BETHA LOQUING: Do you think Jake (Humphrey) and David Coulthard should adapt a more colourful dress code?
EJ: Maybe you could ask the same question and ask me to calm down a bit?! Then it might make their job a lot easier. I don’t think I could ever calm down, that’s not in my style, but...I think DC (David Coulthard) is wearing less white trousers isn’t he?! Maybe so. I haven’t worn any this year, so I’ll have to wait til Monaco to get my white kecks on. They both do a great job and I think if you had everyone on that show doing the kind of madness things that some people are reporting that I do then it would be kind of a crazy show. Whereas, I think the blend and the mix is good – we’ve got an English man, Scottish man and an Irish guy. We do need some Welsh boys in there. When we get them we’ll be delighted to have them. In the meantime, I don’t really want people talking about my shirts. I’d rather just say “Alright, he’s doing a good job or he’s not doing a good job” or some criticisms or whatever, but in the meantime I do enjoy people now who have bets on what colour my shirt’s going to be, so I’ve got to be careful not to see or hear what he’s suggesting. Sometimes I bring in two or three shirts and I don’t decide until ten minutes before and think “Ooh, I fancy that today” because it’s not easy. You can’t really think on a Wednesday the stuff you’re going to wear on a Saturday and a Sunday, and we’ve had some shockers of days. It was very, very cold in Istanbul and if I wear what I was wearing the first day I think I would have been shot by Mark Wilkin who directs the whole programme. I think it’s a good balance to be honest.
GLENN GUTOWSKI: How are the soles of driving shoes attached to the rest of the boot? And how would you improve them?
I think they make great shoes. Ferrari are sticklers for the best in class and you see the style, you see what’s being sold. There’s a great link and I’m not sure if you guys know, but to the best of my knowledge, and would have to have this queried, but Jordan brought PUMA into Formula 1 in the early nineties and it’s just grown and grown, and I’m actually overjoyed to see all the other sports that it does and how it’s in the high street in its own name and its own branded shops and stuff like that. And what’s nice more than anything, is that it’s always had two fairly big peers and now there’s three big players and I think that’s what’s really cool about it. It’s been a long haul I’m sure and with the competition it’s been a really tough battle. But I think the design and product and just being aware of what the people want has won it for PUMA and that’s why more and more people are finding it easier to be loyal to the brand.
BINOY JOHN: Do you think that there’s any road car that can come close to the handling and the thrill of an F1 car?
EJ: I’m sure there are, but the only real one that I’ve been in in recent times is a McLaren and that is probably the most stunning car in terms of a road car that I’ve ever been in. We had a car and Jenson (Button) drove me for a couple of laps and he said do I want to see how it is and I said “Go for it”. So I braced myself for a little bit without trying to give him the impression that I was in any way uptight, but believe me, I was, but I was trying to act like it was a different kind of casual roll. But the car handles and the brakes – it was a damp surface and I couldn’t believe how good it cornered. Just the sheer thrill of this reminded me of driving racing cars. There’s never going to be a situation where a racing car can be bettered. Particularly when it’s in full flow – whether it’s Formula 4, Formula 3, sports car, Formula 2, whatever. The current Formula 1 cars are just so immensely satisfying to drive, so you’re never going to get that from a road car because of all the different make ups and technical and mechanical pieces, but certainly that new McLaren is an awesome piece of kit and I was hugely impressed with it.
THOMAS BINKLEY: Do you think the growing gap in the amount of money that the teams can throw at producing these vehicles is acting to the sport’s disadvantage? How do you feel about the new teams like Red Bull or Brawn who have gone in with a lot of money/a lot of backing, whereas other more traditional teams (Williams – perfect example), don’t have the same sort of immense financial clout that they can put into the dev and all the design. Do you think that’s detrimental to the way the sport could develop, even with the new restrictions coming into place?
EJ: For me it’s very simple. Red Bull have come in 4/5 years ago and their idea was “be competitive” and they’ve gone better than that. Here’s a team of guys based out of Austria who set over from the remnants of the Jaguar days and they have lit the world of motorsport up. I think a couple of people are very important in the framework. Obviously, the Red Bull financings make it possible and that’s a given, but you can have all the money in the world and Ferrari has that, McLaren has that, and various other people have that. You have to give full credit a) to the management of the team – Christian Horner and his people, and alongside that of course you’ve got Adrian Newey, who beyond doubt was the key to this. Adrian has always been a little bit guilty of building fragile cars. He always puts less weight or material (or traditionally) he used to do less weight or material in the cars. He was such a stickler for being on the weight limit or always under the weight limit, and that was one of his key hates was having an overweight car. So, it’s a combination, it’s a group of people they get on well together, you can see it gels. They seem happy all working together – even when they’re not winning, and goodness knows when they win they know how to have a party. So I think it’s very happy days at the moment for them.
Coming back to Williams, they’ve not had the same opportunity to bring in as much money as what was Brawn and stuff like that. And you have to say they knew they were going to lose RBS, but very little came in to replace it and I just have to ask the people that are empowering the people there – who’s now running that side of it? Where and who are they hoping to get the next trench of cash from to enable them to be hugely competitive. As a team they have won 7 World Championships. It’s a crying shame as to where they are now, it shouldn’t be allowed to happen. One of the greatest sportsmen of any sport in great fiscal difficulties – Frank Williams. He needs and wants his team to be right at the top. We hear talk about Patrick Head retiring and then he’s saying that that’s not what’s going to happen and Adam Parr shouldn’t be saying it. You can definitely feel that not everybody is going in the same direction in that place, whereas the teams that are winning (and you can understand that) are. One follows the other, like Red Bull is all united. Red Bull have a different kind of ethos and a different marketing concept. And who’s to know, maybe the Red Bull idea of a little bit of freedom and a little bit rock and roll, not too high technology. It’s only recently that Williams has become Williams Formula 1, not Williams Engineering. It’s not a cool name; you don’t want to be seen to be sponsoring an engineering company. What you want to do is you want to sponsor a lifestyle. And Williams have to give that lifestyle to the sponsor to bring it to that level, otherwise I think that they may suffer.