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Press Conference - Heidfeld & Raikkonen 10 Jun 2004

(L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren and Nick Heidfeld (GER) Jordan in the press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, Preparations, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, 10 June 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

With drivers Nick Heidfeld (Jordan) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren).

Q: First of all, could you both give us a re-cap of how testing went at Silverstone last week? Nick, could you start, a couple of days for you I think.
Nick HEIDFELD:
Yeah, we’ve been to Silverstone for two days. First of all, we were lucky with the weather. We had sunshine for the two days that we were there which is not so usual for Silverstone and we concentrated on tyres for the Silverstone race, and on the second day we did some aero work especially for here, for Canada, so we tried a new front and rear wing, which look quite promising.

Q: Kimi, it was a bit more crucial for you because you had the new McLaren, the 19B.
Kimi RAIKKONEN:
Yeah. It was good. It was nice to drive the 19B and everything went well. We really didn’t have any problems, just a small problem because of the tight schedule with new parts so we really didn’t have the right parts, so sometimes there was a problem with the cooling of the brakes, but all the rest was good and the car felt a bit better so hopefully we will get it to races soon.

Q: When do you think that might be?
KR:
I don’t know, really. Like I said, it was good because we didn’t have any problems and it felt good, so hopefully once we go to Europe we take it to the races, but I think that all depends on how quickly we can get all the spare parts and I think that’s the main thing.

Q: Are you saying it’s only down to the spare parts, that otherwise it’s race-ready?
KR:
You really need to ask the team that but as far as I know how well it went in testing there’s not really any problems so from my point of view, it all depends on that but I might not know everything so you had better ask the team.

Q: Now what about the engines after the problems encountered at the Nürburgring? Have those problems been cured?
KR:
Yeah, I think so. They found the problems in those engines and hopefully we have new parts in those engines for this race and we shouldn’t have any problems. But, as you know in motor racing, you always think that you will not have problems but then sometimes they hit you. But I think we should be OK now.

Q: What are you yourself looking to salvage from this season, what can you expect?
KR:
(Laughs) Hopefully with 19B we can start fighting for podiums and hopefully also for wins, but so far it has been a very difficult season for me and for the whole team and we are just trying to work harder and turn things around. Hopefully with the 19B and all the improvements we are getting it’s going to be a bit better.

Q: Has your own spirit and motivation suffered?
KR:
Not really, but of course it’s harder and not so much fun when you have bad races and you don’t get any results. I think we are getting better speed-wise but we’re still struggling with reliability and, for sure, once we get those things right we should be OK.

Q: There’s a piece about you playing ice hockey in the programme. Have you managed to see any while you’ve been over here?
KR:
No, not really. I guess they’ve all finished. They’ve had the finals. I guess Montreal wasn’t in it so I haven’t really seen any.

Q: And what are you planning between this race and the next race at Indianapolis?
KR:
I go with my friends to do some nice things. I’m not going to tell you what!

Q: Nick, to go back to the test at Silverstone, what sort of development parts are coming through for the car?
NH:
Well, as I said, we tried a new rear wing which probably was already ready before the test but as it’s the first time in Canada, we are running low or medium downforce, it’s the first time we really tried it and the front wing has a new main plain and they definitely look better than the normal one.

Q: And is there much happening on the engine front?
NH:
Not at the moment. I hope that we will get a better engine for… I think it’s going to be for Silverstone.

Q: So how do you feel about your move to Jordan after the first races of the season?
NH:
Well, before the first races I hoped that we could start off with a reliable car and then improve the car’s speed. Unfortunately I didn’t finish too many of the first few races. But I have to say that I’m quite happy with the progress we’re making at the moment. The car’s definitely more reliable and we are also improving our speed a lot. I think they are doing a good job for the budget we have and the size of the team. I heard they had problems developing the car last year but this year, at nearly each race we have a couple of new things and as we don’t test a lot, we just have to stick them on for the race and so far they’ve all worked.

Q: What is your target ahead of you in terms of teams?
NH:
I just hope that we can get to the midfield teams. At the beginning of the season, we only had Minardi behind us and it’s very difficult to score points in that position, although we managed to do that in Monaco which was a big boost for everybody. But at the last race, Nürburgring, I think we saw improvement again. It was very good fun fighting against people again. I was able to keep a Toyota and a Jaguar behind and I was just pushing Felipe very hard on the last laps, so I think that wasn’t a bad race for us.

Q: How much did local knowledge have to do with that?
NH:
I don’t think a lot because all those drivers have been to the Nürburgring before quite often. It’s definitely a circuit I like and I’ve been to probably more times than the others, but it shouldn’t be a big benefit.

Q: So can you do the same thing here?
NH:
If you look at the last couple of races, our race speed has looked quite good. We have to improve our qualifying but it’s a bit difficult to predict what’s going to happen here because it’s a different circuit to all the others we’ve had so far this season, with so little downforce. I hope it’s going to suit our car, but honestly we don’t know yet.

Q: Are you pretty much doing most of the development, given that you have a team-mate who is a newcomer to Formula One?
NH:
No, Giorgio is helping as well. He’s just giving his comments but I definitely try to work very hard with the engineers and I think it’s obviously a bit easier for me to tell them which direction to go and to make comparisons with the past.

Q: Any pressure from Giorgio?
NH:
Yes, probably at the first couple of races it didn’t really look like it but he’s improving quite a lot and especially in testing I’ve seen that he has the pace if he gets it together.

Q: So that pushes you a little bit does it?
NH:
Yeah, it definitely pushes me because as I know from the past, with Kimi and Felipe, when you get beaten by a newcomer it’s always a bad thing. It probably looks easy from the outside but I just try to keep him behind me all the time so I don’t even get the chance of people thinking ‘OK, that was no good.’

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Kimi, given the package you have with the car, how do you think the car will work here and also at Indianapolis?
KR:
Here, I don’t really know. David would know better because he did the test at Monza and it’s slightly more similar to this one, but we will see tomorrow really. But I think in the US we should be hopefully stronger again like the last race where we were not too bad. But the key is to finish the race. It doesn’t matter how quick you are if you don’t finish. So hopefully we can finish these two races and score some points.

Q: (Steve Cooper – Motorsport News) Nick, there are a number of drives available for next season and your name has been loosely linked to them. Do you think you need to do more self-publicising to make team bosses aware that you are available and you are talented and ready to start looking to move into a top seat, or do you think the chances are over?
NH:
No, for sure I don’t think that my chances are over but what I try to do is present myself on the circuit and I know that this year many people have realised that I’m doing a good job, and that’s all I’m concentrating on all the time, showing what I can do on the circuit.

Q: (Steve Cooper – Motorsport News) Is that enough though, do you think?
NH:
I hope so. We will see next year but I don’t think it’s looking too bad at the moment.

Q: (Bill Beacon – The Canadian Press) This being the Canadian Grand Prix, this question is obviously going to come up. I just wondered what both you drivers think of the possibility of Jacques Villeneuve coming back next season or whenever? A lot of people are saying that the sport misses him. I wonder how both you drivers feel?
NH:
Well, from what I’ve heard in the news, from the press and obviously especially from Canada, is that people miss him very much but honestly, I try to concentrate more on myself and I don’t really care too much what he’s going to do. I’ve had some races with him on the circuits, those were all OK, and I’m sure it would be great for Canada and a lot of other spectators who really like him but for me it’s not that important really.
KR: Pretty much the same. I don’t really mind if he comes back. He’s a nice guy so hopefully he will get a place again and we see what happens.

Q: (Heinz Prüller – ORF TV) Kimi, heading into this race, can you give me the names of the ten top drivers in Formula One in your opinion, no matter the order? (Laughter)
KR:
No.

Q: (Heinz Prüller – ORF TV) Can you tell me who is doing the better job at the moment, McLaren or Merdeces?
KR:
That’s a difficult question. I guess they have both had their problems and recently we’ve had more problems with the engine but you can’t just complain about the engines, it has been the whole package. But I think we seem to know the problems and after the next few races we should be back where we should have been at the start of the year. But I wouldn’t really say it’s only Mercedes or McLaren. The whole team is working together. We’ve had a hard time and difficult races but we’re definitely working hard as a team and trying to improve the situation.

Q: (Heinz Prüller – ORF TV) Finland had a reputation for many years for rally champions. It changed with Keke, with Mika of course and with you. Do you think there are similarities in the driving style? Does it have something to do with the nature of the roads in Finland?
KR:
I don’t know really. Everybody’s always asking but I guess it has something to do with the fact that we have difficult winters and it’s always more difficult when there’s snow on the roads. When people are young, kids have better places to go, maybe driving in fields. Many people are living in the countryside so you can start driving road cars when you’re ten years old so that always helps.

Q: (Tony Jardine – ITV) When David Coulthard was in a press conference recently he told us that after the 19 came out and had been testing he wasn’t at the third test and he wondered why it had suddenly been described as fast, and now you’ve had to bring out the 19B. Can you tell us what the differences are between the 19 and the 19B, because there were some good quotes from you at Silverstone saying that this car is much, much better. How and why and where is it better?
KR:
Basically, I guess the biggest problem we have had is with the rear end under braking. It’s always been very loose and difficult to attack corners and also the recent car is quite a bit heavier on tyres than the 17D used to be so the race pace is not very good, it’s not as strong as it should be. So in all those areas the 19B seems to be better. OK, it’s after only one test at Silverstone, so you don’t really want to expect or say too much because you don’t know which way it’s going to go, but from the first laps it’s already felt a bit better in all those areas and I’m pretty confident it will be quite a bit better.

Q: (Harry Kiner – ARD Radio) Kimi, looking at your season, you are staying cool and calm in spite of the disappointment. You just don’t show it?
KR:
Of course it’s disappointing when we have bad races but I don’t think it helps when you shout and throw your helmet and kick your stuff because it’s not going to change anything. People are different - some like to show it and some not. Maybe this is my way.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Nick, your boss Eddie Jordan is one of the more colourful people in the paddock and has a great sense of humour. What’s it like to work for him and can you tell us some stories about him?
NH:
Well, it’s very different to Peter Sauber, for sure. (Laughter). Probably, they are the most opposite characters in Formula One, but I’ve got on with him very well right from the start. I saw him playing the drums last week at the Nürburgring. That was good fun. Luckily, I just arrived two minutes before he stopped. (Laughter)

Q: (Bill Beacon – The Canadian Press) People call this a difficult track to race on because of the braking. What do you see as the challenges on this circuit as opposed to most others?
NH:
Well, I think on the braking side it’s more related to the car than the drivers. Obviously it’s not easy to always get your braking points 100 percent right but the bigger problem is the cooling for the brakes. The other thing is that you’re going to use a lot of the kerbs so you need a good car over the kerbs. Again, it’s one of the first races with low downforce and the car obviously handles pretty differently with that. And in the last couple of years we’ve also seen more engine failures here than on most other circuits.

Q: (Bob Constanduros – Bob Constanduros and Associates) If I can take that further, given the increase in speeds, partially due to car development, partially due to tyre development as well, are the brakes going to be even harder worked here than they have in the past? Is it going to be even more crucial?
KR:
Yeah, for sure it’s going to be harder for brakes and for all the other parts also, because we’re going, like, three or four seconds quicker than the year before, so everything is going to be harder. But everybody knows that and all the teams have been working to try to improve their situation but I guess on the circuit where we didn’t used to have any problems with the brake cooling or brakes, we have already had (problems) this year and coming here is going to be difficult but we will see how it goes.

Q: (Steve Cooper – Motorsport News) Nick, given that BMW has a very German influence at Williams and being German, do you think that you have a good chance of getting the Williams drive next year? Do you think you deserve it?
NH:
I don’t want to speak too much about next year. At the moment we are speaking to a couple of teams and obviously my goal is still to move to a top team for the future, but that’s all I can say at the moment.

Q: (Dom Taylor – F1 Racing) Kimi, at the Nürburgring you qualified very well and then got a great start, but then soon after that you were lapping almost three seconds a lap slower than Michael and Michael zoomed off into the distance and the field was stuck behind you. A lot of people, after that, were saying that in effect you ruined the motor race. Do you think that is fair and do you care?
KR:
Yeah, of course I tried to help Ferrari to win! (Laughter). What should I do? Should I just pull over the let all the people go past? I don’t think that is the point of racing. I don’t really care what people say. We just try to do our own race and, for sure, we weren’t so quick in the first part of the race because I had some problems with the front tyres so I was quite slow and then the car started to get better before the pit stop, but then pretty soon after that my whole race was over. It’s a shame because I think we could have been quite good after the pit stop. People have different opinions about who destroyed the race and who didn’t but I don’t care.

Q: (Pino Allievi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) A question for both of you, starting from here to the end of the season, on which circuit could Ferrari be beaten?
KR:
I don’t know. They are strong on all circuits but in Monaco they weren’t as strong as in some of the others. Maybe Hungary is one of them but I think they are going to be strong all year. Everybody just needs to improve their cars and then we will see more fighting for the wins.
NH: I don’t know. I’m not watching them that closely. They are not our target, we are not fighting against them, but as the season has shown so far it’s going to be difficult to beat them on any circuit unless other teams make big improvements or we have a chaotic race like in Monaco or some rain. It could happen.

Q: (Heiki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nick, do you still feel disappointed about Kimi because he was chosen by McLaren, after seeing his results this year?
NH:
Well, if you look at only this season and only the points then no, but, I mean, it is so long ago now and I have answered that question so many times now. Obviously he is doing a good job there and I will see that I get a good drive for the future.

Q: (Jon Noble - Autosport) Nick, prior to this season Kimi Raikkonen was viewed as a potential world championship winner and now, almost halfway through the season you have twice as many points as him. Is it frustrating that when you are fighting outside the top five or six that you feel you don’t get noticed by the big teams, that you are not automatically at the top. And what can you do? Do you need to promote yourself, speak more and be more open to get a seat with a top team?
NH:
Yes, it is definitely more difficult if you are not fighting at the front to present yourself, to show how good you are, but I have to say from the feedback I got this season it is very positive. It is better than it was the last one or two years at Sauber and that definitely is because the first season at Sauber, when Kimi was there as well, we had a very good car and we were always fighting for points. I got one podium and we showed very good results. The season or two after, everyone expected something similar but the car simply was not as quick so I was not noticed. Now, with Jordan, people I think realise that I am doing a good job and I think it is not bad at the moment.