Japanese GP - Thursday
Press Conference - I
DRIVERS: Takuma SATO (BAR) and Mark WEBBER (JAGUAR)
October 7, 2004
NOTE: Continuing the policy of a guest questioner, we have, this
time, Eric Silbermann of Silbermann Says.
Q: Mark, we are coming to the penultimate race in a not very long and
not very glorious career for the Jaguar team but it must be very
difficult to keep the motivation going for these last two races.
Whatís the mood like in the camp?
Mark WEBBER: China was very impressive, actually. The guys were in a
good frame of mind. We did a good job there; I think it was as good as
we could have done with that track layout and the whole situation with
tyres and things, it was a good result for us, nice and reliable.
Yeah, but even if everything is going well, this time of the year is
hard for most teams. Itís a long season, any job you have, as a
journalist or a photographer or whatever in Formula One, it is a long
season, but I think there are a few offers floating around so the team
are still in a pretty good frame of mind and looking forward to
finishing with a high. These guys donít know how to work any other
way, you know, you have to work as hard as you can and hope we can
have a good finish to the season.
Q: Now, I gather you have the new chassis here this weekend. Whatís it
like, and how come Christian ran it in the last race rather than you?
MW: I tested it in Monza and we made a decision that I would stick
with what I knew for China and Christian decided he would take it, so
I have got it here. Itís not a chassis that is, you know, two or three
tenths of a lap quicker, thereís probably not much in it at all. Itís
probably more looking for next year for the team, so itís an interim
chassis, if you like; itís not a big step over this yearís car.
Q: Of course, it will be an interim to nothing nowÖ
MW: Not necessarily, not if the team is bought by someone who is
passionate about going forward with the whole team next year. So, itís
not an interim at all.
Q: You are all done and dusted, you are moving over to Williams. They
say the secret to getting on there is having a good relationship with
Frank and Patrick, so have you taken any advice from your fellow
countryman Alan Jones, who always got on famously with them?
MW: Well, I saw Alan in China and he was full of advice on how to deal
with Frank and Patrick and itís nothing that really surprised me, of
course. They are racers, theyíre straight up and down, good people I
believe, and that is why I am so motivated to go and drive there for
the future. Itís a dream for me, to drive for Williams, an absolute
dream. The team has had a tough season this year, for lots of
different reasons, and next year we have to go forward together. Itís
a great opportunity for me and getting on with Frank and Patrick, I am
sure the lap times will help, thatís one of the easiest ways to get on
with them if you are performing in the car.
Q: Does it bother you that at the moment you are not quite sure who
your team-mate is going to be there next year?
MW: Not really. I am not really worried about who will be in the other
car, thatís how it is. I think it would be good if we had Jenson, for
Williams, but yeah, I just hope it is settled sooner rather than
Q: Takuma, everyone assumes you do well here, which you did last year
and the previous time, because you are Japanese but I gather you have
hardly ever raced here. Is that the case?
Takuma SATO: Well, Suzuka is very special, but as you said I donít
have as much experience as anybody has because although I drove in the
Suzuka Racing School when I started motor racing when I was 20, the
next time I raced here really was when I raced in Formula One in 2002
and surprisingly, or accidentally, I had a big opportunity to race
again here last year as a third driver, but really thatís all. This is
going to be special again, because this is the only circuit I have
been to and raced three times so it is probably better than the other
Q: I gather earlier this week in Tokyo the team confirmed you will be
driving for them in 2005, which must make you feel very good, but at
the moment it looks like you are the team leader. Have you got any
thoughts about who you would like as your team-mate next year?
TS: Not really. At the moment we are just concentrating on this Grand
Prix and then Brazil, obviously, this season. It is not surprising
they confirmed me for next year because obviously I had a three-year
contract already at the beginning of 2003, one year of testing and
obviously second and third as a race driver option and automatically
it should be confirmed, so to me it is not a surprise. But it is good
to have it confirmed now because the team really needs stability
through the development programme, so I am looking forward to the
winter testing and to next year.
Q: Now the big problem you have had this year has been your engines,
and itís a mystery to all of us because I think you have had six
failures including one in China and Jenson has had hardly any. Nobody
seems to come up with a good reason for why this is happening to you,
is it something to do with your driving style or the way you use
traction control or are they trying different things in your engine to
TS: No, I mean, everything is the same. At the very beginning of this
year our approach of traction control and engine management was
different as every driver has a different driving style. But because I
kept having failures we decided to try exactly the same traction
control and the way to shift down the engine and everything. We tried
it but still had it (problems) and that is why we call it a mystery
because I didnít know that and Honda obviously couldnít prove what was
the problem and also we had to move forward. So as we developed, we
fixed some problems. By the middle of the season, I think we were
confident with reliability, but unfortunately I had another engine
failure at the last race in Shanghai, which was nothing to do with
specification probably just something unfortunate. But no, Honda is
now confident they are reliable and also we had very successful
testing at Jerez last week so we should be able to be very strong
Q: And some general thoughts about this weekend. You will be under
more media attention, more pressure, but have more support from the
fans than the other 19 drivers. How do you feel about that?
TS: It feels great, always great to come back to your home Grand Prix.
Every single driver who has a home Grand Prix is going to find it
really special for him. After Shanghai, I came straight back to Japan,
had a relaxed time with my family and all my friends but also had lots
and lots of attention from the media and we had so many functions. But
it is good for us because Formula One is always enthusiastic in Japan
in the past but I think this year, it seems to be the people who had
never heard about F1 or motor racing or were never interested, who
have started to become very interested, which is very important for
us, particularly in Japan, and if you look at Suzuka this weekend
there will probably be a lot of fans coming, 160,000 or whatever. So
it is all great news and, of course, we will have extra pressure but
also we will have extra support, which is great.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dan Knutson Ė National Speed Sport News) Mark, you have always
praised the whole team, the personnel in Jaguar. If a potential buyer
came to you and said Ďwhy should we buy this team?í what would you
MW: Good question. The depth that we have actually got on the floor
now in terms of talented guys and continuity within the factory there,
each department works very well together, there are areas you can
improve but in general it is, if you are a buyer coming into Formula
One, and I am not just saying this to try and help the team, honestly,
I want to see the guys around next year, personally, but also I know I
have been very lucky to work with the guys I have this year. There are
some very clever guys there and, through trying circumstances and a
lot of adversity, they still absolutely give their blood and guts to
the situation so they are talented boys and that is why with some
stability and some passion, if that did come along, then the team
could look to the future and perform to a very good level in Formula
Q: (Marc Surer Ė Premiere TV) Mark, what do you think safety-wise
about this circuit. After all the run-off areas at the last circuit,
now we come to an old fashioned circuit. What do you think about it?
MW: Again, another good question. Itís a track that is very, very
quick, there are some quick corners in places, generally if a driver
makes a mistake then he should be okay but if there are failures then
that is, of course, the big problem. We saw McNish here a few years
ago and I think 130R has been revised since that crash but, yeah, we
need to constantly keep looking at these. I am going to go for a walk
around the track this afternoon and actually inspect the circuit on
behalf of the GPDA, we take it in turns, the drivers, to have a look
around and see what it looks like. But the FIA are doing a good job,
we work together with (them and) the drivers on areas that we think
are on the edge, but this track is one of them that has a few places
where you can go in pretty hard. But the drivers know that, there are
quick corners, but you are right, itís an old track, it has been the
same layout for many years. The run-off areas have been fudged around
a little bit to try to help the situation but itís quite quick in
places so we need to look at it.
Q: As an extension to that question, you are going to probably be
seeing it in wet conditions as well this weekend. What are your
feelings about that?
TS: I think it depends on the Typhoons, which way they go, and if they
hit Japan then there will be lots of rain. We experienced a few weeks
ago that we were hit by a big Typhoon and all of turn one and turn two
was completely flooded. We donít want to see that, because if it
happens we have to stop the race completely and that would be sad. But
if it is just normal rain, we should be able to have a good race here
because we had a few years here when there have been wet races but it
is always very exciting in Suzuka and there are none of the big
dangerous places, as far as I remember, at this circuit in the wet.
MW: Yeah, normally the spray is a big problem for the drivers and,
like Takuma says, if it rains very, very heavily it is the same at
every track, the aquaplaning level is the thing that stops us from
running and then the visibility is the next thing, so when we are
running as a group it should be okay. Itís tricky for all of us, but
yeah, it should be fine.
Q: (Dan Knutson) Takuma, you talked about the rising interest of the
fans and the media. What is it like for you now to go and walk through
the streets of Tokyo? Can you walk through the streets of Tokyo?
TS: Yes, I can. I am a human, same as you, so I still go shopping,
eating, restaurants, go to hotels. People do recognise me sometimes,
which is great because they just give me a cheer and I really like it.
I feel it is a really great support from the fans and that is a great
Q: (Dan Knutson) But do you not always get surrounded by autograph
TS: It does happen occasionally, if you come to this circuit it is a
big problem, so I have to go away from the fans, unfortunately,
because we would like to give them all the time but it is sometimes
very difficult. But basically I treat them very equally.
Q: (Dan Knutson) But in Tokyo are you always asked for autographs or
can you pretty much always walk okay without being chased all the
TS: Not really. I didnít have a chance to walk in Tokyo, to be honest,
but I cannot see them following me all the time. If they ask me, I do
give them autographs.
Q: (Yuuki Ishihara Ė Tokyo Sankei Sports) Takuma, how confident are
you about a wet race? I hear there is a 60 percent chance of rain on
Sunday. Would it be better for you if it rains on Sunday?
TS: It is very difficult; it depends on how much rain we have.
Obviously in Spa qualifying it was very difficult to choose the right
tyre on the condition of the circuit because we had a lot of spray on
it and we thought it needed full wet but actually the intermediate was
miles faster. But we learned from that, we had another experience, so
we should be able to judge the right tyre for it. Obviously the key
point is our competitors. It might be that they have a really big wind
that we have to forecast. But certainly for the damp conditions we
should be very strong so in those circumstances, I think we would be
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