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Press conf - Barrichello, Montoya, Villeneuve 24 Sep 2004

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) Renault in the FIA Press COnference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, 24 September 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

With Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and Jacques Villeneuve (Renault).

Q: I would like to ask you about the track but first of all can I ask you about the sights you have seen. When did you arrive in China? What did you see? What have you done? What do you think of Shanghai? What do you think of China? What do you think of the people? Juan Pablo, I hear you have been climbing a wall…
Juan Pablo MONTOYA:
I have been in Shanghai and Beijing for a day and I went to the Great Wall and that was an awesome experience, you know, it was really nice. Here, the city is awesome, it is really nice, a lot of traffic but apart from that it’s really nice.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: I quite like the city as well. I have been here since Wednesday. It’s modern, it’s beautiful, we have been visiting some places. But like Juan Pablo said, it is difficult to get out of the hotel because of the traffic. They say Brazilian drivers are good because of the traffic - they should have many drivers here. They should be all in Formula One! Unbelievable!
Jacques VILLENEUVE: I didn’t see the town. I got here Tuesday evening and I have been at the track since, getting ready. The track itself is gorgeous. Maybe it’s because it’s the first time I have raced this year, but it is a very, very beautiful track.

Q: Can you tell us a bit more about the track, the overtaking spots and so on?
JV:
There are a few heavy breaking (areas) and there’s high-speed, low-speed corners, good rhythm, even a bit of a banked corner, a little bit of everything. You never see that any more on the new tracks. This track has a layout more like the old tracks, just with the wall pushed out.
RB: I quite enjoyed it as well. The first time out it is always a bit slippery because nobody has been out, but it is a good layout, the shape of turn 13 is quite good and will provide some overtaking down to the end of the straight, there are a lot of good points as well on set-up, because there is a mix that you can do, such as Indianapolis. For example, you have a long straight but you have so many other corners that you have to go fast, so quite a good track in all respects.
JPM: I think the same really. It’s a good track. As Rubens said, hopefully it picks up more grip, but the layout is really cool.

Q: Jacques, you tested at Silverstone, but tell us how your first day back in action in competition went?
JV:
It feels like being back home. Good. The team is working well. They all made it very easy for me to come back and work, they made me comfortable, and it is a team with no pressure, no stress, and we can just get down to working. This morning was mainly getting used to layout, where the limit of the car is and covering the track at the same time so there was a lot to do and it seems to be going well.

Q: You are quite close to Alonso, does that please you?
JV:
Yeah, it is always good to be close to your team-mate, so that’s good. It took a while to get there, though, but I can use the benchmark from my team-mate and work from that.

Q: Physically, how are you feeling? Things like your neck, you can’t really train for those sorts of g-forces can you?
JV:
I have been training hard since March and it seems to be okay. We did 45 laps today, which is almost a race, and there is no problem.

Q: Juan, your last three races in a team that you have been with for four years. What is the atmosphere like within the team?
JPM:
Ah, it’s okay.

Q: Could you expand on that please?
JPM:
It’s okay, I mean, the relationship with the mechanics that I work with has always been pretty good and that hasn’t changed.

Q: I know you are keen to get to McLaren but in a way are you sad you are leaving the people at Williams behind?
JPM:
I made quite good relationships and friendships there more than anything else and those people are still around. I am going to work with other people and create new relationships so it should be okay. Of course you are going to miss some people and everything but in life you have got to move on, you know, and I am really looking forward to doing it again.

Q: You spent quite a lot of time in a simulator practicing this track, how close was it to the actual thing and did it help a lot?
JPM:
I think my first lap was about 1.5 seconds faster than everyone else’s, so I think it kind of did.

Q: Rubens, Monza was a fabulous race for you and you seemed to raise both yourself and the car to a new level, especially around the time of that third pit stop. It seems that other times this year you haven’t reached that level. What was different in Monza and maybe can you continue that for the last three races?
RB:
To be very honest I think nothing was different. The attention of everyone, not the team, but everyone, seems to change a bit on to my side because the championship was over and people were like ‘okay, now it is time for Rubens to win’. I was driving the same, I didn’t do anything wrong, it was magic, the fact that I had the speed to overcome the problems of being behind and putting myself onto a three stop was good enough, so, I just pushed as hard as I could, the set-up was good, but it was some other times in the year as well, so nothing was different. I am not driving better because the championship is over, that’s for sure.

Q: You have had so much bad luck at the Brazilian Grand Prix over the years, we are going back there at the end of the season for a change. Are you feeling the pressure already mounting to do well in front of your own fans?
RB:
First of all, I don’t believe in bad luck. I believe that so many things happened, human errors or other things that happened anyway, that cost me finishes in the Brazilian GP. I finished only my second Grand Prix in Brazil, in 1994, which was a fourth place, so I think Monza was a really good pre-qualifying, that’s how I put it, because the tifosi were there, some of the pressure from the Ferrari fans and the pressure of being home was a good pre-qualifier of me getting to Brazil. Being the last race is good because the car is very reliable, as we know, so that is one factor less. Anything can happen in any of the races, but to be the last race you have more reliability than the first race. And with the speed of the car and so on we are going to Brazil with a good realistic chance of winning the race. And if I could win in Brazil, I guess I would be happier than winning the whole championship.

Q: Jacques, yesterday you talked about being mellower now than you were a few years ago. Can you just expand on that?
JV:
When you have a year at home, whatever it is you are doing you relax. I have been in racing since I was 17, almost every day with two months off once in a while, but there were always pressures, and the last few years have been very difficult, political and so on. It was just great to be able to sit down and relax. It allows me to come back with a lot of positive energy.

Q: In Felipe Massa’s rookie season, you were critical of him…
JV:
I was critical of many people!

Q: But he is going to be your team-mate next year. How is it going to go with him?
JV:
I was critical in the first season and everyone in the first season has to learn and you make mistakes. There is nothing wrong with criticising mistakes as long as people learn and he seems to be doing a very good job now, he doesn’t annoy anybody or anything, and it will be quite good. He has a lot of experience, he tested Ferrari and he has been driving with the Sauber team for quite a while so it will be great.

Q: A question for all three of you. We all sit down here and ask you the questions. Say you were sitting down here. What question would you like to ask one of your fellow drivers?
JPM:
Nothing really! My job is to drive the car, not to ask the questions, that’s your problem! (Laughter)
RB: I agree with him completely. I don’t know, I have never thought of asking. I think you guys do so many questions that at the end of the day the answers are there but, erm, maybe I would ask the team principals why they choose so many different things in terms of drivers for next year.
JV: It wouldn’t be about racing, it would be about women or something, something more interesting.

Q: One more thing for all of you. What do you have planned between now and Suzuka?
JPM:
I go back to Europe. I have a PR thing or something.
RB: My wife is here so we will be going somewhere which I won’t tell you! But I will stay in Asia.
JV: No idea. Everything was a bit last minute, so I haven’t thought about that yet.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (James Allen – ITV) Looking at the TV pictures and incident reports, it looked like T16 was where most people were going off the road in the two sessions. Is that the most difficult corner to get right, and if not, which corners have you particularly been working on today?
JPM:
I think the last corner you always want a good exit. I ran wide once there. It is a difficult corner.
RB: The last corner is difficult to pick up the apex because you are going up and all of a sudden it turns, so it is difficult to see where you are. But for me I have problems in visibility for turn two, to actually see the corner itself. The track is pretty straightforward although you have some more demanding corners, I don’t think there was a problem anywhere.
JV: Yeah, like Rubens said, the visibility of the last corner is a little bit difficult to see where the corner is and also it’s a short corner so there is no room for error. All the other corners you can run wide, brake too late and still stay on the track but in the last corner you’ll just go off. The hard corner is turn one and two.

Q: (Richard Williams – The Guardian) Rubens, this circuit has a long straight by modern standards. Do you like that because maybe it gives you a chance to catch your breath and perhaps does it give you a better chance to make adjustments in the car?
RB:
To be honest, you have so many things to do in the middle of the straight that it’s actually quite amazing. In Monza, for example, you have to be careful if someone is going slower you can catch the tow very quickly and damage the front wing or have an accident. Here it seems to take forever to go down the straight, so the changes, you could make, but in a way it is a bit boring because you are running so much more downforce so the speed is stopping at some point and you don’t see it going at some point, so it’s quite nice to come out of T13 but when you look at it it’s pretty amazing. It was worse on the bike, yesterday, when I saw the beginning of the straight!

Q: (Jacques Deschenaux - TSR) Jacques, when the deal between yourself and Renault was revealed it was almost the same time as the one with Sauber. What was the reaction of Peter Sauber when he was informed?
JV:
He was aware of everything going on and he agreed to it. If not, I would not have done it.

Q: (Bettina Mayer - Focus) Juan, when do you change teams? Do you have your timetable?
JPM:
The teams are talking about it. There is a test at the end of the year. I still have PR commitments with Williams until the end of the year. I think driving-wise I should be driving the car hopefully before Christmas, yeah.

Q: (Alessia Cruciani – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Rubens, your president Mr Motezemolo said if Ferrari used the third car next year then Valentino Rossi could be a good choice. What do you think about it and what do the other drivers think?
RB:
I have no idea of that at all. Obviously I don’t know if it is a PR thing that is just good for the press and so on. I was there the day that Valentino was running the car. He ran very well. Obviously, for him to race I think he will need more than just the month of December to test to be able to get to reasonable times for the car, but I don’t know if that’s it’s true or not. I would have no problems running with him. I am a big fan when I see his riding and if he could do in a car what he does on a bike he would beat all of us.
JV: He’s a great rider. He is so quick on a motorbike there is no reason for him to be slow in a car so I am sure that with enough testing he would be up to speed something like halfway through the season. But the main difficulty would be that when you get to F1 you have been in other formulae before, and F1 hurts. If he hasn’t been in a car, only on a motorbike, then the first winter would not be enough physically. You just need a lot of mileage.
JPM: Much the same, really.

Q: (Jean Francois Begin – La Presse) Rubens and Juan, how much of a challenge do you think it is for Jacques to come into the championship with three races to go?
RB:
Well, he’s been around and he knows what he has to do. It is just what he mentioned now, being out of the car is quite a tough thing because you can try to do anything out the car but it is not the same as driving. So, if it is not a problem physically, it is not a problem.
JPM: I think he should do pretty good. I think this year will really get him into shape for next year.

Q: (Jacques Schulz - Premiere) Jacques, what is the difference between driving the last race with the generation 03 car and being here with the Renault of 04. Is there a big difference?
JV:
This is a beginning instead of an end, so that is already a lot more positive. I had been in a situation where it was a long tunnel and you didn’t see the light and it just seemed to get worse every day. There were a lot of other things going on that made it difficult, driving wasn’t the hard part it was everything else around it. Right now it’s like being in the first race in 1996.

Q: (Jacques Schulz) Considering we have a situation that there are three cars for each team next year, now you are contracted to Sauber when you could have four or five different opportunities. Was it a wrong choice?
JV:
It would purely depend on the budget and who the third driver would be.

Q: (Luc Domenjoz – Le Matin) Driving a Sauber car that will probably not be able to win a Grand Prix, where you will find the motivation?
JV:
I drove for five years in a bad situation and the motivation was there. I am sure that next year will be a very positive atmosphere and that is what will make the difference. Just see the step that BAR made this year, anything is possible. You never know what will happen. But I am not even thinking about next year right now, there is enough work to do in the next month. But I am happy about next year.

Q: (Jacques Deschenaux) Jacques, what was your feeling to see BAR improving this year?
JV:
It depends who I was thinking about. I was very happy to see Jenson doing well, I was happy for the guys who had been there for a long time, and a lot of the work we had done over the last five years and finally it was producing results and there was pride in that. Of course, there is also a little part of me that would be a little bit unhappy that it was someone else getting the points.

Q: (Jacques Deschenaux) What was the reason for this extremely high improvement?
JV:
It takes everything, you need the car, the engine, the tyres, the drivers, the team, and after the season Jenson did last year he was very comfortable this year and he could be aggressive from the start of the season and it all worked well.

Q: (James Allen) Jacques, what was the overriding emotion for you, sitting outside Formula One for such a long time, leaving aside the whole BAR element, just not being in Formula One. And did you believe that you would get back here and you would work again in Formula One?
JV:
What was great was I could watch a race from start to finish and not because my car had broken down! That was quite good! Did I think I could come back? Yeah, because I started training since March and when you train and don’t have a drive there is a big pain, so somewhere you have got to believe you are coming back.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sports News) Jacques, obviously you are looking forward to racing in all the races next year, but just from the North American perspective, you have a large amount of fans back in Montreal and Indianapolis. Are you looking forward to racing again in the US and Canadian Grands Prix next year in front of all those fans?
JV:
It will be great. It is so far away right now, but there is always great memories of Indianapolis and Montreal is my home race.

Q: (Luc Domenjoz) Now you are back, do you think you will be back for many years and will you use Sauber as a springboard to another team?
JV:
I have never used one team against another. Some people say I signed too early and I could have raised my value by waiting but that it is not something I wanted to do, it’s not the right way to work, so that is not my thought process right now.