Thursday press conference

FIA official Press Conference, Thursday 22 September, 2000
Mika Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, Craig Pollock, Neil Ressler

Q. Neil, you announced yesterday that Bobby Rahal would be joining Jaguar as CEO on a three year contract. Why did you specifically choose him?
Neil Ressler: I have been looking for a long time, and in considering the attributes you would look for in a CEO I saw someone who has participated in motorsport at the top levels, who has business acumen, is good with people and who has shown good leadership abilities. Bobby satisfied all those conditions and I managed to get him to come to Jaguar.

NR: Although you couldn't say that he's been involved in F1, he has kept up with European motorsport far more than you might guess. When I started talking to him, back in May, I was surprised about how well informed he was on what has been going on in Europe, and in F1 in particular. He has demonstrated personal attributes which will serve him well, and that his learning curve will be steep, and that he will become a credible person in his job within a very short period of time.

NR: Yes. In fact I am going to stay in the factory. My office won't move. So we will be a team - and I think we will be able to progress.

Craig Pollock: I feel fantastic. I was here to look at the track a few months ago, and it would be really nice for us to have the same result we had when we were last here. We were with a good team last time, and this time we are building up a team to do it as well. Jacques wants a result.

CP: Yes and no. Our name is British American Racing, and in Jacques we have who is probably the last true winner of the '500,' which certainly makes us feel American. And Jacques is of course a North American.

CP: Of course it was a disappointment. We hoped it was going to be our first podium but it didn't work out. That's racing. I still don't know exactly what happened: we hope to find out today.

Michael Schumacher: It's an amazing paddock, I would say. That's all I have seen so far. I just arrived five minutes ago. There are some huge spaces ... it took us longer than we expected to walk here. That's why we are a little bit late.

Mika Hakkinen: I just got here five minutes ago, too. I am looking forward to seeing what it looks like later.

MS: Go to the beach! (Mika: 'That's a good idea'). We'll do whatever we are allowed to do. We have to find out.

MH: It would be better to go round by car, then on foot, to look at the kerbs and understand the characteristics of the corners. With part of the circuit being banked it will be important to find out how steep it is, and whether you can use special lines ... also to know whether the circuit is bumpy or not.

MH: No, not really. We just weren't quick enough. I don't really want to say this, but the reality is that you can't get it right every time. That's what the target is - to try and get the setup and everything right - but at Monza our car was not as good as it should have been. And that's why the Ferrari was quicker.

MS: Yes, much as I said before, while at other GPs we didn't get it together, at Monza we got it together when McLaren didn't do it. That is what I have said for several races. The cars and drivers are pretty close, and the difference is what you make out of it.

MS: I would say 'no', to be honest, because we have all been around long enough to understand new circuits quickly enough. We also have simulations to give us a rough direction on how to get the car working. Then to optimise the cars will be as difficult as it always is on other circuits. So it might be a little more difficult, but not as much as some people might think. And you can always get it wrong.

MH: We have to get it right, yes. When you come to brand new circuits it can be very difficult to understand the circuit and the lines. A Formula 1 car is so quick that it can be difficult to ... sorry, I cannot give the right words ... but it will be very difficult to learn it. I will have to follow Jacques because he's been here before!

Jacques Villeneuve: It's a long time since my Indy 500 victory and when we raced here five years ago, the car we had then was a lot more competitive than this year's car has been. But we have a small chance. If you look back at Monza, the car was very competitive. We weren't on the Ferrari's pace, but we could stay with the McLarens. That was interesting - and we hope to be able to do a good thing here.

JV: It feels great. I left here with great memories. I haven't been back since, so five years ago comes back very quickly. Yesterday I was standing on the starting grid and looking into Turn 1 on the oval. I didn't remember it looking so impressive. When you're racing on the oval in the '500,' you spend almost a whole month here, driving day after day, you almost get used to it. Then when you come back, it does look very impressive.

JV: Well, the '500' is -- was -- the biggest race in the world, with a lot of pressure and its own championship, just in the one race. However, although this race is the first in the States for a long time, it is also just another race in the world championship. The road course looks quite interesting. A car that's quick at Monza should be quick here, too, so that's good for us. There are just a couple of very tight corners that don't seem to have any reason for being there. But the rest of he course is a very nice layout.

JV: It depends on what speed we manage to get out of the last section into the banked corner. It is very difficult to know now, but when you think that an Indy car goes through there at 230 mph, I am sure we won't be close to that speed. So it should not be a problem.

JV: The level of technology is quite a bit higher in F1, even though you use the same composites in an Indy car. But there are two or three manufacturers of Indy cars, which are available on sale to the teams, so of course things are not going to be pushed to the limit like they are in F1, where everyone builds his own cars and develops it race after race. There is also a lot more money involved in F1, which pushes it. There is a lot of racing in North America, so it is going to be very difficult to get the American public interested in Formula 1. There'll be no problem getting them interested in what happens at Indianapolis each year, but it's going to be a lot more difficult getting them to watch the racing and follow the rest of the season.

JV: I get something, because I raced here in '94 and '95. This side of things is a bit less important in Europe than it is here at the brickyard. When I was racing here in '94 and '95, spending the whole month of May here, I remember hearing about who went to what toilet and which door he used. So the same door had been left there for the last 50 years and stuff like that. That just doesn't happen in Europe. So it is something quite new when you come here.

MS: When you walk in here, you see this massive place. But I really don't have any view of this circuit, or the environment. It's far too early to say anything. Let's get some laps in, and see the town, then we will be able to give you a more detailed answer.

MH: I agree it's too early. But if you look at the history of my team, McLaren, and what they have done in the past at Indy, there is obviously something. It is great for me to come to race here, and to try to bring something more to the team's history. Going round the circuit will probably give us some of the emotion, and it will be something to think about after this race is over.

JV: At least in the wet, the speed will be more relevant for that corner than in the dry. But at least that would be the first time for you to see cars racing here in the wet, which would at least be interesting ...

CP: Well, I have known Barry for a long time. He has been a very good friend. And we have spent quite a lot of time together in the last two days. Literally in the last two years we have discussed many new projects together and we continue to carry on discussing them. That is really all I can say.

CP: That's not up to me to foresee. It's a shareholders' issue, and it's up to them to decide who they want to run the company.


MS: The only thing that would surprise you, naturally, is that people should suddenly see you as human. Which I already thought I was ... !

MS: Yes. If it is so many, then yes. Naturally you are surprised about the reaction, yes.

MS: I guess there will be a few people thinking that it might be on purpose, or whatever. But, er ... I mean ... I think it's natural situations that come or don't come. This one happened after ten years. Maybe you'll have to wait another ten years.

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