A NEW ROLE FOR THE PROFESSOR
This interview is also available in French!
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THE TESTING THAT HAS TAKEN PLACE?
You know it's the first test with David, so it is important for everybody, and for me, to get his opinions of the different ways within the team. It is also for me to be with David, to get his impressions of the car, the engine and his comparisons with the Williams, because it was the best car in F1 last season.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE FITTED INTO YOUR ROLE SO FAR?
I feel very comfortable, because it is a team that I know very well. I know some people from 1979 and then some others from 1984. McLaren is a team where they do not change too many people and, although it is very rare, it creates an ambience. I am not going to a new team with a new role - that would be difficult.
WHAT ARE YOU ABLE TO DO IN THIS ROLE THAT SOMEONE ELSE CANNOT?
Sometimes, you just need to observe what is going on. Sometimes, you see something and you say, "okay, that needs changing". You need to go to the right people and tell them what you have seen. It is just an observing role at the moment, but I think it will become more and more. It is going to work well and I don't think there will be a problem.
WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG TO SORT OUT THIS DEAL?
Although we agreed immediately to do something in August when I first tested the car, we didn't know exactly how to do it and how it would be seen by the people, both outside and inside the team. We realised quickly that inside there was no problem, but you had one month where Ron - and everybody - went to Japan and Australia and I didn't want to go. I felt it was better to start at the end of the season. There was no real reason other than to be absolutely sure we were doing the right thing. Sometimes the easiest things to do are the most difficult.
HOW DO YOU THINK DAVID COULTHARD WILL WORK IN THE TEAM?
I am sure that David and the team will work very well together. I think he wants to get the best available, he wants to learn, he wants to improve himself and he wants to get everything on his side to get better. He's honest, which is very important, because it gives the team confidence to work with him.
WHAT'S YOUR REPLY TO PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT MCLAREN IS FINISHED?
I don't think it is true. When you start to lose it is more difficult to continue, but as soon as we start to be more competitive I am sure everyone is going to be more relaxed. You can feel the motivation of the team. Many people have been here a long time and they believe in the team, they believe in the work they are doing and they just need the right results.
CAN YOU HELP MAKE MCLAREN INTO RACE WINNERS AGAIN?
I hope so. I think with my experience I can bring a few things to the drivers, the way they work with the engineers and then I hope I can help them avoid some mistakes, which is very important in F1. I'm not a designer, I can't design anything on the car, so all I can give is information from my experience.
WHAT WILL BE YOUR GREATEST VALUE TO THE MCLAREN TEAM?
I think more or less what I have just told you, it is in avoiding some mistakes. It is also to make sure we go in the right direction sometimes and make sure that there is dialogue between the drivers and the engineers. We speak the same language and I think that is very important for making progress. I will be testing, but not testing for just running the cars, because sometimes it will be helpful to bring the young guys up to a new level.
DO YOU STILL HAVE A DESIRE TO DRIVE THE CAR AT ALL?
To race the car, no. But let me say that for me to test the car in this role is very much a plus for the team and a plus for me. It is not really a desire to drive like I am 15 or 16 years old, but it is really a plus. It's very important, but I don't think I can do that for many years.
HOW SOON DO YOU THINK MCLAREN CAN START WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS AGAIN?
People ask what is our target for next year and when are we going to start winning again, but I don't think it is realistic to answer that. I think for sure the target is to be competitive next year and that means being on the podium and, of course, winning races. But it will be difficult to achieve that given the opposition.
Back to interview-page!
prostfan.com © by Oskar Schuler, Switzerland