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FIA Thursday Press Conference - San Marino 20 Apr 2006

Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Preparations, Imola, Italy, 20 April 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: Vitantonio Liuzzi (Toro Rosso), Nico Rosberg (Williams), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Jarno Trulli (Toyota).

Q: Nico, how much of a difference does knowing this circuit make to you?
Nico Rosberg:
I think it’s going to help me, for sure. Just coming here often makes you more comfortable, you know what’s awaiting you, you can go out and you can push straight away, you don’t have to find your way around for the first few laps. So I think that’s going to be a bit of a help for me, for sure.

Q: You’ve obviously shown speed during the first few races, but the reliability hasn’t been so hot; what are your feelings about that coming to this race?
NR:
Yeah. We’ve worked flat out on the reliability, especially in the factory and also in testing and everything. I think we’ve made some good progress but in the end, we are just going to have to wait and see if we last the race.

Q: What have you been up to since the last race; you didn’t do any testing…
NR:
I’ve had a bit of relaxation, actually. I had a nice Easter with the family and everything. It was very nice. It was good to get away from racing also for a couple of days.

Q: So are you ready to come back?
NR:
Ah, for sure, now, ready, on it, I feel good and really looking forward to this weekend.

Q: Tonio, is the motorhome big enough?
Vitantonio Liuzzi:
It’s not big enough, I think, we can make it better! No, compared to last year it’s a big improvement but now there are two families living in it so maybe the one from last year was a bit small. I think Red Bull have shown again how strong they are in this kind of job and they did really good things with the big motorhome, the big tree house for the engineers. I think we have got a lot of space to play with.

Q: You mean for girlfriends…
VL:
Both.

Q: Tonio, since the last race you’ve tested for Red Bull Racing as well. How did you find that?
VL:
I was really happy because I tested a V8 engine for the first time and I definitely saw the technical difference between the two, and I was really impressed by the difference and how to utilise the two engines. The Red Bull car was pretty interesting because it was quite a big step into the ex-RB1. They did a really good job and the car is really good. Regarding the engine, I think the V8 is different, it has got a really short range of torque but in the areas where it works I think it is really strong, so I don’t think that, as many reports said, that the V10 can be an advantage because I felt the V8 was really strong in that range. For sure, it is a little bit different in the bottom slower corners but after, when you pick up the right revs, I have to say that it has big power. So I was pretty impressed about the car, especially because I think the team did a really good job developing the RB2 and now I think they will soon be getting the results they deserve.

Q: What about your teammate? He’s been pretty quick in the first three races. Is he pushing you a little bit?
VL:
Yeah, he’s doing a good job, I think. He’s a rookie and he can be quick in qualifying, especially he can make some good laps. But he needs to work a little bit on the consistency but in Formula One you don’t get into it in a few races, you need to learn experience and cover kilometres so I think he’s doing some good performances but for sure he’s still got a lot to learn.

Q: Jarno, have you recovered from your ear infection that you suffered in Australia?
Jarno Trulli:
Slowly, but yes. I’m actually still recovering but I feel much better now.

Q: How does it affect you, because very often the ear affects balance?
JT:
Yeah, effectively it was imbalance if I could keep my ears open. As soon as I could close them, it was OK so I spent most of my time with my ears closed, so I couldn’t hear much but I was well balanced and I was actually feeling better.

Q: But you feel OK for this race?
JT:
Yeah, I have felt OK for the last week. I’ve been taking some specific antibiotics which only affect the ears and now it’s definitely a good step.

Q: Your teammate scored a podium in Australia; what sort of effect has that had on the team?
JT:
It was definitely a good boost for the team because after a slow start at the beginning, we needed a bit of a result and now the results are coming and we are definitely moving forwards because Ralf’s podium showed that the performance can be reached during a test weekend. And during the last (test) session at Barcelona I showed very good performance, always topping the time (sheets) and this is definitely giving the team a good boost.

Q: But at the same time, you’ve lost the technical director.
JT:
Yeah, this is part of Formula One: people coming and people going and that’s what happened with Mike.

Q: Is that going to have an effect on the team?
JT:
At the moment, no. He hasn’t really been replaced because Pascal Vasselon has replaced him for the moment before they take a long term decision but in the end, there were a lot of people working behind Mike who have done great things for the team. But anyway, he has also created a lot of people around him, helping him do his job, so at the moment the situation is under control.

Q: Michael, this was probably your strongest race last year; how do you feel about this year? It was also a good circuit for Bridgestone.
Michael Schumacher:
Yeah, I’m not sure what it was worth last year. It’s important to see what we can do this year, and the more information we have, we believe pretty strongly that we can be very competitive here.

Q: You have a new engine here; how important is it for you, drivers, to have a new engine for this race in particular, given the developments that will have come through from the first three races?
MS:
Obviously we have a new engine spec which gives you extra performance. It doesn’t really matter whether this engine is then one or two races old because it is always planned to be for two races and should have equal performance for the first and the second race. So we’re pretty happy that we have been able to bring this engine here and yeah, it’s a step forward, but it was pretty much planned anyway to have it. It wasn’t planned to have it for here, in a way, because naturally we would have raced the same engine here as we did in Australia – but that’s the way it is.

Q: Do you think we will see a slightly strange race because some people have got the old engines and some have the new spec engines?
MS:
Not at all because the spec changes are pretty minimal. We can’t talk about big steps - not on the engine side anyway, so I don’t think it makes a big difference, plus, as I said, teams really should have an engine which is as good for the first as it is for the second race.

Q: There’s been some talk about Ferrari introducing a seamless shift gearboxes, which I believe you are very keen on. Is that the case?
MS:
We are developing one certainly, but when to use it? We don’t know. We know the worth of it but we don’t want to lose races over it.

Q: One of the engineers for a team that does have a seamless shift thinks it will be worth 0.4 seconds a lap at Imola.
MS:
I think that if he believes in that, then great.

Q: There’s been speculation on when you might make up your mind about next year. Have you got anything to add to what you’ve already said?
MS:
No.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Marco Evangelisti, Corriere dello Sport) - Michael, Ross Brawn has said that this is not a decisive race but a key one. Do you agree?
MS:
I agree in that every race from now on is very important. We took our jokers already unfortunately at an early time of the year. From now on we have to make up ground for the points that we lost through problems at the first three races.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi, Tuttosport) - Michael, when do you think you will announce you will stay with Ferrari next year?
MS:
I’m pretty sure that once a decision is taken, we’ll inform everybody who is willing to listen. I haven’t set a specific day or time of the day to make my decision, honestly.

Q: (James Allen, ITV) - The kerbs have always been important at Imola. I’ve only just arrived, but I’ve noticed a few of the big kerbs have been taken away and it seems a few of the teams didn’t expect that to happen. What did you know about the plans to remove the kerbs and what do you think it will mean for Sunday?
MS:
Basically, the change of one chicane and therefore two kerbs was known to all of us who wanted to listen. As I said, it’s one corner with two kerbs. All the other kerbs are still there.

Q: Which corner is that?
MS:
Variante Alta.

Q: (Juha Paatalo, Financial Times, Germany) - Michael, regarding the start of season, how important is it psychologically for the team to have a good result here?
MS:
It is always good to have good result, but it won’t break us, whatever happens here. There have been people putting words in my mouth that this is a crucial race but it’s not. It’s an important race, but not a crucial one, and whatever happens will happen. We trust in our people and our package and it’s time to stop talking about it – it’s time to show it.

Q: (Frederic Ferret, L’Equipe) - Michael, what improvements have you made in testing between Australia and today?
MS:
We made a step forward on the car, so it will be interesting to see who made the biggest one.

Q: (James Allen, ITV) - I was talking to Jackie Stewart over the last three races, and he achieved a lot in his career. He said that when you have a huge career, full of success, it’s very important to end it on a high. Do you agree with that?
MS:
Not really. It would be nice if you do so, but everybody has different priorities and other characters and I believe nothing matters as long as you enjoy it. I always enjoy winning races to losing them.

Q: (Juha Paatalo, Financial Times Deutschland) Michael, the enjoying factor. How was last year?
MS:
Mixed. Very mixed. Honestly there were some very frustrating races, which were not good, and some enjoyable and interesting races – and not necessarily the ones where I finished on the podium. Take Monte Carlo. I really enjoyed that race – I had fun.