ZSOLTI PÁL:What is your opinion about the breakaway series Montezemolo is talking about? Would it be good for teams like Ferrari without F1 and vice versa?
EJ: Well, as good a man as Luca di Montezemolo is and the power of Ferrari, I think Formula 1 needs Ferrari, but Ferrari definitely needs Formula 1. So, therefore I think this could be just a posturing mechanism to extract more share of the kitty or the pot that they think Bernie (Ecclestone)’s taking.
WILSON WILASAN: At the minute we’ve got great cars and great drivers. What makes the most difference?
EJ: Well, a great car will never win a race unless it has a top driver in it. And a top driver can never win a race, unless it’s got a top car to win it. So, it’s a chicken and egg, which comes first, I really don’t know. I think they both come together. One thing is for sure, invariably the best drivers usually wind up in the best cars. And that’s why you see a bit of magnetism towards Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull now. Red Bull weren’t always there – previously in years gone by it used to be Williams. And that’s how it all works. So, from that point of view it’s impossible to put one in front of the other. As a team boss I would always say that the car is the thing that will get you the result. We always used to think that it’s 25% driver, 75% car. That ratio is probably understood by most people to be reasonable and fair.
YASMIN: Who is your favourite driver to interview and why?
EJ: They vary I think. Vettel is fun and buzzy and we can talk about all sorts of things (not just motor racing). You can wind up talking about music and stuff because he’s pretty fanatical about his music. Kobayashi is someone who’s laid-back, couldn’t care less attitude means he’s very easy to have fun with and to like. Jenson Button is an amazing World Champion and I love the way he handles and brought motorsport to a different level, it was great. Lewis (Hamilton) wouldn’t be that far away in terms of all-time great guys - maybe not always the easiest to interview, because he is not keen to do it on the grid. Every driver is different in how they want to be seen or perceived in racing. I had a little pet thing with Rubens (Barrichello). He came to me at 19 and I’ve seen him grow up and think he’s had the greatest number of Grand Prix successes – certainly up there amongst them, so from that point of view he’s been a great ambassador. I think most of the drivers are really good guys, so it’s not that difficult. Very the same, but very different.
HELGARD ACKERMANN: What do you make of the new Pirelli tyres and the current qualifying format?
EJ: If they were given a mandate which is what I believe they have, to do what they were asked to do, then they’re absolute geniuses because they couldn’t have come up with a better solution. I mean it’s not that easy to get the compound and the construction of the tyre requested to do what they’ve been asked to do, which is with a tyre that’s softer, less durable, that would wear out that means more pit stops and that’s exactly what they’ve done. They’ve made overtaking in Formula 1 an absolute necessity.
ZSOLTI PÁL: Do you think that the constant changing of the rules/qualifying format is good for the sport?
EJ: Well, two years ago people were looking for change. We got some last year – got some exciting racing, made some more this year – even more exciting racing. Who’s to say? I certainly couldn’t say that I don’t like the new rules and I think it is very difficult nevertheless for Martin (Brundle) and David Coulthard to follow the race. I mean they can’t even blink and something’s happened! They can’t even follow the camera of a car coming into the pits to make a tyre stop because they could’ve missed two or three overtakings and we’re not used to that driving so you’re alive and focused. There’s so much happening that when the race is over I’m exhausted and I can’t imagine what’s going on for the guys in the commentary box.