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Malaysia: Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
17/03/2006

Geoff, you have a new driver this year in Rubens Barrichello. What has he brought to the team?
Geoff Willis: I think he brings a lot of experience of how to win. He's won nine races, I think. He's been with a championship-winning team for many years. Certainly, he strengthens our driver line-up hugely, and he brings that experience, that knowledge of what it feels like to win and makes us a stronger team, so it's been good working with him. Let's see how we do this weekend.

Does he tell you much about Ferrari?
GW: Certainly, he's used to working in a slightly different environment, how they operate certain technical aspects of the car. The driver can often explain what the car feels like, the way he thinks it operates and other bits about the car, but generally the teams don't tell the drivers an awful lot about the cars that other teams might be interested in, so it's really just his experience, how he feels the car and how he wants to work on the car.

You have a third driver again, having not had one last year but having had one the year before that. Is it more of a benefit now than it was two years ago?
GW: It's certainly very useful this year because, unlike in 2004, when we had just one engine to last just one race weekend, we have an engine to last two race weekends, so even more we are biasing the running on a Friday to the third driver. Anthony's been with the team for a long time, he's very quick, very consistent and our race drivers have got a lot of confidence in reading what he says about the car. So it's certainly very useful for us.

You certainly did a job with him today, getting him back out again at the end.
GW: I'm not quite sure how the car came back so quickly, but we got a call from Charlie Whiting to say we would get it back so we were well prepared.

Was there any damage to it?
GW: Only after I think the marshals got to it and they pushed it into the gravel, and we had quite a lot of gravel to take out of it which wasn't there when Anthony left it.

We're seeing fewer and fewer laps from the drivers on the Fridays; do you think there is a case for making Friday an unlimited test day?
GW: I think it would be very difficult to make it a useable test day. Typically, on a test day, we are getting quite a lot of cars going round, we're running six or seven hours. We can probably achieve 500+ kilometres. It is also difficult coming to a race track, where usually there hasn't been anything on the circuit for at least a week, if not longer than that, so the circuit conditions are fairly poor on the first day. So I think there is not an awful lot that we would learn and part of the reason why a lot of the race drivers don't go out in the first session on Friday is just because the circuit conditions are not really very useful.

John, today Jarno Trulli was eleventh. Was this a little bit of relief after last weekend?
John Howett: Well, yes, I suppose you can say a slight relief but obviously a very disappointing start to the season, and not really where we expect to be or want to be. So we have to work a lot harder. We are getting a bit more temperature into the tyres here so it's helping, but still we have to work hard. It's clear that we're not where we need to be and how competitive we should be.

Was it tyre choice or a little bit of how the chassis used the tyres?
JH: I think it's the way the chassis is utilising the tyre. We can't condemn the tyre because we clearly had very similar rubber to both Williams and McLaren in Bahrain and it's the way we are actually utilising the rubber.

We talked about the third driver; you don't have one this year. Are you missing him?
JH: Yes, clearly. It did help a lot last year (having one) but I think it's part of the route to the top and you just have to learn to cope without that. As you notice, we did a lot of laps today with both race drivers.

Have you had to build that factor into the race engines this year?
JH: Well, I think we have a strong engine but obviously we hadn't planned that sort of mileage on a Friday, so we have to see how the engine stands up to the pressure it's had today in a fairly hot environment.

Now Mike Gascoyne is still back in Germany, I believe. Was that a knee-jerk reaction from last weekend?
JH: Not knee-jerk. He's here tomorrow but he's obviously stayed in the factory an extra two days just to keep the pressure on and look for further improvements.

You've got a massive build programme as well, haven't you?
JH: Yes, that's correct. That's part of it.

Mario, your third driver, Robert Kubica has been impressive this year; what are your thoughts on him?
Mario Theissen: Yes, absolutely. Obviously we watched him last year and on that basis we contracted him, but we didn't know too much about him. He's only 21-years old, he hadn't seen these overseas tracks before: Bahrain and Sepang were both new to him, and we couldn't expect him to be so quick on pace. He didn't make any mistakes. Over the two days he has accumulated a lot of mileage, always did his programme perfectly and he's even quite good at reporting to the engineers, so very useful data. I think he's a very promising guy.

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