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Thursday Press Conference

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#1 Cinquecento

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 08:24

Thursday press conference - 9 March 2000

Drivers: Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes),
Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) and
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari). Engine
suppliers: Gerhard Berger (BMW) and
Takefumi Hosaka (Honda)

Q. Gerhard, what level of results will you
be satisfied to see for BMW this year?

Gerhard Berger: If we can be somewhere ahead
of the midfield -- wherever that
is! -- then I think we will have achieved
our goals. We have a very aggressive
driver pairing. Ralf showed his potential
last year, so we are confident that he
will be able to help us move in the right
direction. With Jenson it is very
interesting to have such a young driver
working with us. Of course it is only the
beginning of the racing now, he still has a
lot to learn and he will have to cope
with the pressures of a race weekend. But we
believe he has high potential and
will be one of the great drivers for the
future. That is why we are prepared to
invest in him and help him to move forward
over the next few years.

Q. Is there any chance of you getting back
into the cockpit?

GB: [With my extra weight now], how would I
get in? No, there is no chance at
all. Actually, when I come into the circuit
I sometimes ask myself what it would
be like to get back in. But I don't have the
feeling anymore. Somewhere the fire
has [burned out]. I can look back on my
fantastic years as a driver, and it's nice
to be still involved in F1, but the nicest
thing was to have been a driver.

Q. Mr Hosaka, welcome to you and welcome
back to Honda as an F1 contestant.
Can you explain why your company changed its
mind about forming its own
all-Honda F1 team last year and decided just
to supply engines to BAR?

Takefumi Hosaka: First of all, let me
apologise for my poor English. What I can
say is that for our third entry into Formula
1, we investigated many approaches,
and the first intention was to try to build
our own chassis. Unfortunately, after
some deep investigation we reached the
conclusion that we could not do it
successfully. We needed more knowledge and
more time. At the same time,
inside Honda there were young engineers who
still wanted to make the chassis as
well as the engine. To do that, however, we
would have needed our own team,
and we would have been committed to managing
it. But [we realised that] that
was not our purpose, and because of that we
changed our stance and returned to
being an engine supplier.

Q. Where does Honda stand in terms of

TH: Well, we still have two more days.
Unfortunately, we do not expect to
reach our target yet. I would say we are 80
per cent of the way, with more
preparation still to do. We don't even know
yet how many horsepower we are
going to need to win races. It is only
through racing that we will know exactly
how many horsepower we are going to need to
win. Just as soon as we know, we
will immediately modify our engines. Maybe
it will be too much to ask for those
changes in time for the Brazilian GP. Please
give us a little more time ...

Q. Is your relationship with BAR deeper than
simply as its supplier of engines?

TH: The last time Honda was involved in F1,
we just supplied engines. But this
time have a very good collaboration with
BAR, not just as the supplier of an
engine but also on the chassis side. This
helps us when we are modifying the
engine and in designing new power units.

Q. Eddie, you always wanted number 1 status.
Are you happy with your position
at Jaguar Racing?

Eddie Irvine: I am very happy that I made
the change. I am obviously not going
to be in a situation which is as competitive
as I had at Ferrari last year. But you
will remember that it was the same situation
for Michael when he left Benetton
for Ferrari in 1995. There is a lot of work
to be done. Over the past few years I
have seen what Ferrari did to become
competitive, and when I see where we are
now I know how far we have to go. The time
will come when we are closer, and
the closer you get the more difficult it
becomes. But at the moment there are so
many areas in which we can improve that it
gives me a lot of hope.

Q. Do you therefore see Jaguar growing into
a position where it can challenge
McLaren and Ferrari?

EI: It has to be like that. It's the whole
idea [of Jaguar being in F1]. The way I
see it, it is a lot easier for Jaguar to
grow into a position from which to
challenge McLaren than it [has been] for
Ferrari, because Ferrari is based in
Italy and it is a lot more difficult to do
things there than it is in England. We
have a got a great engine supplier in
Cosworth -- I believe they are second to
none -- and we have certain other advantages
over Ferrari. The main issue is the
wind tunnel. We don't have one yet and it
will be a year and a half or two years
before our own tunnel is ready. The wind
tunnel we use is out in California, and
the guys do as much running on it as they
can, but you'll never be able to
challenge people like McLaren or Ferrari
while you're living like that. But it's
going to be fun getting there ...

Q. Mika, who do you expect to have as your
main challengers this year?

Mika Hakkinen: Ferrari ... probably. It
won't be until the weekend, though. We
don't even know yet who exactly will be our
main competitor. We'll see.

Q. Your team mate David Coulthard says he
has changed his approach. Will he
be someone to fear?

MH: Yes. Over the winter David has worked
very hard in many areas. And if
you haven't won a championship you always
tend to look at different areas
inside yourself, to become a better driver,
until one day you find a balance and
get the confidence to win races. David still
has to win the races and win the
championship. It is going to be very

Q. Last year the fight between you and David
may have been responsible for
McLaren losing the constructors'
championship to Ferrari. Is there a
of a change in tactics?

MH: You can look at this subject in lots of
different ways. There were a lot of
races last year that we didn't finish, and
that is just one of the many reasons why
we didn't win the title like we should have
done. I am confident about the
coming season. I am much more relaxed than I
was in 1998 and 1999. I am
starting this year with a very calm
approach. I shall wait to see how this
weekend goes, and take the season as it
comes. It will be fabulous if we are
[capable of] finishing the race. If not, we
will just have to work harder. But I
am not nervous about tomorrow or Saturday or
Sunday. I feel good about that.
It means I can step in a direction of
becoming a better driver. It's not a
of being less hungry. I want to be stronger
and to win in a different way from
the past.

Q. Michael, will McLaren be your major rival
this year?

Michael Schumacher, Certainly, yes. If you
look back on the past few years and
on the process of continuous development,
you have to say it will be down to
Ferrari and McLaren.

Q. What do you think of your new team mate?
Is his situation inside Ferrari
different from Eddie's last year?

MS: I reckon him ... quite fast. When I talk
of Ferrari and McLaren, I include
all four of the drivers. I don't think his
situation is different from Eddie's. But
honestly, you can't make someone slower by
contract. If he's faster, he's faster.
And whoever is faster is going to be the
number 1 driver. It's as simple as that.