Thursday April 12th, 2001
Despite their brilliant performances so far in the 2001 championship, the Williams team have still some way to go before being in the same league as Ferrari and McLaren, according to BMW boss Gerhard Berger.
Williams, who finished a very distant third in last year's championship, have been consistently fighting with McLaren and Ferrari for pole position in the first three races of the season, and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya led half the race at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Despite many observers believing the Grove-based team is back on top, Berger claims there's still some work to do.
"There are two ways of winning: by your own merit, or when your rivals drop out," Berger said. "If Ferrari or McLaren have problems, we're capable of winning now, but in terms of pure force we'll have to wait until 2002.
"At Imola we just want to stay as close as possible to the Ferrari and McLaren then we'll see what happens."
Berger also praised Montoya, who impressed in only his third race overtaking world champion Michael Schumacher and leading at Interlagos until Jos Verstappen crashed into him.
"Juan Pablo is gifted with superb car control and raw natural talent, but he has to learn that you can't do everything with talent alone," added Berger. "He's got to develop a cooler, more analytical attitude so that he can help improve his car's performance throughout a Grand Prix weekend.
"Despite his superb performance in Brazil, he's still learning how to drive in traffic and how to set up his car. But it's only his fourth Grand Prix. If he gets everything focussed, he'll become a great driver."
At the same time, the former Formula One driver, thinks Montoya's teammate Ralf Schumacher is very close to the performance level of his elder brother.
"Ralf's driving performances are very, very close to those we're used to seeing from Michael," Berger said. "I really believe that if they were driving equally matched cars Michael would have to push himself to the limit to stay ahead of his brother. Ralf lacks nothing to go just as fast as Michael."