FIA Thursday press conference - San Marino 21 Apr 2005
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Nick Heidfeld (Williams), Vitantonio Liuzzi (Red Bull), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari).
Q: A question I am going to be asking all of you: about new developments on your cars for this weekend and what youre hoping from them? Giancarlo, I believe you have a new spec engine this weekend and new aerodynamics?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah. I have the B-spec engine which is a bit lighter. It is not stronger but we can run with a bit more revs and a new front wing. Thats all.
Q: And how have they gone in testing?
GF: Not too bad. We had a good test at Paul Ricard and it looks (as though its) a small improvement so already our package looks really good and those things look promising, yeah.
Q: You ran a car in Rome last weekend; tell us about that?
GF: Yeah, it was a fantastic day for me because that road show in Rome was exactly the first time for me it was a really exciting day because I was born in Rome and running with a Formula One car, in front of all my friends, my children, a lot of fans, was fantastic. But unfortunately the weather conditions werent fantastic, it was raining, but apart from that, more than 25,000 people came to watch it, so it was good anyway.
Q: I should think Roman streets in the rain was quite interesting, fairly slippery?
GF: It was very slippery because it was wet and it was really bumpy, but it wasnt a race weekend. It was good to show everyone what a Formula One car can do and especially to listen to the engine noise was nice for the people.
Q: The season for you has been very much up and down, obviously with the win in Australia followed by the problems in the next two races. What are your feelings, particularly as your team mate obviously capitalised on that?
GF: I told you we have a good car, a good package and we won the first three races. Unfortunately, in Malaysia I had a problem with the front flap which I lost just after the pit stop, and in the last race I blew the engine just after two laps, so I was really disappointed for that because I couldnt score some more points, points which are very important for the championship for drivers. But I am looking forward, because I have a great car, I have a great team, and here we are in my home Grand Prix so I try to do my best to get on the podium again. Obviously the dream is to win again. But it is going to be quite difficult, especially because in the first qualifying session I will be one of the first guys around the circuit and the circuit will be much better at the end of qualifying.
Q: Nick, how are the modifications on the car, what are you hoping for?
Nick Heidfeld: As in the last couple of races, here again we have a few new aero parts which I am sure are going to improve the car but we have to wait and see how the other cars have improved as well.
Q: And you tested them?
NH: Some of them, yes, but a lot of them we didnt, as in the last races. We have quite a strong belief in our wind tunnel now. It worked for the last couple of races. We just got the parts just before the weekend. We put them on and they usually worked.
Q: Now, I believe you had a shoulder injury; is that OK now? What happened?
NH: Its fine. It happened testing in Paul Ricard. I didnt crash, it was just unfortunately that while driving, probably going over a bump or something, a muscle went into spasm and its still a bit irritated now but it is not going to be a problem for the weekend.
Q: Now you have settled into Williams. I dont think they were expecting such a good start to the season, but has it surprised you?
NH: Yes, I think it has surprised all of us, especially after testing. In testing we were not happy with the car at all but already by the first race, we made such big improvements that we were in a reasonable position and after that I was able to finish on the podium in Malaysia and it was certainly more than we had hoped for since we got the new car. Obviously we would have hoped to be even stronger than that but we are all working very hard.
Q: So, its been a nice pleasant surprise
NH: Yes and no. It was a pleasant surprise from what we have seen when we launched the car but then again, we would have hoped for a stronger start whereby we would have hoped to be able to win races straightaway, of course.
Q: Vitantonio, modifications on the car?
Vitantonio Liuzzi: Yes of course. We had some new developments on the aerodynamic side and on the electronic side which we tested in Barcelona and we did a shakedown this week at Silverstone and we are looking forward to this week. It seems quite OK. We improved a little bit but for sure, as Nick was saying, everyone is developing the car and we have to see our level. Fortunately Imola is a track which fits in quite well with the whole team so we are looking forward to the weekend.
Q: What about the role of third driver which you have been filling up to now. Has that been frustrating or did you always know that you were going to get these three races?
VL: In our team we knew from the beginning that me and Christian would share, since we sat in the car for the first time in December. Fortunately the situation has been quite clear between us. When it was decided he would drive the first three races, I was OK. For sure it is difficult to see the other person racing on television, because we are born for racing and we would like to be there. But I accepted this situation because it was good for me, I learned the first three circuits which I had never been to before and now fortunately it is my turn in Imola, in my home country, and it is great to be here as a driver.
Q: Red Bull, seems to have a different attitude to Formula One
VL: Are you sure? It seems like it?
Q: and so do you, when I saw you under the trees in Bahrain surrounded by pretty girls.
VL: Of course, since Red Bull bought Jaguar, everything changed in the team. I think also from our side in the paddock, because I think the team has put in a bit more life, because they have a big change, they have a really big attitude, big mentality and they are showing to everyone that when they do things they do things right, they do it properly. So I think, as they show with the motorhome, as theyve shown in the past with some events, they are really great. Mateschitz has got a great mentality and I think that as he is supporting the team for this kind of event with these facilities, he is doing it for the team. We are pushing to improve the car and we are putting a lot of effort into it and I think we will get a lot of results soon.
Q: Michael, developments on the car. Have there been developments since Bahrain?
Michael Schumacher: Yeah, we have a new aero package here, on the tyre side we have improved, or we have a different construction at least. I think thats about it.
Q: What about the gearbox? There were some worries about the gearbox and it does suffer here over the kerbs. Are there worries about that?
MS: No, the kerbs, anyway, dont make worries to the gearbox. We have had a few situations which strangely enough, did not seem to appear during testing but I think we understood that and sorted it.
Q: So youre quite confident that youre not going to have the reliability problems from Bahrain.
MS: As confident as you can be with a Formula One car, honestly. A Formula One car is a prototype and it might stop at any point in any day. It hasnt been doing that for a long long time for me. In Bahrain I stopped because of a problem with last years part but they can still fail at certain times but I think we have a good record and we shouldnt be too concerned.
Q: Youve said that your championship really begins here
MS: In a way I havent done too much so far. Coming here to Imola with the preparation we have been doing, we are reasonable confident that we can fight back.
Q: Can you clear up the story about the discussions with Jean Todt concerning the extension to your contract? Is that the case?
MS: You have to put it from the start. The question was does Ferrari talk about Fernando. I said that from my point of view, they talk less about Fernando rather than Jean having conversations in private relationship about my future. These are more the subject than talk about other drivers.
Q: So you are actually in discussion about an extension to your contract.
MS: I have had a private chat, We are not in discussions. It is quite open to me about when and what time I want to extend my contract. I think its the best situation I can live in. I have open doors any time I want to take a decision Im welcome to do so and the team supports that.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dusko Dragic - Ekipa) How much satisfaction do you get out of helping people by donating money, as you did for the Tsunami, and then when you stop and help someone at the side of the road, when the person knows who has helped them, the difference between helping someone individually as opposed to putting a lot of money into a fund?
MS: What can I say, it has been a long time back that I have thought about this and in 1990 I won two races behind each other in Formula Three and got quite high prize money. And while I was about to win this race, that was my thought, what I was going to do with this money, who I could help with this money. So, ever since then I try to help other people who have difficulties. There is always, if you look amongst your friendships, initially there are always a lot of people you can help in your family and after that it goes beyond that. It is a good satisfaction seeing the smile of kids you have helped. I have been in Sarajevo, with kids together, in other places, its nice.
Q: (Peter Windsor F1 Racing) Michael, can you talk a bit about Bahrain? Obviously, you retired early, what sort of shape are you in, specifically the tyres, and how do you think you would have been over the last ten laps of the race? How was that weekend for you?
MS: I think the weekend certainly was better than I expected it to be after the Malaysia experience. I think it is fair to say that I would have had some sort of problem like Rubens had, but how extreme it would have been is an open point, because starting from the back of the field and working your way through uses your tyres in a different way than I was doing behind Fernando, I didnt have to work too hard behind him, just go a nice and steady pace without pushing the tyres, but it is difficult to say how bad it would have been for me because there would have been a point at some stage before the first pit stop and I think I could have taken action against the big drama that we had with Rubens at the end, but where it would have put me in the end, my feeling is I still would have been on the podium.
Q: (Thierry Tassin RTBF Belgian TV) Michael, just going back to Bahrain, you were right behind Alonso, what were the good points of the Renault for the first three Grands Prix?
MS: Probably the point that after Malaysia where we were so far away we saw in Bahrain where we were back and we can fight those guys. It is not out of our reach any more.
Q: (Thierry Tassin RTBF Belgian TV) What are the strong points of the Renault?
MS: I think they have not one particular strong point. As it has always been for me as well in the past, there is not one thing only that is a reason for success, it is a package, it goes through the car, the tyres, the engine and everything. Everything has to be right and they have managed to do a very good job on that.
Q: (Luciano Clerico - ANSA) Michael, you are German, the new Pope is German, what does it mean for you and for Germany?
MS: Put it this way, for me it is not so important that I am German, the new Pope is German and what does it mean for Germany because who is the Pope? The Pope is a person who looks after the whole world, and whether he is German or whatever nationality, I dont think that is important. Certainly, for me, I am an international person myself and for me its not about nationality but who the person is.
Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Michael, following on from the question about talks earlier, what are the factors that would encourage you to continue?
MS: What I have right now. I have said this many times. My love for the sport is so high that I still like to continue, but I dont see any reason to fix myself too early.
Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) When do you actually need to begin talking to Jean Todt?
MS: That was what I was just trying to say before, they leave it open for me. Open means open.
Q: (Peter Windsor F1 Racing) Michael, just continuing on that theme, as I recall you have actually said what you love about racing is winning, as distinct from the sport in general. When you are not winning, and I am sure you will be winning, we all hope you will be winning again soon, but when you are not winning and you have to fight from the midfield, do you enjoy your life as much as a Formula One driver?
MS: If I can fight my way through from the middle of the field to the back of the field, that wouldnt be the thing I would want to do, that is pretty certain, yes.
Q: (Peter Windsor F1 Racing) What about the racing at the moment?
MS: Thats pretty nice. Thats a challenge. You can see ahead, we have a chance to win.
Q: (Byron Young Speed Sport News) Michael, can you see yourself driving for Ferrari to the end of your career, whether it is a couple of years or ten years?
Q: (Byron Young Speed Sport News) Sorry, can you just say why? Is it the comfort factor, obviously as we said just now
MS: I think it is very obvious why I want to do this. It is much more than comfort. It goes beyond many things, it is difficult for you to imagine maybe. There are a lot of good people around.
Q: (Byron Young Speed Sport News) Sorry, is it the support you get from the team, they back you up, the effort they put into Grand Prix racing, all those things?
MS: It is a bit of everything, and even more.
Q: (Peter Windsor F1 Racing) Vitantonio, your first Grand Prix, by how much would you want to out-qualify DC in order to feel happy at the end of the day?
VL: I will do my best and, for me, as long as I am in front it will be good. But it wont be that easy because this is my first race and everything is new for me, qualifying in just one lap, so it will not be that easy, but if I can have the chance to be in front that would be great.