FIA Friday press conference 22 Aug 2003
FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 22 AUGUST 2003
TEAM PRINCIPALS: Ove ANDERSSON (TOYOTA), Eddie JORDAN (JORDAN), Tony PURNELL (JAGUAR) and David RICHARDS (BAR)
Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.
Q: Gentlemen, you're battling over fifth place in the championship, but at this time of the year, the focus of the teams tends to drift away from this year to next. The testing ban is about to come to an end, how much are you focused on next year rather than this year? What sort of bits and pieces are you still producing to test for this year? Are you expecting to test at Monza? And how important is fifth place in the championship?
Ove ANDERSSON: Well, obviously the first target is to try to do as well as we possibly can for this year. For sure, we will be testing in Monza and doing some more tests before the end of the year. There is some aerodynamics, there are some smaller bits and pieces. There's nothing major, but we still try to improve the car bit by bit and I also think this is good because we understand more what we have to do for next year's car.
Eddie JORDAN: Yeah, we'll be in Monza. I think we've finished - in all but one year of the 13 or 14 years of Jordan Grand Prix - we've never been outside the top six except for one year. So it is vitally important. It is very tough; it's us four, as you say. I never thought about that. But you have to fight right to the very end and we never give up fighting. Right to the last lap at Japan, we will be hoping and planning and developing and modifying the car in every way possible to make sure that we get the ultimate target which is the fifth place.
David RICHARDS: We're testing in Monza, there is still a load of things coming on stream for the car as well. Many of them, of course, are carry-over parts for next year - not necessarily carry-over but experience that we can incorporate in next year's car which was started some little time ago. So it's a parallel programme and the pressure really starts to come on as everyone returns from summer holidays and has to do the two things in parallel. Fifth place is clearly very closely fought this year and unfortunately the top four are well away from us.
Tony PURNELL: We'll certainly be in Monza. For us, it's a balance between this year and next year, dividing our efforts somewhat equally, but putting the concentration on understanding the package we have. But we're happy with the competitiveness of our car and I guess we're very unhappy with the competitiveness of the people around me. I think fifth place will go right down to the wire. It's neck and neck. I hope we will be shaking hands at the end of the season with nobody too disappointed but Jaguar very happy.
Q: Ove, fastest this morning, you're getting very very close. You had two drivers finish in Hockenheim. Is there just a little frustration because you are getting so close and yet not quite getting the results that you really want?
OA: Well, yes, I suppose there is a certain frustration, because I think there is potential but the team is lacking experience at the moment. We're learning every race and hopefully we can improve a little bit, step by step. I think the circuit got slower this afternoon from what it was this morning, but we obviously lost more time than we should have done and we're now analyzing, trying to understand why.
Q: You've had a strong team for a long time. Are you still looking to strengthen your team?
OA: When you are running a team, you would always be looking to improve the strength of the team and this is mainly... maybe sometimes looking to the outside and also of course, we are working with education and training inside the team. You always try to improve and I think today, if you want to be successful, you need a very very strong and well co-ordinated team that works well together and for me, starting the way we did, this is one of our biggest challenges: to get everyone to work together to pull in one direction.
Q: Eddie, you've had a tough time of it recently, but you're a racer, how can you turn it around, what needs to be turned around?
EJ: Turning around, in any context, whether it be business, human relations or otherwise, is a matter of putting forward a plan, thinking how it's going to unfold, exercising and maximizing the best that you're going to do and hopefully all of these things... The difference I find and have found between going extremely well one race and probably not so good the next is so tiny that you just need to be sure that you have attention to detail and maximize all of the opportunities and I'm probably completely focused now on the issue in hand, with 25 percent of this season yet to go. Probably in the past it's been seen that when people write Jordan off they do so at their peril. The races we've won, we've always won them at the opportunities or times when we've least expected to win them, and I would hope that that can continue.
Q: One of the things that you have been good at is spotting new talent. Amongst the drivers here is Zsolt Baumgartner but what other new talent are you looking at and what can you say about Zsolt?
EJ: Well, I think this time last year was a big surprise. I think we all four of us are agreed about one thing, that there needs to be more of an input of excitement and local attention and detail to attract... maybe ten percent of the people who are coming here this weekend are Hungarians and in this case, that should be increased if at all possible. This time last year we gave Zsolt a couple of laps after the warm-up and before the race as a slight incentive for people, particularly Hungarian people, to see that there is an opportunity, that they have the potential of a world class driver in their midst and they should not ignore it. I'm really pleased that he was able to do such a fabulous job in Hockenheim and again here today, even more so. So there's no doubt that he's ready, in my opinion, for either a very top class team as a test driver or probably mid-running team as a race driver, and then grow. I think that's what it needs, and more variations on that is what's required. We need more excitement; we need more involvement, certainly at the races. On the TV, of course, it's the most exciting season we've seen for a very long time, so that seems to be looking after itself but in terms of things and things to do, there's too big gaps that nobody's paying enough attention to and we would be silly to ignore opportunities like running Zsolt at races like this.
Q: Continuing on that theme, David, I believe you're running the Arden F3000 drivers at Monza?
DR: Well, we have some other testing going on at the time. I don't know the exact schedule for it, but we're just giving them the opportunity to test one of the cars, that's right. We've got to introduce new talent into the sport. There's a big gap between actually running somebody in a car and looking at them from the outside and seeing what they might be doing in Formula 3000 or Formula Three or wherever they might be. You do need to have that opportunity and I think we've got to find better ways of giving young drivers an opportunity to get into the cars so that we can assess them. It's a gamble. You sign up a young driver and you're taking a big risk with a lot of money, especially if you sign them for a season.
Q: Inevitably the speculation continues over your line-up for next year; what's the situation with Jacques at the moment?
DR: No decisions at the moment. We're still carrying on racing this year and that's the priority at the moment. We've had sensible discussions about it and we haven't made a decision as yet.
Q: Is there a timescale, when can we expect an announcement?
DR: Well, I think we have to have it sorted by Melbourne next year. (Chuckles)
Q: Tony, another young driver, Justin Wilson, how's he settling in, what's his future?
TP: The first thing is that Justin's a fabulous human being. He's absolutely honest, his whole approach is thoroughly professional so so far I'm very impressed by the man. Clearly he's with us for the rest of the year. He's hoping to impress us, we're very much hoping to be impressed by him. I think it's a probability, and then, like David, we'll take stock and look at the next year and, as you know, it's a complex equation on who you decide to put in the car but we're very pleased that we've got Mark for another year or two and really, drivers are not one of my greatest worries, because it's a little bit of a buyer's market this year.
Q: Now, wearing your PPD hat, at the moment Cosworth are supplying three teams. Are you looking to expand on that? What's the situation?
TP: For sure, Cosworth are always looking to expand their engine sales. They're a commercial business, they want to supply as many people as they can. For next year, I would hope to be supplying three teams again. For sure, companies always like to expand their sales.
Q: What sort of specifications can you see being available?
TP: The devil's in the detail and the timing. It would be very hard to supply four, five teams with the latest spec engines. But the way we're planning it, for those customers we'll have, I think we'll be able to give them a very competitive package next year.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: To Eddie Jordan and Tony Purnell, I was in the Jordan motorhome talking to Eddie and I could not help but notice that four Cosworth engines blew up in practice which is a pretty dismal performance. Can I have your comments?
TP: I have received no technical reports on the engines so it is very difficult to speculate because these things are very complex. But without doubt we had a number of problems this morning and I would say it is not the performance that we or any engine supplier would be proud of. We want to perform with 100 percent reliability.
EJ: I thought you were paying attention to me instead of watching the TV watching these issues. I didn't know there were four engine problems so I'm disappointed.
Q: The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the most popular races on the schedule and it is off the schedule for next year. What is your view on this whole thing?
OA: I think that, for me, it is one of the best Grands Prix and I think that Canada is a very important market for Toyota so we are definitely not so happy that it is not on the calendar for next year.
EJ: It was the first place we ever scored a point, 1991 with De Cesaris and Gachot fourth and fifth. We've won the boat race there every year for four years across the canal(rowing basin), which is important to my team, and it is a great city, an emerging great technical center and if we are ever going to crack the North American continent then cancelling or not going to a place like Montreal doesn't seem at all logical to me.
DR: Clearly it is a very popular race for us all to attend but there are commercial considerations as well and we have an agreement about the phasing out of cigarette advertising across all of motorsport over the next three years. Our sponsors have actually said they would consider running without livery if it made a difference to going back to the event. However, that has a commercial consideration for it as well and we would be looking to Bernie, if that was an extra event in the championship, to look at the proper compensation for going there.
TP: Just on a personal basis, I am disappointed. I loved going to Montreal. It was always well attended, it is in the North American market, which people have for years said is vital for Formula One, and it is a disappointment.
Q: Can I ask Eddie and Tony about the engine situation for next year? Firstly, is there a contract in place between the two of you and secondly what is the latest on affordable engines for independent teams?
TP: Certainly there is a contract between the two of us otherwise there wouldn't be Cosworth engines in the back of the Jordan today and looking forward we are hoping for a longer relationship and I am optimistic that that is a strong possibility.
On the subject of fully affordable engines, a lot of people have worked very hard in the background ever since January to try and find solutions to making the supply to private teams more affordable. The culprit here is the fact that Formula One engines are very, very expensive. That is the real difficulty and even to supply them at an incremental cost is still very expensive and to date no-one has found an ideal solution to get the price right down but I know there is still work going on and I feel optimistic that eventually a good solution will be found to make life viable for teams without manufacturer support.
Q: Can I just ask for a clarification of the first part of that question. When the deal was signed between Ford and Jordan we understood the contract was initially for three years. Is that not the case?
TP: There is a contract in place, but all contracts have clauses which cover expected or unexpected events so that there are ways which it might be terminated and there are ways which it might continue. As I say, I am optimistic that it will continue and from the Ford point of view we would very much like to continue our relationship with Jordan.
Q: Eddie, Ford are saying, Tony is saying they want to continue the relationship with Jordan. Is that reciprocal?
EJ: I think what Tony has said is an accurate and fair assessment. I think the worst thing for Jordan was the lucky break it got in Brazil because no-one ever really, with a new engine partner, expects to have that kind of a result as a privateer so quickly. So, therefore, there was in place, which is absolutely correct, a three-year contract, and like all contracts there are provisions for various sets of circumstances and I think this is not the forum to go through and detail some of those clauses but there is a willingness, certainly on the Jordan side, to continue with Ford. It is a very early part of the relationship and something that I have always wanted. In fact, it was one year ago that I finally realised that we would have a contract with Ford and I fought viciously hard to achieve that and it is something that I won't give up on easily. That's that part, so there is clarity there: Jordan wishes to continue with Ford and with Cosworth.
The affordable engines? Yes, of course it is a concern because of different interpretations of what people understand as affordable. Some people talked about January, and we all know that there is an open letter about an offer or a position of offer of various different things about what the likely cost or the estimated cost that an engine should cost a private team. Sadly, that has not been able to be adhered to yet and possibly Tony has touched on that by the increasing cost of engines despite the one engine rule for next year, it still does not get away from the fact that, and I have no first-hand knowledge of this, but engines appear to be a very costly item in the overall structure of a Formula One budget. So I am not competent enough to be able to discuss what the 10 million Euro engine deal was, except that I believe that as privateer teams we were offered that and that went through the season. I would like, and I still believe, that whatever happens between Bernie, the banks, the GPWC, I believe that can be attained. I certainly hope so because I am relying on it in my budgetary format.
Q: Most of the engine manufacturers were saying 10 million Euros is not realistic, BMW say 20 million Euros...
EJ: I don't think they would supply at 20 million Euros to be quite honest if you asked them. But that is not for me to answer because I don't think 20 million is probably the right price either. I am not sure what the right price is, but it comes back to the age-old question: Do we want privateer teams in Formula One or do we not? Trying to estimate what some person has to give an engine for or not, I am not sure how it can be structured. But the key issue here is: do the major manufacturers want three privateers in Formula One? If they do, I think that all of us as a unit, as a sport, as a lobby group, ten of us, should get together to see how we can keep all ten of us in the sport at affordable engines which was what was discussed on April 28 or whatever it was at the FIA meeting.
Q: There have been reports that you have been talking to Mercedes. Is that true or is that just a negotiating ploy?
EJ: I think where a lot of that came from is that the original letter about the 10 million Euros came from Professor Hubbert and there may be some confusion and I just wanted to find clarification that this 10 million Euro engine was what we were all talking about.
Q: What is a realistic figure for you?
EJ: I think this is not really necessarily the forum. Everyone has different views. Bernie estimates it to be five, certain letters indicate ten and other people estimated a reason why an affordable engine on that particular meeting was put there obviously had a very significant meaning. It is a little bit unfair. I don't want to have a row with Tony; Tony doesn't want to have a row with me. He knows what the engine costs him and he needs to get as much as he can from our participation and to be honest what we got this year in engines...it has now come to my knowledge that it probably costs Ford in excess of that amount of money so there is probably some form of subsidy and it is a pity that these subsidies should come from just one or two manufacturers only and everybody else takes the benefit.
Q: Do you have a ballpark figure in mind?
EJ: My ballpark figure is that they should pay me 10 million to use their engine! I am in the real world, it is the rest of them that are not! (Laughter)
Q: But really, can you give us a figure?
EJ: Yeah, I have just told you: Ten. Ten less five is five, less five for good behaviour and you are zero. But we are not in the dreaming business - we are in reality. The facts are how much is the engine going to cost and I would like to be able to do a deal for 10 million Euros for the engine. And at the moment I am working towards that.
Q: Do you have a whole lot of choices?
EJ: Honestly, I couldn't answer that because that would be giving any type of negotiating ploy that I might have away. Having said that, I don't want to negotiate, I am happy to work with Cosworth but I need to get to the figures that I believed that I had already pre-arranged the budget in terms of a proposal for my sponsors and the team going forward. Any manufacturer or prudent team will have a projection as to what the likely costs are going forward. In those projections I have 10 million Euros.
Q: After the German Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone criticised some of the drivers who could hardly bother to wave to the fans in the drivers' parade. What can your drivers do during a race weekend to give more back to the fans?
TP: I can say that our drivers are instructed to always co-operate with any activity that might be fan friendly and I would look very dimly on any behaviour that brushed off fans. I am a fan of the NASCAR series, the way the drivers behave there, and I would like to see that duplicated in Formula One.
DR: I think as a collective group... prior to one of the races recently we talked about some initiatives that would bring the fans closer to the sport and bring the drivers closer to the fans themselves and we talked about a range of ideas and we agreed that what was necessary was a proper co-ordinated approach to this rather than just ad-hoc bits and pieces. I think you are going to see a number of initiatives next year that we are going to get the drivers closer to the fans on an organised basis and I know that Bernie is very aware of this as well so it is not something that has been ignored. It is something that all the team principals recognise at the moment and we are looking at a raft of ideas to achieve that.
Q: David, could you tell us what the latest progress is on your becoming an owner of BAR?
DR: I'm not going to tell you about the commercial arrangements between myself and BAT, I'm afraid. That's something between myself and BAT. I don't expect it necessary to make an announcement at all. They are not pressed to sell for some years yet, if ever, and I have a personal arrangement with them and that's that.
Q: Tony, going back to the affordable engines, you said it could be sorted out eventually. Considering that Ford appears to be a key player in this and there are teams who need an engine supply sorted out before the start of next season, when you say 'eventually', are you talking about months, years, weeks? Time is ticking on, isn't it?
TP: That one's above my pay grade. It's really involved with the big negotiation with the GPWC, the banks, Bernie Ecclestone and I await to hear what the outcome of that is.
Q: I would like to ask David that I understand you might leave Formula One in not too long a time, and the second question is how close have you been to (signing) Alexander Wurz who is now officially staying with McLaren?
DR: The second part of the question: I had coffee with Alexander in my motorhome about two races ago, and it appeared that some journalists were sitting in the motorhome and decided that he was about to join us. Alex has been a pal of mine, because obviously he was driving with me before. I keep in touch with him and his wife but the fact that he comes into my motorhome for a cup of coffee does not automatically mean that he's going to be driving for us next year.
The first part of the question? I should clarify this point. What was being discussed was how I saw my future and what I was doing at the moment? Clearly I have a number of responsibilities, a number of involvements in World rallying, Formula One and with Prodrive and I said my objective, over the next three years, was to rationalise those into a position whereby in three years' time I could make a decision about one particular aspect. I enjoy doing everything at the moment, but clearly I would like to look at one particular element that I would focus on for the long term, or maybe just disappear and go and sit on a beach. I just wanted to rationalise my life over the next few years and put in place clear management structures in each of the organizations so that they did their job properly and I could make that decision. It was not necessarily that I'm going to sit on a beach in three years' time, not necessarily that I'm going to continue running a Formula One team but I want to be able to give myself that choice.
Q: Eddie, when do we have the pleasure of hearing your driver line-up for next year?
EJ: I think Tony alluded to that earlier, that there seems to be a lot of very high quality drivers around at the moment and like everything, it always needs one major signing to kick-start the whole driver negotiations and to be fair, until speculation about Montoya does or doesn't go, or stay or doesn't stay, until that's put in place, then I think most teams like us will naturally take a back seat and see what is available when the time occurs. He also touched on the opportunity that there's 25 percent of the championship left, and this is a vitally important year for me because I've a bit of ground to catch up and the drivers are the drivers. I'm happy with the drivers. I could not lay any blame of what's happening on their side or why we've just lost our way in the last months and it's up to me to make sure I rescue that and support and commit and motivate my people in the maximum way to get something out of this season. So drivers, as we all here have said, are not quite as important this year as what you would normally see.