MAY 20, 2004
MONACO GP - THURSDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
Thursday Press Conference
THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 20 MAY 2004
TECHNICAL DIRECTORS: Mike GASCOYNE (TOYOTA), Patrick HEAD (WILLIAMS), Adrian NEWEY (McLAREN) and Pat SYMONDS (RENAULT)
Q: A question to you all: We go into a period now of six races in eight weeks, could you give some indication of how well prepared your team is for this intense period?
Pat SYMONDS: I think we're well prepared. A few little brushes with the barrier on Saturday or Sunday could rapidly change that. But it's not something that creeps up on you. You plan for it as soon as you see the calendar. It's not easy, but with planning, it's not that difficult either.
Mike GASCOYNE: I think exactly the same. We've known about it for a long while and you just plan for it and it's reasonably straightforward. For us, some of the races are actually nearer to us than most of them, so it doesn't really present any real difficulty.
Q: You've got a new car coming anyway, haven't you?
Gascoyne: Yeah, and that work is going on at the factory. Obviously, there's a lot of work going on in the factory to improve our level of competitiveness. That's all happening. The racing doesn't really interfere with that as, with more races, if we have any accidents it will affect it slightly but I don't think it's anything we wouldn't be able to cope with.
Q: Does development continue on the current car as well as producing the new one?
Gascoyne: We're concentrating most of our efforts on the new car - or the updated car. There are some fairly major changes. It has a new monocoque which needs to be homologated plus some aero things which are coming through alongside it, so there's a lot going on and a lot of work but that's been planned out and it's progressing on schedule.
Patrick HEAD: Pretty much the same for us in terms of hardware and generally being able to support the racing is OK. The question is, obviously, everybody expects to bring development of their car to each race and then you've got to make the car appropriate to suit the demands of each race. We'll be running different levels of downforce at say Montreal and probably Indianapolis than we are here and probably Nuerburgring, so one has to bring the appropriate parts. But, as people have said, we've known what it's been for quite a long time and in advance.
Q: Have you got those development parts coming through, because obviously, like everybody, there's a fairly large gap to the guys doing all the winning?
Head: I can't make any promises about having development parts coming through that are going to overtake the Ferraris. But clearly, just like everybody else, we are and will be bringing development to the car.
Q: Adrian, you're in a bit of a similar situation to Mike and Toyota with a new or revised car coming. What sort of state is the team in at the moment?
Adrian NEWEY: Well, we've got to get over the initial dash after this race which, as somebody has said already, depends on how we come out of this race. Hopefully, if we come out it without too much damage, it shouldn't be a problem. If we come out with lots of damage then it becomes a bit more frantic. Getting out of here looks as if it's going to take a while for the trucks. It took a long time to get them in, it will probably take a long time to get them out again. After that, then we're running our updated car in the near future, so then we will be splitting our efforts, obviously, between testing that car and trying to get it to race worthiness as soon as possible. But, as everybody has said already, that's fairly well planned out. You adjust for it and get on with it.
Q: Adrian, how new is that new car going to be? What is going to be new? Everything?
Newey: No, it's not a new car, it's an updated car so virtually all the mechanical parts are the same but from the bodywork perspective it's heavily updated and that involves some changes to the monocoque shape which, the same as with Mike, means that we have to re-crash test. That's done, signed off, so we're building the car at the moment.
Q: And engine, is that the same?
Newey: Still a Mercedes!
Q: What about your performance here, is it better or worse than you expected?
Newey: The first day of Monaco is always a bit fickle so I'll reserve judgement until after qualifying or preferably the race.
Q: But were there some hopeful signs today?
Newey: The drivers seem reasonably happy with the car, but if they're quick they're happy, if they're not quick they're not happy. There's nothing new there.
Q: Coming to the new rules that have been proposed, what are your feelings about those? How are discussions progressing amongst the technical directors?
Newey: You're talking about the 2008 proposals?
Q: Or 2006, or whatever.
Newey: Personally I think that allowing teams to sell their designs or even parts to other teams is a very dangerous route because what will happen is that the midfield teams will end up being forced either out of existence or to buy other people's cars or designs and very quickly you'll get into a position where you've got three or four teams able to design their own cars, the rest are buying. There will probably be a shortfall so the grids could go down, and you'll end up with an IndyCar-type scenario which I think would be very sad for Formula One. So I would be very nervous of that one. Having said that, controlling costs is a good thing to do. Basically teams are always going to spend their budgets, so all they can really hope to do is make the extra pound spent by the big teams count for less in terms of performance compared to a lower budget team, and if you can come up with such rules that reduce some of the fixed costs that don't many any performance gap - tungsten ballast or whatever it might be - then that, to me, would seem sensible.
Q: Patrick, any feelings on those rules yourself?
Head: In terms of 2008, I fully agree with Adrian that silly expenditure on the ballast and various other things is probably silly expenditure, but we have to do it because the regulations allow us to do it and it brings small levels of competitive advantage. If rules can be changed to inhibit or limit that then we're all in favour of it. I'm not desperately excited about Formula One being taken to what we've got outside with Formula 3000 because that's really what's being talked about. Yes, it should be a drivers' formula but I think at the moment there's quite a lot of interest, certainly by the manufacturers, in the technology side as well, so I hope that some sort of middle line is eventually what comes out of it.
Q: You've got a fairly interesting driver situation in your team turning up at the end of this year. How concerned are you about that at this stage?
Head: Not really. I'm really looking in the short term and trying to make sure that we improve our competitive position this year. I'm pretty confident that we'll have two extremely competent drivers in the car and I think the thing I've got to be concerned about is to try and make sure that our car is at least as good as the drivers. So although every now and then Frank does talk to me about people he's talking to and sometimes we have meetings with people, the main focus that I've got to concentrate on with the other engineers at Williams is to make sure that the car is worthy.
Q: A similar question in a way to you Mike. How much are you pushing for a change of drivers? Certainly your team is being mentioned in connection with several drivers.
Gascoyne: My comments on that are pretty much exactly the same as Patrick's. We haven't got a car that's quick enough at the moment, and my whole priority is on ensuring that we will have in the future and that we're doing the right things in the factory to ensure that will be able to have a quick enough car. So for me the issue of drivers, it's simply not an issue for me at the moment.
Q: We mentioned the revised car a moment ago. Is that going to be a revised engine as well?
Gascoyne: We've had an update on the engine for here but no, not specifically for that package, but we've had an improvement on the engine here. The engine performance is very good.
Q: Your chassis at Renault was fantastic as we saw last year. Can you reproduce something similar?
Gascoyne: Hopefully something similar and something better but that takes time. It took a couple of years to get to that stage. What's important is that we do the right thing to allow the design process that lead to that to happen, and that's what's happening at the moment in the factory. It's frustrating because you don't see the effects of all that hard work until later on, but it's important when you build anything that it has strong foundations. So we're making sure that we're doing the right things, designing in the right way and prioritising the right things. But, as I say, at the moment it's frustrating because those things take time to come through but we have to make sure that we do do that correctly so that we can be in a strong position in years to come.
Q: Pat, you seem to be in the position of being looked at as being the major challenger for Ferrari. Is that quite a responsibility? You've got fantastic reliability so far as well. Is it a possibility?
Symonds: Well, we're second in the World Championship, so I suppose by definition we are (the major challenger). I don't think we have the second quickest car out there at the moment and that troubles me. It troubles me that we haven't got the quickest out there. But I think that as a team we're a good team and we're getting over some of the shortcomings that we have and that's reflecting in the results. There's a hell of a lot to do to catch Ferrari and even more to overtake them. We never believe it's impossible. We recognise how hard it is, but that's what we're here for.
Q: Looking at this race here, what's the change of pit lane and the speed limit going to do to change tactics and strategy during the race?
Symonds: Not a great deal, as it turns out. There's a little bit of self-cancelling in there in terms of length - I think it's about eight meters longer, it starts ten meters earlier. The change in speed limit is worth about four seconds, I think, but Monaco is a very different race for strategy to most races, and I think that the picture that we've seen in the past is not going to change substantially. There are other factors such as tyres which may make as much of a difference as the pit lane.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Pekka Holopainen - Ilta Sanomat) Mr Newey, there have been some statements in the Finnish media by Kimi which suggest that he's having some motivational problems driving your current car. Can you say anything about that?
Newey: Well, firstly I don't really read the press so I don't know what's been written, but talking to Kimi, he's a completely professional driver; he's trying as hard as he can. It happens sometimes that a team goes through a rough patch. Obviously we're all determined to get ourselves out of that, and Kimi is part of our team and equally determined to do so.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Patrick, Ralf was sounding slightly miffed yesterday about some comments that were in the German press suggesting that - he blamed you for the comments - he wasn't the same driver since his crash at Monza last year. Could you elaborate on that?
Head: This came out of a private conversation at an Allianz evening at Barcelona and I was talking to four British journalists and it was well understood that it was an off-the-record conversation. The subject was why Ralf was being out-qualified regularly by his team-mate. We've had drivers before who have had big accidents: Nelson Piquet at Imola when he had a tyre explode and Thierry Boutsen as well, and they both said to me afterwards that when they were concussed it took them six to nine months to fully recover. In the private conversation, I speculated that maybe the accident at Monza, which was of our making; we had a bond failure in a suspension, that maybe that had had some influence. But it shows that actually, talking off the record is unwise and probably won't be repeated.
Q: (Mike Doodson - Mike Doodson Associates) This is for Adrian. These days your teams have become bigger and more anonymous but we know that working under you and with you are a group of engineers who we all know because they've designed their own cars in the past. I'm interested to know what the process of designing a new racing car is at McLaren. Where do the ideas come from, how are they fed into the system and specifically, the twin keel idea which you've been committed to for a couple of years now. Where do all those things fit together?
Newey: That's a pretty big question.
Head: How long have you got?
Newey: Yes exactly. Basically, we have a fairly flat structure or try to operate a fairly flat structure amongst the senior engineers at McLaren where everybody's able to contribute. Obviously the challenge there is having a flat structure but maintaining discipline within it, but I always would like to operate in a flat way that everybody can contribute and communicate with each other without having to adhere to some rigid organogram or whatever you call it. We periodically have meetings, that's will all the senior engineers. We had one last week, in fact, where everybody sits down and discusses, in this case, ideas for next year's car. We then break that down into smaller groups and work away in the various departments. Any Formula One team will have four main faculties if you like, which will be car design, aerodynamics, race engineering and simulation. We have that same system and we create tasks and off they go and I should imagine that that is pretty much the same for any Formula One team. To answer your last specific question on the twin keel. On the 2001 car we developed a forward bargeboard, if you like, between the front wheels and ahead of the main bargeboard, which worked quite well. Various teams, Ferrari and Renault, have now adopted something similar. We had that in 2001 and felt, well, once we've got that there, rather than having wishbones crossing it and support struts and so forth, let's make the support struts also part of the suspension mounting so that's what we did for the 2002 car and we've been there since.
Q: Are you still happy with that arrangement?
Newey: Well, it's a good question. I am. I came up with the idea in the first place, but having said that we would have to always re-evaluate things. There are pros and cons to the concept. In my opinion, we are still happy with it. The question always comes: Do we get out and re-evaluate, have we gone down a blind alley or do we stick with it, because we've developed on that route? If we simply reverse it now, then we would be behind in development on the former route, so for that reason, I think a lot of teams tend to have a degree of inertia to their ideas, if you like. If you keep chopping and changing then you're likely to end up behind.
Q: (Andrew Frankl - Forza) Patrick, I understand that you may have some vacancies next year. In view of Anthony Davidson's performance, is he the sort of man you might consider, because I think he was quite astonishing this morning?
Head: There's no doubt about it, he's a very fine driver. Without having seen... to actually have had the opportunity of actually working with him... yes, one can view the lap times and clearly there's no doubt about his speed but equally, our test drivers, Marc Gene and Antonio Pizzonia, when they're testing they produce lap times to the exact same level and sometimes quicker than the two race drivers, so it's actually quite difficult to take somebody out of a testing position and ask 'are they going to perform well in a racing position?' But clearly Anthony Davidson is a very fine driver and deserves strong consideration. Yeah.
Q: (Thibault Larue - Sport Auto) To Patrick, in Barcelona your car had radical behaviour on the track, especially on the bumps at the braking point. Was it a general problem of the car or a specific problem of tyre pressure? What was the problem?
Head: Our drivers said the cars were perfect! No, I have to say I didn't see what you are referring to and whether it was significantly different from other cars. I think most of the cars are running fairly soft and allowing the cars to pull down into a position where they are running pretty stiff and at various times you play around with the different rates and you can sometimes go too far. That causes the car to bounce a bit and usually the driver or the data engineers will recognise the situation and take it back a bit and between our two drivers the level of movement or bouncing of the car that each driver is prepared to tolerate is completely different, so what doesn't worry one driver worries the other driver enormously and it is because of their different style.
Q: (Will Gray - Collings Sport) Adrian, you mentioned the revised car and an imminent testing date. Do you have details of whether it will be one month, two months or how long we can wait until the car is out and also what sort of performance step do you expect from it?
Newey: Well, in terms of when it will be out, we expect somewhere between two weeks and four weeks; obviously it is all depending on the race bits, and maybe a 50km shakedown at three weeks if we don't make the two-week schedule. In terms of lap time benefit then simulation says it should be significant but I would rather not go further than that at the moment.
Q: (Byron Young - Speed Sport) Patrick, is there any chance of seeing Jacques Villeneuve in the car in the near future, testing, because there are all sorts of rumours and speculation that he could be in the car before the end of the season and that kind of thing. Could you give us some information on that?
Head: I wish our engineers were as creative as the press really! I was rung up after Barcelona saying that they understood Jacques Villeneuve was at Ricard and was going to be driving one of our cars there. It was certainly the first I knew about it. I did buzz upstairs and asked Frank whether he had set something up and hadn't told me about it, but he also denied all knowledge.
Q: (Byron Young) But for the future, is there a plan for the next couple of months?
Head: All is possible in the future. I can't and won't make any comment on it. They say Nigel Mansell's making a comeback! (Laughter) He has never retired, not officially!
Q: (Mike Doodson) Patrick, can I follow this up - we did hear that Jacques had spent some time in your company. Do you want to deny that as well and if he was in your company was it at his request or yours?
Head: Erm. We certainly had one discussion with him, yep.
Q: (Mike Doodson) Was it on the premises?
Q: (Tony Dodgins - Tony Dodgins Associates) You are all at the top of organisations that are quite big. With these new mooted regulations for Formula One going back to basics, what kind of estimate could you make about the effect that would they have on the size of your teams, the number of people you would lose, and would they be absorbed in other parts of the company?
Symonds: Well, I think it is quite difficult to answer that at the moment. The main reason is that we don't quite know exactly where these regulations are going to end up. But one thing you have got to remember is yes, we are trying to save money, but it is not quite as simple as that. We were testing at Castellet last week and the weather was quite poor so we didn't quite get to complete our programme. So, we came back from that test and, if we take a simple example, we spent £2,000 (UK pounds) less on brakes than we had intended to, but I didn't go back to Flavio (Briatore) and say 'we have saved £2,000 Flavio so why don't you pay me less?' It is a question of re-investing that money elsewhere and if it is cheaper to do certain things in Formula One but we still have the income then we will just be diverting money to other areas. I am not saying it is not a good thing to save money in Formula One, there are certain aspects that are really quite decadent these days. But at the end of the day it is the income and the budget that you have to work with that makes the difference. And if, for example, there is regulation on testing and, let's say it gets to the point where you don't need a test team, I think what we would do is we would re-deploy those people on test rigs. We would be doing a lot more modelling, okay, they might be slightly different people but overall we will spend whatever money we can get hold of.
Gascoyne: I think Pat's exactly right. I don't think it will make any difference to the top teams. The top teams are still large teams and they will be doing all the work necessary to be competitive and as one door closes another one will open, so we will put our investment and our resources into other areas. I think it is important in Formula One that we are all constructors, we are all teams, it has a team identity and it mustn't lose it. Maybe these rules will mean it is easier for smaller teams to be competitive and there may be smaller teams that can survive with a reasonable level of competitiveness. But I think at the top end you will still have the large competitive teams investing the money they have to win in Formula One and the rewards that gives them.
Head: Again, I think quite a lot of meetings and things have got to happen before we really know what 2008 regulations are and it was made plain to us that because there isn't a Concorde Agreement beyond 2007 that the technical regulations can be stipulated by the FIA. That is the case but that would be a very different situation and I suspect there will be some discussion about them and that there may be some pull-back from some of the positions that were stated at that meeting. But one way or the other...(phone rings) I thought it was the wife, it is Sam (Michael)! I would have jumped to attention if it was the wife! Erm. Yeah, Pat and Mike have said, really, you spend up to the limit of the money you can get. If you are inhibited from spending money on the car, although you might not spend it directly on the car you might spend it on simulation rigs and simulation tools, dynamic rigs, people staffing those rigs. If you can get the money in then your interest is to where you are going to find the tenth of a second that is going to make the difference between you and somebody else. And if that rests on, say, the best driver, and that driver wants $30 million (US Dollars) per year because he brings you that tenth of a second then you will pay him that $30 million. And if it happens to be because of your simulation tools, your multi-multi axis rig or whatever, you will still spend it. The thing is will that ability to spend make the difference between you and the other teams?
Newey: I am not sure there is much I can add, except that everyone spends the budget that is available to them. I think if we can reduce some of the things that we all have - ballast, carbon brakes perhaps, maybe even composite wishbones - expensive items that because everyone has them are no longer performance differentiators, that would reduce the cost spend on those bits. The big teams would simply spend it elsewhere, but for the small teams that would make more of a difference because it would leave them more money available for research, for wind tunnels, for testing, for whatever it might be. So they would perhaps be able to operate more efficiently and that would reduce the time gap between the front of the grid and the back of the grid, which I think is what the regulations should be trying to achieve, on the one hand. On the sort of more sporting side is how you improve the show. I think so far this year, because none of us have been able to rival Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, it has been a pretty dull season to date. So, we need to come up with something which closes the grid but to come up with a set of regulations which just dumbs the cars down, I think, would be a big mistake. Formula One is a mixture of driver and machine and that is almost part of the fascination - if it were all driver then it is like so many other sports, if there is no technical differentiation. And it also means that, if a team has the best driver then, on the face of it, it is always going to dominate. As Patrick says, if you dumb the cars down you spend it on the drivers and get the differentiation that way, so I think we have to be careful on coming up with regulations which, as Patrick pointed out, creates Formula 3000 cars in Formula One. That is not what Formula One is all about. The cars have to be quick and they have to look difficult to drive. As soon as it looks as if me sitting in my armchair would think I could drive that, then we have lost it at that point.
Q: (Jabby Crombac) Last year Williams and McLaren took the FIA to the arbitration court over the way the regulations were changed. Is this case still pending?
Head: I think you would have to ask Frank that one. I know it was ongoing and Max was responding on it but I don't know exactly what the situation is on that one, Jabby.
Q: And presumably you don't know either, Adrian?
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Express) Patrick, returning to the dreaded Ralf saga, you seem to be suggesting that you see a difference in his confidence before and after the Monza accident. Is that the case? Have you spoken to him about it? And, in the light of that, if it is a mental thing, should he see a sports psychologist?
Head: Ralf is an intelligent guy and he knows himself and his body and his physical condition and he is more than capable of looking after that aspect himself. But, you can imagine, Ralf is not happy with his position relative to his team-mate and we are confident that we can rely on him to put that aspect right. As I said, the subject came up as part of a private conversation and I am not really prepared to expand on it.
Q: (Tetsuo Tsugawa - Tetsu Enterprise) There are a lot of young driver programmes, how about the engineers? Do you have any young engineer development programmes in your team and. If yes, please tell me what kind, if no, why not?
Symonds: We certainly do. Renault in the UK is a company now that is very, very large and to sustain the growth that we have had in the last few years and the albeit slightly smaller growth that we expect in the next few years, it is necessary to have formal training programmes and we have had them for engineers for a number of years, where we will sponsor students through university, one hopes bring them into the company, give them proper professional development, and it is a very necessary thing. We all know engineers are far more important than drivers, don't we!
Gascoyne: Yeah, we have similar programmes to ensure that we get young engineers coming through. If nothing else, if you groom your own young engineers they are a lot cheaper than paying experienced ones a lot of money. So, it is a programme that we actively support.
Head: We are the same, and we have got quite a few engineers that we have taken direct out of university and we have worked with and they have impressed us. We have maybe been involved with them during their career either in having some sort of work year during their training or sometimes being involved in their PhD project and if they have impressed us adequately we have taken them on afterwards. We have got a couple of students we support each year at Brookes University and internally, as well, we are always looking for our senior engineers of the future and making sure that those engineers who look as though they can rise to more senior positions are not stuck drawing the left-hand wing mirror year-in year-out.
Newey: Very similar really. We sponsor, I think at the moment, three or four PhD students that we sponsor on related subjects. We recruit from universities as appropriate, either post-grads or undergrads from the university milk round and, equally, try to promote people within the company. If you have vacancies wherever it may be it always sends a good message to recruit from within the company and promote from within the company. Now what is happening with motor racing at the moment, both within the drivers side and the teams side, is that because we are tending to lose our production-based racing car facilities in the UK then it does mean that those training grounds - traditionally March and Lola and Reynard in the past, which have been great training grounds because they gave a very broad base of experience in all sorts of different categories and made sort of jack of all trades - are unfortunately lost now. So Formula One teams have to adapt to not being able to recruit from those areas and make sure they have their own training programmes.
Q: (Andrew Frankl) Mercedes have been making engines for more than 100 years but they seem to be making not terribly good ones at the moment. Do you think there is maybe time for a change at the top? Have they lost the plot? They seemed to make better engines any more under Ilmor than they are doing at the moment and it must be very unpleasant to see pictures of the car on fire.
Newey: Well, Mercedes are a very fine company, a very large company, and most importantly they are very committed to motor racing. So, yes, we have had a few engine embarrassments lately but I think most of these things, when you have problems, tend to go back to the structure and management of the company. Equally, that means that when it starts to become recognisable that there is a problem it can take a while to sort out and, of course, the larger a company is, someone like Mercedes, more inertia tends to be associated with that. But the problems have been recognised, there have been some large changes made, and I think they are very good changes. Martin Whitmarsh is now personally heavily involved in the engine programme and he is doing a very good turn-around, and I am very confident for the future. But these things do take time and I would hope we will see steady improvements on the engine side through the balance of this year and with the target of getting up towards the benchmark, I would say, probably not necessarily next year but certainly by the 2006 season when I hope we are right up there with everybody else.
Q: (Thibault Larue) Mr Symonds, Patrick Head was talking a few minutes ago about Anthony Davidson and also about the difficulty to know if a test driver is about to be in a Grand Prix. What is your current feeling about Franck Montagny's ability and, perhaps, about his future?
Symonds: I think Franck has done a very, very good job for us. I think he first impressed me when he did the 'Heathrow' (Friday) test session at Magny-Cours last year and pretty well everything that could go wrong went wrong. We had an engine problem on his car, we got things sorted out, got him out in the spare car which, of course, we could do in those sessions, it then started to rain and the way he handled it all, I thought, was very mature. Since then he has been doing a lot more testing for us, we find his results are consistent, he is quite innovative, he thinks a lot about what he does, he is an intelligent guy, and as a test driver we are very happy with him. As to his future, I think he thoroughly deserves a place in Formula One and I don't know if that will be with Renault or not. We obviously need to develop several drivers and at the end of the day there are only two that are racing for Renault. But I am very, very sure that Franck deserves a place somewhere on the grid.
WEDNESDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 19 MAY 2004
DRIVERS: David COULTHARD (McLAREN) and Mark WEBBER (JAGUAR)
Q: You are a two-time winner and have had pole position here. What are your feelings coming into this race?
David COULTHARD: I am still pissed off about the car stalling in 2001! I am not coming here, I live here, I am at home! I don't feel anything particularly different about being in the paddock. Obviously I am looking forward to seeing just how the car performs here. They talk about this being a drivers' circuit but you still need a car to get around so we will wait and see just how far up the grid we can get.
Q: I mean, is it going to be slightly more advantageous here than perhaps the previous races, from a rev point of view and that sort of thing?
Coulthard: I think that really the track here is re-surfaced in some section every year so it is not as bumpy as it first was when I started in Formula One, so it is pretty much a regular track so you need horsepower, you need grip and you need confidence in your car.
Q: Of which you have...?
Coulthard: Well, we have enough to be where we have been in the first few Grands Prix of the year.
Q: You have spoken of confidence in the past. Do you have confidence in this year's car?
Coulthard: I don't have a particular problem in confidence in the car, it is just not quick enough.
Q: Going into six races in eight weeks as we are, as every team is, do you feel you are prepared for that? Is there more to come? What is the situation?
Coulthard: Well, as it has been said before, there will be an updated version of this car available at some point between now and the end of the season, date to be advised, and then hopefully that will be a fix to the problems we currently have. As to racing every weekend, I think it makes a difference for you, because you are not used to doing something every weekend. We are used to going straight from a race, straight to a test, straight to a promotion, straight to the next Grand Prix the following week, so it doesn't actually change anything other than we are not testing and there is more difficulty squeezing the promotions in.
Q: But from a technical point of view it will be difficult to introduce any changes, won't it?
Coulthard: Yeah, a lot of things that have been initiated several weeks ago and they arrive when they arrive. I think people have a romantic vision that engineers go away from a Grand Prix, sketch something on the plane on the way home and have it built and take it testing the next week. In reality it is the fundamentals of what makes a Grand Prix car go quickly - tyres, downforce, mechanical balance, engine - they all take time. Set-up is such a small part of what really makes a car a championship winner or not so, when people say 'oh, we got the set-up wrong that weekend' there sometimes may have been a problem in the set-up but that is not going to fundamentally make you a race winner the following weekend.
Q: Now, a lot of rumours have come out about your future, the latest one is Jaguar. Can you shed any light on that, whether you are going...?
Coulthard: No. You know the score. Announcements are announcements and until that time what am I going to say? 'Ok, just between you and I and everyone else in the press room, don't tell anyone else...' Erm, everyone has just got to wait for all the announcements. People continue to speculate about all the drivers that are up for contract renewal or potential to move away but that is all it is until there is an official announcement.
Q: But can you just give us an idea. How is it going? Are you hopeful of being on the grid next year?
Coulthard: Well, I understand the question, but the first priority is making sure I am on the grid here this weekend and making sure I do the best job I can, so that is where my focus and energy goes.
Q: Do you feel you need to have a car to show off your talents or do you feel your history, your form in the past should get you a ride for next year?
Coulthard: I think that if you don't have a history, you either have the word potential beside your name or you are not considered someone who will be in Formula One for very long. So I have gone through a period in my career where I started with no history and just that word potential. Then you turn that word into race results, so I am comfortable to look back on the results I have and use those.
Q: You feel that is going to stand you in good stead?
Coulthard: Let's wait and see what happens.
Q: You are not giving out very positive vibes here, David.
Coulthard: No, I am very positive, but I can't tell you...
Q: I don't want details, I am just saying, you know...
Coulthard: What are you asking for?
Q: I said 'are things looking fairly good?' and you didn't say 'yes they are'...
Coulthard: Well, you know, yes, things are looking very good. Is that better?!
Q: Can I have a big smile as well?!!
Coulthard: Ok, sorry, what you have to do is ask a question and tell me what answer you would like me to give to make you happy.
Q: It is just there are lots of people who will re-interpret the answer, that is the trouble.
Coulthard: That is the trouble, and I have always maintained a level of either I can't tell you or I give you an honest answer and some of your colleagues don't respect that, so I have nothing to say until I have something to say. And let the speculation continue, you know... It's all just bollocks at the end of the day, anyway, isn't it!
Q: Mark, moving to you. You are a F3000 winner here and I believe you pretty much like this circuit, don't you?
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, I do. I always enjoy street circuits, it is a good challenge, but like David said they are making it a little bit easier for the drivers with some re-surfacing in places, which is good but it is also a little bit of a shame in some cases, you got the car moving around a lot more in the past here. So, yeah, looking forward to another race here. A Formula One car is very impressive around here, you need to be very accurate, very precise, and you get punished for your mistakes, which is a good thing I think. I am looking forward to it.
Q: What about the chances for Jaguar. How do you feel they are compared to the first few races?
Webber: No better than our other races that we have been to. We have clearly missed a few points opportunities. You know, Barcelona wasn't a good weekend for us in the race, we should have got some points in Imola and Malaysia and Australia but we didn't, so hopefully we can just be where we have always been, fighting on the fringes of the points if we can, probably not too far away from these guys, you know, see what we can do.
Q: Has there been a push going into these six races over eight weeks?
Webber: Yeah, well, Cosworth are trying very, very hard, they are doing a very, very good job considering the competition they are up against, the manufacturers, and they are doing a very sound job at Northampton. It is not easy for them. Aerodynamically, they are doing a very good job with the car. Mechanically we can still be better, I think, the mechanical grip of the car could still be improved, so we will just see how that goes. And also, obviously, the tyre war will be interesting this weekend with the Saubers and those sort of things - we won't worry about the red cars but we are going to worry about the Saubers.
Q: What about Christian, he hasn't been here before. Can you give him any help?
Webber: Erm, well, it is not my job to help him. Formula One is not a finishing school. I won't do anything to, you know... we spoke about the track a little bit at the last function we were at and you can't personalise it. He has got to go out there and get his head around the track and build from there, which he can do. He has done that very well at the last few circuits, so it should be fine for him.
Q: Didn't he come here last weekend for the Historic Grand Prix?
Webber: He didn't do it, no.
Q: What about the various messages on your shirts and all about Hollywood and all about the film and that sort of stuff. What's happening there?
Webber: Yeah, well, I am trying to get a role in Friends! It is off now because they knew my salary was too high, so... ! I am just wrapped to be here with Wayne Rooney - I mean George Clooney! - and all those guys. It's brilliant! Fantastic!
Q: You are going to leave the starring role to Nav are you?!
Webber: Yeah, Nav is in full control of all the legends, so we will leave that up to him!
Q: Is that going to be a bit of a distraction, though, this weekend?
Webber: No, not really, you know, once I am in the car it is no problem at all. I always want to get a good result and it hasn't been lucky for us in the past but hopefully we can change it here by doing different things.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mike Doodson - Mike Doodson Associates) David, I am not trying to get back at you but can you tell us whether you actually want to race next year because at the beginning of the year Ron Dennis said that if you didn't find a team that was up to the level of your abilities you would probably prefer a testing role. Can you just tell us whether you are interested in racing next year?
Coulthard: Well, not a very original answer, but I would like to race this year! I am sure you probably thought of that one, didn't you?
Q: (Tomi Sirren - STT) David, you just mentioned, you live here and it is unlike any others. Is it any harder or any more special to win here?
Coulthard: Yeah, of course, it is a different challenge. There is no opportunity to find the limit by going over it and running wide onto the grass. Any mistake here and you hit a barrier so it is a much harder challenge for the drivers and there is more hassle involved in doing a Grand Prix here because there is more contact with the public when you come into the track and understandably they are here to see the cars, they are here to see the drivers and you should give them some of your time. And, just, it is a tough environment for everyone to move around - much more difficult than in contrast to Barcelona, which is quite straightforward. But therefore the rewards are higher if it all works out, you can know you have really had a good weekend.
Q: (Gil Leon - Nice Matin) What is your opinion about the new pit lane and pits here?
Coulthard: Well, I think that from what I have seen of it, it is significantly better than what we have had in the past. All the cars are up there, you know, I know that some people probably enjoyed being able to walk up and down and see the cars in the old pit complex but it was well behind its time in many respects and now I think it represents a proper pit lane.
Q: (Randy Philipps - The Gazette) David, getting back to rumours, there are rumours circling around that there is a possibility of Villeneuve returning. I know that in the past you were, and still are, good friends with him. Would you like to see him back and do you miss him being around?
Coulthard: Well, as well as him being a friend I think he is a character for Formula One because he expresses his views without always giving full consideration to the consequences of how that may endear him to the team and sponsors and all the rest of it. But it is interesting and entertaining out of the car and in the car he is also entertaining because if you tell him that a corner is almost flat then he is the guy who is going to try to take it flat, even if it means shunting it the other side of it. He will come with the data and say 'hey, I may have crashed and destroyed the car, but I was flat-out'. That is an interesting quality that he has so, yeah, I think it would be interesting for the sport for him to be back if he was able to find a spot.
Q: (Steve Cooper - Motorsport News) Mark, from your point of view, is it more frustrating this year that the car has lots of problems in different areas rather than one normal problem that you can overcome? And do you think the team is getting on top of it?
Webber: Well, as I said, this year we have had more surprises. The issues we had at the start of last year, some of them were not surprises because they were consistent with our testing problems. But this year we have been surprised by some of the problems we have had on Sunday afternoons - my one in Melbourne, and in Imola, both of them we had neither seen in practice or testing, so they are just as big a pill to swallow because they are totally new and you don't want to learn about them on Sunday. We have done this year, they haven't come back again, but they shouldn't have been there in the first place so, yes, a little frustrating.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazetta dello Sport) Mark, can you guarantee you will remain in Jaguar in 2005 or not?
Webber: Well, like David touched on before, unless you have got something to say it is not really good to speculate. There are a few seats moving around I think but I am very, very happy at Jaguar and that is where I am at the moment.
Q: (Tony Jardine - ITV) David, just going back to last year, the 17, the 18, new car and so on, a lot of people, including McLaren, were hoping that as those cars morphed it would result in all the cars being really good. Obviously it has disappointed lots of people and it is difficult for us to understand what is actually wrong with it. Can you pinpoint the areas where it is weak and where you can make improvements to the car for the existing one before the new one comes along?
Coulthard: Well, I think that in Bahrain I sort of touched on a few of the areas. Obviously there is no substitute for horsepower, there is no substitute for consistent levels of downforce and mechanically understanding the car. That mechanical understanding gives a driver confidence and if a driver is confident you can pull tenths. You know, it is difficult to quantify, but you can gain a lot of time from the feeling that you are driving the car rather than reacting so, I think, the only area we can't question at the moment is the tyres, which quite clearly have been performing perfectly well on other cars. Then it becomes difficult just how much of the Bridgestone performance is the Ferrari and its strengths versus the next best Michelin runner. It is not a one-word answer because it is a combination of the things I mentioned.
Q: (Tony Dodgins - Tony Dodgins & Associates) David, you have a good record here and I know you have had a bit of a torrid time with the car so far. Do you think this is a place where you can actually get a hold of it and make a difference or is it just going to exaggerate the problems you have got?
Coulthard: Well, to be perfectly honest I am quite curious to know just how well the car performs around here. Part of the Ricard test last week was aimed specifically towards this weekend and tyre selection and picking areas of the Ricard track we were driving and trying to identify those main areas that would be similar to the track here. Obviously high-speed corners and the horseshoe and places like that at Ricard, you just don't have those corners here, so it is kind of irrelevant whether you are quick or slow in those corners. So I am hoping and I have a hunch that we could be a little bit better on this circuit relative to some of the others but racing drivers, I think, have the ability to mentally re-set, you know. Monday morning after a bad Grand Prix you are already thinking you can win the next one! That belief that we can be better here could all come undone. After five laps on Friday you will get an indication of how quick you are. So again, it doesn't really answer your question but the truth is we honestly don't know how quick we are going to be on this track because if you analyse our time loss around the various tracks we have had so far and the speeds of corners it is a little bit everywhere. So do the sequence of corners here, the tyre choice we have made and the engine performance we have this weekend - which is a higher performance than I had in Barcelona last week - will all those factors give me the confidence to pull something out? Obviously I hope that is the case.
Q: (Wolfgang Reuter - Premiere) David, the problem areas of the car, it seems a bit strange that teams like McLaren find out that there are problem areas at the beginning of the season. Why haven't you guys found out about these earlier?
Coulthard: Well, the difficulty in answering these questions is that it puts the team separate to the driver, but, as you asked the question, I felt the car was a small step forward over the 17D when I first tested it - and I did the first two tests with the car - and I chose not to do the third test in December and that was the test that everyone started saying the car was fast and reliable, and I am sitting at home thinking, well, where did it become fast and reliable just, maybe, because I didn't drive it at that test? First of all, you cannot judge reliability in testing, really, because you can be 100 percent reliable in testing but if you don't finish any Grands Prix - that is what really counts. And the speed thing, I think you have to be honest, and too often, looking at a lap time, you log onto a website and what does it tell you? The end of day results. That doesn't tell you anything other than who happened to be quick on one lap. You need to know more - did they do a 20-lap run? Did they have a development tyre? There are so many factors. For me, I didn't get to Melbourne thinking we had a fast and reliable car. I knew we had some difficulties, the media were allowed to really believe McLaren were a threat this year, based on two or three one-lap quick times in testing. That, ultimately, you have got to say, was a mistake from the team to allow that to be out there.
Q: (Mike Doodson) For both of you, you are both close to the GPDA and we understand that there is due to be a meeting here. Juan Pablo Montoya was anxious for some sort of clarification on the one-move rule which seems to have been breached a couple of times this year. Can you keep us up to date on what is happening - are you having a meeting here and is that on the agenda?
Webber: Yeah, we are definitely having a meeting tomorrow and no, that is not on the agenda, but it might come on the agenda if the little Colombian wants to talk - he always wants to talk about things so I am sure it is going to be covered. There are a lot of issues we will be talking about tomorrow and that could be one of them. Yeah, it is good for the drivers to get together and a whole range of issues from safety through to the public to charities, all sorts of stuff.
Q: Can you give us a bit more of an idea?
Webber: Well, those things really. It is drivers as a group, all singing from the same song sheet if we can, just discussing the issues we need to. Safety is right up there, communication with the FIA, just making sure we are in the look of everything we need to be.
DRIVERS: Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), Olivier PANIS (TOYOTA) and Jarno TRULLI (RENAULT)
Q: Olivier, how do you feel about the team performance so far this year? So far there have been some quite good grid positions but haven't resulted in points as yet...
Oliver PANIS: What do you think yourself? Well, for me, I just need to say that we started the season quite badly, but Grand Prix per Grand Prix, we keep pushing, we keep going and I'm sure that Mike Gascoyne in the team will be a big help. We start to feel the effect of what he's doing right now and I think we will keep improving. It's true that in qualifying we have done a good job sometimes, particularly at the last Grand Prix at Barcelona I did a very good lap, and I'm sure that Michelin helped us in that. You know on the first lap they are really really competitive. But after that, I had a hydraulic failure and I didn't finish the race. That's a bit of a shame when you're in a good position, but I just need to be positive every time, keep pushing the team, working together, impose good stability and keep improving.
Q: What effect has Mike Gascoyne joining had on the race team?
Panis: I think we have a quite a big team, a lot of people is quite good, but sometimes nobody has the right idea to take the right direction. But Mike has been in the business for a long time, he knows exactly what we need to achieve to have a good car and now he pushes the people in the right direction more or less all the time. This, I'm sure, for the future, is a big help. But now, what we need to do is to be patient, to help improve the car in the middle of the season, like a big step forward and after that I think we will be in the right direction.
Q: Six races in eight weeks; do you feel the team is well prepared for that or do you still require more bits and pieces to come through?
Panis: I think the guy to speak to is Mike. But I don't think we have a lot of things, because we are more or less preparing a new car for the middle of the season. It's difficult to do both. Now I think we need to carry on with what we have, do the best with the car we have. If you start to cry it doesn't help, you know? Keep pushing and wait for the new car and we see afterwards, but I don't think we will have a lot of new things before the new car arrives, which should normally be in Hockenheim.
Q: Final question, we hear about a lot of people joining Toyota; everyone keeps saying so-and-so's going to Toyota... what's your own contractual situation with Toyota?
Panis: My contract finishes at the end of this year. I need to state this year, clearly, and I just say welcome to everybody else.
Q: Rubens, looking back at Barcelona, you must be particularly pleased with your race tactics in that race.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Well, it was just different from everything else we've seen so far this year. I was almost in front of Michael - if it wasn't for a second or two I could have made it. It was different. It was nice to drive the car for the longer stints, because the car was behaving quite well. The reason for going for two stops was to try to beat everyone, not to make a show. It almost happened. For sure, it's something that people are going to be looking at in more races this year.
Q: You've had a couple of second places here in Monaco; what chances this time?
Barrichello: You know you always have to take the season as it's starting and I'm always up to it. I've always welcomed the new challenges. I think Michael has been very very strong throughout the year. In this current period, he has been really really strong, but I just keep on doing my work and I'm sure the win will come, when you're working and you're maintaining your calmness and everything. I'm working quite well with the engineers so there's no problem there. Barcelona was a good race for me in terms of set-up. I just got a little more of a hand on the car. Last week I tested quite well in Mugello and Fiorano so I'm quite optimistic.
Q: How serious is this thing about Bridgestones not being as quick as Michelins over the first lap?
Barrichello: I don't think it is a problem at all. I think there was a particular problem in Imola because the track was a little bit cold and probably the way we went to the grid was a little bit too slow, people were trying to hang back a little bit on the grid, and there was a bit of a problem. Apart from that, I don't think it's a problem at all. In Barcelona, Jarno did a fantastic start but Michael was right up with him for the first lap, so I don't feel it is a problem at all.
Q: Michael's won the first five races so far this year - do you think he can go on and win them all?
Barrichello: The pressure's on him, apparently, because people are trying to make him win the whole 18 which I think is impossible. There are lots of people trying to win the races, including myself. There are tracks where he's stronger at than others. You just have to take your chances whenever they come. He's been very strong and it's really good to see that, after all this time, he's still doing well. As I said, I'm proud to be driving alongside him in a team because I'm really being compared to the best out there. But I don't fear him. I think my time has to come during the year and hopefully he won't score many points whenever I'm scoring.
Q: Jarno, what are your feelings looking back at Barcelona? Have you replayed that start? How are you going to do it again?
Jarno TRULLI: Barcelona was a fantastic weekend for me, all the way through, because it was a faultless weekend, with a great job together with the team, the mechanics, the engineers, because we managed to do a great qualifying and then a good start, keeping a very good high placing during the race which eventually gave me third position as a result. It was the best result for us during the season. It's good because I've been climbing up the order from the beginning of the year, from Australia: seventh, fifth, fourth and then third, so I'm assuming that the next step will be second, so I'm really looking forward to the future!
Q: Do you think the car's suited to this circuit?
Trulli: Well, this is one of the circuits where you just basically have to wait and see because sometimes you are so optimistic and then you hit the track and you are not quite there. Some other times, where you think it is not the track, you are fast and then eventually you find yourself flying. It has happened to me in the past. But we are actually very optimistic because our car has so far been competitive in every condition, on every track. We are a team which is definitely climbing up in terms also of competitiveness, in terms of improving the car. We've got some more bits coming for this race. We have to be confident that we can do the job but it's difficult to beat Ferrari at the moment. But every race is a new story, another race is a new challenge, so you have to go for it.
Q: What about your own feelings about this race?
Trulli: It's a typical track, one that I like but you never know what can happen because it's one of those tracks where you mustn't make a mistake throughout the weekend because it can cost you a lot. Qualifying is important, even more important is the start of the race. But, as usual, the most important thing is to finish ahead.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mike Doodson - Mike Doodson Associates) Rubens, you suggested that it was just a matter of a second which cost you a possible win in Barcelona and I know that after the race you drew attention to the fact that the team had 1m 20s of advance warning before you came in. I looked at the video and the team was slow with the tyres but I think the fuel took more time to get in than it took to put the tyres on. Can you clarify for us - are you disappointed with the performance of the team? Do you feel the team could have gained you that one second that would have given you the chance of winning the race?
Barrichello: No, I don't think so. The one second that I was looking at was when he came out of the pits in front of me, when I was just behind him. That second... if I was in front, it could have been a different story. At the pit stop, there was apparently a little bit of a mess with the information and they got it wrong but it wouldn't have made my race. There was a second, earlier, and if I was in front then you can dictate the pace and my car was only getting stronger, so with all the backmarkers and everything, you can play with them and then have the advantage. Then I could have lost in the pits and then it would have been another story but the second that I'm referring to is the one when he came out from his second pit stop and I was on the racing track and he came right in front of me. Then it would have been different, I guess.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News) Rubens, you live in Monaco. Besides the obvious tax reasons, why do you live here and why do you like it? And the other two guys, why don't you live here and why do you chose to live where you live?
Barrichello: For me it's quite clear. It's very close to Italy. Sometimes you fly, sometimes you drive. It's just quite easy to go from here. And it's quite nice for my kid, the weather is nice and this place is so peaceful when you don't have anything. When you have the tennis, sometimes, there can be quite a lot of people. When you have other things going on, yes, but during the week it's so nice, so quiet. You can walk and have a peaceful time, so that's why I live here.
Panis: For me it's different, different things. If I lived here I would have to pay French tax anyway. And I prefer to live in France in a big house than to live here in a small apartment! I have a fantastic life in France. I like Monaco, to be honest, but it's enough for one week.
Trulli: I moved to England when I joined the Renault team because we have a lot of work to do. We actually have meetings after the race, which is not usual for most of the teams, but for us it's important, because we are a team which wants to grow up, we want to improve and we are definitely doing a very good job. Monaco is nice for me. As Barrichello says, it's a nice place, quiet. I don't live in London, I don't live in Oxford, I live in a quiet place in the English countryside. It's not Monaco but it's close to the team, which makes my life easier, especially on the Monday after races.
Q: (Tomi Siren - STT) Rubens, as you have memories going back over ten years here in Monaco, what's the