FIA Thursday press conference 21 Aug 2003
PRESS CONFERENCE - 21 AUGUST 2003
DRIVERS: Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS) and Mark WEBBER (JAGUAR)
Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.
Q: Ralf, can we start with you? What are your feelings after the tribunal/appeal?
Ralf SCHUMACHER: Well, first of all I'm happy that the decision was taken like that, so that I can start from wherever I qualify, which is hopefully somewhere at the front. It was a very new experience and hopefully the last in my Formula One career, but it was very well dealt with and they gave us a chance to make our point which was very fair. I have to say thank you for that.
Q: Do you still feel that you were innocent, that you shouldn't have been penalized?
RS: Well, I think that at the end of the day it was a racing incident but I don't think we should comment any more. I'm happy with the decision that was taken.
Q: Just a small detail, who pays the fine?
RS: That's something... I have a meeting later on with Frank so I think we will speak about that then. It hasn't yet been decided.
Q: The inquiry into the Hockenheim accident still affects Kimi and Rubens as well as they are now under investigation, they're seeing the stewards tomorrow. Have you got anything to say on the subject?
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Nothing really. Everything has been said already. Tomorrow we have another meeting to express our views again. Unfortunately I was in the middle of a sandwich and that's pretty much it.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, I guess I've said everything that I know and there's not much else to say to them, but let's see what happens. It's a bit weird that it's turned around suddenly, but they've made their decision already and we will see what happens. I'm not really worried about it at all.
Q: Kimi, I hear you were in Bratislava playing ice hockey, how was that?
KR: It was OK. Of course, you would rather enjoy your holidays than do those things, but actually it was quite good fun.
Q: Are you any good?
KR: Not compared with them (the other players) but at least I know how to skate.
Q: You've slipped back a little bit in the championship over the last few races; how are you feeling about it at the moment?
KR: It's not over yet. There are still four races to go and we need to fight back and try to do our best. OK, the last race wasn't good but hopefully we can get some good points here and get back in the game.
Q: Do you feel that you've had a lot of bad luck? You could say Hockenheim was bad luck too...
KR: Hmm, yeah. I don't know about a lot of bad luck but OK, it wasn't really the luckiest day. But that's racing and it happens sometimes. But I guess sometimes you have luck and sometimes not. It goes like that. We just need to do our best and try to score as many points as we can.
Q: Juan Pablo, how do you feel about the championship at the moment?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I think it's good, good for the team, good for myself, but there are still four races to go, a fair way, open, anything can happen. Every race we're looking better and better and better. But we have to wait and see what happens.
Q: I understand that you've been doing some training prior to this race for the heat, in Miami?
JPM: I've been doing training since the beginning of the year, last year, the year before. I always go to Miami during a break. It was about 38 degrees. I was just playing there, good fun.
Q: What comes up now in the next two or three weeks before the Italian Grand Prix? Is there a huge amount to test?
JPM: Yeah, really, next week we can test, the week after we are testing for the race. I think everyone is going to be there probably. There's probably going to be quite a lot to test, but it's probably the only really low down force track there is at the moment and I think it's probably going to be quite important for the championship.
Q: Rubens, what about Ferrari? Is there a massive backlog of stuff to test?
RB: Yeah, we're going to be there with three cars, as I understand it, and one car in Fiorano, so it's going to be a lot of work, just trying to find the best. For now, working for the future - it's quite an important test.
Q: What about Ferrari's position in the next four races? People are saying you might not be so good here, but OK in the three after that...
RB: Well, to be honest with you, it was quite good for us here last year. We had quite a good advantage. We just have to see how the weather plays. We're quite optimistic on the tyre side. Since Magny-Cours we have already said that we made aerodynamic improvements so I feel that we're quite strong. To be honest with you I felt that in Hockenheim, my car was running quite well as well, so it was a pity not to be part of the race, but there are four races which are depending pretty much on the weather and we can go quite well, so we just have to wait and see.
Obviously, if you take Monza and Suzuka, they would probably be a little bit better but that doesn't mean that here and the States are going to be anything less. We just have to take it as it comes, be very open, test the car as much as we can, get a good and decent set-up and off we go.
Q: Mark, interesting attitude to the intended overtaking manoeuvre at the end of the race in Hockenheim. Tell us about it?
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, we spent the last few laps just trying to put some pressure on Jenson. Neither of us had any rear tyres at the end of the race, so I thought I had nothing to lose by putting as much pressure on him as possible, and he was making a few mistakes in front of me when I was putting the pressure on, so it was a good little fight and it was all fair. But I just lost the rear on braking for the hairpin in the stadium and ran out of time.
The attitude was: try to get a point, it was the last lap, try to create pressure in the stadium to maybe finish the move in turn two or down at the hairpin. It's difficult to follow closely at turn one and even the last two right-handers in the stadium. He was very slow there, but I couldn't stay close because of the down force so it was really difficult. I'm happy that I tried.
Q: How are you getting on with your new team-mate, Justin?
MW: It's fine. It's as it was with Antonio. Just another guy in the car. He's quick so hopefully it's good for the team.
Q: Do you expect more or less pressure from him than Antonio?
MW: About the same really. Antonio wasn't slow. We know he was quick and Justin's quick as well. I just want to do the best I can for myself and get the most out of it.
Q: What about your feelings and prospects for the last four races?
MW: To be honest with you, it's going to be a pretty tough finish for us. We don't have the mileage and resources that these guys have so we're just going to do the best we can with what we have, finishing the year. We've had a very very strong season. I think we've had some good races and it is going to be tough finishing the year out. We'll just do the best we can, try and get some points, but it's going to be very very tough because the reliability at the front is frightening. They're doing a very good job, the pace is quick. Juan nearly lapped the whole bloody field so it's pretty impressive at the front.
Q: Ralf, a couple of non-scores in the last couple of races which must have been frustrating and disappointing. How are you going to treat this race?
RS: Well, definitely, it's cost me a lot of points, especially at that stage of the year. It's pretty dangerous, but we will have to wait and see. Two good races could put me in a totally different position again so I take it as it comes. I can't change it anyway. I was a bit unlucky, but that's the way it is.
Questions from the floor
Q: After what has happened after the last race, will you continue to race as hard as you always have done, or will you feel in some way inhibited by what happened in the tribunal this week?
KR: I'm gonna race as hard as ever and it was just one of those things that happens sometimes and hopefully it will not happen again.
JPM: It doesn't really inhibit me.
RB: I don't think it changes things at all. I mean there was the Silverstone race where I took it with some aggression because you had to go forward. I had just started in Hockenheim and there was no aggression at all, and all of a sudden there was a crash, so I don't think we were actually trying to fight. We didn't know we were so close. So I don't think it changes anything. We're just going to race the same, me in particular.
MW: Yeah, I think the same. We're all making split second decisions out there and what happened at the start at Hockenheim was over in a blur. The kerb filters out to the left anyway, so I think what Ralf did was absolutely normal and Kimi was on the other side, so that can happen again. We will race, make the decisions we think are right at the time and we're not going to be worried about having a touch here and there.
RS: Hmm. As I said, I thought it was a normal racing incident but at the same time, I think that what they are trying to do from the FIA side, from the stewards' side is just to make sure no more dangerous action is taken on a circuit. It's good for us. I think the approach is right, but at the same time, sometimes from the outside it's very difficult to judge these things which I understand, and it's fair for someone who has never been in a racing car.
Q: Rubens, you said that you were disappointed at Hockenheim and you thought that you were in good shape for the race. Were you on a different fuel and tyre set-up to Michael?
RB: Different tyres, I think everybody knows that. That's pretty much it. I was quite confident that the tyres were the right ones. For some reason Michael chose the other ones. I felt comfortable with the tyres for the whole weekend, not enough to beat the Williams in qualifying but my tyres should have worked quite well in the heat on the Sunday, so I was looking reasonable for the race.
Q: Juan Pablo, do feel that your people in Colombia are more engaged than ever with your car racing? Does this put more pressure on you or is it business as usual?
JPM: Aaah. I think it's business as usual. I think a lot of people are very intrigued to see what happens, they are really supporting me and I think that's really good. But for me here, it's the same thing: just get out there and drive the car and see what happens.
Q: After the last race Bernie Ecclestone was very critical of the drivers, saying they were chatting on the drivers' parade and did not wave to the fans. What can you as drivers do to give more back to the drivers here at the track?
MW: It's hard to keep everyone happy but I agree that we should do more for the fans. Ralf's not happy but...The fans get more out of us being in individual cars, let's say. Small things make a big difference: all of us being on the trucks, of course we are going to talk to each other. We are not going to not talk to each other. But other things, you see at motorbike races that it is a little bit more open, potentially, to be closer and maybe get some interaction with the fans and the drivers, which I think is important, but we have to draw a line, which is not easy to keep everyone happy. The demands are always going up, whether it is from sponsors or it is from the teams, but I think we really have to respect the public.
RS: I read this article as well but basically I am not affected by it because I am basically waving to the crowd all the time and facing towards them. But at the same time, getting more activities to the fans might be a thing but our workload, even if you don't believe so, it is quite hard with marketing and debriefs and interviews and other things we have to do so there is not much free time left.
KR: I guess they answered it quite well. I don't have anything to say.
JPM: We always smile, we always wave and I don't know, you can always have ideas. I think Williams is the only team, for example, who take their drivers to the merchandise stands. I don't know which other teams do that, but that is the way to give it back to the fans.
RB: I think we can do a lot more. I mean, in America, as a public, you can have a lot more options with radios, autograph sessions, things like this. We could do something more but if you look at the other side as well, we work so hard and when you are working for the whole time sometimes you meet with a friend or with a driver and you talk. I mean, it is the only chance you have, so it works both ways. Of course, you are there to wave to the people, there are flags there, it's quite nice, but you shouldn't blame somebody that in this precise spot I haven't waved. It's not the point.
Q: Mark, how was your Tour de France?
MW: Pretty good, yeah. I did some of the rides in the mountains. It was hard work, quite hot, but I really, really enjoyed it. There was a lot of old people who were passing me, which is not a good sign, and they were there at the top drinking wine, amazing. Really good fun.
Q: So what was the tour?
MW: Just some of the climbs really, the stages, the Col de I'Iseran which they did a few years ago and some of the main climbs down near Val d'Isere. It was good fun.
Q: Mark, one of the Australian papers last week had a headline saying 'Jaguar boss tells drivers to put foot down'. Was that the case?
MW: I don't know much about that one. I can't push the throttle any harder at this stage. We are doing the best we can. I think there is no indication I have from people above me saying that we are not doing good enough with the steering wheel in our hands, so I think they are pretty happy with what the drivers are doing at the moment.
Q: Ralf, we have read a lot of things about team orders coming from Germany, what is your opinion? Are you ready to support Juan Pablo?
RS: Regarding team orders, I know you come from Italy but that's not the fact in England. I think on the other hand Juan Pablo doesn't need my help, as he proved at Hockenheim pretty impressively. We haven't come down to this stage so let's wait and see what the season brings.