Thursday's Press Conference - Monaco
Participating: Jarno Trulli (Toyota), Mark Webber (Williams), Mike Gascoyne (Toyota), Sam Michael (Williams)
Q. Mike, can you give us an update on where you are with the 2.4 V8?
Mike Gascoyne: We have been running it on the dyno with Luca Marmorini's team, who have done a good job, have run several engines on the dyno and we are looking to run it in the car around July time. So, it's progressing pretty well.
Q. So, just to come to this race, what is the technical challenge here, from a chassis and engine point of view?
MG: Engine-wise it is pretty easy, it is the lowest throttle time we have, the lowest average revs we have, so apart from the fact that the low speeds mean it is a little difficult to keep everything cool, from an engine point of view it is not much of a challenge in terms of reliability. From a chassis side it is very different to anywhere else we go. It's very bumpy, very dirty, and today was a typical first day in Monaco, a lot of traffic, the circuit was very, very dirty, evolving a lot, which makes it pretty difficult to really draw any firm conclusions from the day. It is such a unique place, very different from anywhere else we go.
Q. I was going to say, you have a chassis and engine that has proved to be good enough for front row and a driver who has won here before, so what else is missing from here?
MG: I think we are pretty confident for here. I think, looking at it today, Renault and McLaren still look very strong but after that we are pretty competitive and both Jarno and Ralf have been very successful here. Jarno won his first race here last year and I think he was reasonably confident coming here today, don't know whether he is so confident now! But overall we have a pretty good package and there is no reason why we cant get a solid performance this weekend.
Q. One thing you are doing, which I think is something that almost nobody else does, is supply another team. How has that been?
MG: I think it has been very good for us. Toyota are in Formula One to be competitive themselves, but they also want to support Formula One, so when the two-race engine was proposed that really freed up capacity, because obviously we were geared up to do a one-race engine for this year and so that freed up capacity and as soon as that was the case Toyota was very keen to supply an engine because with the problems of engine supply in Formula One we think that is very necessary for the manufacturer teams to do that. I think Toyota were very brave in actively going out and doing that at a very sort of competitive price, and it has benefits for us as well. I think, apart from an engine failure at Jordan in the last race, we have got a lot of miles and we have done a lot of laps, probably more than any other team, and that obviously helps us in our quest for overall reliability on the engine side.
Q. And actually they have been very reliable as well.
MG: Yeah, exactly. I think in the first couple of races, the two teams that did the most laps were Jordan and Toyota. So, again, Luca and his team have done an excellent job.
Q. Jarno, you have come back to Monaco as the reigning champion, as the French say, as the winner, what's the feeling like?
Jarno Trulli: It is a great feeling, but now it's one year later and I am back to try to re-gain this fantastic result. It is not going to be easy, it is going to be a tough weekend for everyone because we know Monaco is a tough Grand Prix.
Q. In fact, what was it like today?
JT: It was a bit of a difficult day, because I tried different set-ups in tyres but I think I didn't get it right, there was a lot of traffic, on my new set of tyres I couldn't get it right and for tomorrow I have to go back to a more conventional set-up.
Q. Qualifying is obviously vital here, because if you start at the front you have a good chance of finishing at the front, but what can you do, obviously the driver goes as fast as he can, but give us some idea on what you can do on tactics.
JT: In Monaco, yeah, qualifying is important, but it is important that everything goes well because a safety car is enough to completely mix up your strategy, so you do a different strategy here and you can be successful with this different strategy if things go well for you. For example, last year I won with two safety cars and everything went well. This year, I may even win starting from the back of the grid, you never know. In Monaco anything can happen, and this is what I believe. This is the only race where you can't really expect anything from anyone.
Q. One final question, which I am going to take over to Mark afterwards, David Coulthard has gone on record as saying he is concerned about safety during testing, that it is not administered by the FIA. Is it something you are concerned on, what would you like to change?
JT: As far as I am concerned, all the GPDA members are concerned about it, we raised this problem and discussed it several times because we really believe the safety during testing is not good enough, or not as good as during the races, and we really are wanting to push the teams, the FIA and everyone to raise the safety standard during testing, because I cannot see why we shouldn't have the same safety standard. The risk is exactly the same, or even a little more, because we are doing a lot more laps during testing days than we do during a race weekend, so we really have to take a look at this matter.
Q. Mark, do you agree with that? What more needs to be done?
Mark Webber: Yeah, absolutely. I think it started off with Ralf's crash last year at Indianapolis. Obviously it (the car) finished in a difficult position for them to recover that situation, being on the front straight with two pit walls and the whole thing with Indy, the banking, and that raised a few issues for us as drivers so we thought we would ask Max, to start with, how they would improve things. Now, together with the FIA, we are looking to up the standards, like Jarno said. Clearly, we have a lot of enthusiastic marshals who give all their time day after day, they are bloody long days testing for those guys, they stand out there in the winter and in the boiling heat in the summer, but in terms of the medical back-up, compared to what we have at races, which is absolutely full-on at races, the drivers are very well looked after, but in testing, when we are testing new components and doing a huge volume of mileage, I think we are definitely a bit shallow on the back-up. So, it needs to be addressed quite quickly and I am sure it will be. All the drivers are together on it, and that is one thing, and we have also singled out some tracks in general which we want to improve safety as well, and that is very important for the drivers at the moment.
Q. Coming to this weekend, how were things today?
MW: Pretty good. I haven't really had a good look at how everything panned out, to be honest, because after the second session I had a de-brief and came straight here. We are going okay, we need to be quicker, no question about that, different people run different programmes on a Friday and we have been nowhere on Friday many times this year and turned into being reasonably prepared come Saturday, so there are various things we need to improve on the car. No question about it, together with BMW, we need to find improvements to get towards the pace. I think the form team at the moment is McLaren, looking at Barcelona they did a very good job and Barcelona is clearly a different circuit to here but they look like they are in reasonable shape, they have the same tyres as us, and that is where the benchmark is.
Q. What is missing at the moment, where do you need to improve?
MW: Ask Sam!
Q. He dodged that one quite easily, What's the answer, Sam?
Sam Michael: I think it comes from everything really. As Mark said, we've had a reasonable day today, concentrated quite a bit on our race programme, as everyone would be normally, and the track can change a lot from one day to another here. You would normally see a massive improvement in pace and degradation from Thursday to Saturday. It is a typical Monaco situation as Mike has said before. But our general pace of the year so far is not where we would really want to be. We still want to improve. We are a team that's focussed on winning and it comes from everything. If you go looking for one holy grail, then won't find it in this business, you have got to look at the whole package and there are a lot of factors that make that up.
Q. So you have been relatively disappointed so far this year, is it just a little bit of everything everywhere?
SM: Yeah, exactly. That's what I was just sort of alluding to. I think that we started off this season probably a little bit better than what we thought we would be. We've brought a lot of improvements to the car, which I am sure everyone has under the current rule-change situation. We've added a lot of downforce to the car. BMW have been working on the engine and Michelin on the tyres. So it's just a matter of keeping your head down and keep pushing because that is where you start getting the results.
Q. You seem to have a fairly conservative approach to the number of laps you do in practice, does that make you suffer?
SM: I would say it's probably average. I wouldn't say that we're on the bottom end, but we are not at the top end either, but I would say that we're average if you look at how many laps people are doing over the course of two race weekends. We obviously log what everyone else does and when they change engines and get an average mileage for their engine and we're in the middle.
Q. Several stories after the last Grand Prix about Williams and BMW; how seriously do you take those?
SM: First of all, on the Williams and BMW relationship, it is a very strong relationship at the moment, from an engineering level all the way up to board level at AG. The whole company has exactly the same philosophy and desires as Williams and both teams want to win and they both agree on how they go about doing their winning. But in terms of the future, I think BMW have already gone on record as saying that not continuing with Williams is not an option as well. We fully expect to continue with BMW. There's a difference between putting pressure on yourself to try and perform and the ultimate thing where somebody decides to go somewhere else. But BMW are in the middle of making their decision and we fully respect that process.
Questions From The Floor
Q. (Thierry Beutraf - Sud-Ouest) Jarno, how did you feel this morning on your first laps in the streets, considering you won last year here? Did you have any pictures in your mind of your victory, and the other question is about your engine. It seems to have suffered in Spain. Do you have any worries about that?
JT: Regarding the engine, there is no problem at all. Regarding the first lap this morning I didn't really care about them, just went out to try and do my best as usual, nothing going through my mind, I was just looking after the car, trying to understand balance - a routine Friday only this time it's Thursday practice, so really nothing special.
Q. (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) If I could ask the two technical directors; yesterday we asked the drivers about the downfall of Ferrari, a team that's gone from winning everything to winning nothing and they were saying it's mostly because of tyres. Do you think it's mostly tyres, or is it more? And if it is just tyres, then why spend millions of tyres to build a car when you could just throw on a set of rubber and make all the difference?
MG: I think it is fairly early to talk about the downfall of a team like Ferrari. They have only not won for the last six races. I think there's probably quite a lot of teams would like to have that record. For sure, tyres are an important part of what we do. Bridgestone, I think, have undoubtedly struggled and we've seen at times Ferrari being very very quick. So I have no doubt that they will win races and win fairly soon, but they are certainly not in the dominant position that they have been in previous years and that's good for Formula One. But ultimately how quick their car is, when it's the only competitive car on a different make of tyres, it is very hard to separate out how quick the car really is and how quick the tyre really is. For sure last year they had an exceptional package and an exceptional car but until they get some stability, you can't really tell. But overall it's good for Formula One that that's the case.
SM: Yeah, I think the same. At the end of the day, they've got a package which worked very well last year and obviously they are struggling to improve everything as much as they can. But it's definitely too early to write them off. Just look at the way Michael came through the field at Imola. You could see that the car's definitely got potential and I think if you turned round and said that it was all Bridgestone, you would struggle to justify the last four or five World Championships. So they are working on the whole package, I'm sure.
Q. (Dominic Fougere Le Journal de Montreal) As a follow-up to the question yesterday, Kimi was stated as saying that if you put Michelin on this car (Ferrari) it would be in front of the pack. What are your feelings on that?
MG: It is impossible to say, because it's not going to happen. But undoubtedly, if they were on the same tyres as the rest of the field, I am sure the car would be competitive, there's no doubt about that.
SM: Yeah, the same really. Obviously, when you change tyres you change a lot of things on the car, aerodynamically and weight distribution, and potentially roll centres so it still requires potentially a different set-up. The basic level of grip will be there.
Q. (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) Mark, you 've had time to look back at the Spanish Grand Prix and when Fisichella passed you, what happened? Was your car maybe shaking so badly that you couldn't really see out of the mirrors?
MW: Well, I was surprised I managed to keep him there for as long as I did. I think Giancarlo was being quite patient and was killing me slowly. Eventually he got me. I was having quite a lot of vibration problems with the car from the front left tyre. From lap 44, it really started to hurt my pace. The vibration started around lap 34, but lap 44 was when it started to properly affect our pace, and it was difficult, especially around Barcelona when you've got very very quick, hugely loaded corners, righthanders. The front left was not easy, but that's life. I had to do the best job I could and Giancarlo's was one of the fastest cars on the track at that stage. It's a very difficult track to overtake on, but I think he might have wound his engine up a little bit just for one particular attack and also he got a good run out of the last corner which I was trying to get perfect every lap but it wasn't easy, so it was very disappointing we lost that last point. It would have been nice to get fifth but I think we were very lucky to finish the Grand Prix.
Q. (James Roberts Motorsport News) Mark and Jarno, could you talk a little bit about the tunnel and how difficult it is from a driver's perspective? How dusty it is and how much you can actually see in the tunnel?
MW: It's not that difficult, to be honest. It's definitely a change of lighting in there, which is not the normal situation for us in a normal quick righthander but you have to be reasonably accurate with your turn-in point. As you saw with Fernando last year, if you get a little bit off line, even though he was very hard done-by by another guy, but off line there's no way you get the back in there, you have to be on-line. If you walk through the tunnel you can see where it's just a long, long curve then it just kinks a little bit more aggressively and that's the juicy bit for us, we have to get it right so you have to turn in a fraction earlier for that, get reasonably close to the inside barrier and then let the car run out a little bit. It would never rain in there but it would be a tricky corner in the wet but it's alright in the dry.
JT: That corner is darker than normal corners, obviously because you are under the tunnel. There are lights but you cannot see the racing line very well, and especially where the dust is and where not, so you need to be very concentrated to get the right line, to draw the right line and get out of the tunnel. It's a right hand corner, it's quick, so a little mistake can cost you a lot. Fortunately there is only one line there.
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