JUNE 11, 2004
CANADIAN GP - FRIDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
Friday Press Conference
FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 11 JUNE 2004
TEAM MEMBERS: Willi RAMPF (SAUBER PETRONAS), Otmar SZAFNAUER (HONDA), Mario THEISSEN (BMW WILLIAMS) and Martin WHITMARSH (McLAREN MERCEDES)
Q: Willi, can you tell us about the wind tunnel and how that has helped with developments?
Willi RAMPF: Basically, the main steps in performance are coming from the wind tunnel and, as planned, the first aerodynamic parts were introduced in Imola and from there on we could increase the car performance overall and our lap times. The plan is for each event now we are bringing in new components, new parts from the wind tunnel and, up to now, we are on target.
Q: So, what programme are they working to in the wind tunnel?
Rampf: Well, basically the next steps will be a new front wing and then a new engine cover, so it is not only small parts. We try to have quite bigger steps and also big components.
Q: And what sort of shifts are they working?
Rampf: Currently we are on two shifts but that is the limit we can do, so we cannot go flat-out on two shifts. For the next weeks it will go back to a long single shift.
Q: So, what do you think of the fact you now have your own wind tunnel?
Rampf: It is great for us because it is a good tool and it is always available for us. The repeatability and the quality of the data is quite good so we are quite impressed but we are still in a learning phase in terms of how to handle the wind tunnel and how to get the best out of it.
Q: The other thing is the engine. Are you getting updates to the engine or not?
Rampf: We will get updates during the season and we expect the next update in one of the next races. It is planned for Magny Cours or Silverstone.
Q: Have you already had an update since the beginning of the year?
Q: So that is going to be pretty important as well.
Q: Otmar, first of all updates. What is the programme for you, because I think it has changed here, hasn't it?
Otmar SZAFNAUER: This year our plan was to have fewer updates and more significant ones. Our first one was at Imola, the second one is here and that is still the case. We have brought more power and our engine is a bit more fuel efficient here as well, we have been working on that. The next update was planned for Hockenheim but with our recent performance we are not winning races so we are trying to bring that forward by a race to Silverstone, so you may see the next significant step at Silverstone after this.
Q: I got the impression that this was going to be a performance update here but it has more become a reliability one.
Szafnauer: It was always planned as a performance update and that is what it is. However, after the last Grand Prix we had to re-evaluate reliability and we have made some changes to address our failure in Takuma's engine. So you could say it is both, but the performance advancements that we had planned all along are in this engine and they were tested at Silverstone and Monza.
Q: What has been the problem? Is it a Takuma problem, because he has had four major failures this year?
Szafnauer: Absolutely not, it's the luck of the draw really. We have spent a lot of time analysing the data on both drivers and there is nothing to point at one driver versus the other. It's not driving style, it's just circumstances of the race and those are different so it is not a Takuma problem, per se.
Q: Can you blame, then, for example, the last two failures have been a lap or two after a pit stop and a re-start.
Szafnauer: The re-start definitely had something to do with it but both engines in Monaco saw the same type of data, so to speak, after the re-start and it was just unfortunate for Takuma that his engine didn't last. We saw high temperatures on both engines and we had every expectation that both engines were going to finish that race. Unfortunately Takuma didn't and Jenson finished second. The last failure was completely different, so you can't really correlate it to those types of things.
Q: Martin, a new job for you. Can you tell us a bit about it? How has it been so far?
Martin WHITMARSH: It has been interesting so far. Really my job now is to ensure that we pull together the technical teams. As we evolved our team then, obviously, we have the chassis team in Woking but then we have arrived at two teams, one in Stuttgart and one in Brixworth and both have grown very rapidly and I think there is a need to pull them together. My job is to introduce one organisation which spans two locations, brings together the dynos and the research capabilities we have got in Stuttgart and concentrates V10 engine design development and manufacture in Brixworth. Really, they are two organisations with different origins and cultures and there has been a bit of competition between those two organisations and we have really got to make sure we get the best out of them. They have got their own particular strengths - Brixworth has got a strong racing culture and they have got many good engineers and facilities there, the R&D culture and the processes are probably better developed in Stuttgart - and clearly we need to bring those to bear on our programme. The ingredients are very, very good and the opportunity to bring them together is an exciting one, it is something that inevitably, there are people who are happy and comfortable to contribute to that process and others that are less so, so inevitably there is a bit of friction but I think we are going to get through that quite quickly, pulling it together, and have one team developing the chassis and the engine.
Q: So, you are the bloke who cracks the whip over the whole thing?
Whitmarsh: I am the bloke whose fault it is if we don't get our act together and I think that is right. Ultimately somebody has got to feel accountable and be responsible.
Q: What about the problems from the European Grand Prix? What was the final countdown on that?
Whitmarsh: It was a piston problem, as I think we said or suspected at the time. Further analysis has demonstrated that all of the pistons that failed came from two batches of material so we think we know why we had the problem. We had a slightly different design of piston at the event so inevitably, when you have piston failures and you have just changed the design then you focus on the design issue but, I think in fairness and in the light of the analysis that we have done, we have now tracked it down to two batches of material. In the meanwhile, of course, we had to build the engines so we have reverted our pistons back in specification for this race because we had to build those engines before we could conclude the material analysis.
Q: Now, what about the MP4-19B? First of all, how did the test go and when are we going to see it?
Whitmarsh: Ok, well, you would have seen it if you were in Silverstone, which is where the test was. It was a three-day test and I think from one test you have got to be cautious but Kimi drove it, he was very comfortable with the car, felt we had addressed the issues we hoped to address with that car, so we are pleased that it is a step forward. Whether it is enough remains to be seen, we have got to bring it to the race track as soon as we can. It is very tempting and I suppose encouraging that I have received all sorts of pressure from the drivers and from my chairman, to have it here or in Indianapolis. I think that is a good sign because, obviously, if I wasn't under that pressure then we would probably all be a bit disappointed. The reality is, in Formula One you have to work in a very careful and consistent manner. We have an important test in Jerez after Indianapolis, where we will have two 19Bs. We have only got two tests before the summer break and we have got to make sure that rather than knee-jerk into bringing a car to the circuit before it is properly developed that we do the right amount of work on the test track. At the moment, we are going to do that and we are hoping that Jerez will be a successful test, which we believe it will be. If it is, we will bring it to the French Grand Prix, but as I say at the moment the reality is we will be driven by the data, we will be driven by the information we get when we perform those tests.
Q: That is quite a turn-around from Jerez to Magny Cours isn't it?
Whitmarsh: Yes, it will be tough but you have got to have a balance and there are always those who will say ?throw it on a plane, fly it to Canada, fly it to Indianapolis'. I think that would have been the wrong thing to do, but we have got to apply pressure on ourselves. We are not doing a good enough job, we don't enjoy the level of performance we have at the moment and we are very keen to improve it.
Q: Mario, can you give us some idea of your feelings about the season at the moment? I mean, in the last three races you had a sixth, a fourth and an eighth. It doesn't really seem to be going the right way.
Mario THEISSEN: That's right, we are certainly not satisfied with the season so far. The start was difficult already and progress was not sufficient, not sufficient since then. I think it had a lot to do with the changes we have made meanwhile, the discussions about the changes which had to be made, and certainly you cannot change things overnight, especially you cannot change the performance of the car overnight. There are some steps to come during the season. I am quite confident that the structural change and organisational change which came along with the appointment of Sam Michael at Williams will lead towards the right direction, will improve the performance of the team and the interaction between the people in Munich and the people in Grove. I am really confident about that, but obviously it takes some time, it takes some races, and I hope that we are at the bottom of the curve right now and we will improve in the second half of the season.
Q: How quickly can it be turned around? We have heard about three or four races, that sort of thing?
Theissen: Well, obviously one key area is aerodynamics. The new wind tunnel at Williams is on-stream right now and working at double capacity in two tunnels should increase the output. There is something planned for Magny Cours, a major aerodynamic step, and certainly we are aiming at improving aerodynamics race by race. On the engine side, we have something in the pipeline as well. Basically we had three targets for this season. The first was to come up with a reliable 800km engine without losing too much power and without adding too much weight. That was achieved by the first race. The second target was to make top power and engine speed available not just for qualifying but for the entire race, that was achieved by Imola. Now we are working on the third target, which is power improvement throughout the season, step by step.
Q: So, where can you see the developments coming? Can you tell us which races?
Theissen: It won't be major, except what I said already about the engine improvements for Magny Cours. On top of that, I expect continuous improvement as we did in the years before.
Q: Now, it is a bit unfair, perhaps, to ask you, but is the car going to look different from the outside?
Theissen: I think so, yes.
Q: So the basic look at the front there, that is going to go is it?
Theissen: I don't know what way it will look different. (Laughter)
Q: What about the driver situation? Do you think that's affecting the team's performance?
Theissen: Certainly it is an unusual situation for our team, it creates some troubles and sometimes it is not easy to cope with it. On the other hand, if you look at other teams, there are some teams around who never had anything but one-year driver contracts so it is not that unusual in Formula One. I think so far we, and I mean the engineers and the drivers, have coped with the situation quite well. We will see how it works through the second half of the season. I am quite optimistic that, if you watch a driver coming to the track on Thursday of a race weekend, the only thought he has is to earn as many points as possible, to get on the podium or maybe to win the race and nobody cares about next year and their situation. So I think we should be able to cope with it and I am confident that we will.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alberto Antonini - Autosprint) Martin, in your position with Ilmor Mercedes, can I ask you if and what sort of improvement will be introduced in the new 19B engine-wise. We understand that there is a new engine block in the pipeline so how much difference is it from the previous one, how much does this affect the weight distribution and the centre of gravity of the car and so on?
Whitmarsh: OK, with 19B there is a slightly different engine which does give us a small performance improvement and that is independent of the underlying developments we saw throughout the year. Clearly, after last weekend, we've had quite a lot of introspection and concentration on the issue of durability and reliability but we intend, in Magny Cours, to have a small incremental improvement in performance and then in Hockenheim we anticipate another step forward in performance, so we have two steps of performance from the engine during the course of the year. There are several changes to the fundamental block of the engine, one of which is reliability-driven and the other is introduced with the 19B and gives us a small performance increment. But in terms of the chassis, they won't fundamentally change balance.
Q: (Alberto Antonini) Will we not see the new version of the engine until the 19B actually rolls out onto the racing track?
Whitmarsh: That's correct. In fact, we would have had it in the test but we backed off to an older specification of engine in the light of our experience at the Nürburgring.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Otmar, in the year and a half you have been working with Takuma Sato, tell us how he has matured and gotten better and faster because he seems to have come a long way here?
Szafnauer: Well, Takuma did a very good job for us testing last year and in that year he got a lot of miles or kilometres under his belt. Even in this season, as we can all tell, he's improving and his attitude has always been very good. He works very hard and he's a racing car driver. He wants to win and he and (race engineer) Jock (Clear) are a good pairing and they are doing very well. I think, with time, just like anybody else Takuma will continue to improve.
Q: (Dan Knutson) Martin, I'm sorry I'm going to put you on the spot here. How do we explain to the average fan how a team that almost won the World Championship last year only has five points halfway through the season?
Whitmarsh: Because we got it wrong in many ways. You need to finish races to score points and we've not done a very good job in that regard. A Formula One car and the performance of a team is extremely complex. You are always striving to improve every aspect of the car. I think we made a number of wrong decisions in our programme and we're paying the cost of that. Nowadays Formula One cars are ever more complex, aerodynamically and structurally. When you compare it to even ten years ago, when we wanted to make a fundamental change to the structure or the aerodynamics the component to change was often singular and quite rapid. If you wanted to change your suspension you could go down to the fabrication shop and, being a racing team, you would make that change in a few days. Now, if you go and look at any of the cars on the grid and look at the integration of very complex front wing systems, the way in which the front suspension attaches to the car and the same for the rear suspension, the whole package is so complex, the components are so complex that we're not able to change the package overnight any longer. So we recognised, fairly early on in the year, that we needed to make some fundamental changes to the car, but to execute those has been quite a significant project so, as you may know, the 19B project was in fact initiated before the first race of this year, and we're now starting to see the fruits of that. So, in some ways, these complex cars are a disadvantage. Obviously every engineer is pursuing every small fraction of percent of performance but if you get it wrong then to recover the situation is a penalty.
Q: (Dom Taylor - F1 Racing) Mario, why are you so confident that Sam Michael's appointment to technical director will improve the performance of the team and was this Williams restructure something that BMW were keen to make happen?
Theissen: The confidence really is not primarily based on the personnel change, on the handover from Patrick to Sam, but on the structural changes which go along with this and we were certainly involved in the original thoughts about that. In fact, early last year, when we started to re-negotiate our contract in order to come to a new partnership for the next five years, most of the time was spent on how to get the two teams together, in fact the two parties of the teams together, how to make best use of the resources available on both sides, and how to improve and increase efficiency, the way we work together and effectiveness of the issues we focus on. And we concluded the new partnership only after we had come to a common view on all this. And that laid the foundation for the reorganisation which was pursued since then at Williams and took effect some weeks ago and that is why I'm confident for the future.
Q: (Jon Noble - Autosport) Martin, David Coulthard in one of these press conferences a few weeks ago said it was a mistake by the team to portray through quick testing times and quote to the public that it was fighting for the World Championship right the way up to Melbourne. Could you just give us an indication a) when the team realised it wasn't going to be in a position to fight for the championship, because David reckoned he knew at the second test for the 19, and b) whether there are any parallels between your optimism on the 19B and your optimism back then?
Whitmarsh: I think we started to understand some of the problems with 19A in Barcelona on about week three. I think at that point, as a racing team, you have to have a degree of optimism and belief that you're going to power through problems. So in terms of portraying our aspirations, our aspirations never changed, we're always out there to win races and win World Championships. I think if you're then going to lead a team of a thousand people who are involved in a programme, and for a team such as our own, saying in week three ?actually we've given up with the championship this year guys, let's regroup for next year' is an unacceptable position for us and therefore we've had to take a buoyant and aggressive stance with how we plan our season. So I think we knew, and the reality is, as I think you know, before the start of the year, we had announced 19B as a programme. We would have not entertained a 19B programme had we not realised that we needed to make some response, so I think David got there early, so he believes. Perhaps we were maybe in a similar position but I think we wanted to work on 19A and, indeed, I think we have improved 19A during the course of this year. But we also recognise that there are some fundamental issues that we needed to address in 19B. Now, with regard to 19B, then I think we're being cautiously optimistic on this occasion, but if you're asked an opinion then you may as well give it. Do I believe 19B is a quicker car than 19A? Yes it is. If I sat here and believed differently then it would be extremely painful, I guess. Only one driver has driven and we've only driven on one circuit at the moment - maybe when we get to Jerez we'll think differently - but based on the exposure we've had so far, and we had a relatively detuned engine following the Nürburgring issues, I think we look quite competitive at a circuit like Silverstone. We hope that we can follow that through into some other tracks and that's why we're not racing to take the car here. We're not ready at the moment, after a three day test, one of which was predominantly wet.
Q: (Tony Dodgins - Tony Dodgins Associates) Martin, one or two people have been saying that brakes are at the limit now and with the 28mm disc here, it's a bit iffy. The FIA might argue you've just got to use bigger ducts or get more air to them. What's the truth?
Whitmarsh: No, I think the reality is that we can make discs last that are 28mm thick. The reality is, like all aspects of racing, you're going to take it to the limit, so inevitably here and Monza, which are very heavy braking circuits, they're the exception. You'll develop the fundamental architecture and your materials for most circuits and when you come to a heavy braking circuit you're always going to be on the limit so if you made the disc 32mm then we'd find ways to have better brakes for all the other circuits and when we got here we'd be in trouble again. So I think the truth is that you can make brakes work which are 28mm and you could probably make them work at 20mm - you'd find a material which had less oxidisation or less wear and would last the race distance.
Q: (Bob Constanduros - Bob Constanduros and Associates) Willi, do you have anything to add to that?
Rampf: Yes, I think Martin is absolutely correct, because if we talk about increasing the thickness of the brake disc we would all go for smaller brake ducts, to have an aero dynamic advantage.
Q: (Steve Cooper - Motorsport News) Martin, given your knowledge of the departments at Brixworth and Stuttgart, how many years or how many iterations of engine do you think we'll see before Mercedes is back with a front-running unit again?
Whitmarsh: We're already designing next year's engine and I think we've learned some lessons and I think that's a good step forward. Whether it's enough remains to be seen and I guess with time, experience and hindsight I could answer the question accurately. It's not just about the individuals, it's about process, it's about teamwork and it's about how we operate and I believe already, and it's early days yet, but I believe we will have a stronger engine package next year. But these things will evolve and I hope we will take another step, so it's a question of year on year, taking bigger steps than your competitors. But we are improving this year's engine package, we're improving the performance during the course of the year and we'll make another step forward next year. But the reality is ultimately where we are in relation to the competition that counts. It's not a question of years. We are already, I believe, making some worthwhile steps of improvement with the engine and will continue to do so throughout this year, next year and the year after that.
Q: (Tony Dodgins) It looks like the qualifying rules are going to change back again for Silverstone and one of the major factors people were talking about was improving the show. What's your opinions on that?
Whitmarsh: My view is that what we have at the moment is not very satisfactory. The qualifying show, however, does throw up some unusual results and it can help the race show. I think we're concentrating on the qualifying show, I'm not entirely convinced by the aggregate time issue, personally, but I think there will be a lot of cars out there fighting for room on the track, there will be cars tripping over themselves in those two sessions, so I think it will be quite an intensive and exhausting hour for the drivers and the teams. So I think that show will be better. The issue of putting the cars on the grid in their natural performance order and thereafter not having enough overtaking I think is true. It's a question of whether, when you put one of the top cars towards the back, is it that exciting as they rush through the backmarkers? I'm not sure that it is. I think Formula One needs to have closer racing and the reality is we have to do a better job, be closer to the Ferraris and BARs at the moment and then we'll get a decent show. What I think detracts from the show is if people know who's going to win the race before they get here. Then, in fairness to Michael and Ferrari, that's not their fault, that's our fault. We have to get our act together. I think last year the races were more interesting because we had a closer championship. We've now flicked in and out of a very Ferrari-dominant season, a closer season, and we're in a Ferrari-dominant season. I think the hour-long qualifying session could be interesting, it will be intensive. I personally don't like the aggregate decision but nonetheless that's what's been decided. As far as the race is concerned, if all the top teams do a good job and we've got closely competitive cars, then we'll have a good season.
Theissen: Not much to add. I'm of the same view, basically. Any change, looking at the race format, I think any change will be a change for the better. What I personally would like to see that if we go out on one quick lap in qualifying, the spectator should be able to evaluate the performance of the car on one quick lap and not something covered by or overshadowed by race tactics as we have it now.
Rampf: I would prefer to keep the current procedure, first from a commercial point of view. Two single lap qualifying runs is guaranteed television time for us. If everybody is out in a normal qualifying session I think everybody is concentrating more on the quickest cars and to run second qualifying with fuel for the race, gives us a bit more possibility of qualifying with low fuel, for instance, and starting in front more and playing a bit more with the strategy. I think this has gone if we go back to the format which is planned for Silverstone.
Szafnauer: Well, we at Honda have really enjoyed the low fuel all-out performance runs in the past. We look forward to having that back. I'm not sure how the aggregate's going to work but we shall see.
Q: (Steve Cooper) To everyone, given that McLaren and Toyota are producing a b-spec car this year and Williams are producing an aero upgrade and Honda has brought a big engine improvement here, do you think it is a growing trend that we are seeing teams developing almost two specs of car in a season or do you think it is just a one-off this year because the cars that were brought out were under-performing at the start of the year?
Whitmarsh: I hope it is not a trend. We don't intend to do it again, no!
Theissen: What we have seen last year already is that some teams make bigger progress during the race season than over the winter with the new car. It only reflects the strong developing base the big teams have. I think what we would not like to do is introduce a new car or new engine halfway down the season but the optimisation steps during a season can be quite significant and will be quite significant in the future.
Rampf: I can assure you it is not an option for us, to develop a second car during the season, just for manpower and budget reasons.
Szafnauer: And with us it is not an all-new engine, it is just a significant step this time and we will continue to make those steps when we have the technology to put in the engine and bring out engines with more power. We aren't winning and we will continue to push until we realise our want and our wishes and that is to win the world championship.
Q: (Thierry Tassin - RTBF TV) Just a question regarding the safety car procedure. In the Nürburgring we heard at lunchtime there was a new procedure then 40 minutes before the race they said we back off, we go to the previous one. What is happening for this Grand Prix?
Whitmarsh: We have no more information.
Theissen: I can't (say) either.
THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 10 JUNE 2004
DRIVERS: Nick HEIDFELD (JORDAN FORD) and Kimi RAIKKONEN (MCLAREN MERCEDES)
Q: First of all, could you both give us a re-cap of how testing went at Silverstone last week? Nick, could you start, a couple of days for you I think.
Nick HEIDFELD: Yeah, we've been to Silverstone for two days. First of all, we were lucky with the weather. We had sunshine for the two days that we were there which is not so usual for Silverstone and we concentrated on tyres for the Silverstone race, and on the second day we did some aero work especially for here, for Canada, so we tried a new front and rear wing, which look quite promising.
Q: Kimi, it was a bit more crucial for you because you had the new McLaren, the 19B.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah. It was good. It was nice to drive the 19B and everything went well. We really didn't have any problems, just a small problem because of the tight schedule with new parts so we really didn't have the right parts, so sometimes there was a problem with the cooling of the brakes, but all the rest was good and the car felt a bit better so hopefully we will get it to races soon.
Q: When do you think that might be?
Raikkonen: I don't know, really. Like I said, it was good because we didn't have any problems and it felt good, so hopefully once we go to Europe we take it to the races, but I think that all depends on how quickly we can get all the spare parts and I think that's the main thing.
Q: Are you saying it's only down to the spare parts, that otherwise it's race-ready?
Raikkonen: You really need to ask the team that but as far as I know how well it went in testing there's not really any problems so from my point of view, it all depends on that but I might not know everything so you had better ask the team.
Q: Now what about the engines after the problems encountered at the Nürburgring? Have those problems been cured?
Raikkonen: Yeah, I think so. They found the problems in those engines and hopefully we have new parts in those engines for this race and we shouldn't have any problems. But, as you know in motor racing, you always think that you will not have problems but then sometimes they hit you. But I think we should be OK now.
Q: What are you yourself looking to salvage from this season, what can you expect?
Raikkonen: (Laughs) Hopefully with 19B we can start fighting for podiums and hopefully also for wins, but so far it has been a very difficult season for me and for the whole team and we are just trying to work harder and turn things around. Hopefully with the 19B and all the improvements we are getting it's going to be a bit better.
Q: Has your own spirit and motivation suffered?
Raikkonen: Not really, but of course it's harder and not so much fun when you have bad races and you don't get any results. I think we are getting better speed-wise but we're still struggling with reliability and, for sure, once we get those things right we should be OK.
Q: There's a piece about you playing ice hockey in the programme. Have you managed to see any while you've been over here?
Raikkonen: No, not really. I guess they've all finished. They've had the finals. I guess Montreal wasn't in it so I haven't really seen any.
Q: And what are you planning between this race and the next race at Indianapolis?
Raikkonen: I go with my friends to do some nice things. I'm not going to tell you what!
Q: Nick, to go back to the test at Silverstone, what sort of development parts are coming through for the car?
Heidfeld: Well, as I said, we tried a new rear wing which probably was already ready before the test but as it's the first time in Canada, we are running low or medium downforce, it's the first time we really tried it and the front wing has a new main plain and they definitely look better than the normal one.
Q: And is there much happening on the engine front?
Heidfeld: Not at the moment. I hope that we will get a better engine for? I think it's going to be for Silverstone.
Q: So how do you feel about your move to Jordan after the first races of the season?
Heidfeld: Well, before the first races I hoped that we could start off with a reliable car and then improve the car's speed. Unfortunately I didn't finish too many of the first few races. But I have to say that I'm quite happy with the progress we're making at the moment. The car's definitely more reliable and we are also improving our speed a lot. I think they are doing a good job for the budget we have and the size of the team. I heard they had problems developing the car last year but this year, at nearly each race we have a couple of new things and as we don't test a lot, we just have to stick them on for the race and so far they've all worked.
Q: What is your target ahead of you in terms of teams?
Heidfeld: I just hope that we can get to the midfield teams. At the beginning of the season, we only had Minardi behind us and it's very difficult to score points in that position, although we managed to do that in Monaco which was a big boost for everybody. But at the last race, Nürburgring, I think we saw improvement again. It was very good fun fighting against people again. I was able to keep a Toyota and a Jaguar behind and I was just pushing Felipe very hard on the last laps, so I think that wasn't a bad race for us.
Q: How much did local knowledge have to do with that?
Heidfeld: I don't think a lot because all those drivers have been to the Nürburgring before quite often. It's definitely a circuit I like and I've been to probably more times than the others, but it shouldn't be a big benefit.
Q: So can you do the same thing here?
Heidfeld: If you look at the last couple of races, our race speed has looked quite good. We have to improve our qualifying but it's a bit difficult to predict what's going to happen here because it's a different circuit to all the others we've had so far this season, with so little downforce. I hope it's going to suit our car, but honestly we don't know yet.
Q: Are you pretty much doing most of the development, given that you have a team-mate who is a newcomer to Formula One?
Heidfeld: No, Giorgio is helping as well. He's just giving his comments but I definitely try to work very hard with the engineers and I think it's obviously a bit easier for me to tell them which direction to go and to make comparisons with the past.
Q: Any pressure from Giorgio?
Heidfeld: Yes, probably at the first couple of races it didn't really look like it but he's improving quite a lot and especially in testing I've seen that he has the pace if he gets it together.
Q: So that pushes you a little bit does it?
Heidfeld: Yeah, it definitely pushes me because as I know from the past, with Kimi and Felipe, when you get beaten by a newcomer it's always a bad thing. It probably looks easy from the outside but I just try to keep him behind me all the time so I don't even get the chance of people thinking 'OK, that was no good.'
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Kimi, given the package you have with the car, how do you think the car will work here and also at Indianapolis?
Raikkonen: Here, I don't really know. David would know better because he did the test at Monza and it's slightly more similar to this one, but we will see tomorrow really. But I think in the US we should be hopefully stronger again like the last race where we were not too bad. But the key is to finish the race. It doesn't matter how quick you are if you don't finish. So hopefully we can finish these two races and score some points.
Q: (Steve Cooper - Motorsport News) Nick, there are a number of drives available for next season and your name has been loosely linked to them. Do you think you need to do more self-publicising to make team bosses aware that you are available and you are talented and ready to start looking to move into a top seat, or do you think the chances are over?
Heidfeld: No, for sure I don't think that my chances are over but what I try to do is present myself on the circuit and I know that this year many people have realised that I'm doing a good job, and that's all I'm concentrating on all the time, showing what I can do on the circuit.
Q: (Steve Cooper - Motorsport News) Is that enough though, do you think?
Heidfeld: I hope so. We will see next year but I don't think it's looking too bad at the moment.
Q: (Bill Beacon - The Canadian Press) This being the Canadian Grand Prix, this question is obviously going to come up. I just wondered what both you drivers think of the possibility of Jacques Villeneuve coming back next season or whenever? A lot of people are saying that the sport misses him. I wonder how both you drivers feel?
Heidfeld: Well, from what I've heard in the news, from the press and obviously especially from Canada, is that people miss him very much but honestly, I try to concentrate more on myself and I don't really care too much what he's going to do. I've had some races with him on the circuits, those were all OK, and I'm sure it would be great for Canada and a lot of other spectators who really like him but for me it's not that important really.
Raikkonen: Pretty much the same. I don't really mind if he comes back. He's a nice guy so hopefully he will get a place again and we see what happens.
Q: (Heinz Prüller - ORF TV) Kimi, heading into this race, can you give me the names of the ten top drivers in Formula One in your opinion, no matter the order? (Laughter)
Q: (Heinz Prüller - ORF TV) Can you tell me who is doing the better job at the moment, McLaren or Merdeces?
Raikkonen: That's a difficult question. I guess they have both had their problems and recently we've had more problems with the engine but you can't just complain about the engines, it has been the whole package. But I think we seem to know the problems and after the next few races we should be back where we should have been at the start of the year. But I wouldn't really say it's only Mercedes or McLaren. The whole team is working together. We've had a hard time and difficult races but we're definitely working hard as a team and trying to improve the situation.
Q: (Heinz Prüller - ORF TV) Finland had a reputation for many years for rally champions. It changed with Keke, with Mika of course and with you. Do you think there are similarities in the driving style? Does it have something to do with the nature of the roads in Finland?
Raikkonen: I don't know really. Everybody's always asking but I guess it has something to do with the fact that we have difficult winters and it's always more difficult when there's snow on the roads. When people are young, kids have better places to go, maybe driving in fields. Many people are living in the countryside so you can start driving road cars when you're ten years old so that always helps.
Q: (Tony Jardine - ITV) When David Coulthard was in a press conference recently he told us that after the 19 came out and had been testing he wasn't at the third test and he wondered why it had suddenly been described as fast, and now you've had to bring out the 19B. Can you tell us what the differences are between the 19 and the 19B, because there were some good quotes from you at Silverstone saying that this car is much, much better. How and why and where is it better?
Raikkonen: Basically, I guess the biggest problem we have had is with the rear end under braking. It's always been very loose and difficult to attack corners and also the recent car is quite a bit heavier on tyres than the 17D used to be so the race pace is not very good, it's not as strong as it should be. So in all those areas the 19B seems to be better. OK, it's after only one test at Silverstone, so you don't really want to expect or say too much because you don't know which way it's going to go, but from the first laps it's already felt a bit better in all those areas and I'm pretty confident it will be quite a bit better.
Q: (Harry Kiner - ARD Radio) Kimi, looking at your season, you are staying cool and calm in spite of the disappointment. You just don't show it?
Raikkonen: Of course it's disappointing when we have bad races but I don't think it helps when you shout and throw your helmet and kick your stuff because it's not going to change anything. People are different - some like to show it and some not. Maybe this is my way.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Nick, your boss Eddie Jordan is one of the more colourful people in the paddock and has a great sense of humour. What's it like to work for him and can you tell us some stories about him?
Heidfeld: Well, it's very different to Peter Sauber, for sure. (Laughter). Probably, they are the most opposite characters in Formula One, but I've got on with him very well right from the start. I saw him playing the drums last week at the Nürburgring. That was good fun. Luckily, I just arrived two minutes before he stopped. (Laughter)
Q: (Bill Beacon - The Canadian Press) People call this a difficult track to race on because of the braking. What do you see as the challenges on this circuit as opposed to most others?
Heidfeld: Well, I think on the braking side it's more related to the car than the drivers. Obviously it's not easy to always get your braking points 100 percent right but the bigger problem is the cooling for the brakes. The other thing is that you're going to use a lot of the kerbs so you need a good car over the kerbs. Again, it's one of the first races with low downforce and the car obviously handles pretty differently with that. And in the last couple of years we've also seen more engine failures here than on most other circuits.
Q: (Bob Constanduros - Bob Constanduros and Associates) If I can take that further, given the increase in speeds, partially due to car development, partially due to tyre development as well, are the brakes going to be even harder worked here than they have in the past? Is it going to be even more crucial?
Raikkonen: Yeah, for sure it's going to be harder for brakes and for all the other parts also, because we're going, like, three or four seconds quicker than the year before, so everything is going to be harder. But everybody knows that and all the teams have been working to try to improve their situation but I guess on the circuit where we didn't used to have any problems with the brake cooling or brakes, we have already had (problems) this year and coming here is going to be difficult but we will see how it goes.
Q: (Steve Cooper - Motorsport News) Nick, given that BMW has a very German influence at Williams and being German, do you think that you have a good chance of getting the Williams drive next year? Do you think you deserve it?
Heidfeld: I don't want to speak too much about next year. At the moment we are speaking to a couple of teams and obviously my goal is still to move to a top team for the future, but that's all I can say at the moment.
Q: (Dom Taylor - F1 Racing) Kimi, at the Nürburgring you qualified very well and then got a great start, but then soon after that you were lapping almost three seconds a lap slower than Michael and Michael zoomed off into the distance and the field was stuck behind you. A lot of people, after that, were saying that in effect you ruined the motor race. Do you think that is fair and do you care?
Raikkonen: Yeah, of course I tried to help Ferrari to win! (Laughter). What should I do? Should I just pull over the let all the people go past? I don't think that is the point of racing. I don't really care what people say. We just try to do our own race and, for sure, we weren't so quick in the first part of the race because I had some problems with the front tyres so I was quite slow and then the car started to get better before the pit stop, but then pretty soon after that my whole race was over. It's a shame because I think we could have been quite good after the pit stop. People have different opinions about who destroyed the race and who didn't but I don't care.
Q: (Pino Allievi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) A question for both of you, starting from here to the end of the season, on which circuit could Ferrari be beaten?
Raikkonen: I don't know. They are strong on all circuits but in Monaco they weren't as strong as in some of the others. Maybe Hungary is one of them but I think they are going to be strong all year. Everybody just needs to improve their cars and then we will see more fighting for the wins.
Heidfeld: I don't know. I'm not watching them that closely. They are not our target, we are not fighting against them, but as the season has shown so far it's going to be difficult to beat them on any circuit unless other teams make big improvements or we have a chaotic race like in Monaco or some rain. It could happen.
Q: (Heiki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Nick, do you still feel disappointed about Kimi because he was chosen by McLaren, after seeing his results this year?
Heidfeld: Well, if you look at only this season and only the points then no, but, I mean, it is so long ago now and I have answered that question so many times now. Obviously he is doing a good job there and I will see that I get a good drive for the future.
Q: (Jon Noble - Autosport) Nick, prior to this season Kimi Raikkonen was viewed as a potential world championship winner and now, almost halfway through the season you have twice as many points as him. Is it frustrating that when you are fighting outside the top five or six that you feel you don't get noticed by the big teams, that you are not automatically at the top. And what can you do? Do you need to promote yourself, speak more and be more open to get a seat with a top team?
Heidfeld: Yes, it is definitely more difficult if you are not fighting at the front to present yourself, to show how good you are, but I have to say from the feedback I got this season it is very positive. It is better than it was the last one or two years at Sauber and that definitely is because the first season at Sauber, when Kimi was there as well, we had a very good car and we were always fighting for points. I got one podium and we showed very good results. The season or two after, everyone expected something similar but the car simply was not as quick so I was not noticed. Now, with Jordan, people I think realise that I am doing a good job and I think it is not bad at the moment.
DRIVERS: Takuma SATO (BAR HONDA) and Giancarlo FISICHELLA (SAUBER PETRONAS)
Q: Takuma, first of all, how positive was testing at Silverstone last week?
Takuma SATO: In the end it was very good. The first day we had rain, so we couldn't do much and also we had a little problem with the car so did only ten laps or whatever. The second day was a lot more encouraging, we had a new Honda engine and it was more powerful and hopefully more reliable and we tested in the morning and I think we did 80 percent of the tyre tests we wanted, so that was good. The third day, I think Jenson did more than 100 laps so I think for all of us it was quite encouraging.
Q: Giancarlo, you weren't at Silverstone but you were at Monza.
Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Monza, yes. It was a good test for us, I did more than 160 laps in two days. We had a problem on the second day with a puncture but it was an encouraging test. We did tyre development and we tried different brakes for this race and for Monza, some set-up work and the lap time was quite competitive, especially on the first day. So, we are a bit more optimistic because the car is getting better and better and they are doing a very good job in the wind tunnel. In the race we have a good pace, we just need to improve our performance in the qualifying session.
Q: You said about developments to the car and improvements from the wind tunnel. Is that coming on a race-by-race basis now?
Fisichella: Yes, exactly. From Imola they started to work very well in the wind tunnel and each race we had a few components in the car and the car is getting better, I have more feeling, it is easier to drive it so I feel more comfortable and more confident.
Q: Do you get developments from Ferrari on the engine as well?
Fisichella: Honestly, no, we still have the same engine from the beginning of the year. Maybe in a couple of races or whatever we will have a small step but the engine is very strong, it is reliable and easy to drive.
Q: You mentioned the brakes. This is a crucial race for brakes and the fact that you are now doing lap times at many circuits two or three seconds faster than last year makes it even more crucial doesn't it?
Fisichella: Yeah, exactly, it is very critical this year for the brakes, especially because we run with very high temperatures front and rear and it is quite difficult to find good brake ducts for the cooling. Maybe, I think, the lap times are very quick, they did big improvements on the tyre development and I think that Formula One is now maybe a bit too quick.
Q: Overall, looking at your own career, obviously you wanted to attract the attention of Ferrari and you are obviously going in the right direction with the team regularly in the points now.
Fisichella: Yeah, we are going in the right direction. We need to improve a little bit more and it is not easy but we will see.
Q: Takuma, having had a look at your attempted overtaking manoeuvre on Rubens at the Nürburgring from the outside, what are your feelings about that now?
Sato: Never changed for me, it was totally on, that move. I was confident and had an opportunity because the Michelin tyres work really well on the out lap and the first lap with new tyres. I had a new tyre with massive grip on it. You know, with that distance, yes, you could see I was significantly driving deep but I never locked up and never went sideways, I was totally controlled so, to me, at the end of the day we touched, unfortunately, but I was very, very happy with that manoeuvre.
Q: You mentioned you felt that maybe Rubens was surprised.
Sato: Yes, to me it looked like he was totally surprised when I was there because it looked to me like he braked quite early and there was obviously a big gap inside his car. I saw the opportunity and just went for it because I was totally confident. But it looks like he was just driving as normal.
Q: You mentioned a new Honda engine for here and I think you have got a further step for Indianapolis as well, haven't you?
Sato: Yes, I think we have developed a lot since the beginning of the season and we were going to have a lot of further steps here for Canada but because we had a few problems in the last few races we are looking more at reliability. So we probably won't have as massive power as we expected but, to be honest, reliability is going to be a lot higher than the last few races, I believe.
Q: You have had the problems more than Jenson. Has anyone come to you and said there is a problem that you have more than Jenson or is there anything that you are able to do?
Sato: It was a little bit of a mystery. We didn't find any problem between both of the two cars and both of the drivers' cars. Obviously nowadays the electronics is so dominant a driver cannot break the engine but obviously there should be something in there. Honda is obviously looking into the cause of the problem and we know, obviously, we have a few problems, but that is why we started developing for the reliability issue. But I think I have just been unlucky and hopefully the Nürburgring will be the last failure for me.
Q: Now, what about your performances as they are seen in Japan? You are about to become the most successful Japanese driver ever. What is the reaction in Japan to your success?
Sato: I think the Japanese fans are very excited about it. Obviously all the Formula One fans are more enthusiastic and the people who were never involved in any motor racing or Formula One are starting to look at and to talk about Formula One. And that is great news for me.
Q: Have you been back to Japan recently?
Sato: No, after Melbourne I have not been back to Japan but I have heard lots of positive stories from the people.
Q: So, when will you go back to Japan then?
Sato: After Shanghai, just before Suzuka! So it will be a long space but I am sure they will be very excited about it.
Q: It could be a big shock for you.
Sato: Possibly, but for me every circuit and every Grand Prix is the same. Obviously a home Grand Prix is very special, but what you have to is exactly the same to achieve what you want and hopefully by the time we arrive in Japan, in Suzuka, we can get really strong results both Jenson and I.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bill Beacon - The Canadian Press) I just wanted to ask a question to both drivers. There are reports that Jacques Villeneuve may be back in Formula One next season or whenever. How do you feel about that and do you feel the sport is missing him?
Sato: To me, whoever it is is nothing to do with me. But I think Jacques has had a very successful career in Formula One, he obviously showed a lot of talent and a lot of exciting racing in Formula One. It's nice to see somebody who is a really strong racer is coming back if they have got the chance.
Fisichella: Jacques is a nice guy, he is a friend of mine and he did very well in the past. He has been a world champion, I think we miss him and if he has a possibility to be back it would be nice for Formula One.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) Giancarlo, I think you have a two-year contract with Sauber. Could you say at the moment that for sure you will stay at Sauber next year?
Fisichella: Well, as you know, I have a contract even for next year but obviously my dream is to race with one of the top teams. I don't know if there is any possibility, I don't have any contact still, but anything can happen. Even Peter Sauber said, as he did a few years ago with Kimi Raikkonen, even with me there is a possibility to more to a different team but if you want to know that it is better that you ask him.
Q: (Pino Allievi - La Gazzetta Dello Sport) Takuma, in the beginning of the season you were saying your team would be ready to win in the middle of the season. Now you are saying it is earlier?
Sato: I think realistically we have to say middle of the season or towards the end. Winning a Grand Prix is very difficult, very tough. Although we are challenging Ferrari a lot closer than we were last year there is still a significant gap between us and we still have to close the gap first. Once we are ready to race side-by-side with them then we can think about winning. But to win a Grand Prix now, I think we need a lot of luck, otherwise it is probably very difficult.
Q: (Heinz Prüller - ORF TV) Takuma, what is the difference between the Ferrari car and the BAR car?
Sato: It is difficult to see from the outside. Obviously it is a totally different package between them and us. They were very strong the last few years, totally dominated, but I think now the BAR-Honda is getting closer and closer. We did a significant step-up since last year and we are in a learning curve situation. We have more to come. It is possible to catch them up this season but realistically we are taking it step by step. I am very pleased, so far, with the team's development since I was there over the last two years as a test driver and it is very encouraging to see that Honda and BAR and also our new partner Michelin is working very well together.
Q: (Heinz Prüller - ORF TV) In top speed you are already quicker on most occasions so is the difference in the braking, the aerodynamics, the mechanical grip? What do you think?
Sato: Yeah, top speed, as you said, I think Honda's commitment is quite unbelievably high at the moment and we are achieving quite a lot of power and that is giving us quite a high top speed. Also the Michelin tyre characteristics give us good traction from the low speed corner exits and straight line braking. Perhaps the Ferrari is just overall better balanced for the high speed turning and braking and stability, possibly, but as far as I can see we are getting closer now and that is very encouraging.
Q: (Bill Beacon - The Canadian Press) Mr Sato, this was Jacques Villeneuve's home race and you replaced him. Do you feel any pressure or desire to do well here to justify that?
Sato: No, as you say, this is the Gilles Villeneuve circuit and I know it but it is nothing to do with me, to be honest. The team is looking really exciting every single race and I am getting more comfortable and more confident with the speed and the team and the work that is done, just gradually, step by step, and every single race I am looking forward to. This is just one other race. It is the same with Suzuka, it is not a big difference, I just want to have a good strong race this weekend.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Takuma, you are gaining fans not just in Japan but all over the world because you are giving us a lot of entertainment this year. You say you are feeling more confident and comfortable in the car but have you, going back to your earliest days, always been this aggressive and come up behind and pass immediately rather than sit behind like some drivers do, or is it just that you are getting comfortable with the car now?
Sato: Yeah, to do an aggressive manoeuvre you need a car that is very stable and gives the driver a big confidence. If you look back to 2002, Giancarlo and I were together in the beginning of the season and the EJ12 was quite nervous and difficult to drive but I think Jordan did a great job with the car. Its improvement was significant and at the end of the day in Suzuka, Giancarlo and I really performed well, so it is a question of how the team's performance is. But even so I was very aggressive at the beginning of 2002, I was racing, although that was perhaps for 14th place, 15th place, something like that. Now we are doing top five battles, which probably you can see on the television, that is what the difference is. To me, it was not changing my driving style but gaining more experience, you can judge more accurately, and I am certainly more comfortable.
Q: (Stephanie Morin - La Presse) Takuma, can you talk a little about your relationship with Jock Clear? What have you learned mostly, working with an experienced engineer like him?
Sato: Jock Clear, it is a very big thing to me at the moment because I have to trust him 100 percent and he trusts me 100 percent. That sort of relationship is needed between race driver and engineer. Obviously he had worked with Jacques for such a long time and he won the championship so he knows how to win a single race and also how to win the world championship, so his experience is great to me. But to me it is more like coach and athlete. If you are talking about is Jock Clear the best engineer in the paddock? I don't know, because I haven't met any other engineer, but to me Jock is getting the best out of me at the moment so our relationship is very strong.
Q: (Tony Dodgins - Tony Dodgins and Associates) Taku, all you have said about the strengths of the car - the power, the straight-line braking, the traction - and you look at this circuit, does that make you think that this is one of your best chances of beating Ferrari?
Sato: Actually, I was going to say our package should suit this circuit. If you look at Imola, which has very similar characteristics - high kerbs, a lot of fast chicanes, stop and go, long straights - and the downforce level is very different from any other circuit we have been to this season, it is interesting to see how the different teams are going up or down. But we are confident we have a good aero package, good engine, good brakes and tyres and chassis for stability under braking, so we will be very strong, we hope anyway.
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