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Friday, June 09, 2006

Thursday FIA press conference, part I - Silverstone

With Button, Coulthard and Webber
The British Grand Prix’s Thursday press conference with Jenson Button (Honda)), David Coulthard (Red Bull), Mark Webber (Williams).

David, you suggested that Monaco was a one-off in terms of result. Is that the way you judged it?
David COULTHARD: It’s a bit premature to say. There’s still a lot of races to go, but clearly, there were a number of things that played in our favour during the race. People dropped out, people got penalties, that can happen at other circuits as well but I think that all weekend, in all the sessions, we were always in the top six throughout most of the sessions, so that’s why I was disappointed with the eventual qualifying position, because I didn’t actually get a run at it - we chose to do one lap which in hindsight was a mistake, and we got traffic. At that type of track, mechanically the car obviously worked well. The engine, we know, has won Grand Prix already with Ferrari. It’s on the more open circuits that we don’t have quite as an efficient package so in contrast, this track will probably be a lot more difficult for us. That’s the challenge. You’ve got to react to it.

Some of the English press coverage suggested that that was going to help you keep your seat for next year.
Do you feel you’re fighting for your seat for next year?
DC: I think it’s a bit silly to suggest that one result is what people decide on why they are going to put someone in a car. I’ve got a history of consistency, scoring points, obviously won a few Grand Prix and the team know very well what I do on track, with engineers and back at the factory, so I don’t believe there’s any fight or struggle. It’s quite clear that I want to drive the car next year with all of the people that have been brought together. This is the year that hopefully they gel and I see no reason why that car, next season, can’t be competing for serious points, podiums and victories and I know that I can deliver those.

An interesting story today in Autosport suggesting that you’re in contact, in discussion with Ferrari. What have you got to say about that?
DC: Well, it’s inevitable that everyone has to know what the market-place offers. If you look at Ferrari from the outside, they’ve got one driver scoring serious points and the other one not. Any team needs to have two drivers in a position to capitalise and as I say, I didn’t score over 500 points by accident.
So you have been in contact with them.
DC: That’s none of your business. As I said, everyone talks to everyone at this stage of the season so I’m sure that even Jenson, although we believe he’s contracted to Honda, I’m sure he’s probably talking to someone as well.

Jenson, you seem to be very much aiming for third or fourth team here. Is that the position of the team at the moment?
Jenson BUTTON: We’re not going to suddenly jump forward compared to Monaco and the previous few races. Renault and Ferrari are very strong at the moment and I think McLaren are also, so it’s very difficult. It’s so competitive out there at the moment. But for us to say where we are going to finish is a silly thing to do. I think we need to just try to get the best out of the package we have and that is our aim at the moment, and then we will see where we end up. We don’t know where we will be.

Can you envisage fighting with Renault and Ferrari?
JB: No, not this weekend.

But in the future?
JB: Yeah, definitely. I think every team would hope that they can challenge Renault and Ferrari in the future, and that’s the reason why we are here, to hopefully be the best, but it’s not going to happen overnight. We are improving things, the new full-size wind tunnel coming on line, it’s going to make a big difference to us, so for the future, I’m very positive that we will be challenging at the front. But this weekend is really a weekend that we are all looking forward to, it’s a very special weekend, especially for us two (indicates Coulthard), it’s our home Grand Prix and we’re hoping for a good result and that good result is us getting the best out of the package we have at the moment and then, on Monday, we talk about where we go from there.

Just tell us about racing here at Silverstone, for you, your home Grand Prix?
JB: It is a great feeling, especially when the weather’s like this. The Australian weather was pretty poor when we were there… But this is great to see: the sun’s out and it’s going to stay out for the whole weekend which is great and it’s going to be pretty special for the fans, I think, especially the English fans, having the footy on Saturday and being able to watch it on the big screens.

Mark, Bridgestone seem to have had a good test at Barcelona but you were actually playing it down a bit, that it wasn’t so good for Williams.
Mark WEBBER: Well, I wasn’t at Barcelona, I did all the work before Monaco, and I was at the Silverstone test, so it was my test off. But in the Barcelona race, Michael was fighting with Fernando but not that hard, obviously, so that’s really the last test we’ve had on a high speed circuit like Barcelona and Silverstone. The tyre testing obviously allowed Michelin… they do their work for those sort of venues to test the tyres for this race. I think that it will all come into play actually, in terms of the track temperatures which will be pretty similar which is good, but it’s the same for both companies. But I wouldn’t say the Bridgestones can’t do the job. I think that at Williams, we need to probably get a little bit more complete on the higher speed sort of circuits. We are looking to do a really really good job here of course, in terms of pace, but so are the other guys. There’s a big group after the gap to Renault and McLaren.

Where do you feel you’re really lacking, in terms of pace, is there one particular area?
MW: Normally, in Formula One, aerodynamics play a huge role and I think it’s less of a role in Monte Carlo and more down to mechanical grip, and the tyres need to work well as well. Barcelona and Silverstone – there’s nowhere to hide. We need to work on the efficiency and work on having the car behave itself through all types of high speed corners and finishing the lap in the Complex, so that’s probably the main area we are focusing on as heavily as we can like most of the other teams, to close the gap to Renault because they are probably the best team aerodynamically at the moment.

It’s said that the deal is done between Toyota and Williams. What are your feelings about a possible change of power for next year?
MW: Well, there’s loads of speculation but as usual, until it’s all done, you never never know. But first of all Cosworth have not let us down anywhere this season in terms of… we had the one rear of the field at the start of the race in Nurburgring, but the pace of the engine has been absolutely phenomenal for us all year. It’s one of the best V8s if not the best V8 ever. It’s an incredible engine and there are some very good guys there. So if we do change, there’s a big set of shoes to fill, to fill Cosworth’s role that they’ve done for us this year.

So a question for all three of you: your feelings about the World Cup, who’s going to win, who will you be supporting?
MW: I’ve lived in England for ten years and I’ve loved the English people and the comedy and all that sort of stuff. But when it comes to sport, I hope they get absolutely battered in the World Cup, so I’m going for Australia.

Do you know where you’re going to watch Australia’s opening match?
MW: Australia? I don’t even know when they are playing first.

That’s how much you follow them!
MW: Err. Well I’ll take some interest when… like all the other Aussies, only when they’re doing well.

JB: It’s quite an obvious one: England, I think, have got a fantastic team. Hopefully they can work well together and yeah, I think this could be a very good year for English football.

Do you know where you are going to watch the opening match?
JB: My debrief room, after qualifying, I think.

David, you’ll be supporting England of course…
DC: Yeah. Honestly, I haven’t really got a big interest in football but as the British flag, British passport holder… the St George’s cross lies below the St Andrews flag, I guess England.

But you won’t necessarily be watching the match…
DC: It’s not my passion. I can understand the excitement of everyone here wanting to know what’s going on, but I take it as it comes. I guess everyone else is going to be watching it, so it’s going to be difficult to escape it.

(Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Question for DC and Jenson; I have a newspaper article here in which David is quoted as saying that basically Jenson should be ruthless. If he believes Honda can win he should stay, if not, he should get out of there now. Could I ask both of you for your comments on that?
DC: I think it’s quite a good quote isn’t it?
JB: Yeah. That’s always going to be the way. If things are going good, you want to be there. If not, you don’t. It’s a difficult one. I think it’s a good quote as well. But it’s not all down to just the one race, and maybe not even one season. Looking back from experience, you cannot keep just chopping and changing teams season to season because things do change and I think you need to understand where the team is and where they are weak and where they are moving forward and at what stage they are. For me, where I am at the moment is the best thing for me for the future. The way things are happening with the wind tunnel, and many other things within the team, I’m very positive that this is the correct place for me.

(Adam Hay-Nicholls - Two Paws Agency) Mark, after the frustrations of Monaco, where you were clearly very upset, you probably had another podium robbed from you due to mechanical failure. Are you considering moving to another team for next year?
MW: Well, I would pretty much echo what Jenson said: you always think it’s greener somewhere else. Williams have so far been so close and yet so far. We’ve probably thrown away a good part of 20 points in terms of mechanical failures but there could be a mistake around the corner which could cost us some points, but we are all suffering together with those failures and next year, it could look very, very different. We’ve got a year’s knowledge with the Bridgestone tyres, including myself as a driver but also as a team, and they are not as simple as just bolting them on the car, so that is a huge positive for Williams next year, so of course, I have to weigh things up but there’s a lot of potential for Williams to come out of this rough storm that we’re in at the moment which is not where we want to be. I think we’ve got ten points in the Constructors’ which after seven races is clearly not where we want to be. We’ve got to get our socks lifted and get on with the job.

Source FIA


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