FIA Thursday press conference - China 13 Oct 2005
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), Jarno Trulli (Toyota), Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber).
Q: Jacques, any developments on your situation for next year?
Jacques Villeneuve: No development has ever been needed for next year so what do you want me to say? The same contract that was signed last year is still in place, so no, there is no development.
Q: Some people say that you signed a contract with Sauber and now its become BMW; what do you say about that?
JV: That it is still the same company. Sauber didnt go bankrupt.
Q: Interesting to hear your comments about 1) the circuit and 2) China. Can you expand on those?
JV: The circuit is fun to drive. Its interesting. Its not easy to get right, different to most tracks that we have. There are some good overtaking opportunities. Its fun.
Q: But you say that the stress of life in China is somewhat wearing
JV: Yes, it is a little bit stressful, which is probably fun when youre here on holiday, but for racing it can make life a bit difficult. If youre staying in town, it can take an hour and a half to come to the track. Were not doing that this year.
Q: The last time you two (Juan Pablo Montoya is sitting beside him) were side-by-side might have been in Suzuka and it didnt come off so well. What was your version of it, Jacques?
JV: I was a bit surprised when I saw Juan Pablo in the wall. When youre racing and you go through a corner, you only leave room if the guys next to you. If the person is still behind you just take your line and you expect the other person to lift, because he hasnt won the corner. Thats all. I was concentrating on the straight line and once I got on the straight, I looked in the mirrors to see where he was and I saw him in the wall so I was a bit surprised. I guess Juan Pablo judged that he would be next to me by the time we got to the exit
Juan Pablo Montoya: I was.
JV: No you werent. If you had been next to me, it would have been front wheel against front wheel. Being next to one means that your front wheel is next to his front wheel. If youre behind the front wheel, then youre not next to the person, youre not in the line of sight.
Q: So you didnt agree with what the stewards had to say.
JV: No, definitely not. I spent all my career always accepting blame when Ive done something wrong, and this time I wont accept blame and I find it very, very disappointing because the next step is when someone tries to overtake you, you just lift in the middle of the straight line and let him by. I find that a little bit dangerous, mostly when you see that some drivers will put another one on the grass in the middle of a straight-line and theres no punishment for that. So I find that a little bit difficult to accept.
Q: Juan Pablo?
JPM: What hes saying in a way is true. The rules are so inconsistent with everybody that its very hard to judge. In a way he got a penalty, but in a way he didnt. He got a 25 second penalty when he finished 12th. What does that matter? It doesnt change anything. Its kind of ridiculous that you give a penalty to someone who finished 12th which is probably going to drop him a place. Wow, 13th. I think I was side-by-side with Jacques. When I came out of the chicane, he came across the track to block me. I went the other way, when I came down the circuit I was beside him. It doesnt matter. It happens. He said he didnt see me and when he looked it was too late but I tried not to hit wheels. If you touch wheels you would probably end up in the grandstand or something and I would just rather finish one car in the wall than one in the grandstand.
Q: On the subject of this race, youve been here since Monday. What are your feelings about China and the circuit?
JPM: Its nice. Ive been to the Chinese market and Ive been around a little bit. I had a couple of foot massages which have been quite nice. Last year I didnt do anything so this year Ive tried a bit more. Its been quite enjoyable actually.
Q: Go back and look at this season as a whole. You had a difficult start to the season, do you feel totally comfortable within the team now?
JPM: Yeah. Therere bits that can always be improved. Im looking forward to next year if they change the car a little bit more to my driving style, if they keep developing the car towards my driving style. I think weve done a bit of development this year at the beginning of the year that I can drive the car (phone rings) sorry, thats me! (Laughter)
Q: How does your driving style differ in that way?
JPM: My driving style is still the same. Its just that we changed the car a lot. I think I was very used to the Williams, the way the Williams reacted and behaved. This car is just so different from that. Even with the 18, I got into the 18 and I couldnt even drive it. It was so different to what I was used to. It was a bit of a shock at the beginning of the year. I started to get used to the car, then broke my shoulder and then when I came back it was still a bit of the same and then people took me off, I had all kinds of things, problems, the red flag, all kinds of things and then broke down, and it really took time to get a decent result in, and it was a bit frustrating, but finally we did and managed to turn the season around, which was very important for me, to get the team behind me and everything.
Q: Was there a turning point? One particular race?
JPM: I think the first race where we were really competitive was the Nurburgring and I got taken out at the first corner by Webber. I think the real turning point was Canada where I actually got to lead a race in a McLaren and I was sure of what I could do.
Q: Jarno, China is totally new for you, the circuit is totally new, first impressions?
Jarno Trulli: Well, it looks impressive. I had a long way to walk up to here. I didnt look at the track yet, I will go running later on, it looks pretty good. I have really enjoyed my time all around.
Q: And Shanghai, what have you been doing there?
JT: Just much like the others, looking around, completely different people. I went to look at the buildings, completely different from Europe.
Q: And you also had a bit of an incident in Suzuka, what are your views?
JT: There is no point to go back to it. Just, no, there is nothing much to add. I was racing and someone just decided to make an overtaking move that was quite optimistic, thats it.
Q: And what are your hopes for this one?
JT: I must say that I am a bit more comfortable here because as you saw in Japan we brought a new car and we found out it was quicker than the old car but for me I couldnt have a good handling, all weekend and also during testing. I reported the problems and straight away the team is reacting, so we should have some new bits here and for this I have to thank the team because they are working really hard in Cologne, so we will attack the problem already here. There are a few bits to sort out and it is important for us that we are running this car for the last two Grands Prix because that actually is going to be the car which we will use during the winter time for tyre testing and we are basically developing the base for next years car. I could see the people reacting very, very quickly, it is impressive within a few days. We still have to check if we have solved the problems, but I like the attitude, the fact the reaction was extremely quick and for this I have to thank the team.
Q: So, what was basically the problem?
JT: It is a problem for a young car, we have new suspension, new aerodynamics and actually it worked pretty well during the testing but it doesnt fit my driving style. I am very sensitive to the changes and I can feel a few problems, especially the front suspension with the power steering, which is not reacting clearly for me and as I have a very smooth and sensitive driving style I suffer a lot from this little problem. That is why I have asked them to react quickly on the power steering side and hopefully I can run it this weekend.
Q: Giancarlo, you were very downcast on the podium in Japan, obviously, looking back, what are your feelings?
Giancarlo Fisichella: I was clearly disappointed after the race because I did more than 40 laps in first and losing it in the last lap is not great, but Kimi was much quicker than me, especially in the straight, he was more than 13km/h quicker than me, and I think because he drove most of the race behind other cars he saved the tyres, the wear was much less than me. So at the end he could come out of the slow speed corners much quicker than me. In the last chicane I tried to defend my position as the previous lap and the previous lap was okay, but on the last lap he was just able to be quicker than me at the exit of the chicane and at the of the straight there was one car in front of me and I couldnt defend my position. But dont forget two years ago I won in Brazil and I overtook Kimi in the last corner. It is motor racing, it could happen.
Q: So that was his revenge. What about China?
GF: I like China. Last year I had the possibility to go around the town, and it was good fun, it is fantastic apart from the traffic. The circuit I really enjoyed last year, and there are lots of good characteristics, lots of kinds of corners, a challenging circuit. I remember last year there was a big problem with the graining of the tyres, you need a good engine, we have a new spec engine which is stronger than the other one and we are looking forward.
Q: Since Suzuka?
Q: Now, three teams lose their identity at the end of this weekend, Sauber, Jordan and Minardi, you have driven for all three. What are your feelings about seeing them disappear?
GF: It is not my fault! It is bad, it is sad to see that and for Formula One in general it is really sad, but I think all the mechanics will stay joining the new teams and that is much more important than that.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Marc Surer Premiere) Giancarlo, you said you were about 13km/h slower than Kimi but normally the Renaults are fastest on the straight. Did you run more wing than Fernando because he was very fast?
GF: Lets say the level of downforce compared to Fernando was the same, even Fernando was about 4 or 5km/h quicker than me. I think because the engine has not gone back to France and was not back on the dyno, my engine lost a bit of power and that is one of the reasons why I was much, much slower than Kimi. Earlier in the season we were sometimes quicker than McLaren, sometimes the same, sometimes slower, but this I think depends on the level of downforce. Maybe in Suzuka we were running with a bit too much downforce.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) Are we seeing the beginning of a new era now or will Michael and Ferrari really come back again?
JPM: If they do a better job than everyone else like they did in the last few years then yeah, but I would be surprised to be honest. Ferrari did a much better job than anyone else and that is why they won all the races. Michael took advantage of the car when it was the quickest and he won the races. The question is, is the car going to be quick enough again or the tyres and things.
JV: I think Juan Pablo said everything.
GF: I agree with Juan Pablo. Ferrari is a great team, they can build a competitive car next year and Michael is still a very strong driver, so they could still be there.
JT: I totally agree. Ferrari struggled this year but we are still talking about one of the best teams and one of the best drivers in the world, so never rule them out.
Q: (Marc Surer Premiere) Jarno, Ferrari struggled because of the tyre and you will have the tyre next year. What are your thoughts about that?
JT: I cannot say they are struggling about their tyres, Ferrari can talk much better than me. I am not using that tyre, I will start next year and then I can give you an opinion. We are going to have a lot of tests and there is a lot of development planned to improve the Bridgestone performance but I think, as I said, it is a package that wins or loses and I think the package this year didnt work as expected but in the last five years they have dominated so anything can happen. They proved they can do it.