the clarity is not there.

Q: But there was never any sense that Paul or Eddie were going to get that much money, there was a proportion to go to them to help them, was it not?

RD: I'm sorry, you are wrong, you don't understand the issue, and I don't want to bore everybody here with the issue but I can assure you, you are wrong. It is a complex situation, there is absolutely nobody trying to hurt anybody over this issue. There have been several attempts to resolve it by other people other than myself and, as you present it, as the media has understood it to be, some parts of the media, they are just wrong; they don't understand the issue and it isn't a personal issue against Paul or any other team.

Q: Which is why I asked you to clarify it.

RD: Hopefully I've clarified it.

Q: Ron, in the new conciliatory mood that you are in, can you give me your opinion of Minardi, the team, and clarification - you do want to see them in Formula 1 next year?

RD: It's not for me to speak about Minardi. Speak to Paul. Paul knows what his position is. As Frank has pointed out earlier, it's a very tough world at the moment and it's no less tough for the larger teams than the smaller teams. Okay, fine, we have larger sources of income but we have larger expense and slimming the budgets of large teams is extremely painful, and don't think that we are not going through a diet because we all are.

Q: But at the end of the day, next season more particularly, you do want to see 10 teams in the sport next year? Some people say you have a hidden agenda where you would like to see less teams with more cars?

RD: 'some people? is the right expression. If someone would like to put their hand up as to having had a conversation with me first-hand that actually supports what you've just said, then let them put their hand up. It's a complete fabrication. I would like to see 12 teams in Formula 1. Why on earth would I want to see less? I can't see the logic of it. I can't see the logic of your argument, or your question. Why on earth is it in the interests of any team that is currently competing to have less than 10 teams? Because that imposes us an obligation to run a third car and there is not one team who wishes to do that.

Q: But I think one thing must be clarified. If it's a big company and you have shareholders, you have rich shareholders and poor with a minority of the share. Do you think that the ones who have a minority of shares get the same possibility or speaking and take decisions as the people, or the shareholders that have more share? So in the future, whatever you are doing, Concorde Agreement or not, are you expecting more power to the more historical and rich teams?

RD: Perhaps to give you greater clarity, I can tell you that the power of every team in Formula 1 in respect to the Concorde Agreement is equal, completely equal in every respect in the process of formulating the sporting regulations, the technical regulations and the commercial agreements, the power is equal. Perhaps one of my colleagues would like to?

EJ: Except money.

RD: The money is equal. It is equal in the sense that a restructuring of the finance took place between 97 and 98, which was far more equitable than it was before. And I completely support even making it more equitable in the future but the issue, the real issue, is not so much how we share the 23 per cent but increasing, which is the revenue share that we have of Grand Prix racing at the moment, but increasing that revenue share so there is more to go around. The simple fact is that the European professional footballers? association enjoys 75 per cent of their revenues.

Q: Exactly what the big companies say - Fiat, BMW.

RD: What do you mean to say?

Q: Exactly what you are saying, the big share divide, giving more to everybody who participates and so let's make it clear. The Concorde Agreement doesn't exist any more and you have to sit down, and pretty quickly I think, to make a new one.

RD: Again, I don't think this is particularly the format. We entered into a contract. The contract lasts until 2007 and everybody who is a party to it intends to respect it until it's unanimously agreed to be varied because that is the nature of this contract. I've never cried over signing a contract. A contract is something you sign and you honour it with your word and you can whinge and cry about it, it is tough and maybe we would like it different, but until 2007 or by unanimous agreement it won't change. It's not in our power to change it.

Q: Can we just ask everyone who is here today what level of agreement there will be between you to change the Concorde Agreement before 2007? Not just you, Ron but someone else as well?

FW: I should answer that. There are 12 parties to the Concorde Agreement. One is the FIA, the 10 teams obviously, and the other is Mr Ecclestone. I should start with Bernie because Bernie controls the amount of money that comes into Formula 1 and how it is distributed and he is, rightly or wrongly, not necessarily 100 per cent the lead person that would make things different but has a great deal of power. It is not accurate to say that only one or two teams have power, there are 10 votes for the teams and two for Max and Bernie and whether we like it or not we are all tied to it. But common sense, as always in these things, I believe will prevail. It is a sad affair that our laundry is being washed in public, that's just too bad, but it is newsworthy. Watch this space. In due course, we all feel that a number of things will have to be done quickly because the banks who earn 75 per cent are running out of time, they will demand with Bernie, I hope, and believe (indistinct).

JT: Maybe just one word. It is a group which has been created, GPWC, which is run by the major European manufacturers involved in Formula 1 and the President of the various companies are discussing together with Bernie Ecclestone, who is a shareholder of 25 per cent of his company and who is earning 75 per cent to see whether an agreement can be found for extending the Concorde Agreement for the future so it's an ongoing process and the President of the companies were directly involved with that. There was a meeting two days ago in Geneva, there is another meeting which will be run together with the teams in April so the thing is they are (indistinct) and there is not much more we can say.

EJ: By and large everyone would like to see a new Concorde Agreement. There have been too many in-house fightings because of inadequacies in that particular contract signed at the beginning all in good faith and in goodwill but as we prolong and go through the racing it has caused upset, not least of all what has happened in the last weeks in the media. I believe it will do two things. A happy and a successful Concorde Agreement signed by all parties and agreed to by all parties will give confidence not just through the media to the people but also to the commercial and sponsorship opportunities, because if we are doing a new Concorde Agreement it would necessarily be longer than 2007, 2008 structure and therefore give longevity. And what we need at the moment is a group of individuals all singing from the same hymn book and I think the sooner that this can be done with a form of equitable participation in a variety of affairs, will be a very, very major positive step and the sooner it can be done my belief is providing everyone can own up to it and get on with it to get the banks and Bernie and the major manufacturers together with the teams will be the best day's work we will have ever done for this sport. Because unless we do it, we need to see about succession and we need to see, as Ron rightly says, we need to see new teams in this business. Because we are not all going to be here forever. Gerhard is the lucky one, he can leave next week. None of the rest of us can. And at the moment it's a difficult place so let's get on with the new Concorde Agreement and let's have some real good racing and racing where we know where we are going to be and we are all united, all parties united.

Q: Paul, you are the only one who hasn't made a comment yet?

PS: I think basically the guys have summed it up that we do need a new Concorde Agreement. Whether we get one only time will tell. There certainly is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to try and make this happen but, as Frank touched on earlier, there is 12 people that have to sign, they all have to agree and before we are going to get change we need to get something that people can all sign up to and I think that's the difficult task ahead, is to get a document that will satisfy everybody. But I sincerely hope we do.

RD: I would like to add something because in reflecting on everybody's comments I think there is probably a significant misconception about the fundamental mathematics of the Concorde Agreement which perhaps will not paint the larger teams in such a bad light. I doubt whether anybody actually knows what the distribution is, how it's distributed. But to give you a round figure, just round figures, the team who wins the World Championship - so not any specific nominated team, the team that wins the World Championship in the preceding year - versus the team that is the last in the World Championship of the preceding year, receives double the amount of money. And the money is not huge, in round figures $22 million to $11 million. You might not feel that that is particularly equitable but maybe you all will be quite surprised that the spread, and it's relatively equalised out in increments from the tenth team to the first team, I don't think that is aggressively disproportionate. The fact is it was something like four to one pre-1997. Am I correct, Frank?

FW: In 1970 I went to Monaco for 900 pounds. Ferrari got about ten and a half thousand pounds and Lotus eight and a half thousand pounds. With no Concorde Agreement you get screwed.

RD: It is pretty equitable and very comparable today to other sports if you look at the spread from top to bottom.

Q: So what are you complaining about, what do you need to change?

RD: I'm not complaining.

Q: You just said you need to change the Concorde Agreement.

RD: One second. The Concorde Agreement has served us very, very well but it's a little bit like a camel; it's a contract that has evolved over many years and because of that evolutionary process, which is reflected or attempted to accurately reflect the changes in Formula 1 to when it was first initiated in - when, Frank?

FW: 81.

RD: 1981, there's a few things that need tidying up and obviously in every single renegotiation, at one stage it was every three years, then every five years etcetera, in every single renegotiation there has always been a pulling and a pushing and you've got some obscure elements within the Concorde agreement which don't currently work very well for anybody and it's those obscure areas which we have been trying to resolve.

Q: Ron, is it about money or not? You're slightly talking in riddles. It would really helpful if it's yes or no, money or not money?

RD: Well, as always you want to make something simple out of something that is complicated; it's not a simple yes or no answer. The simple fact is that Formula 1 is a sport at the point at which the race starts to when the race finishes. My opinion is in all another aspects it is a business and therefore the business aspects of the sport carry money with it. But the monetary issue, you won't believe this, but the monetary issue in respect of trying to resolve the ambiguity surrounding how the distribution of revenues takes place towards the back of the field, and it's not relevant to those teams, it is relevant to teams that stop, we have a strong desire to resolve it and the desire is to resolve it as opposed to grab more money for the wealthy teams.

Q: A question for Eddie and perhaps Paul as well. Eddie, your team started a little more than a decade ago under different conditions following on from the statements you made about the current state of the Concorde Agreement and what Ron said about encouraging new teams in. In your opinion is it possible for a new team or a new manufacturer to come into Formula 1 and be successful under the current conditions?

EJ: I speak absolutely my personal own viewpoint here and mustn't be confused. In the current climate, with the current wranglings and the current uncertainty, I think anyone who came into Formula 1 would either have to have billions of dollars or rocks in their head because it just does not make sense, and I say that sadly. Yes, I did come into it in ?91 and today actually in the qualifying it reminded me of the pre-qualifying, I don't know why, it just did, and they were the most difficult days in Formula 1. This is difficult times but I'm actually enjoying the fight: I feel much fresher on it and I've put my head down over the last months and I would encourage, although the climate is not exactly conducive for encouraging either new manufacturers or new people, I would like to see younger teams who have spread their wings and have won championships in Formula 3000 and sports cars and other activities given a chance. There is a couple of things that were put in place for the time, in other words a deposit element with the FIA and that was to restrict it so remember that prize fund, as Ron has said, only goes to the top 10 so therefore 10 is a vital number. To keep it up to 10 but also from the rest of us not to let too many over 10 get in because that's a guaranteed income and banks or any person that are involved in your team from a fiscal point of view, it's your balance sheet. Because there are two things that are important at the end of the day: the results of the team on the track and the results in the balance sheet, and each is as equally important as the other. I would love other teams to come into Formula 1 and I would love other sponsors and other partners and activities and I think the only way we can really do it is if we were all united. I've answered in a roundabout away, I'm not sure very clearly, but that's my personal view.

Q: Paul, anything to add?

PS: No, I think Eddie has gone through most of it you. I don't think in today's environment, sadly, that we are going to actually see any new entrants until, as Ron and Frank and indeed all of us have said, until the current issues are sorted out. It's not perhaps at this moment in time something that if you were a Chairman of a manufacturer that's not in this sport that you would want to be coming into until it's sorted out but it is up to us to do that.

Q: Jean, Ferrari have come under a great deal of criticism last year and heading up towards this season for the team orders farrago, whatever you call it, in Austria, and some of the events of the USA. Are you pleased to see the back of that under the new rules because it gets rid of the ambiguity?

JT: We have been talking a lot about that and the rules have been clarified in a way and we are going to follow all the new rules, including that, but bear in mind that whatever is the situation we will always privilege the interest of the company and if we are in a position to decide, that's the way we will decide.

Q: But that sounds like you are suggesting that if you decide Michael Schumacher is going to win a particular race because it is in the interest of the company then that's the priority for Ferrari and that is what will happen?

JT: It is not so easy to decide who is going to win. Most difficult is to try to be in a winning situation and if we will be in this situation, as I said, we cannot plan what is going to happen but the interest of Ferrari will always be the priority.

Q: Have you had any reaction or any discussions with Michael about this because, again, it clears the ambiguity for him as well, he doesn't need contracts and he doesn't need things to win races like Austria, he is going to win on his own merit and we all know he is a great champion?

JT: Team orders do exist since motor racing is existing so probably we did apply it in the most clever way and we will take that into account for the future, including with the new rules which have been established.

Q: But team orders don't exist any more?

JT: Yes, I know.

Q: Paul, you seem to be unusually subdued; I almost thought you would come in here with your boxing gloves on. Are you biting your tongue a bit here or maybe have you been muzzled at all?

EJ: Are you suggesting that Ron got to him last night? Is that what you really mean?

Q: Never.

EJ: You couldn't possibly suggest something like that.

PS: I have got to look at the interests of the team and a lot has been said over the last few weeks, a lot of it is regrettable. I think we are just here to get on with the racing and I think we started this press conference off on a very important thing, which was how the new rules affected us. I said before, I thought they were fantastic today. I think tomorrow is going to be even more exciting and basically if we have done that then we've done what we have set out to achieve at the back end of last year, which was to liven up Formula 1. I don't ever think it was boring but it was certainly a little bit more exciting today, and I'm just going to get on and run my team as best I can.

Q: I will throw this open to all of you and maybe a couple can answer. We have been hearing some whispers in the paddock that teams might cheat during impound. I don't want to use the word ?cheat? but is there any concerns that a team might find a loophole or stretch the regulations too far while the cars are in impound in the garages?

RD: The ability for a team to breach a regulation knowing that it would be in contravention of that regulation has existed ever since motor racing started, and part of the controversy I think that exists at the moment in respect of the new rules is that a broader window of opportunity is presented as a result of the ability to take a more radical interpretation. But the teams are a pretty honourable bunch and there is certainly a history of teams pushing the envelope but I think a team deliberately abusing a regulation is to me a distant memory and I don't believe there is any team that is going to knowingly effect a change on its car during the scrutiny period, as it were. I think it shouldn't exist but that's a different issue.

Q: Just one question about the $22 million from last year. Are you going to share them equally between the 10 teams at the end of the day?

RD: It's completely unresolved. It's an unresolved issue and there have been several attempts to resolve it and there is no one on this podium here that has not contributed to trying to resolve it.

Q: So you are going to let us know when it's done?

RD: Probably not, because I can't see a commercial matter of this nature has any relevance to the media but no doubt it will get resolved. We are keen to get it resolved but why any team should choose to share its fiscal affairs with the media, that's for them to choose.

Q: Ron, you say it's of no relevance to the media but a little while ago you were saying you don't understand. Of course we don't understand because this agreement is not transparent?

RD: I'm talking purely the mathematics.

Q: But it would help us to understand, there is a lot we don't know. Would you and Frank and Paul and Eddie and Jean and Gerhard, would you support a move to make this agreement, broadly speaking, transparent? Maybe not the exact numbers but so we can understand what is going on because a lot of this is that we don't know about the very fundamental rules that govern this sport?

RD: Unfortunately, one of the parts of the Concorde Agreement relates to confidentiality and as and when you sign the Concorde Agreement then you are obliged to respect that confidentiality so I think no one is really opposed, they are just following their obligations under their signature.

Q: But you could change it, like other things you want to change?

RD: To be honest, personally, I have no fear in having a completely transparent arrangement available to everyone. I personally don't feel uncomfortable with that.

Q: Frank, would you be happy for it to be transparent?

FW: If all the teams and the other two parties agree on concurrence, sure, not a problem with the prize fund.

Q: And the other four gentlemen, your comments please?

GB: I think it's up to these guys.

EJ: You're lucky, Gerhard. He's packing his case. I think transparency can be done in many guises. There are some people that I actually believe, and they know the team I'm talking about, I think there is a case that there should be an exceptional case for somebody who has for very many years, as is in column two, a set regulation of the years you have been there and you get what you earn. I'm not sure it can all be equally divided so therefore if somebody like Ferrari has put 50 years into this business and Frank next up after that and then Ron, I have no problem with them getting and receiving what may be called a loyalty bonus or a long service bonus, like anyone else in staff or working their way up. What is the point of putting all of the effort in good and bad times into Formula 1 if there is not some significant or beneficial route for them to attain? The whole fundamental way of how we all work and get our annual increase or something like that. So transparency, maybe, but I'm not really sure, Mark, why you need to see that. There is nothing sinister at all in it. And I may just add one thing: Ron did make one comment and I know he gets lashed on many occasions by you guys, but that day, the day of the new rules in a pre-meeting that morning he was the one who tried hard to put together a significant amount of money to support activities, and it should be borne in mind.

FW: I can confirm that. Ron Dennis was the only person, in the afternoon?

EJ: No, what happened in the afternoon was a pity because we all agreed to the new rules, or we all understood the new rules, and the continuation of what was widely mentioned in the press got put aside. It is a shame the two of them couldn't have been done concurrently.

FW: In the afternoon when Max took over the meeting, the official FIA meeting, the request of money came up and the only team who unreservedly, without qualification, said ?count me in? was the gentleman on the right in a white shirt. I said we will if BM will go partners with us and Guy can confirm that, we had a conversation subsequently. Some people said ?get lost?, and it was left unresolved but I will just say one further thing, that subject to clarification of the clauses in the Concorde Agreement I earnestly believe teams will take care of Paul, or most of them. It has occurred in the past that some people, when money was needed for one particular team, not necessarily because they didn't have enough money to complete a season but because of - what is the word - ambiguities in the Concorde Agreement, a number of teams, usually the same teams, cough up in silence and without complaint. Why? Because we have signed a document and we believe the document. Next time around, I hope there is more up for grabs, more money for everybody, maybe there will be. It depends how good we are at negotiating but right now we are honouring our commitments to the Concorde Agreement, that's why we are all here today.

Q: Paul, Jean, transparency?

JT: There is a transparency. We have the percentage of the different columns which are quite clear and we are just debating about some money which is due to some teams who are not any more in Formula 1 and then it's up to the teams to decide what is the outcome of this money and how to distribute it but the rules are clear: no money has to be distributed equally among the teams unless another agreement will be undertaken. Here you have only five team principals and you have some other team owners who are like Peter Sauber, for example, who is paying his engine with the same kind of financial problems and I think don't think they should be (indistinct). So I all has to be equal for everybody, all things have to be respected as they are written.

PS: I think I like Eddie's idea because after Ferrari, Ron and Frank we are the next longest competitors so I like that idea of long service bonus.

EJ: It was linked to some form of performance, as well Paul, no disrespect.

PS: You didn't say that. I think we will see how things pan out over time. Nearly everything has been said in this conference, we need to concentrate on the racing and the Concorde Agreement will be and has to be sorted out because at the end of the day there are too many issues riding on this.

EJ: Just one final thing to clarify. In case you took on board, for example, that in the afternoon of that date the new rules, in fact it was nothing to do with the rule makers or the FIA, that was a matter of the teams so in case you don't get confused that it got sidelined. FIA had nothing to do with that money, that was a separate thing.


Ferrari:

Rubens Barrichello (1st, 1:26.372): "This was a very good day under the new rules and I am happy with the way things went. This morning we worked on tyre choice and even if we did not have much running time on a clean track, I was optimistic for the afternoon. Being quickest on the first day of the season is a morale booster, even if it does not mean much. Tomorrow we will have to see what is the right strategy, but I am reasonably confident of going well."

Michael Schumacher (4th, 1:27.103): "I felt a bit like a road-sweeping machine for all the other cars, cleaning the track, as I picked up all the dirt. It is obviously a disadvantage to be first on the road. In the end, Rubens did a very good lap and I did not. But tomorrow's session is the important one. It is too early for me to give an opinion on the new timetable for the weekend. I would have to wait for the end of this weekend to comment. But I can say I found it a bit strange doing one lap and then having to wait so long to find out what position I had."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "We can certainly say this was not the usual Friday and not just because it was the first day of a new season. It was also the first time we have come up against the new rules which provide for one hour of free practice, after which each driver gets just one timed lap to establish the order for Saturday afternoon's qualifying. While today's times are all relative, we can nevertheless say that the F2002 and the Bridgestone tyres appear to be pretty competitive."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It is difficult to draw an accurate conclusion from the session as we were first on the track and especially for Michael, it was quite dusty, which affected his time. Rubens did a super job. We need to get used to the new procedure, but today is not so critical and we will see what happens tomorrow. With Michael starting seventeenth and Rubens last, we should be able to do a good job. Both drivers chose the same tyre, but Michael had some difficulty getting it to work as the first man out. The tyres worked well in the morning and I am confident we have a good race tyre."

Williams-BMW:

Juan Pablo Montoya (10th, 1:27.450): "I cannot complain about anything in particular on my car as I had a pretty decent balance, even if I lost some time in a couple of corners. We took a conservative approach to todayís qualifying but nonetheless weíre a bit surprised to end up where we are."

Ralf Schumacher (16th, 1:28.266): "I just lost too much time in the first sector, I really got it wrong there. That was the main problem. In slow corners my car was understeering quite badly. If I look at the qualifying in general, I can see a lot of hard work for us."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "These are obviously disappointing positions for the first qualifying. We now have a picture of where we are and will work hard to improve the performance of the car for tomorrowís final qualifying and the race. The new format for qualifying worked fine and our procedures for operating to this new system proved to be okay."

Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: I found the first qualifying session very exciting. Due to the new rules a completely new picture comes up after all the years of routine. But I think everybody will get used to the new scenario quickly. It is great if one can concentrate on observing a car for a full lap. The procedure went well, there was nothing wrong with it except our lap times. Ferrari and McLaren were performing as expected, BAR was clearly better. And we are where we have been in the early tests, too far behind."

McLaren-Mercedes:

Kimi Raikkonen (2nd, 1:26.551): "During Free Practice this morning I went wide at Whitford corner and spun on the grass. I just managed to avoid the wall but damaged the floor of the car, which then had to be changed. During qualifying I went a bit wide coming into the first corner but apart from that I'm happy. The new format hasn't really changed the way I approach qualifying, as previously we also had to focus on getting things right for one lap - we just had more runs."

David Coulthard (6th, 1:27.242): "At the end of the Free Practice my fuel pump broke, but the team did a great job in getting the car ready in time for qualifying. I was struggling a bit with the balance of the car and because of the new format we didn't have the chance to fully optimise our performance. However our target was to start tomorrow's qualifying from the last six so that has been achieved."

Ron Dennis, Team Pricipal: "An uneventful first day's qualifying which only the TV viewers and Albert Park spectators can judge. From our point of view the challenge will be to get the strategy right for tomorrow."

Nobert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "An exciting start to the season with a few surprises. The 12 cars from Michael Schumacher to position 15 are only separated by half a second, and I hope it will stay as close as this. Kimi put in an excellent performance being less than two tenths behind the fastest. Tomorrow there is a big chance of rain, so qualifying will be a different issue than today."

Renault:

Fernando Alonso (7th, 1:27.255): "I cannot describe the great feeling I had today coming back to proper racing, after 18 months! This first day went extremely well, I feel confident in the potential of the car and very satisfied with the way the team has been working with me."

Jarno Trulli (9th, 1:27.411): "Overall a positive Friday session for me. This afternoon, as the track conditions improved, the cars positions kept changing. As far I am concerned, my placement is what was expected and I am confident I can improve tomorrow, when it really matters."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Our free practice time this morning was quite short due to the fact that we had also to perform a scheduled engine change, which made everything quite difficult. However, this afternoon we got out and managed to make some decisions on tyres, as the track temperature increased. Qualifying went very smoothly under the new procedures and our position is about where we expected to be in terms of competitiveness."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "From the engine side, a very encouraging first day here at Melbourne, with everything running according to schedule."

Sauber-Petronas:

Nick Heidfeld (12th, 1:27.510): "I lost some time this morning with a few electronic problems, including a false alarm with the dashboard, and with things the way they are now any loss of time is going to hurt you. Taking that into account, I was pretty happy with the way things went this afternoon. I made a couple of little mistakes, but the balance of the car was better and overall I really enjoyed the single-lap qualifying."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (13th, 1:27.563): "When we warmed the cars up this morning the team discovered an electronic problem on my initial chassis, C22-02, so I switched to the spare car, 03. This afternoon that car was a little bit oversteery and that was why I had that wobble at the end of the first sector. For sure it cost me a little bit of time. But qualifying was okay for me. It's important to put on a good show for the people, and I think we did that."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "The new qualifying mode gave us all a very positive experience today. It ran smoothly, gave the crowd a good show, and was good for Formula One. We all now appreciate just how little time it leaves for preparation however, and we have learned now how best to organise ourselves for the future."

Jordan-Ford:

Giancarlo Fisichella (14th, 1:27.633): "For me the main challenge was that in this morningís free session I had a problem with the car which meant that I lost the last 25 minutes of set-up work, so qualifying has been very difficult. We know we have to make some progress. During the qualifying run the car was not to bad over the first few corners but then I had some graining on the front tyres and that caused the car to have behave inconsistently over the last part of the lap."

Ralph Firman (17th, 1:29.977): "I am very disappointed but it was my first time qualifying the car and I was still learning a lot about the circuit. What counts is Sunday. I was driving as hard as I could to find the limit and pushed a little too hard when I was picking up understeer towards the end of the lap. The tyres had started to go off and weíll have to look at that and understand what was happening so that we can make the most of tomorrow."

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "Generally it was ok, I am not too disappointed. I think we should have done a little bit better, Giancarlo lost some time in T2, perhaps two or three tenths which cost us three or four places. I feel we could have nipped into the top ten. Ralph made a little mistake on the last sector and could have been a little bit better, but you only have a one lap hit so itís pretty unforgiving. The important thing is the race on Sunday."

Jaguar-Cosworth:

Mark Webber (15th, 1:27.675): "The Jaguar R4 has felt really good all day but I need to do a better job of controlling my aggression - something which ultimately cost me a much higher qualifying position today. I was simply trying too hard out there and made mistakes in both the first and second sector. The new one-lap qualifying format is intense to say the least but we have learned an awful lot today. Combined with the two-hour test in the morning, the team has done an excellent job of preparing the car and I must admit to being a little disappointed not to have delivered the lap time the car is capable of doing. Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go and we are all pleased with what we have learned about our package going into the race weekend."

Antonio Pizzonia (19th, 1:30.092): "It would have been significantly easier today had I known the track. Because the T-car was set-up for Mark during the two hour testing, my track time was limited because of the work the team was undertaking on my race car. From having had a handful of familiarization laps straight into qualifying was not easy and combined with my mistakes, the final lap time could have been much better - no doubt. I suppose it's far better to make mistakes at this stage of my F1 career than later and given how positive I feel about the Jaguar R4's potential, today's issues are really down to me - not the machinery!"

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Today was very busy for us in terms of on-track activity. We started the morning by running through our planned testing program, with particular emphasis on tyre comparisons and general set-up. Mark completed 40 laps with no issues, while Antonio managed 16 laps. This was down to the fact that Mark was undertaking laps in the T-car as well as his race car. We then used the Free Practice to focus our efforts on finding an optimum set-up for qualifying and in Antonio's case, help him better understand the nature and demands of a circuit he has never raced on. The new one-lap qualifying certainly lived up to the spectacle that it promised but it's fair to say that our car was better than the drivers today. Both Mark and Antonio made mistakes during their qualifying runs and while we are disappointed not to have done better, we walk away encouraged and pleased with the performance of the Jaguar R4. With another qualifying session tomorrow and the race on Sunday, it is futile to read too much into today's performance, albeit the honest admission of our drivers mistakes."

BAR-Honda:

Jacques Villeneuve (3rd, 1:26.832): "I'm really surprised with 3rd because we did hardly any running or set-up work this morning. I only completed two laps so I didn't know where to be on the race track, where to brake. I had to switch to the T-car and I thought that was it for the day; I thought we'd be qualifying 15th or something. Obviously I know the track but when you haven't done any set-up work there are no reference points. At the beginning of the first two corners I wasn't as quick as I could have been. I guess it all depends on how you warm your tyres up and the tyres held up quite well so the last sector was good. It's been a long time since I was this far up the grid and although today wasn't final qualifying, it was easy to see who was quick and who wasn't. It won't be as easy to see that tomorrow with people running different fuel levels. The guys did a fantastic job and it's a good result for the team."

Jenson Button (5th, 1:27.159): "After this morning's practice I'm delighted with 5th and it's a great team result. The guys did a fantastic job. Today was the first running I've done in this car on low fuel so it's great to see that we're running up there with the quicker guys. I had a slow middle sector and then suffered with understeer in the final corner but generally the car felt great. I just wish these were our final qualifying positions! That would be nice."

Minardi-Cosworth:

Jos Verstappen (18th, 1:30.053): "To me, it was really exciting to do the qualifying session like this, and I think everybody enjoys it. This is something new to all of us. I did a reasonable lap time - there wasn't a lot more there today - but then the car stopped on the track on the slowing-down lap because of a small technical issue. Fortunately, it is something we can easily fix."

Justin Wilson (20th, 1:30.479): "It was not too bad a time. It could have been a bit better, but at the end of the day, it's still a case of becoming familiar with everything. Also, getting used to the way the car handles with a light fuel load is a new experience. It all just takes a bit of adjusting to, but I'm reasonably happy."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Today saw the opening of European Minardi Cosworth's 2003 challenge at what is effectively the team's ?home? Grand Prix, here in Melbourne. With all the politics of the winter hopefully behind us, it was great to get out on the Albert Park circuit. The decision to adopt the Friday testing option has already paid dividends for European Minardi, as we were able to complete a useful day's technical programme, which we could not have done without the extra two hours of running time this morning. At 2pm today, we saw for the first time the new ?one-shot? session to determine tomorrow's qualifying order. It certainly did live up to expectations and has provided us with a mixed order for tomorrow's all-important, final qualifying session. Some teams have profited, while others have not, but it has done exactly what it was meant to do - make Formula One exciting again. Following Justin's F1 debut and Jos's return to the sport today, I must say how impressed I am by European Minardi's driver line-up this year, both guys putting in a sterling effort. It was also particularly pleasing to see how much we have improved our lap times compared with last year. We now look forward to an interesting final qualifying session tomorrow."

Toyota:

Olivier Panis (8th, 1:27.352): "We had some problems in free practice this morning, so we changed the set-up of the car a lot and I was quite pleased with the performance of the car in the session; it is very promising. I had some understeer on the first corner of my fast lap, which lost me some time, but I am very happy for the team that we see this potential. We now have a lot of work to do tonight before the practice and qualifying tomorrow."

Cristiano da Matta (11th, 1:27.478): "Today has been a difficult day for me, because this was my first time on the track and I only had 24 laps this morning to familiarize myself with everything. I am sure like every driver, I feel like I could have done better, but I am happy with the result and more encouraged by the overall potential of the car and the team."

Gustav Brunner, Chief Designer: "To be 8th and 11th in the opening session of the weekend is quite a good result for us. We have had no doubts about the clear ability of our drivers, Olivier and Cristiano, and they did not let us down today. Both did a good, solid job and we remain confident and hopeful for the rest of the weekend. Particularly promising was the fact that Olivier and Cristiano set the best and third best times in the middle sector."

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