FIA Thursday press conference - Germany 21 Jul 2005
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), Ralf Schumacher (Toyota); Team chiefs: John Howett (Toyota), Norbert Haug (Mercedes).
Q: For both the manufacturer representatives, what are your feelings about V8s versus V10s? There was a piece in Autosport magazine this week that suggested the V8s might be less competitive than the V10s and so the V10s might be better to have. What are your feelings on that? Does the V10 have a future as far as you are concerned?
John Howett: It is too early to say what the end result will be because the equivalence ratio between the 2.4-litre V8 and the 3-litre V10 is not defined. I mean, clearly, if you just equate the power there is a strong probability that a V10, with a mid-range torque, would be a better option. From our perspective, the spirit of the regulation is that the engine to be used is a 2.4-litre V8 and therefore, for the next two to three years, our full effort is in developing that engine.
Norbert Haug: As John pointed out, it depends on the limit you put on the V10. As I understand the rules, the V10 should be as much handicapped so it is inferior to V8. That is the current situation but it depends on the revs or air restrictor or whatever is the plan. Basically you can are going to have an advantage with a V10 in terms of weight, fuel consumption, power, whatever, driveability, but my understanding, our common understanding, by the way, of all manufacturers, is that the V10 will be handicapped in the right manner so that it is not superior to the V8.
Q: Does the V10 have a future in your plans?
NH: Currently not, no.
Q: Again, to both of you, Michelin said yesterday that they would like to see a more even spread with Bridgestone, more Bridgestone runners rather than seven or eight Michelin runners and two Bridgestone runners. What are your feelings about that?
NH: I think that depends. The current rule says that as long as you are asked to supply tyres, and it depends. In my view, I am very open. I would have nothing against five teams choosing Bridgestone and five teams choosing Michelin.
JH: I think a similar position. Obviously, the burden for Michelin is quite high and as we have two competing tyre brands you probably need a balance of teams with the tyre brand to help the tyre companies. Given the current structure of tyre supply it is probably a very reasonable position from Michelin. But who would be persuaded to leave them with the current competitive position of their tyre is difficult to understand.
Q: John, quite some while ago we were told there was a possibility there would be an announcement about Jordans engine supply. Why hasnt anything happened and have you had overtures from another company?
JH: The position of Toyota is that we are committed to supply Jordan. I am not sure there is a rush to make an announcement from our side. We are still finalising contractual details and to some extent the ball is in Jordans court, but I can confirm that our intention is to supply Jordan with engines next year. We have had an approach, it is clear, from Williams, to our corporate headquarters in Japan, which has been referred back to us and there is some informal discussion moving forward. But I think we have no intentional capability to supply next year. It is dangerous to say never but I think it is fundamentally too late now to actually establish the production volumes we need to supply that kind of demand.
Q: Norbert, obviously some problems at the last couple of races. Have you solved those problems? Was it the same problem at both races?
NH: No, different problems in France and Silverstone and we never have had these problems before. We communicated the issues already but I am happy to repeat it, it was a bearing in the engine in Magny-Cours and it was a shaft connecting the oil pump and water pump in Silverstone. We changed it, we checked it, we did a lot of testing since, we did some very good testing in Jerez, I am sure Juan Pablo can go into details because he was driving. We had one engine failure there, we had two other engines as stated in our press release already and they did more than 1,200km, more than 1,400km, we put the engine that did more than 1,200km on the dyno and put an additional 500km on this engine and really put a lot of stress on that engine, which we did over the whole course of the year during testing and dyno running and everything was fine. I pointed out earlier that none of us is in a position to say it never can happen. We are all on the limit, we are all revving very high, I think the power is higher than we saw last year, so everything is very close to the limit or at the limit. Having said that our reliability was very good so far and I am quite happy that the failures occurred during practice and not during in the race because, in a way, we repaired it and got a second and third place out of it, which wasnt too bad a result, but obviously we all have to be concerned, if they are serious, it is a tough formula but we did everything we possibly could have done to be in the best possible situation.
Q: We are told that we are going to get a document from what was the GPWC this weekend, is that the case? When can we expect it?
NH: I am not sure whether it is going to happen this weekend. We will have some meetings and then we will discuss and decide but I dont think that we will have one this weekend.
Q: Juan Pablo, we just mentioned the testing last week, how did it go?
Juan Pablo Montoya: It went pretty good. We did plenty of running. The first day we didnt do too much running I had a couple of problems in the car but I think we made a lot of progress with the car. We tried a couple of new things and it seems to have made some progress. We were strong in the last race; we should be very strong here.
Q: Obviously the win at Silverstone was extremely good; how has it affected you?
JPM: I think it is just a bit of a relief. It was nice to get a win for McLaren and its nice to win at Silverstone. When youre running for a British team it is a race you want to win because I race for the team, and coming here for Hockenheim, I won two years ago so it would be nice to get a win here for Mercedes. I think the car is capable of doing that and hopefully we can show our true potential here again.
Q: Now theres meant to be a drivers meeting with Max Mosley. I believe youre not going that meeting. Can you tell why?
JPM: I am going to Colombia. Im not around and in a way I was a bit shocked that we couldnt have done the meeting any day - Friday or Thursday after the drivers meeting and they decided to do it in Cannes for some reason or Nice or whatever.
Q: But you dont disagree with
JPM: No, I think it is good. We are doing it to improve the safety things and everything, but I am flying at 10 oclock to Colombia so...
Q: Ralf, I believe you are going to be meeting, can you understand why people arent going to the meeting?
Ralf Schumacher: Every driver has his own reasons. Its pretty clear that Juan Pablo would love to go home and have a break and in his case I would take the opportunity. For me, it doesnt matter to fly down there and to make sure, since we are a group of drivers so it doesnt need all of us to be down there. You dont need 20 people down there thats pretty clear. We have agreed amongst us what we want and what we have agreed what we should talk about and that should be fine even if there are just five or six of us so it doesnt really matter.
Q: What are the principal arguments, simply safety at testing?
RS: Basically safety in general and safety at testing, and just have a chat about what will happen in the future but obviously this isnt the right place to talk about that.
Q: In terms of your own performance, a test last week, how did that go?
RS: It was okay. We did a lot of laps in three days. It was particularly hot. On the last day it was around 45 or 47 degrees, so it was a bit warmer than we usually expect in Europe. But it was a good test for all of us. I think most of the teams were there so it was quite a good benchmark to see where we were. We went through some stuff which we had to do, especially for me because I couldnt test in the last few tests due to various reasons. It was quite good to be back in the car.
Q: From a performance point of view, were you encouraged, given that there is now no testing for about a month?
RS: Encouraged? Why? It is only nice that we have a break, thats all. Otherwise you always have things to do and things to test so if there was a chance we would go testing obviously.
Q: But from a performance point of view are you encouraged, because what has been happening is that the car seems to go backwards in the race. Jarno qualifies very well but the finishing position
RS: If you at the times at the beginning of the last race and then at the times towards the end, I was quicker than even Jenson Button. The car improved during the race, we just couldnt for various reasons, couldnt manage the beginning of the race. Its not the case. Jarno is a very good qualifier, lets just say that maybe he gets a little bit more out of the car than its able to. Its natural that some cars are just stronger. For example, Kimi coming to the front and stuff like that so you can never be sure about that. But I think in general, from where we came last year and what we have done so far this year it is pretty good. Obviously, as you said, there are things which we would like to test so it is not really positive for us to have a test break.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heinz Prüller ORF TV) Norbert, Patrick Head told me recently that apart from BMW, hes talking to a German company for engines. Could it be you?
NH: He didnt speak to me and I should know it. Obviously I would be happy to discuss but I dont there is a conversation going on on that subject.
Q: (Heinz Prüller ORF TV) Ralf, you are a big fan of Harry Potter books; do you have the new one yet?
RS: No, I havent seen it yet.
Q: (Dusko Dragic - Ekipa) It was said that the drivers should have met with Max Mosley concerning track safety in testing. So whats wrong with testing; do fans jump over the fence or is there another reason?
RS: From what we have as a safety standard at race tracks is not what we have at tests. And we do more laps at tests than we ever do at a race meeting, so there are things that have to be addressed just to make sure at tests there is the same danger of having a severe accident now, to have the same medical supply and everything.
Q: (Bob Constanduros) What are the specific things, is it helicopter coverage, medical facilities?
RS: I said before. Basically we want a similar supply like here. That should be enough for moment and the rest we do internally.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) We have now had more than half the season of you guys racing on one set of tyres and low aerodynamics. I know its the same for everybody, but do you think it was it the way to go?
JPM: It depends on what point of view you look at it. We still go through loads of tyres and still do loads of miles in testing. I dont think its changed that much. It seems that from a drivers point of view it is harder to follow people this year than it was last year, to try to pass them but its the same for everybody.
RS: Well, I think the main reason for it is try to slow Formula One down to make it safer by being simply slower. Whether that is the right approach I am not so sure. But at the end of the day you have to come up with ideas so I didnt have a better one and I still dont so Im not criticising it. We didnt have a problem apart from the obvious one problem we had a few races ago but as Juan said, testing hasnt been less, it was just an approach to try and slow Formula One down.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) Could I ask the two team guys the same, but regarding the two race per engine rule?
NH: I think my point is very clear. Its the same for everybody but I would have preferred one engine per race and I think there are quite good ideas in place to put some mileage on the engines during testing for example and to find some rules there which is possible. But obviously we accept the current rules. Personally I would have preferred to have a new engine at the next race and that situation hasnt changed. Having said that, we accept what we have.
JH: From our side, it depends on the perspective. Clearly with our two-race engine we couldnt supply a second team because we have a fixed production capacity within TMG in Germany to manufacture engines, so as a consequence of a two-race engine we can supply Jordan. I think our costs have certainly dropped. We have shifted some costs because we have to do much longer dyno runs to homologate the parts and be confident and longer runs at the track, but overall I can say we have saved costs and we have a capacity to supply a second team. And I dont really think the racing has been compromised that much, but I can sympathise with Norberts perspective and sometimes the fan perspective of being a little bit confused by what is happening.
Q: (Heinz Pruller ORF TV) Juan Pablo, when you go home to Colombia next month are there any new ideas or visions about the Grand Prix of Colombia, a new race track maybe?
JPM: Not that I am aware of.