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FIA Press Conference - Williams members 17 Jun 2004

Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Principal in the press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Indianapolis, USA, 17 June 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

With Williams team members Juan Pablo Montoya, Ralf Schumacher and Sir Frank Williams.

Q: Frank, the team really stepped up in terms of performance in Montreal – what was your reaction to that and how will you maintain it?
FrankWilliams:
Well, the style of the track was more suitable to our cars’ taste, if you like. The car was slightly easier to adapt to that circuit and the drivers obviously drove, as they do all the time, to 100 percent, and it went well apart from the area that you are dying to talk about at the end of the race.

Q: I am not dying to talk about it but obviously it is a subject that is going to come up. How does that sort of thing happen – we sort of heard from Ross Brawn just now how complex it is – and whose responsibility is it?
FW:
Well you could say the responsibility stops with me at the end of the day but we are a large organisation and there was a chain of events that I am not going to dissect here but we were very clumsy in that particular part. I think we all believe there is no implication of achieving an aerodynamic advantage with that by cheating. We made a mistake and paid a heavy price and we have no quarrel with that.

Q: What was your reaction to it, Ralf?
Ralf Schumacher:
I think we were all disappointed, especially the mechanics. It was the result we were desperately looking for, but that is the way it is. In my time at Williams we have never had a problem. It was just an unfortunate incident and, as Frank just said, we have never and will never cheat. It was not our intention.

Q: As it was your best result of the year and the team’s best result of the year, it must be very frustrating.
RS:
Well, it doesn’t change the fact that we had a great race, I think everybody saw that. We were kind of back up but the car was very suited to Montreal. We can have another good one here but it is certainly a bit more difficult. Obviously we didn’t get any points but hopefully we will get some here.

Q: Actually, that is a good point. Are you still going to pay the bonus money to the team, Frank?
FW:
That is an undecided internal matter.

Q: Because BMW have said they are going to pay.
FW:
It’s an internal matter. You know more about this business than I do.

Q: Well, one of my colleagues tipped me off. But the same sort of thing, the chain of command, does that have anything to do with the restructuring of the team?
FW:
I would rather say no more about it. It is behind us as far as I am concerned, as far as the team is concerned and I would rather talk about this weekend. We learn from our mistakes and clearly we learned very heavily that weekend.

Q: You have an updated car coming, when will we see that?
FW:
Maybe France, maybe Britain, maybe the next race, it depends what performance it brings. It is a reasonable change, modest you might say, but we hope it brings an advantage. If it doesn’t you won’t see it and you won’t see change until we have something really worthwhile for these boys to do justice to their careers.

Q: Is it principally aerodynamic?
FW:
I don’t want to tell you, sorry.

Q: Juan Pablo, can the team repeat the Montreal performance here, do you think?
Juan Pablo Montoya:
Well, I think we should be pretty strong here. Over the years we have been pretty good here. The car, in low downforce, seems to be quite competitive. We have to see. Montreal suits the car much better because it is quite bumpy. We have to wait and see.

Q: What are your feelings about major changes to the car, do you feel you need them?
JPM:
Well we need them really. There haven’t really been any major steps since Malaysia this year so we fell back a little bit but that doesn’t mean the team is not trying to find anything new to go quicker it is just they haven’t been able to find anything but they are trying.

Q: I mean, development is ongoing, isn’t it, but is there something about the car that you don’t like – a lack of stability or something?
JPM:
I mean, every car has got its issues and some are issues easier to solve than others. We have worked a lot on these cars to try and improve those issues and I think the test before going to Montreal we did a lot of work in Silverstone and a lot of work in Monza and it seemed to pay off.

Q: Ralf, France, of course, is the next race. You won it last year. Is that a pointer for the next Grand Prix?
RS:
Well, I mean, even in Montreal we had a chance of winning. If the car improves as we planned then I am sure – I like Magny Cours, we have a good package – it is all possible, yeah.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Joe Saward – F1 Grand Prix Special) Juan Pablo, you talked about issues several times and didn’t actually say what these issues were. Can you give us a bit more detail and Frank maybe you can tell us what they are?
JPM:
Well, it is just balance really, getting comfortable driving the car, and that is it. The car has got this technical thing that makes it hard to drive but, you know, that’s it really. I am not going to go into detail over what the problem is. Sometimes it is hard to drive, sometimes it is easy to drive, and it’s not about whether it is hard to drive it is whether it goes fast or not.

Q: (Joe Saward) Is it one specific thing?
JPM:
No.
FW: If you want another answer, clearly the car, in very simple terms, is compared to its peers who we are trying to beat, is insufficiently quick around the parts that matter, that is to say, around the corners. We have adequate horsepower – but we are always grateful for more – but that is not our concern. We just concentrate on the car and it is obvious to all of you that we have failed to find improvements. As Juan has said, we are trying and hopefully with a slight change of direction we will see improvement. But we are really not competitive by our standards or by real standards at this time.

Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Frank, going back to the subject you don’t want to speak about: bearing in mind Toyota had a problem with the very same regulation in Canada – and it is very unusual to have that with two teams in the same weekend – was there anything in hindsight that explains what happened there, anything that is a grey area?
FW:
I don’t think at all. I used the word clumsiness deliberately. It was an internal matter that overlooked something - I didn’t check exactly what the sequence was because I haven’t been back at the track myself. But it hit us badly and we deserved to be beaten – that’s what you pay for.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) To both drivers, in Canada you had a bad problem after the race but you had a good car. Do you think you can win here?
JPM:
I think if we knew we wouldn’t win it you wouldn’t even bother to come. It is a race and I don’t know where we stand but we will try to do the best job we can with the equipment we have got. You know, if this car is quick enough to win we will try to win and see what happens.
RS: In Montreal, everything was perfect and at the state the 26 is in now I think if everything runs well then I think we have a good chance even here.

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Agencia Efe) Juan Pablo, how would you describe your season so far and of the 10 races left which will be good for you?
JPM:
It is hard to say which one is going to be good or bad for us. At the moment Indy should theoretically be a good race as far as Canada was a good race and you have got to say Monza is going to be a good race for us. We will have to wait and see. If something good comes out let’s say for Magny Cours or Silverstone - it might be Silverstone, it might be Magny Cours – then we will see how competitive the car is then. The team cannot do it by themselves and the driver cannot do it by himself, so it is a matter of working with the team and you have got to be in the team when they do well and when they do badly. It’s like what happened last week. It was a mistake but at the same time when you go off you make a mistake as well, you know, the team doesn’t go and slag you off because you made a mistake – you have got to be with them. You don’t go off on purpose, they didn’t make a mistake on purpose. It’s racing.

Q: (Curt Cavin – The Indianapolis Star) Frank, perhaps another subject you don’t want to discuss, but your driver line up for next year – when can we have some information relative for next year and for a couple of drivers that have influence at Indianapolis – Jacques Villeneuve and Scott Dixon – how do they fit into your plans?
FW:
Well there is a list. We know we need drivers. We have a list, we have tested Scott, we may or may not test Jacques. The driver replacement is not directly in my focus but after the end of July things will become more clear at that time it will get more attention. The biggest problem now is making a winning racing car. Then the phone rings.

Q: (Michael Vega – Boston Globe) Ralf, Ross Brawn described your brother as being ‘as enthusiastic as he has ever seen him this year’. Have you seen that yourself and what do you think has sparked that and has he become bored? Does he look for another challenge do you think?
RS:
Well, I would wonder. His life is perfect, isn’t it. Basically his team are winning races and as long as the success is there, as it is for Michael, it is great being there. The question is if they go through a rather difficult period whether he would still be happy enough to go through that – but that question hasn’t been asked since, I don’t know, six years now, or four years? I have no clue. I think for him it is simply great.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Frank, going back to the drivers again, I don’t know whether it is a slip of the tongue or not, but you said you ‘have a list, I know we need drivers’ (pleural) Is there any development on that because at the moment it is only one driver you need.
FW:
Well, at the present as you understand, Ralf hasn’t decided what he has done or going to do in so far as an announcement would be made or would have been made at this present time we would rather consider… we need to take precautions for the long-term rather than suddenly get caught short at the wrong time with no relevant drivers available. We are in the market all the time looking and listening.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Frank, I understand the team bosses have agreed on a qualifying format to start at Silverstone. Can you tell what that is about?
FW:
Well, it is agreed so far as I know. Williams have signed it and I have had no notice from Bernie or the FIA. It is a formality now, I think there is some reservation that maybe what we are doing presently is maybe better than what we are going to do in Silverstone if it happens. Silverstone, essentially, there is again only one official qualifying session and that is split into two 25-minute sessions with a ten-minute gap in between and each team is allowed to do a total of six laps, is allowed to use four sets of tyres for that first 25 and the second 25 session and you must start the race on the tyres on which you qualified. Your qualification time is based on the aggregate for the - first time ever in Formula One – on the best lap of the first 25 minutes and the second 25 minutes.

Q: (Dan Knutson) What about fuel levels on the car after qualifying?
FW:
Well, I thought they should be done as a parc fermé before qualifying begins but most people prefer to put fuel in after qualifying so that is how it is going to be if everyone has signed.