Atlas F1 News Service

Thursday's Press Conference - Hungarian GP

Thursday August 16th, 2001

Participating: Luciano Burti (Prost), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Prost), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), Ralf Schumacher (Williams) and Kazutoshi Nishisawa (Honda).

Q: Mr. Nishisawa, can you tell us Honda's relationship with Takuma Sato who won the Marlboro Masters?

Kazutoshi Nishisawa: He's a Japanese driver. We like him very much. We always support drivers who have speed. I hope he can do well this year.

Q: Does Honda have a contract with him, or is it a testing contract with BAR?

KN: Just a testing contract with BAR. Nothing with Honda.

Q: Is there a connection between Honda and McLaren, as one of the magazines says that Honda will be with McLaren in 2004?

KN: It's just rumours. There's nothing more than that. We are very happy with our teams.

Q: What is the future policy for Honda for next year?

KN: The policy? We are always fighting to win, to achieve that target, we knew that we must work harder to achieve that target.

Q: I think you have a new engine for next year; what stage is that engine at?

KN: The engine programme for next year is going well right now. I'm happy with that. We have already completed first dyno testing, without problems. There are no plans for when it will run, but probably the beginning of next year in the new chassis.

Q: To what extent was Heinz-Harald Frentzen important in the signing of Honda and Jordan 14 months ago?

KN: All drivers are important to us, so we really enjoyed working with Heinz very much.

Q: To what extent was Honda consulted by Jordan about their actions over the last three weeks?

KN: Final decision on driver choice is with the teams. We respect the team's decision.

Q: Were you consulted?

KN: No comment.

Q: Luciano, how is your arm, first of all, after the accident at Hockenheim?

Luciano Burti: It's OK, still working. It was pretty difficult during the race. As I've said many times, we don't have power steering in the car. After my crash, I banged my arm somewhere inside the car and it was a bit sore, even before the re-start, but of course, after a few laps it got worse and worse up to the moment I couldn't hold the car any more. I think I made three mistakes in five laps because I really hold the car, and I went off on one lap. I was already on the radio asking the team if I could stop, but we had a chance of maybe scoring points they told me to keep going. But it's OK now.

Q: You've had a bit of an up and down season yourself, and now you have a new team-mate as well, what affect does that have on you?

LB: I have to say that yes, for sure, my season has been pretty interesting. I've been working in different teams with different team-mates. But so far I think it has been pretty good because it's not easy to change teams during the season and I've been tackling my first season with very experienced team-mates, they are experienced and they are probably at the peak of their career. With Eddie, I have been able to be competitive. I've always been pretty close to him, sometimes ahead. With Jean it's been similar. Two times I have been ahead of him twice and one time when I was behind I was close. I think for my first season as a driver it's been a pretty good achievement and I hope to keep doing the same with Heinz now. The good thing for me is that it's very important to learn as much as you can as a beginner and all of them have a lot of experience and for that reason I am very happy to be with Heinz for the remainder of the season.

Q: In a way, you have tripled the amount of experience you can pick up from your team-mate, because you've had three different team-mates.

LB: It's pretty good, because they are all strong in one area and probably weak in others, so I can see what are the strong points and what are the weak points and I can learn from it. It has been pretty good, I had a good relationship with them on the personal side as well so it has been pretty good.

Q: How do you think Jean is going to get on at Jordan?

LB: Let's see. Jean needs to be happy to perform. I think Jordan can supply that. I'm not sure that he's going to get all the equipment that he needs like the pedals, because he brakes with the right foot. I'm not sure if he can do that at Jordan. He likes to have the clutch as a pedal as opposed to on the steering wheel, so he can be upset if he doesn't have those little things. For sure he's going to be a guy who is pushing all the time. He has a great talent, very good car control and if Jordan gives him what he needs he will do the job.

Q: Heinz-Harald, how is he going to get on?

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: I wish him all the best. I don't know honestly. Our cars were specially made for us, Jarno and me, with two pedals, so it may be a challenge. I think they have some work to do to make it work for Jean.

Q: What are you hoping to achieve now at Prost?

HHF: I try to adapt as quick as possible to the team. There are five races left. I haven't done any proper testing. I just did a run to check the seat and the pedals (interruption by Ralf's 'phone) so I just have to start from zero and to see how I get along with the people. Obviously before I signed the contract, I went to the factory. I wanted to see all the data and facilities and possibilities and all this information was enough for me to decide to drive for the team. I think from the basics the team is OK. There are some very professional people working there. I think it's OK.

Q: Some people might say you're in a no-win situation: if you beat Luciano, you should; if he beats you, that's not good for you. How do you see it?

HHF: Basically, I didn't think of it very much, so you're probably thinking ahead of me. I have to say that I understood that Luciano is a very quick driver and he's gaining experience this year, and he hasn't been to most of the circuits. He has been with some experienced drivers and it's important for him to learn. If he beats me I wish him all the best. But on one hand he knows the car, the set-up, the team from experience, but I start basically from zero. We will see. I wish him all the best. There's are a lot of things that we can achieve this year. Hopefully we can improve the car a bit more, because the car is reliable from what I have seen so far. We have to work on it to get a little more speed out of the car. For me the tyres are new as well, so that's a considerable new challenge as well. Maybe Ralf will tell me some secrets if he wants to. It doesn't look like it! So basically the tyres are for me a new set of circumstances and I would like to learn as much as possible and as quickly as possible.

Q: What really happened with Jordan? What sort of explanation did he give you? There were rumours that you weren't fit, there were rumours that Jordan had already spoken to Alesi before you were given the sack. What can you tell us?

HHF: Basically not a lot. I don't want to go into details. The small details that I gave away were just the facts, the fact that Jordan had faxed me after Silverstone Grand Prix, and that's all I want to say about this. Everything will go into court, that's for sure, and the rest I will leave Eddie to say.

Q: Ralf, you've said you don't expect to be as competitive here as in Germany - what's the problem?

Ralf Schumacher: This is a different circuit for us, it's very tight, you need a lot of downforce here you need to mechanical grip and we have struggled to deliver that. I don't know how the new car with the Michelin tyres will work here or whether the tyres will give us an advantage over Bridgestone here. Hopefully it will not be too far off but we will see. From what I have heard Ferrari have made a special aero package for here and they're really going for it. The last two years they were pretty strong here so I think they're the team to beat.

Q: You said you conserved the engine at Hockenheim but actually Patrick Head didn't agree with that.

RS: I think Hockenheim's over isn't it? I made the finish at least, I think that's the important thing. But I think what the English newspapers said was wrong, I think they misquoted me a bit - I've never said that he (Montoya) is responsible that the engine failed. At the end of the day the engine doesn't survive then something's wrong with it.

Q: You have the chance to finish second in the championship - did you think that was possible at the start of the season?

RS: No I didn't, I think if I'd have thought about it everybody would have called me crazy anyway. It looks pretty good but we still have five races to go and this circuit I consider to be a bit better for McLaren but we'll see.

Q: At the four races will the circuits be more favourable?

RS: It's plus and minus. With the tyre situation that we have it will always be difficult to go to circuits you don't really know what's going to happen.

Q: Juan Pablo, you had a breakage last time, what was your feeling after that?

Juan Pablo Montoya: You can't really say it's luck - it's racing and things like that happen. I think I didn't have a problem with the engine, I think the only thing that happened was the pit stop was so long the engine overheated and that was it. There's nothing you can do about it, you're driving within the limits of the engine, you can't really over-rev the engine or do anything to it with all the electronics and everything so you just drive it to the limit.

Q: Ralf has the chance to finish second in the Championship, would you help him?

JPM: Not at this point. At the end of the day he's not going to win the Championship so we're scoring points for the Constructors' Championship so for that it doesn't matter if he finishes ahead or behind me.

Q: But you have a good working relationship.

JPM: Sure, if the order is given by the team to let him by, I would.

Q: Drivers, how much is a contract worth these days? Why even have them?

HHF: I think I have a good contract - or had a good contract - at Jordan. We'll see. It has been terminated obviously and there is some discussion behind it, which we will decide in court. A contract is there to help the relationship or... make it difficult.

RS: Well I must say usually a contract is there to write it once and sign it and never look at it again. But then I must be fair with Heinz, the only team I ever had to look at it again is the team he suffered with so I wish him all the best. I think that there is a danger in the future of looking at a contract like that, with team mates changing through the season, and I hope that point with drivers and teams will be much stronger for the future so this can't happen.

Q: Heinz-Harald, should this be sorted out by the contracts recognition board?

HHF: Certainly there is some point in that. The contract is quite clear, one side and the other side, so the facts are there but if one party doesn't want to work with the other party then there will always be different opinions.

Q: Juan Pablo, after the European Grand Prix Ralf signed a contract which we understand will pay him something like $30 million over the next three years, yet since then you've been beating him. What sort of line will you take with Frank when it comes to discussing your contract?

JPM: I'll have to wait and see what happens next year and we'll take it from there. I As long as you have good money you should do it, the reason I signed with Williams wasn't the money, if I had wanted the money I would have stayed in CART another year.

Published at 15:18:30 GMT

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