The Readers Digest

By Karl Thoroddsen and Gabor Vizi
Atlas F1 Readers

On Technology and Driving

Q: Some observers say that today's highly technical F1 cars are easy to drive compared to earlier models. Do you think that's true?

Johnny Herbert: "I don't think it is quite that simple. In fact the cars today are probably a lot more difficult to drive than, for example, cars in the 1970s. Those cars used to drift quite a lot which made the car quite forgiving whereas today with the aerodynamics so highly tuned they are very sensitive so if you slide the car you lose a lot of downforce. The G forces are much higher, the power is much higher."

Q: Was there a huge horsepower difference between the 1994 Zetec V8 and the Renault V10 engines?

Johnny HerbertHerbert: "There was a difference but it wasn't huge. It was mainly because the V8 was at the end of its development. The V8 got to its maximum. The Zetec wasn't bad. The Renault was the best but the package of the V8 was good, it was a very, very good engine just at the end of its development."

Q: It seems like Jaguar - and Stewart before - have only been able to field one competitive car. Do you agree and if so why do you think that is?

Herbert: "The cars are the same [but] the biggest difference is the support you receive. If a car is developed for one driver then that driver is going to be quicker than his teammate."

Q: Hakkinen said that a driver who can be fast at Interlagos impressed him the most. Any circuit that in your view is a good measure of a driver's worth?

Herbert: "Spa."

On Testing

Q: Do drivers try to drive at race pace during testing?

Herbert: "Yeah, sure. 100% race pace."

Q: Do the teams use different 'heavy' fuel levels during the same day of testing?

Herbert: "I think that is very rare. Normally they keep to the same level."

Q: Are you aware of teams pushing on certain sectors of a lap and then cruising on another to confuse the opposition?

Herbert: "That is very rare, because it is not a thing to do in, for example, tire testing and setup work. It is also very rare to do one quick lap followed by a slow one and then a fast one.

"It happens though, because I know [Ayrton] Senna used to work on certain corners and Michael [Schumacher] does it too. He would work on the corner or group of corners that was causing him problems."

Q: Having access to individual lap times from Barcelona, how can Formula One fans spot a fast car during testing?

Herbert laughs. "If a car like Sauber, for example, is the quickest at the end of the day, you know they are not the quickest," he says.

"If Williams, McLaren or Ferrari are on top then they are probably running the same amount of fuel. It is more difficult now before the start of the season with, for example, BAR being the quickest but I heard they are not running any fuel.

"Then I heard something very strange, that when Michael tested at Barcelona alongside Jenson [Button] in the BAR then he tested without much fuel either, which is very rare. Normally Michael doesn't do that or rather Ross Brawn doesn't do that."

On Michael Schumacher

Q: During the 1991 season you raced in the Ralt chassis that seemed uncompetitive in the Japanese F3000 series. At Sugo, Michael Schumacher raced alongside you in a one off appearance and managed 2nd place.

Herbert: "When I arrived at Sugo he had my race car and I had the old spare! I don't know about the tires but there was talk that because of his Mercedes connections he was getting some special Bridgestone tires, but I don't know if that was the case.

"What I know is that I had my car, my engine and my mechanics and when I arrived at Sugo I didn't have them.

"The problem was that the Ralt chassis was only good in some places. After Sugo I did a back to back test with my race car and the spare, and the race car was much quicker. It took a long time to get the spare car up to speed."

Q: It was obvious during the 1995 season that Michael Schumacher was doing most of the testing for Benetton. Do you know if he had certain privileges or rights guaranteed in his contract?

Herbert: "I never saw the contract but I can only say that when certain things happened and Michael would ask for them, the team would always say yes. It seemed that he had something in his contract that made the team say: 'Yeah, we have to do that.'

"It was difficult because I never understood why Flavio [Briatore] would be so, let's say, one sided with the contract. Michael was not the problem, you want to be selfish in that way but then it is for the team to say: 'No hold on, we are trying to be a team.' Unfortunately for me it was never that way."

Q: In late September 1997 Peter Sauber hired Schumacher to test his car at Fiorano. You ended the test slightly quicker. Did you lap with comparable fuel levels and setups?

Herbert: "The problem was that during that test we were developing the electronic differential and then Michael turns up and they took the electronic differential out and put the standard back in. He was actually quicker than me but I had a lighter fuel load but we had different diffs in! So I was developing the electronic diff that never worked and Michael drove in the standard configuration which was the better configuration.

"The test was really to see if Ferrari could take anything from the Sauber to make their package stronger because the Sauber was very good that year.

"The team was impressed with Michael as you would be but the team didn't comment on the difference between us because we didn't have the same car."

Q: You worked alongside Schumacher for many years. Is he as fast as he seems to be or just one of 3-4 fastest drivers in the Formula?

Herbert: "At the moment he has got an advantage over other fast drivers like Kimi [Raikkonen] and [Juan Pablo] Montoya just because I think he has got such a big inner belief that he knows exactly what he wants and how he is going to get it, and he has got all that backup of having Ross [Brawn] and the rest of the Ferrari team behind him.

"Kimi knows what he wants but doesn't know how to get it as well as Michael. Montoya does but I think he just has to work a little harder than Michael. It is not just because Michael is better than the others, it is because he has a much better team."

On the 2004 Season

Q: If you, as a team owner, could pick any two drivers from the current grid, who would they be?

Herbert: "At the moment, probably Kimi and Michael."

Q: What is your prediction for the strongest team at the start of the season?

Herbert: "My guess is BMW-WilliamsF1. They have a very good package."

  Contact the Editor

© 1995-2005 Kaizar.Com, Inc. . This service is provided under the Atlas F1 terms and conditions.
Please Contact Us for permission to republish this or any other material from Atlas F1.
Email to Friend

Print Version

Download in PDF

Volume 10, Issue 7
February 18th 2004


The Back End
by Peter Farkas

CART and Sold
by Caroline Reid

The Readers Digest
by Karl Thoroddsen and Gabor Vizi

The Paint Job
by Bruce Thomson

2004 Countdown: Facts & Stats
by Marcel Borsboom & Marcel Schot


The F1 Trivia Quiz
by Marcel Borsboom

On the Road
by Garry Martin

Elsewhere in Racing
by David Wright & Mark Alan Jones

The Weekly Grapevine
by Dieter Rencken

  Contact the Editor

   > Homepage
   > Magazine
   > News Service
   > Grapevine
   > Photo Gallery
   > My Atlas
   > Bulletin Board
   > Chat Room
   > Bet Your Nuts
   > Shop @ Atlas
   > Search Archive
   > FORIX
   > Help