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FIA Thursday press conference - Brazil 22 Sep 2005

the FIA Press Conference (From back row (L to R)): Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren; Tiago Monteiro (POR) Jordan; Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber; Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari; Antonio Pizzonia (BRA) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Brazil, 22 September 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: Felipe Massa (Sauber), Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Antonio Pizzonia (Williams), Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren) and Tiago Monteiro (Jordan).

Q: Felipe, first of all, getting towards the end of the season must be a bit difficult for you because you are probably looking forward to next season (at Ferrari) and there is not all that much happening within your current team at the end of this season.
Felipe Massa:
That is not true because the last race was quite interesting, I was able to fight for a good position, until the time I changed the tyres I was fighting for fourth position, but I am really happy this year because I want to do the best I can for Sauber, who are the team who gave me the opportunity, and then when we finish the championship I am looking forward to next year.

Q: So what are your feelings about this race?
FM:
Pretty confident. For sure, we have had the same car for four races so we didn’t improve the car a lot but I like the track and the atmosphere as well so I hope we can do a good job to qualify in the top ten and finish in the points, so I am pretty confident.

Q: Are you in any way preparing for next year at this stage?
FM:
Yeah.

Q: Already? What sort of things are you doing?
FM:
I mean, it is difficult to prepare already now because we don’t know how it is going to be next year, many things will change, especially the engine, but I am pretty optimistic and I hope to have a good car to be competitive straight away.

Q: So it is more mental preparation?
FM:
Yes, that is the only thing I can do, mental preparation.

Q: Rubens, you are a father again, congratulations. Can you give us the details?
RB:
Well, I left Spa at eight o’clock in the evening, got here sometime around six o’clock in the morning, we went to the doctor and he said it was going to happen that day, it was not induced or anything, so it happened that night. So I was there, so I am very happy that I was lucky enough that little Fernando waited it for me.

Q: That is an interesting name given the championship. Has it got anything to do with that?
RB:
Not at all, no! We wanted a name that went along with Eduardo because it sounds a bit funny when you have something like Luca and Eduardo, Fernando looks just very similar. They look very similar in the same respect, so that is quite nice.

Q: We won’t be seeing him this weekend then?
RB:
Definitely not.

Q: Eduardo?
RB:
Maybe.

Q: Now, the identity of your team-mate for 2006 has been revealed, in that Jenson is staying at BAR. What are your feelings about that?
RB:
I am very happy because I think now the team has a true chance of becoming world champions. Two drivers with the full potential of becoming world champion, the backing of Honda and BAR and everything, I think that it is good we have two drivers capable of winning. I am delighted. I was really hoping he could stay with the team so now he is going to have some hard work in November and December, when I am off, and then he his taking January off and I will be working.

Q: So you are having two months off, he is having one month off.
RB:
I cannot drive for two months, obviously, and I will be just introducing myself to my son, so he doesn’t think of me as just a piece of paper. After three months he might recognise me, so it is going to be okay!

Q: Antonio, it must be an interesting irony given the start of the season, when you had to wait right until the end of the last minute to discover whether you had the drive or Nick had the drive and here you are racing in your home Grand Prix.
Antonio Pizzonia:
Obviously it is a big surprise for me. I was not expecting to race this year. I was very lucky last year to do four races for the team and lucky again this year. I am just hoping I can do a good job for the team, score points and I will do my best. I was really lucky and very happy with the opportunity the team is giving to me, so we will see. I will just have to do my best and see what happens for next year.

Q: Exactly, with three races to go you must have your eyes on next season. What are your chances of getting a race drive, do you think?
AP:
I really don’t know to be honest. Last year Frank told me I had 95 percent chance of getting the seat and in the end I didn’t get it. It is really difficult to predict what is going to happen so this year I am just taking my time and concentrating just on the races I am doing and just waiting to see what happens.

Q: Are you trying other teams as well?
AP:
Yeah, I am trying a few other teams but obviously there are not many teams yet, and I also try different championships if I cannot get a race seat next year.

Q: So you are really casting your net quite wide?
AP:
Yep.

Q: Tiago, also next season, where are you looking? Have you got a contract for next season?
Tiago Monteiro:
No, I don’t have a contract signed for next season. I had only a one-year deal with Jordan. Obviously we have talked to other teams, we were approached by other teams as well both for racing and testing, but as you know there are not a lot of race seats available any more. My main goal is to race and that is what I am concentrating on and see where we are with Midland. As I said, nothing is done but I am pretty confident that we will still be around.

Q: How much has your extraordinary finishing record had to do with it this year?
TM:
Well, that has obviously caught peoples’ eyes and caused them to contact me. One of the reasons is reliability and also the fact that I have scored some points, but mainly in the beginning was really because of the finishes, so for sure it has really helped.

Q: Is the pressure mounting, as you get to the end of the season, to make sure you have a full-house?
TM:
Yes, it is now. For me it was just a joke, not a joke but it was not that important really. My main goal this year was to try and score points whenever the opportunity arose, not to finish all the races. But now we are so close to the end it is becoming more important for me and for the team as well and we want to do everything we can. I am not going to compromise the opportunity of scoring another point just to be able to finish, I will take every risk possible to score some points. But it would be great to finish to the end.

Q: And the point in Belgium, the proper point as you called it, must have been very satisfying?
TM:
Yes, of course. I am not putting aside the points in Indianapolis, we deserved them, definitely, but as I said, everyone was on track in Spa, it was tricky conditions for everyone, we fought for it and we got it and I was very proud of that point and really happy for me and the team, they did a great job in the pitstops.

Q: Juan Pablo, first of all, the points situation, the championship, the constructors’ championship and so on. What are your priorities in these next few races?
Juan Pablo Montoya:
Well, first of all we have to see what happens between Fernando and Kimi here and then take it from there. At the moment the main priority, and probably the only realistic one, is just to win the constructors.

Q: But still your own personal results?
JPM:
Yeah, you have got to look for your own personal results but at the moment I have been racing for the team for the last few races and it will probably be the same here at the moment.

Q: Now, you have had a bit of an ‘attraction’ to a few of the guys here, there doesn’t seem to be any bad blood between you.
JPM:
No, you know, Antonio was on slick tyres and he thought he was going to be able to brake later but I think he hit a puddle and went straight into me, and I saw it on the video and that was fine. He made a mistake and it is not great for the team but you cannot change it. I don’t gain anything. I was surprised what Michael did to Takuma to go to him and actually hit the visor, I was surprised he got away from it. If I had done that I would have probably been disqualified for the rest of the season or something!

Q: And with Tiago?
JPM:
I got in front of him before the braking and I braked a bit earlier and he ran straight into the back of me. He should have backed off because he was the backmarker and he decided not to and that’s it. Sh*t happens.

Q: Does a driver think of being involved in these accidents and be extra careful not to?
JPM:
You don’t think about it. When you are passing the backmarker, the guy has to be conscious enough to move out of the way, that is what I think. Antonio was trying to un-lap himself or something.

Q: And with these points being so important in the last few races, does a driver think to himself specifically I must stay off...
JPM:
What are you going to do when someone hits you in the back, twice? It is not like I am brake testing them or anything, I am doing my own thing and the guy runs in the back of me, not even in the side and ‘ooh, he should have seen him’, they were nowhere.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia Efe) Juan Pablo, last year you had a great victory here, but how do you focus on this race because you probably cannot race for yourself?
JPM:
First of all, I am not in the best qualifying spot like I’ve been in the last few races, so it makes qualifying a bit harder but probably, if I’m being realistic, if Fernando is running third I probably should be able to win the race. If something changes then I will probably help Kimi again. It has been my decision in the last races to help Kimi, and here it’s going to be the same thing. It is not a matter of team orders or anything, because team orders are not allowed but you’ve got to be a team player and that’s what I’ve been doing the last few races. But if I’m in a position to win and Fernando’s running third I will probably win the race.

Q: (Dan Knutson- National Speed Sport News) Rubens, you have been on pole here, you’ve led here, you’ve never won here. Talk a little bit about what this race means to you, the highlights and the low points and how it’s your home race.
RB:
This race at the beginning, back in 1993/1994 was easy-going because the hopes were with Ayrton the whole time, so it was quite a cool thing and it was nice just to be home and to have the same support as when I was racing the other side on the go-karts. 1995/1996 was quite different and I took all the pressure from the outside and that was quite difficult until I moved on and I started enjoying it again. Like football, when you play at home you play better and for me it is really nice. You don’t see the weekend going by; when you don’t feel the time going by it means that you’re enjoying yourself very much – that’s the feeling that I have - so obviously this is the first time since I’ve been driving with Ferrari that we come here not as the leaders, not dictating the pace and this is different. I’m taking the weekend to enjoy it. It’s going to be very very nice to have… Felipe has already been racing but Antonio as well because it’s a plus to the whole Brazilian effort. Actually I hope that we three – especially Antonio - are racing in Japan and China because it would be silly not to let him have a good chance at those tracks because he knows the car and everything already. So that’s it, I’m enjoying it. For me it is fantastic just to go back home after such a long day working and change the knickers of my son! It’s just fantastic.

Q: (ARD Radio Germany) Rubens, tell us a bit more about your home town, Sao Paulo? What does it mean to you?
RB:
Sao Paulo has been my life. I’ve actually lived in Interlagos for 21 years so I was riding bicycles, my whole childhood was just around here, so I know people… sometimes when I look at the grandstand I actually know them (the people), and it’s a fun feeling. I don’t think Sao Paulo is any more dangerous than any other places that we go: in Italy… like London, sometimes, you are scared to go in certain places. So Sao Paulo is just a nice place. You need to know where to go but it’s my life, it’s where I want to live when I stop racing in Formula One.

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia Efe) For all three Brazilians: I think this could be the first time that the World Championship could be decided in Brazil; what are your feelings about that and what is your opinion about Fernando Alonso maybe winning here?
RB:
In a way, I think it’s great for Brazil. If Fernando can win the championship it is a plus for the Brazilians. Because I think there’s no way that he’s not going to win the championship, he might as well win here in front of our public, give them their first feeling of what it is to win a championship – plus the party is going to be nice, we’re all going to be invited!
FM: I think, first of all, that he deserves it because he has driven a fantastic championship. At the beginning of the year, he was quite aggressive and winning races and in the second part he was quite intelligent as well and just finished races and scored as many points as he could. I think he deserved the championship. For Brazil, it’s fantastic to have this fight here in Brazil. I think if he wins the championship here it will definitely be very good for the country, because the country will be talked about everywhere. I think this would be quite good. I think he deserves it because he did a great championship; Kimi also, but he had some problems and he could run quite good the whole year without any technical problems, not like Kimi. Kimi was quite strong but he had a lot of problems.
AP: I think it would be nice for the championship to be decided here. I don’t think it will be that hard for Fernando to finish third if Kimi wins the race here. But I really don’t think the people in the grandstand really care about who is winning the championship or not unless it is a Brazilian. They just want to see the Brazilians winning. But I think it is going to be the first time, so it is nice for Brazil.

Q: (Peter Windsor – F1Racing) Question to Juan Pablo and Tiago; Juan Pablo, you were just saying that correctly, logically, backmarkers should get out the way if they are being lapped, and yet Tiago, as I understand it, your understanding of Charlie Whiting’s instructions are that you should never get off the racing line if you’re being passed, you should not change lines. Can you both comment on that and where we go from here because there seems to be total and utter confusion of what to do?
JPM:
It is very simple. One thing is not moving off the racing line, the other is backing off. It doesn’t matter whether you stay on the racing line or not, it’s clear that they say the racing line because you are going to pass them, that’s why you’ve got to stay on the racing line, but if you stay on the racing line, you’ve got to back off to let the other car past.
TM: It’s a tricky situation if you know what it entails. It was never clear when we talked: should the backmarkers leave the racing line, not talking about the braking point but on the normal straight line, should you leave the clear line to the quicker car or should you stay and let the quick car go around you? We never really agreed, so it depends where you are, but because it was such a long straight line (in Turkey) and because you come out of a kink, I stayed on my line and he (Montoya) was going around. The thing is, yeah, I did back off in a straight line because I think there was more than enough time for him… he was so much quicker in a straight line that he would have time. The only thing is that I braked earlier but he also braked earlier because apparently he had a flat spot or something.
JPM: No.
TM: Anyway, I braked 55 meters…

Q: (Peter Windsor – F1Racing) Presumably, because he was on the dirty line, he was worried that his tyres weren’t clean so he would therefore brake earlier.
TM:
Yeah, but if he braked earlier on the dirty line then he wouldn’t be in front of me. I don’t know where he braked anyway. I braked 55 meters earlier and my car didn’t stop.
JPM: You were 45, not 55 by the way.
Various: 45, 25, 45!
JPM: It is very simple. The down point is that this year the backmarkers, especially… Tiago had quite a lot of problems here, he did that with Trulli and stuff. It doesn’t matter, I think that’s in the past. I think it is important for the backmarkers whether it’s me when I’m being lapped, because I have been lapped before, or whoever is being lapped, you know, when you are going to lap them you don’t think about their position because sometimes they are racing somebody and I don’t really care when you’re going to lap them, whether they are racing or not because you are lapping them, and you’re ahead, and they need to move out of the way and they really need to back off and look after the leaders and I think that is the problem.

Q: (Peter Windsor – F1Racing) When you said you didn’t agree, who didn’t agree: the drivers or the FIA and the drivers?
TM:
No, no. It’s just that every time we talk about it there are pros and cons for both situations so there’s not just one… about the overtaking in a straightline, there’s nothing been decided. The only thing that has been decided is that in the braking zone you don’t move, that’s the only thing. I mean, you can change… everyone has their opinion, they can change it all ways around. I think we should just move on. It was how many races ago? Every weekend there are some little problems like that. Everyone is fighting, and we’re all going very quickly so things happen like that. We should move on from that, huh?

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Juan, you have been with McLaren almost the whole season now but during the season the momentum has been behind Kimi. He has a lot more wins, do you feel really at home with the team and comfortable with the car?
JPM:
Yeah. It is kind of sad that when things are actually turning around for me to start winning races, I need to start helping Kimi. I put myself in that (position). I broke my shoulder earlier in the year and the car was very difficult to drive for my driving style. We changed the car a lot throughout the year, and in the last few races I have always been as strong or stronger than Kimi. It’s just sad that I have been helping Kimi. It is sad in a way but you have got to do it.

Q: (Mario Bauer – Auto Bild) Juan Pablo, you moved from BMW Williams to McLaren-Mercedes, both being a conglomerate of British engineering and German engine supplier. The first one didn’t work at all for years, and the second one seems to work much better for you from the second part of the season on. Can you compare what is lacking and why Williams does not perform as it did, and why McLaren is on top now?
JPM:
It’s hard to say, there are too many things to say why one didn’t work. Probably you look at last year. BMW was not strong but in 2003 and before that they were always second behind Ferrari. Ferrari was just miles ahead, the tyres were miles ahead of our tyres, and now that our tyres are ahead of the Bridgestones… I think the BMW package this year with the Williams was not going to work because they had probably already made up their mind they were going to leave. You should ask them what problems they have had. Our car is a very good car. We have had little reliability issues, pretty stupid things that have let us down, but they are things that have been on the car for a long time and haven’t failed and they only fail in the bloody races.

Q: (Marco Evangelisti – Corriere dello Sport) Rubens, I think you agreed that Ferrari is something that is slightly different all over the world. So I would like to know if it gives you any particular feeling to have your last race for Ferrari in front of your home crowd? And for example, to go to Shanghai where you won one of the most important races in history?
RB:
Well, it is obviously. If you take it as the last time I am racing at home for Ferrari there is an emotion behind that but I don’t race for Ferrari because I like the red, I race there because I think the team was competitive and it was giving me the support to win races. In the same way that you are disappointed to leave your friends it is exciting to go to a new team. Friends are there for all time and I have friends from other teams, from Jordan, from Stewart so they will be there for all time. It doesn’t mean that I am closing the case and I won’t see them again. We had a fantastic relationship for six years with a car that we always dreamed to have. I think I have grown quite a lot inside the team. It is going to be really good to race here. It’s a pity that we don’t have the car as competitive as we would have liked it for me to win the last three races, but having said that, I got to the point that it is much more difficult to be on pole position for the last three races but it’s not impossible to win the race. So there are chances and I just take them, with the knowledge that I have in Brazil, with the last two pole positions that I had, with the public behind me, I’m going to give everything because for me it would mean a lot to win my home Grand Prix with Ferrari.