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FIA press conference - Coulthard and Massa 21 Oct 2004

With David Coulthard (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Sauber).

Q: Felipe this is your home race and David potentially your last race. What are your thoughts coming into this? First of all Felipe
Felipe MASSA:
I’m really happy to make my home Grand Prix and I’m looking forward to it. We don’t know about the weather but I hope it will be fine and we can do a good race. Hopefully we can get points, which would be fantastic for me.

Q: David this has actually been a good circuit for you in some ways. And Rubens was just saying he reckons McLaren are going to be tough.
David COULTHARD:
I think it is a circuit I enjoy. I’ve gone well here in the past and if you remember last year I ended up pitting at the wrong time, just before I think Alonso crashed his car and there was a red flag. As far a year ago goes, I think I had a good chance of winning the race, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing how the car performs. It is actually quite a short lap and last year in qualifying was incredibly close and I expect that more so this year.
Q: How does the future look at the moment?
DC:
As we speak I don’t have a contract to drive in Formula One next season, but clearly there is a drive available at Williams and I think if there is a candidate available, my credentials are stronger than anyone’s out there. I’ve got pole positions, I’ve won Grands Prix, and I’ve got a lot of experience of developing cars, tyre development. It’s been quite surprising the amount of interest from sponsors because over the last few years I’ve never had an outlet for that because at McLaren you don’t carry your own personal sponsors and badges. I’ve been contacted by people wanting to know what my future is and if they can be involved. In terms of that sort of thing it is a pretty exciting time and now that Williams remains the last competitive seat available, I’ve got to do everything I can to try and make them realise that I am the best of the drivers available.

Q: What are your best memories of McLaren?
DC:
I’m not good at doing the looking back thing. When you get these typical drivers questions you know – favourite circuit? That is easy Spa. But when it goes into things like favourite food, favourite actress, it is not something I do. So the best memories of McLaren? The Grand Prix victories have been very enjoyable, the 12 I’ve had with McLaren. The unpleasant memories have been the victories I have given away. But you spend nine years with a group of people and obviously you build up relationships. There are some friendships, some acquaintances and some I don’t know because the team is always changing.

Q: So you think there is possible potential in the future, and it’s not looking too bad?
DC:
Not at all. You decide you are getting older because you’ve been doing this for a few years, but it is an exciting time. With uncertainly, if you have motivation to want to continue and then you get up and work and see what you can see. Obviously in this situation is not just down to your desire, it takes a number of other people to believe and want to give you an opportunity.

Q: Going onto a slightly different subject, Jenson Button…the Contract Recognition Board has ruled in favour of BAR. Just put yourself in his shoes. What does a driver feel if he doesn’t want to drive and he perhaps wants to drive for someone else?
DC:
I think it is impossible to play that game and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You can get someone else to try to do that. Journalists do that and put themselves in someone’s shoes. It is easy with the benefit of hindsight to say I would have done that – what an idiot, why did you do that?

Q: We are trying to get it more accurate?
DC:
Ask him. Ask him how do you feel driving for a team that you didn’t want to drive for because you had lost faith in them. I’m sure you will get a no comment answer because now he has to maintain the relationship for at least another year and possibly more.

Q: Felipe, your feelings about the year so far?
FM:
I feel this year was very good for me. I had a bit of problems at the beginning of the year. But after we started to work in the wind tunnel, the car improved a lot and I did as well. I think the second part of the year was very good for me. I was all the time very competitive and I was competitive with Giancarlo and with other drivers as well. I’m just looking forward, I’ve not gone backwards. My races have been very quick and consistent. The second half of the year has been good for me and it should also be for next year as well. In terms of the car, that has improved a lot, and the Bridgestones, and I’m really looking forward.

Q: You have the confidence to stay with the team next year. How much of a jump do you think you can make?
FM:
It is very difficult to stay. Everyone wants to be first next year, and it difficult to know how much better we are going to be. I think that we are learning every race and we are improving. Even in 2002 it was difficult to develop the car and it is fantastic now to see how much the car improves. But about next year, it is difficult to say. I think we will have a very good year and a competitive car.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Tony Dodgins – Motorsport News) A question for David. I just want to ask you about Silverstone with the scenario rumbling on. It seems to me there is money in the sport and you are a man with BRDC gold stars. Do you think the situation is avoidable, regrettable…?
DC:
Although I am a BRDC member, if you have ever been along to any of the award ceremonies in the past, I am a non-active member at the moment because obviously my full attention goes to my job of driving racing cars. So as to whether it could have been avoided in terms of what the BRDC has done, I don’t know. In terms of brainpower and people of hands on experience of Formula One with the BRDC, I can’t imagine that they have got it wrong. Therefore it would appear from what I am reading from FOM, and that is my only knowledge of it, that it is a pure commercial thing from Bernie’s organisation to run the Grand Prix. In a nutshell what he says about how much money he charges other venues and how much he can earn by taking the Grand Prix somewhere else is the beginning of the end of it. You know you sell your services to whoever it happens to be, do you want to do a cut price deal to the local newspaper? You might do because you have probably done good in the area, but you are not going to sustain your lifestyle on that. Taking an emotional view, which we all do, certainly of the people…most of the people who eventually end up in Formula One have come through Silverstone, whether it be the foreign drivers or not - if you have come through the lower formulaes. Silverstone has played a big part in the development of drivers, engineers, journalists, fans – it has done as much for Formula One as any other circuit that I can imagine. It is a regrettable situation and I hope it can be rectified and we can have a Grand Prix at Silverstone. Not because...it is not the best drivers’ circuit in the world but it is by a long way better than some of the modern tracks we have raced on recently from a drivers’ point of view. I don’t see what facilities are worse than what we are surrounded by here.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) I’m sure you guys have heard they are voting on a new qualifying system for next year, qualifying one on Saturday and qualifying two on Sunday morning – combine the two times. Your opinions on that, and hopefully David you are around for that next year…
FM:
Well, I heard but the qualifying on the Sunday at the last race was a bit different to normal. It is better to have qualifying on Saturday and on Sunday the race. If you have two qualifying the most important one would be on the Sunday and not on Saturday. Looking for the Brazilian people, Sunday morning in Europe is very early here and no one will wake to watch the qualifying and on Saturday they can watch because it is not so early. I think the people in Europe could watch but not the people in Brazil and I think this is not good for Formula One. We could have a good time watching qualifying on a Saturday.
DC: I think the combined time thing is the way to keep people interested in Saturday and Sunday qualifying. For me personally I think the time it was on Sunday morning I wasn’t giving consideration to the race fans around the world. At the moment Sunday morning, I don’t know how you feel, is a waste of your life. We are living in real time here and Sunday morning you are giving away half a day of your life doing nothing. A few waves to the crowd and going out on the parade lap and then the paddock club, you can’t really enjoy it. I think the challenge of going out and qualifying in the car, you feel that you are receiving something, and then having a race in the afternoon. The combined thing would be a way of having people interested on both days but it just doesn’t feel right. I can’t give a solid reason why it shouldn’t work because if we say we are doing it we will all get used to it. It is not about a marathon; it is about how quick you are that day and not about how many marathons you have done in your life. It is not an accumulation of all the marathons you have done in your life or the 100 metres, it is about the final and in the final you either get it right or you don’t. So to have qualifying added up over two days it is losing a bit about what qualifying is about. It is about man and machine on that day in history and driving the nuts off it.

Q: (Dan Knutson) You had a battle with your future team-mate at the last race. What are your thoughts on Jacques Villeneuve?
FM:
For me it is very nice having Jacques as a team-mate, a world champion and it will be interesting for me to have a team-mate like this. I’m looking forward to it, hope to do a good job, be competitive and to be in front of him would be fantastic for me. It was a good fight at the last race, but it was not the only fight I had in the race. It was the only fight they showed on the television. There was a good fight at the start of the race, and a good fight with Montoya. It was a nice fight but it was not the only one.