FIA Press Conference - Webber & Button 12 Aug 2004
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
With Mark Webber (Jaguar) and Jenson Button (BAR).
Q: Have you enjoyed a quiet break, I am sure you both have! No? What have you been up to Jenson, tell us.
Jenson BUTTON: It has been a very quiet one for me.
Q: Yeah? Where have you been?
Q: Keeping fit?
JB: Not really. I am still a little bit tired coming here.
Q: And Mark, where have you been?
Mark WEBBER: At home, just at home in England, well, its not home really, its my second home. Normally I go back to Australia but I didnt manage to do it this break. So its just good to stay at home, no plane flights, so, yeah, I feel ready to go.
Q: No mountain climbing this year?
MW: No. All pretty chilled out. Yeah, it went pretty quick, the break.
JB: Where have you been? You have come back chocolate colour!
Q: Yeah, just been out in the sun. Very busy! Jenson, tell us first of all the situation as it stands regarding your drive for next year at the moment.
JB: I think I have made myself pretty clear in the press already. I dont think there is any use going into it again, well, I am not willing to anyway.
Q: But, I mean, the situation regarding the contract recognition board, what happens about that? Can you tell us about that?
JB: No, I cant. You will have to ask the team because it is a contractual matter and I am not able to discuss that.
Q: Well, you have both been team-mates before. How do you feel about teaming up again next year, if it happens?
JB: Again, I am not going to comment about being team-mates. But as a driver, Mark is, erm, we have worked together before, and he really works hard which is fantastic to see. He puts in a lot of effort in every area and I think he would be a big bonus to any team in Formula One.
Q: When you signed with Williams did you know that he was going to be your team-mate?
JB: No comment.
Q: Mark, same question?
MW: Well, I think I would have been the only bloke on the planet if I had known when I signed my contract that Jenson was going to be my team-mate.
Q: You mean you signed it that long ago?
MW: I signed it after Hungary after Hockenheim (laughter). Frank asked me who, of all the drivers available if I had known Jenson was on the market clearly he would have been a driver who, you know, after Giancarlo, Jenson would be fantastic as well, ideal for me and the team.
Q: So you are perfectly happy with having him, obviously?
MW: Absolutely perfect.
Q: Jenson, obviously, you had a meeting with David Richards last Sunday. How is the atmosphere in the team, you have obviously spent quite a bit of time there.
JB: The atmosphere is, erm, okay, its fine, you know, we are all here to do a job and I am looking forward to it. I think we have got a good car here, we should be able to get a good result, everyone is pretty excited about the weekend and so yeah, we are pretty positive.
Q: You dont think things are going to change at all?
JB: I dont think we are going to get any less positive. As soon as we get onto the circuit, we are in a position to challenge for a victory here, I think, so no, we are very positive and that is going to continue throughout the weekend, bar a few mishaps.
Q: What do you think of BARs chances in the future?
JB: Well, it is difficult to say, isnt it? For anyone.
Q: You have made your feelings clear about Williams chances in the future, so what about BARs?
JB: They have obviously got a good career in front of them but it is difficult for anyone to say how good.
Q: Mark, what are your feelings about this race?
MW: Well, last year went well for us here. Our aero package worked pretty well in Hockenheim, we made some good decisions on the tyres, the team did a really good job, and here we are expecting hopefully to go pretty well to be honest. We will try and keep one of the Williams, one of the BARs, just, if we can do what we did in Hockenheim that was good, keep the Saubers and Toyotas at bay and try and get some points. It is not easy these days, obviously the attrition is very low. If we can get both cars in the points then that would be really good but we are on a nice little roll at the moment and hopefully we can continue that and the team is doing a bloody good job.
Q: Have you got engine steps coming?
MW: No real engine steps, no, at this stage. We might use the engine in a slightly different way in races coming up but nothing for this race.
Q: When you look at your future teams performance from this year, what are your feelings about it?
MW: Clearly they are underperforming for what they want to achieve but you have got to look beyond that and look at the people and the history that they have got there and what has happened there. I am a big fan of how Frank goes about the business and it is a real race team and they have very clear ambitions and its exciting. I am really, really happy, obviously, to drive for Williams next year is a big step for me and I am looking forward to the challenge of racing at the front week in, week out.
Q: When people were talking about it earlier in the season, writing about how Webber would really fit in well with Williams, what were your thoughts then?
MW: I remember when I was doing Formula Three and all the categories below Formula One I always thought that Williams would be a really nice team to drive for because they actually just concentrate on the racing and not all the bullshit off the track, so it is really good to be involved in that thing, if you like. I am very excited by the fact that I am going to be working with these guys. People talking about it earlier in the year, that was fine, there were some other teams mentioned as well, but as I said, I did sign the contract around Hockenheim and that is when all the decisions were made because we had the other baggage with the other situations of other drivers. I remained totally consistent about where I wanted to go and so did Frank, so that was good.
Q: When were first contacts made, can you talk about that?
MW: Frank phoned me up after Silverstone last year, that was the first real indication, I suppose. Things started to firm up over the winter and through Malaysia, Bahrain and by the time we got to Europe was when it really started to firm up and that was when I had to start making my decision.
Q: Jenson, can you give us a similar timescale?
Q: I have never known you so un-talkative, Jenson, whats the matter with you? You cant say anything?
JB: I have made myself clear earlier about the issue.
Q: And thats all we are going to get from you?
MW: It is.
Q: Anybody else like a crack?!
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Will Buxton - Metro) Jenson, all season you have been saying how much you have been enjoying your season with BAR, how good it is to work with guys who are working so hard for you. How come the announcement was made in the manner that it was if you had so much respect for the guys you are working with?
JB: I am not going to comment on that. The only thing I would say is I have enjoyed working with BAR and they have been a great team to work for and I have had some very good times.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) Mark, obviously you cant pass up a chance at Williams, but can you talk about how difficult it was to leave Jaguar as you and the team have grown up together a lot over the last two years?
MW: We have done a lot together and I am close to the guys on the floor and am continuing to be a bit frustrated by not being able to go the next step. I think it would be nice to have a little bit more support to justify the talented guys they have got on the floor there. We have made some very, very good decisions whether you look at short-term or long-term, the general design of the car, aerodynamics, Cosworth doing a good job with the engine, the whole thing is quite impressive actually. If you look at what we have got compared to the guys that we have been racing, we have been doing a very sound job. It has been a bit frustrating and sad to leave that behind and I would have liked to have done more in some ways, but I addressed the factory just before the announcement was made with Williams, so I always thought that I would like to try and tell them before and a lot of people were shaking my hand and were happy. They know I need to move on and, you know, it is a different situation to what Jenson is in at the moment. Obviously, it is a special situation anyway, but I wanted to be very clear with them. We are all pretty happy for each other.
Q: (Harry Kiner - ARD Radio) Jenson, looking at your outstanding performance in Hockenheim, what are you able to do here in Hungary?
JB: It is very difficult to know because we expected to be quick at Silverstone and we werent really where we expected to be. Coming to Hockenheim we knew we had a good car, the traction of our car seemed to be very good, so that helped us there quite a bit. Here it is a little bit more of an understeering circuit so we have got to wait and see but we are all pretty positive we can have a good race and, yeah, we are all pretty upbeat about it.
Q: I have another one. Just looking at the contacts you are supposed to have signed with Williams-BMW and with BAR-Honda, at the end of the matter, do you think it is going to be a question of money?
JB: I cant comment on that. I think I have made that clear now! (Laughter)
Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Jenson, have you been in the garage today?
Q: Have you discerned any change in attitude towards you at all to what it was, say, at Hockenheim? Have people been exactly the same?
JB: There is a good atmosphere in the garage. We are here to do a job, we are here to race, and we are here to hopefully get our best result this year and the best result personally and the best result for the team, so we are upbeat about the weekend, definitely.
Q: So everyone is talking to you?
Q: (Helmut Uhl - Bild) That was actually my question, whether somebody is talking to you or not. Do you sleep well?
JB: I always sleep well, do you?
Q: (Andrew Frankl - Forza) I had a feeling that you and Flavio were not exactly in love. I got the feeling that David Richards did look after you big time, you got a great deal of tender loving care. Frank is not really known for being a very loving person, are you at all concerned that the sort of care and attention you were getting previously you may not be getting in the new team?
JB: I have had a good relationship with the team, everyone included, at BAR.
Q: (Bob Constanduros Bob Costanduros & Associates) Just a question apart from motor racing, as the Olympics are coming up, are you looking at any particular athlete?
MW: Well, the Olympics is always very special, of course, every four years. People put a lot of effort and focus into that event, so yeah, I am going to be watching the Olympics quite a lot and I have got some friends in the rowing part of it all and they are expecting to get gold, which would be nice if they can .
Q: Are they English or Australian, can you just clarify that?!
MW: Theyre Australian. They are going to blow the Poms away and it will be very easy. Yeah, I love watching those sort of sports when you watch people go to that level. I think the opening ceremony is tomorrow, isnt it? So, yeah, I am looking forward to seeing all that and hope it goes smoothly for all the people in Athens.
JB: It is an amazing event and I am looking forward to it. Obviously James, James Cracknell, because I know him pretty well, so it will be interesting to see how he does, and I know how hard all of them train for it. We both know the amount of effort they put into the Olympics, they are training for four years for it, so it is going to be exciting to see what the outcome is and, yeah, I am looking forward to it very much.
Q: (Mike Doodson Mike Doodson Associates) Jenson, amongst the several outlandish stories that have arisen following your move to Williams is one that BAR owes you money over a disputed arrangement for bonuses paid on points. Would you like to take this opportunity to deny that story?
JB: I have got no comment on that. (Laughter)
MW: Whos going to win the race this weekend?
Q: (Bob Constanduros Bob Constanduros & Associates) Whos going to win the race this weekend?
JB: I think it is going to be a pretty exciting race. I think the Michelin tyres should be working better than the Bridgestones so I think it is going to be pretty close. I dont think the Ferraris will have their advantage here, so it should be a very competitive race weekend.
Q: And you have the same opinion?
MW: Absolutely, yeah. I think, obviously, Jenson and his team are confident but I think Kimi and Fernando will be strong as well. Fernando was strong here last year and Kimi, the McLaren is getting stronger, so Kimi, the weekend looks okay for him.
Q: ( Péter Farkas- Auto Motor) I am sure you know that rain is expected here for tomorrow and the day after that and maybe even on Sunday. Are you concerned about that because there has been no rain at any of the past Hungarian Grands Prix over the last 18 years.
JB: It is obviously a slight worry because there has never been rain on the circuit at the race meetings so we dont know how the waters going to fall how it is going to stand, sorry, we know how it is going to fall! We dont know where it is going to stand and we dont know if there is going to be any big puddles, so we will have to be a little bit careful but I am sure the people at the circuit have made sure there is not going to be any horrendous puddles anywhere.
MW: A bit of rain will be interesting. Ill believe it when I see it but, yeah, if it rains well be ready for it and it is a tricky little track in the wet I would imagine, so it will be good.