Atlas F1 News Service

Friday-Six Press Conference - San Marino GP

Friday April 13th, 2001

Participating: Jacques Villeneuve (BAR), Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton), Jarno Trulli (Jordan), Gerhard Berger (BMW), Ross Brawn (Ferrari) and Adrian Newey (McLaren).

Q: Jacques, how do you feel progress is coming along so far this year?

Jacques Villeneuve: It seems the car is working a lot better here than it has at other tracks. The balance was there from the first lap so we can do some work, that's good. I think that the car's been more competitive than the results we've got so far, we got some points in the last race but we're backwards in the championship compared with where we wanted to be.

Q: Is a podium a possibility this year?

JV: Yes definitely. At the last race anybody could have been on the podium and there's going to be other races like that. It looks like we're more competitive here than we were in the first three races and so it is possible.

Q: Do you like those 'chance' races?

JV: Not really because it becomes a big gamble and if you pit one lap too late or too early you lose a lot of ground. When gambling gets into it I don't think that's good even when sometimes that helps us out.

Q: Jarno, you've had a busy few days I think.

Jarno Trulli: Yeah the last couple of days have been really busy, I've been in England on a ferry boat from Dover to Calais which was an interesting day out for me. It was nice, completely different from what we have here in Formula One. Then I flew directly from England to here in Imola where we played for charity a football match where I scored two goals. I really enjoyed our time together with the other drivers, Giancarlo and Michael, so it's been busy but, you know, I'm home so I expected that.

Q: What does this race mean to you?

JT: To be honest I don't feel any special pressure. I know I've got a lot of support but I think most of the pressure is on Ferrari compared with me and Giancarlo.

Q: How are you comparing today with the other two Honda-powered cars?

JT: We did actually a good job in the wet conditions, looking at different tyres and setup, and we had an interesting second session where we got a lot of data especially for the race. It's difficult to know how competitive we are because we don't know how much fuel load all the other runners ran but we're pretty confident. We know that Ferrari, McLaren and also Williams are really fast but we've proved we're not too far away.

Q: Giancarlo, was that sixth place a bit of a surprise in Brazil?

Giancarlo Fisichella: Yes it was great. We didn't expect to finish the race and score a point. It was like winning for us because we're struggling a little bit with engine power and the car so I was very surprised because the behaviour of the car was very good, especially in low-speed corners. It was much quicker than other people in front of me.

Q: Is it difficult for you to keep up your morale?

GF: It is difficult but I have to push again, do the maximum everywhere, it's frustrating to be here on my home circuit and in the last few rows. It's not fantastic but that's the life. We have a good step with power on Magny Cours so it's quite late.

Q: Gerhard, how much of a surprise was Montoya's performance in Brazil?

Gerhard Berger: He is with us because we expect him to do something really well. He has fantastic car control. We know he is a very competitive driver and he did a great job in the race in Sao Paulo, no question about it. We thought that after half a season when I'm sure that he still needs to fit himself into the team and into Formula One he's going to be a very strong driver on a regular basis.

Q: What about that overtaking manoeuvre into the first corner?

GB: It was great overtaking, especially in a race when you don't see so much overtaking anyway. I think that what he did in the race in Sao Paulo was a great performance.

Q: Are you happy with the progress; are we going to see it in each race?

GB: That's what we would like to do but it's not that easy when you get to the level where we are now. It's very very difficult. Each step is usually a very small step and especially to catch up with these guys is very hard. But on the other side, with Michelin, we are able to make small steps from race to race and we saw it in Sao Paulo in comparison to the races before, and hopefully we will see it again here.

Q: What about Montoya today? Is that a worry?

GB: Unfortunately we had a technical problem in the engine, so we had to change it and we couldn't run. We don't yet because we are analysing exactly what happened.

Q: Ross, are you surprised at the margin today?

Ross Brawn: I don't know what other people were doing. Obviously I can judge with our programme, but fuel has quite a large effect here. Ten kilos is almost half a second, so there can be quite big differences on cars. It's also a very hard braking circuit so I think a lot of people were running high fuel to sort out their brakes. But the car is good, the drivers are happier with the car than they were in Brazil. I think the changes of the new regulations have meant that we have some good solutions for higher downforce circuits, so the first two races and this race which were all high downforce, our car works very well. Brazil was a bit more of a leveller, but today was a good day for us.

Q: You talk about brakes but they are always bound up. Why is that?

RB: We are keeping them warm! It's just some things that we've done on the brake ducts and the brakes which we try to keep to ourselves. Obviously we won't keep them to ourselves for very long because there is a large number of photographers in the pit lane so you get photographs taken of everything, so if not already, I'm sure there are photographs of our braking system with other teams. It's a normal process.

Q: How is Rubens's morale after Brazil? It was obviously a disappointment for him.

RB: He was down for a few days. It was a difficult weekend for him with huge expectation. But I suppose to a large extent things settled down. He didn't test last week, but we kept him informed of the testing and I'm really pleased today because he's put all that behind him. We just want to keep him straight. He's done a very good job this weekend. He's been involved in two incidents which have been controversial. I think he's back to normal.

Q: You've been testing five days last week, is that going to be normal?

RB: Yes, sure. We came away from Brazil disappointed. The car just didn't work as well as we hoped. I think one of the things that a lot of people don't appreciate is that set-up is so important. They talk about tyres, about the car, about the engine but the set-up is equally important to get the car working properly. We saw in Hungary last year where Mika looked to be struggling in practice and then ran away with the race. It was the same tyres, the same car, the same engine. It's just that they got the set-up sorted.

We didn't have a very good set-up in Brazil which was emphasised in the wet. We really thought that the weather Gods were Ferrari fans when we had that second start, but then to go backwards so quickly is not normal.

Last week in Fiorano we had a couple of wet days and we were able to go back through the car that we had in Brazil and it was pretty awful around Fiorano which was really reassuring, but by changing the car around we were able to get it to work normally again. So we were pleased that the car was good in the wet this morning. I hope it's back to normal.

Q: Adrian, how are you feeling about that amount of testing. Can you do that too?

Adrian Newey: Last week we had very poor weather conditions at Silverstone, which is fine if you want to do wet testing, but unfortunately it was one of those annoying things where you either had to sit and watching it come down because it was too wet or it was drying too quickly so you didn't have consistent conditions. It wasn't ideal. It's one of the problems that British teams do face. We'd like to test in France next week but we have a problem getting trucks across France because it's a holiday, so if we had wanted to test in France next week, we would have had to have left in the middle of last week because you're not allowed to travel on a Bank Holiday in France or any weekend, or any day off. It's this time of year that is the drawback.

Q: Overall, do you think you're at a disadvantage when it comes to testing?

AN: It would be nice to have our own test track in warm climate such as Ferrari, but obviously there are pros and cons. British teams perhaps have other advantages over Italian-based teams elsewhere.

Q: Where do you think you're lacking at the moment, because you're not consistently competitive?

AN: We have struggled a little bit with the car this year. We haven't quite got on top of the regulations fully. And so while the car worked well in Brazil, and we were generally happy with the car in Brazil, albeit slightly disappointed in qualifying - we haven't quite got the consistency out of it, which we would like.

It's a combination of a how load of factors: partly set-up, partly engine characteristics, it's difficult to break it down to one thing.


Q: Adrian, in a situation where you seem to be at a competitive disadvantage to Ferrari, could you give us an indication how you set about pinpointing the problem?

AN: The biggest problem is time, with the races every two weeks you're on a pretty tight schedule really. Plus we really haven't had a single decent test since the start of the year, really Silverstone last week was our first test since the season started and that wasn't a good test, so in terms of setup we're having to experiment at the races, which isn't ideal. In the other areas, aerodynamics, we're trying to understand the problems in the wind tunnel, the engine driveablility is working on the dyno so it's really a multi-pronged attack.

Q: Ross, in the dry in Brazil with a two stop strategy you clearly had less fuel that David Coulthard but were only just able to stay ahead of him. What was the dry stint like, was he held up by Montoya?

RB: He was held up at the beginning for sure. The first 10 or 15 laps. But towards the end of his stint he was struggling to stay up with Montoya and I was on the radio encouraging him to keep the gap but he was struggling. Fundamentally the car was too stiff, so it worked very well on new tyres but as the tyres degraded it became worse and towards the end of his stint he was struggling.

Q: Gerhard, after the race you said you thought something had been bent or damaged in the move by Montoya, is that correct?

GB: We were confused to be frank. We'd been quite good during practice and qualifying, but there were some changes made between race day and qualifying which didn't help, but it was a big surprise. We knew we were in trouble with two stops when Montoya got past but even so we thought that with new tyres and a few adjustments in the pitstop... but we were just degrading the tyres too much.

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