Atlas F1 News Service

Friday-Six Press Conference - European GP

Friday June 22nd, 2001

Participating: Pedro De La Rosa (Jaguar), Nick Heidfeld (Sauber), Jos Verstappen (Arrows), Norbert Haug (Mercedes), Katzutoshi Nishizawa (Honda) and Mario Theissen (BMW).

Q: Mr Nishizawa, would you be happy to lower the engine capacity in Formula One?

Katzutoshi Nishizawa: From the safety standpoint, Honda would agree to reduce engine power by reducing engine capacity to 2.5 litres.

Q: We've heard a lot about Honda deciding on one of their two teams; can you tell us the situation?

KN: I don't understand why this rumour is circulating. We will supply both teams next year. In fact we presented our 2002 engine to both teams in Malaysia and we already have had several meetings with them. We never planned to drop either team.

Q: Norbert, your feelings about engine capacity.

Norbert Haug: Our feelings are that we don't need to change anything because it doesn't contribute to lap times that much, not contribute to safety issues. If we need to lower the lap times, this is a permanent process but I think the engine cannot contribute a lot really and we should stay as we are. That is our view on that issue. If the goal is to do one second slower lap times for example, I think you need to completely change the engine. On the other hand, I think it is important that a Formula One engine is something really special. It's just not possible to have an eight cylinder, no way, in my view, in Mercedes Benz' view, Daimler Chrysler's view. The ten cylinder formula is OK, it's the same for everybody. If you go down with the capacity by half a litre or whatever, it doesn't change a lot really, so we have to find other solutions.

Q: You've had some reliability issues recently, how much of a worry are they?

NH: I think it is always a worry. If you speak to my colleague, I don't think anybody in the top teams can guarantee you that you're going to finish with two cars which is our goal. If you look back at last year, we were the most reliable team. We're going to come back to that standard, I have no doubt about it, and we were not unfortunate, we were just not capable of getting the job done, that's it, and we were not capable of starting from pole at Monaco, which is really something that you don't want to have. But a strong team can cope with these issues and I think that is the important point. I think it would be wrong to think that we will continue like we have in the last races. We should have won more, we only won two but maybe we can turn it around right now. We have three very strong teams at the moment which is good for you guys to write about and for the media. It doesn't make life easy for us but we have great battles on the race track and we have a good relationship with each and it's especially very good for the German car manufacturers. That's the way it works. I'm quite pleased with it.

Q: Dr Theissen, what are your feelings about engine capacity?

Dr Mario Theissen: We think to reduce engine capacity would probably be the most expensive way to slow down the cars, but more importantly, it would primarily slow down the cars on the straight and if you look at the accidents that we've had in the past year, I think none of them was depending on the top speed on the straight. So I don't think it's the right way. I have to say that Formula One is the top motor sport category. It should have not just the quickest cars, but also the strongest engines. It's called Formula One, not Formula Sorry.

Q: Obviously you've had good results, but unreliability as well. How much of a problem is that?

MT: Four finishes out of 16 starts certainly isn't something to be satisfied with. On the other hand, 28 points out of four finishes is quite good, so it shows the performance is OK. We now have to focus on the reliability of the whole package, it's not just the engine of course, and on concentration during the race. I hope we will do more than four finishes in the second half of the season.

Q: Pedro, has that point in Canada changed things for you?

Pedro de la Rosa: No, not really. It's very good to score a point, especially to finish a race. For Jaguar, it was my first finish, and also if you take the last races that I did for Arrows last year and the beginning of this year for Jaguar, I don't remember seeing the chequered flag for a long time, so it was good to finish and thanks to Jos who did a good job for me I scored one point which is good. But basically the good think was to be quite competitive in Canada and finishing the race.

Q: Are you right back into racing mode now, or were you never out of it?

PdelaR: Yes. It hasn't really been an issue, coming back. It hasn't really taken me a long time to get back into it. The only problem probably is that I didn't do as well as I personally expected but there were many reasons for that. When you're a racing driver, especially when you do two years in Formula One, you are really back on top of it after two laps.

Q: Nick, first of all how are you - because you had to go home from Silverstone last week?

Nick Heidfeld: I'm fine now, I went to a couple of doctors after the Silverstone test and there was nothing serious, just some stretched muscles, so I rested for a couple of days and now I'm fine.

Q: In some ways this is your home race but it hasn't always been kind to you in the past.

NHe: Not always but last year I didn't participate so this will be my first Grand Prix here. I twice had bad luck here in Formula 3000, both times it really was a mistake by the team - I had the wrong fuel and would have started from pole position and that ruined my chances in the championship in the first year. Last year we were two kilos underweight and so I was disqualified from the start of the race but I also had some success here in Formula 3, Formula Ford and also in 3000 with pole positions so I quite like this circuit.

Q: Jos, we see a lot of you charging through the field at the start of a race - part of that is due to the lightness of the car I think - but also a certain amount due to yourself. What's it like?

Jos Verstappen: Busy! A lot of fighting to gain as many places as you can but I think everybody is trying that. I must say we're quite good on that but as well, like you say, we are light on fuel the last couple of races. That makes it a bit easier. I just try to get a good start and see where a gap is where you dive in and see if you can gain any places. Lately it is going well, in a race it is more competitive than in qualifying and that helps as well.

Q: Pedro, you were a test driver for the team - how much is it hurting Jaguar now, not having a full-time test driver?

PdelaR: For me it's not a disadvantage because one of the things I said when I joined the race team was I wanted to do all the tests possible. I like testing and especially coming in a bit late I thought the more milage I could do the more I would understand the car and the team, especially with the Michelin tyres so for me there's not a problem, I think you should ask Eddie. From a team point of view obviously we need a test driver not only especially for testing but also if one of us has a problem, but that's not a thing I would take a decision on.

Q: Norbert, is there any news on driver contracts?

NH: Nothing I can tell you, we are working on it but don't expect any surprises. We are in the process and that's it basically, as soon as we can we will tell you. It's the end of June, I think we have no hurry.

Q: Norbert and Mario, do you ever plan to supply two teams?

MT: We don't plan to, we are quite happy with the situation we are in. My own personal view is that only if you co-operate with one team can you achieve the overall optimum package of car/engine so I would see it as a disadvantage to supply more than one team on an equal basis.

NH: Our view is quite the same. We are not in a position to supply two teams - having said that I think it is very important that there are manufacturers supplying more than one team. I think that what Ferrari is doing leasing last year's engine to two teams definitely helps Formula One, but we are not in a position to do so.

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