Thursday's Press Conference - Hungarian GP
Participating: Mark Webber (Jaguar), Jenson Button (BAR-Honda)
Participating: Mark Webber (Jaguar), Jenson Button (BAR-Honda)
Q. Have you enjoyed a quiet break, I am sure you both have! No? What have you been up to Jenson, tell us.
It has been a very quiet one for me.
Q. Yeah? Where have you been?
Q. Keeping fit?
Not really. I am still a little bit tired coming here.
Q. And Mark, where have you been?
At home, just at home in England, well, it's not home really, it's my second home. Normally I go back to Australia but I didn't manage to do it this break. So it's just good to stay at home, no plane flights, so, yeah, I feel ready to go.
Q. No mountain climbing this year?
No. All pretty chilled out. Yeah, it went pretty quick, the break.
JB: Where have you been? You have come back chocolate colour!
Q. Yeah, just been out in the sun. Very busy! Jenson, tell us first of all the situation as it stands regarding your drive for next year at the moment.
I think I have made myself pretty clear in the press already. I don't think there is any use going into it again, well, I am not willing to anyway.
Q. But, I mean, the situation regarding the contract recognition board, what happens about that? Can you tell us about that?
No, I can't. You will have to ask the team because it is a contractual matter and I am not able to discuss that.
Q. Well, you have both been team-mates before. How do you feel about teaming up again next year, if it happens?
Again, I am not going to comment about being team-mates. But as a driver, Mark is, erm, we have worked together before, and he really works hard which is fantastic to see. He puts in a lot of effort in every area and I think he would be a big bonus to any team in Formula One.
Q. When you signed with Williams did you know that he was going to be your team-mate?
Q. Mark, same question?
Well, I think I would have been the only bloke on the planet if I had known when I signed my contract that Jenson was going to be my team-mate.
Q. You mean you signed it that long ago?
I signed it after Hungaryâ€¦after Hockenheim (laughter). Frank asked me who, of all the drivers availableâ€¦if I had known Jenson was on the market clearly he would have been a driver who, you know, after Giancarlo, Jenson would be fantastic as well, ideal for me and the team.
Q. So you are perfectly happy with having him, obviously?
Q. Jenson, obviously, you had a meeting with David Richards last Sunday. How is the atmosphere in the team, you have obviously spent quite a bit of time there.
The atmosphere is, erm, okay, it's fine, you know, we are all here to do a job and I am looking forward to it. I think we have got a good car here, we should be able to get a good result, everyone is pretty excited about the weekend and so yeah, we are pretty positive.
Q. You don't think things are going to change at all?
I don't think we are going to get any less positive. As soon as we get onto the circuit, we are in a position to challenge for a victory here, I think, so no, we are very positive and that is going to continue throughout the weekend, bar a few mishaps.
Q. What do you think of BAR's chances in the future?
Well, it is difficult to say, isn't it? For anyone.
Q. You have made your feelings clear about Williams' chances in the future, so what about BAR's?
They have obviously got a good career in front of them but it is difficult for anyone to say how good.
Q. Mark, what are your feelings about this race?
Well, last year went well for us here. Our aero package worked pretty well in Hockenheim, we made some good decisions on the tyres, the team did a really good job, and here we are expecting hopefully to go pretty well to be honest. We will try and keep one of the Williams, one of the BARs, just, if we can do what we did in Hockenheim that was good, keep the Saubers and Toyotas at bay and try and get some points. It is not easy these days, obviously the attrition is very low. If we can get both cars in the points then that would be really good but we are on a nice little roll at the moment and hopefully we can continue that and the team is doing a bloody good job.
Q. Have you got engine steps coming?
No real engine steps, no, at this stage. We might use the engine in a slightly different way in races coming up but nothing for this race.
Q. When you look at your future team's performance from this year, what are your feelings about it?
Clearly they are underperforming for what they want to achieve but you have got to look beyond that and look at the people and the history that they have got there and what has happened there. I am a big fan of how Frank goes about the business and it is a real race team and they have very clear ambitions and it's exciting. I am really, really happy, obviously, to drive for Williams next year is a big step for me and I am looking forward to the challenge of racing at the front week in, week out.
Q. When people were talking about it earlier in the season, writing about how Webber would really fit in well with Williams, what were your thoughts then?
I remember when I was doing Formula Three and all the categories below Formula One I always thought that Williams would be a really nice team to drive for because they actually just concentrate on the racing and not all the bullshit off the track, so it is really good to be involved in that thing, if you like. I am very excited by the fact that I am going to be working with these guys. People talking about it earlier in the year, that was fine, there were some other teams mentioned as well, but as I said, I did sign the contract around Hockenheim and that is when all the decisions were made because we had the other baggage with the other situations of other drivers. I remained totally consistent about where I wanted to go and so did Frank, so that was good.
Q. When were first contacts made, can you talk about that?
Frank phoned me up after Silverstone last year, that was the first real indication, I suppose. Things started to firm up over the winter and through Malaysia, Bahrain and by the time we got to Europe was when it really started to firm up and that was when I had to start making my decision.
Q. Jenson, can you give us a similar timescale?
Q. I have never known you so un-talkative, Jenson, what's the matter with you? You can't say anything?
I have made myself clear earlier about the issue.
Q. And that's all we are going to get from you?
Questions From The Floor
Q. (Will Buxton - Metro) Jenson, all season you have been saying how much you have been enjoying your season with BAR, how good it is to work with guys who are working so hard for you. How come the announcement was made in the manner that it was if you had so much respect for the guys you are working with?
I am not going to comment on that. The only thing I would say is I have enjoyed working with BAR and they have been a great team to work for and I have had some very good times.
Q. (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News) Mark, obviously you can't pass up a chance at Williams, but can you talk about how difficult it was to leave Jaguar as you and the team have grown up together a lot over the last two years?
We have done a lot together and I am close to the guys on the floor and am continuing to be a bit frustrated by not being able to go the next step. I think it would be nice to have a little bit more support to justify the talented guys they have got on the floor there. We have made some very, very good decisions whether you look at short-term or long-term, the general design of the car, aerodynamics, Cosworth doing a good job with the engine, the whole thing is quite impressive actually. If you look at what we have got compared to the guys that we have been racing, we have been doing a very sound job. It has been a bit frustrating and sad to leave that behind and I would have liked to have done more in some ways, but I addressed the factory just before the announcement was made with Williams, so I always thought that I would like to try and tell them before and a lot of people were shaking my hand and were happy. They know I need to move on and, you know, it is a different situation to what Jenson is in at the moment. Obviously, it is a special situation anyway, but I wanted to be very clear with them. We are all pretty happy for each other.
Q. (German Radio) Jenson, looking at your outstanding performance in Hockenheim, what are you able to do here in Hungary?
It is very difficult to know because we expected to be quick at Silverstone and we weren't really where we expected to be. Coming to Hockenheim we knew we had a good car, the traction of our car seemed to be very good, so that helped us there quite a bit. Here it is a little bit more of an understeering circuit so we have got to wait and see but we are all pretty positive we can have a good race and, yeah, we are all pretty upbeat about it.
Q. I have another one. Just looking at the contracts you are supposed to have signed with Williams-BMW and with BAR-Honda, at the end of the matter, do you think it is going to be a question of money?
I can't comment on that. I think I have made that clear now! (Laughter)
Q. (Bob McKenzie - Daily Express) Jenson, have you been in the garage today?
Q. (Bob McKenzie - Daily Express) Have you discerned any change in attitude towards you at all to what it was, say, at Hockenheim? Have people been exactly the same?
There is a good atmosphere in the garage. We are here to do a job, we are here to race, and we are here to hopefully get our best result this year and the best result personally and the best result for the team, so we are upbeat about the weekend, definitely.
Q. (Bob McKenzie - Daily Express) So everyone is talking to you?
Q. () That was actually my question, whether somebody is talking to you or not. Do you sleep well?
I always sleep well, do you?
Q. (Andrew Frankl - Hungarian Television) I had a feeling that you and Flavio were not exactly in love. I got the feeling that David Richards did look after you big time, you got a great deal of tender loving care. Frank is not really known for being a very loving person, are you at all concerned that the sort of care and attention you were getting previously you may not be getting in the new team?
I have had a good relationship with the team, everyone included, at BAR.
Q. (Bob Constanduros) Just a question apart from motor racing, as the Olympics are coming up, are you looking at any particular athlete?
Well, the Olympics is always very special, of course, every four years. People put a lot of effort and focus into that event, so yeah, I am going to be watching the Olympics quite a lot and I have got some friends in the rowing part of it all and they are expecting to get gold, which would be nice if they canâ€¦.
Q. Are they English or Australian, can you just clarify that?!
They're Australian. They are going to blow the Poms away and it will be very easy. Yeah, I love watching those sort of sports when you watch people go to that level. I think the opening ceremony is tomorrow, isn't it? So, yeah, I am looking forward to seeing all that and hope it goes smoothly for all the people in Athens.
JB: It is an amazing event and I am looking forward to it. Obviously James, James Cracknell, because I know him pretty well, so it will be interesting to see how he does, and I know how hard all of them train for it. We both know the amount of effort they put into the Olympics, they are training for four years for it, so it is going to be exciting to see what the outcome is and, yeah, I am looking forward to it very much.
Q. (Mike Doodson) Jenson, amongst the several outlandish stories that have arisen following your move to Williams is one that BAR owes you money over a disputed arrangement for bonuses paid on points. Would you like to take this opportunity to deny that story?
I have got no comment on that. (Laughter)
MW: Who's going to win the race this weekend?
Q. (Bob Constanduros) Name and publication, whoever you are! You want that question then? Who's going to win the race this weekend?
I think it is going to be a pretty exciting race. I think the Michelin tyres should be working better than the Bridgestones so I think it is going to be pretty close. I don't think the Ferraris will have their advantage here, so it should be a very competitive race weekend.
Q. And you have the same opinion?
Absolutely, yeah. I think, obviously, Jenson and his team are confident but I think Kimi and Fernando will be strong as well. Fernando was strong here last year and Kimi, the McLaren is getting stronger, so Kimi, the weekend looks okay for him.
Q. ( Peter Farkas - Automotor) I am sure you know that rain is expected here for tomorrow and the day after that and maybe even on Sunday. Are you concerned about that because there has been no rain at any of the past Hungarian Grands Prix over the last 18 years.
It is obviously a slight worry because there has never been rain on the circuit at the race meetings so we don't know how the water's going to fall - how it is going to stand, sorry, we know how it is going to fall! We don't know where it is going to stand and we don't know if there is going to be any big puddles, so we will have to be a little bit careful but I am sure the people at the circuit have made sure there is not going to be any horrendous puddles anywhere.
MW: A bit of rain will be interesting. I'll believe it when I see it but, yeah, if it rains we'll be ready for it and it is a tricky little track in the wet I would imagine, so it will be good.
Participating: David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), Giancarlo Fisichella (Sauber)
Q. So, gentleman, have you had a slightly quieter break than our last two guests? Actually you've been with Jenson, haven't you David?
It depends in what sense you mean I've been with him, but erm, we were travelling together for part of the holiday. I had a great break. I spent the first week training in the hills and then the second week undoing it all on a boat. It was very good, good to have that time and as you say I was with Jenson for part of the story of his thing breaking and then just been back in Monaco in preparation for coming here.
Q. Giancarlo, what about you?
It was a very good break, long enough. I had a good rest with the family. I went to Ibiza and Formentera. I did some training so I feel very pleased now, I'm confident, relaxed.
Q. What about the season so far for you, the Sauber progress?
Yeah, the beginning of the season the car was a bitâ€¦ the package wasn't good enough and I was struggling a bit with the grip, so for the first few races it was difficult for us to score points. But then from Imola the team made a big step forwards and race after race there was a good step in aerodynamic components and I did a few good races. Starting from the back of the grid I scored points so we are getting better and better. They (the team) are doing very, very well and even for this weekend we have something more so I am optimistic.
Q. Jenson and Mark both said they felt the Michelins would be the better tyre here. What are your feelings?
Considering last year's result I think it's going to be quite difficult for us, but Bridgestone did a fantastic job during the winter and even during the season and we have here a new specification tyres, new compound tyres, so we will see, maybe, that we are a bit closer at this race.
Q. Since the last race it has been announced that you're going to Renault for next year, but we always thought you wanted to go to Ferrari.
No, no. I know in Ferrari there is no place, no seat, until 2006, and around a month ago I saw the possibility to move into a top team like Williams or Renault and I hope the choice I have made is the right one. I am pretty sure that next year is going to be alright. I am confident and I am happy because Renault is now, I think, the strongest team after Ferrari. They are second in the championship. I want to win, I want to win not just another race but even the championship.
Q. What about Fernando? How well do you get on with him?
Fernando's a nice guy and he's a very quick driver. I met him a few years ago and we have a very good friendship so I'm happy to have Fernando as a team-mate.
Q. Are you going to move to England?
Well, erm, if it is necessary, yes. Otherwise I stay in Rome
Q. David, is it a bit worrying seeing all these drives disappearing at the moment?
Well now you mention it yes. I'd never really thought about it like that. There are naturally only so many seats available and you know in time we'll find out whether there's one available for me.
Q. And yet McLaren are having this great revival, how do you feel about that?
I think it's good, it's a little bit late in the season but better late then never, and it shows what can be done during a year. When you consider normally if you start with a bad package, that's it for the season. But it shows the resources that they have that they were able to pull it around.
Q. Is there a lot more here as well?
You don't know until you get on the track but potentially there's more performance for this race. Obviously it's a different aero set-up than what we've run in the last couple of races so we have to see how we stand relative to the others and tyre choice - we were a little bit different than the other Michelin runners at Hockenheim and I think it was a good choice. There are some other teams have the same tyre as us here so it remains to be seen just how it works in the package.
Q. Are you pretty confident of the Michelins here?
Yeah, I don't think we quite got the hot temperatures that maybe we expected in Hockenheim and that meant the tyre that we chose had no blistering. Again, temperatures here don't seem to be as high as in previous years and I think the forecast is to be even less, so it may mean that we have actually gone a little bit conservative in our choice but better to be what you think maybe is conservative than to be blistering and losing performance.
Q. And reliability-wise?
Well, obviously, Kimi's failure (in Hockenheim) aside, the rest of the car seems to be running quite strongly. The team understands exactly what happened. It hopefully wouldn't affect this race anyway because it is a different wing set-up and I'm sure that it will be rectified for the future.
Q. And the engine seems to be more reliable as well.
We've made a massive step forward in performance since the beginning of the year and it seems a lot more reliable. It is incredible how you can get more power and more reliability. You would think it would be the other way - as you gain power you would lose it (reliability), but so far it seems to be a big step.
Questions From The Floor
Q. (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News) You said the engine has made a huge step forward, but talk a bit about the chassis, how is it now that you've driven it a few times? Why is it so much better than the old one?
I think that it is sometimes more difficult to describe where the performance improvement comes from in a car than it is in an engine. Your horsepower, you can feel it. You can all jump in a road car and say 'that feels like it's got plenty of grunt.' In a racing car, if you're going half a second quicker in the car, it's a massive amount in terms of each lap and where you are on the grid, but half a second split around 14 corners is not that much. So to actually try and feel less than half a tenth in a corner is quite a difficult thing to do. Typical human reactions are 200 milliseconds so, in a not very concise way, what I am saying is it is difficult to feel the difference in the car, it has slightly more rear stability which gives you confidence in the braking areas. It still has some characteristics from the (MP4-) 19 which I don't think are good characteristics, but I'll not complain of the improvements that have been made and overall the lap time is just quicker and that is the thing that makes you smile.
Q. (Peter Farkas - Automotor) David, would you please go into detail about your future. How hopeful are you of landing a racing seat next year? Rumour has it that Jarno Trulli has signed for Toyota this week. This leaves us just Jaguar. Can you tell us something about that?
I can't talk specifically about conversations until I have an announcement to make and that's always been the way we've dealt with our contractual business. But I am highly motivated to continue racing. I was surprised to hear that some of the web sites and magazines were questioning how hungry am I? How much do you want it? Well, very much. I don't have a wife, I don't have children, I don't have any commitments in my diary other than racing, testing and training. I should maybe remember my girlfriend's birthday later in the year, but other than that there really is nothing else in my life which is a reason to get out of bed in the morning, so the motivation and commitment is absolute. My CV, I am the second most successful driver on the grid today and that didn't happen by accident, it happened through talent and hard work and hopefully that will be picked up and I will continue to build on that.
Q. (Kevin Eason - The Times) There must have been a moment, DC, last week, when you were reclining on your sun lounger with Jenson when he revealed what was going to happen. There must have been a slightly raising of the eyebrows and a thought 'well, actually that's not a bad seat for me if he's going to move on.' Have you targeted BAR?
Absolutely. All the seats that are available you target and I think BAR's performance this year quite clearly has been fantastic and there is no reason to expect that they are going to be any further away next season. Although I can understand on the face of it Jenson's desire to go to Williams but at the moment BAR are doing a better job, a more consistent job.
Q. (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News) I'd like to ask you both a question about the domination of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. I realise, like it or not, we have to live with it, but I also realise that it is up to you and your teams to beat them. But, from a spectacle point of view, from an entertainment point of view, from the fan's point of view, is this constant domination by one driver and team good for Formula One?
I don't know the definitive answer. From what I have been told, TV viewing figures are still up there. I don't think that people tune in to watch Formula One races because they are going to see an absolute Formula One spectacle. I think there are many other forms of motorsport that will give you that but I think in the same way that people might lend an ear when they know there's a space shuttle being launched, even though there has been many done, it's just that slightly untouchable aspect of Formula One: the technology, the fastest cars, everything, the glamorous locations, all of those aspects will always attract viewers, whether one team is being dominant or not, and the fact is that within the regulations they are doing a better job than the rest of us so all of the elements of their package enables them to be so consistent and so strong. Certainly from my point of view, I admire their success and aspire to be part of an organisation that could achieve that as well. So I guess what I'm saying is that I don't see how it can be bad for the sport any more than any time in soccer, boxing or whatever, there is always one guy or one team that has a period of dominance and it's what? Is this the fifth year of championships, so it's not like a decade of domination.
GF: Yeah, well Michael is a fantastic driver in fantastic form, and he has maybe the best package, engine, chassis and tyres so he is dominating everywhere. This is a bit boring maybe for the people, for the fans, but what can we do? Hope to be quick next year and fight for the win against Michael.
Q. (Pascal Dro - Auto Plus) Is it possible that we will see you next year in a lower team, in a team that couldn't win? Stepping back to bounce back and get another opportunity in a good team in the future, or are you only going to go for a winning team?
Well, if I was aiming for only the top four in the championship, then they are all gone so far. I obviously want to be in a competitive drive and have an opportunity to enjoy what I love doing, which is getting out there and racing, and irrespective of whether it is a foregone conclusion that you're going to be on the front two rows or not, if you feel you can push yourself and be part of a developing package then it is the same deal. Look at where we were at McLaren at the beginning of this year: Nowhere. Up until Magny Cours we were lapped in most of the races. You wouldn't have expect that, but that's what happened, so it didn't put me off Formula One.
I say one thing, not relevant to your answer and it won't mean anything to the non-British journalists here, but I think the only way you'll get Bob McKenzie to ask a question is to put a camera on him because I saw him on television more over the weekend than anyone else. TV journalist now, aren't you?
Q. (Bob McKenzie - Daily Express) Just for that, do you think Jenson has made a mistake in going to Williams and is BAR a seat that you would covet?
Well, yes, the second part of your question, absolutely. I think they've done a fantastic job and under David Richards' leadership, there's absolutely no reason why they can't continue to build on that. The first part, it is impossible to know, isn't it? If things don't work outâ€¦ first of all it has to be established whether he's definitely going there. And if he is and it doesn't work I guess there will be a whole band of people who want to say 'yeah, I told you it was a bad decision.' The reality is he has all the cards to make the decision and I guess at some point we will find out exactly what enabled them to make that decision. Either way, he's a friend, he's a competitor and I wish him to be happy in what he is doing and get on with it and not to be too distracted by other people's decisions.
Q. Having gone as far as he has can you see him going back to BAR?
Yes, it could happen, so yes, I could see it happening. But I guess logically you would say that damage would be done in the relationship but at the end of the day these aren't marriages that you're entering into, until death us do part, they are all just marriages of convenience, I guess, so you are all in love until the day someone decides to move on. C'est la vie.
Q. (David Cameron - Atlas F1) Giancarlo, Flavio has made no real secret that he is really building the Renault team around Fernando who is going to be your team-mate next year. How does that feel for you, going in there, and what do you expect for yourself next year?
Well, I think Fernando is a good driver and Renault is now concentrating on him, but I think I have good experience, good talent and if the car is good I can do well too, even if the team now is concentrating on Fernando. Most of them know my condition very well. I have good experience and I think altogether we can work to win.
Q. (Bob Constanduros) The Olympics coming up, is there any particular athlete whose performance you will be watching? A friend, somebody you know, you've met?
I am Italian so I will be following my Italian team in all sports.
DC: I know it's been coming for a few years, but I haven't really been following the build-up too much. No one really springs to mind.
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