Anthony Davidson Q&A

After an impressive two-race stint at Minardi, Anthony Davidson was back on testing duty for BAR at Monza last week. AUTOSPORT grand prix editor Jonathan Noble talked to the young Englishman at the Italian circuit

Anthony Davidson Q&A

It actually felt pretty good. To me the surreal part was doing the races and to come back was a bit of a reality check. It was actually really nice to get in the car and at the end, let's not beat around the bush, it was the better car of the two. Basically, going faster is more fun. It is the devil I know. I have done 12,000km in it so I was really happy I came back into it. I felt at home straightaway, as soon as I revved up the engine. That is the indication of a half decent car as well, that you can get back into it with a quick snap of the fingers. I rocked up to the end of the pit-lane and did my first launch start and it was still second nature. This was the last place I tested as well so to get back into it took maybe three laps.

I actually had more confidence after doing the races, so I did take something away, and Didier [Davidson's manager, Stoessel] was saying 'you will be better in the car, more confident,' and I thought, no, it will be the same as normal. I was better under braking and, I was more comfortable in my decisions of what I wanted from the car. I will be the first to admit that I have never been the best in the world technically, the guys in F3 will tell you that, but it is all a learning curve and anyone that has got the time to listen can easily do it, so it was actually quite good at Spa to do most of the set-up work on the car - basically all of it, because [Mark] Webber was suffering with gearbox troubles. And for the race I had the better car out of the two of us. I could see it on the track

I would have made both races to the end easily in the BAR. It is easy for people to come to conclusions straightaway, saying: 'weak little guy.' But the thing is when you have been used to the car for 50 days of testing and jump into a new machine you are not used to... I wish you could see the blisters on my hand, it is a good tell-tale sign of how physical it was compared to the BARs and the guys here will tell you I have never had a problem with it. The only time I suffered in a BAR was the very first test I had at Barcelona and that is just the neck muscles getting used to it and the arms and then it has never been a problem again in the BAR. I am sure after three of four races it would be different in the Minardi.

I think I am pretty pleased. It was what the team wanted and they wanted a quick guy. They wanted someone quick who could push Webber and I did that exactly. I think at Spa even they were amazed at the lap he put in in qualifying, I mean to go a second faster from your first to second run when after the first run I was only two-tenths slower. I could see he was edgy, on the edge, to get that lap in and they reckon he has not had to do that all year. They saw the real Mark Webber. The guy is amazingly relaxed. I thought I was, but he is on another level to me and I think maybe he is a guy who needs to be pushed more. When you have to really fight, like me and Taku [F3 team-mate Takuma Sato] did last year, it is a different level. You get pushed onto a different level and it doesn't matter what session you are in it is just a fight, it is war, and you don't want to lose any battle in that war and every session, every lap, is all part of the war. You excel and push yourself, you push beyond what you could ever have imagined and that is at the end of the day what it is all about. I would love to see Schumacher getting pushed really hard in a race situation.

No, not at all. I still feel like I was the odd one out in the team and given a chance of two races on borrowed time, using someone else's car. It is like driving your next door neighbour's car when he goes on holiday for a week. It is kind of weird, I felt pretty uncomfortable in Hungary with him around as well and I think the team realised that and left him out of the situation in Spa, it was not a nice feeling for both of us, but that is the way it goes in this game. And if you get an opportunity you have got to grab it with both hands. It is not the ideal situation to go into and everybody should respect that. I think every other driver - most drivers in F3000 - might say: 'I beat Webber in F3000 loads of times, I would do a better job than Davidson,' but deep down I think secretly they know how hard it would have been. I knew from the start how hard it was going to be and I knew I wasn't going to beat him, I was realistic and every other driver knew it was a tall order to come in against someone and get close to them and challenge them. You cannot do it. Look at Mika Salo when he drove for Ferrari, how up and down he was, it is bloody hard work.

Yes. To do it on circuits that you can never get testing mileage at you would have to jump at the chance. I would like to get a whole race under my belt and I know physically it would be easier and easier with each race I do, and more and more comfortable in the car and more at home.

All in all it was the right decision to make, I didn't realise how hard, not just physically, it was going to be to drive. I didn't realise what hard work it was going to be. I was a little bit fooled in the beginning, like everybody, that it would be this mega car and everything on it would be brilliant apart from the engine, but it is never really that simple. That was a bit naïve to go in thinking that. Basically the reason why they struggle comes down to money. At the end of the day you are not going to build a Ferrari with the budget they have got. The question is: how do you get a Ferrari? It is little bit everywhere. That is what the car is away from being a good strong midfield racer - it is just tiny little bits. It all adds up but the guys at Minardi have the capability to do it, I know they do - great guys and they love it, but they are limited by budget all the time. You feel really sorry for them in the factory, working flat out and every new idea they come up with they say, we can't do that because it is x, y or z, so it is pretty tough.

I've made up my mind that I am about 50 percent sure that I have a drive. It can either go one way or another, but we have got a few options. We are talking to all the teams that have drives available, that's Jordan, Jaguar, Toyota and Minardi and it doesn't take a genius to work out which drive would be the best to take. We have just got to sit back. I am not going to worry about it, I am just going to wait for it, and I am a believer that it all works out for the best at the end of the day anyway. I am pretty sure that one day I will land an F1 drive but I am not sure it will be next year. I hope it is, I am ready for it, and I think I have proved that I can be ready for it, I think the way we have done it with all the testing has been really good. I think it should be mandatory to have minimum testing miles in F1 before you get the chance because without the testing there is no way I would have qualified at Hungary. I don't care who you are, you will not get in a Minardi at Hungary and qualify without F1 experience.

McNish reports plenty of interest

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