Friday April 7th, 2000
Participants: Marc Gene (Minardi), Jarno Trulli (Jordan), Patrick Head (Williams), Gian Carlo Minardi (Minardi), Alain Prost (Prost) and Jean Todt (Ferrari)
Q: Jarno, how do you feel after your first couple of races with Jordan?
Jarno Trulli: I feel OK, especially after getting my first points with Jordan in Brazil. It was a very good but hard race, starting from the back of the grid. I had a good strategy worked out with my engineer, and I eventually got three points instead of two, because of Coulthard's disqualification. Apart from that, I feel comfortable in the team. The people are nice but very professional, developing the car to get closer to the best. At the moment I just need some more luck. The team has potential. The two top teams look very strong, and maybe we have to find the right direction to get the best from the car.
Q: Gian Carlo, how big a disadvantage does this engine have? What can you expect from the future?
Gian Carlo Minardi: This is not a question that I can answer very fully because I have no experience with any of the other competitive engines. This is the engine that is available to us, so we will be staying with it. With this engine obviously we're not exactly the favorites to win. But we have to consider that we have a good car and we intend to push forward to develop it to its full potential throughout the season. When we change engines again, let's hope we find something more competitive.
Q: The Minardi team has been in negotiations with Telefonica for a long time. What is happening at the moment?
Minardi: The press has probably written too much already about the discussions. Telefonica remains the team's title sponsor this year, allowing the team to face the future calmly. The important thing is for the two parties to stay together in the championship, for the benefit of them both. The crucial thing is for us to be able to work together, much more important than any rumours of takeover.
Q: Marc, there remains the possibility of the team being moved to Spain. Do you think that would be the right thing to do?
Marc Gene: I still think the two countries with the best infrastructures for F1 racing are England and Italy. In Spain even many Spaniards think that the country would not be capable of doing the right job in F1. But I have heard that on the composites side, for example, we have a good infrastructure, and some good companies in certain high-tech areas. Don't forget that the CASA company is responsible for supplying many parts to the various Airbus projects. We live in a global environment and I don't believe that it would be possible to set up a team relying 100 per cent on Spanish parts and subcontractors. As long as you recognise this, accepting that some things have to be imported, I think you could set up an F1 team virtually anywhere in the world. And Spain has several advantages, like the good weather, good circuits and a very competitive workforce. In the short term there would be difficulties, but in the long term I don't think there would be anything to prevent Minardi successfully relocating to Spain.
Q: You must be happy with this year's results. How do you expect to see the season go for you?
Gene: We have been more competitive than I expected and I hope to carry on what happened in Australia and Brazil. In Brazil we qualified 0.1s behind Jaguar and only 0.2s behind Arrows. Honestly I was not expecting that: we were never as competitive as this last year. We seem to be a little further away on Saturdays, though, which is probably because everyone else has qualifying-spec engines available. It would be something to qualify in the top 15, and we want to aim at being in the top ten on Sunday. In weather conditions which can favour us, like Nurburgring last year, we have to make the very best of our opportunities and not let them go.
Q: Alain, can you see an end to the various problems that have been hitting you so far this year?
Alain Prost: We can only improve. We were very late with our new car programme, so nothing has come as a surprise. Under these circumstances it is very difficult to catch up and we have had a lot of reliability problems, especially in private testing when we can usually manage only 20 laps or so. That is not enough. Once we have reliability -- and it is getting better -- we can get going in the right direction.
Q: Are you know getting what you had hoped for from Peugeot?
Prost: The delay has been our big problem, especially with the new engine. But I don't want to blame anybody. We just have to catch up, and considering how few miles we have covered I don't think we are too bad. There is a new engine and it should being some advantages step by step.
Q: How do you see your future with Peugeot?
Prost: That question is not for me to answer. Ask them first. It is no problem for a big constructor to come into Formula 1, or to leave it. That is their decision and I honestly cannot speak for them.
Q: Patrick, this morning Max Mosley revealed that the FIA had uncovered some cheating by one team last year. My question to you is: how easy is it to police F1?
Patrick Head: I think it is very easy to put out words, or innuendo, about cheating. This plainly refers to Article 5.8, the section which deals with engine control, and it is very difficult to determine the full extent to which it may be interpreted. With such competitive people working inside every team, some of them will inevitably see possibilities within the written words of the regulations. Sometimes the interpretation of the wording of the regulations can change, even though the words themselves remain the same. But it is the duty of any racing team to build the most competitive car possible by making the best of what its engineers consider to be best interpretation of the rules.
It is very easy to suggest that all the teams are cheating -- and everyone in this sport assumes that the opposition is cheating. Ferrari thinks we are cheating and we think they're doing so, too ... I am joking, of course, because I would never think any such thing of Jean in any way at all, nor he of me. But in truth these things should be manageable behind closed doors, so that F1 doesn't have to sort out its disputes in a public way. I hope we soon get an opportunity to reach agreement on these matters with the FIA, to allow us to carry on racing in a competitive atmosphere in which it is not automatically assumed by one side that the other is cheating.
I know at the moment that Ferrari is concerned that everyone imagines whenever they suddenly go quickly, as they did in Malaysia last year, that they must have switched on the traction control system again. I know Ferrari wants people to believe that they are successful in a fair way. Williams and BMW have exactly that same approach.
Q: Jean, what are your feelings on this subject?
Jean Todt: It is quite logical. You have the rules and then you have the best teams in motor racing trying to work within the rules. Then there are the technical people from the FIA who are there to make sure that the rules are respected. I think it is very unbalanced for hundreds of people to be under the control of just four or five, however talented they may be. It seems that the FIA's technical inspectors have discovered that the interpretation some teams have put on certain regulations, mainly those concerning electronics, is not exactly what they expected. As a result, the FIA has decided to make things more difficult to interpret. But the essence of F1 is to try to get the best out of the user. Of course, the rules have to be policed, and possibly because of the difficulties experienced by the FIA in policing the rules they decided it was necessary to introduce new rules to be applied from Silverstone on.