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Friday, June 09, 2006

Thursday FIA press conference, part II

With Button, Coulthard and Webber
Second and final part of this Thursday’s press conference with Jenson Button (Honda), David Coulthard (Red Bull) and Mark Webber (Williams).
(Heinz Pruller - ORF) To follow this up, Mark, we had Jack Brabham in Vienna for three days recently and he told me that you are the most unlucky driver of the year. Would you agree, and what exactly happened in Monaco?
MW: Well, I think I’m probably up there with Kimi Raikkonen. I think Kimi’s had a bit of bad luck but a couple of pretty straightward podiums, I would say, a fourth place not really a threat in a few races. It’s never nice to lose points like that. Monaco? Exhaust, exhaust exploded basically. It’s all pretty tight there in terms of installation so burnt it instantaneously.

(James Allen - ITV) Mark, you’ve just said that you reckon you’ve thrown away 20 points this season. How many of those were Monaco, then? Was that ten or eight or six?
MW: Aaah. Well, Kimi was the quickest guy for sure. Fernando was controlling us. I don’t think we could have won the race. I think that Kimi’s retirement probably came because of my safety car anyway, so I think there was a minimum six, of course, but I think there was obviously another six in Melbourne, but then Kimi had a nose… you can ifs and buts, but no one’s interested in those. The results have gone, mate. No one’s interested in a shopping list of excuses why it didn’t happen. We’ve missed some solid points.
But Monaco, to the second stops, Fernando Alonso wasn’t that strong before his stop. He was controlling the middle part of the stints, and I had a bit of graining and stuff but Kimi was the strongest out of the three, I think. He was the fastest car and driver to get to the flag.

(Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport): Jenson, how frustrating is it for you to start every season as a professional driver who has not yet been able to win a race. Is that something you keep in your mind?
JB: Yes, of course its frustrating because as racing drivers we’re all here to do one job and that’s to win and it is frustrating, especially this year, because this was the year when we came into the season with everything very good. The winter testing was very positive, the car was very reliable and we were setting some very good lap times – not just over one lap but over long runs as well – we showed a lot of consistency throughout the run. The first couple of races were pretty much where we thought we were – things were going pretty well and in Bahrain we were very fast but we made a mistake, sorry, we had a problem with the clutch and the second race we finished on the podium.
We weren’t quite on the pace of the Renaults but it was pretty good – we were quite a long way ahead of the rest of the field, so it was, those two races were very good and then it started to go downhill after Australia, or during it and I think the reason is Renault and Ferrari especially have made really big improvements in every race – they just seem to have had new bits on the car and they’ve really stepped up their game. With us, we have made improvements but nowhere near as much and that’s an area we really do need to work on as a team, because we can produce very good cars at the start of the year; it’s staying competitive for the whole season that’s where were losing out a little bit.

(Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland): Jenson, continuing that, you’ve had 108 Grand Prix. How big is the pressure? I know you’re waiting desperately for your first win out there. How do you cope with that and what keeps you thinking you can be a candidate for world titles?
JB: Numbers mean nothing if you haven’t got a car that can win races. What does a number mean? Nothing at all. It might happen this race – it’s very unlikely given the speed of the Renaults, it might happen in four races time, it might not happen until next year or even the year after. Nothing changes, you still give 100 per cent and you give everything you can to achieve your goal, but like I said, it is a team effort and it’s not just down to one individual.

(Ian Parkes – Press Association): Jenson, the weight of expectation’s probably far greater when you drive here, but given that the nation’s eyes are on the World Cup, is that less pressure this weekend? Less pressure world cup?
JB: It’s great to be here – it’s gonna be a fantastic atmosphere this weekend for a British driver, but for any driver on the grid. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m under more pressure at all because I know exactly how quick the car can go and I will do everything I can to get the best performance out of it, and I can’t do any more than that so there is no outside pressure because that’s it and I can achieve that.

David, are you pleased with the progress of the RB2 this season and what are your objectives for the remainder of the season?
DC: Well, it’s only in the last few tests we’ve done where we’ve been able to rack up some serious mileage. In all of the previous testing we’ve done this season it’s been troubled. If you look at the amount of races we’ve actually finished, it’s not been much because obviously our goal is to finish them all, so only time will tell when we look back on the season to see whether we improved progress throughout the season. It’s a little bit early to say, but I’ll echo what Jenson just said in that the goal is to keep on improving as a team and we’ll look back at the end of the season and see how much we got out of it.

(Serhan Acar – CNN TV Turkey): Question for Jenson, the World Cup is starting tomorrow so do you think it will affect the interest of British spectators on Sunday? Will the Grandstands be full of people to support you and DC?
JB: It depends how well we do on Saturday in the World Cup I suppose, we’ll see if they’re still capable of coming along tomorrow, sorry, on Sunday. For me, we should have a full house because apart from being in Germany and watching it there, here is the absolute best place to be watching it, definitely. We’ll have a massive crowd with the big screens and we should have a great atmosphere. Sunday, we’re not playing in the World Cup so it should be busy, especially if the weather’s like this.
Question for all three of you. Tomorrow there is a meeting of the GPDA. Are you going to talk about Monaco and what happened with Michael, and are there going to be any consequences?
DC: Yeah, I believe it will be on the agenda. But, it’s an issue between drivers that’s how I feel it should be handled. Inevitably there’ll be someone who has to say their two pence worth, but they probably won’t say it in front of each other in the meeting. What I hope we can achieve is that all those who were quick to give their opinions to the masses, but won’t look Michael in the eye, I think that’s a lack of a man, and I think we’ll find out tomorrow just who’s prepared to say what around the table.

(Kevin Garside – Daily Telegraph) David, some of your colleagues say Michael Schumacher’s position as president of the GPDA may be under consideration after Monaco. Is that something you think is appropriate?
DC: Personally speaking, I don’t, but as a group of drivers though, we have an opportunity to take a vote. Personally were are stronger in our opinions and can influence more the sport today and the future if we are united. Drivers don’t always see eye to eye of course, but the Monaco events should just be taken as they were. Michael got his punishment, and anyone who wants to discuss it can, and then we should get on with the business of driver and track safety.

(Kevin Garside – Daily Telegraph): Same question to Jenson and Mark.
MW: I’m totally in agreement with David and Jenson on this one. We, the drivers, can sit down with him face to face and all of our opinions can come out. He was punished for what he did and it was correct and, onwards and upwards really. I don’t think the GPDA will be affected too heavily.

(Ian Parkes – Press Association): David, again, just to clarify, if there is a vote taken do you need a majority, or for it to be unanimous? How does it work?
DC: Yes, we need a majority, but I don’t believe that will be the case. I understand the question, but the outcome I don’t believe will be anything different to what we have today, so there’s no point running with it.

Jenson, are Honda capable of winning before the end of the year and do you think you have a chance of podiums?
JB: That’s a difficult one – we don’t know that yet. We don’t know when we’re getting a new aerodynamic package, whether it’s gonna be exactly what we need and whether it’s gonna be good enough to challenge the top teams or not. All I know is that we’re working very hard on improving the car in many areas and we’ll see. I hope we have a chance of getting more podiums this season and obviously I hope we can win a race, but that doesn’t make the car go quicker.
(James Allen – ITV): Can you take us through the first series of corners based on the tests you’ve done. Am I right in thinking you don’t really use the brakes until the other side of Stowe?
DC: I think in my case, I use the brakes for the last part of Becketts, but I believe some people were flat in the test here, but that depends on what fuel level you’re running. I think if the conditions are right, in qualifying through turn one, you can go flat through Becketts, maybe lifting for the middle part then down a gear for the last part. It’s fairly impressive now because this V8 formula arrived at a slightly lower top speed along with the development in tyres has seen much less difference between straights and corner speed. It’s quite impressive even somewhere like the swimming pool in Monaco. I was over 20 kph quicker over the chicane than the previous year because you don’t have to take so much speed off and the balance of the car is therefore less effected because of the pitch, so it’s definitely an impressive place to go and watch cars go quickly.

JB: We were dabbing brakes off the maggots chicane – the left-hander there we were tapping the brakes, but even Stowe you’re not tapping the brakes so hard because you’d scrub off too much speed. The first place you really hit the brakes is into Club.

MW: I think they’re all pretty similar really. It’s always been quick at Silverstone, but now it’s really fast, and as DC said, you have to be pretty accurate as well. It’s a good challenge.

(Ukkola Sanna – Ilta-Sanomat) Mark, how has it been driving with Nico Rosberg and does he have a big future as a driver?
MW: I’ve enjoyed driving with Nico actually – he’s been a very good team-mate. I’ve had some team-mates in the past who’ve not backed up their testing pace in races, but Nico’s shown he can do the business on race weekends which is important to the team. He deserves his chance in Formula One having come from GP2 and showing he can perform well there. He tested a lot with us last year. I think it was a nice time for him to slot in to Formula One with the V8s and the new tyre rules – that was good for him, and I think he’d have done a great job with V10s anyway. Clearly he’s a talented guy and he does have a very big future in Formula One, so he’s done a good job, yeah.

Source FIA

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