FIA Thursday press conference - Brazil 19 Oct 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Fernando Alonso (Renault), Rubens Barrichello (Honda), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Tiago Monteiro (Spyker MF1), Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes)
Q: Tiago, being in a Portuguese-speaking country, is this a bit like a home race for you?
Tiago Monteiro: Its obviously very important, especially as my mum is Brazilian, so I have a little Brazilian blood as well. Weve got family here, weve got lots of friends and fans and the same language, so its very very important. And as well, Ive got some sponsors, I have big interests in Brazil, so its almost like a home race, yeah.
Q: Now recently there have been some changes within the team, obviously a change of ownership; has that impacted on the spirit within the team?
TM: Apart from the fact that you dont know which shirt to use any more, the changing of the shirts, no. But there is a big impact in the fact that everybody feels the motivation of the new owners so much that its almost like a new season has started already for us and you can feel within the mechanics and engineers that everyone is so much more motivated now and feeling more confident, especially with all the new things that are coming for next year as well. I think it was very good and definitely a mental boost for the whole team. I hope we will see this on the track soon.
Q: And the big question is will you be with the team next year?
TM: Its looking very good, yes. Its not signed so we cannot say anything yet, but its a matter of details now.
Q: So when will we know?
TM: Soon. Very soon.
Q: Rubens, a year ago you were a Ferrari driver, this year a Honda driver. What difference has that made, how has life changed for you over the last year?
Rubens Barrichello: I think not much in the way that for the Brazilian Grand Prix I behave just the same. Weve had so many commitments to do and it was just the same. Obviously I dont come here having a car that I know I can win with, so that means a little bit less pressure, but thats less happy. I would like to have that pressure back and have the car to win. I think that the car that Ive got now is definitely better than in previous years to Ferrari, so its not that it cannot happen but its obviously a slim chance.
Q: Two poles, a third and a fourth; those are your best results, its a little bit slim to better that, is it?
RB: I think everything is really possible, and because we have that situation saying that, its a smaller chance. Its slim, but it means less pressure, so you just get on with it and do it, so Im not under pressure, just relaxed. I will just go and drive my best. I dont know what the weather is going to do. Its going to be very difficult to choose a tyre here because we really dont know. I spoke to the team last week and they said how is the weather there? and I said I have no idea, because one day it can be thirty degrees and the next day it can be fifteen, so the tyre choice is going to be really the main factor this weekend.
Q: Obviously you have been team-mates with Michael for many years, what are your thoughts looking at the championship battles?
RB: Yeah, I thought that when the championship started it looked like Renault would win very easily and the way things were going, they were doing very well. There were some occasions when Ferrari went up and down but they were there and scoring points and so on, but for me there was no way they could get up to Fernando. But all of a sudden they did, they scored higher points and Michael was winning races and in Japan, you would have said there was no way to hold him back and hes going to go to Sao Paulo with the best chance and look what happened there. Now I dont know. If it really happens that (they score) ten points for Michael and zero for Alonso, I think this is something that never happened in Formula One, so I think its quite impossible, maybe one percent away from impossible.
Q: Felipe, same question for you. How has life changed over the last year now that youre a Ferrari driver?
Felipe Massa: It definitely changed a lot. When you become a Ferrari driver, you are really much more in the media, under pressure, so I think thats normal. All of the drivers who became Ferrari drivers made a big change in terms of visibility, but I think thats nice, it means youre doing a good job and Im quite happy with my championship anyway, and quite happy to be part of the Ferrari family.
Q: More pressure for you this weekend?
FM: No, no. The pressure is on this guy on my left (Alonso), so no problem. And on Michael as well.
Q: How do you see your role this weekend?
FM: Well, I will try to do the best I can during the race. Its definitely a dream for me to be here and having a competitive car, so Im going to do my best to do a good qualifying and try to do the best I can during the race and help the team, even if it has become a little bit more difficult, its still possible to win the championship and we are going to do the best we can to help the team as well.
Q: Whats the atmosphere like within the team?
FM: The atmosphere is fine, so for sure after the last race, which was a little bit disappointing for us - the result - but in the same direction, this is motor racing. It can happen and we just need to be focused on this race and try to do the best we can. We did our best in the last race as well, but unfortunately we were not very lucky, especially Michael, but thats motor racing.
Q: Are there engine worries within the team?
FM: No, no because what happened was definitely not supposed to happen, so it was really unexpected, nobody expected that. It just happened. We never had this kind of a problem during the testing, during the year, so it just happened, but we are not worried for this race, in terms of the engine.
Q: Fernando, a year ago you had a similar situation when you came here. Is there more pressure this time or less?
Fernando Alonso: I think the same. Always when you have the chance to become champion, you always have the pressure, the motivation and the dream is close to being realised again. Last year, for sure, I had three opportunities: here, China and Japan and this year its only the last race, and for sure, you cannot lose this opportunity as I was able to lose the opportunity last year. So maximum concentration. I think the team is ready for this last battle. I am ready as well and we arrive in a good position thanks to the Japanese result and we try to do our best and do the final part of the job.
Q: In a way you can be quite cautious because you only need one point for the Drivers Championship, but at the same time you need a few more than that for the Manufacturers Championship.
FA: Yes, but to be honest for me the important thing is the Drivers championship, not only for me, for everybody. We see all the publicity on the motorways, everywhere from China onwards. I think we only see Michaels and Alonsos face on the pictures. You dont see the logo of Ferrari and Renault. I think the people remember which driver is the champion and which car he drove. I dont think anyone remembers ten years ago who was the Constructors champion. For sure its an important championship but I think the team and myself know which one is more important and try to win this Drivers Championship first and for sure, if we can help the team to become Constructors champions, its good for next year, for the money, for the position and for the brand, but we will see.
Q: You have been quoted as saying you want to stay out of fights, out of confrontation. Is that the case?
FA: No, I try to always be out of everything but for sure, sometimes it is difficult when you are always on the top and everybody is looking at you, what you do, and what you dont do. For this week, we did our job, testing at Silverstone with Piquet. We prepared the car, I prepared myself physically. For sure it was a difficult week because the most difficult thing was to train, to go on the mountain bike, to do the normal training with caution because I didnt want to injure myself, so it was quite a relaxed weekend/week, and I tried to arrive here with maximum concentration because we must make no mistakes this weekend.
Q: Kimi, you come to this race with one the best records twice second over the last couple of years and so what are your feelings about the championship battle and this race?
Kimi Raikkonen: We try to do our best here of course, but it is very difficult to say right now how it is going to be, but in the last couple of years, the car has been pretty good here so hopefully it will be the same case this year and we can achieve a good result for the last race
Q: Is it a circuit that you enjoy?
KR: Yes, it is a nice circuit. It is different, it is bit bumpy and it is different. We go anti-clockwise, but it is actually very nice to drive.
Q: And it is your last race for McLaren Mercedes. How do you feel about that?
KR: It is the last race, but then it was coming at some point. It is one way a sad thing for nice people and good friends and so on, but then I made my decision to move and I am happy where I am going and I am excited about next year and hopefully can go far.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Carlos Miquel Diario AS) Fernando, are you afraid about a lack of fair play in Sundays race?
FA: No, I have no worries at all. I think all the drivers in the last race want to do a good result because the motivation is not the same as for the first race. It is the last race and everyone wants to do a good result to prepare (for) the winter and so on and I think it will be a completely normal race.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret LEquipe) Fernando, what will be your best memory of this year and your worst memory of this year?
FA: Best memory was Barcelona to win my home grand prix, but also it was great to win for the first time in Monaco, first time in Silverstone and Suzuka, all big places in Formula One, and the worst memory is all the things that happened with the penalties I had this year.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, you use a different spec of engine to Giancarlo. Does this mean your strategy will be more conservative than his?
FA: No, it should be the same. I think in terms of engine, we have a different specification, using the normal engines we have been running in the last races in my car and a little evolution with Giancarlo, but in terms of performance there should not be any big difference, not even one-tenth, much less, and so I dont think any difference in timed laps or in strategy, not at all. We need a normal race with both cars as we did in the last part of the year and try to have both cars on the podium. We were in China second and third and in Japan first and third so try to repeat that result here and both be on the podium.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret LEquipe) Fernando, last year you were not world champion. This year you are. Did this help you to fight for your second title?
FA: I dont know. Sometimes yes. I think to find the right effort, to continue and find the right motivation and I know how to do it and I know how I enjoyed last year winning and how to repeat and how to defend number one on my car and try to do the best for the sport and for the team. Maybe the experience you have in one important year, like you have with your first championship, this you never forget and you use in the rest of your career for sure.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret LEquipe) How do you compare this years battle with last years with Kimi?
FA: Completely different. I think this year was with the same advantage in the first part of the season around 20 to 25 points and we kept it last year a little bit thanks to the mechanical problems that McLaren had because when normal races happened the McLaren was quicker than us and it was impossible to fight with them and sometimes they had problems and we got the advantage back again. This year with Ferrari, sometimes we can fight with them and we can win and we can lose, but for sure I had a much better feeling last year about the championship, the sport and about everything.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Fernando, what do you expect from McLaren next year?
FA: Well, it is difficult to say. I want to answer quickly because I ask myself the same question and we need to see what happens next year, I think every year is different. We saw in 2004 the McLaren was down finishing fifth in the Constructors Championship but in 2005 they were the best on the track and in 2006 also some problems, so I hope that in 2007 they go back with the best car. But for sure new cars, new rules every year and next year the same tyres. Well see how everyone adapts to the Bridgestone tyres. I know McLaren will give all effort to be champion again, at the top, and I know I will put in all my effort as well, so hopefully together we can have a good championship but it will be difficult to know until the first races because also the winner will not be representative.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, are you and Kimi pushing your teams to allow you to do your first tests with your new teams?
FA: I am not pushing anyone because I am trying to finish this championship first of all and on Monday we start doing something for next for sure to try to see if I can test one day before the end of the year, it is something and a little help, but if nothing happens until you have the new car, the 2007 cars on the track, in January, for sure for all the teams it is not a big drama if you dont test.
KR: It is very difficult to do anything right now, we are still in this season, but I have all my faith in the team, for sure they know what they are doing and they will push as hard as they can. They will be testing in the winter and Felipe will be driving, so anything that is new will be done. January will be enough time for me to get ready for the season.
Q: (Carlos Miquel Diario AS) Fernando do you have any special amulet for this race?
FA: Nothing (raises finger to sky).
Q: (Erica Akie Jornal da Tarde) I want to know if Brazil is becoming a special place for you?
FA: Yes, it will become special for sure if this Sunday I win and win two titles in Brazil it will be special and if I lose the championship it will be special as well because it will be a very bad memory because with 10 points if you lose the championship in the last race it will be difficult to forget anyway.