MONACO GP - THURSDAY - QUALIFYING REPORT

Michael on top

Michael Schumacher, Monaco GP 2003

Michael Schumacher, Monaco GP 2003 

 © The Cahier Archive

Ferrari

Michael Schumacher (1st, 1:16.305): "I am happy with my time this afternoon, because the track was quite slippery as I was only the second car to run. Right since the start of the morning session, my car has been very well balanced, which obviously helped me do a good time. It is always difficult to predict what can happen here in Monaco, but we can be confident for the rest of the weekend, as the car is working well and we have identified our tire choice early, so now and on Saturday morning, we can concentrate on establishing the right fuel strategy for final qualifying and the race."

Rubens Barrichello (2nd, 1:16.636): "I am pretty satisfied with this result. This morning, at the start of free practice, the car was not perfect, but then we made some changes and the situation improved considerably. It was important to get near the top today in order to be among the last to run in Saturday's qualifying."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "The outcome of this first day in Monaco can only be described as positive. The times set today mean that our two drivers will do their runs at the end of Saturday afternoon's qualifying, which should give us a slight advantage. This morning we worked extensively on tire choice. As usual, Bridgestone has done a great job in providing us with the appropriate tires. Now we must wait for the race to see where we really stand compared with our opponents. Here, possibly more than at any track, chosing the right strategy is important, given that prior to qualifying, we must establish how much fuel to carry for Saturday afternoon and Sunday. We are confident that we have done a good job on a very unusual track. Both drivers did very well on a fascinating and demanding circuit. Both Michael and Rubens appear to have arrived here in great form."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It was a good session, but the track conditions changed a lot throughout qualifying; not so good at the start, then gradually improving, before getting worse once the oil was put down. The car worked well and so did the tires, which has allowed us to identify quickly our tire choice for the rest of the weekend and both our drivers are satisfied with it. So, I think we will be competitive. Now we will have to concentrate on finding the right strategy for the race."

Williams-BMW

Ralf Schumacher (6th, 1:17.063): "After this morning's Free Practice, when things didn't go very well, we managed to improve the set up of my car for the First Qualifying session. I am really happy with my time today even if there's still some work ahead of us for the Final Qualifying. The entrance to the Rascasse corner, which has been changed since last year has improved and it now has a better flow. Definitely they did a good job. Also the newly asphalted parts are an improvement infact all of the circuit could well undergo the same treatment!"

Juan Pablo Montoya (8th, 1:17.108): "We had a difficult free practice session this morning, but my car improved throughout it and I hoped I could get something better out of it this afternoon. I am definitely not happy with my qualifying position. The car wasn't as fast as it should have been and I also experienced a problem at the fourth turn where I could not slow down the car quickly enough, which made me lose some time. Let's see how we can improve for Saturday's qualifying which is definitely more important than today's."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "We have had a reasonable first day but there is some time to make up to the front row. We have made some changes since this morninges practice session and they were definitely in the right direction. We now have a basis to get the set up right for Saturday and we are hoping for a good session."

Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "The first results don't really mean too much in Monaco. The grip of the track can change a lot before Saturday's Final Qualifing. The gap to the best Renault driver the quickest car today on Michelin tires is about 1.5 tenths of a second which means that there's still some more to gain for us. Our drivers set similar times but I believe they both can achieve much more."

McLaren-Mercedes

David Coulthard (5th, 1:17.059): "A rather unspectacular qualifying lap as there is no need to push 100 per cent today as you don't want to take any unnecessary risks. However, I could have gone a bit faster but I lost approximately half a second in the last sector. We can still improve the balance of the car, so let's wait and see what happens."

Kimi Raikkonen (11th, 1:17.926): "Eleventh is obviously not brilliant but I would be more worried if I was in the same position after Saturday's qualifying. We still have some way to go with the set-up of the car and I'm confident that we can find further improvements."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Both drivers took a cautious approach to qualifying as a result of them not being particularly happy with the balance of the car during this morning's practice session. Kimi's lap was particularly bad as the team took a calculated risk with a set- up change to the car, which proved wrong. As always it's Saturday's qualifying which is important."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "The first qualifying session hasn't been our speciality so far this year. What counts more will be Saturday's session and above all Sunday's race."

Renault

Jarno Trulli (4th, 1:16.905): "I had a good afternoon session and I am very pleased with my position. We managed to solve the problems that had hampered our work during this mornings session and thanks to the teams hard work the car improved considerably. We can expect a good weekend for us!"

Fernando Alonso (14th, 1:18.370): "It's always difficult here in Monaco to do the perfect lap: I didn't get the maximum today from my car but it's Saturday that's important and I'll make sure that I will do much better than today and be further up on the starting grid."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "A day of mixed fortunes. Jarno's lap time is acceptable whereas for some reason, we could not achieve with Fernando the level of performance we had hoped for. Now we have to analyse the situation and fix it, so that in Saturday es qualifying we can close the gap between the two drivers and have both cars amongst the front runners on the grid."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Our results today are quite encouraging with a fairly good lap from Fernando and a perfect lap from Jarno, which confirm that our cars are competitive on this track. This was a productive day in which we gathered useful data in preparation for the race."

Sauber-Petronas

Nick Heidfeld (10th, 1:17.912): "My biggest problem this afternoon, of course, was the oil and cement dust laid down after Heinz-Harald's problem. Without that I could for sure have gone a lot quicker, as the car was better than it felt this morning."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (20th, No Time): "It's very disappointing not to have completed my lap this afternoon, because of an engine problem that we are still analysing. We saw how competitive the SAUBER PETRONAS C22 can be this morning, and naturally I wanted to build on that. It's going to be tough starting qualifying first tomorrow."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "I am very happy for Nick's result not just because he finished in the top ten, but also because he was able to produce his best-ever qualifying performance in F1 at Monaco and could clearly improve compared to today's morning session. As for Heinz-Harald, as we say in German he had the Bad Luck Bird on his shoulder this afternoon thanks to an engine problem which must await analysis now, after showing his driving strength and the potential of the C22 here this morning."

Jordan-Ford

Giancarlo Fisichella (7th, 1:17.080): "The car's balance is not too bad here. I'm pleased with a top ten time, although I'm sure there was a possibility even to get on the second row today. My lap was clean but not fantastic, so I'm looking forward to final qualifying and the race."

Ralph Firman (13th, 1:19.286): "I'm happy with that. It's my first time here and I love the circuit. I feel really at home and can't wait to get out again on Saturday. I was cautious on the first two sectors because of the oil on the circuit when the session re-started, but I've got a pretty good pace, especially on the last sector. I think this could be my best chance yet of scoring points."

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "We did a bit of work for this Grand Prix and the car seems to be a bit better in relative terms - I actually expected slightly better in qualifying. Giancarlo made a couple of mistakes on the lap, and here especially, you pay a price for it. I'm happy enough though as seventh is pretty reasonable. Ralph is the fastest newcomer so that's a great initiation for him. He hasn't really put a wheel wrong, there have been a couple of little brushes with the armco but no damage at all. That's pretty commendable, a good effort."

Jaguar-Cosworth

Mark Webber (9th, 1:17.637): "The day started well this morning and I was able to complete a good program with the team. We worked on rear mechanical set-up and of course qualifying set-up. At one stage during testing I did run wide but I took the precaution of going straight on and actually stalled the engine. The tires are in good shape and I am pleased that we posted the fastest time this morning, particularly because I ended up having a slightly more challenging one-lap qualifying this afternoon that only placed me 9th. The team did a great job on the car and we had some favourable conditions, but as always with this one-lap qualifying anything can happen and unfortunately as a result of oil on the track my lap time suffered. It is impossible to say where I would have been had there been no oil, but either way, it is Saturday that we are now concentrating on and we are looking forward to another good day on track."

Antonio Pizzonia (15th, 1:18.967): "Slightly disappointed with 15th but the circuit was somewhat slippery, particularly just before the swimming pool corner. I had achieved a lap that was one second faster this morning so I know that the car is capable of more. My morning session however was good and we did what we had planned, despite me getting slightly too close to one of the guardrails at one point. Fortunately there was only marginal damage to the rim and we continued without problems. I am however, encouraged by the pace of the R4 on the track and I am looking forward to getting back on track on Saturday."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "A very pleasing morning for the team as both drivers completed their planned program and worked on qualifying setup with some good results. Mark posted the fastest lap time in this morning's free practice and it highlights the potential of the R4 around this difficult and challenging circuit. Antonio had a slight incident when he clipped a guardrail but fortunately this only resulted in a damaged rim. Both cars and drivers were in good shape for the afternoon qualifying session and Michelin had provided a good and competitive compound. Frustratingly however, the session was stopped just before Marks' lap when oil was sprayed over certain areas of the circuit. Mark's lap time was affected as a result of the debris still on the track, but despite this he still posted a good time in 9th position. Antonio lost a small amount of time on the first corner and after that it was difficult to make a comeback. Overall we are pleased with how the program is going so far and after all, it is Saturday that we are concentrating on and with that in mind we will be working hard this evening to ensure that we extract the best from our package in the short one-lap window that we have."

BAR-Honda

Jenson Button (3rd, 1:16.895): "I'm really quite happy with 3rd. This morning the circuit was very slippery because of the new tarmac, especially on the new entrance to Rascasse. I got used to it pretty quickly though and I like it a lot more than previously. In qualifying the first corner was a little bit oversteery because I was trying to keep the tires cool. I also had a little bit of graining in the last corner so I lost a couple of tenths there. I went over the kerb really heavily in the second part of the swimming pool but it doesn't look like I suffered too much as a result, but the place where I lost quite a bit of time is in Rascasse where I had quite a lot of understeer. 3rd is a good basis for Saturday and at least we know we are competitive now. We can look at our strategy and know that we have more possibilities. It's good to see the car improving steadily with each new race. That's what you need to become a top team."

Jacques Villeneuve (12th, 1:18.109): "I went out for my lap right after Frentzen's engine had blown and there was oil and a lot of cement dust on the track. You have to accept that if you are going to change your line to avoid it, you're going to end up going slower. The car is quite competitive but we are going to have to look at the work Jenson has been doing because there is very little information to work with on my side since we changed to the T-car for qualifying."

David Richards, Team Principal: "A superb performance from Jenson on a circuit that is so unforgiving and where pinpoint accuracy is absolutely essential. I'm encouraged that our combination of chassis and Honda engine is looking so competitive at a circuit that is so radically different from Austria, which suggests that we are now beginning to adapt to both extremes. It was unfortunate for Jacques that the marshals appeared somewhat over-zealous with the cement dust after Frentzen's engine failure, but I'm sure things will improve for him as the weekend progresses."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "The team should feel very happy with its performance this afternoon. Despite the lack of Friday qualifying it is good to be able to demonstrate that we go into the weekend with a competitive package of chassis, engine and tires. The circuit was very slippery this morning with both drivers complaining about a lack of grip, but we were able to improve steadily during free practice with the usual set-up work. We have brought new aerodynamic and engine developments here and we have been pleased with the performance of the car so far. Jenson drove a good lap this afternoon despite losing some time right at the end of the lap with understeer. Jacques chose to use the T-car for qualifying but unfortunately, like many, was compromised by the oil and dust put down on the track following Frentzen's engine blow-up. We now have to work on race set-up and review our strategy for this often eventful race."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "I'm pleased with Jenson's performance today. We've been running well all day and have shown how competitive we are. Unfortunately due to some oil on the track Jacques couldn't make the best of his lap. There is still room to improve on the engine set up for both drivers so I'm confident we'll go well in final qualifying and the race."

Minardi-Cosworth

Jos Verstappen (16th, 1:19.421): "Obviously, it was more difficult in qualifying this afternoon than earlier today because of the track conditions. We only had one lap to work out how slippery the track was - and at relatively low speed to preserve the tires for the qualifying lap - and that made it tough. As it turned out, the track was very slippery, and I had to use a different line in some corners compared with this morning. Even so, today we achieved our best qualifying positions to date, and that is good for the team and the sponsors. We'll see what happens on Saturday, as the track is likely to be different again, but hopefully, we can build on this for Sunday's race."

Justin Wilson (17th, 1:19.680): "Everything was fine for our first day of running at the circuit. I don't know if it was the changes we were making to the car or just that the track was getting quicker as the day wore on, but we seemed to improve with each run. The track was a bit slippery this afternoon, though, which definitely made the qualifying lap a bit entertaining. Generally, though, I've just been getting used to everything. I'm pleased with the way it's gone and that we've kept the car in one piece."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "The European Minardi drivers can be proud of their achievement today, as they both put in faultless performances that culminated in them finishing 16th and 17th in the first qualifying session. The cars ran faultlessly, and Jos and Justin definitely got the most from their machinery. Hopefully, we can repeat this performance on Saturday, and then look forward to a challenging, and rewarding race on Sunday. On a related point, many people will have noticed the new livery on our cars this weekend. I'm particularly grateful to Michel Perridon of Trust, for his continuing support of the team. Sponsors such as Trust International are invaluable when you consider the massive budgets that many of our competitors have at their disposal."

Toyota

Olivier Panis (18th, 1:19.903): "I am really disappointed with the start of this weekend. The car was really not very quick here today and I suffered from a distinct lack of grip. It is the same situation that we had in Austria, so now we need to work really well together to start to improve the car for the rest of the weekend. I tried to push on my lap today and I got a big oversteer in the Portier corner, which lost me easily one-and-a-half seconds, but at the end of the day that made little difference. We were simply uncompetitive today."

Cristiano Da Matta (19th, 1:20.374): "Today was my first time racing on this circuit and I found it quite fun to drive, even if the time today was not very good. For sure I have a lot to improve in terms of driving this circuit but one hour is nowhere near enough time to learn a new track, especially one like Monaco. We have to maximize the 90 minutes of practice on Saturday morning to get more track mileage and we still have a lot of things that need to be done on the setting of the car."

Gustav Brunner, Chief Designer: "I really don't think we should read too much into today's results. I am sure Cristiano was taking it a bit easy. It was his first time at this track and I am sure he was playing it safe. He has raced on street tracks in CART, so he should be able to get up to speed by Saturday when he can get more laps done. Olivier managed only 21 laps in this morning's session, and only one proper run on new tires. It looks bad, but I am ever confident and the real picture will emerge on Saturday afternoon, when it counts."


WEDNESDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - MAY 28, 2003

DRIVERS: Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), Jenson BUTTON (BAR), David COULTHARD (McLAREN), Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS) and Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI)

Q: A question for you all, first of all. Those of you who have seen the section, what are you thoughts on the new section of track from the swimming pool to Rascasse?

David COULTHARD: It looks a lot more open. I'm conscious of not saying it looks easier, just in case I go and drop the ball there, but it does look like it's less challenging, the entry to Rascasse, than it was in the past, which in some respects is a shame because that was one of the difficult spots on the track. But I think generally, it may give us more opportunity for overtaking, then if not overtaking, it should make it easier to lap slower cars during the race, so all in all, I would say it is an improvement. The only thing I'm not too sure about is the length of the pit lane exit. It goes all the way, if I am understanding correctly what I've seen this morning, it goes all the way round the first corner and about ten meters up the hill towards casino which is a long time to be sitting on the pit limit. (He's corrected by his colleagues.) It's not? So you can go full speed? OK. So I didn't understand it. In that case it's going to be quite interesting to stay inside the yellow line. What they've done is taken the barrier from the entry to turn one and left the kerb where the barrier used to be, so they've created a lot more space on the inside, so that should help produce some incidents there as well.

Jenson BUTTON: Rascasse is just a different entry really, isn't it? It's not all that different. You're coming in at 45 degrees instead of 90. The chicane beforehand is a little bit tighter, isn't it? It looks okay; it's just a normal chicane, isn't it? But the best bit about it is that it's tarmac pretty much all the way round, which will be quite nice. We won't be braking into turn one and both wheels locking up, so that's nice.

Juan Pablo MONTOYA: It's alright, you know. It's a bit different. I'm surprised they still kept the very slow chicane after the swimming pool. I think it could have been a bit quicker. I think, into the last corner, it will probably save a lot of money for the teams because that's the place that everybody crashes.

Michael SCHUMACHER: I tried to see yesterday but there were so many cars parked that I couldn't actually see properly, so I will have to go round later.

Fernando ALONSO: I will go later on but obviously the biggest change is Rascasse, the last corner (not quite). It's a bit different. It should be okay, more possibility to overtake and lap as well, so it's a good change.

Q: The second question I wanted to ask you all concerns qualifying - very important here, but elsewhere as well. Have you found that that the one lap format has meant that your approach to qualifying has changed? How do you prepare for qualifying? Are you concentrating harder than ever?

Coulthard: Well, I think I've probably struggled with it more than the others sitting here in that I've had a 12 th , a 13 th and a 14 th in the qualifying sessions so far. Obviously you don't have the opportunity to find out where the track is, or also where your car is. I think the history of the MP4/17 at McLaren, we haven't had it as a particularly good qualifying car. It's been on the front row three times in its career, but otherwise it's tended to be a much stronger race car so I think we probably struggle a bit more than the others. That's why we're hoping that when the 18 comes, that we'll be able to feel much sooner over a single lap.

Q: Have you changed your approach, Jenson?

Button: Not at all?well, obviously it's different because we don't have four goes at it any more. I like qualifying now, I really do. I find it very exciting, but obviously it's going to be very important here and probably the most difficult circuit to get it correct is here. Either people will be pushing too gently, to stay off the wall, or you're going to have nasty accidents, so I think qualifying is going to be pretty good here.

Montoya: I don't think it's changed very much. The only thing is that before you used to build it up and now you've just got to go out there and do it. I think this weekend it will be pretty crucial. It's going to be quite exciting - suddenly one lap, and you've really got to be on it. It's going to be quite a challenge.

Q: How much do you think people will leave a little margin - even if they say they're not leaving a margin, do you think people will?

Montoya: The thing is that if you crash in qualifying and you damage your car and you end up on the back of the grid you're out of the race straight away, at least out of the points for a race.

Schumacher: I guess the level of concentration is there straight away whereas sometimes it wasn't necessary to be there straight away as you knew the circuit would improve so much. So it's important to be just ready for the last run. Now it's only the one and final run and the concentration has to be there for this.

Q: Is there something that you specifically do to be right on the pace immediately?

Schumacher: Just be aware of the facts. Just be aware of the fact that this is the run that counts.

Alonso: No I didn't change anything. Obviously I think we all are a little more concentrated for that single lap because before we had four opportunities, basically, now we have one and it's the last one, so you are a little more concentrated. Anyway, I think it will be a very interesting race, especially because here is the most difficult qualifying for us drivers and it's the most important qualifying as well for the race, because overtaking is nearly impossible here so the grid position will be very important. So you know the combination of the most important and most difficult qualifying of the year will probably be a good thing to see from the outside.

Q: Fernando, does the Renault suit the circuit?

Alonso: Well, I don't know. We are confident here. I think we have a good car, a good chassis and probably we can fight for a good position here in Monaco. Regarding last year's result, we had a very good race here with Jarno and Jenson, so we are quite optimistic for this weekend.

Q: Michael, you have a fantastic record here, but how much of a tactical challenge is it going to be this weekend under the new rules?

Schumacher: Yeah. If you compare it to other races, however, it's probably pretty similar in terms of tactical challenge, with maybe the extra fact that overtaking is very much unlikely here. But I think the logistic challenge for the team is much higher. To work in the circumstances that they have to work here, that's quite a big challenge for them.

Q: Are you worried about wild card qualifying?

Schumacher: No, because if someone really does do something like that, and he does the speed that he does in qualifying, that will the speed that he will do in the race, probably for not very long, because he goes into the pits, but he can still do this speed, and therefore he goes with you or with whoever but he comes in earlier. But I don't think it's then the case that you need to be worried about blocking because it's a slowish car. It's not.

Q: Have they investigated what happened in the pits in Austria to your satisfaction?

Schumacher: Yes, it's been explained to me and everything was clear afterwards.

Q: Do you have any worries for the future?

Schumacher: No, I don't think so. It is a technical piece and we have seen problems with other teams in the past and now we had one but it is like everything - sometimes you can have problems with them and you can't always anticipate it.

Q: Can you tell us what the problem was?

Schumacher: I think Ross is much better at explaining. I know there was some problem with the valve which got a problem after Rubens' refuelling where some fuel was in the wrong area and came out after my pit stop but the exact details I can't tell you.

Q: Juan Pablo, obviously you retired from that race but up until then the reliability had been fairly good. Is that what you are tending to rely on now, reliability, even though, of course, here you were on pole last year??

Montoya: Not really. The car has shown a lot more potential. Last week in the test it showed more promise again and we have got more things here so we are really heading in the right direction. The car is a lot more competitive and it has been getting a lot more competitive race by race. I think the only race we struggled was Barcelona, the others have been pretty competitive and I think here should be a really good race for the car. Last year we were on pole and I think this year with a shorter wheelbase it should be a lot better, it should go through the slow corners a lot better and it should make a better time so hopefully we will be able to challenge for a win here.

Q: They said the problem was actually caused by the three starts, was it?

Montoya: Yeah, with the race starts and everything, I think they knew from quite early in the race that the problem was there and they were waiting to see when it would happen. I was very surprised when I said I had a problem with the engine and nobody really replied or asked what's going on so I think they were expecting it.

Q: Jenson, an excellent but lonely fourth place. Does it signal a change in fortune?

Button: I think the car's been reasonably competitive for the whole season; we just haven't got the results. I think it is a reasonable position to finish in at the moment, we are not a top team at the moment, so it is good.

Q: At the start of the season you came in for quite a bit of criticism from your team-mate, do you think you have answered that?

Button: I don't really care. I really am not interested in answering that, but we are working well together well.

Q: So it is not a problem now?

Button: No, not at all. I think we said a few things that were a bit pathetic really but had to be said but we are working well together now. We are both very competitive, as we all are.

Q: David, the new car has now made an appearance but while you did 211 laps over two days at Paul Ricard, it did 27. Is that a problem? Are you a bit worried about when it will appear?

Coulthard: Well, it was in another garage and it was doing another program, so it was not really possible to follow what they were doing. I think you would hope that any new car would go onto the track, be three seconds faster than anyone else then you would just polish it and take it to the next Grand Prix but that is fantasy rather than reality and it will be ready when it is ready and then we will take it racing and hope to get some results.

Q: Obviously, you started the season very competitively. Do you think you can still be competitive with the older car?

Coulthard: Yeah, I think that certainly Kimi has done a podium every race that he has finished and that is pretty competitive. I haven't had the same fortune and I have made a few mistakes so I have paid the price for that but the Ferrari looked strong in Austria but it didn't look quite so strong in Barcelona. I think what you are seeing is a variation - circuit to circuit in terms of the tire performance. If Michelin have a stronger tire here you can expect that all those guys around about are going to look pretty strong relative to Ferrari.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Michael, some years ago you left Monaco to test the car. What will happen on Friday, on the free day?

Schumacher: We don't intend to do testing. We maybe used to do some checks but I don't think it is scheduled.

Q: Michael, as a racing driver you want to win by whatever margin you can. This year, is it somewhat more satisfying because you really have to fight for the win?

Schumacher: You can see it in different ways, even last year. Certainly there were races that were more easy to win, then there were other races that were tight, like Brazil and so on, but in the end if you have a tough race like we had in Austria and you are stuck in a position where you think you might have to be happy with third position and take the points then you still win it. That makes you extra happy; there is a certain extra satisfaction. Having said that, a driver fights for the championship instead of victories and the earlier and quicker he can achieve that the more confident and happy he is in another way, so you don't lose happiness by doing what we did last year.

Q: Michael, is Fernando your main enemy here in Monaco?

Schumacher: He is a competitor, not an enemy?

Q: And Renault?

Schumacher: It is a bit difficult to predict because we saw they were very strong in Barcelona, not so strong the race before in Imola, not so strong in Austria, so it will be interesting to see how strong they are here. I don't think there is any parallel at the moment where you can say that particular package is strong or is weak. I think a lot is within the tire situation and we have to see how good the different teams run with the tires that they have at the moment.

Q: David, hotel rooms are scarce this weekend. Do you suddenly find a lot of friends call up and say can I have a room and maybe a discount as well?

Coulthard: Yeah, obviously I don't wait until the weekend to organise rooms for friends, that's taken care of a long time ahead of schedule. Obviously you get people ringing you up later to organise it and if they pay enough they will get a room, if they don't then we are full!


THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - MAY 29, 2003

TEAM PERSONNEL: Patrick FAURE (RENAULT), Paulo MARTINELLI (FERRARI), Adrian NEWEY (McLAREN), Tony PURNELL (JAGUAR)

Q: Tony, you've recently taken over the whole Jaguar and Cosworth operation - PPD - to what extent are you rebuilding the Jaguar team?

Tony PURNELL: Well, the foundations for rebuilding the team were put in place over Christmas. We did a pretty wholesale change of the senior management and now it's a process of refinement that is ongoing because in Formula One if you stand still, you're dead.

Q: How long do you think that rebuilding process really takes to get, say, to the position of Ferrari?

Purnell: Well, people told me that it took Ferrari eight to ten years to get from the depths to the heights so that seems a reasonable time frame to me. I can't imagine that we will be very much quicker but hopefully we can just make steady progress as the years roll by.

Q: To what extent is the long term signing of Mark Webber involved in that process?

Purnell: A little bit of a cornerstone. Mark reflects the philosophy of the team in that he's straightforward, honest, hard-working and he's at the top through achievement and we want that message throughout the team, and having the centre of attention - and the drivers always are the centre of attention - reflect the philosophy that you want within the whole organisation is very, very nice, so we're delighted that he's staying with us for the foreseeable future.

Q: So he's a cornerstone of the team - could he become a team leader in that way?

Purnell: Well people often ask me if he's the next Schumacher, with a team built around him. I wouldn't have thought so, but it would be a very nice outcome and I wouldn't complain if history recorded that he was the second Schumacher.

Q: Now what about the car's position. Where is its evolution and how much more is there to come from it?

Purnell: I think with the engine we're probably about there for the rest of the season. It's beginning to look quite reliable and we've got a major change for next year, so we have to change our development philosophy. With the chassis, of course, we've got lots of bits to come but the crying shame is that all the other teams have lots of bits to come so while I'm confident we'll have a better car by the end of the season I'm confident that everybody else will as well so we'll have to see. That's what the competition is all about.

Q: Adrian , first of all, the new car has finally appeared. Why did we have to wait so long for it?

Adrian NEWEY: I think we probably underestimated the difficulties of manufacturing a new car at the same time as racing the existing one plus there's some new technologies, new manufacturing techniques in the new car which we haven't done before and that's been a learning curve really, on a production and manufacturing basis almost more than the design. The design has been finalised for some time now and indeed the aerodynamics were finalised, I think, in the middle of February from memory. So, certainly for me it's been frustrating being this long in the birth, but I think we underestimated the difficulty of manufacturing whilst racing the existing car, and the drain on resources that that causes. I don't know, we hope it's worth the wait, I guess.

Q: You were talking about new technologies. Has it been a problem getting this new gearbox operational?

Newey: Well the gearbox that was in the car when we ran it at Ricard is really last year's gearbox with minor re-packaging of last year's gearbox to fit the new car's aerodynamics. What we hope will be the definitive gearbox should be running shortly.

Q: The new car did 10 laps one day, 17 laps the next so it would not seem to be a very promising debut. Is that the case?

Newey: Well, we had a hydraulic problem on the first day - well, actually the first and second days - which kept the running right down until we understood that. It was a silly little problem which was easily sorted once we understood it, so it was frustrating that we were right off the mark on that one but once we got running on the third day, we were able to start putting a few more laps in. Unfortunately by then the circuit was reconfigured to be a Montreal simulation and, of course, being a new car we didn't have the wing range so it's really difficult to say very much about the performance of the car at the moment. We're at Barcelona next week and hopefully we can get some proper running done then.

Q: Now Michael Schumacher has dismissed the new McLaren as being nothing out of the ordinary. Would you comment on that?

Newey: It depends what you call out of the ordinary, doesn't it? It sounds a bit of a funny comment to me, but I don't know what he meant by it.

Q: Yesterday, David said that this current car has never been particularly good in qualifying - it's only been on the front row three times, he told us. What is that problem, have you rectified that problem on the new car?

Newey: I don't honestly know if we've changed the balance between qualifying and race with the new car compared to the existing car. What we've concentrated on is trying to extract the most performance possible out of the new car. Certainly it's true to say that generally he's raced better than he's qualified. Exactly why that is, I wouldn't like to say. Certainly under the old qualifying rules, when you could do what you wanted to the car, then we almost certainly did less than other people did. Obviously that wouldn't now go to Saturday qualifying where you're not allowed to change the car prior to the race then that's not the case any more.

Q: Patrick, you recently changed the philosophy of your engine design for the future. Can you just outline that first of all?

Patrick FAURE: Well, very simply, it took us more time and more work to have the reliability on the engine with the wide angle and when we had to decide for the 2004 engine with the new regulations, after giving quite a lot of thought in the last three months to this, we have decided to take probably the most reasonable solution which was to come back to a more classical engine which would allow us to quickly have a reliable and powerful engine, with probably less risk being taken on an 800 kilometre per weekend engine. So it's probably an insurance that we took for the future.

Q: Are you happy with these new regulations? Are you able to supply another team, for example, in the future?

Faure: Well, obviously we'll be ready to supply another team in the future with three conditions. The first one and the most important one is that we want to have our engine completely reliable and powerful because the first target we have is our engine, for us. When we are ready, we are absolutely ready to supply another team under two conditions. The first one is not to lose money. We don't want to make money, but we don't want to lose so it means selling it at a reasonable price and the second one is that we probably want to be not only a supplier but a partner of the second team, and to be able to have with them a few possible deals on trying some young engineers, young drivers or whatever, so being in a position of partner more than in the position of pure supplier, but we are ready to supply another team, let's say from 2005 or 2006 onwards.

Q: It sounds a very attractive proposition. Have you spoken to any teams yet?

Faure: Well some teams started to discuss with us, but we are not ready yet, we want to finalise our engine before thinking of supplying a second one. This is why there will be no second team in 2004.

Q: Now we've also seen Jean-Jacques His change jobs and finally leave the company altogether. What was the connection between the decision and his departure?

Faure: Well there was probably a very clear connection. Jean-Jacques probably wanted to continue with this wide angle engine. After lengthy discussions, we thought it wasn't the right way to go. At the end of the day it's the job of the CEO of the company to decide so we have decided the other way and Jean-Jacques took his decision afterwards, which he is completely free to do and on Tuesday we had a farewell drink with him and I think we've leaving on a very good relationship. He has done an enormous job for Renault. We will never forget that. I think he has spent probably the best part of his professional life with Renault, he has said that also. But now he's engaged in a new assignment and I really wish him very good luck.

Q: Paolo, first of all can you give us some indication of what needs to be changed within an engine to race here in Monaco ?

Martinelli: Mainly the calibration for drivability. We have to consider that the course in Monaco is not high stress or continuous wide-open throttle condition but lubrication of other integral parts of the engine. So we try to simulate Monaco testing on the dyno and testing on the track and we try to prepare to our best as usual.

Q: When you look at the performance of the new car in comparison to the old car do you think it is doing as well as you had expected?

Martinelli: We are happy with the new car and with the new engine applied to the F2003-GA and I think we have the potential for further improvement that is the normal way of proceeding. We have to start from a point that may be a step forward and from this position, with the end of the old car it was almost impossible to make another development; with the new car we have some more potential for further improvement.

Q: With the new engine as well?

Martinelli: Maybe yes, from now until the end of the season, but considering also that the challenge for the second half of the season will be more difficult, considering we have to prepare properly in time for 2004 with the change of regulations, so you also have to consider the implications in 2003 to be prepared for 2004.

Q: Now, Renault have two engine teams working leapfrog in a way. Have you got the same sort of thing at Ferrari?

Martinelli: We have not two separate teams, we have a group of staff that is dedicated to medium-term development and some that follow the day by day operation, not two separate organisations but in the organisation of course we have people dedicated to the different subjects.

Q: How difficult is it for you to be working on two programs at once?

Martinelli: I think this is something different because the step for next year is different to what it has been in the past. We have to double the life of the engine so we cannot wait until November, running the new engine on the dyno for 2004, to be reliable for the first race and we cannot think to use a development of the previous engine to use next year. We have to be ready for 2004 with a new engine with almost double the life, so we have to organise that in the second half of 2003.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Patrick, the FIA has talked about teams supplying customer engines for 10 million dollars per year. Do you regard that as an attainable goal for Renault?

Faure: I think that having made our calculations we are maybe more expensive than the other ones probably, but for 10 million we are losing money. In our calculations, to not lose money we should be around 15 million, maybe slightly less, but very slightly. At 10 we are losing money.

Q: Adrian , do you plan to race the new car into next year because now you will only race it for maybe nine or eight races?

Newey: Yes, I would say that given there are fairly stable regulations for next year - the change to the rear wing is the only significant one and I don't think that has a fundamental effect on the design of the car - so I would anticipate that the start of the year will be a development version of the new car. Obviously, we have slight complications with the engine regulation change so there might be a hybrid car with a 1000km engine in it but otherwise the car that we have just introduced.

Q: Tony and Patrick, when the FIA agreed not to ban traction control next year it was on the proviso that the manufacturers supply fully affordable engines for independent teams. Do you believe that will happen next season and do you think there is a threat that the FIA will actually impose a traction control ban because the manufacturers are not living up to their promise?

Faure: Well, basically I do not think there is a threat and I don't feel in business we should have threats, we should have discussions and negotiations. Having said that I really think there will be no issue for next year because one of the manufacturers at least has already said they are ready to supply other teams so I think there is no problem to wait until 2005 for a second manufacturer.

Purnell: I think the term ?fully affordable' is nice and vague and our view is a little bit like Patrick's - we certainly are not in a position to do anything that is not economical and these engines are terrifically expensive. So I suspect a way might be found, not a technical route because we are not clever enough to produce these engines cheaply.

Q: Mr Faure, about the GPWC negotiations. There have been various suggestions that there could be a settlement fairly soon. Is that your understanding of the situation?

Faure: I think we are probably in the last stage of our discussions or negotiations - use which word you like - between us and the banks and the trust. I really think that in three months either we will have an agreement or we will have the end of negotiations.

Q: Mr Purnell, Mark Webber has been doing very well in qualifying. It is a two part question - how much have the new rules about qualifying, parc ferm etc played into your team's favour and secondly, can you comment on Mark because he seems to really excel on one lap and hardly ever makes mistakes?

Purnell: I certainly don't think the rules have played into anyone's favour. It is the same for everybody, and we have had highs and lows. Today was a bit of a low, but it happens and I would like to see (Formula One) perhaps copying the Americans where they clean the tracks when there is an incident. But Mark's a very strong character and I think to do well in this game strength of character helps because you perform on demand and Mark has certainly done that for us so we are very happy.

Q: For Mr Faure, can you tell us where next year's Renault engine is being designed?

Faure: Without any doubt in Viry.

Q: Can you tell us who the designer is then?

Faure: Well, the designer, the team, which is already in Viry today, is designing right now the 2004 engine and I suppose you want to talk about the small team at Enstone that is also working on the engine side. It is really a small team of 15 people who are helping us in some areas and they are under the responsibility of somebody in Viry who will stay in Viry, so it is really a help on some precise points and it is in no way a sign of the fact that Viry will go to England . Viry will stay in Viry, don't worry.

Q: Tony, after all the stuff that happened in Barcelona , how is Antonio doing. Has he settled down now?

Purnell: I think if you watched him in Austria, his first ten laps of the race or so were pretty damned good, so I think he is speaking for himself and given time he will be a regular well, I wouldn't say front runner, but hopefully alongside Mark.

Q: If other manufacturers were to say, like you, that they cannot supply a team with engines next year and then the FIA would then insist on traction control being banned, how much would that cost you to ban traction control?

Faure: Probably the same price as the other teams.

Q: Can you put a sum on it?

Faure: No. I don't want to.

Q: Mr Faure, you said you thought there would be an answer from the GPWC within three months, do you have a gut feeling whether that would be a yes or a no?

Faure: It is fairly difficult to say when you are in the middle of discussions if it is going to happen or not. I personally do hope that everybody is going to be responsible at finding a good solution for making sure that the future of Formula One is there for 10 or 15 more years now. This is what I hope but you never know what happens. The only thing I can say is that I think that at least two of the parties involved are really willing now to find a good solution for the future, so it depends probably on the third one to know if we can arrive at a good solution, the third one being the banks, obviously.

Q: To Patrick and Tony, what is the state of discussion between the engine manufacturers and the FIA regarding the customer engine for next year? Are you trying to persuade the FIA to raise their price limit? Is there any negotiations going on now?

Faure: As far as I am concerned, no.

Purnell: No formal negotiations are occurring at the moment.

Faure: I really don't think that somebody can impose on a manufacturer a price to deliver an engine to another team. It is not the way you do business. We won't sell an engine for 10 million.

Q: Tony, obviously you do most of your work at Cosworth and the Jaguar factory, but how much is Ford involved with the overall design and input of the car.

Purnell: Ford as an owner is really pretty good. They leave us to get on with it but say if you would like our involvement in any aspect of the car or you want to use any of our facilities then just ask and we will try and lay out a program. I am pretty happy. They certainly don't interfere and they certainly don't force their will on us. It is very much a pool relationship. If we want it, they will supply it, and I am very happy with the Ford people.

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