FIA Press Conference - Coulthard & Fisichella 12 Aug 2004
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
With David Coulthard (McLaren) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Sauber).
Q: So, gentleman, have you had a slightly quieter break than our last two guests? Actually youve been with Jenson, havent you David?
David COULTHARD: It depends in what sense you mean Ive been with him, but erm, we were travelling together for part of the holiday. I had a great break. I spent the first week training in the hills and then the second week undoing it all on a boat. It was very good, good to have that time and as you say I was with Jenson for part of the story of his thing breaking and then just been back in Monaco in preparation for coming here.
Q: Giancarlo, what about you?
Giancarlo FISICHELLA: It was a very good break, long enough. I had a good rest with the family. I went to Ibiza and Formentera. I did some training so I feel very pleased now, Im confident, relaxed.
Q: What about the season so far for you, the Sauber progress?
GF: Yeah, the beginning of the season the car was a bit the package wasnt good enough and I was struggling a bit with the grip, so for the first few races it was difficult for us to score points. But then from Imola the team made a big step forwards and race after race there was a good step in aerodynamic components and I did a few good races. Starting from the back of the grid I scored points so we are getting better and better. They (the team) are doing very, very well and even for this weekend we have something more so I am optimistic.
Q: Jenson and Mark both said they felt the Michelins would be the better tyre here. What are your feelings?
GF: Considering last years result I think its going to be quite difficult for us, but Bridgestone did a fantastic job during the winter and even during the season and we have here a new specification tyres, new compound tyres, so we will see, maybe, that we are a bit closer at this race.
Q: Since the last race it has been announced that youre going to Renault for next year, but we always thought you wanted to go to Ferrari.
GF: No, no. I know in Ferrari there is no place, no seat, until 2006, and around a month ago I saw the possibility to move into a top team like Williams or Renault and I hope the choice I have made is the right one. I am pretty sure that next year is going to be alright. I am confident and I am happy because Renault is now, I think, the strongest team after Ferrari. They are second in the championship. I want to win, I want to win not just another race but even the championship.
Q: What about Fernando? How well do you get on with him?
GF: Fernandos a nice guy and hes a very quick driver. I met him a few years ago and we have a very good friendship so Im happy to have Fernando as a team-mate.
Q: Are you going to move to England?
GF: Well, erm, if it is necessary, yes. Otherwise I stay in Rome.
Q: David, is it a bit worrying seeing all these drives disappearing at the moment?
DC: Well now you mention it yes. Id never really thought about it like that. There are naturally only so many seats available and you know in time well find out whether theres one available for me.
Q: And yet McLaren are having this great revival, how do you feel about that?
DC: I think its good, its a little bit late in the season but better late then never, and it shows what can be done during a year. When you consider normally if you start with a bad package, thats it for the season. But it shows the resources that they have that they were able to pull it around.
Q: Is there a lot more here as well?
DC: You dont know until you get on the track but potentially theres more performance for this race. Obviously its a different aero set-up than what weve run in the last couple of races so we have to see how we stand relative to the others and tyre choice - we were a little bit different than the other Michelin runners at Hockenheim and I think it was a good choice. There are some other teams have the same tyre as us here so it remains to be seen just how it works in the package.
Q: Are you pretty confident of the Michelins here?
DC: Yeah, I dont think we quite got the hot temperatures that maybe we expected in Hockenheim and that meant the tyre that we chose had no blistering. Again, temperatures here dont seem to be as high as in previous years and I think the forecast is to be even less, so it may mean that we have actually gone a little bit conservative in our choice but better to be what you think maybe is conservative than to be blistering and losing performance.
Q: And reliability-wise?
DC: Well, obviously, Kimis failure (in Hockenheim) aside, the rest of the car seems to be running quite strongly. The team understands exactly what happened. It hopefully wouldnt affect this race anyway because it is a different wing set-up and Im sure that it will be rectified for the future.
Q: And the engine seems to be more reliable as well.
DC: Weve made a massive step forward in performance since the beginning of the year and it seems a lot more reliable. It is incredible how you can get more power and more reliability. You would think it would be the other way as you gain power you would lose it (reliability), but so far it seems to be a big step.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) You said the engine has made a huge step forward, but talk a bit about the chassis, how is it now that youve driven it a few times? Why is it so much better than the old one?
DC: I think that it is sometimes more difficult to describe where the performance improvement comes from in a car than it is in an engine. Your horsepower, you can feel it. You can all jump in a road car and say that feels like its got plenty of grunt. In a racing car, if youre going half a second quicker in the car, its a massive amount in terms of each lap and where you are on the grid, but half a second split around 14 corners is not that much. So to actually try and feel less than half a tenth in a corner is quite a difficult thing to do. Typical human reactions are 200 milliseconds so, in a not very concise way, what I am saying is it is difficult to feel the difference in the car, it has slightly more rear stability which gives you confidence in the braking areas. It still has some characteristics from the (MP4-) 19 which I dont think are good characteristics, but Ill not complain of the improvements that have been made and overall the lap time is just quicker and that is the thing that makes you smile.
Q: ( Péter Farkas- Auto Motor) David, would you please go into detail about your future. How hopeful are you of landing a racing seat next year? Rumour has it that Jarno Trulli has signed for Toyota this week. This leaves us just Jaguar. Can you tell us something about that?
DC: I cant talk specifically about conversations until I have an announcement to make and thats always been the way weve dealt with our contractual business. But I am highly motivated to continue racing. I was surprised to hear that some of the web sites and magazines were questioning how hungry am I? How much do you want it? Well, very much. I dont have a wife, I dont have children, I dont have any commitments in my diary other than racing, testing and training. I should maybe remember my girlfriends birthday later in the year, but other than that there really is nothing else in my life which is a reason to get out of bed in the morning, so the motivation and commitment is absolute. My CV, I am the second most successful driver on the grid today and that didnt happen by accident, it happened through talent and hard work and hopefully that will be picked up and I will continue to build on that.
Q: (Kevin Eason - The Times) There must have been a moment, DC, last week, when you were reclining on your sun lounger with Jenson when he revealed what was going to happen. There must have been a slightly raising of the eyebrows and a thought well, actually thats not a bad seat for me if hes going to move on. Have you targeted BAR?
DC: Absolutely. All the seats that are available you target and I think BARs performance this year quite clearly has been fantastic and there is no reason to expect that they are going to be any further away next season. Although I can understand on the face of it Jensons desire to go to Williams but at the moment BAR are doing a better job, a more consistent job.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) Id like to ask you both a question about the domination of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. I realise, like it or not, we have to live with it, but I also realise that it is up to you and your teams to beat them. But, from a spectacle point of view, from an entertainment point of view, from the fans point of view, is this constant domination by one driver and team good for Formula One?
DC: I dont know the definitive answer. From what I have been told, TV viewing figures are still up there. I dont think that people tune in to watch Formula One races because they are going to see an absolute Formula One spectacle. I think there are many other forms of motorsport that will give you that but I think in the same way that people might lend an ear when they know theres a space shuttle being launched, even though there has been many done, its just that slightly untouchable aspect of Formula One: the technology, the fastest cars, everything, the glamorous locations, all of those aspects will always attract viewers, whether one team is being dominant or not, and the fact is that within the regulations they are doing a better job than the rest of us so all of the elements of their package enables them to be so consistent and so strong. Certainly from my point of view, I admire their success and aspire to be part of an organisation that could achieve that as well. So I guess what Im saying is that I dont see how it can be bad for the sport any more than any time in soccer, boxing or whatever, there is always one guy or one team that has a period of dominance and its what? Is this the fifth year of championships, so its not like a decade of domination.
GF: Yeah, well Michael is a fantastic driver in fantastic form, and he has maybe the best package, engine, chassis and tyres so he is dominating everywhere. This is a bit boring maybe for the people, for the fans, but what can we do? Hope to be quick next year and fight for the win against Michael.
Q: (Pascal Dro Auto Plus) Is it possible that we will see you next year in a lower team, in a team that couldnt win? Stepping back to bounce back and get another opportunity in a good team in the future, or are you only going to go for a winning team?
DC: Well, if I was aiming for only the top four in the championship, then they are all gone so far. I obviously want to be in a competitive drive and have an opportunity to enjoy what I love doing, which is getting out there and racing, and irrespective of whether it is a foregone conclusion that youre going to be on the front two rows or not, if you feel you can push yourself and be part of a developing package then it is the same deal. Look at where we were at McLaren at the beginning of this year: Nowhere. Up until Magny-Cours we were lapped in most of the races. You wouldnt have expect that, but thats what happened, so it didnt put me off Formula One.
I say one thing, not relevant to your answer and it wont mean anything to the non-British journalists here, but I think the only way youll get Bob McKenzie to ask a question is to put a camera on him because I saw him on television more over the weekend than anyone else. TV journalist now, arent you?
Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Just for that, do you think Jenson has made a mistake in going to Williams and is BAR a seat that you would covet?
DC: Well, yes, the second part of your question, absolutely. I think theyve done a fantastic job and under David Richards leadership, theres absolutely no reason why they cant continue to build on that. The first part, it is impossible to know, isnt it? If things dont work out first of all it has to be established whether hes definitely going there. And if he is and it doesnt work I guess there will be a whole band of people who want to say yeah, I told you it was a bad decision. The reality is he has all the cards to make the decision and I guess at some point we will find out exactly what enabled them to make that decision. Either way, hes a friend, hes a competitor and I wish him to be happy in what he is doing and get on with it and not to be too distracted by other peoples decisions.
Q: (Bob Constanduros Bob Constanduros & Associates) Having gone as far as he has can you see him going back to BAR?
DC: Yes, it could happen, so yes, I could see it happening. But I guess logically you would say that damage would be done in the relationship but at the end of the day these arent marriages that youre entering into, until death us do part, they are all just marriages of convenience, I guess, so you are all in love until the day someone decides to move on. Cest la vie.
Q: (David Cameron Atlas F1) Giancarlo, Flavio has made no real secret that he is really building the Renault team around Fernando who is going to be your team-mate next year. How does that feel for you, going in there, and what do you expect for yourself next year?
GF: Well, I think Fernando is a good driver and Renault is now concentrating on him, but I think I have good experience, good talent and if the car is good I can do well too, even if the team now is concentrating on Fernando. Most of them know my condition very well. I have good experience and I think altogether we can work to win.
Q: (Bob Constanduros) The Olympics coming up, is there any particular athlete whose performance you will be watching? A friend, somebody you know, youve met?
GF: I am Italian so I will be following my Italian team in all sports.
DC: I know its been coming for a few years, but I havent really been following the build-up too much. No one really springs to mind.