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FIA Press Conference, Thursday, Brazil 04 Apr 2003

Cristiano Da Matta (BRA) Toyota and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren in the press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Brazil, 3 April 2003

THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 03 APRIL 2003
DRIVERS: Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), Cristiano DA MATTA (TOYOTA), Antonio PIZZONIA (JAGUAR) and Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN)

Reproduced with kind permission of Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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Q. We start with Antonio. I hear you've been having a busy time, marrying off your sister, all sorts of things like that. What have been doing before this race?
AP: I went back home to my house and there were a few journalists there. We took them to the jungle and I think they had a good time there. We saw the animals and we swam with the piranhas. I think it was really good.

Q: You were canoeing and apparently alarmed the journalists with you by diving into the water...
AP: Well, like I said, we did all kinds of stuff and we took them to see the waterfalls near Manaos, which is a really nice place, and we took them to the jungle, right in the middle of the jungle. We did a lot of canoeing and we swam a lot and we did everything really, everything you can imagine.

Q: They did wonder, given that there's no road access into Manaos, how you ever got into Formula One?
AP: Well, it's a different story. When I was racing, we had no karting track in Manaos, so we used to race on the streets but I came to Sao Paulo in 1992. I started in 1990, so basically two years later I was racing in Sao Paulo and that's where I learned pretty much everything in racing. I was racing here at Interlagos, so I was always watching people going round the track here and dreaming about being here one day in a Formula One car, so this is a dream come true.

Q: You have mentioned that this is an anti-clockwise circuit; how do you think that's going to affect you?
AP: Well, I heard it's quite hard on the neck, but honestly, I haven't had any neck problems in a Formula One car. I did a lot of testing last year and I think I built up my neck strength and honestly, I think I will be OK, but we will see how the race goes.

Q: Looking at the season so far, what have been your comments, any surprises?
AP: Well, I knew it was going to be hard and there are still a lot of differences between cars and teams but we haven't finished a race yet, so I think the plan at the moment is to finish our first race this season and hopefully, start getting stronger and stronger during the season. That's the plan at the moment, but there are no real surprises in Formula One. It's what I was expecting and no big differences at the moment.

Q: A similar question to you, Cristiano; the season so far, any surprises?
Cristiano DA MATTA: No everything has been going according to what I expected. Of course, I wanted to have some better results up to now but that's the way it goes, that's something you can't control. We missed a couple of little things, it's pretty much as I expected.

Q: No surprises regarding Formula One?
CDM: No, because I knew it was going to be hard and tough and that's exactly as I thought.

Q: People have said that because you have already had experience of one-shot qualifying that that has been an advantage for you; is that the case?
CDM: Well, I don't think so because it reduces my track time and as I don't know many of the tracks we go to, it means that I have less time to learn the circuit and to set up the car the way I like it. Maybe there is a little bit that helps me, but I think there's a lot more against me on the reduced track time, than the advantage of knowing the system.

Q: When did you last race here?
CDM: My last race here was at the end of '94, so it's been a little while. It was in a Formula Three car. The top speed was a little different to a Formula One car. It's like some people say 'you know the track' and then I think that I'm not sure if I know the track that well. The basics I know, of course, but the little details are all important and I'm not sure I remember everything. So I'm curious to see how I'm going to feel when I get out on the track tomorrow and if all the things, all the little tricks and all the little places where you have to put your wheel over, if they all come back to me right away or if it's going to take a little while. I hope it won't be completely different.

Q: Kimi, I expect the euphoria of winning the last race has worn of a little, but one thing that Ron Dennis said was that it was important for you to know what it was like to win that first race; how important was it for you?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Well, of course the first race win is always important. I think it's going to help me to know how it feels but it's difficult to say how it's going to affect me, or if I'm going to get better or not, because this is the first time and we will see, but it was good and I think it was important for me and for the whole teamto have a good result.

Q: Will it make a big difference to your confidence?
KR: It's going to help. At least I know that I am capable of winning the race and I don't need to worry about those things any more.

Q: Was it a worry?
KR: Not really worried, but of course you are always thinking are you going to win the race or not, because it's one of the first things that you want to do and if it hasn't happened yet, there's always the thought that maybe you're not capable of doing it. At least I don't have to think about those things any more.

Q: Of course, you're leading the championship as well, a nice feeling?
KR: Yes, I think so, it's very good. It's important at the beginning of the season to score as many points as possible and hopefully, once we get our new car we can fight for the championship even harder. It looks good now but there's still a long way to go and we need to keep scoring good finishes and good races.

Q: How important is it to have the new car; the old car has won the first two races?
KR: Yes, it seems to be really quick still but I think once we're in Europe things can change quite a bit and hopefully the Michelins, which have been working very well in the last two races, will continue to work well. I think we should still have a good package here. But it's a different story when we get to Europe, the weather is not so warm and all those things. But I think we can do as well in the first two races. We should still be OK. It's important to get as many points now as possible.

Q: So when are we going to see the new car?
KR: I don't know when it's going to come. I think it's going to have a shakedown next week, after this race. I think it's Alex who is going to give it a shakedown and nobody knows when we are going to start racing it - as soon as we get it reliable and quicker than the old car then for sure we are going to take it to the races but hopefully that will happen sooner than later.

Q: Pedro de la Rosa has just been named test driver, does that a certain amount of workload off your shoulders?
KR: I don't know really, but I think it's good because we have two cars which we try to make quicker all the time and this is loads of work and he's quite experienced and he needs to be quick also and this is good to have an extra guy in the team helping everyone.

Q: Rubens, again, how important is it going to be to have your new car at the next race?
Rubens BARRICHELLO: I still think the old car is quite competitive. If you take pure performance, taking into account all the fuel and everything, we are still on top. It seems that the car is quite fast. The new rules have brought new excitement into Formula One and as you saw, in Malaysia on the first lap, with Michael touching Trulli, there was a bit of a mix-up with cars in front and some of the cars going to the back. But I suspect the car is quite competitive. I did test the new car last week and I'm thrilled that it is faster than the old one. I think it's quite reliable as well, in that I ran the whole day in Barcelona with no problems, and Michael ran two days afterwards in Fiorano. We're going to do a lot more testing next week and hopefully it's going to make its debut at Imola. As far as I'm concerned, that's the aim but to be honest with you, I haven't checked if that's decided.

Q: What are your feelings about the FIA's new ruling about the HANS device; are you happier with it now?
RB: I've made a change, I have a similar system to what McLaren has and it's changed quite a bit. My problem is not just wearing the HANS; it's the fact that I'm not locked inside the car. I like to be very very tight inside the car and with the HANS, I couldn't do that. With double seatbelts, it seems that my problems are over. Even so I still think that the system should be for people who want to use it. But I have no problems.

Q: Does the fact that this is an anti-clockwise circuit affect wearing the HANS device?
RB: At the beginning, I thought I would have problems touching the HANS, because I'm a guy who turns into the corner and I move my neck but it doesn't seem to be a problem. I don't think it will interfere at the end of the day.

Q: I don't know if anyone has made you aware of this, but Brazilians have won this race in '73, '83, and '93...
RB: ...so 2003 is mine. As I said to the Brazilians the other day, I don't believe in those things and the world of Formula One made me change to a much more realpicture of what it is. I'm going to be working flat out to really win the race here. I guess it would be the same feeling as winning the World Championship, winning my home Grand Prix would be like that. I'm focused, I'm better than ever and I hope that, together with my team that I can do the job this time.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q. Rubens, Michael won the race here last year but I think the Michelin-Williams combination was a little bit quicker. Then in Malaysia we saw on the heat durability they had a bit of an advantage. What are you expecting here, more of the same or do you think you can win the race?
RB: Even though, I think we were quite competitive in Malaysia, even if we see that McLaren were quite tough to beat. The story could have been different if the start was different but there are no ifs. I think here we could be a little bit more competitive than Sunday, just for us.

Q. Kimi, has your private life suddenly change since your win and what about your approach to your job?
KR: No it hasn't changed my private life at all. Maybe I got my face in the newspapers a little bit more, but all the rest is the same. I think how I approach the race is going to be the same. We benefit in terms of the championship and that might make a little difference but otherwise we will do exactly the same thing we have done in the other races.

Q. Rubens, about HANS, can you explain how the double belt system makes you more at ease in the car?
RB: Okay. There is a belt that goes underneath and a belt that goes on the top. So the one that goes underneath is fastening up just as it used to and the HANS on the top is the one that you have together with the helmet. It is tight on the top of it but it is the one you have the system with the helmet. It is...you have two points from the one underneath on the car and the one on top of the HANS. Now I have two belts and if I want to feel tight I can pull them tight.

Q. Rubens, it has been eight years in a row you have not finished here now. Does that add to the pressure or do you feel anything is a bonus?
RB: For most of the time, Brazil has been the first race. Because it was the first race, when I competed with Jordan and Stewart, we actually got to the first race without doing a race simulation so it was tough to finish the race. Then, you know, there has been some errors on the way and some mistakes but I would say I've been surprised I haven't finished the race yet with Ferrari here. One time I will eventually finish and like I said to Brazil, there is no point me thinking 'because I haven't done so in the past I must go slow and finish the race for the points.' I am driving for one of the most competitive teams and I have the chance to go for the win and I will go for it.

Q. Rubens, I've got two questions for you. Before the press conference started you were standing in the middle of your two Brazilian fellows; would it be good if you could do that at the end of the race?
RB: It would be like a dream wouldn't it. It would be like Guns n' Roses, we'd jump off the podium into the middle of the people.

Q. Okay, the second. Michael was enjoying playing the soccer yesterday. Why didn't you?
RB: I didn't join in because... did you see the guy go between the middle of his legs. I didn't want to do that. In Brazil there is talk now that he is not a good soccer player.

Q. How much did you pay the guy to do that?
RB: That's a secret! No, I would love to go there but people have to understand that for me it is quite a busy week and I have to do all sorts of things for sponsors and I didn't have the time to go there and play with them. I would love to. Even though I am a Corinthians fan, the Santos are okay.

Q. A question for Rubens and Kimi. Are you happy with the decision to keep traction control until the end of the season?
RB: I don't mind actually. I'm a guy who likes the car to slide even though my driving style is not sideways. I like to control the car myself. So I thought there was a little bit...you know beginning to do too many things in one....just no traction control in the middle of the way, I think that was in too much of a hurry. We are going to finish this season and start the new season in a better way when everyone is prepared. We have only one wet tyre and if we get a situation like in Silverstone when it is raining and nobody is prepared without traction control and it could be a little bit dangerous.
KR: I wouldn't mind if we would have taken it away this year and then for the teams and other people it would be more easy. Starting the new year with it is probably a bit more easier.

Q. Can I just extend that question to the two in the back row, Antonio and Cristiano. Bearing in mind you were going to have half a season with traction control and half a season without it, what are your feelings that it is going to be extended.
CDM: I think for me as a rookie the more help I have the better it is going to be for me.
AP: I didn't have a lot of experience without traction control so it was going to be a bit hard to have that change in the middle of the season. So I'm glad they've changed that and I have more time to get ready and test.

Q. Kimi, before the season started did you ever think about having a podium with a chance to win and then winning the second race and being top of the championship. Is it something you were thinking about?
KR: It was quite difficult to know what is going to happen. Of course we knew the car was quicker than last year and much more reliable, but you don't know when you are testing against other people what they are doing. Here we will have a better understanding where we are going to stand against Ferrari or Williams, but it looks like the car is quick enough now we are winning the races and it has been a good start for us. We have many points and I'm happy with how things are and try to keep it up.

Q. Kimi, I'd like to know about the beginning of your career and if you have any idols in Formula One?
KR: No I haven't had any idols; I have cheered on the Finnish guys. About the beginning of my career, I started out in motocross, then moved on to go kart and then here.

Q. Kimi, what do you think of the new generation of pilots?
KR: I think I am one of them. I think the young people are now coming in Formula One. I think it is good.

Q. To the Brazilian drivers. What do you think is behind you, why do we keep getting you?
AP: The girls. The Brazilian girls.
CDM: We are very privileged that we are so young.
AP: We drive quite a lot on the streets as well.
RB: The traffic.