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FIA press conference - Barrichello and Zonta 21 Oct 2004

(L to R): Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota and Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari in the FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Brazil, 21 October 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

With Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and Ricardo Zonta (Toyota).

Q: A question for both of you: it’s your home Grand Prix, how do you approach it? You have different circumstances in each case.
Rubens BARRICHELLO:
Well, first of all, I’m so happy for Ricardo that he’s here, because when they said that Jarno was joining, it was probably a nice thing for Toyota, but as Ricardo had a chance to drive in some Grands Prix, this is probably the best one, so it’s nice to have him here.
For me, it used to be a good Grand Prix always, but there used to be pressure. In all the phases that I’ve gone through in my life, especially after Jordan, I had to change my attitude and I had to send the emotions away from everything that I do, so I was actually joking with one of our Italian friends, saying that you don’t have to believe in things, just because I haven’t finished the last ten races, it doesn’t mean that I won’t finish again. I have to remember the good times. I don’t believe in bad luck at all.
So the weekend is just nice. I have a lot of work to do. I’ve been with the press for a long time now. Actually this is probably the first time that I’ve been speaking in English. I’ve just finished on press conference in Portuguese about five minutes ago. But it’s a good race. It’s one that I enjoy and it’s a race where after a hard day’s work I can go back home and sleep in my bed. It’s just so good.
Ricardo ZONTA: I feel very happy to have the chance to race in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Of course, so many things have happened this year at Toyota and they have given me the chance to race again. There have been so many changes and I’m just very happy to be here, in Sao Paulo and I will try to do my best. Of course, we have to work very hard to see if we have the possibility to finish well.

Q: Ricardo, just give us an idea of your history at this circuit? I think you’ve done quite a lot of racing here; what does that do for your confidence?
RZ:
Of course, racing in Brazil you want to do better and better all the time, but I started here in Formula Opel, then Formula Three. I did my second race in Formula One here and I crashed and I had a problem with my feet. But I think the motivation that you have with Brazilian people and everybody crying and saying your name is very nice. But when you are racing, you go 100 percent at any racing circuit. Here it’s just extra motivation.

Q: Has it been a bit of a problem, popping in and out of Formula One? You replaced Cristiano, then you missed out in Japan and now you’ve come back again.
RZ:
In China I felt very strange. I felt that something had happened in the team. Of course I didn’t have the position to push for anything. I was just the test driver. Of course they gave me the opportunity to race this year and I felt something strange. After that, they said it could be Olivier or me not racing in Japan, and Brazil as well, so in the end they gave me the chance to race here and Olivier was quite nice as well, because you know how he feels these things.

Q: How about the races you’ve had so far with Toyota; you seem to have had a lot of mechanical trouble?
RZ:
Yeah, in Spa, of course, I was fourth in the race with three laps to go, but at the end I had the engine problem. It would have been my best result, it would have been the best result for Toyota as well and then in China, I was eighth, fighting with Felipe Massa for eighth position and I had a gearbox problem and I had to stop, so it was quite a difficult year for me.

Q: As a local boy, what’s the weather forecast? I hear it could be quite interesting.
RB:
It’s cooler than last week. You know Brazil’s weather can be quite funny. It’s so difficult to know. I don’t think we’re going to have rain on Sunday but anything can happen. I’m thinking that all the time we have hot weather during the weekend, sometimes we have the rain during the weekend, so I’m just seeing the opposite now. We’re seeing the bad weather now and probably it’s going to become better. But I’m saying that because of pure feeling, I don’t have any information.

Q: Now I understand that when you played football the other day, you and Michael scored a goal each…
RB:
I scored a goal and Michael scored on a penalty, which is quite different... (Laughter). ... which is quite different. You know with the penalty you just choose one side and then you let it go.
Q: So you’re feeling one up at the moment are you?
RB:
Exactly. Even though now they’re saying that I was offside and so on. It’s a bit of a thing that happens sometimes when you’re a good player and you score well, it happens in Brazil. (Laughter).

Q: So when it comes to the race itself are you expecting any favours from Michael this weekend?
RB:
No, not at all. To be very honest, when you have a kind of a friend inside… it’s just like we are with Ricardo, Montoya, Alonso and so on. Whenever he’s racing in his own place, you hope that he does well. It would have been lovely for Sato to finish on the podium in Japan. I think this is the same. At the bottom of his heart, Michael would like for me to finish quite well here, but if he had to decide whether he was going to win or let me win, I’m sure he would choose for himself to win. So I’m not expecting any presents, I don’t want any presents, I’m feeling as good as ever. I’m lucky that I can be here with a competitive car, in the state of mind that I’m feeling right now, just feeling good and I’m just putting in first gear tomorrow and just seeing my people and going for it. It’s a lovely racing track for me. I think it’s one of the best in terms of overtaking. I’ve heard that they’ve done something to the surface of the asphalt, but they didn’t get the results that they were expecting, so maybe tomorrow we are actually saying that the track is a little bit bumpy, as usual, so it’s no different and I’m feeling good, I’m feeling good. Is this the time (I can win?) I’ve no idea and I don’t care. We’re going to see on Sunday afternoon and it’s just that it will depend much on me and much on the team that is putting in so much effort and giving me the chance to go for it.

Q: How much did those two wins in China and Italy, how much of a difference did that make for you?
RB:
Well, to be honest, if I got to Brazil without any wins, feeling that this was the last race and trying to do that, it would have been very difficult, in terms of just a pure mind game. It would have been very difficult. I think the two races were fantastic. The Japanese Grand Prix was a bit of a problem in terms of everything, but I had the speed to win the race as well if it wasn’t for the qualifying and so on, so I’m feeling good. I think the two races certainly promoted a good state of mind. After Michael won the championship, I think the team relaxed in a way that gave the chance for both drivers to have a chance to win. The team is giving me a VIP feeling and I’m feeling good.

Q: Just one final question on a different subject: we have a situation with Jenson Button whereby the Contract Recognition Board has judged that he will drive for BAR but he has already stated that he wants to drive for Williams. How does that affect a driver; just put yourself in his shoes; what would you be feeling now?
RB:
First of all, I would have resolved the matter inside closed doors. I wouldn’t have told the press what I wanted to do before anything went to the public, because for me, it would have been much more simple. Secondly, I think that it’s very hard to drive for a team if you wish for another one. It’s just like having a girlfriend that you don’t want any more, you want the other one. What do you do? I want to kiss that one, but this one is sticking with me. It’s all a bit of a difficult situation.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Rubens, as you are the oldest driver of the three Brazilians, what do you think of the other two, Ricardo and Felipe?
RB:
Not because Ricardo is here, but I’ve always said to the press that I didn’t think Ricardo had a chance to drive at BAR. I think there was too much pressure and probably the time there with Jacques wasn’t good at all. When I saw him behind me and pushing me in Spa, I wanted to protect my position, but when I saw smoke, I really wished that it wasn’t him because he deserved the points there, and I think he deserved the points in Formula One, so it was just a shame that it went up in the air. But I think he does have a place in Formula One, and people should take him a little more seriously.
On Felipe, he has matured quite a lot inside Ferrari. He has still had an up-and-down season this year with Giancarlo. In terms of speed, I think he matches Giancarlo quite well. In terms of pure results, it’s been a bit difficult because of all the problems he’s had but he has the talent, so if he has a good set-up in terms of mind management and progresses, just keeps on going, he’s going to have a good year and probably he can win races in the future as well.

Q: (Frederic Ferret) Did you help Felipe last year when he was with Ferrari?
RB:
As much as I could. We had Burti there as well. I tried to have Luciano in the team because he was a good test driver, he was a good driver so it was good for him to be there and it was nice to have Felipe there because he’s a young talent, so you are always trying to see what people can do on your car. Obviously he’s quite young, so when he came he was trying to learn all the time and all the things that he asked me, I managed to answer, no problem.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Rubens, one of your other home tracks, Silverstone, may not host another British Grand Prix. What do you think of that?
RB:
Well, the comments are the same as everyone: I just think it’s a shame. There are a couple of tracks that we should get rid of in the calendar, to be honest with you. I wouldn’t name them, because that would be bad, but Silverstone isn’t one of them. If there is a political problem or a financial problem, I don’t know and it’s none of my business but it is a shame. It’s a circuit which is fantastic to drive and I would be very sorry not to visit England for the first time in my whole life.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Rubens, have you had any chance to test new parts for 2005 and how do you expect the car to be with the new regulations?
RB:
I expect the car to be slower, certainly, but we’re trying to prepare ourselves well to gain back everything that we lose with the new rules. The main factor next year will be the fact that we are going to have one tyre for the whole weekend which, I don’t think Formula One is prepared for, in a way. I don’t think it’s a good… I’m sorry to be direct about that but didn’t dream of Formula One, when I was a karter, to be racing on one tyre. The tyre manufacturers want to win races and they will take everything to its limit, to be quick and reliable. But maybe someone could suffer, from testing or could suffer from anything. Although I’m such a believer that we’re going to get to the end with Bridgestone, setting up everything, next year might be too early for that and I’m a little bit afraid in terms of safety. So I’m not in favour of the one tyre rule. I’m in favour of the engine, the engine seems to be going quite well and two races seems to be OK and if you have a failure, you have to change engines and lose ten positions. It might make a better show for Formula One, that’s OK, but the one tyre… I used to race one tyre per year in go-kart because I didn’t have money (laughter) but that’s a completely different thing.

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez-Huber – Agencia EFE) Rubens, who do you think will be your rivals this year in Sao Paulo, and is Fernando Alonso one of them?
RB:
I think he could be. I think BAR is going to be very strong. We have a circuit here which depends very much on the aerodynamics but also the power of the engine going up the hill. In the past, Renault has been quite strong. I think last year they were a bit stronger in that they were competitive in almost every race. This year they have been up and down the whole season, so it’s difficult to actually say yes, Fernando is going to be there. I predict that McLaren is going to be quite strong here from what I’ve been seeing in terms of aerodynamics and so on. I think they have quite a quick car, in terms of cornering and pace and so on. So I predict they will be very strong.
Williams have also had a difficult season. They have been up and down all the time, but many times they have been competitive in qualifying but not as competitive on race day. I’m not actually discarding any of the other teams – maybe Toyota can be in the top eight in qualifying, maybe have a good pace in the race as they’ve shown so many times in the past – which I hope anyway, but I’m not saying that because I’m saying McLaren or Williams are definitely out or Renault are definitely out. It’s not like that. I mean that I will say that the main contenders could be McLaren, the rest will always be strong. Interlagos is a track where we’ve seen in the past the first six covered by just 0.3s so it could well be half the field that could have a good weekend.

Q: (Dan Knutson) Assuming that Silverstone could be on the calendar next year, it would mean 19 races. From inside the team, how much strain does that put on the personnel?
RB:
I personally like the idea, because the toughest time for us is the testing. It is tough, when you finish Sunday’s race and you go direct to Jerez and you test Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. That’s quite hard. When you start from Wednesday, that’s a different matter. But I can see that you put a bit more effort on the mechanics and so on, but in terms of drivers, I think you actually have peaceful time.
RZ: I think it’s very important to have a test driver, because many times the race drivers are so busy during the race weekend they get stress and everything. When they then have three or four days testing it’s very hard, also for the mechanics it’s very hard.

Q: (Jose Emilio Aguiar – Extra) How did you manage your time before this race, did you spend time with your son, did you have any special preparation for this race?
RB:
For the very first time I was lucky that I didn’t test between the races, so I was able to come straight to Brazil and I got here on the Monday right after Japan, so I was able to stay with my family, I was able to capitalise a little bit on the time difference because it took me two or three days to get going on the sleeping, because in between China and Japan I stayed over there, so I was on different timing for over twenty days. I’ve been training, training quite hard, I think physically Interlagos is not easy, but I’ve spend time with my family - it was over 20 days without seeing my son, so I’ve had a chance to play – Silvana said last week she didn’t know which one was the kid, so I definitely spent good time with him.

Q: Ricardo, what can you realistically expect from this race, because Toyota had a very difficult season. What position do you expect here?
RZ:
Well, this track is not so easy for us, because it’s so bumpy and if you look at Budapest, another track that is so bumpy and we had so many problems but of course, the last time I raced here in Formula One was in 2000 and it’s difficult to say to you now which position we can stay in during the race or qualifying. I think we’re going to see how the car goes tomorrow in practice.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi) For both of you, during the weekend there will be a show with Bruno Senna driving a Lotus that his uncle drove. Will there be special emotion for you?
RZ:
Of course. With many Brazilian people here, I think it will be very emotional, also for us. It’s something for us, very emotional as well.
RB: I think many people will be coming to the race circuit to see the race, but many of them will have the pleasure to see that car running again. It’s definitely a plus that Senna’s car will be driven again. I wish I could drive the car; it’s going to be nice.

Q: Ricardo, what have been the biggest problems since last year to this?
RZ:
Of course, last year we scored good points. We had some good positions, but this year it’s proved very difficult to compare. We’ve had improvements from the aerodynamics but at the same time the other teams have improved as well, so many times luck hasn’t been with us as well so we had car problems when we didn’t score points. In the race the car is not perfect. In qualifying, OK, but in the race we have big tyre degradation and also the speed is not good enough to score points.