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FIA press conference - Villeneuve, Raikkonen 17 Mar 2005

(L to R): Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) Sauber and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren in the FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, 17 March 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber), Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren).

Q: Was your Melbourne performance what you expected, or did you expect to be better or worse off?
Kimi Raikkonen:
In practice, it was..(shrugs and laughs)… well, and after that, I think we were unlucky with the qualifying and with the weather. Quite a lot of people were stopped. And then I stalled the car on the start and that didn’t help, but I think the race pace was pretty good so, looking at how the car usually runs here, better on this circuit than Melbourne, I think we should have a pretty good package.
Jacques Villeneuve: We were expecting to be more competitive so I hope it was just a bad weekend.

Q: Yes, you have had massive amounts of criticism about that sadly. What are your feelings about it?
JV:
It’s okay. I’m used to it. I’ve had years of practice! It doesn’t … Well you learn not to read. It’s much better.

Q: What’s been done for this race to cure the situation?
JV:
We got to Melbourne not prepared because our winter testing didn’t go very well and the last test session when we were planning on doing race simulations, we got snowed in. So, we had no idea how the car would evolve and so we made our set-up accordingly and we went the wrong way. Then, we just carried that the whole race.

Q: So you would expect a complete reversal?
JV:
Well, complete would mean, given where we finished in the last race that we would be right at the front! I don’t think we are that competitive, but definitely we should be a lot better than in Melbourne and hopefully the heat should help us out as well.

Q: You’ve had quite a lot of time to acclimatize here and you’ve been fairly busy. Can you tell us what you’ve been up to?
JV:
Well a lot of shaking hands and, you know, PR. We did five days non-stop, but it is an important one. Our main sponsor is Petronas here from Malaysia so it is a home race for the team.

Q: Kimi, you have obviously got a new team-mate this year, now that David’s moved on, and he is perhaps more of a contemporary of yours. What difference does that make to you?
KR:
Well it doesn’t make any difference on my side because in the end I work with exactly the same people. I just try to the best work I can with them and hopefully we are quicker. Of course, I have a different team-mate, but everything seems good between us and that’s a good thing and I hope it stays like that. Hopefully, we will see who is quicker.

Q: It was suggested that you share the same sense of humour and that Ron was going to start up some practical jokes again… Has that happened?
KR:
No idea. We are different persons. We are more similar in our lives than maybe I had with David, but I don’t really think it is going to make much difference to us.

Q: Looking at this circuit, what are the challenges here?
KR:
For sure, it is much more hot here than it was at the last race and so will be harder for the cars and the tyres. It is good for us that the car is very good for tyres, usually, so I don’t see any problems. But it is going to be a bigger challenge here than it was in the first race. But like I said, our cars are usually strong here and we have a very good package anyhow so we should be quite strong.

Q: What do you do, as a driver, to try and preserve the tyres?
KR:
I can do some things. It depends from race to race. Sometimes you get stuck behind someone and you try to get past and then you can save the tyres and everything else, but mainly you try to go as quickly as you can all the time so you cannot only look after your tyres and lose a lot of lap time. So you push as hard as you can and maybe try to save in some places if you can.

Q: Jacques, one always thinks of you as being flat out all the way. Is the prospect of conserving tyres of interest to you?
JV:
I thought that is what we needed to do and obviously in Melbourne it was not required at all. There was no tyre degradation and they could have lasted forever, but Melbourne was colder than expected as well. I think we will get a better read on what the tyres will do this season from this race.

Q: Is this a race where the heat is at the extreme, the tyres are going to be very difficult and the engine is going to be very difficult – if it all works out well here is it going to be okay for the rest of the season?
JV:
This is definitely one of the hardest races and has been for most years. But this season we go to some other places that might be hotter. But if you survive here and it is your second race on the engine then normally you should be alright the rest of the season.
KR: Yes, it is going to be hard for the cars and for everyone, but things can go wrong at other races also so if you do well here I think you look better all round, but it is not mean you wont have problems at other races.

Q: From where you were, what did you think of the Renault performance?
KR:
It looked pretty strong in the race, but Fisichella had an easy race because he started in first place and there were a few slower cars in the middle. I think Alonso was quick during the race, but if you look at our race pace where we were in clear air I don’t think we were that much behind and the car was missing a few parts and that didn’t help. So I think race-wise we should be there, maybe not exactly as good as they are but it depends a lot from circuit to circuit. I think our car is pretty good.
JV: They were quite impressive. We knew they were fast after the winter testing, but they were a lot faster than we thought.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Dan Knutson, National Speedsport News): Can you guys just tell us a little about the training regime you adopt for this race?
KR:
I don’t think it is any different to the winter or between any other races. Of course, it is more humid here so I’ve been here for a week to get used to the hot and humid conditions. That’s the main thing. Yes, I’ve been out running a few times. I just try to stay outside a little bit.
JV: The training you do all year – this is just a continuation and you just get here and get used to the heat a little bit. But you don’t really do anything different. We have been quite busy with the PR week so there wasn’t a lot of time to do sports in that week, so that is why we train hard in the winter and all season.

Q: (Marc Surer, Premiere TV): Kimi you stalled the engine. What happened? I heard you pressed the wrong button… If that is so, can you explain what you do when you come back to prepare the car?
KR:
I didn’t press any wrong buttons. I just let the clutch out a little too much and the car just stopped. Basically, usually, it should under-stall, but it didn’t go and this time it stalled the engine. It was my mistake and it cost us quite a bit.

Q: Was it at the point where the clutch began to bite?
KR:
I guess it is, but I didn’t find it correctly…

Q: (James Allen, ITV): Jacques it has been suggested that part of the problem you are having with the car is braking and you want to do something different. Is that accurate? What are you struggling with?
JV:
Yes that has been the main problem, braking. F1 has evolved a lot over the last few years and mainly on the electronics side and it takes a long time to get used to everything with the car and the other thing is that with all the electronics you have now, you don’t feel everything that is happening. You become a bit of a passenger in the race-car and that is very different to what I’m used to.

Q: (Livio Oricchio, O Estado de Sao Paulo): Jacques in 1998 you drove a very difficult car for the Williams team and in the BAR team from 1999 to 2003. Last year you were of Formula One almost to the end of the season. Do you think seven years out of driving good cars could affect you as a driver?
JV:
I have good training in driving hard cars! But the Sauber-Petronas is not a difficult car to drive. So there was nothing nasty happening with it. We just weren’t fast enough in Melbourne.

Q: (Wolfgang Rother, Premiere TV): Was Michael Schumacher’s move on Nick Heidfeld at the last race too aggressive and do you think there will be any backlash among the other drivers towards Michael?
JV:
I didn’t see the accident so I cant really comment. I only saw it on the big screen while I was racing, so I wasn’t concentrating on it too much.
KR: I haven’t seen the accident. I only saw the cars in the gravel. I don’t know what happened.

Q: (Luc Domenjoz, Le Matin): For Jacques, apparently the team don’t let you set up the car how you would like… Can you tell us more of this?
JV:
I just think we are not doing enough mileage at the moment to get into it. The winter testing was not conclusive on that because we didn’t do a lot of mileage and then the one when we were going to concentrate on set up work, which was at Imola, we got snowed in… So we didn’t actually work on it and with the two race per engine rule, you don’t drive on Friday or Saturday, you just do the minimum amount of laps to choose a tyre, you don’t work on set up, so it will take us a while to work together in the same direction. That’s all.

Q: Would a third driver help?
JV:
It would definitely help in figuring out what the tyres are doing. It is a big help now that we have a limited number of laps.

Q: (Dominic Fugere, Le Journal de Montreal): Kimi, you have a third driver, how do you think this helps you?
KR:
I think it helps especially on the tyre side. We can easily put him to do the testing for that and do basically as many laps as he has the time to do so we get a much better picture. Set-up wise, maybe it helps in some places. Overall, it is a help and if it wasn’t any help we wouldn’t do it.

Q: So if I understand this right, Pedro does most of the work to find the tyre and then you guys take a few laps to work on the set-up for your car…?
KR:
We have drivers for our own cars and you can’t just take someone’s set up and think its right for you. You do what you think is best and so far we seem to have found the set-up quite easily and always the question mark is the tyres. In Melbourne, it was clear that it wasn’t difficult but it will be more difficult in other races this year to choose tyres. Then he will help us because he has done many more laps than us on them.