FIA Thursday press conference - Italy 11 Sep 2003
THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - SEPTEMBER 11, 2003
DRIVERS: Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), Giancarlo FISICHELLA (JORDAN), Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI) and Jarno TRULLI (RENAULT)
Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.
Q: You've all tested here over the last couple of weeks. Could you give me your impressions of the testing, how that went, the package that was developed?
Giancarlo FISICHELLA: We were here testing for two days. We tested new front and rear suspension, which is a little bit better. Nothing more, unfortunately. Our pace wasn't good enough and we had a few mechanical problems, especially reliability. So it wasn't a special test for us.
Jarno TRULLI: It was a very positive test for us. We did a lot of laps and miles without problems and we tested a lot of tyres and set-up, but basically our car performed very well so we are confident to have a good weekend, absolutely not as good as in Hungary but we will try our best.
Michael SCHUMACHER: We basically had a good test too. I have the feeling that the car suits this type of circuit a bit better than maybe others. In general we have made good steps forward on the aerodynamic side. They brought out a good package so I'm reasonably comfortable.
Fernando ALONSO: Exactly the same, basically. We tested a few tyres and something on the set-up. I think we found some good changes and as Jarno said, it should be a good weekend for us although obviously much harder than Hungary because this circuit will be difficult for us, but everything is going quite well at the moment.
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I thought it went pretty well. First day it was a bit frustrating with Ralf's crash and looking at what happened, I think the problem has been solved and Ralf's OK so that's pretty good. No, I think we did a lot of development. We had quite a few new bits on the car and they all seemed to work so I think we will have a really good car here.
Q: A couple of seasons ago, the two Italians in the back row swapped teams and since then you've had rather differing results. Looking back at that time, obviously you thought it was the right thing to do. What are your feelings now?
JT: Definitely I'm very happy to be at Renault and we've definitely improved the car and the performance and the team so at the moment I must say that for me it was a good move and it's looking even better for the future.
GF: I am a bit unhappier than him but obviously I won my first race this year with Jordan Grand Prix but it's been a very tough season. Unfortunately the package is not good enough and we are struggling to be competitive. I've got three more races to do with Jordan Grand Prix. I will do my best but it's going to be difficult to score some points. And then next year I will move to Sauber and I'm quite confident for that. We'll see.
Q: You mentioned the move to Sauber; what exactly are you looking for from that move?
GF: Obviously to have a good package, to be quick. I know it's going to be difficult and nearly impossible maybe to win some other races but I'd like to score a lot of points and get on the podium sometimes.
Q: Jarno, how did the win three weeks ago affect the team, because that must have given them a great boost?
JT: Definitely, yes. We have been looking for it and been trying very hard all season. Eventually it came in Hungary and everybody was extremely happy and very satisfied about the job that everybody had done, Fernando's performance and it's very good, a good boost, not only for this season but especially for next year because we know that we are going to be, and we have to be, competitive and at the top level all season.
Q: Have you seen a difference in the team since then?
JT: No, to be honest, no. There is a very good atmosphere inside the team and we are very happy. Personally, I get on very well with Fernando and I was very pleased for him.
Q: Michael, you're obviously one of the championship contenders; how much of an advantage is it that in that you've been in this situation before?
MS: We'll find out. I wouldn't say that it's a big advantage honestly because in the end, those guys there are good enough to do the job otherwise they wouldn't be where they are so I don't reckon it's a big thing. If it's transformed into lap time, it might, on occasions, on strategic occasions, help but we'll have to find out.
Q: Three years ago, in the year 2000, this race was very much a turning point for you and you always attributed a certain amount of it to the tifosi. How much are you looking for a repeat, how much can you see the same thing happening again?
MS: As you say, it looks very similar in a lot of senses and I just hope that it ends very similarly. The support of the tifosi is obviously very important for us. We know we have a lot of that and we would like to give back something that they have given us over all the years.
Q: Fernando, it's obviously been a great three weeks since the victory in Hungary. What's been the reaction at home, particularly how has Spain reacted this year to following you?
FA: Well, I think it's been a big surprise for the Spanish people. All of my country was not involved in Formula One for probably the last couple of years and now the people are much more interested. Afterwards I went to England. I was only in Spain on Tuesday, so I spent only one day, but I already felt big support coming from the Spanish fans and I think it was a great moment for the Spanish sports.
Q: In fact your role, particularly in the races to come, is rather a strange one because your participation could really stir up the championship; how do you feel about that?
FA: Well, I don't know. Probably not in this race but maybe in Suzuka we are very confident to arrive there very competitive and maybe we are in the middle of the title fight with all the contenders. I hope not to disturb anyone. Everyone knows that the Renault car can be as competitive as Williams, McLaren and Ferrari on some of the circuits and it will maybe be more interesting for people if Jarno and me are in the fight.
Q: Juan Pablo, you've won major championships like F3000 and ChampCar; how important is it to have won those championships, to have been under the same pressure as you are at the moment?
JPM: I think it helps. I'm not really focused on the championship. My main focus is to finish the races, score good points, try to finish in front of Michael and Kimi and if you do the job properly, you should be able to win it. That's the way I look at it.
Q: Where do you think you're going to be good over the next three races?
JPM: I think they all should be pretty good for us. I think the tightest race will probably be this one. I think we have a chance to fight against them but we'll see what happens.
Q: Going back to that championship question, Kimi Raikkonen has not been in that situation, particularly in a major formula; is that an advantage for you over him?
JPM: No, not really. It's not a big deal. In a way, of course, it is, but when you're driving the car, you don't really think about all this and that. You're just driving the car and doing the best you can. At the end of the day, you add up the points and see if you've got enough to win.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Giancarlo, can you tell us a little bit more why you have become unhappy at Jordan?
GF: Obviously, the season has been very tough. I am struggling to be in the top six or seven rows in qualifying and it is nearly impossible to score points during the race. That is not my target. I would like a much better package and to be fighting for the win. But it's impossible.
Q: Juan Pablo, if you win the title will it be much more for you than everything you have won before?
JPM: It probably would. It would be the biggest thing I have won; it is the biggest thing in motorsport there is the Formula One world championship. So it would be nice, but there are no guarantees you are going to win and no guarantees you are going to lose. After this race I could be completely out of the championship or I could be completely in it. I just take it as it comes.
Q: Fernando, is your manager getting more interview requests and is there more personal sponsorship coming your way now?
FA: I think the response in Spain is bringing a lot of interview requests and also there may be more interest from personal sponsors but that is not my job. I try to do my job on the track and outside there is more interest in Spain and I hope more Spanish sponsors are coming in Formula One in the near future.
Q: Your manager is Adrian Campos but is your father also working with Adrian?
FA: No, he is not working with my manager. My father is always with me because he enjoys the races and I prefer to have someone with me in the aeroplane and to be with someone.
Q: How much of a distraction has the tyre issue over the last week been and are you happy that the issue is going to go away after the race?
JPM: Yeah, I think so. I mean, we changed tyres and the FIA are happy with it and we are happy with them as well. I think we did very good long runs last week, we were very competitive on lap times. I think last week was very hard to say how competitive you really are because everyone was running different fuel levels. We will see this weekend how competitive we are. I think we are very competitive.
Q: Michael, this is a crucial weekend for you with your lead at just one point. Is this the tightest race you can remember and do you genuinely fear that this is a championship that you could lose?
MS: I think it was tighter in 2000. It was the other way around, I was not even leading the championship and I won it. So, three races to go, it is a tight competition and I am very optimistic.
Q: Fernando, they say a win changes a driver, that it brings you more confidence. Do you feel that way? And Juan and Michael, did you feel different after your first win?
FA: I feel the same. I don't have more confidence. I had enough confidence before the win. The victory came at an unexpected moment because 2003 was not a target for me or the team to win a race and I am very surprised, very happy, obviously, but I think I have the same confidence and it didn't change anything.
JPM: Not really, same comment. There were quite a few races I could have won before and it wasn't coming, it wasn't coming, and I think it was just a relief that it came through. Before it happens, you are here because you have got the capabilities to drive a car and win races, it is just a matter of time.
MS: I agree. Basically the same as Fernando, honestly.
Q: For all five guys, when your tyres are working great it is great, when they are working bad it is not so much fun. Would you prefer we had one spec tyre only in F1 so you all got the same tyre?
JPM: I am happy the way it is. I think it makes the competition more interesting because you are fighting against teams on the same tyre and on a different tyre. For me, it makes it more exciting.
FA: I think it is good like it is now, with two manufacturers and they work hard as their teams work hard to have the best tyre. In the last two or three years we have had different tyres leading and I am happy for it to stay like that.
MS: For me, any sort of improvement you can have as a race driver you look forward to. You simply like to go faster, especially in the tyre side you have the biggest potential to do this. So the testing of that is very interesting because you really get out with new tyres all the time and try something and you have immediate response. I am quite in favour of that.
JT: Formula One is competition, so basically we have two competitor tyre manufacturers and I think any others who want to come in are very welcome because it makes Formula One more interesting.
GF: It is nice to have two manufacturers and obviously it is good when you are with the best manufacturer, but at the moment it is not good for us. But I am sure Bridgestone are pushing very hard for the future and will be back.
Q: Michael, next year's calendar was published this morning with Spa back and the first European race of the season is going to be the Nürburbring. What are your thoughts on that?
MS: Ooops, take your snow jackets with you! Obviously Spa is no surprise to hear that is back, the other information is a surprise but maybe we will finally have a chance to use our rain tyres then. I think it is going to be interesting to have new places such as Bahrain and Shanghai, where we can experience new circuits. I am really looking forward to that.
Q: Michael, what was your personal reaction when you saw the photographic evidence of the Michelin tyre and Juan Pablo, what was your reaction when you were told that Michelin were going to have to come up with a new tyre very quickly?
MS: The only thing I was thinking was if that would have been the other way around, from the media side, if Ferrari would have had those tyres the story would have been very interesting to see. It has been realised, it has been looked after, it has been dealt with. I race and that is what is mainly important. Obviously I would like to race under the same conditions and that is why we raised the point and now that is the case.
JPM: When I heard, they called me and they said we are going to come with new tyres, this is the problem. I said 'fine, you know, you deal with it and I will drive the car.' That's the way it happened. And the tyres are actually pretty good, so I am not disappointed, not at all.
Q: To Juan Pablo and Michael. In this race, is it your opinion that there could be team orders?
JPM: First, by rules you cannot have team orders. Secondly, Ralf still has a chance of the championship so we don't even consider it at the moment.
MS: We haven't had any team orders so far and I don't expect any.
Q: For Giancarlo and Jarno, how frustrating is it being Italians in your home race with Ferrari getting most of the media coverage?
GF: It is not frustrating. It is more frustrating to be not competitive here. I have got a lot of fans who come here and I am happy for that.
JT: This is normal for a long time. We are very proud to have Ferrari but on the other side the Italian drivers struggle a little bit more. But anyway I am lucky because I have got a chance here to do well because our car is performing well. Ferrari is Ferrari not only for Italian drivers but for all around the world so it is a pleasure to have such an important team. But racing here for me is very important because it is in front of my home crowd and I have got the chance to use a good chassis here and to do well.
Q: Juan, I read that after Ralf crashed last week he said that in the medical centre the first person he saw was you...
JPM: Michael was there...
Q: Yes, but he said he saw your face. I was just wondering, because the accident was obviously very serious, what your thoughts were immediately after?
JPM: Well, they told me Ralf went off and I was like oh. You didn't hear anything. They just said Ralf went off, we don't know what happened. And then when the car came back I saw it and it was a pretty big crash so I went to see how he was, that's all.
Q (Martin Brundle): Michael and JPM, what are team orders in your view? I'm not sure I understand exactly where the line is between team orders and team tactics as we move towards the final part of the championship? Do you know?
JPM: I don't have a clue. You know, at the moment, I'm really focused on doing my job. If I want to win the championship I have to beat everybody and that includes Ralf.
Q: Michael, do you know where the cross-over is?
MS: Mmm. Not really, no. I don't know how you would interpret David and Raikkonen in Silverstone.
Q: Are you asking me?
Q: Good question. I personally said at the time that I thought that was team tactics. For me, it was an obvious thing to do, when two cars are on a different strategy but I think that's the problem we are going to face as we move in. Quite clearly it would be easy to slow down a pit stop or if there's something pre-determined before the race, it's an obvious thing to do. It's always happened in the history of Formula One, but is it something you're nervous of as drivers, is it something that's discussed in the team motorhomes?
MS: No, the only thing is that whatever is maybe done it might be interpreted in different ways and that's the sort of thing which is going to be interesting to see.
Q: Michael, a second one if I may: Ralf may end up helping, through team tactics not team orders, Juan Pablo to beat you in the championship by a cruel twist of irony. How do you thing that's going to be psychologically for you and for him?
MS: I think that's his job. I would do exactly the same if I was in his position. He does his work for Williams, not for me.