Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
With Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya and BAR's Jenson Button.
Q: Juan Pablo, give us an idea of your feelings as you come to this race in comparison to whats been happening in testing? Youve done a huge amount of testing, havent you?
Juan Pablo Montoya: Yeah, myself, Ive done over 7000 kilometres of testing. Our main focus has been reliability. Of course there have been some aeros bits that have come in and stuff. The car from day one seemed very driveable. I think set-up-wise we are pretty close, weve got a good window. We tried a few different things, but we definitely knew from day one where we wanted to be. So our main focus was on reliability. We had some gearbox problems but those problems were solved. Weve done a lot of race simulations and its good. It just keeps going and going, it just runs.
Q: The transmission problem is solved, you say.
Q: What was going wrong?
JPM: I cant really tell you.
Q: Its been solved for several weeks?
JPM: Probably the last two tests we didnt have any problems. New parts came in and we tried to look what happened, because in December we didnt have any problems and then new bits arrived and then suddenly, whoa, everything started to break. And then we went back to what we used to use and everything was fine. I think the car is very competitive, its a lot quicker than last year. Well see. The only question is how competitive we are in compared to the rest. It doesnt matter how much quicker you are than last year. What matters is how much quicker you are against everybody else. I think we have a strong car. I dont know if its a winning car or not. Hopefully it is. Were much better prepared than ever going into the first race. We know we gave away both championships last year mainly because we didnt score any points in the first five races. Based on that, youve got to think that if you could start scoring good points from the first race youd be fine.
Q: What about the atmosphere within in the team. Its rather a strange situation: Ralf hasnt signed yet, theres a strange thing there, youre leaving at the end of the year. So whats the atmosphere like?
JPM: I think its good. I dont have any problems with anybody really. The team seems to be working exactly the same as last year and before I even signed. Its good. They want to win. It would be nice to win the championship before I leave, to be honest. Im here to race. I cant say Im going to take it easy because Im leaving at the end of the year. Im here and I want to win, and if I have the chance Im not going to give it away.
Q: You dont notice any difference in the atmosphere?
JPM: Not really. Towards the end of the year you might start feeling a little bit, but at the moment Ive done quite a bit more testing than Ralf and everything. I cant say Ive had any disadvantage or anything. It feels very good at the moment.
Q: We were talking to Michael about his situation with Bridgestone in comparison to the Michelin teams, there are so many of them, all exchanging information, and he said that we will find out the best solution at the end of the season. What are your feelings about that?
JPM: Well, in a way, we could be in a good position because we can you know different teams try different things, but in a way, you can play both ends. If Michelin can get all the information together and develop the tyres based one everybodys information, then its a good thing and I think they have so far, against having one team only developing the tyres for one single car. It limits the amount of miles they do, even if they try to run and run and run. Its not the same as 15 cars running as two. So well see. It will take a bit of time to know where you are and if you look at the pace they had in Imola, it was unbelievable, youre going to say, but its the only time theyve been quick, and it was zero degrees ambient and about five degrees track temperature and were never going to race well, Im not really planning to race in that weather. (Laughter).,
Q: But surely the tyre company has to compromise to look after all you guys on Michelins whereas they can specialise looking after
JPM: No, I think Michelin has done a really good job in being able to develop everything each team wants. I cant say that Williams are suffering a little bit because they are developing tyres for another team. I think they have been 100 per cent behind every team and Ive seen a lot of the development during the winter and Ive got to say that Michelin has done a fantastic job so far.
Q: What are your feelings about that, Jenson?
Jenson BUTTON: I think were very happy with the situation. As Juan said, nobodys that reliable at the start of the season. Throughout the winter, youre never going to have 100 per cent reliability, or what you want. So its great that there are so many top teams able to test different things, and I think that is very important.
Q: A new situation for you in the team, in that it can be said youre the old boy in the team now. Does that change things very much for you?
JB: It has done. I think its just a natural progression really over the winter. Ive just had more feed back and more input, whereas last year when Jacques was around, he was obviously very opinionated as we all know, but it was a good thing, because he would push very hard for new parts on the car, whereas I would sit back a little bit more. But Ive learned from him that you really do need to push, even when there arent any problems, youve really got to keep the whole team on their toes and thats where Ive been working very hard this winter.
Q: So in that way, you feel youve changed, youre a bit more demanding?
JB: Yeah, definitely, a lot more demanding.
Q: And Takumas contribution? What is that?
JB: Hes been doing a good job. I think it helped that he was racing in the last race of last year in Suzuka. He seems to be confident, and doing a good job in testing.
Q: What about Anthony, whats going to his contribution as third driver tomorrow?
JB: Well, were lucky that weve got a third car well, it depends which way you look at it really. We finished fifth last year. But hes going to do a lot of miles tomorrow when were not going to be doing as much. We can save the engine a little bit more, which I think is going to help us over the weekend. So yeah, I think youll see Anthony out on the circuit more than anybody tomorrow.
Q: And of course, hes not only competitive and quick but also, hes been around for a long time and done a lot of testing.
JB: He has. Hes been involved with team for a long time. In testing, hes been quick, especially over long distance runs and his feedbacks very good so hes good part of the team.
Q: Would you say that in terms of the third drivers, hes probably going to be the most useful?
JB: Definitely, definitely the most useful.
Q: So what difference is that going to make to the team, then?
JB: As I said, its great to have three cars and hes able to do a lot more laps, so I think its really going to help us when we get to the weekend. He can do all the long running on Friday, whereas other teams wont be able to do that so much, or some teams, anyway.
Q: You really are going to be saving the engines tomorrow?
JB: I dont think youre going to see many cars going round and doing 40 or 45 laps in practice. I think everyones going to be a little bit cautious, especially being the first race.
Q: Is that going to be a worry for you, Juan Pablo, the fact that you guys have got to go out and do the work?
JPM: Er, yeah. I think the first session youre probably going to have to do one or two runs to get a balance and youve definitely got to go out in the second session like you used to do before, back to back the tyres, and then make up your mind. Its like it used to be before, you had to make up your mind on the tyres and that was it. You couldnt really start changing tyres on the Saturday morning because you were working on race set-up, especially with the new speed limit and everything, a lot of races are going to be three stops. You need to have the good tyres for the race. So it wont be such a clear opinion on the tyres like probably they will, but Ferraris in the same position, McLarens in the same position, and Renaults in the same position. Im pretty happy.
Q: Is it going to change the hierarchy, the fact that they can do more work on the day that theyve got to decide on the tyres?
JPM: I think that what youve got to do is have a good look at what theyre doing. You know, youve got reference numbers and things. You can probably figure out what tyres theyre running and what things theyre doing, and if you have a good look, you can probably learn a lot from them as well. I think the teams going to be well prepared for that.
Q: Jenson, your feelings on that? Can you see that happening?
JB: Oh yeah, definitely. I think people will be watching us, because I think we will be strong this season so I think that the top four teams will be interested, especially the three Michelin teams.
Q: You seem to have been quick at three or four tests, really substantially quicker on some days. They have been low fuel days I understand
Q: but its not worth that much is it?
JB: Well, we dropped it from 100 to 60 on those days.
JPM: Ah, very impressive.
JB: The cars strong. Its a nice car to drive, its very stable and that gives you confidence. Also, when you make a change, you can really feel the difference with the car which is good and I think that weve made a good step forward. I still dont know where we are compared to the top teams, but hopefully were a lot closer than what we were last year.
Q: Is it a huge advance compared to last years car?
JB: Yeah, its a very good step forward. But again, it hasnt been one big step, its been throughout the winter, weve been improving. We had the interim concept car and then the 06 is again, its just little steps but it seemed to work for us.
Questions from the floor
Q: For both of you, if you were not involved in motor sport in any way, what job or profession would you like to do?
JB: We are.
JPM: I dont know. Yeah, probably an architect. My father used to be an architect. So when I was a kid I wanted to be an architect.
JB: Ill be a secondhand car salesman then. (Laughter)
JPM: Be washing cars or something.
Q: Is that what you want to do?
JB: No, thats what my old man was. No, it would have to be something pretty crazy I think. I dont know what.
JPM: Stunt driver or something.
JB: Fighter pilot.
JPM: Yeah, that would be cool.
Q: Juan, youve seen or youve heard the reaction to what happened yesterday. Two things: are you surprised at how much coverage you got and in hindsight, do you think that you should have gone with the joke a bit more?
JPM: I think I will go with the first question. You know its very hard to say whether you react too hard or not. I was very polite to him. I think that especially when youre doing a day for a sponsor, youve got to be very professional what youre doing, and when its not handled professionally, then I dont think youve got to be there. Theres a lot of money involved in it from everybody: from the sponsors, from the team and if its not controlled properly and theyre not respecting not only myself but everybody in the room I found out . If youre in a place where youre joking and having fun then its alright but I wouldnt really find if funny you know I didnt find it funny, a guy asking me if I wanted to play golf with his grandmother or whatever. I didnt tell him anything. I wasnt rude to anybody. I just said sorry, scuse me and I stand up and I left. It was very straightforward. If you look at the pictures and everything theyve got in the newspaper I find it quite amusing actually, because it wasnt even from yesterday. If you look at the pictures from yesterday I was laughing on the way out because I was talking to a friend of mine. Youve got to establish a precedent that youve got to do a professional job and it wasnt done professionally, and it wasnt handled professionally by anybody so I decided that I didnt have to be there. I just stood up and left.
Q: Are you concerned at all though how it came out and how it portrays you and maybe Formula One drivers and how they react?
JPM: No, I dont care to be honest. I talked to Frank, Frank is OK with it and thats all that really matters. I talked to Frank and he said to me Im glad you behaved in a good way, its a shame we couldnt complete the day. I said yeah, its a shame, but it wasnt handled properly from the beginning. When the two guys after the first time it should have stopped and nobody in the room did anything to stop it so I decided, they not interested in stopping it, then I will. Theyve got respect me, Im doing a professional job for them. Im not lacking in respect to anybody so I decided to leave. Of course, as Formula One never comes here, only each year for three or four days, its a big thing if something happens and like everything, the press wants to be with Formula One and people want to see if they can stir some bad things about it and they did, and that was all. I dont think it got out of hand or anything. You can ask any of the media who was there because there were a few guys from Formula One you can I didnt shout at anybody or anything, I just got in the car and left.
Q: So is the report that there was some friction between you and some staff members from Williams, is that not true?
JPM: There was some friction but it wasnt in front of anybody. It was a closed room, and we had a discussion about it. I told them why I was leaving. Of course they didnt want me to leave because its a sponsor day and everything, but I gave them my reasons and they said OK.
Q: This question is for Jenson; youre the only driver who has driven on the track in Bahrain. Do you think youre going to have any advantage on the other drivers? (Some laughter)
JB: What did you say, Juan? Not really, because there wasn t any tarmac there. (More laughter). If we were racing a 4x4, then maybe. But it wasnt very interesting to go there and have a look at the facilities and the layout of the circuit, so it was a great visit for me but no, I dont think its going to help me in circuit experience.
Q: The question is to Juan Pablo: you talked about Franks reaction, but what was the sponsor reaction?
JPM: Well, the sponsor cant really say anything because the sponsor was the guys who let them in. From what I read this morning, I think part of the sponsors, the guys who were based here in Australia, they knew about it. At least the guy sitting beside me knew about it. They probably wanted to play a joke on me and it didnt work too well, not as planned.
Q: Jenson, youre sitting next to a guy whos leaving Williams at the end of the year and going to McLaren I know you dont want to answer this question but theres a lot of speculation that you might take his seat. What will it take to keep you at BAR? If you are halfway through the year and youre sixth in the World Championship, are you going to stay at BAR?
JB: I dont have a choice.
Q: Theres no performance clause?
JB: If Im sixth in the championship Im at BAR and thats
Q: The team is sixth in the Constructors championship, perhaps .
JB: (Laughter) Its difficult to say, you know. What I would like to concentrate on this year is this year.
Q: I know that, but Im not asking you about this year. If Williams comes along and offers you a pile of money to go and Juans car are you going to take it?
JPM: That would happen would it?
JB: Your car?
JPM: No, driving the car yeah, but the pile of money?! (Laughter)
JB: The most important thing for me as I said is this year and no decision will ever be made until part of the way through this season and if I dont perform this year, it doesnt really make any difference and if our team doesnt perform or Williams dont perform, we wont be having this discussion. I really dont know whats going to happen. Its a decision were going to have to make when we get to the time. At the moment, Im not thinking about that at all. Not interested at the moment.
Q: Do you think you could be World Champion in 2005 with BAR?
JB: I think theres a chance, yes. The amount of progress weve made over this winter, not just through lap time but also as a team, weve really moved forward. I think its possible.
Q: Do think you could be World Champion in 2005 with Williams?
JB: Not if Im at BAR! (Laughter)
Q: Just to make it even more painful, Jenson, to follow on from that: isnt it inconceivable, though, if you had a choice between BAR, even if its on the rise, and Williams BAR in the near term future is never going to be a Williams is it?
JB: We dont know, nobody knows. The only people who know are involved and we know the amount of improvement weve made over this winter, its been huge, and we dont 100 per cent know how were going to compare against the top teams, but I think were going to be very strong. So if you ask me in six or eight races time Ill probably have a slightly better answer but not much.
Q: Im a bit incredulous, so excuse me but if you were offered a drive, if it came, the opportunity to go to Williams in your career, could you really say no?
JB: You could if they werent the top team, yeah. I want to win the World Championships and I want to do it it doesnt matter how I do it really, I want to be World Champion, but I would rather do it with BAR because Ive really built a good team around me, I think.
Q: Jacques Villeneuve was a great character, the outlaw of Formula One drivers, you worked with him, you saw him off, so basically you killed his career (Laughter) so do you miss him, did you like having him around?
JB: Yeah. The start of the season I didnt really because he said a few things, but I did also. But he was a good teammate. He was very opinionated as Ive said before, but he really got the job done and he pushed the team very very hard for improvement so yes, he was a very good teammate, but things move on and Im very happy having Takuma as a teammate. I think hes really done a good job over the winter and he deserves to be in the team.
Q: Juan, your opinion on this please, do you think its a shame that a driver of Jacques calibre is not in Formula One?
JB: If you say hes good, that means Im awesome! (Laughter)
JPM: I think he put himself in that position really. I think hes got to look after his career himself. As Jenson said, Jenson beat him last year and if Jacques had done a good enough job, he would still be here. He did a very good job when he was World Champion and I think he lost a lot of motivation when he went to BAR and struggled for a few years. Of course he wanted to win but he didnt have the equipment to win, so Im not sure how hard he was still trying to win and maybe he just backed off too much, took it too easy and suddenly he realised he didnt have a drive.
Q: Juan, over the winter, a lots been said and written about events at the French Grand Prix being a possible catalyst for you talking to McLaren. Its been reported that you werent happy with Ralf stopping a lap early and all the rest of it. He had the pole, he was leading the race, what was it about the French Grand Prix that you were actually upset about?
JPM: Er, nothing really. (Laughter). No, there was a lot of shit happening in that race and Im not going to say no, it didnt happen, Im not going to tell you what happened. Yes, he did piss me off. I can tell you that, Im honest. I can tell you I was talking to Ron before that race.
Q: Was it team orders?
JPM: No, no, no, no. I dont remember (Laughter)
JB: It was a long time ago, wasnt it?
JPM: Jeez, about eight months ago and I can tell you I was talking to McLaren and to Ron before that and of course that added up to making up my mind but that wasnt the only reason. There were a lot more things that happened. Its like when youre having a girlfriend, it gets to a point when its just too much. (Laughter)
JB: What. With every girlfriend?
JPM: Exactly, thats why Im married to Connie because shes alright.
Q: Juan, youve mentioned what you think of Ferraris lap times in the recent test; what do you make of the problems that McLaren have been having in the recent test. Do you think that they will hit the ground running this weekend, or do you think that they genuinely have some difficulties?
JPM: I think they did have some difficulties and from what youve seen in testing, especially on new tyres, they dont look very strong. If you look at the long runs, ours or BARs, I think if somebodys got stronger long runs than us youve got to see its Renault, its somebody who over one lap we might be quicker than them but in the longer distances they look to be quite strong. The question is, how much have they had? Everything is always based on fuel, on weight of the car, I dont know if everybodys been running with the weight they have to run. I think theyve been running with lower weight just to find some sponsors. There are so many political things going on that I think by Sunday well get a bit of an idea whos quick and whos not.
Q: Juan, obviously youre going to McLaren next year. Youre an opinionated person which make it an interesting concept for some of us who know Ron very well, whos ever so slightly restrictive of what he likes to hear his drivers saying. Do you think its going to be an interesting relationship?
JPM: I think it will be really interesting. You know Im really looking forward to it. It will be nice to have a year with Williams but when I made up mind, I made up my mind after meeting Ron and talking to Ron and negotiating with Ron. When you make a decision like that, he knows what hes getting into and I know what Im getting into.
Q: Youre not going to sign anything that says you cant have your opinions?
JPM: I havent, as far as I remember. (Laughter)
Q: To Jenson Button. Last year Honda had a lot of unreliability in the car. This year, you have a very good chassis but what about the engine?
JB: In the winter, in November and December, we were fine, we seemed to be very reliable, not only with the engine but also with the car. But in January we did have a few problems with the reliability but weve improved dramatically with that in the last few tests, weve had no major problems, so I think were looking strong.
Q: This year, there are six teams running Michelin and four running Bridgestone. If next year another team decides to run Michelin, do you think it would be much better to have one tyre supplier?
JB: Are they allowed to?
JPM: I think having two is definitely better, because the tyres are softer and there is a lot more grip. As soon as they go to one, you know we will start going three or four seconds a lap slower, I guarantee you, because manufacturers dont want to have problems or anything, so its going to be a tyre that is more reliable, doesnt grain, it doesnt do anything, but it just doesnt have grip. I like it the way it is. Its good because youre fighting against Ferrari and theres a lot more things to it. You know you think we can get the edge on them in qualifying because of tyres, but maybe they will have the edge on us in the race or it depends on the temperature. Theres a lot more factors and it just makes racing more interesting.
JB: I dont think other team cant go
JPM: I think its got to be 60-40, doesnt it.