Friday April 27th, 2001
Participating: Fernando Alonso (Minardi), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar), Luciano Burti (Prost), Frank Williams (Williams) and Jean Todt (Ferrari).
Q: Fernando, you said earlier this year that no one respects a Minardi driver...
Fernando Alonso: I didn't say anything. But maybe when you see the two Minardis on Saturday, it's difficult to do a clear lap because everybody waits until the end of the session. For us it is always difficult because we can't overtake anybody. I hope that people have a little bit more respect for us in the next races.
Q: Do you feel that you get a bad deal from the other drivers?
FA: No. It's not bad, but if you see a Minardi in the mirror, you try to push a little bit more at the start of your flying lap so that you have a clear road and not with a Minardi in front.
Q: Pedro, do you change your approach when you change from being a test driver to being race driver?
Pedro de la Rosa: I think to go back from to testing to racing is easy, but going from racing to testing is when you have problems to re-adapt yourself. But coming back to racing you feel much at home.
Q: Were you very frustrated at the beginning of the season that you weren't racing; did you aggressively decide to chase the drive?
PDR: Not really. I was angry of course, because all racing drivers want to race. You prepare yourself during the winter, you test, you feel you are at your maximum after two years in Formula One and suddenly you have no drive. You are very upset, but nevertheless you have to look for another drive, because there are plenty of teams and plenty of opportunities out there if you look for them and you are good enough, so I kept working and here I am. I never thought it was over, that's for sure.
Q: Frank, how frustrating is it that Juan Pablo, in whom you showed a lot of faith, hasn't finished a race yet?
Sir Frank Williams: Clearly it's more frustrating for him than it is for the team, but we are very short of results, the Imola race excepted. We just need to be consistently reliable - it's our greatest requirement - in the next half a dozen races, and if that is achieved, Juan will be on the podium I believe quite frequently.
Q: It seems quite a few teams are not on top of it. What do you think it's going to do this weekend's race?
FW: The guys who have got all their equipment working to the maximum efficiency, as at every Grand Prix, are the people most likely to race at the front. It may change the order fractionally, but looking at what we saw today, it hasn't changed it at all.
Q: Juan Pablo. New regulations, you've only just changed to Formula One from CART. How complicated is it to change to the new regs?
Juan Pablo Montoya: It's a bit more difficult. There's a lot more electronics, a lot more things can you do to the car to make it better, but at the same time you can get lost a lot easier. There are so many things to do in the car that you have to be really focused on what makes the car go faster and slower and work on them. There are a lot of things you can twitch here and twitch there so they can make much difference. But in the races you have to focus on the bigger things that make a difference in times. For us it has been quite difficult. We had a problem today. Fridays for me haven't been very friendly. We seem to struggle a lot with set-up today but at least we did some laps, and we're trying to learn from today to make it better for tomorrow.
Q: Jean, has the team lost its way and its momentum? How do you get that back?
Jean Todt: You know it would be annoying for everybody - but good for us - if we could keep winning each race. Surprisingly enough when Michael finished second in Brazil it was like a disaster. I remember a few years ago finishing second was like reaching the moon! We won six races in a row and we unfortunately finished second, Michael didn't finish at Imola, Rubens finished third. We hoped to do better. But we must keep our feet on the ground even if the others don't keep their feet on the ground for us.
Q: Luciano, how do you find the new team. It must seem very strange changing new teams in a day?
Luciano Burti: It has been quite strange, because I had been with Stewart since 1997 which became Jaguar so I lost that feeling of changing teams and getting to know new people but I have to say that I've felt very welcome since I joined Prost. That's the best thing for me. I don't know anyone so I'm just trying to learn everyone, getting to know how they work. But I have to say that they are very friendly and I've felt really really welcome. I think this weekend I feel like I know everyone even though I've only had one day at Silverstone and one day at the factory, yet I feel very relaxed. It's been pretty good actually.
Q: A question to Jean Todt, we heard it was suspension failure that put Michael Schumacher out in Imola, can you be any more specific?
JT: Well we had a problem with the front suspension, we got some overheating problems with the brakes and Michael had a problem with the wheel as well and all together it made a puncture and then he came back to the garage and that was it.
Q: What kind of problem with the suspension?
JT: I think I have given enough information.
Q: Is that the sequence of events?
JT: That's the way it happened, yes.
Q: Pedro, are you under pressure having your first race of the season here at home and would you have preferred to have made it somewhere else?
PDR: Yeah I would have preferred to make my debut in Australia!
Q: I'd be interested to hear the reaction of Mr. Todt and Sir Frank to the recently announced agreement on TV rights. Do they think that this will be good for the sport? Also could either or both of you explain why a deal that was apparently uncompetitive when it was for 20 years suddenly becomes very competitive when it is for 100 years?
JT: Well I don't think that this commercial agreement is only involving television. I mean the new company - I think 75% belongs to Mr. Kirch and 25% still to Mr. Ecclestone - have bought the FIA's whole commercial rights and doesn't include only television. About television we have the guarantee that until the expiration of the Concorde Agreement we will have live TV as it is now, which is very important for us. The position of the manufacturers is up to Mr. Cantarella, the chairman of the European group of constructors, and he is running one action with the intention of running another championship at the expiration of the Concorde Agreement. That's all I can say.
Q: Is it then realistic that there will be a championship from the constructors association when the Concorde Agreement runs out in seven years time?
JT: I don't think you should say a 'constructors championship' because if something will happen it will be a championship probably with the same players. Probably it will just change the name. But in my opinion the championship will remain the same - with different organisation - the same principle and from what I understand under the FIA sporting and technical rules.
Q: Sir Frank, can you tell us how close you personally feel Williams is to cracking the so-called 'top two' on a regular basis?
FW: Well a lot has changed in a fortnight. We were looking good twelve days ago but after today's events there's not a great deal of confidence to which I could say 'no problem, mate' so don't be too sure for us.
Q: Juan Pablo, you've won every place that you've been, how long before you start to feel pressure to win here?
JPM: I think that the pressure comes most from myself. The only real race where we didn't have any problems was Brazil and that was really good. We haven't really got a handle yet on the car, there's a lot of things still to learn. We need to get to finish races and score points and learn how much you can really push the car and each set of tyres - one stop, two stops, like my first two stop race was the last race and I didn't know how to push.