FIA Thursday press conference - Britain 05 Jul 2007
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Rubens Barrichello (Honda), Jenson Button (Honda), Anthony Davidson (Super Aguri), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Alexander Wurz (Williams).
Q: Alex, its been a few years since you raced here, but youve had a third and a fourth here. What are your thoughts on this circuit?
Alexander Wurz: Yes, its a nice circuit. I was here testing a few weeks ago and obviously there are some very high speeds here so the first five corners are quite incredible. Turn one, if everything is alright and the wind is coming from the correct direction, is flat out. You arrive in seventh, flat out through the first corner. Then the whole section of Becketts, the first two corners, flat, just one downshift for turn five and youre on Hangar Straight. You havent even touched the brakes until then. Thats quite cool. Its a really a nice circuit.
Q: So far this year youve had some good races, but not necessarily good qualifying. Whats been going wrong in qualifying?
AW: Well, if you call it wrong or not good enough, whatever it is, its a few hundredths, a few tenths here and there and yeah, I have to work on that. As you say, the races are very strong, especially the starts. At every start, I have always overtaken people. I think Im actually the leader in overtaking manoeuvres on the race track in the 2007 season. But generally I have to work a little bit with the tyres, they are not really designed for my driving style, if you want to call it this. It was much better last year with the different constructions but thats something you have to dial your brain into, your processing into and I dont see any reason why that should cause me sleepless nights. But the racing is nice for sure.
Q: Anthony, its been some time since you raced here, I think.
Anthony Davidson: Yeah, its actually a circuit I dont really know that well, funnily enough, even though its my home track. I know places like Jerez and Barcelona much better actually. Its a bit strange, but its a fantastic circuit, a very pure track, very high speed as Alex was describing. The first sector, especially, is where you can really make or break your lap. You need a very good balance round here in the car too to get a good lap.
Q: When did you last race here?
AD: 2001 in Formula Three.
Q: But obviously youve tested here.
AD: Yeah, I have but obviously testing is pretty limited here as well, on the Formula One calendar. We even missed the last test, we were down in Jerez instead. But Im looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and driving around a high speed circuit again.
Q: And racing in front of your home crowd?
AD: Absolutely. I had the experience of that in 2004 and last year on the Fridays only, and it does create a really nice atmosphere for being a British driver here.
Q: Rubens, a winner here and two pole positions as well. Could be wet this weekend. Is that going to be good for you?
Rubens Barrichello: I think so. Its a track that I think is probably the best that I enjoy. I enjoy coming to it more than others, wet or dry. I do enjoy coming here. When I used to test in Formula Three I didnt know I enjoyed it that much, but I really do in a Formula One car.
Q: Looking back at that win, a lot of overtaking manoeuvres.
RB: People consider that to be my best race. It was really nice to be able to overtake and the car was perfect that weekend, with the right choice of tyres and everything. Hopefully Im going to have some sort of a repeat this weekend.
Q: Do you think its going to hurt you that you didnt test here, whereas everybody else did apart from yourselves and Super Aguri?
RB: The first practice, maybe, but Silverstone is a track just like Barcelona, for example, where you can test the week before and then when you go back there its all different, they clean the track and the wind is different and it might have rained. So the first practice, if its the same people might have an advantage but I think by the second we have been here quite often, so its not a problem.
Q: Felipe, best of fourth in qualifying here and fifth last year but youve finished all your races here; what are your feelings about the circuit?
Felipe Massa: Hopefully it will be better this time. I think last year, if I remember well, in testing we had a good car here. In the race, maybe we brought the wrong tyres, and our car was not one hundred percent competitive here last year. But this year our car is working very well on this kind of track and also the tyres are the same for everybody, so I am really looking forward to having a great weekend here. I always finish the race here. Ive never had a fantastic position, especially the last year, but I really hope that we can really fight for first position here.
Q: After last weekend, Ron Dennis said McLaren ran relatively conservatively and that maybe they flattered Ferrari, made them look better than they were. What do you think about that statement?
FM: We were not conservative and we won and thats what counts. Maybe in some races we were not very strong and they won and now they have more points than us, so we need to be in front of them most of the race, so thats it. It doesnt matter what you say, it matters what you do on the track and thats why were working so hard to try to improve the car every day, and everything.
Q: And you need to perhaps try and run less conservatively than them?
FM: In a championship like this, you cannot be conservative, in whatever race. Sometimes you can make mistakes by not being conservative but thats the way it is.
Q: Jenson, eighth place last weekend but it must have felt like a bit of a relief?
Jenson Button: Yes it did. More than gaining a point it was more the performance that we did over the weekend. Sundays race was good fun and it was nice to be able to see the Renaults in front and then a McLaren, on the same lap! Quite unusual at the moment.
Q: What sort of modifications have been made and how much better did the car feel?
JB: There have been quite a lot of modifications, aerodynamically and mechanically as well. For me it felt like a big change in the race. Qualifying we are still not there in qualifying. There is still a bit of speed that we need to find compared to a lot of the teams. In the race the pace was ok and the consistency was reasonably good. It was nice to have a car that I could work with and push to the limit. We are still nowhere near where we want to be. We are still quite a long way off the Ferraris, the McLarens and the BMWs but we have moved forward and thats the important thing.
Q: Second on the grid here in 2005, fourth in the race in 2004. What are the chances of getting some more points this weekend?
JB: Well, the car in 2005 was pretty crap, so anything is possible. But I think qualifying is going to be reasonably difficult for us. It would be nice to get in Q3 but we have got to sort out a few things before we do that. We really dont know where we are here. We havent tested here, so we have really just got to wait until tomorrow to see how competitive we are. As I said, we have got to work on our one lap performance a bit more.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Xuping Tang F1 Express) To Alex and Anthony. Is it more encouraging to be a racer instead of a testing driver in Formula One?
AD: Yeah, it is obviously what we have been working to do. For me over the last five years I have really tried to land a race drive and its been a fantastic year so far. I am looking forward to the rest of the year obviously, but I think so far so good. Its been everything I thought it was going to be and Im really enjoying it.
AW: My situation was slightly different to Anthonys because I have raced three seasons. I then decided after the years with Renault-Benetton to come and test for McLaren. This testing stint took a bit longer than I was hoping for but nevertheless The fight to come back was hard but very rewarding once I sat on the grid at the first race this season in Melbourne. That really was very pleasing, coming back. I think most of us here on the podium, apart from Rubens, were test drivers so I think you always have to watch out for the current test-drivers because it is not a bad job. It is something good, it is important for the team but nevertheless I really like the race and it feels more normal because test-driving just isnt right if you think you are a race driver.
Q: (Xuping Tang F1 Express) For Jenson. Do you think the leaving of the test driver Anthony Davidson is one of the reasons for the recent car performance at the beginning of this season?
AD: I can answer that question!
JB: So youre saying it was all down to Anthony that we had a quick car last year? I cant give him that much credit. Anthony was good to have in the team because he was very experienced. We worked together for many years so yeah it was very useful but hes gone on to better things. Weve got Christian [Klien] in the team now and hes doing a very good job. He doesnt get that much testing, the testing rules have changed so hes not getting as much testing as he would have hoped but he is doing a good job as well.
Q: (Xuping Tang F1 Express) Do you want him [AD] back?
JB: I think it is a bit unfair to try and steal him back from racing. I think hes enjoying himself.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) Rubens, the team has finally started to get on top of the car but if you look back what has been the chief problem with the car?
RB: Since the beginning of the year the car has had some big stability problems and every time you change from high-speed to low-speed as you try to turn the car into a corner you lose the back end, so we have been addressing the problem. Magny-Cours was a lot better in that respect. I think we are going in the right direction. We are still very draggy on the straights which is something we have to improve but on braking it is much better.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) Jenson and Anthony. Not only this weekend but throughout the entire year another British driver has grabbed all the headlines. How do you guys view the whole Hamilton hype thing?
JB: Its the first time Ive been asked this question (laughter). He deserves the amount of hype hes been getting. Hes doing a great job, leading the championship by 14 points in his first season. You can say that hes in the best car, which he has been for most of the year. But hes still beating his teammate so yeah he has done a great job and he deserves the credit.
AD: Its allowed me to get on with a nice quiet year. This is my first year and it is what I thought it was going to be at the start of the year, as soon as Lewis was announced by McLaren. So that has been quite a benefit for me to get on with a nice easy ride from you guys.
Q: (Filippo Falsaperla La Gazzetta dello Sport) Felipe, can you give your judgement about the affair involving Ferrari and McLaren and if you can feel something strange or different working within the team?
FM: I have nothing to say about that. I am here to drive. There are many things going on but my job is to drive the car so if you need any information about that ask the team.
Q: (Filippo Falsaperla La Gazzetta dello Sport) About the feeling?
FM: The feeling is the same. We had a very, very good race in Magny-Cours, the car was competitive. Im really looking forward to having a good weekend here and having the same car we had in Magny-Cours. Last week was very, very good the car was very competitive and I am really looking forward to fighting for the victory.