Saturday March 31st, 2001
Participating: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Luciano Burti (Jaguar), Enrique Bernoldi (Arrows), Tarso Marques (European Minardi), Eddie Jordan (Jordan) and Flavio Briatore (Benetton)
Q: I'm sure that the drivers and the press and Flavio in particular would like to congratulate Eddie Jordan on reaching the ripe old age of whatever it is... 54? 53?
Eddie Jordan: I won't respond to such arrogance! Flavio's very welcome to wish me a happy birthday. We had a nice drink on the plane, we talked about how we were going to take over Formula One together and we're friends for this meeting.
Flavio Briatore: Are we sleeping together?
EJ: I still love him, only because he has a very high quality in girlfriends.
Q: Eddie I was told there were girls dancing for you in the garage but you didn't take any notice of them - perhaps you perhaps you had far too many drinks on the plane?
EJ: It was a little bit - Flavio told me that at my age you have to pace yourself. And I have a big promise for tonight at the sponsor's dinner so he told me to be careful today because you need an extra Viagra in the middle of the day for the heart.
FB: That is correct.
Q: Is that your secret, Flavio?
Q: How many pills per day then?
EJ: Blue suit, blue pills, no problem for Flavio!
FB: Can we start?
Q: I think we already have! Eddie, a little comment perhaps about David Coulthard today, amazingly quick.
EJ: It's very nice to see Ron rattled because he took the fuel out for sure but we'll know tomorrow. I've never known Ron suffer this kind of pressure before - maybe Ferrari is getting to him.
Q: And DC being so quick?
EJ: DC is not going to be one second quicker than everyone else tomorrow so we'll see who has the fuel in or not I think.
Q: Now one person sitting just ahead of you is Rubens Barrichello, who was one of your drivers a few years ago, how do you reckon he's getting on?
EJ: Ah, Rubinho! I remember when Rubens came to my kitchen table at 19 and sat in front of me and we, at Jordan, we needed somebody like Rubens who was quick, who was a good person, who had some money-
FB: A lot of money.
EJ: Flavio not so much. Flavio likes the money! We don't do things for money, we only do things for talent AND money but Rubens was a great - he was four years, probably our longest-ever driver in Jordan. But he's now in Ferrari so we don't see so much of him and that's sad.
Q: One of your drivers saw a little bit of him in Australia I think!
EJ: I'm not getting into that, that's between those two. They can sort themselves out, they're all big boys.
Q: These days - you've also run Michael Schumacher, he's your ex-driver as well - do you reckon Rubens can challenge Michael?
EJ: I think Rubens is very honest, he came out a couple of times in the press and, you know, said at the moment he's a serious contender but Michael is in a different league. And, you know, it's very hard for a professional person - whether you own a team or whether you're a driver or whether you're a mechanic or whether you are an engineer - to accept that we all have to raise our game if we are going to beat Michael Schumacher, make no mistake. And you can all believe and think that something is better than it is but when you're convinced of it every other weekend then it's time you faced reality. The guy is sensational. He is - from what I can see - Michael is a nicer, better person than he was before, he's much more relaxed and he seems to be going quicker so it's going to be difficult to see how someone's going to beat him very quickly.
Q: Flavio, you knew him pretty well in the past as well, what do you think of his performance at the moment?
FB: I believe it is Michael Schumacher performance. For the moment he is the best, maybe he's not the quick one but sure he is leading the race fetter than anybody. For sure if he take any advantage he take it. Very few mistake and he's always there, you know? He's never give up being, still, being very, very concentrated. And that is really what you have. And the team is around him. This is important as well, he has support completely from the team and it's the right package.
Q: Flavio, things are a bit quiet at Benetton at the moment, are you a bit quiet as well?
EJ: Aahh, Flavio!
FB: You know like in the meantime...
EJ: Last year he said to me 'Eddie - I send a taxi in the circuit to pick you up to bring you to see me.' We'll wait to see who has the taxi next year.
FB: But this is only the beginning of the season.
EJ: I will come and see him don't worry.
FB: I believe that Renault take very courageous step and Fisichella tested in Barcelona the old car - we are two second quicker even on the new one. But you know is question that breaking some technical situation in Formula One now. This is what we try. When Renault started the turbo everybody laughing. Renault start V10 everybody tell is the compromise, is never be right, and then in the end everybody had the 10 and now we start this new situation, take a little bit of time, we tell everybody Renault come back in Formula One 2002 was one reason. Because we know exactly what we need go through to perform and after that then I send two taxi to Eddie. Maybe one. A yellow cab.
EJ: Yellow submarine.
Q: Flavio, as a representative, as you are, of a major car company are you worried about the promotion of Formula One at the moment because that is something that's a little bit murky at the start of the season?
FB: I believe like everybody else in the team we worry. Look like it is - you know some time when the business go well the big mistake is not improving the business. Is a lot of competition in sport. Is a lot of good events world-wide. We know the pay TV in this moment is not so happy with us because losing money. And I believe we seriously need do something because I believe our event is still fantastic. But I'm sure we need do something in this moment because is a little bit abandoned and this is what all the investment we have in Formula One - the new manufacturers coming every day - we need to have healthy business but as well we need more promotional work than we are doing. I see today the pits, that was pretty dead. This is, you know, the best event for Brazil and was only mechanics and nobody else basically, you know? The same journalists because you guys follow us. Don't know if you want, but this is what you are doing! But I believe we need improving our image - you know Formula One is not racing only, it's the big event. The big event is racing, fighting between driver, lifestyle, is everything together make the great television viewing. For this we have 300 million people watching us, is not 300 million people watching a boring race, between me and you. Is everything together and at this moment we are doing absolutely nothing to increasing the flavour of Formula One.
Q: Do you agree with that, Eddie?
EJ: Absolutely, because it's very easy to be complacent when things are going okay. And you get confused by the figures that you see and the big interest in Formula One. Every car is properly sponsored. I remember when you used to have to crawl on your knees to find a sponsor. And like what I talked about with Rubens, we helped Rubens but he helped us. This doesn't seem to happen now because all the teams have good sponsors but complacency can be an incredibly dangerous situation. You would think it's easy but suddenly you have a downturn that's going to happen in the United States at the moment, starting with the tech stocks, and it filters through. It has a spiralling effect, sometimes upwards sometimes downwards; we need to be on our guard I promise you.
FB: And the Formula One is not only technology because I'm sure, if you have 300 million people watching the race, I don't think there is five percent who know how many cylinder is in the car. You know? The people know the driver, this is what the people love, but after that I mean is not only technology. The people no care if you have anti-spring, if you have launch control, this is nothing - you know for the general public, for the supporter of Formula One are nothing to do with that. The people looking Formula One because is everything together. Is the driver, is the team, is the performance, is the private jet if you want. Is the helicopter, is the girl, is the star. This is Formula One. Is the one big box with all these ingredient inside and are keeping the keys and we are sometime too arrogant as well. Including the team. And I believe you put a big mistake.
EJ: Well done, Flavio.
Q: Thank you very much. Interesting. Can I come to the three newcomer Brazilians now just to talk about your home race, what it means to you here in Brazil, how many girls you're going to bring along for Flavio tomorrow to increase the glamour - Tarso, perhaps you'll start. What does it mean to you driving here in Brazil, racing here?
Tarso Marques: It's very special because you have a huge support from the press, from the crowd, I feel really good, is a really big pleasure to race in Brazil, in Sao Paulo.
Enrique Bernoldi: Yeah I feel good too. For me is like the second start in Formula One. I had this feeling; similar feeling in Australia when it was my first race and now is the first time in my life that I'm racing cars in Brazil so for me is a special feeling. And to see all the crowd I think can bring even more motivation and more confident for us that we are just beginning.
Q: The first time you've raced a car in Brazil?
EB: Yes, the first time I raced in Interlagos I raced just go-karts beside here.
Q: And Tarso, when did you last race in Brazil?
TM: In 96 with Minardi my first Grand Prix was here.
Q: So Luciano, when did you last race in Brazil?
Luciano Burti: Well my only race Interlagos was in 95, I did a Formula Ford race and then after that one Formula 3 test last year so I have been here before but I don't know it that well for sure I know the kart track really well but I feel like it is like my first time here
Q: So what does it mean for you to be racing here
LB: It's very special for sure. Not long ago, maybe two years ago, three years ago, I was in the grandstand watching the race, you know buying my ticket into the grandstand and cheering for Rubens. You know it's very special, I mean today unfortunately it was not many people but tomorrow for sure it's going to be, the grandstands are going to be pretty full so I think then I will realise how special is it but I have seen before the support for Rubens, the support for Ayrton so I know it is very special. For sure he (Rubens) is the man here, he's going to have most of the attention here but it's still very special for me, Enrique and Tarso so, ,you know, it's a dream coming true for me for sure.
Q: Right well a lot of people have perceived that you've had a difficult start to the season but today you only two tenths of a second slower than Irvine.
LB: I guess that's Formula One. There is no problem inside the team-they are happy with my performance. We did have technical problems in Malaysia and Australia. Even Bobby said we struggled a lot with the brakes in Australia on Friday, Saturday and in the warm up. We just sorted that out for the race. In Malaysia I had an engine that was not good for qualifying, and in the race when I pitted we put 20 kilos too much fuel in the car. So I had a difficult time with that. They are not excuses. But they were tracks I had never been to before. Of course you always want more as a racing driver but I think I've done well enough. The team seems to be happy. This is the first time I drove on track I know even a little bit. Eddie is very experienced. He has won races. He almost won the championship. He is the number one driver on the team. So I just have to my job. I just have to be focused and improve myself and improve the car, and I am pretty sure that I will be okay. So all those gossips and rumors that Pedro (de la Rosa) will replace me do not exist inside the team. Pedro is in the team and he will be racing next year. But this year he is going to help me and Eddie because he will improve the car by testing it.
Q: How do you feel your start to the season has gone, Enrique?
EB: In the first two races I qualified well, okay, especially in Malaysia I was two tenths from my team mate, which is the number one in the team and has much more experience than me. Here today on the first session I did really good, I was 11th, was quite okay but in the afternoon I had little bit of problem with the set-up, when I put on new tyres and went a bit slower. The only problem I had in the two races was that I didn't finish. In Australia I was fighting with Raikkonen and we touched a little bit and I went off. In Malaysia I came on the water, was too much water and I aquaplaned and I spun unfortunately.
Q: So this one you're going to finish?
EB: I hope so.
Q: Tarso, how is the start of the season for you?
TM: Good. The start of the season was really difficult because we did not run my car before we wen there, we did the shakedown at the first session on Friday and we had a lot of problems all weekend. In qualifying we had a lot of braking problems and the car was not braking at the front and fortunately we found out what was wrong with the car just before Malaysia. It was much better straight away, with no problem we qualified a little bit better we did not have any problem to qualify the car and it was shame that the race I think we pitted at the right time when it started to rain and I think that we a tyre a few laps later and we started to lose everything when I lost the tyre it broke the rear diffuser a bit and part of the exhaust part and so we had a lot of problems. That is racing. I am looking forward to this race the first session was much better for us the second d session e chose the wrong way on the set-up and so now I think we should think a little bit change back the changes we did and improve for tomorrow
Q: Thanks, Tarso. Rubens - sorry to keep you waiting. Just a couple of quick questions - your helmet, why have you changed it? Give us the details about ti. How long aware you going to wear it for?
RB: It is just for this race. Basically I since 1995 I tried to do something special with the ehlemt for this race. The aim is to organise something for the person who bought the ticket to come in on Sunday for me to actually finish the race and give the helmet to one of those guys who were in a grandstand. I think Brazil goes through a lot of problems and the guy could not afford a ticket and he just paid for the ticket and it is the minimum thing I can do for them. That was the aim. On top of that I think it is like with Eddie and Flavio were saying, we are losing a bit the spirit of Formula One. I am doing that because I love racing for Brazil. I love being here. You open the newspaper today one part of the newspaper they are both talking about he same thing but one is looking for the bad things that rubens said in the one hour period I was in the place and the other was talking about the genuine thing. The helmet this is just to tell the problem. The guys want to listen to something about F1 about the speed the overtaking but not all the politic side of F1, and that is why I am doing that
Q: Will you have a raffle nor choose a number or something
RB: We are trying top organise something at the entrance where they pick a number or something . I don't want a publicity on that, I just want that the guy felt happy to come here. If I could I would produce 80,000 helmets for that - but it is just a sympathetic way of someone getting a helmet that went through hopefully to the end of the race
Q: You've raced on the circuit before. Your first impressions of the resurfacing... is it less bumpy than it was?
RB: It is less bumpy specially on the pit straight. It is not like Magny-Cours for sure, It is bumpy and I have raced here in much worse condition. This is much better than last year.
Q: Are you surprised at how fast David Coulthard was today?
RB: Yes and no, because if you think for the first session how he was nine-tenths slower than us, and then all of a sudden he is one and half seconds faster than us, so I think Eddie said everything. I do not think he is going to be one second faster than everybody. If both McLaren cars were in the 15.2s or 15,1s or whatever they have done you might get surprised by Coulthard if he was one point six faster than his team mate - which we know is not the case. So I am not surprised.
Q: Your own form in this race has not been fantastic. We won't go into details. How do you approach it? This is the big one for you.
RB: The Brazilian race is quite often at the very beginning. It has always been the first or the second and when you are racing in a team that does not have the chances to produce simulations and do race simulations things like this obviously you are going to suffer in the first races. I do not believe in bad luck. I do not believe that there is bad energy of things like this. All the problems that happened to me were because the races were only beginning and they happened in Brazil and unfortunately that was my home race. Last year I really thought the car would have finished the course but unfortunately I had a problem but it was only the second race of the season and problems will happen and it is towards the beginning that there are more of them.
Q: Do you approach the race any differently or is it just the same
RB: Every year I am getting better. Every year I feel better. My management - I am just controlling myself much better I am feeling good. I think the public is here for all of us. Not just me. I know the guys have an easier time for sure because maybe they are expecting me to win more than them, but they are making it easier for me. I have been there in 1993 and 1994 and if I could not do it, Ayrton was there to do it. I was different than myself but it used to be like that . I am feeling very happy and inside the team we have harmony. The small problem we had - it was really big in the press but it was never like that really - so I am approaching Brazil like never before. It is my best chance to really produce, to produce a really good result.
Q: Thank Rubens. Eddie, what do you think about Toyota entering Formula One and building its own chassis and engine? And how does it compare when you started your own team?
EJ: Toyota has a couple of things different compared to when I started my Formula One team. They have some money I believe, they are quite a reasonable size company! But I would remind Toyota of the thing that Ron Dennis said to me the very first time I started in Formula One. He said: 'Welcome to the piranha club!' I say that to Toyota because it is going to be very tough for them. I don't care how much money they have. I don't care what engineers they get. You have teams like McLaren and Ferrari that have been around for a long time. They are very experienced and difficult to beat. Toyota are in for a shock, in my opinion, when they arrive in Formula One. But I am pleased that Toyota is coming into Formula One. They have some guts to do this because it is not going to be easy.
Q: Flavio and Eddie, interesting comments about Formula One and its image but I'm not quite sure I understand what you're saying, Are you saying that the digital television that we see now is so good and we need to make that accessible to more people? Or are you saying that the world feed that the majority of people see is not as good because of the digital thing or what? Are you saying that the show itself is not good enough?
FB: We were not talking about digital.
Q: But you mentioned the television.
FB: No no no. The picture if you want is very good, is better than before. We're talking about the flavour of Formula One, what Rubens was talking about. You see the pits here, only two years ago was a lot of people here in Brazil. I mean Formula One is a part the lifestyle as well, like technology. This is what we were talking about before.
Q: But isn't the fact that the Brazilians can't see digital television part of the reason for that?
EJ: What he actually said was that the digital TV companies don't like Formula One at the moment because those who have signed up to it are losing money. It's a completely different story to what you're suggesting, which is the core issue of what he talked about. He said that the general impression of Formula One at the moment is not like what we remember - some good, fun people. Remember this is the country that produced probably the best racing drivers, as a group, ever. And that sparkle, that life - and I'm not talking about the drivers but the image of Formula One - was probably the biggest thing in Brazil. And we have to be careful that we are in a market place which needs support and I think what Flavio is saying is that football and other sports are making a better continuous effort to make a better overall show than we are at the moment. And to be honest I would agree with that. It's not difficult to see, we kind of get cocooned in our own garage and look at the people here today. There's not enough people and if they want to come to the press conference on Saturday and Sunday they can only come on the Saturday if they've been on the Friday. Come on it's crazy. There needs to be more interest because it's too easy for journalists to come in the back door of the garage and people who spend the time to come here and willingly come here - it should be in front of the people who want to have these interviews.
Q: They're probably listening upstairs to be fair. They've got European deadlines.
EJ: That may be but they should be here.
FB: You know what I bet with you we go upstairs is nobody.
Q: They'll be up there writing.
FB: Okay, maybe two.
Q: A question for Rubens. When you have the engine malfunction and you jumped out of the car you looked so relaxed. Are you pleased with the work you have done on the set-up - another question, do you think it's possible to drop three or four seconds from the times tomorrow?
RB: I think I looked relaxed because I am relaxed. In a way I came out of the car, there was a malfunction like you said, the engine seized, but I think I'm better prepared for Formula One. Five years ago I was thinking 'oh I lost track time and tomorrow's ' but now I'm thinking that there's no way you can go back. I had my problem, I had my public there in front of me and I had to let them know that I'm happy.
Q: A question to Flavio and Eddie. You say something is missing from F1 at the moment - what is your solution. Should we bring in a Hollywood producer?
EJ: I think before you bring somebody in you have to first acknowledge that there is a problem. It is like accepting that you are sick or not doing a good enough job. I think acceptance is the first thing. This time last year, as Flavio pointed out, in the pits last year on the Friday we had Ronaldo, we had Pele... we had all kinds of other people which are such massively key feature for Brazil. At the moment there is still a huge interest, but there was more press interest about the TV camera falling off the sliding line than there was about anything else in the pits. This to me is completely wrong and it is a pity because, when I was growing up, Brazil was the producer of the best racing drivers in the world. And it also had the image of carnival and a whole lot of other things. It was exciting - you always came to this track a day earlier if you could to feel the flavour and the taste and it is not just Brazil's fault and this is nothing against Brazil. This is every race. People go as late as they can and leave as early as they can. This world is changing and we need to do something difficult before we fall into a trap.
FB:He is really right. The fault is the teams as well because we need blame ourselves as well. We are sometimes too much concentrating on our garage and this is wrong. I put first the team. The team need do much more. Everyone together we need improving. it is not the fault of anybody or somebody it is the fault of all the ambience of F1 at this moment. We are going a bit too far from the people.
Q: You said you might be blamed as well and I agree with that because if you walk down the paddock every garage is blocked there is no way that we can look into the garage so why do you not take that away so that everyone can look inside?
EJ: Can I answer that. I am not passing the blame. I will tell you why, because on Monday you will have each of the top three or four teams with at least one thousand prints of very high level photography of every single part of the opposing person's car. Unless you have some sort of control on the photography of the very good photographers that we have in F1 it's too easy to give away your bit of scientific knowledge or being slightly ahead of the rest and the reason why it is done. I am not passing the blame back the press - it is because the team want those photographs and they will do anything to get them. That is why you have so many photographers on the pitlane when there is a start not the race because all of that information is being relayed digitally or any other way
FB: I agree
EJ: I don't blame the teams on this particular issue, we are all in this together. It is a major fault.
Q: But what about the television cameras, they are allowed into your garage?
EJ: This is static, normal photography, this is not video camera. It is not to the same detail. This is some of the problem - I am not pushing away the blame from the teams. The problem needs to be addressed first by the teams because we are the only ones who can speak with people like Bernie and Max to implement some new code of fairness and conduct in terms of how we present ourselves in front of the garage.
Q: Will you do that?
EJ: It was done in Australia. We were requested by Ron Walker and the people sitting in the grandstand wanted to see into the garages without having big screens. Those screens are not there, they were taken away on the condition that we would all endeavour to stop and not take pictures taken from inside the garage.
Q: What about the interest in Fridays? Do you still think of doing something to make them more interesting?
FB: I completely agree for everybody, for us it is coming like a test day. This year at least with one set of tyres more, the public see the cars running - things are improving because last year you see no cars going out for minutes and minutes half an hour. Because we had the limitation of tyre, at least this year we are improving. It is better something. This is food - the public normally the car is running for 45 minutes . Maybe you do not remember last year for 30 minutes nobody go out and for the best idea, I was always pushing was to have the qualification Friday and Saturday the same. You combine the times together.
Q: Last question. Did you ever buy the kind of photography you talked about?
FB: Sure, sure. He is a big buyer
Q: Secondly this controversy over TV rights - to what extent is it a threat to F1 as we know it
EJ: The photographs that I usually buy do not have four wheels involved in them
FB: He buys the porno.
EJ: I am short, so I have to get a stool to reach up to the top shelf. No seriously, I personally, have never done it, but I am sure my team probably has. If they did not we would be crazy. We would be the only one not to have done it, so I cannot answer directly that question but I am sure we have acquired photographs of other cars that certain area that we like to se whether they would do it or not. On the second issue, I think it would be wholly inappropriate for me to get involved in an argument, discussion or dialogue of any description that is something that I would have imagined is a private deal between Bernie's people. I have no part in that deal, so I don't think I am being rude by not answering the question. I would like to answer the question but I haven't got enough of the facts to be able to do it justice.