Atlas F1 News Service

Thursday-Five Press Conference - European GP

Thursday June 21st, 2001

Today's press conferenceParticipating: Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Ralf Schumacher (Williams), Peter Sauber (Sauber) and Pat Symonds (Benetton).

Q: Can you just clarify you job this year, Pat?

Pat Symonds: These days, Formula One teams are becoming very large organisations , very complex organisations, and of course a Formula One company is very much an engineering company. We made the decision at Benetton, along with some other teams, that really the technical management of the team was getting such a complex issue that it really was something that needed splitting up, so myself and Mike (Gascoyne)now are sharing responsibilities throughout the organisation of how we really direct the engineering. Of course I am still specialising on the actual racing side of it, but still involved in other areas as well.

Q: Are the new bits which are due soon, engine or chassis-related?

PSy: You don't suddenly dream up something overnight. Like all cars, we're continually developing it but certainly at Magny Cours we have got some developments on the engine that have come together in quite a nice little package. There are some aerodynamic developments coming along as there are at every race, but we are hoping for a reasonable improvement in the engine for the next race.

Q: How much does the chassis need a boost?

PSy: A lot. Until you are continually on pole and winning races, the whole package is not good enough. We really need to get everything working. There's not one area we can single out and say this is where is the car is defective. I think we've suffered a lot this year from not being able to do as many test miles as we'd like and therefore the general development of the chassis is lagging behind where I would expect to be at this time of the year. But the whole package needs to be improved and I think that's pretty obvious to everyone.

Q: But it is basically behind in terms of test miles?

PSy: Very much so. The test miles that we've completed at this stage of the season are about 30 per cent of where we would normally be at this stage of the season. A long way behind.

Q: Herr Sauber, how is Nick Heidfeld?

Peter Sauber: Yes. Nick has done all the necessary checks at the hospital and with the doctor and he is very prepared for the race, and you will see him at free practice on Friday.

Q: What was basically the problem with him?

PSa: I think the problem was his headache after the accident in Montreal.

Q: When it comes to the success that your team has had this year, how much do you put that down to the service you've had from Ferrari?

PSa: Of course the engine is one part of the package, but in the end it is the whole package, the new car, it's much closer to the limit and of course the drivers have made a big step forward.

Q: You must have been very pleased with the way the drivers have performed, especially two young and new drivers, who came in for some criticism...

PSa: Yes. I understand about Kimi. Kimi was a kind of risk. It wasn't so easy to see clearly how good he could be. Nick wasn't a risk. Nick had a very good career behind him: Formula Three, Formula 3000. A lot of mileage with McLaren and also what he experienced with Prost in Formula One.

Q: You announced a new sponsor today; you always said that once you had Credit Suisse, more sponsors would follow. What is the health of the team at the moment?

PSa: Not good enough. We have a very small budget. Maybe the teams around us have 50 to 100 per cent more budget. At every test, other teams test with two cars, maybe three cars: one car for the engine development, or tyres. Ok, we don't need an engine development car, because we have an old but a very good engine.

Q: Heinz-Harald, what's your state of health?

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: I feel fine, I'm alright, yes thank you. As you know I had concussion in Montreal in practice on Friday. Right after the crash, I didn't realise but in the evening I got more and more headaches, so I decide not to race in Montreal. I had some tests with the doctors and fortunately it was only concussion, but it wasn't concussion, and Sid (Watkins - FIA Medical Delegate) said that I should take a rest and watch the testing at Silverstone from the pool.

I have to go and see Sid Watkins again after this press conference to do another test.

Q: What are your feelings about the team this year; there have been a lot of problems, a lack of reliability.

HHF: Unfortunately yes. We started the season well, but then we had some difficulties with our launch control and afterwards some other reliability problems, which put us back a little bit and some other teams overtook us, but I'm pretty confident that we get our technical difficulties under control again and I'm pretty confident that we will get back on track.

There have always been ups and downs at Jordan since I joined. We have been up there and down there but at the moment we are suffering with a down but I don't see why we shouldn't go up again.

Q: Stories about your contracts; the story was originally that you had to make up your mind after Montreal, now it is after this race. Could you clarify the situation?

HHF: Unfortunately for you guys, I'm not allowed to tell you details of the contract but let's put it this way, I joined the Jordan team in 1999 and we had some good success and I think that I will continue with Jordan in the future.

Q: Ralf, how was the party at Kerpen last night?

Ralf Schumacher: We've had this for the last five years, or four years since I joined Formula One, that 12 to 5 is my team and six to three in the morning is Ferrari and that's what we did yesterday. The intention at the end was to let them race against one another but my father didn't want it. The circuit looks so nice and the karts were brand new, so it was decided to have them separate.

Q: What the circuits where Michelin should go particularly well?

RS: You should ask Michelin that. It's a pretty of a guess from circuit to circuit what they bring and how it works. At Montreal, on Saturday lunchtime, the tyres decided to work properly as the temperatures went up. Here at the Nurburgring, as we all know, it could snow tomorrow morning, so it's a bit of a guess. It's not really a tyre problem, this is aerodynamically a more challenging circuit than Montreal ever was.

Q: Did you test with the brake lights at Silverstone?

RS: Everybody had the brake lights, I must say it was good. It looked a bit strange to begin with but you get used to it pretty quick. It is an advantage, definitely. It tells you if some other driver decides to brake a bit earlier and gives you an additional chance to react. It's a good idea. We should have policemen on the circuit as well to direct you.

Q: Michael, what are your views?

Michael Schumacher: There's no reason why we shouldn't have brake lights. It's pretty simple to have them and it certainly can help in critical circumstances.

Q: What about the HANS device?

MS: It's still a bit far away. We made quite a big effort to get it adapted to my body. You can't take one HANS system and give it to the 22 drivers, it will not fit. Even though we have adapted it to me, as it is quite a solid piece and you move around in the car, and you're not in 100 per cent the same position, it's still not there yet.

Q: When you think of the accidents in Montreal, do you think the HANS would have helped?

MS: I saw some of the accidents and seeing the... Heinz-Harald went backwards into the wall, Nick went sideways into the wall, I don't think the HANS system would have made a huge difference. It's more for frontal impact, very like what I had in Silverstone, where the HANS device can support you. I don't think it would have done anything in these kind of accidents, actually.

Q: What are your feelings about this race?

MS: I look forward to it, we always look forward to our home race, the three of us. We have a car which works well on each character of circuit so I guess we will have a good opportunity.

Q: How did the party go for Ferrari last night?

MS: Good. For the first time we combined the two circuits. We have an outdoor circuit and an indoor circuit and for the first time we combined the two and all the guys were very happy and made about it, they enjoyed themselves. They were quite exhausted in the end. Luckily they didn't break anything. We talked about it beforehand and we had the black flag ready which put them back a little bit because you know the Italian temperament, sometimes it can go a little bit far, but it was a great event and everybody was excited.

Q: I understand your engineer Luca Baldisserri won, were you engineering him?

MS: No, he was really pushing for this, because he's a keen strategist for all this, and after he won, I said 'come here, I need to tell you something. We've found a problem and you're going to be disqualified...' No, they are very enthusiastic for this it is good fun to see them like that but certainly it wasn't anything to do with me.

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