Olivier Panis Q&A

After salvaging his reputation with a year as McLaren's test driver, Olivier Panis has performed well with British American Racing so far this season. Many suspected that anyone taking on the role of Jacques Villeneuve's team mate was in for a shock, but he outqualified the Canadian at Interlagos and Imola, and has outraced him on occasion. He's also been unlucky. He lost fourth place in Australia for passing under yellows, a charge he denies, and in Brazil a disastrous pitstop cost him a shot at third - although he did at least manage to recover to fourth. Villeneuve had the upper hand in Barcelona, and as the season goes on it will be fascinating to see how the pair shape up. Adam Cooper spoke to the Frenchman

Olivier Panis Q&A



"It's very good to be honest. I have a very good relationship with the team, with all the mechanics. English people are very, very passionate about F1. They know the job, and they are very easy to work with. I have no problem at all. And I feel maybe there are less politics compared with the French people!"



"It's true, but you know, I don't see behind me, I see in front of me. I was quite disappointed for Melbourne, because I'm a very honest man. I didn't see a yellow flag, and I was very surprised. But anyway, I accept the FIA choice. Brazil was a very exciting race for me, quite a lot of fun, but when I was stopped behind Jacques, we were not very lucky. I know we had some problems with radio communications, but it's not possible to criticise anybody, it was just a race incident. We made three points, but I'm sure if we were just a little more lucky we would have made the podium, but anyway, maybe next time."



"For me Jacques is a very, very good driver. Everybody says that and it's true. I have a big respect for him, and I'm very happy to work with him. With me he's a very straight guy. We work together very hard, and I'm sure sometimes I'm quicker than him, but he's also quicker than me. It's a good competition for the team, I think. It's very important that the team has two fast drivers and two drivers with experience. We need that, and for us it's a very good situation, a very good atmosphere."



"To be honest I'm not interested about this. I also have a very good relationship with Craig, because when we spoke together before I signed for BAR he said, 'I need a second driver with experience and who is very quick.' So far everything is fine, and I am very happy to work with Jacques and Craig. We are a team, we work very hard, and we have a good engine, and we work together very well with the BAT people. But I'm not interested in the political side."



"The engine is a good engine, easy to drive. Honda knows that the target is to prepare an engine for next year to close the gap with the best teams and the best engines. At this moment the Honda engine is very good, but I'm sure the new one will be stronger."



"The baseline is quite good, but we need to continue to improve the performance of the car. We need to continue to make new pieces, aerodynamically and mechanically. But it's the package. It's not just one thing. We need more power, we need better aerodynamics, more grip. We had some things in Imola that helped the car's stability, and every race we have some small improvements all the time. One big package is coming soon."



"The fight with Jordan is important for us, but anyway we need to fight with Ferrari and McLaren too. You don't need to just focus on Jordan. We need to work to close the gap with the others, and now Williams as well."



"For me the fighting between Bridgestone and Michelin is very interesting for F1. It's interesting for the drivers because we have quicker tyres and more grip, so it's quite fun for us. I know Michelin very well, they are a very strong team, but I'm very confident also with Bridgestone. They work very hard, but they need to work hard to fight with Michelin during the season, because Michelin is also very clever."



"I'm never really happy, because I do this job to win. But we have a very good chance to maybe fight for some podiums this year, and I'm sure next year that this will continue, but maybe for wins. But I'm very pleased to work with the BAR-Honda team and Jacques and Craig."



"Oh yes. It's a different philosophy. Last year was important for me with McLaren and Mercedes. It was a very good year for my confidence, and now I would like to continue to prove something. The team is very stable and works hard to develop the car all the time. I'm sure we have a good baseline to start from."

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