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FIA Friday press conference - Spain, part one 02 May 2003

David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren in the post qualifying press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos, Brazil, 5 April 2003


Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.

Q: To you all, the FIA have just announced that traction control is not going to be banned in 2004, but launch control and fully automatic gearboxes will be. Could I have a reaction from you?

David COULTHARD: It makes no difference. Don't think that it's different to pull the paddle, so whether it's done automatically or the driver does it... The only thing it does do is maybe if the driver makes a little mistake and is distracted then he might shift early or late and lose a bit of straight-line speed, so it could have some influence on the ability to race. But I think traction control being left is generally - if you listen to the drivers - we all agree that there are some really good safety issues with running TC (traction control). And what happens is, with traction control, you just drive the car harder on entries to the mid-corner. There's a thing with a few ex-Grand Prix drivers where they feel that it should be removed because a fundamental part of driving is obviously control and your right foot, but you still have an influence over how the performance of your car is even with TC because it's not as simple as getting to the apex and going to full power. If you do that and use more traction control because you've gone on the power too early, then you cut cylinders which affect your acceleration down the next straight. You use more TC, the barrels are open, the fuel's going in, you use more fuel, so there are still certain skills that we are all aware of as drivers that ex-drivers and maybe people who haven't driven aren't aware of, so taking it away isn't fundamentally going to change who is at the front, and there's still a lot of skill involved in trying to get the maximum out of TC as it sits.

Rubens BARRICHELLO: I would like to get a bit more information about it. It's better to wait and check. I've been quite focused on setting up the car and I haven't had a chance to see that. I think the drivers should be involved in that decision in a way. The drivers should get involved in all the decisions because we are the ones who drive so I wouldn't mind getting a little bit earlier to some place and saying yes or no for something that we feel like.

Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I knew about it this morning or last night, I think, somebody mentioned it. It's the same for everybody. It's a good thing, I think, that the electronics are still there because you're never going to have the question 'are they cheating, what are they doing?' That way, everybody's got full electronic things but to use the clutch at the start, I think, is a good thing because there's a chance for mistakes. Now it's all up to the car, not up to the driver. Paddle shift doesn't make any difference.

Ralph FIRMAN: Very similar to Juan, really. I think off the start would be good to maybe have a clutch start, maybe more opportunity to overtake or be overtaken, one or the other. But the paddle shift doesn't make any difference, just pulling or pushing a lever.

Justin WILSON: No further comment really. It's all been said already. We've been making manual starts since the start of the season so for us it won't make any difference.

Q: Justin and Ralph, what about your initial feelings about Formula One, after four races now?

JW: Obviously it's fantastic to be one of the drivers on the grid. It's been a lot of hard work to get here but we've just got to keep pushing forward, trying to improve. I wasn't totally happy with qualifying today so I will try and focus on tomorrow and improve that.

RF: I'm obviously delighted to be here. Obviously Eddie gave me the chance this year which is great. The deal was done very very late so there's been only a handful of testing days this year and most of those have been hampered by rain as well. But I've had a good run so far. I feel I've been improving all the time. I've been a little bit unlucky in the first few races; in three of them I think we've had suspension failures or an engine problem last weekend and in Malaysia I had a good race and got to the end. I think today I'm only 0.3s off Giancarlo which is good so I'm improving all the time. I feel every weekend I gain another tenth, but maybe today is the first time that I've shown how quickly I've gone in qualifying, anyway.

Q: In fact you had a conventional test last week, didn't you?

RF: Yes, the first test since the start of the season. The first day was good and then unfortunately it rained on the second day, but we did find a couple of things on the car, even though we had a lot more things to test on the second day which have helped myself and it was nice to have a test day away from a race meeting. When you're at a race meeting, you're always chasing times and when you go to a normal test you can concentrate more on doing your own thing and not, obviously, chasing times. That's another thing; because of lack of testing, now I'm doing everything in the public eye whereas lots of other people have had days and days of testing and been able to get all their mistakes out of the way in pre-season testing. But I haven't had that opportunity. But the team's been great and I'm working well with Dominic and Gary and going forward. It's working very well.

Q: Justin, how's the financing going? Are you almost up to target?

JW: Yeah, we've had a tremendous response and we're not far off the target now. We're up to one million and fifty thousand pounds as of last week. It's quite an amazing feeling to have that many people supporting you and wanting to be involved in a driver. It's been great.

Q: Are you feeling better here, that this is one of the circuits that you know?

JW: Yeah, we've been going quite well today. Unfortunately qualifying didn't go as well but in the test it was going good. I'm happier with the car from Imola. And like Ralph says, he's had a test day now to get used to things and settle in and as of yet, we haven't had one test day. We did the shakedown at the start of the season, just before Melbourne and that's it. It's just every other weekend drive the car, so all the time I'm feeling more and more comfortable, happy with the surroundings and able to find a bit more in the car.

Continued in Part two.