Ross Brawn Q&A
Q: What's your opinion on Michael [Schumacher]'s accident?

Ross Brawn:
We've only seen in from one camera, but the idea I got is that Michael was in the right and Nick [Heidfeld] was in the wrong. He had managed to pass Nick at the pit stops and he came from a quite reasonable distance back. It's a racing accident, but I certainly don't think it was Michael's fault.

Q: What do you think of the pace of your cars?

It was OK. We are here [Melbourne] with the old car, which has probably been a bigger compromise because of the regulation changes, so we feel quite happy with the pace. It has been our first experience with the tyres, which was very good; we ran a good race, with a good strategy. We started with one car in 11th and one 18th and finished 2nd. So, I'm quite happy.

Q: Did you expect Renault to be so strong?

That's what we had seen in testing; they've always been the strongest team. They've won a race last year, so they've always been a strong team. I'm not surprised, but they are a good target to go for.

Q: How good was Ruben [Barrichello]'s race?

He had a great race. He had a problem with the brakes from lap ten, and we had to advise him to make some adjustments to the settings. Once he settled in he did a great race; he was patient, looked after his tyres, pushed when he needed to and he did a great job.

Q: Do you think the results show the current status quo?

I think it will vary; it will depend on the track and the situation. But we were competitive today; we didn't have the fastest car but we were competitive, and the new car is a good step forward from what we have now. They were all here with their new cars, we were with our old and compromised car and we finished 2nd, so we have good reason to be optimistic. But we've got a lot of work to do.

Q: Will this result change your strategy for the debut of the F2005?

There's the possibility of starting it in Bahrain; I've always said that. There's a lot of work to do but there's a small possibility of taking it to Bahrain; we'll make that decision after Malaysia. We'll see how the testing goes for the new car; we've got a lot more mileage to do, as we've done just one test with it, and we'll find out what problems it has. But Bahrain is a slim option, a slight possibility.

Q: MS was urging the marshals to push him. Do you think there was a delay there?

There was a delay, but I don't think he would have scored any points anyway. He had just got into a points scoring position and he was already too delayed to get back into it. Our main concern now is that the engine may have got too hot as he sat on the gravel trap or quite a while. We'll have a careful look at all the data and see if the engine did overheat at all and do as many checks as we can. But we've got time to do that before Malaysia, but it's a legitimate thing for the marshals to push a car, it became legal a few years ago. Michael was keen to get back on track, but his car was too damaged.

Q: [David] Coulthard has been quite critical of the new qualifying format. What's your view on that?

I think we need a couple of races to see how things are. I don't think this race was a good example, because of the weather, but I think that if in a couple of races we don't see a reasonable spectacle then things need to be considered again. We seem to be going from poor solution to another poor solution, and we should all really sit down and see what the best approach is, but let's give it a couple of races and see. Maybe it will be okay and we can have some excitement in qualifying and the race.

Q: How close a rival do you think Renault will be this year?

Renault got in front of us; they had the fastest car today, for sure. We are pleased with the job we did, with the car we had and the package we had. I don't think we could have got a lot more out of it and it would have been interesting to see, if we were at the front of the grid or close to the front of the grid, what kind of race we could have made out of it, but Renault were quite impressive today.

McLaren didn't show in the race for some reason, but I suspect they had some problems because their car looks quite fast. They didn't seem able to put the race together; I don't know why. But we've got reasons to be optimistic; the reports we've got about the new car from our test drivers are very good, and if we can make it reliable over the next couple of weeks maybe Bahrain will be a viable option.

Q: When will you make a decision about it?

We won't make a decision until after Malaysia. Of course it will all depend on how things will go in Malaysia, as it could swing one way or another. I think here we were a bit more competitive than we thought we would be, but if we go to Malaysia and do quite well, then that will make the decision more difficult. But if we go to Malaysia and get a few backside's kick, that will make the decision easy.

Q: How much did the new rules affect the race today?

I think that when Michael won races from behind [in the past] was when there were some incidents that helped him get back into contention. Today the race didn't allow him to do much; I don't think that there was anything else he could have done today. There were no safety cars today, everybody had a fairly straightforward race, and I think it would have been a bit too much to ask Michael to win today. I don't think this had anything to do with the format of the event, and he was actually quite competitive. I think the format of the race will work quite well, and I think it will work even better in Malaysia, so I think we have to make a judgment of qualifying in a couple of races.

Q: The BAR drivers opted to retire on the last lap to have fresh engines in Malaysia. What do you think of it?

I didn't notice that. Did they? That's their option, and no new format is perfect. But if we believe the new format is the way forward we need to smooth all the small glitches that there may be. I think people will be willing to do that, and if there's a situation where people take advantage of the rules, that's their choice. We'll see how it will go, but that was their prerogative. If they chose to stop others can do the same on the next race.
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Series Formula 1
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Author Luis Vasconcelos
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