Thursday June 7th, 2001
Participating: Enrique Bernoldi (Arrows), David Coulthard (McLaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Craig Pollock (BAR) and Bobby Rahal (Jaguar).
Q: First of all, do you feel that the performance from Monaco can be reproduced in the following races?
Bobby Rahal: Well, we'll see won't we. Obviously Monaco was a great event for us. Eddie did a very good job I thought. The team did a good job. What relevance that will have to here or the rest of the year is a bit unknown at this stage. We tested at Magny-Cours, the test went reasonably well, but again you hate to draw too many conclusions from any one specific test or what have you. We feel probably much better about our possibilities here after Monaco than we would have say a month ago or two months ago. Until we really get going, you hate to make too many statements one way or the other.
Q: What's the situation regarding Adrian Newey as it stands now?
BR: The situation is now different from what was reported the other day. Naturally our legal team is pursuing all options at this stage. We have a Queen's Counsel has declared it a binding commitment and so we feel we have a contract of sorts, whatever the terminology that you want to use, it's legally binding. I guess we probably we haven't seen the end of this story for some time. Stay tuned.
Q: What's the next move?
BR: Our legal team is pursuing various options at this point in time and we'll see what happens over the course of the next several months, probably.
Q: Can you be more precise about what he has or hasn't signed?
BR: I don't want to get into the semantics, but it is a legally binding agreement, very specific in detail. That probably best describes it.
Q: How long had you been working to get Adrian?
BR: Probably since I showed up on the scene as you might imagine.
Q: So you don't want to let go?
BR: I don't think we should.
Q: Do you feel that engineers' contracts should be looked at by the contract recognition board, as drivers' contracts are?
BR: We talked about it in Austria. There's an interesting quote here from Ron. Basically he said "It does not matter how big a company is, or whether it's an employer or an employee. When you enter in a contract agreement, or an agreement that is effectively a contract, they should honour it unless the parties agree to end it or change it. Those are the only circumstances in which it is correct." And I really couldn't agree more with that, as you might imagine. I think it makes some sense. But it's difficult to know whether you can do that or not, because it's a free market.
That quote was specifically about the Brunner situation where Paul Stoddart is quite upset because he's in the middle of a contract. That's different to this(our situation). This was following on at the cessation of an existing agreement a new agreement, and I do think that there should probably be an arbitration board or what you have to determine these things but again, legally, I don't know in the end whether that would have much jurisdiction or not, as to what could actually happen. But certainly I think Ron said it best.
Q: Craig, as an employer, what are your feelings about it?
Craig Pollock: I can remember Ron saying these words. I think you should respect contracts. I think if you sign a document, it should be respected all the way through. I think as an employer, I would expect my employees to do that, and you tend to treat people the way you expected to be treated.
Q: Honda have said that they want to concentrate on one team; have they said that specifically to you; what's the situation? Are you worried about it?
CP: I think both teams should be slightly worried about it but no, they haven't said anything specifically to me on that subject and obviously they have a binding contract. Until at least the end of next year. I haven't asked Jordan how long their contract is, or Honda.
Q: Can you give us more details about your appeal, why it was turned down?
CP: The FIA very specifically said that there wasn't conclusive evidence to prove that there was a passing move made. We have to accept that. We put forward what we thought was a very very good case and trying to prove, scientifically, that one car had passed the other before the green flag. Our understanding is that the yellow flag zone starts at the yellow flag and terminates at the green flag. The FIA have looked at the footage and have deemed otherwise, so we will respect the decision of the FIA but it leaves open the case of what are they going to do if David Coulthard is behind Michael Schumacher, can he pull up alongside Michael Schumacher under yellow?
Q: How important is this race for you?
CP: It's probably the biggest race of the year for British American Racing, obviously with Jacques being Canadian and all the Canadians being behind him. But I think it's like any other race, we're just here to do our best. Unfortunately up until now, our best hasn't been good enough so let's just hope the changes are going to be there.
Q: Enrique. First of all, how much support have you had from journalists, the team, colleagues after the last race?
Enrique Bernoldi: I would say that I had 100 per cent support from my team, and I got a lot of support from the media and the people. I think that the race that I did was what I was supposed to do. I was not blocking, I was concentrating on my race and Monaco is a very difficult circuit on which to overtake. That's why my chance was much higher to stay in front of David because I think on another circuit he would pass me straightaway because I was not so fast there. I would say that I have had quite a lot of support and I think that in my opinion, I did what I had to do.
Q: What about the situation that you were told to stay there for television purposes, so that your car would appear on TV for the sponsors?
EB: No. Nobody said anything about this to me. I was in a racing situation and I just was concentrating to do my own speed. My own speed was much slower than David but Monaco is a difficult circuit on which to overtake. I was not there to be on television. I was there to do my race and to do my job.
Q: How much did you feel threatened after the race by McLaren's team principals?
EB: I came out of the car and I was a little bit tired. You know, 78 laps of Monaco, for me 76, it was not so easy and during the early stages, I had a lot of pressure, almost one hour of pressure from David so I was a little bit tired. So when I came back from the scales. Two people like Ron Dennis and Norbert Haug came to talk to me. I didn't really understand what they meant, you know, because I was doing my job. I spoke with David on Tuesday and for him now it's OK, so I didn't understand what they meant saying these things to me.
Q: Did you feel threatened by them?
EB: I think it was not nice. I am a racing driver. I'm doing a sport here and I didn't do anything wrong, otherwise I would have been disqualified and I think that people shouldn't come and say those things to a driver who is just starting in the sport and trying to build his career in Formula One.
Q: As someone who wasn't involved in the incident at Monaco, at what point does a driver stop do what he's paid to do and let another driver past?
Michael Schumacher: I think Enrique did, as he said, everything right. He wasn't doing anything against the rules. If I would have been in the situation, for sure I would have been somewhat frustrated as well, but then that's the way it is. Sometimes you have to accept these circumstances, when you can't pass the driver in front then you can't do it. There is no need to have fifty per cent of people against Enrique because there is nothing again him. He did everything he was allowed to do and the FIA is there to judge whether it's right or it's wrong. They judged it fine and therefore I don't see the argument. When I heard, only two or three days after the race, that Enrique was approached by team principal then I had no understanding for that honestly because they should know the rules and they should act by the rules and not do what was done.
Q: Coming up to half season last year, it almost seems as though you've had a harder time this year than last year. To what extent do you put that down to? It seems Formula One is less stable than it was this time last year?
MS: That may be your point of view. My point of view is slightly different honestly. At the beginning of the season last year, we weren't able to pull away like we did this year. If you look at Zeltweg last year, we were too slow although this year we were challenging them(McLaren) but due to strategy we lost the race even though we were maybe faster. If I look at the consistency, I would say that we were much better off this year honestly, and much more competitive. I don't the reliability statistics but I think we're looking pretty good there as well. But it is tight. But it was tight last year in the first races. We profited from McLaren not being reliable basically.
Q: And then the third quarter was the bad one for you really; how aware of that as we come up to that situation?
MS: You know you always have your good moments and bad moments in a 17 race season and they come whenever they are supposed to come. The first one we had in Imola but it won't be the last one. To some degree David has been lucky in finishing all the races, although he has been unlucky twice not to take off from the grid. In the end it levels out to some degree.
Q: You've finished ever single race in the points but you've had these problems with launch control. Once again, we ask if you're confident it's now going to work?
David Coulthard: The problem in Monaco wasn't actually launch control, it was an engine management something or other. I don't know the technicalities of it all but Barcelona was launch control and Monaco was just unfortunate. As I've said before, of all hundreds of starts I've done using this system, I've only had three failures. One was in testing and two have been in racing. That's just a bit unlucky but we've tested extensively again with the system and we're fully confident we've cured both the problems.
Q: Now we've heard about the possibility of Adrian Newey moving to Jaguar at some stage. How does that affect a drive? Does a driver follow an engineer?
DC: I think that as a driver you look at the whole package. It's not just a designer, it's the engine, it's the tyres, the budget the team has, it's a whole host of things. If you look at all of those factors, you don't have to be a brain surgeon to work out there's a couple of teams that are better positioned than the others. But it's not on my mind at this moment in time, sitting back and enjoying the soap opera that you'll all create and we'll see what the outcomes is at the end.
Q: At one point I'd heard that you'd call Enrique an idiot for what happened at Monaco, and at another I'd heard you call him quite a good little driver who didn't make mistakes; which is the case?
DC: I did call him an idiot. I never said he was quite a good little driver, no one asked me that question. As it happens I do think he's a good driver and I think he's doing what he should be doing which is to go racing. To qualify why I called him an idiot is because I felt that he was weaving on the track in a way that as a group of drivers we agreed you don't do. There was a couple of occasions on the track - and only I can judge this and you can take my word for it - that I felt were outside the agreement that we have as drivers. As to him holding his position and going racing, that's fine, that's what we're all there to do and I respect him for doing that and I do feel for him that he's got so much flak for doing that. But as an issue between us as drivers, and something that concerns us all in the GPDA, I think it's important that new drivers understand the rules of which we go racing. If you don't have rules, then it becomes a much more dangerous place for us all to race and I felt there were a couple of occasions where he went beyond that, and I think he has to learn from that because it might not be who is behind him the next time, it might be someone else and it results in an accident which could injure a driver. That's the main issue.
Q: Craig, once upon a time there was a great world champion called Jacques Villeneuve and you were his manager. Since then you and he have ended your personal management arrangements and Jacques went off to join a dead-end team unable to meet any of the sporting commitments that it made to the sponsors and the press and even to Jacques himself. If you were his personal manager again, what advice would you give him to get back in contention for the world championship?
CP: The first thing is to respect his contract. Obviously he has to keep his eyes open the whole time and do what is absolutely right. At 30 years old he's a big boy and he can make his own decisions. If he doesn't feel that he has the package today to fight in races competitively then obviously he has to think about it, but it's not me as a manager of an adult that's going to tell him what to do.
Q: Craig, his contract says that if you're not in the first three as a manufacturer then he can walk out, he's said he would do that - are you worried because it doesn't look as though you're going to be third this year.
CP: To be third in the world championship we have to beat Williams, we have to be in front of Jordan. We are behind Jordan, we are behind Williams, I think the car is competitive enough to get up there, we are going to improve it - it's up to us to do our job. Our job is to actually try and give the drivers the best car we can both competitive and safety wise. We are a young team. We are just getting into our third season and, when we started, we were competing against the Minardis, Williams, McLaren - now we're competing against Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari... it has changed and it's going to get harder for all the teams, it's not just us. It's going to get harder for Jordan, it's going to get harder for Jaguar - everybody's putting in extra effort so to answer the question have we done a good job I don't think we've done a bad job to get us up there in such a short time. We've done, actually, a very, very good job but the job is still not good enough to beat the bigger teams.
Q: Bobby, with regard to Adrian Newey's services, what kind of motivation do you think can be expected of someone who has taken a step back on his decisions and only after a long dispute?
BR: You've got to remember our contract didn't start until the McLaren contract ended, which is not until the end of July next year so there's quite a bit of time between now and then. And seeing just how much changes in the matter of about 12 hours, I imagine that in 14 months a lot can change in that period of time. To speculate on motivations and situations between now and then, you could do that ad infinitum and you would probably speculate incorrectly anyway so we've got a long way to go between now and then.
Q: David and Enrique - David, where in your opinion was Enrique weaving at Monaco and Enrique, do you think you were weaving?
DC: I can answer his question first of all, I'm sure he'll say 'no'. As you go up the hill after turn 1 he let past... I think it was Rubens... I got my nose in alongside him and I think he would say that the circuit isn't straight as you go up the hill but to me it was a definite deliberate move of which he couldn't be sure exactly where I was and that's something I think we've all agreed as drivers that we shouldn't do. You can't know exactly where another car is so you shouldn't make a sudden change of direction. We're not trying to take away the racing aspect, we're just trying to make it as safe as possible so we can all have as much enjoyment and success as we can and we can go home at the end of it. The other place was at Mirabeau and obviously I tried repeatedly there. I have no problem with him trying to defend his position but there was an occasion when I actually had the front of my car inside him and he still cut to the inside. I think in another situation with another driver that situation could have resulted in an accident which could have flipped him upside down. That's my only concern for that, not that he was racing because that's what we're paid to do.
EB: Up the hill the circuit isn't straight and he came and put his nose on my rear wheel so I had to get the line to go straight. And in Mirabeau it was as he said, he came with the nose on the inside but at one stage I had to turn as well otherwise I touch the rubber on the outside and I crash. I was late on the turning but he was not alongside me. I had to turn in to go through the corner.
Q: Bobby, you used to have a friendship with Adrian Newey, how much are you personally disappointed with recent matters?
BR: I think that friendship is always based on trust and good faith and obviously I personally feel that those have been severely damaged in this situation but you know this isn't a case of being a jilted lover, I'm a big boy and life has its ups and downs. Sure there's a disappointment in a personal sense but that's life and you go on
Q: With these calls for a recognition board to start looking at personnel contracts, why does such a board have jurisdiction over a driver contract and not for another team member?
BR: You have the rule of law in each country, I don't know why you need a contract recognition board. A contract is a contract is a contract and to have a contract recognition board only tells you who has got the contract, the term totally identifies what the job description of that board but if you're in England the laws of that country, England, apply. I don't think you need to have some sort of body out there and I'm not sure if it has any real kind of jurisdiction anyway. If it really ever got pressed would it really have any jurisdiction over the laws of any specific country, and I think that might be arguable.
CP: I think the contracts recognition board is really an agreement between the team drivers and the team principals and if they all agree to respect it then it works and it's an independent party, it's not a party of the FIA, it's just a place where you register a contract so that the terms of the contract are known by an independent body. Whether it would work for other team members, I just don't see it and certainly in Europe there's no way that it would be accepted.
Q: Craig and Bobby, this was always a special race because on the Wednesday the crowd came out and had a look at the cars. Because you covered everything up that didn't happen yesterday that didn't happen. How do you feel about that?
CP: Covered up what?
Q: People can't see the cars, the open day for the fans was cancelled.
CP: I think we're getting to the stage in Formula One where it's ridiculous and we're showing nothing. You go into the pit lane in Monaco and what are we doing? Are we putting on a show? Because that's what we're meant to be doing, what the sponsors want to do, they want to see these cars, they want to see Formula 1 cars and not a tent put over them.
BR: I would agree. Everything we can do to promote interest in the sport, like free Wednesdays, we should do it because I think someone's forgetting what we're all about here.
Q: David, is there too much made by people wanting the team principal saying that they will put all their weight behind one driver?
DC: I think I've got every opportunity at McLaren to go for Grand Prix wins but it's not something I go to Ron to discuss - or Mika. How can worrying about what is a competitor initially help me get the best out of myself and the car and the people who have to work on making it as fast as possible. I just channel my energy towards things that I can influence rather than decisions made by other people. I don't know if there's too much made of it or not, it's part of our sport so it's inevitable that there are going to be questions asked about it.
Q: David, you've been here in Montreal since Saturday, is that part of your preparations for this race?
DC: I came out on Saturday to Jacques' restaurant opening. As I turned up a little bit late I didn't get the chance to try the food, but it's obviously popular because when I tried to book a table I was declined but it looks great... he has some great looking waitresses. TO be honest I've just been training and keeping a low profile in my hotel room and enjoying the four-poster.
Q: David, do you think McLaren has an advantage in terms of fuel consumption?
DC: I think we do but we'll find out when we get to the races when you really hang it out to the maximum. At the moment it looks like we have a significant advantage.
Q: Michael, I would like to know your opinion on the driving between David and Enrique from your role as the president of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association.
MS: I'm not the president of the GPDA.
DC: He's just 'The President'.
MS: We have these meetings to discuss these things between each other and I think we had a good meeting in Monaco and for sure we will have another meeting to talk these things through and I think we should have these meetings between us. It causes less aggravation.
Q: Team principals, the position of Adrian Newey is now a legal matter but what is the role of the FIA in this? It seems that the sport has possibly been brought into disrepute over this, can the FIA rule on it or take action?
CP: The FIA is a governing body but it's got nothing to do with the employees of somebody else's company so I don't think they would have anything to say.
BR: I think Craig's right, I don't think that the FIA has any rights to become involved in situations like this - perhaps they might do it in public but I don't think that they have any right to jurisdiction or to mitigate or to create some kind of body to determine this outcome one way or another.