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Friday FIA press conference - San Marino 18 Apr 2003

The run down to Tamburello.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, 18 April 2003

FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - APRIL 18, 2003
DRIVERS: Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), Giancarlo FISICHELLA (JORDAN), Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN) and Jacques VILLENEUVE (BAR)

Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.

Q: Giancarlo, what has your Brazilian Grand Prix meant to you?

Giancarlo FISICHELLA: It's been very important for me. I've been nearly eight years in Formula One and I have finished second many times. I've been close to winning some races but unfortunately I couldn't win until the Brazilian Grand Prix. It's very important mentally. It was a fantastic race, a difficult race, obviously, very difficult conditions, but I think I drove well; we did well with the strategy. I think I was lucky too, but I was very pleased, very confident for the future.


Q: What was the wait like, waiting for the decision to go your way?

GF: It's been a very exciting week. I was waiting for the FIA answer, but on our data, there was a good possibility that we would win the race so I was very confident but I didn't know, obviously. I have been in the press every day, I've done a lot of interviews. I was very busy, but that's good, especially because now we are in Italy for a Grand Prix, it's good for this weekend and mentally I like to do well here at Imola. It's my home Grand Prix so I'm confident to do well.


Q: It's quite a significant circuit for you this, isn't it?

GF: Yeah, I won my first race in Formula Three. I scored my first championship points with Jordan here in '97 when I finished fourth, so I've got a good feeling with the circuit and it's my home Grand Prix, so it's very important for me.


Q: I would like to ask all of you about the rules staying the same this year, what are your feelings about that?

GF: For me it's OK apart from the wet tyre choice. I would like to have a couple of choices with the wet tyres, with the intermediate tyres. That's the only rule I don't like.

Kimi RAIKKONEN: I think they're pretty OK. Of course, there's quite a big difference from last year but we've got used to them and it's been OK.

Rubens BARRICHELLO: I think that generally speaking it's been a good show, the first three races have been quite good but I don't like to see the way it was in Brazil, for example, people just spinning and going off the track, because they didn't have the right choice. Although I think we had the right tyres for most of the time, it was quite difficult so in a way, I don't think it's going to change much of the show to offer two types of tyre for everyone. Sometimes I don't understand Formula One in a way.

Jacques VILLENEUVE: Same thing, the wet tyre rule, that's the main problem, perhaps the only problem. The races have been great, so the rules must be good. Of course qualifying with fuel is less exciting but it's a good trade-off, to give up on some qualifying excitement but to have a better race. At the end of the day, that is what is important but the tyre rules for wet conditions could be re-thought.

Fernando ALONSO: More of less what all the drivers have said. I'm quite happy with the new rules. Obviously they're a big change compared to last year and the previous years, but now I think all the teams are used to this new system for qualifying and for the race and it should be accepted for the rest of the season and maybe we will take a little advantage from that and we will see a good show in the races and places like Brazil, like Malaysia with overtaking possibilities and all these things which a few years ago was difficult to see.



Q: Are you fully recovered from what must have been a very big impact for you in Brazil? I guess the HANS device helped. Are you fully recovered?

FA: Yes, I'm 100 percent again. I have no problems at all. I think the HANS works very well because I had no problems with the neck at all in the week after the accident and that's an unusual thing. After an accident like this you always have problems with the neck and I think the HANS did a very good job in that accident and I'm ready for tomorrow and the race on Sunday.



Q: Looking at today's results, a little bit disappointing?

FA: Yes and no. Obviously after the first three races we are in a very good position in the championship, in the Constructors Championship as well, so we are always looking to be in the top six, top eight, but we know that on some circuits we will have a little more problems than normal and maybe this weekend is one of those. We have tomorrow morning to work on that, to sort out the problems, and I am confident to be more competitive again tomorrow and Sunday in particular.



Q: Kimi, you and the team seem to have been very sporting in acknowledging Giancarlo's win. Was it difficult to hand over the trophy?

KR: Of course it would have been nice to have been the winner but the rules are the rules, so it's the right thing to do. The rules said he and Jordan were the winners and that's that. It's nothing against us, there was a mistake by the timing people and that's OK with me.



Q: You're leading the World Championship yet two years ago you were being warned to behave because you were on probation. Can you believe that so much has happened in so short a time?

KR: Yes, because everything has happened very quickly, but I'm not complaining because maybe I did all the things in the right way and maybe I was in the right place in the right time, but there are still things I need to learn and I'm getting more experience all the time and learning. Some races you go to are more difficult than others but I'm quite happy. It's just surprising that it has happened so quickly, but as I say, I'm not complaining.



Q: Rubens, obviously the old car is going well but are you expecting the new car at the next race?

RB: It depends pretty much on testing next week. Last week we were testing in Italy and unfortunately it was wet so we delayed everything a little bit. Performance-wise I think the car is fantastic but we had small problems so we thought it was better just to delay it a little bit, but I hope that it's just going to be for this weekend.



Q: Was retiring from the lead in Brazil a massive disappointment?

RB: Obviously, if you want to win somewhere, you want to win at home. It would have been a fantastic feeling but as I said I have many more chances in the future and hopefully I will win, eventually, with some luck and some determination I will eventually win the race there.



Q: Jacques, in Brazil, you were quoted as saying that some drivers were driving too aggressively. What was your feeling about some of your colleagues in Brazil?

JV: There was a little bit of some dangerous driving with yellow flags. I think everybody saw that so it's a fair comment.

Q: Was that what you were referring to - under yellow flags rather than just normal racing?

JV: Under normal racing there were some dangerous moments, but in the wet you can't see in front of you so you can imagine how little you can see in the mirrors so I don't think that the blocking that happened was done on purpose under racing conditions. What is more surprising is that under yellow conditions because... when you crash and you're getting out of the car and you know that there is a chance someone will crash into you because they don't take enough care then that's a little bit scary, that's all.



Q: Would you say that BAR seem to have finally turned the corner?

JV: The car is definitely a lot more competitive but we are still having mechanical problems, small faults that cost us a lot of running time like we've had most Friday mornings and that's not the best way to prepare for a race weekend. But at least we are competitive enough that we can fight for points and hopefully podiums most races so if it keeps going this way, we will be looking good by the end of the season.



Q: Today looks encouraging doesn't it?

JV: For the speed of the car, yes, and hopefully we have had our mechanical problems this morning and it won't bother us during the rest of the weekend.


QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q. Was today's time a question of pride as well as performance especially in front of Ferrari's fans?

RB: Here will be a fantastic feeling to win in front of all the fans especially because people think were are in a bit of a crisis, which is not true. We feel competitive and we are with a competitive car. The 2002 car is fantastic but the 2003 car is even better. I've got more points than I had this time last year, Michael has been a bit unfortunate and therefore he doesn't have the same points as he had last year. It will still be fantastic season, although I have the special feeling of Monza already last year but Imola is Ferrari's home.


Q. How do you explain the lack of performance from McLaren today? And to Alonso what is your feeling to be here and you are under investigation for what happened in Brazil?

KR: I would say that today it wasn't the best qualifying. But we are battling for first place and we don't need to worry about Ferrari too much. I don't think we are far away as in qualifying. We will have to see what happens tomorrow.

FA: For me I don't really know much about the investigation. I'm not worried about it. I did a good race in Brazil and I'm happy with what I did in the race so I don't see any point to have any worries.


Q. I know it is not polite to speak about people who are not here, but Rubens, what are you feelings on Michael Schumacher? What if gets another unfortunate result here? What would be his reaction for the rest of the season, would he get any more aggressive?

RB: Would he get any more aggressive? Maybe the question is for him. He is not down because of it, he is working well and what I can say is that we can't see into the future. We have to see the results. We are of course trying to get the best results for Ferrari as possible.


Q. To Fernando, you did a great performance in the rain in Brazil, would you be happy if it rained tomorrow or Sunday?

FA: Obviously for the tyres to have a wet race is always difficult using intermediate tyres, so I would prefer it if it was dry. We hope for a dry race for the people, for the TV, for us.


Q. A question for Villeneuve. In 1997, you were in your second year in Formula One and you had problems with yellow flags at the Japanese Grand Prix. Can I have you thoughts on that?

JV: Well I did it there were six cars who didn't slow down in a straight line because the car was at the side of the track. We could all see the car, that there was no damage and qualified for the race and it quite....so I guess we'll have to discuss it in the drivers' briefing because Brazil was very dangerous.


Q. Fernando, did you have an early warning before you came round the corner and hit the wheel?

FA: Yeah I had it too late and the team said to me that there was an accident in turn 12 just as I approached the same corner so it was an unlucky moment.


Q. Did you see yellow flags?

FA: Yeah there were flags all around the track from turn four to turn 12.


Q. All you guys have made it clear you would like a wet tyre on a wet track. I think Ron (Dennis) brought up the question of having a spec tyre, where it has a particular tread depth. We put that question to Max yesterday and he said he can only give out the passive safety. What do you guys think?

JV: If you change the depth of the tyre it will only help in aquaplaning. It will only help aquaplaning but then the tyre would be so hard they would never warm up and it would make it extremely dangerous.

RB: You say that tyre manufacturers have one tyre, but people forget that you have a set-up on the car. Mine was set up for the dry and people seem to think there is a tyre problem, but there is no tyre problem. When the track is drying out it is much more difficult because you have a line which is dry and on tyre you have wet. If you go onto the track where it is wet you are going to crash. I'm concerned about safety. It would be a bit more of a cost but we are talking about safety. We do so many things for the car, the HANS device, but we only have one tyre for the wet.


Q. A follow-up on the yellow flags. You said you saw yellow flags on the corner, but you didn't slow down because the team didn't warn you in time. It sounds to me that you just disregard yellows....

FA: I don't agree with that. When we have yellow flags we slow down, we know that in the particular corner there has been an accident. You know it is a dangerous position when you have a yellow flag, but when you have the safety car you have yellow flags for the whole lap and in Brazil I was coming into the pits for my last pit-stop and you can't do the lap at 10kmh. But I have nothing more to say about yellow flags in Brazil.


Q. I want to come back to the tyre question. Yesterday Mr Mosley said the teams asked for change, what do you think?

JV: It wasn't thought out completely before the start of the season, now it shows that it is a problem. It would take the two tyre manufacturers to agree and obviously one tyre manufacturer thinks he has an advantage so he will not agree to change because of politics.

RB: My view on top of that, as far as I am concerned it was not everybody who agreed to that. It wasn't 100 percent.


Q. Kimi wouldn't you like to go to your team owner and say let me have two types of tyres?

KR: I think we would still get the same situation, with Bridgestone runners starting on intermediates because it would make them quicker than us. Everybody needs to get together and make a decision and hopefully some changes can be made.


Q. Giancarlo...

GF: What can I say, we have just one and it is not good. Conditions like Brazil are not good for the intermediates, it would be better with fully wet tyres. I will push my boss, Jordan, into getting it changed.

FA: For me as well I think we should have two tyres and choose which one we want.