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European GP: Friday press conference

NEWS STORY
27/05/2005

First of all, Mario, as you know, a very uncharacteristic Nurburgring weather today. How much has this caught you on a hop for your tyre manufacturers as well? The track temperature was one degree less than it was in Bahrain, now who could have ever guessed that? How much has that affected you and how much has it affected your tyre suppliers.
Mario Theissen: Obviously it plays a big role, but I can say that it is certainly an advantage to have had these conditions more than once this season already. It is very unusual for here, I think only once a year the temperatures go up in this region to what we have now, and I don't even know if the prediction for tomorrow and Sunday is identical. We should be able to deal with it but it is not what we expected here.

So in terms of technicalities, what does that affect?
MT: Certainly not the engine, there is no difference in the engine configuration or engine mapping due to temperature. I think all the rest is affected, but the engine not.

Jean, were you expecting these sorts of temperatures?
Jean Todt: If you had asked me the question two weeks ago we were not expecting these temperatures, but since the beginning of the week we knew that was the prediction and that is what we will probably have tomorrow and a bit less on Sunday with 20 percent risk of rain, so that is what we know for the time being. But, I mean, this kind of information can change, but we will see.

Norbert?
Norbert Haug: Well, I think it is nice to see the Nurburgring with these conditions for a change, and as Jean pointed out Sunday should be a little bit less hot, maybe a chance of thunderstorms, we will just have to wait and see, but so far it's perfect.

Has it affected the tyre suppliers at all?
NH: Not really, I would say.

Okay. Changing qualifying, to all of you, is it going to help you or hinder you do you feel?
MT: I don't know yet. Maybe the driver has a preference for one or other system, the individual driver, but I don't think it makes a big difference from the technical perspective. I don't see a car that is particularly good on low fuel and bad on a full fuel tank. The tyre situation doesn't in my view depend too much on the vehicle weight, more on the question of if you do one lap or more than one lap. I think most of it is down to the preference of drivers.

Jean, you thought it would favour Ferrari a little bit.
JT: No, I didn't say it would favour, I said it would not be a disadvantage. Take it the way you want. But I confirm, we know very well that since the beginning of the season and even sometime last year our weakest point was over qualifying. It has been a bit more this year, and this year we had two qualifying, so once should not be against us.

NH: I think it stays the same, but I think we will probably see different strategies. We will see people being in seventh place and doing five laps more than the other guys in front of them and still being in the position to win the race. That is the chance. If you are top five that should be possible, seventh is a little bit more difficult, but I think we will see higher fuel loads and race wins not coming from pole position.

Norbert, you didn't have a very good first couple of races but since Bahrain things have come much better and obviously the last couple of races have been perfect. Give us an idea some of the developments that have taken place, particularly from the engine side.
NH: Well, first of all I think if you start your season and you qualify in the wet and the other guy qualifies in the dry then guess who is going to be faster. I mean, that happened to Ferrari, that happened to us, if a world championship will be decided like that, if I look back at 1998, between Michael and Mika, I think nobody would be happy, so we need to think about that system again for next year. I just think that the tyres were quite conservative at the first races, we didn't get our act together in qualifying but the basic speed was there. And if you look at Kimi's season, in the second race he was on his way to third place when a tyre went, in the third race he was third, the fourth race he was leading but dropped out with a driveshaft, the fifth and sixth he won. So I think the speed was there from the beginning, but starting tenth or 11th, look at Ferrari, if that happens to you, you need half the race to get the speed and come closer to the front. But I think our first test in Paul Ricard helped us a lot to understand how to use the tyres and how to set up the car for the first fast lap both with and without fuel and so that helped from then on, but I wouldn't say we made a big, big step in terms of speed, we just got the right grid position and from there it is just easier.

Norbert, the last couple of years here you have had a pretty miserable time, particularly it being a home race. You must be much more confident this year.
NH: You never know what the race brings. We have had very good results here, it is going up and down and you have to realise there are five or six strong competitors and this is what Formula One is about. When we were world champions in 1998 there was Ferrari as a very strong competitor but not as many strong competitors as we have right now. And so, you know, if you start being confident before the race even starts, I think you are badly advised. Anything can happen. We need to get our act together, for sure, we have a better package right now but I think it is very important to be 100 percent disciplined, focused, concentrated, and not only saying it but doing it. This gives you the right baseline to win races.

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