Friday's Press Conference - German GP

Participating: Ralph Firman (Jordan), Nicolas Kiesa (Minardi), Cristiano da Matta (Toyota), Jacques Villeneuve (BAR) and Justin Wilson (Jaguar).

Friday's Press Conference - German GP

Participating: Ralph Firman (Jordan), Nicolas Kiesa (Minardi), Cristiano da Matta (Toyota), Jacques Villeneuve (BAR) and Justin Wilson (Jaguar).

Q. Nicolas, a newcomer to Formula One, how have things gone so far today?

Nicolas Kiesa:

Things went quite well just up until this qualifying session. I didn't make the qualifying session. The car suddenly went into an anti-stall programme which I hadn't learned how to get out of and the engine switched off after ten seconds and I didn't manage to get out of the pit lane before the red light came on.

Q. What are your basic impressions of Formula One, however?


It's really nice. Everyone in the team has been nice to me. I've been working hard physically to get fit for these cars. I've studied them â€" I've been a TV commentator in Formula One for one and a half years. I've had a lot of research time to learn these cars. I've had all the theories in place before I started, so driving the car wasn't a bit shock to me, it felt quite natural.

Q. What are you expecting from your five races this year?


I expect to show, hopefully, that I'm good enough to stay here in Formula One. It's a dream come true that I'm here now but part of the dream is also to be good enough to stay here.

Q. How did it all come about?


I'm not quite sure how it happened. During the course of the Silverstone Grand Prix, my manager told me that there might be a chance of me going to Formula One. But he said 'don't think about it and just do your F3000,' but it was quite hard not to think about it because I could hear that he was quite serious. After the race, he took me aside and said 'I think we need to talk' and he told me there was a good possibility that on the Monday I could maybe have a contract.

Q. Ralph, first of all Giancarlo seems to be pretty frustrated in the team at the moment, what are your feelings?

Ralph Firman:

Obviously I'm pretty happy today to out-qualify him. I've had a good day on my first time here but there's a lot more time left. I'm happy with the team and looking forward to working with them a lot harder. I want to stay with the team. I think there's a good bunch of guys there. They work hard and there's definitely a lot of potential. If they had a lot of budget behind them again I'm sure they would get back up the front. Jordan have been winning in the past and hopefully they can get back to it again. But Giancarlo has been pretty clear that he wants to leave the team, but I want to stay.

Q. What does it need to be more competitive â€" you talk about budget?


It mainly is budget, isn't it? In the wind tunnel would help a great deal â€" just to have the money to go and develop the car, and then once you've found what's good, to actually be able to manufacture it. The team's been competitive, but Minardi and Jordan have been struggling this year, and sometimes on the circuit there hasn't been that much difference between the cars. The guys have been trying hard, and obviously here we are trying to score points today.

Q. It's a new track for you here, what have you thought of it?


It would have been nice to drive on the old one. It looked absolutely fantastic. It's a nice circuit, there are obviously opportunities to overtake here which will be good, but we will wait and see how the race pans out.

Q. Cristiano, it's pretty much a new track for you, too, what do you think of it?

Cristiano da Matta:

Well the new circuit is a lot more like a normal circuit than the old one obviously. I think it's a good thing when you actually come to circuits that are different than most of the others. The old one… this one actually looks quite normal. It's a fun circuit to drive, but it's definitely not special like the old one.

Q. You led a Grand Prix for the first time a couple of weeks ago; what were the feelings like after that?


Leading Grands Prix of course is a good feeling. After that, you're back to work to try to make sure you can do it again. Of course, we still have a long way to go until we get there. We know that we lead the Grand Prix because of the situation we were in with the two safety cars and everything, but of course we made the best out of that situation, and we just need to keep working to try to close the gap to the bigger teams, and some day try to lead on our own merit.

Q. Now things have been getting better recently, they've got appreciably better. A little bit disappointing today, perhaps, but I think you've got new parts here as well?


The main thing we've got here today is a new engine which seems to be doing pretty good. I'm actually not too unhappy with car â€" just the qualifying lap wasn't a very good one. I don't think we should be as competitive as we were at Silverstone but we should be somewhere close, I hope.

Q. Is that going to be the case for the rest of the season?


It's difficult to say because, especially in Formula One, other teams are always improving so quickly, so you just blink for a minute and all the other guys are already developing some other things and you have to go and catch up again. One thing for sure I know the team has been working very hard to keep the pace of this type of improvement that we have been making in the last couple of races, like say, four or five races. And we're going to try to keep it up, try to keep improving at the same pace.

Q. Has that been one of the surprises for you this year, the rate of improvement?


I think that's definitely one of the main differences between Formula One and where I'm coming from because in CART, at a certain time during the year, they freeze the aero package, you cannot do anything aerodynamic any more. There's just a lot more set-up development than actual car development. Here you play with a lot more basics of the car than the actual set-up of the car. So it's two very different things.

Q. Jacques we'll try and leave today aside; we know that you're capable of speed and I think you're fairly frustrated at the moment. What do you need, what is lacking?

Jacques Villeneuve:

I guess a good day would be nice. You know when things start going wrong then it's hard to try and get out of it, but things have been wrong for a couple of years now and I think everything is just piling up.

Q. There have been a lot of rumours about your future, including one about you going to Ferrari. What is the truth?


Some rumours make you smile and make you happy, so it's good to read them, and some of them they make you very unhappy. But there are a lot of rumours going on , but there's nothing to say right now.

Q. What's the situation with BAR; have you got a chance to stay there?


We're heavily into discussions.

Q. What are the developments here; there were some at the last race?


No, we had the developments at the last race, something different in the engine. I think that's about it. We're using a different tyre as well, which was used by one car at the last race and I think that will be good for the race, but won't make a difference for qualifying.

Q. So you expect to be roughly where the other car was today?


Not where we are today! The way our car was going on old tyres today was acceptable. Maybe we can do something good in the race as long as we can qualify well.

Q. Justin, a fantastic day. What has it been like, your first day at work with Jaguar?


Obviously it is a steep learning curve - trying to get used to the car and the circuit as well as the team, just learning a lot and improving each time I go out, having more confidence in the car and believing in what it can do.

Q. Are there a lot of times where you said 'oh, we didn't do that at Minardi'?


Yeah, obviously there are things that are different but the way they work is very similar - at the end of the day they are (both) trying to make the car go as quick as possible but they (Jaguar) have more resources and the team works very well together so it is a pleasure to drive for them. I am really grateful and I just want to make the most of the opportunity.

Q. With five races left in the season, are you under a lot of pressure to do well?


It's Formula One, there is always pressure, you are always trying to do your best and you have to try and pull through. Yeah, there is pressure, but at the same time the team have been very good saying they don't expect anything at this race so it is a nice feeling but for my own personal satisfaction I want to do the best I can.

Q. The way it came about was midnight meetings at the factory and things like that. Can you tell me a bit about that?


Well, before things went too far they obviously wanted to see if I could fit in the car and I had a phone call from Jonathan my manager saying 'they would like you to go and sit in the car and see if you can fit in'. I didn't know why that was, whether it was for this year, next year or just curiosity, so I obviously agreed and went down to the factory and sat in the car.

Q. When was that?


That was a few weeks ago now.

Q. And it was in the middle of the night, wasn't it?


No, but it was late in the evening, so I went and sat in the car and I could fit in and obviously I was relieved considering not so far off 12 months ago I couldn't fit in the Minardi.

Q. What did you suspect was happening?


I wasn't too sure. You don't want to get carried away but obviously there were a lot of rumours it would be Silverstone and I just tried to ignore all that and concentrate on what I was doing. It was only after the race that I had a phone call saying could we meet up, so it went from there and everyone knows the rest.

Q. And what did you think of your performance in qualifying today?


I was very happy. It was a big step forward from what I did earlier in the (practice) session and again it is just learning the car. I think the session improved as well and I was just trying to get the most out of it.

Questions From The Floor

Q. Justin, are you surprised to have put both Ferraris behind you?


Yeah, the first time in the Jaguar I was very surprised to have that. But tomorrow's another day, we still have a lot of work to do and it would be nice if we are in this position but I don't expect to be in this position. If it happens again, great, if it doesn't then I am not too disappointed.

Q. Jacques, is Formula One the only option or, not next year but down the road, would you consider racing something else?


Formula One is the top level of motorsport racing so after winning here it would be difficult to be happy doing anything else. But who knows. Maybe after you retire you spend a few years at home, you get really bored then you are happy to do anything else. But I can't imagine that right now.

Q. That sounds like if you didn't get Formula One you might spend a year at home.


Yeah, I wouldn't jump into something else tomorrow - that is definite. But there is no plan of not being in Formula One next year.

Q. Justin, when you saw the lap time that Mark had done, did you have a target lap time and, if so, what was it?


My aim for the first qualifying was to be within a second of Mark. I know how quick he can be and when I saw his lap time it was great for the team but I was also under a lot of pressure because I knew that I wanted to be close to him. I was thinking about that in the car before I went out to do the qualifying and when I got to the end of the lap I knew it had hooked up quite well. The car responded very well and I knew it was a reasonable time but I was pleasantly surprised when I crossed the line and saw the lap time.

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