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FIA Friday press conference - Japan 06 Oct 2006

FIA Press Conference (L to R): Hiroshi Yasukawa (JPN) Bridgestone Director of Motorsport, Adrian Sutil (GER) Spyker MF1 Racing Third Driver, Yashurio Wada (JPN) President Honda Racing F1 Team and Tsutomu Tomita (JPN) Chairman of Toyota Racing and Toyota Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day Suzuka, Japan, 6 October 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Team Principals: Aguri Suzuki (Super Aguri), Tsutomu Tomita (Toyota), Yasuhiro Wada (Honda), Hiroshi Yasukawa (Bridgestone).

Q: Two questions to you all to begin with; the first is what are you expecting here at Suzuka this weekend?
Hiroshi Yasukawa:
Sixteen races are already over but now it looks like we’re starting from zero again, because the points’ situation is equal. So we are very excited and this Suzuka race and the next race in Brazil are very very important. We are very excited but our mission is that we are going to win.

Q: And your hopes?
HY:
I think our technical people have concentrated and they have produced a very good tyre, I believe, so we can beat our competitors.

Q: Aguri-san, your hopes and expectations?
Aguri Suzuki:
I want to say I want to win this weekend, but this is everybody’s target so we can’t win this race but it is an important point. We have 18 races in the Grand Prix year, but this Grand Prix is the most important for my team and also our drivers. We need to finish the race and get a good result. We are still a very small team compared to our competitors. Our development has targeted Suzuka, but it still isn’t very competitive. However, already we are trying to develop the car 100 percent in our team, but anyway, it’s very important for us to finish the race this weekend.
Tsutomu Tomita: As you know, we have suffered from a very miserable race in Shanghai and therefore I really hope to have a good performance here this weekend, with a good overall effort in dry conditions.
Yasuhiro Wada: The last five races have been very good including our first win so we would like to repeat those good performances. Of course, we are targeting a podium finish and the highest point would be great.

Q: Another question to you all: what are you feelings about this being the last race here at Suzuka, at least for a little while?
YW:
Well, Suzuka is a very traditional course and I understand that many drivers love it. It’s a shame to miss a very traditional and fun place from the calendar. I hope some day we can come back.
TT: Last year we had a successful first place on the grid after qualifying with very unstable weather conditions, but unfortunately we made a mistake in the strategy with the three stop, so then we failed. We have to overcome that.
AS: Yes, I have two answers, one as team principal and one as a driver and my career, because Suzuka… my first answer is my personal one. My first Formula One Grand Prix was here, I got on the podium here and my last race was here. My Formula One career is everything here in Suzuka. I’m very sad that the Suzuka Grand Prix is finishing, but I’m very happy to come back in Formula One with my team here. If it was next year, I couldn’t run my team at Suzuka. I don’t know about the future, but I hope that Suzuka will come back on the Formula One Grand Prix calendar in the near future.
HY: For me, I have a very long experience of Suzuka because when I was young, it was in 1962 that I saw a road race for the first time here in Suzuka and I would come many many times to Suzuka and this circuit has taught me many things. At that time, I was a student and I didn’t go to school, but I came here! I made many friends, especially senior persons. This has been very good experience for my business and for my life. I very much appreciated Suzuka, so it’s a bit sad for me but of course, next year we are going to Fuji. This is one of the situations we have to accept in Formula One, but one day I’m coming back to Suzuka with Formula One.

Q: Hiroshi, Jean Todt has said that tyres will decide this championship; what are your feelings about that?
HY:
Is this true? Oh, this is very bad for me! The race is not only tyres, it’s a package: good team, good driver, good car and tyres and then if the package is working well, then we can achieve our mission.

Q: Next year, you will be supplying the whole field; how are you going to do that, what are your plans, how about the red tyres that we’ve heard about?
HY:
OK, you have two questions there. For us, we prefer competition, but unfortunately our competitor is stopping. So we have to supply our tyres for all teams which means that first our mission is safety in tyres, and secondly fairness. Fairness is very important. If we support one team, this is no good. We have to provide equally quantity and quality of tyres for all teams, but this is a very very tough business, because currently we support just five teams, ten cars. But next year, eleven teams, 22 cars, which is more than double. After this season, after the Brazilian Grand Prix, we have to prepare all the logistics and warehouses, manpower, everything. This is one question.

And secondly, red tyres. I don’t know about red tyres but currently the regulation is two specifications of dry tyres and we have to supply seven sets of each, which is fourteen sets. Better to use all of them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then I think we can achieve a very good fairness, this is the idea. But of course this decision is made by all the teams and the FIA, so we listen to them and their decisions. But if we are concerned about fairness, then I think it’s a good idea because we have to prepare two specifications, so if everybody has to use both specifications, then I think this is a good idea.

Q: Aguri, this time a year ago, the team didn’t exist; if you remember here in the paddock, everyone was asking who is this second Honda team? It comprised three or five people at that time. So how difficult has it been this year?
AS:
I need one hour to explain that! It’s been very difficult to make a new team in only four months before Bahrain. At the beginning there were only four people at the end of the September, or something like that, but I also had to find the deposit money, 48 million, and also our budget. I’m always pushing hard, now, still, but now it keeps coming very consistent, better and better but it’s very difficult to explain how difficult it is to make a Formula One team. Maybe if I go back to last November, I would not have made my entry in Formula One! I wouldn’t have done it.

Q: In what direction do you move forward now?
AS:
It’s very difficult for the private teams now, because our competitors are all car manufacturers: Honda, Toyota, BMW, Renault, Mercedes, but anyway, we are still a small team but we try hard. I don’t know how we can get a good result next year but anyway, all my team tries hard.

Q: Tomita-san, next year you will supply engines to Williams. Will it be just a customer relationship or will it be much more than that?
TT:
Our contract is only to supply engines to that team, but we are not thinking a lot about other areas.

Q: Nothing is decided yet?
TT:
Nothing is decided but it’s still on-going. Would you please wait a little bit?

Q: Do you hope it will be a little bit more?
TT:
Yes, of course. Williams is a very historical and famous team and very experienced and they are located in UK therefore we hope to have a much better relationship for both teams.

Q: Now John Howett says he believes you have the third-fastest package. Do you believe that and, if so, why are the results not better?
TT:
It is surprising for me, honestly. At the beginning of the season we were very confident about better car performance, but we have suffered from many troubles, mechanical troubles, electronic troubles and additionally very poor adhesion with the tyres in the beginning in cool conditions. After that, we became much better performance and particularly in North America, Canada, United States and France. It is a very competitive car, I think. But after Hungary race, look at the wet conditions and it was our disaster. But I believe we can recover.

Q: And do you believe you are now the third-fastest team?
TT:
Third or fourth.

Q: Wada-san, I am sure your aims were higher this year. What do you feel has gone wrong?
YW:
Well, the winter testing was good, but unfortunately we struggled early in the season how to utilise the tyre well and it took us time to find the best performance out of it, so we struggled and later we improved with the aerodynamics and the mechanical set up and now we are here and we are quite confident now.

Q: Are there plans to return here?
YW:
I may not be the position to discuss about it, but I understand Suzuka is still in discussions with Bernie and I hope I can contribute to the discussions and maybe we can come back to Suzuka in 2012 or maybe second race in Japan or maybe Fuji-Suzuka, Fuji-Suzuka, that might be good. I wouldn’t say goodbye to Suzuka, I just like to say thank-you to Suzuka.

Q: One last question to your all - your aims for next year?
HY:
Our aim is how can we supply safety tyres and equal conditions for everybody. Now the FIA said that the cost reduction is very important. So we are concerned about safety issues and cost.
AS: It’s very easy to give an answer because we are the last team and the smallest team, so next year we have next year to get better results and so we want more collaboration with Honda! And this year we had only two tests in the season and no winter testing so we want to be more like all the other Formula One teams.
TT: It is quite clear - to have our first win.
YW: Well, next year will be the seventh year, so although we have our first win so obviously we have to challenge for the championship and I hope next year will the lucky seventh year.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Nobuaki Tadaki - Tokyo Sankei Shimbun) Aguri-san, today your cars ran on this circuit for the first time. What were your emotions?
AS:
Yes, I am very happy to see my cars at Suzuka and now I am thinking how to develop them tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and that’s all.

Q: (Yumiko Harashima - Shukan Asahi) A question for Tomita-san, what do you think of idea that the Japan Grand Prix is changed from Fuji Speedway to Suzuka again?
TT:
I am not the person to reply, but two things if I may be allowed - one is that our thanks to Suzuka circuit for 20 years of great competition in Formula One, and for being our maker of Japan motor-sport so we thank Suzuka circuit very much and Honda as well. But in the meantime we have another big circuit in Fuji and it is very close to Tokyo and the amazing thing is that this circuit has a magnificent Mount Fuji mountains and hope that we can have a very successful event next year.

Q: (Fred Varcoe - Reuters) To Mr Tomita and Mr Wada, as you know this is a Honda circuit and Fuji is a Toyota circuit. Does this affect your performance in any way?
TT:
We have 18 races a year and therefore excuse me but this is only one race among but it is the Japanese Grand Prix and therefore we have a lot of fans in the grandstands and other places through the television and therefore we want to show them our best performance. And no concern about Toyota or Honda…There is no advantage at all, but we must show our performance.
YW: Well, nothing mechanically, but emotionally, it will affect, yes.

Q: (Sumie Dan - Le Volant) What would be the best suggestion to promote Formula One more in Japan?
TT:
I personally think it is for us to show our best performance, best exciting games and enthusiasm at Suzuka and at Fuji. It is the best thing.
YW: I think I agree with Tomita-san and, well, performance of a Japanese team, or driver, would be great. Yes it would surely influence. And great if a Japanese driver could win…