Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
With Jenson Button (BAR) and Jarno Trulli (Toyota).
NOTE: Continuing the policy of a guest questioner, we have, this time, Eric Silbermann of Silbermann Says.
Q: Jenson, here we are at Suzuka which is a great track with average facilities and across the other side of the world we have Silverstone which fits the same description. As a British driver whats your view on the fact that there might not be a British Grand Prix next year?
Jenson BUTTON: From a drivers point of view, its disappointing. Your home Grand Prix is very very special. I have loved Formula One for many years, from when I was a youngster and the only race I used to watch was the British Grand Prix because it was my home Grand Prix and it would be devastating, I think, not just for myself but for all the fans in the United Kingdom, if we didnt have a Grand Prix. For me, Silverstone is a great circuit and if its not on the calendar I think we would be losing a great race. There are obviously lots of reasons why it might not be there but that is not for me to comment on.
Q: Now you made your decision to switch to Williams a long time ago, and now were nearly at the end of the season. A lot of bookies are allowing you to bet on races and championships, putting Ferrari out of the equation. Now if we do that youre the World Champion and so is your team. In the time since you made that decision, have you had any second thoughts about leaving BAR-Honda for Williams?
JB: I am not going to comment on that because this is not the correct place to be commenting on that, I dont think. On the 16th October, we will know where I am next year or well know the decision of the CRB (Contract Recognition Board) and then I can talk about it a little bit more but at the moment I dont think its correct for myself or either team.
Q: Yeah, but I am not asking you to say where youre going, Im just saying in your own mind, we know you want to go to Williams, thats fair, but have you looked at the performance of your team and that of Williams?
JB: I havent compared them, but I think that in the last few races, as a team, we have done a good job. We have had some very good results but that doesnt change anything.
Q: This is obviously a sort of home race for your team with the Honda engine but I guess you get to play second fiddle to Takuma here in terms of all the attention that he gets. Is that nice for you? Is it a bit of a weekend off from the media side of things, the PR, the promotions and everything?
JB: Its still a busy weekend; it is for all the drivers, but especially Taku. I have been watching him so far today and its been very busy for him and we will be able to see how he performs under pressure. I think he will do well, but it is always very tough, your home Grand Prix, especially how much of a following he must have after a reasonably good year. So it is going to be tough for him but we will see what he is made of.
Q: Now there is a lot of talk of a lot of rain heading this way for the weekend. This is a bit of an old fashioned track; it looks quite dangerous in the dry Maybe Jarno, after Jenson, would like to comment on it as well. What are your views on racing here on a wet track?
JB: I think on any circuit you are a little bit more nervous racing if it is wet because you cant see 20 meters even five metres in front of the car because there is so much spray if you are in traffic. Wherever, its pretty scary and I dont think this is any different. I do enjoy driving in the wet, just not when youre in the middle of a pack. I think we had a very good race in Monza - I know it wasnt wet wet but it was damp and the car seemed to work very well. So I think we will be quick here if it is wet but again, for the drivers in the race, its not a nice situation if it rains.
Q: Jarno, would you like to start by giving us your views on that as well?
Jarno TRULLI: As Jenson said, it is never nice to be racing in wet conditions, especially here in Japan at Suzuka. As you said, it is an old fashioned circuit, it probably needs more run-off areas but we have been quite committed during this season, trying to improve what we have but we are a little bit limited, there is not much space we can gain. Naturally its a very high speed circuit so none of us will enjoy it as much as we can enjoy the track in dry conditions. Thats all I can say.
Q: And youve only tested the car twice so far, the Toyota. Where are you in your learning of the new car?
JT: Pretty much zero! When you jump in a new team and you go to a race after three days testing its not going to be easy, especially here in Japan at Suzuka and especially with a wet track. But I am very confident and I am motivated to do well because the team is nice, I have had a very warm welcome and all we have to get is experience.
Q: And there is a lot of extra pressure for you in some ways because you are coming in from nothing and this is Toyotas home race as well.
JT: It doesnt matter where you are, what you are doing, there is always pressure and its part of the job. Its going to be a home race for Toyota and we all want to show good things but obviously we know our limits and we will try our best for the weekend.
Q: Both of you have experienced the pleasures of being sacked from Renault at some stage. Jarno, looking back now, its a few weeks on now, do you think the whole thing could have been handled better by the team?
JT: I think neither of us has been sacked, to be honest. Ive just left the team.
Q: Alright maybe I used the wrong word, but do you think the situation could have been handled better?
JT: I am not going (to comment) on this matter any more because I think everything has been said a lot and Im looking forward to this new experience, new adventure and were pleased to be joining the Toyota team, thats all I can say.
Q: I guess you must have watched the Chinese Grand Prix on television. Do you think Jacques Villeneuve did a better job than you could have done?
JT: Jacques did what he had been expected to do. He has been away for a long time before driving the car again and it is never easy when you stop for a year to jump in a new car and then do an extremely good result. I think Jacques did what he could do and you can always argue that he could do better or not, but I am sure he would improve his performance nowadays because hes got a bit more experience in the car. I can only say that it was nice to watch the Grand Prix from the television.
Q: Next year youre staying with the team and you have another new team-mate. Youve always got on well with your team-mates in general. How do you think youre going to get on with Ralf Schumacher?
JT: Well, to be honest, we already started pretty well. The other day I met him at the hotel, and just stopped to have a chat with him, telling him about what I thought of the team, the little experience that Ive had in these first few days testing and honestly I cannot see any problems, any reasons and even Jenson has had quite a good relationship (with him) in the past. It depends on the way you approach people. It depends on what you expect from people. We are not all the same and we have somehow to deal with the positive and negative things. We cannot be nice for everyone. I am a very nice person but Im sure not everyone likes me in the paddock.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jarno, how difficult is it to move from one team to another team technically?
JT: It is a bit complicated because everything changes, from a different seating position, the car, the team, you know, its all new, but actually a driver is meant to be a driver and can drive anything he has. Its just a question of time to take the car to the limit, experience and the team so far has been really nice to me. Ive had a very warm welcome and it is not going to be an easy weekend because I think I moved pretty quickly. But it is a new adventure and in all adventures you are very motivated because you can see people are happy, you can see people are positive, and at the moment I am really happy to be here. Obviously Im looking forward to working at this Japanese Grand Prix even if I know its going to be difficult for me.
Q: (Marc Surer - Premiere TV) Jenson, you have been very close to the Ferraris many times, but not able to beat them. In which area are you losing out? What is the Ferraris secret?
JB: It is something we really dont know. They seem to be just strong in every area, really, a step above everyone in every area I would say. They are a very complete team, they have a lot of experience and they have just chipped away at it over the years.
Q: (Marc Surer) If you follow the Ferrari, can you feel where they are gaining?
JB: For me, as I said, they seem to be gaining in every area. I dont think we should have been able to beat them in the last two or three races because they are quicker than us, and it is a better car. I think that we are a little bit closer now than we have been during the season, but there is still a way to go. Over one lap we are relatively quick, but on a long run we are about half a second off of the Ferraris at most circuits now.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi) Jarno, coming back to the other question, is it difficult to set up the cockpit, how do you find the different steering wheels?
JT: Yeah, when you drive a Formula One car it is not like sitting in a road car and just driving it. At 300 kph, things happen very quickly, you have to have a good feeling with the car, youve got to be extremely confident and youve got to have everything in place so you know which buttons you have to press in which corner and what you have to do. And also, the visual things, when youre sitting in a new car, despite the fact that you are so concentrated on driving and the feeling of the car, everything has to be quite natural and it takes a bit of time before you can settle in. Ive had three days testing in Jerez which went pretty well. On the last day, I did about 111 laps so I think I made a good step from when I first started testing the car at Silverstone, but its never enough, especially when youre driving such a quick car.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) Jenson, Jacques Villeneuve is back, he says hes a changed guy and he seems a lot happier. He says all the bitterness has gone and so on. Have you talked to him at all and how does he seem to you?
JB: He seems like he is very happy to be back, definitely. He said the same thing when we were going around on the (drivers parade) truck in Shanghai. Everyone wants him to be bitter Jacques but hes got no reason to be like that, hes here to race and do the best job he can. He seems to be fit, I think he was consistent throughout the last race and it is good to have him back in Formula One I think. With a bit more experience in the car, I think he could do reasonably well, but it might be too late for them.
Q: (Dan Knutson) As Marc Surer said, youre getting closer and closer to the Ferraris, at the last race you were one second away from victory. At this track, do you think you might be closer or further? How do you see the race going?
JB: This is a very similar circuit to Silverstone and Ferrari were very quick there and McLaren were also very competitive. So I dont know. It is going to be a tough race, I think theres going to be quite a few cars up the front, its going to be very difficult to say that we are going to have an advantage or were not. We have got to wait and see really, but the McLarens and Ferraris, we know, will be competitive. We obviously want to win here, but our main aim is to beat Renault, so its a tough one. Weve got to look behind as well as forward.