BELGIAN GP - FRIDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE

Friday Press Conference

FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 27 AUGUST 2004

TYRE MANUFACTURERS: Pierre DUPASQUIER (MICHELIN) and Hiroshi YASUKAWA (BRIDGESTONE)

TEAM MEMBERS: John HOWETT (TOYOTA), Sam MICHAEL (WILLIAMS) and Geoff WILLIS (BAR)

Q: Firstly, a question to the two tyre manufacturers: what do you think of the tyre regulations proposed for next year?

Pierre DUPASQUIER: I don't think we have feelings about tyre regulations. We had a feeling on the fact that when the FIA said that they wanted to go to a unique manufacturer we believed that it was probably not the best idea. Firstly, I think Formula One, like NASCAR, like Formula 3000 with one tyre manufacturer, you begin to cut competition in different aspects in the car racing. It begins to be different. It works: good spectacle, good show, good driving, good races, but it's not the same thing. There is a flavour for Formula One which comes from, we believe, all those competitions at every level. Secondly, we don't like too much to produce 20,000 tyres in the winter time and send them by FedEx to the Grands Prix. It doesn't make sense. It is just supplying tyres, fine, but it's not development, it's not having a headache on Friday night because we don't know what to choose from and so on so we try to find a proposal that achieved the goals of Max (Mosley, FIA President) because we feel it's good, it makes sense. But at the same time, it makes competition, so we make the offer that if you ask us, you force us to offer a tyre that lasts longer, the need for the number of tyres will be less and performance will be slower, definitely. So, now it is not up to us to say one set, two sets, three sets, four sets or whatever. The regulation has to be written down by them but the idea has to be written down by them, but the idea was to gain alternatives, opportunities to have competition between tyres and at the same time having a constraint in the product itself even in the competition environment, which makes it slower. The construction of tyres comes mainly from testing, but since nobody wants to touch testing, so there's not a great hope about it, but that's what it is.

Hiroshi YASUKAWA: We are very appreciative about these regulations. First of all, as we mentioned, because both of our companies can stay in Formula One. This is one of the most important things, I believe. And also three sets is a very new challenge for our companies but if we are concerned cost-wise and laptime-wise, I think we have to accept this situation. Of course we have to produce very long-life tyres which means around 350 kms which is a new challenge. This is also very interesting.

Q: Pierre, I believe you came up with a new idea which you put before the FIA which they turned down. Can you just explain what it was, about possibly changing manufacturers?

Dupasquier: It was just a way to express our attitude, our position in racing. We want to do the best we can, to compare what we are doing to our competitors. The teams are not competitors for us, but the other tyre manufacturer is a competition so the true competition is between tyre manufacturers for us. And any opportunity we can have to see where we are, see if we are doing a good job or a bad job, and to understand more, we welcome it. And this could go as far as, for example, having like for brakes, for example: a tyre that could be made available to everybody. NASCAR did it during the war between Goodyear and Hoosier. The guys had all the tyres available, they selected and then Leo Mehl from Goodyear told me it was the most expensive thing in his life because he had to produce tyres for everybody, for each race and if didn't work then he had to drop the tyres. But it can be done physically. Obviously in Formula One we get the contract together, we get the link between companies and tyre manufacturers which is important. So it may not be realistic but technically we would like it very much.

Q: So that was the idea Pierre Dupasquier put forward; what did you think of that Hiroshi?

Yasukawa: I think one of them is a compromise. We have to accept these situations. Then I think this idea is not so bad and we are going to challenge and produce good tyres.

Q: What do you think of the idea of the teams swapping manufacturers?

Yasukawa: No, no, no, no... We have to respect what is in our contract.

Q: Sam, first of all what is the Pizzonia situation and what have you thought of his performance recently?

Sam MICHAEL: He's done a very good job actually. At the last race, he qualified very well. The only problem was he had a poor start at the beginning which cost him a lot of places. If he hadn't had that poor start, I'm quite sure he would have been pushing and fighting with Juan Pablo for the whole race, so he didn't do himself anyway favours not coming off the line. But he has been working hard on that as he did before Hungary as well and he's improved again since Hungary so we are hoping that if he can get off the line again here, he can have a very strong race. But his race pace has been good. At his very first Grand Prix back at Hockenheim, his qualifying was poor but he improved that at Budapest and every time he runs new tyres now he's there all the time, so I think it was just the fact that he spent 12 months out of qualifying so far he's done a fantastic job.

Q: So what's the situation now with Ralf Schumacher?

Michael: Ralf is due for another medical next week before the Monza test and if he passes that medical test then he will test in Monza for three days and if he's OK during that test then he has to re-sit a medical with Sid Watkins and if the FIA are happy he can race in the Monza Grand Prix. That's what will happen.

Q: And Antonio Pizzonia's future with you guys?

Michael: He has got a testing contract with us which we will be happy to continue with him. There's no question mark over that. But obviously he's expressed his interest to try and get a race seat as well so we'll just have to play that one out over the next three or four months.

Q: John Howett, can you first of all tell us what happened to Ryan Briscoe today?

Howett: As far as we understand, he picked up a puncture and just had some deflation coming through the corner and lost the car. Thankfully he's OK, he's gone to the hospital just to check up on his arm, some bruising, but thankfully no problem at all.

Q: Recently the team has let go a number of people: Ange Pasquali, for example, Norbert Kreyer, even Cristiano da Matta to some extent. One always talks about stabilising a team and the former two, in particular, were people who had been a part of the team for a long time. Isn't that de-stabilising the team a little bit?

Howett: I think for us it was very tough decisions, honestly, particularly because Norbert did a fantastic job for Toyota in the rally period, Le Mans and also Formula One and similarly Ange. I think the reason we are doing it is to actually shorten the lines of communication, to really lean down the organisation and to become much more agile, particularly at the track to react to the decisions we need to make.

Q: What about Olivier Panis; he's a guy who has been around for a long time and held with a certain amount of affection within the press. What chances has he got of staying because one always hears that Jarno Trulli is coming to the team?

Howett: One of the reasons, I think, that we gave the opportunity to Ricardo was also to study, seriously, who we should sit next to Ralf next year. We haven't really reached a final decision. It's clear we are talking to Olivier, we are talking to some other drivers in the paddock and we are also talking to Oliver about staying with Toyota in other capacities as well as race driving. But he's still, I think, as demonstrated today, pretty quick with the equipment that we are currently able to provide.

Q: Geoff, first of all, Enrique Bernoldi seems to be a rather strange choice to some people as a test driver. Can you tell us the thinking behind it?

Geoff WILLIS: We had a specific requirement for a second test driver towards the end of the season, particularly between the fly-away races: Shanghai, Suzuka. The split is not when we want to bring the race drivers back to Europe. We have a very busy test programme 'til the end of the season and we were looking for an experienced driver to work through some very specific programmes for us and Enrique fits the bill of what we need. He's actually been running today in a small shakedown test and will be running next week and at the Jerez test later on in the year.

Q: Now secondly the driver selection process: how much does that affect you? How much do you have an interest in that, influence in that?

Willis: That's a three-part question, quite complicated. Certainly the driver selection is important, and yes I do have an involvement and yes I do have influence in it, although right at the moment it's not the primary task. We have a big set of rule changes for next year and fundamentally my task is to make sure we design and operate a quick car and do so as efficiently as possible so I wouldn't say it's a secondary issue but it's not my primary task.

Q: Just coming to this circuit, what sort of loads are there through Eau Rouge?

Willis: It is still a fairly intimidating corner. For the driver, there's not much room if anything goes wrong. It's much more consistently taken flat now. The grip levels are just going up and up and the load levels on the cars are going up as the tyres get better and as the aerodynamics on the cars get better. Certainly it's still a pretty challenging circuit and we see, in some places on this circuit, some very high loads, some of the highest loads during the year.

Q: With the rule changes for next year, would Eau Rouge become more of a challenging corner again?

Willis: I think it is always a challenge. It's probably psychological as much as physically. Certainly the regulation changes for next year will slow the cars down. We don't know yet quite how much. We know what the target is and clearly we will all be working very hard to try and recover some of that loss in performance. Spa is towards the end of next year, if it's next year. I think the cars will be a little bit slower but not substantially.

Q: Will they have less grip I suppose is the question?

Willis: Certainly they will have less grip. There is a big margin of grip at the moment, so I'm not sure at the moment whether they will drop outside that.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Anna Vassilieva - Auto Business Weekly) A question for Pierre Dupasquier. Because of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher's wins, many people don't believe in Michelin's opportunities - it is not easy for you. If you could, which way would you ask (unclear) for tomorrow?

Dupasquier: I think a request for the analyst is a very close look on the facts to see what is going on. I was mentioning this morning, talking about the rain tyres for example, with a normal rain test, because it was raining in Mugello some time ago...we had Button, Barrichello and Zonta and those three guys were running at the same time on the same lap and between our two cars there were four seconds per lap difference with the same tyre in the same lap. The differences could be huge with the same tyre according to circumstances, to the car, to the lap. It is very difficult so we just do our job the best we can and we don't care about the racing results unfortunately. We have to do it this way.

Q: (Wolfgang Monsehr - Rennsportpresse) I have a question for John Howett. Can you maybe specify the current situation with Cristiano Da Matta? Is he still involved as a driver especially for Ricardo and Ryan or is he more in the background and staying more or less quiet at the moment?

Howett: Cristiano has a contract until the end of the year. He may be called back to do more work testing or racing. At the moment we would like to give Ryan some opportunity, he has come through the Toyota Drivers' Academy, and we want to give Ricardo three or four races to really see how he can get back into the groove and deliver. But certainly Cristiano is still contracted to us and should we require it we would consider asking him to come back and do some work for us.

Q: (Steve Cooper - Motorsport News) There was a meeting in Hungary of the Technical Working Group to almost finalise the rules for next year. We've got a deadline of September 6 to put a package together. Are you confident that what you have got now is what will be forwarded to the FIA or will there be more changes and more tweaks? Are you now designing your cars to the regulations that you have in your mind?

Willis: As I understand the situation, one of the purposes of the Technical Working Group meeting on the 6th was to see whether there was another proposal that would get 80 percent minimum agreement from the teams to go to the FIA for consideration for next year, and no there wasn't in the sense that the majority of teams want to keep with the set of rules that have been proposed. There are however a couple of areas where there was some discussion about possible changes. I think the general consensus is that we need a set of rules to be fixed now, in fact we needed them fixed four months ago. So even though they are not all that comfortable for us, we would much prefer just to know what rules we are designing next year's cars to and stick to them. There is a possibility of a clarification, two further small changes, but fundamentally the regulations that were issued on the 16th of July, with a few corrections, will be the regulations we build the cars to next year.

Michael: It's the same as Geoff's.

Q: (Alain Pernot - L'Auto Journal) John, do you consider for next year to supply engines to a second team?

Howett: It's the thousand-dollar question. I think our position remains fairly consistent that if there is a real need to supply, in other words a true crisis in Formula One of engine supply, and if we are given the capacity to do it, so the two-race engine is defined, then we will definitely consider doing it. I think we also have to consider the possible future change in 2006 and I think we are comfortable that we can build either a V10 or a V8. The fundamental concern for Toyota is retention of technology. If some of the regulations that are proposed go into place we have to find some substitute materials and some substitute technology which will cost us money and resource. But I think we remain consistent that given the right circumstances and the necessity and provided we have the capacity then we would consider supplying. But we have to wait and see until everything is finalised.

Q: (Dom Taylor - F1 Racing) As you may know, last month F1 Racing ran a news story in the news section basically a new qualifying proposal from Tony Purnell involving sprint races and a draw and all that sort of stuff. Could I just ask what each of you think of that proposal?

Michael: I'm not that keen on it to be honest. I'm quite happy with the practice and qualifying we have now. I think it is a good idea to keep that stable for some time. It doesn't really fit with the tyre regulations for next year so it means we have to revisit all the single tyres for the race situation because there is not enough tyres to go round for the weekend. To go and do a 10-lap race, if you are talking about a race that starts with a standing start, you are probably only carrying 25-30 kilos of fuel at some tracks. So you are unlikely to see any overtaking, you've got three times the risk or damaging parts so you are much more likely to have cars wrecked by Friday or Saturday because the risks in the race are much higher than they are on Friday and Saturday so that is my opinion on it.

Howett: I think the key point is we need to satisfy the public. From my product background in car production, if you ask a customer would you like this as a product very often they can't give you a straight and correct answer. So what we need to understand is clearly what are the key points that the public want to see? Do they want to see flat out qualifying with light fuel? Do they want to see overtaking from the back with the fastest driver coming through the rear? What are the key ingredients that they wish to see? Then I think shall we say regular FIA authority and some of the teams should decide the format that will deliver those key points. I think we can all come up with suggestions which aren't constructive or helpful. I think Toyota's position is we will compete in whatever series or format that is defined and I think what we need to do is somebody needs to clarify what are the key drivers to success and then people can define the qualifying format. I think the suggestion sometimes of a fixed solution isn't constructive or making a focused final conclusion.

Willis: There are several points here. Sam has outlined most of the criticisms that the teams would have of it, some specific issues about running the cars and the tyres etc. The other thing we should consider is that big changes to qualifying don't change the sporting regulation, but it does have quite a big technical knock-on into the design of the car and the fuel capacity of the car. But we shouldn't get around the fact that qualifying is part of the whole race weekend and apart from the two-leg qualifying being a little too long for a TV slot, the big issue is the nature of racing and overtaking. We've seen quite clearly with Hockenheim followed by Hungary that the qualifying doesn't control the racing, the circuit does. The technical regulations don't control the racing, the circuit does. Simply we just need the right sort of circuit design so we know how to demonstrate the same cars, the tyres, drivers at two different races. If we focus back on qualifying as a spectacle, certainly I'm keen, and I'm sure all the other engineers in the pit-lane are, to have a showcase comparing how fast the cars are. I think we now understand the race fuel in car qualifying format and I'm sure we can come up with a way of having one of those based on the reverse of the previous race results. Two rounds of it is probably not sufficiently interesting enough to keep people's focus for the whole of a two-hour period, but one round of it is what most of the teams would like to continue with. To follow what John said, clearly we will race in whatever set of challenges we are given.

Dupasquier: If the spec of the qualifying may change, need for tyres would be different. When we are talking about one, two or three sets per weekend, if we need three sets for qualifying it would be different. Otherwise I would say as has been said. The event of the weekend is the race, qualifying is supposed to either set up the pace of the cars or to build up race conditions to give the public a real race.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Jacques Villeneuve has been quoted as saying he wants to come back to BAR next year, that he can patch up the differences with the team and slot right back in. How do you feel about that?

Willis: Well you are completely correct that Jacques spoke to me, phoned me several times, has spoken to David Richards and other people at BAT. He is certainly very keen and enthusiastic for getting back into a car. But really that is probably the end of any comments I will make. Clearly our driver line-up for next year is not something that should be discussed and debated in public. It is something for the team to work out and we will see what comes next year.

Q: (Steve Cooper) Geoff, after Hockenheim the front suspension you were running on the cars was banned and the appeal was lost. Are you planning to run that in any other kind of shape or form or will it come back next year?

Willis: If you will excuse me for being fairly short on that one but I think it is a simple no comment on it at the moment is all I can offer.

Q: (Dan Knutson) John you talk about streamlining the lines of communication. In Canada when you have the brake duct disqualification you guys were going to file a protest I believe but didn't get it in time. Did you have to go back to Japan when discussing that, whether to file a protest and so on?

Howett: There seems to be a misconception that we are totally controlled from Japan and definitely that is not the case. I think we make a lot of the decisions in Germany. We get approval for certain action, major actions, capital investment or probably future driver line-up, but the decision is normally made in Germany. Toyota really believes that the people building the cars know better how to build a better car, because they do it every day, than the plant director. So the policy is to delegate responsibility through the chain and that is why we streamlined because I think we have capable people doing jobs who don't need a hierarchy of upper management and certainly we have a lot of autonomy and we are accountable and responsible with that autonomy. In Canada that was nothing to do with it. That was a team issue and we didn't do it quickly enough and that is our fault, no discussion.

Q: (Steve Cooper) John, how is the B-spec car going after the first few races?

Howett: I think we are pleased that the work we have done changing the wind tunnel really from Mike's arrival has actually delivered the predicted results on track. What we saw in the wind tunnel we actually got on the track. Obviously in terms of our passion and aspiration to become a challenger towards to top or podium position we've got a lot more work to do. But we are pleased that we see the efficiency and effectiveness of the wind tunnel. The speed at which our engineers produced that B-spec car is quite position. So if you look behind the fašade of the track performance at the moment we see a lot of improvement within the organisational team and use of the wind tunnel as an effective tool. I think we would have liked more, I wouldn't like to avoid that, but I think when we look at the results we saw in the wind tunnel probably with the results we are getting on the track are probably in line with that.


THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 26 AUGUST 2004

DRIVER: Antonio PIZZONIA (WILLIAMS)

Q: How do you think your return to Formula One racing has gone?

Antonio PIZZONIA: I think it is pretty good actually. It is always difficult to come back after one year without any kind of racing. I think at Hockenheim I struggled a little bit, especially at the beginning of the race, you know everything was a little bit quicker than I was expecting. Hungary was a bit better and I think it is going quite well and I am quite happy. Obviously I want better results and more points so I'm working for that.

Q: What had really changed, do you feel, since you were last in Formula One?

Pizzonia: I don't think there is a lot of change you know, it is just about getting used to it again. Obviously, the first lap is always very quick, there is a lot of things going on at the start as well and I think it takes a little while to get used to it again. Like I said, Hockenheim was a bit difficult, Budapest was a little bit better and hopefully here will be even better.

Q: The race in Hungary, was that quite difficult for you in the fact that it is so difficult to overtake there?

Pizzonia: It was. In the beginning, it was a bit disappointing really because we had such a good qualifying. We had a very good strategy for the race but obviously the start didn't really help us. The fact of being a difficult circuit for overtaking didn't help, but during the race things were going a little bit better, I managed to make up two positions and I think the race was quite good also. But obviously we were expecting to be a lot higher than where I was.

Q: So what happens in the future? Are you literally racing on a race-by-race basis at the moment?

Pizzonia: At the moment, yes. All depends on how early Ralf will come back. I think he is going to be testing after the race here in Monza for three days and we will see how he is going to be after the test. If he is ready he will be racing at Monza as far as I know.

Q: And presumably you still have your testing contract until the end of the year?

Pizzonia: Yes until the end of the year.

Q: What about next year? Are you looking for, having proved yourself again in the last couple of races and hopefully this one, are you looking for a race seat?

Pizzonia: Yeah. I want to be racing again for sure. At the moment I still have a contract with Williams but I will see. At the moment I am only concentrating on the race here and I think I still have a lot to prove. Hopefully if I have a good result here, things will change a little bit. It is already changing, getting better, but I think we are still not there yet. I think I want to be racing for a good team. If I have to be racing for a small team again I would rather be testing.

Q: So is Jaime, your manager, talking to big teams at the moment? Are they talking to him?

Pizzonia: You better talk to him. There is not many seats left for sure but we are talking to a few teams. But like I said I want to wait a bit more until this one and I'm very confident we are going to have a good result here.

Q: Now why is that? Because it was interesting because we saw on BBC Ceefax in England that Pizzonia wants to win here...

Pizzonia: I want to win every race, not only here, like everyone else. We all want to win. I want to be on the podium here and I think we can do it. It is a good track for Williams here, it is a good track for us. Obviously we didn't race here last year so it is going to be similar to how it used to be. I know there is a new part on the track but that is not going to change a lot. But I think it is a very good track for us so hopefully we are going to be doing well. The team has been doing a great job at the last two races and hopefully we can keep up the pace.

Q: And you think it is a good track for you too...

Pizzonia: I did two races here, probably four races here already and I always had good results here. I know the track I would say better than Hockenheim and Budapest in the wet and in the dry and it should be a good weekend for us.

Q: One thing that has changed on the car is that front section of the car. Have you noticed a change, is it better? It seems to be. Juan Pablo for example doesn't think it is much better...

Pizzonia: It is a small difference. We knew it was not going to be a big change, it is a small difference. It is a bit better but we are probably going to see a bigger difference here because all the high-speed corners and it should be better for sure.

Q: Other developments, are they coming through despite the testing ban?

Pizzonia: There is a lot of people at the factory working flat out all of the time trying to improve the car so that at every race we have some new parts. Here we have some new parts as well. They all should go in the right direction. I still don't think we are going to be able to match Ferrari's pace here but we hope to be a lot closer.

Q: What about the test at Monza? Are you still going to be involved in that or is it going to be just Juan Pablo and Ralf?

Pizzonia: I'll be there as a spare driver, but at the moment there's no plan for me to test if everything goes well. If Ralf has a problem then I will step in and finish the test and probably race again.

Q: If you are used in that test you'll probably have an indication that you are going to race as well...

Pizzonia: That's right yeah.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Did your relationship with Juan Pablo change when you went from a tester to being a team-mate and a competitor?

Pizzonia: Not really. We get on really well, we always did, and we still do. I'm sure my relationship with him is a lot better than his relationship with Ralf, which is good for the team.

Q: (Dan Knutson) Does he help you as much as he did when you were testing or is there no difference there?

Pizzonia: There is no difference there really. We don't talk a lot about what we are doing. Obviously I know what he is doing all of the time because my engineers try to follow both cars and see what is the best. He does the same thing. But we don't really talk that much about what we are doing. Sometimes a little bit but not that much.

Q: What do you think of Rubens' chance of winning the world championship because Rubens still says he has a chance?

Pizzonia: It's a long championship, there is not many races left, but I think it will be difficult. I don't think it is impossible but it will be difficult for sure. Michael is dominating everything and he should win the championship.

Q: Rubens does say that he still has a chance. I guess he is an eternal optimist perhaps...

Pizzonia: He has a chance. Mathematically he has chance. But it would be difficult.

Q: (Alain Pernot - L'Auto-Journal) What do you think about this track? It will be the first time you compete here in Formula One, what do you think about that and what are your expectations?

Pizzonia: I've been waiting a long time to drive a Formula One car. It's a special place for sure. The first time I raced here was probably 1999 in Formula Renaults and it is my favourite track. It should be even better in a Formula One car so I'm really looking forward to having a good weekend here.

DRIVERS: Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN) and Takuma SATO (BAR)

Q: Rubens, first of all, tell us about this circuit, what is the challenge here?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: It's a circuit which is very difficult in terms of set-up. It's a circuit where, to do a really good time, you need to be very fast through all the corners. You have to have almost a perfect balance into the high speed and low speed corners, and that's why it's very challenging, because sometimes you can't reach a balance for low speed corners - you have to make the car a little bit pitchy, shall we say, whereas normally in the high speed corners it has to be even more on the edge than normal, so it's quite enjoyable.

Q: They say this circuit sorts the men from the boys; is that still the case?

Barrichello: When I used to race Formula Opel here, we used to be in these garages here below us and we could quite clearly see the Formula One cars going by and at the time, Senna was racing with Berger in the McLaren team, and Berger was quite clearly flat through the corner (Eau Rouge) and Senna wasn't at all, yet by the end of the lap, Senna was a second faster than Berger. So it's something that is true but is not. Eau Rouge is a corner where you lose very little by not taking it flat, but the combination of corners over the whole circuit makes it very special.

Q: Is it a buzz, a rush that you feel here, which makes it so exciting?

Barrichello: It used to be, but when the cars began to improve it became easier and easier. Back in '93, '94 it was quite difficult to do it (Eau Rouge) flat. Nowadays, I don't know how the corner at the back (Blanchimont) is, but it used to be more scary because you know that... it's just like the old Tamburello, you know that if you do just take it flat normally you have no problems, but if you have some sort of a problem, it might just hurt. So it used to grab your attention more than here (Eau Rouge).

Q: What about the new Bus Stop; have you had a look at that?

Barrichello: No. I had the chance to see a race on TV but not personally. I have to go there and have a look.

Q: They're worried about it being less of an overtaking place than it was; does that worry you?

Barrichello: Well, it used to be very difficult to overtake already. You had to attack the kerbs. You could overtake there but you might lose the nose or something. I have to get there and have a look but on the TV it looks as if you go more to the right before you come to the left. It looks very slow as well. I don't know, it's tough to overtake there. You have to make the braking, to open wide, just to make it as late as possible.

Q: And what about the chances of wet weather here?

Barrichello: I guess 100 percent, isn't it? It's always like this. The only thing I would say is that we should pray that it's wet or dry, because here, normally, it rains for a couple of corners and not for the rest, so that's the most important thing, because travelling with slicks in the wet could be quite dangerous.

Q: It's a circuit you've been quite successful at.

Barrichello: Yes, in Formula Three, Formula 3000 and Formula Opel and Formula One. It's where I scored my first pole position back in 1994. It is a circuit I like. Whenever you like something you do quite well. It's the 700th anniversary of Ferrari in terms of races, so hopefully we can have a good weekend.

Q: Takuma, your feelings about the circuit; I think you've been a winner here as well?

Takuma SATO: Yes, I think I'm the same as Rubens. I was here in my Formula Opel time in junior formula and of course in Formula Three in 2000 and 2001. I think junior formulae drivers are always dreaming of going into Formula One here at Spa. It's always very exciting at this circuit.

Q: Are you hoping it's going to be wet here?

Sato: I don't care what the weather will be. Look at today, no one knows what it's going to do, the weather conditions are so unpredictable but we hope our strategy or the package we have for this weekend give us a little chance to mix up the grid and perhaps even the race.

Q: Looking ahead, what are your possibilities for next year?

Sato: I'm very happy where I am. I'm obviously very happy with the team and I'm expecting to be racing next year with BAR Honda because originally I had a three year contract, including one year testing and two year's racing of which this year is the first year. So we should be able to develop together and next year as well.

Q: When's that going to be announced? Do we expect an announcement, or do we take it as read?

Sato: I personally don't know what is the deadline or which date it will be, but I'm sure this is no longer an issue. At the moment we are concentrating on weekend by weekend, for every Grand Prix, not thinking deeply about next year. But we need some stability for the longer development so you just carry on what you're doing and extending it to next year.

Q: What's the atmosphere within the team like, particularly with the "Jenson Button situation"? Is it pretty much the same as it was before?

Sato: I think it's a lot more settled now. Two weeks ago it was just shocking everybody, but we are really professional people, I believe and especially at the Grand Prix circuits, the mechanics, engineers and designers, drivers. The atmosphere itself hasn't changed since nothing has happened so we do continue and we are very focused on single races every time.

Q: Kimi, dramas getting here?

Kimi RAIKKONEN: I left Switzerland this morning but I needed to go to England, to the factory, so it took me a little while to come here.

Q: Hungary, I guess, was a disappointment, not just your own problems but the performance as well. What are the chances of doing better here?

Raikkonen: I think so. The car was even quick on Friday (in Hungary), but we didn't really improve the car enough for the next two days. But Hungary has always been difficult for us. Every year, when I've been there, the car has never been perfect so I think this race should be much better for us. It's more like Silverstone or the German race, so I think the car should be good here.

Q: What are your feelings about wet weather here?

Raikkonen: I guess it's the same for every driver and every team, but I still think that Bridgestone has a little bit better wet tyre, so I would hope for dry conditions to be able to fight against Ferrari.

Q: And what sort of development have you got here for the MP4/19B?

Raikkonen: I don't know really. Of course, we are always working hard to improve the car but with the testing ban it's also a bit difficult. I think next week we will have some new parts and we will test them and hopefully improve the car more for the Monza race.

Q: Better for the final races than perhaps for here?

Raikkonen: Yeah, hopefully, but like I said, I don't know really, so we just need to wait and see.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Stan Piecha - The Sun) Rubens, Michael only needs to beat you by two points this weekend and he's got his seventh title. Are you going to make it easy for him, or make him wait until Monza?

Barrichello: I hope I can make him wait until Brazil to be honest. And if we get there, then I hope he can wait until next year, but you know, in all honestly I think we have to be realistic about the chances. I still haven't beaten him fair and square this year, as I managed to do so many times last year. But you know, my life is all about positives, it's all about being focused and doing my job. It is a place that I like very much. He's had a phenomenal year altogether, as much as I had, in terms of finishing. I'm not winning, so I'm looking for that win, yet again, over here. Hopefully we can just get going. I don't mind too much about thinking of the championship but I would love to win the race here.

Q: (Alberto Antonini - Autosprint) Kimi, have you been able to detect exactly what happened in Hungary?

Raikkonen: I don't know exactly what happened but they had some sort of a problem with the electricity, the fuel pumps or one wasn't working or something, so the engine didn't get enough fuel at high revs, so that's why we retired.

Q: I'm sure you would say that there's no point in getting upset with the team but how frustrated do you get within yourself when that happens?

Raikkonen: Yeah, it's not nice, but in the end it's not my fault. I couldn't have done anything different so I'm not blaming myself, but it's not good for anyone in the team, because we haven't had such bad luck - it's difficult, is it bad luck or something else - but it has been a difficult season, so it's not good for the team or for me, but I don't really blame myself so I just come to the next race and hopefully things go better.

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