Atlas F1 News Service

Thursday's Press Conference - Belgian GP

Thursday August 30th, 2001

Participating: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), David Coulthard (McLaren), Ralf Schumacher (Williams), Niki Lauda (Jaguar) and Willy Rampf (Sauber).

Q: Willy, what's made the difference this year in comparison to last year when it comes to technical development?

Willy Rampf: OK, let's start with the new car. The C20 is a completely new design compared to the C19. I think the only part that we carried over from the C19 were the wheelnuts - the rest is redesigned. Due to the regulations for this year, we had to redefine the aerodynamic package. The target was to have an aerodynamically very efficient car which is what we have now. Also, with the weight reduction programme, as we redesigned each part, we also had to reduce the weight for each part. We have more ballast than we have ever had before.

We had a very tight programme for the development this year. The target is to have a new development for each event, each race, whether a new aero package, a control system like the differential control. Up to now, we are really on schedule; we have new components, new improvements for each race.

Q: And that has worked very much in your favour...

WR: Yes, absolutely. I think Sauber always had a well performing car at the beginning of the season but the problem was that the performance always dropped during the season, which meant that we couldn't maintain the pace. We learned from this in the past and this was the reason that we started to design a very tight programme and we follow it strictly and it pays off.

Q: Was that defined by you?

WR: Yes, mainly it was defined by me and a few core people in our design office.

Q: You've had two drivers who have had little experience, one of them with very little experience in Formula One; how have they turned out in terms of technical feedback?

WR: There is a difference. Kimi doesn't have so much experience in Formula One cars but if a component, say an aerodynamic package, is quicker than you see it straight away; you see it in lap time and also from his comments. Nick is very good in evaluating the car. That means he comes back after each outing with a lot of detailed explanations about what is different to the outing before. He has a lot of experience, I must say, and he's also very disciplined.

Q: Is Kimi building that experience as well?

WR: Yes, definitely. He's only done a few races up to now but you can see that his comments are very valid.

Q: Tell us about the development for next year's car: has that started already?

WR: Yes, we have started with the new car. We have done a lot of wind tunnel testing now. We have started long term items like the gearbox whose design we have started. The next is now the monocoque; we are basically in the middle of the concept design of the monocoque.

Q: Who is designing it?

WR: We have a very good team of designers in our design office with about five core people, the aerodynamicist, myself and the core designers are designing the concept. I have overall responsibility.

Q: Niki, how much do you really have to learn about the racing team? How different is your new job as team principal to what it was before?

Niki Lauda: First you have to learn in life all the time, this is my principle. You should never say you know everything. So this is basically what I have tried to say. So the issue really is to go into all the details because before I was in charge of the whole group, now I'm in charge of the racing team as well as being in charge of the group. So I have to quickly get my hands on the details of the racing team now and make it work.

Q: So there is a huge amount still to learn?

NK: I don't think it's that much to learn but it's always good if you try to learn, not to try to be better.

Q: Are you planning on remaining team principal, or have you got to build up strength elsewhere in the team?

NL: No, I will remain team principal but when the season is over we're gonna look to restructure the Jaguar racing team and maybe I will find a man who will assist me running it, but this is not decided yet. I haven't found that man yet, so basically I'm doing it now.

Q: You're doing both jobs, but you intend to remain as team principal.

NL: Yes.

Q: You've obviously had management experience with Jaguar, with your airline, with Ferrari; how much has that experience been of use to you in your new job?

NL: First of all Ferrari was after the second world war really. I've been there as a driver only so really this does not compare to the job I have to do today. So basically, it's just working together with the people, understanding, understanding who is doing what and pick the important things and this is basically what I am doing here. I don't think it's all that difficult as it looks from your questions but you just have to be there with open eyes and see where you can improve things and that is basically what I'm here for.

Q: You also have quite a lot of media commitments: the column in the magazine, your TV work; can you continue with those?

NL: It all depends. We have to see. First comes my Jaguar job and whatever is free, like coming here and doing other media things... to give you the answer, you expect me to do that, but I will certainly not penalise my job. If I say one day that I can't give you the answer, you know I have to work.

Q: All of you in the front row are battling for second in the championship - or maybe not! David has said that he's not interested in finishing second, so how important is it to you and your teams to finish second in the championship?

Rubens Barrichello: I think it's fairly important. The first place has been taken already. I think the next best is second, so I'm giving my best. I have four races to win the race. It's not very common for you to see the whole team working for two drivers and for you to have Michael who is someone who can help you, because most of the time he is flat out doing his job and most of the time you're there to help him. So now we have four races and that isn't very common so I have to take the best out of that situation and try to win and basically if I finish second, I will be happier than if I finish third.

David Coulthard: I don't think I said I wasn't interested. I think I said my motivation isn't to finish second. My motivation obviously is to win so when I look at these last four races, it is about trying to be in a position to get ten points out of those individual races and as I said about the championship, it's the result of the job you do in your individual races during the course of the year. If I do the second best job this year, then I finish second. If I don't, then I won't, but it doesn't change the motivation which is to win.

Q: And for the team?

DC: I don't know. I haven't asked them. I'm not team principal so I can't speak on behalf of the team but I think logically the benefit to the team in finishing second is that they are the next garage along and I think it's probably slightly bigger than the third next garage along. I don't know.

Ralf Schumacher: Well, I didn't expect to be in this position, to be fair. Now I am we will try to win it. That's all I can say.

Q: Ralf, how do you rate your chances here - it's a power circuit but you don't want wet weather, so weigh up your chances.

RS: Power circuit, it's great I think it's always helping us but then we don't find high race track temperature and that's not going to help us. Rain is forecast for Sunday so that's another additional problem as well we have so I don't think... it could work out in our favour if the weather is changeable but if it is raining it's going to be very difficult.

Q: It's said you've got a modified car here - can you tell us a bit more?

RS: It's just modifications to the chassis. It's slightly different, maybe a bit lighter and aero changes. Basically it's just an in between step to prove that the direction we have gone for next year is a good direction.

Q: David, I believe Belgium is one of your favourite circuits.

DC: Yes, I think it's the same for a lot of drivers who say that they really like this track. I've been thinking about coming here this week, just visualising the track and the enjoyment you get here. There are some quite unique challenges on this track, everyone talks about Eau Rouge because it's a very visually impressive corner for the drivers and the spectators - which actually only adds up to a very small part of the lap time but nonetheless it's a focal point. I think it's an interesting, long lap. The weather side, that other unknown factor, is something that just adds another dimension to the race weekend. We've all stood here in the rain five minutes before the start of the Grand Prix when it's been dry the whole weekend before that so it's quite an exciting race.

Q: Last weekend you were in Brno, motorcycle racing, what did you think?

DC: I think that the motorbike Grand Prix is very exciting, they get big crowds, obviously it's easier to get around because certainly in the Czech Republic it didn't have the same crowds that you see at a Grand Prix. The garages seem awfully big when you've only got a couple of motorbikes standing in them rather than Grand Prix cars but you get a very warm welcome, the full treatment as a sportsman going to visit another sport. I don't know what it's like from a punter's point of view but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Q: The facilities seem to be quite good at Brno - do you think it could host a Grand Prix?

DC: I think the track and the facilities are excellent. I think the run off isn't sufficient for Formula One and would need extensive work but in its modern guise - there's a lot of tracks that we actually race and test on that have only got the same run off but you get away with that have been there for a few years. If they were trying to get a Grand Prix then they need to do a bit of work but it's an amazing facility actually. The access roads and everything they have is pretty impressive.

Q: Rubens, you mentioned help from Michael, what will that entail do you think?

RB: I don't know. I think he said himself to the press that Ferrari wishes to finish one and two and then we would win everything during the year. I said before if he's winning the race and I'm fourth or fifth or whatever then there's no way he can help so I have to help myself but we haven't discussed that, which way he's going to help.

Q: How is this season viewed at home?

RB: I think Brazil is very critical when talking about anything. If Kuerten is winning he's fantastic, if he's not winning he's not playing well it's just like that. It's not something in between, you don't have the support all the time when you need it but so far they are looking at the position as 'four races to go, Rubens might have a chance to win so let's support him'. But during the year there were times when I thought that they shouldn't have said so many things because they cause so much stress around and I think the public doesn't deserve that. I think that the public are there just to cheer it up and sometimes they have false information, which is bad.

Q: To the three drivers, a lot of people are saying the season is flat, it's over, it's boring now. Do you think too much emphasis is placed on the championship given everything else that happens in Formula One.

RB: For me the season has just started. I think it's a great fight that we're still going to have and I saw a lot of people with the number one cap for Michael saying 'Rubens! Rubens!' It's just starting for me.

DC: It's natural that the championship is the focal point but I think the individual Grands Prix offer enough potential excitement. I think it's just you guys rather than the public, because you probably have been doing it so long now you're a bit bored of it all.

RS: I always felt the driver championship is the most important in Formula One. I think the season has lost some interest, that's quite obvious. We all think - not particularly Michael - but we would have liked to have it open until the end, there's definitely more interest. But for us since we try to finish second - or Rubens desperately tries to finish second! - I'm sure it is interesting for us.

Q: Ralf, do you have one new car here or two, and if one who gets to drive it?

RS: First of all I'm allowed to drive this car, it's amazing, and I thank the team for its decision! Second in the drivers' championship doesn't mean anything to Williams, they are more interested in the constructors' championship, which I understand. So it doesn't really matter who is in front so long as I score the points.

Q: Niki, Bobby has said that you and he have very different management styles. Can you talk about that, and how long ago did the team start to think that things weren't working out?

NL: Well Bobby was a different managing style. I have my 'Austrian' one if you want to say so, and I've done a lot of changes, certainly. But basically it's not so difficult a decision Bobby took in a way because it was in accordance with all of us. Basically he had two businesses: one in the United States and one here. But Formula One, our performance isn't really what it should be. It needs a lot of work, so he decided his priority is in the United States, so he had a very peaceful departure. Nevertheless we will continue with my 'Austrian' way of doing my work.

Q: To follow up, won't your duties to Cosworth and Pi take away from your role with Jaguar?

NL: I have to take priorities, and the priority is that Cosworth and Pi work for Jaguar Racing. So in the end the results in the races count here in our company. So Bobby isn't here now and if nobody is somebody has to do it and I'm prepared to do it so what you do is set priorities and concentrate on Jaguar Racing to the end of the year and then see how we reconstruct the whole management.

Q: Ralf you have said that you don't particularly like this circuit - I'd like to ask the drivers when a circuit changes from challenging to dangerous.

RS: I've never made a big deal out of it because I thought that Eau Rouge was dangerous but because of the run off. We've had big accidents there before and it's barely hurt people but we get told that it's too difficult to change the run off there. In my opinion it's not enough for a corner like that.

Q: Niki, in your experience is it more important to finish second in the championship or win the races?

NL: Everybody's here to win races. If then the result is to be second, fine, but I think everybody wants to win. That automatically brings you forward, so it's not a point of who's second or third - they're here to win and it's going to be an interesting weekend.

Published at 15:39:34 GMT

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