French GP: Friday
July 1, 2005
Today's FIA press conference with Colin Kolles (Jordan), Jean Todt
(Ferrari), Pierre Dupasquier (Michelin) and Hiroshi Yasukawa
Colin, regarding two weeks ago, is it true that you
didn’t want to race and then you decided you were going to race?
Could you clarify that?
Colin KOLLES: That’s not true, for sure. It was always the question:
how to race? It was never the question not to race. If we race with a
chicane? Without chicane? Or the other teams are racing through the
pit lane or whatever, but it was always that we race, including
Was that something that you consulted with Trevor Carlin
who is retained as a consultant?
CK: No. There is also some time difference and there was so much
Yesterday we heard that the program with the new car is
to be the third car for this race and the British Grand Prix; how did
it perform today?
CK: To be honest with you, I was a little bit late because I missed
my plane so I didn’t have the chance to meet with all the engineers
and all the people. Robert (Doornbos, third driver) was quite happy
with it. Both drivers were happy after Barcelona. We had some
overheating problems and they are trying to sort them out. It was
running for more laps here and I’ve heard it’s getting better.
Is there a chance that you might race it in England?
CK: We would like to race it in England but we want to have more
mileage on the car and we will have a Paul Ricard test after
Silverstone, two days, so, as I always have said, we want to be
reliable and to get some points if we are lucky. It’s still the same
What difference does it make now that you have got the
points from the US Grand Prix?
CK: For the moment, no difference.
But what about the cash from…?
CK: Yes maybe, but I don’t know how much cash at the moment.
Jean, can I just ask you to clarify your position
regarding the potential chicane at Indianapolis because I still hear
from people, and you told me on the Sunday night, that you never
spoke about a chicane? Can you just clarify that position please?
Jean TODT: No, I didn’t say that to you on Sunday but maybe it was
jet lag for you and you misunderstood. I simply said that Bernie
(Ecclestone) came and while we were having a meeting… the pre-race
meeting with the drivers and with a few technical people including
Ross Brawn, and he came into the room which incidentally was close to
his office and he asked us ‘what about a chicane?’ And I
said, it was not our decision to speak about a chicane or not. During
the press conference, I was asked ‘but if you would have been told
about the chicane, what was your position?’ and I said ‘we would have
been against it.’
And after the US Grand Prix, you were told that Rubens
had said he was unhappy about the situation during the race. Can you
clarify whether you have spoken to him, whether you’ve sorted that
JT: You know, a racing driver always wants to win, whatever the
circumstances, but in all fairness, I don’t think that you can talk
about the race at Indianapolis. Saying that, our drivers drove a
strong race, you could see that, it was obvious, you could see the
lap times during the race, and the aim was to win the race. He did
not win the race and of course he was frustrated and then, you know,
it was like a temperature which has since calmed down and it was
So you’ve managed to calm the situation…
JT: I did not manage it, it came on its own, so I did not have to do
Jean, this year, to what extent do you feel that
Bridgestone has compromised performance for safety during the first
part of this year?
JT: You know I try to avoid getting in to any kind of controversy, so
Bridgestone and I have been saying that since years, mainly since the
beginning of the season… because if you win then tires don’t interest
anybody. We have been winning so much in the last years, and every
time we have said how important (they are) because without
Bridgestone we would not have won as much as we did. This year, we
did not win, and immediately we tried to find a reason. We tried to
find a reason, and of course, it was a lot about the tires. It is
true to say that the biggest difference between last year and this
year is the tire regulations, and together with Bridgestone, we
probably didn’t do a good enough job to be as competitive as we
wanted. We are working very hard. I think we have improved the
situation over the last races and I hope we will improve for the next
race. Saying that again, Bridgestone, together with Ferrari at some
time decided to compromise performance for safety, which we did. It
also happened this year that we had to stop because we simply could
not finish the race. You say Rubens in Bahrain, you say Michael in
Barcelona. So we learned from that and the tires we took in
Nürburgring, for example, were definitely a compromise. They were not
the quickest tires, but we knew we could finish the race.
Hiroshi, we quite often hear that the specifications of
tires are very very close. Now the FIA say that you should have a
primary and the option is the safety net. Is that always the
Hiroshi YASUKAWA: Actually this year’s regulations have had a very
strong impact, how to make the tires. But our company is always
concerned about safety issues first. Then afterwards, we discuss with
the teams, and we chose different compounds or construction or
whatever. But whatever, the first issue is always the safety issue.
Now your teams raced at Indianapolis; how did you find
the tires had worn after the race?
HY: Actually, our engineers went to check on the banking and the
course itself and the many forces on the tires, lateral or vertical
or tire wear. It was exactly the same as it had been for the past
Could both you and Pierre give us some indication how you
check your tires over a race weekend?
HY: Basically we check the tire temperatures and also tire wear and
also tire pressures and also the tread surface. We have long
experience and we check many aspects. On Friday nights, especially,
our engineers are very very busy.
Do they actually cut open the tires or anything like that?
HY: I think our people do what is needed. In this case, we cut up the
Pierre, how do you check the tires during a race weekend?
Pierre DUPASQUIER: Carefully… (laughter). No, there are a lot of
things that, when we are on the premises of a race, with the A and B
prime options, that is it. We have no other options unfortunately and
that is what happened two weeks ago anyway. We check to make sure
that first of all, as Hiroshi said, that wear, compared to the prime
and the option, we know where we stand. We have to select the prime
option and what kind of advice we can give our partners and at the
same time to make sure that we don’t perceive any beginning of any
failure of any part of the tire in those conditions. If anything has
happened, then we are in trouble since we can’t (react). You are
referring only to the prime and option and it is amazing that
somebody can make a difference between a safe prime and an unsafe
option. For us, it doesn’t make any sense. As Hiroshi said, and Jean
has said the same thing, it cannot be in the mind of any engineer in
Formula One, or any manager, to say ‘ come on, that may work, let’s
give it a try and see if the driver can get it back to the pits’ – it
doesn’t make any sense. No-one can even think about it. When you
present a device in the hands of a driver it is absolutely 100 % as
far as our knowledge is involved is absolutely safe and when we bring
a construction somewhere it is a construction that we trust. All
indications we have in the manufacturing control afterwards even
destroying the tire on machines and so on, that is safe. There is no
doubt about it. If there is one doubt, we don’t do it. That is very
simple. Very clear. None of that ‘hmm, let’s give it a try’ … No way,
no way. Not in racing. It doesn’t happen.
But how did you take a tire that would only last 10 laps
to a race that was 73-laps long?
PD: Because we screwed up in evaluating the constraint that the tire
walls were with in particularly Indianapolis. We just misunderstood
the problem. It is a very combined situation – not only one factor is
involved. A lot of different factors, like longitudinal force, you
have third gear, you push very hard on the tire including the ‘diffs’
and the traction control and everything, then you have an overload on
the left side of the car particularly the rear depending on the set
up of the car and then you have the banking with cars which are
bouncing more or less for aerodynamic purposes and then we just mis-
evaluated that particular assembly of factors that at the end of the
day was too hard for the new construction that we designed for safe
reason for doing the whole race since last year.
Now you allegedly said that Bridgestone had prior warning
of the surface, but Bridgestone said it was no different to the
previous year. What kind of prior warning were you thinking of?
PD: Yes there was part of the thing that was new, but not different,
and we evaluated it in April. We knew the new surface was new, yes,
that’s right, and it is true that Firestone had the opportunity had
the opportunity to evaluate it, to act on it, for the 500 miles,
nothing to do with the Formula One Grand Prix since its not the same
car, the same speed, not same down-force, its all different. All the
factors are somehow part of it.
(Dominic Fugère – Le Journal de Montreal) Question for
Hiroshi-san, what was the input of Firestone, who knew very well the
Indianapolis track, as they have been there for almost 100 years and
they are one of your companies. How much if an input did they have
into the construction of the tires for Indy?
HY: Actually, now, Pierre mentioned that Indycars and Formula One
cars are two totally different cars. And also tires – one on the one
side is a totally slick tire, one side is grooved tires. Angles for
one side are 30 inches in diameter and on the other 15 inches. Then
angles, for down force, are also totally different. It is very
difficult to transfer to them our technologies. When we go to
Firestone producing our Indycar tire, their concerned just about the
Indy 500 or just oval course race tires, but Formula One technical
people are just concerned about Formula One tires. But of course
sometimes we discuss it, but basically not.
(Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News) Pierre, you have
talked about all the factors that combined to cause the problem, but
was their one specific thing that caused the tire to fail?
PD: We did not know this before -- we have never seen this kind of
situation before. We simulated the conditions. We know what is going
to happen and we are still modifying machines that don’t exist in the
market place to try to actually reproduce what happened there. If we
take just one factor, that if the cars slow down a bit we could race,
if we take off one factor then it’s safe, it's no problem – but when
something happens it is really the whole thing that is at stake.
(Dieter Rencken - The Citizen) Pierre, hidden in all the
controversy at Indianapolis, there was a statement by your company
that they are re-branding rally tires to BF Goodrich. Given the
reputation image of Michelin now, will you still be continuing with
this re-branding exercise?
PD: I don’t see any relationship between the things you are talking
about… I don’t see any reason why not because we have good reasons
and a long tradition of off-road success and in the United States in
particular and it is part of the BF Goodrich image and nothing to do
with Michelin – Michelin conquered the world championship for
rallying for years and years and were fine, but it seems to be
appropriate that the work done by Goodrich, the way we did it in
Paris-Dakar for example, for us it makes sense.
(Stefan Bomhard - Kicker) To Mr. Kolles, could you give us
an update of what happened to your hotel – you booked it, but you
never checked in?
CK: It was, or the information I have is that they found a
Legionnaire bacteria in the hotel at a very high rate so the
government – there are some regulations that say they have to repeat
the test which takes about 48 hours, so we decided to move hotels
because it is too dangerous.
May I ask which hotel it was?
CK: I cannot give you the address, but it is the Kyriad Hotel.
(Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News) Pierre, Michelin
has said it is going to refund the ticket prices. Can you give us
PD: We are, in France, in particular, not in a position to go in
detail about that. The only thing that Michelin has said is yes, we
are at the origin of the mess, since nobody was doing anything, we
feel polite just to say ‘oh, guys, we understand that you have been
spoilt from something and we are very sorry about that, please accept
our apologies and as a gesture we refund you for your tickets and now
it is in the hands of our people in the United States. We have 30,000
employees in the United States, a very strong operation and they are
handling the situation over there and it is cultural to know how to
behave and they are taking care of it.
(Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News) Jean, from your
point of view was there any way a compromise could have been reached
so that 20 cars raced at Indy?
JT: You know there has been too much about that. I think the problem
has been clear. We were facing an unprepared situation. I mean some
competitors were facing an unprepared situation and no solutions
unfortunately could be found. There was so much about the chicane but
there could have been some counter point about the chicane. I mean
definitely for me the only way… Well I heard that it was not only
turn 13 that was difficult for the competitors, but also I heard
about turn five as well, as some of you may have overheard, or that
in this situation you should have taken different tires or you should
have gone through the pit lane, that for me were the two solutions
but definitely the race was compromised due to the situation and I
mean a chicane would have raised many other problems that were
(Alain Pernot – L’Auto Journal) Question to Jean Todt,
there are four Grands Prix in five weeks in July. How difficult is it
for teams to deal with such a situation?
JT: It is tough, not just for the team but for all the partners, not
only the tires, but everybody. It is tough already to have back to
back races in two weeks, but can you imagine in five weekends to have
four Grands Prix? It will definitely give the advantage to the teams
that have the best cars at the moment because there is very little
time to react to improve the situation in this kind of condition?
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