FIA Wednesday press conference - Monaco 18 May 2005
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: David Coulthard (Red Bull), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber).
Q: David, you have been a winner here twice in this Grand Prix, two victories that I think you very much savour. A lot of people have been talking up your race this weekend, what is your own view of it?
David Coulthard: I think the Monaco circuit, now they have changed turn one a few years ago to having the kerbs there, and also now they have changed the last part of the swimming pool, it is a lot more of a normal race track, like Canada in a way. We dont tend to talk about Canada as being that different, despite the barriers being right there, so, for sure, Casino square and around Loews is quite tight, but otherwise two of the areas that used to have more influence have been taken away. That said, I think it will be down to the quickest car and driver combination and we have had five races to see how that varies a little bit, circuit to circuit, so I dont see an opportunity for us to suddenly be more competitive around here, just because it is Monaco.
Q: How happy have you been, though, with the pace of development of the team, because obviously it is feeling its way a little bit.
DC: Well, the reality is there have only been small developments on the car, our single lap, low fuel pace in Barcelona was still one second off the pole and I think it is safe to assume that Kimi would have been a bit quicker than Jarno had he not had his mistake, so we would, of course, like more developments. We have the same opportunity as the other Michelin runners, so we need more horsepower and more downforce.
Q: An interesting situation for you with the two boys in the team changing over
DC: Im a boy as well, by the way!
Q: I thought they called you Uncle David, isnt that true?
DC: Um, they call me lots of different things, but
Q: How much does that affect you? Is it an advantage or a disadvantage?
DC: I dont think it makes any difference. It is a grown-ups sport, irrespective of whatever age you can get your superlicence, or whether you are 34, it doesnt matter. You get no benefits, you know, they dont give you a bus pass because you are a bit older, they dont give you a grid position for being older, you just have to do the job. I enjoy working with Tonio and Christian and, ultimately, that is important to me and to the harmony within the team.
Q: What I really meant was, is it disconcerting to have different team-mates in that you are getting different feedback from two different people?
DC: Yeah, but I am not because they both drive at all the Grands Prix, the only thing that is different is who qualifies and races the car. So, testing we all share the workload, racing they chop and change, but ultimately Christian is in the car tomorrow to give us his feedback on tyres and things like that.
Q: Jacques, looking back at the season so far, how do you see it?
Jacques Villeneuve: Well, I am very happy that there was Imola because if not it would have been very difficult to be here now. We seem to have a good pace in the race but have a hard time to qualify the car, unless we are on soft tyres like Imola, so this track could work better than Barcelona.
Q: Do you feel you have chased away some of the problems you had at the start of the season?
JV: Yeah, we have worked a lot with the team and we have evolved the car to a position that suits me better and also the team understands what I need to drive the car. We have been having new aerodynamic bits during the season that have helped a lot also.
Q: This is a bit of a one-off as a race, one that you havent always necessarily got on well with, how do you see the season as a whole progressing now, and what is youre aim for the end of the season?
JV: It is difficult to have an aim. As long as we can have a few good races, like Imola, then I think we will be alright. What we dont want is to keep having races like Barcelona. Any track where you need hard tyres, I think, we will be in trouble.
Q: Which are, looking forward?
JV: I didnt go through the races but the ones that are coming should be soft-ish tyres, Nurburgring and also tracks where you have long straight lines where normally you overheat tyres, those should suit us.
Q: So you are quite hopeful for certain races, anyway?
JV: Yeah, I think there are a few races where we can do something good if we work well, but at the moment we still lack a bit of pace.
Q: Giancarlo, this circuit hasnt always been good for you, back in 1998 it was okay but not since then, so what are your feelings about it?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Well, the feeling is pretty good. It is one of my favourite tracks, I feel really confident, I have a great car, we have a new aero package here which is a good step forward and I really feel confident and comfortable in Monaco and I am really excited. I am looking forward, you know, I have the position now for the first qualifying session on the Saturday and I am really confident.
Q: The team won the first four races, then Kimi won the fifth, so who would you see as your major rivals? Is it McLaren, or still Ferrari?
GF: No, for sure, I think McLaren did a fantastic job in the last couple of races, they improved quite a lot with their new aero package, especially in Barcelona. Ferrari was really, really good in Imola but was not so good in Barcelona as Imola, so McLaren has been much more consistent than Ferrari.
Q: We are going into an intense period of four double-headers, eight races in 11 weeks, are you happy with the development programme of Renault? What do you want to see coming from them?
GF: Yeah, I am really happy, I am really happy about the team, about what they did until now and what they are doing for the future. It will be very busy for us in the next couple of months, but the team did a fantastic job on the development, especially as we have another very good step forward in aero package, and for us it is a very busy period because we will have a very busy intensive few months of races, but I like to do more races much more than testing, so I feel comfortable.
Q: So, in a way, you prefer it this way?
GF: Yeah, I prefer it.
Q: Kimi, talking about this intense period of races, how does a driver prepare for them?
Kimi Raikkonen: I dont do anything different to any other races, so like he said, for me its OK, because it is always nice to be racing so Im happy to go racing, and at least you get them over with quickly.
Q: What about the teams progress so far, it seems to have been very good?
KR: Yeah, I think after the first few races, when we got under way, we had some difficulties, and some bad luck, but we got some new parts when we came to Europe and it has since improved a lot, especially in the last race when we got a new engine again. I think were starting to get more and more parts all the time and if we can keep it up, we can improve the car all the time.
Q: Now on this circuit you had a front row of the grid in 2003 followed by second place, but otherwise not fantastic here. How do you regard this race? Is it a bit of a one-off?
KR: I actually quite like it. It is not very easy, but last year, with the car that we had, which wasnt very good and we did quite well until we had an engine problem. I would say that I am feeling okay, Im pretty confident. I think this is the best car that I have had around here. Looking at last year, how well we did with that car, I think we should be OK but its always going to be a difficult weekend and you need to get everything right before you can be really quick.
Q: Is the best car around Barcelona guaranteed to be the best car around Monaco?
KR: Not really. I think there is so much difference between those two places. You need very good traction (here). I think the Renault has very good traction, theyre usually very strong on this kind of circuit, as they were last year, but I think that as long as we get everything working we should be OK and we should be able to challenge for victory.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (La Gazzetta dello Sport Paolo Ianieri) Kimi, do you think, at this moment, it is going to be a championship between yourself and Renault, or do you still think that Ferrari can come back strong even if they are quite a long way behind?
KR: I dont know really, its too early to say. There are many races to go and anything can happen, so We are quite far away from the Renaults but they only need a few bad races and it can turn quickly. You cannot count out the Ferraris yet and you never know the other teams, so lets just wait and see.
Q: (Juha Paatalo Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, Barcelona is a track that normally shows the performance of the car quite well, and now many experts are already saying that you are the real challenger to Alonso. Do you think you have the car to chase him?
KR: The car has been very good in the last two races. It was even plain in Barcelona and Imola because we got some new parts and a new engine, so it improve but its too early to say. Its pretty much the same answer, there are so many races to go. You just need a few bad races and youre out completely or it can turn around again, so we just do our best and we dont have much to lose, so we try to win the races and score more points than the leaders. We just do our best.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) The last time Michael Schumacher went six races without winning was 96/97. He has now not won for the last six races, counting the last race of last year. What do you think of this? Is it the downfall of Ferrari? Is it Michael maybe losing a bit of his edge or is it just a short period of uncompetitiveness?
DC: I think it is quite clear for everyone that its more to do with tyres than anything else. I think Imola would show that. Its a long season. You can only write the Downfall of Ferrari chapter once you get to the end of the season, if theyre still struggling, and even then, maybe we have to say that the tyres were clearly a bigger factor. I dont think he is losing his edge.
JV: David is right.
GF: It is Formula One, it happens. You have a period where for three or four years Ferrari can win, three or four years when McLaren, Renault, Williams or whoever. I think that period is maybe finished for Ferrari, I dont know. I think they still have a very good package. In Imola they were one-and-a-half seconds quicker than everyone else during the race. One of the main reasons could be even the tyres, but I think they are there.
Q: And Michael isnt losing his edge?
GF: I dont think so.
KR: I think if you put the same Michelin tyres on that car they would be at the front end again. I think they have some problems with their tyres, but they can as easily find some new tyres for this race and they can win the race, so I dont know.
Q: (Byron Young Speed Sport News) Kimi, have you ever got angry about anything, and jumped up and down and shouted?
KR: Yeah, many times but of course youre not happy if you retire or something but I guess it mostly happens more in normal life than in racing.
Q: (Byron Young Speed Sport News) Can you give us examples?
KR: No, not really.
Q: (Byron Young Speed Sport News) What are the kind of things that make you angry in normal life, as you say?
KR: If you keep asking (questions like those). (Laughter)
Q: (Byron Young Speed Sport News) So what sort of things make you angry, Kimi? No really, what is it? The way other human beings react? Youre a very cool, calm
KR: Normal things make you angry. It depends really. If someone comes and hits you of course youre going to get angry.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) David, in the past, I believe you had members of the McLaren team staying in your hotel here. Are they back this year?
DC: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. Theyre very good clients, they spend a lot in the bar, and we enjoy having McLaren there.
Q: ITV are there as well, I think.
DC: Are they? Im not sure. I know Martin (Brundle) is staying in my studio apartment next door to mine, but Im not sure about the others.
Q: Does he pay for that?
DC: No, hes my guest.