FIA Wednesday press conference - Monaco 24 May 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Rubens Barrichello (Honda), David Coulthard (Red Bull), Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), Jarno Trulli (Toyota) and Alexander Wurz (Williams).
Q: Alex, this is very much your home race; whats it like for you and your family when the race comes to town?
Alexander Wurz: Ive been here for nine years, I live here now with my family. My kid is going to school above us here. I brought him there this morning, then went down to the race team. Its kind of a bit strange. I remember four years ago picking him up from hospital when he was born on race day so I have quite some memories. But at the end of the day, when you live here and the race is coming here, its actually a pain in the butt because you have no more parking because the guardrails are being built up, it confuses the traffic, everyone gets a bit more stressed, hectic, the prices go up in the restaurants so I prefer the calmer time of December and January.
Q: Its going to get more hectic over the next few days; whats it going to be like for the third drivers tomorrow?
AW: Well, the track usually starts off very slippery here in Monaco so actually we are just vacuum-cleaners for the other guys here, so they have fun on the rubbered-in circuit whereas we are sliding around a lot. I remember from last year the first session is really slow and you have to be very aware of this. One is always really tempted to push but the circuit is getting so much quicker. Every time you come into the pits and you wait five minutes the other guys go one or two seconds quicker in the first session so that makes it a bit tricky because all the time you want to go out and be quickest, of course. But you have to be aware that the moment to set the best lap time is always at the end of the Thursday, and then its going be really hectic out there. I believe everyone is aware that many drivers are a bit afraid of qualifying but in my situation I dont have that problem. Im afraid of not having enough free track on Thursday afternoon.
Q: Whats qualifying going to be like with the slower drivers?
AW: Im sure all the other four guys here will tell you more about it. I wish I had the problem to have traffic in qualifying but its not my business at the moment. If I could sit here on Saturday and complain about traffic I would race and that would be fine for me.
Q: Rubens, another year older, 34 yesterday, its always Monaco Grand Prix time
Rubens Barrichello: Yeah, its become a habit! You know when you get older, you dont have to party any more. Its just one more year. But I enjoyed my birthday very much, yesterday. I wasnt working actually so it was nice to be with the family. For the first time, we made a cake. It was OK.
Q: Qualifying seems to be going a lot better now; what about the racing?
RB: Well, in all honesty, I think Barcelona would have been a lot better. Although I saw a lot of people talking about Jenson being held up by me, I dont think there was much truth in that. We had our pace there. He might have gone a little bit faster but it wouldnt have changed his race. I lost five to six seconds on the way to the pits because of the (fuel) pressure, the fuel wasnt picking up and so when I came into the pits, I still had some fuel left and I stopped, and because they didnt know what the problem was, they kept on putting a lot of fuel in the car, and so I finished with a little bit more than what we thought and the car became heavier. The pace wasnt there because of that. Otherwise, I think the two cars would have been close to Raikkonens but there was no way to finish in front of him and thats the story. But I think Barcelona was a step forward in terms of overall pace.
Q: What about here, with a good qualifying position?
RB: Well, qualifying is definitely good and I think the car could actually work quite well here. The problem is going to be just being on the track at the right time. Honestly, I think we should have a different qualifying (system) for here because probably five percent of us wont say anything about qualifying, that we had a free lap, and the rest will all be (talking about) traffic, even in the last session. Probably not as much in qualifying three, but first qualifying is going to be like hell, really. You really need to give a lot of space to people on Thursday and see if they remember that on Saturday and let it go, because if somebody goes out of the pits, just thinking about life, its going to be quite dangerous in a way. If youre going to go flat out up through Casino Square, from there on you can give some space.
Q: Now the rest of you in the front row have all won this race before and I know that all of you have said afterwards what a very special victory it is. Can you just talk through how special it is to win here, and why?
David Coulthard: I think its obvious to everyone who is here that this is a more challenging track because you have less room of a margin for error, and depending on the pace of your car in any particularly Grand Prix, depends on just how hard you have had to push for the entire race. I think, looking at last years race, Kimi was able to quite comfortable do the last stint, so he probably wasnt under a great deal of pressure, but if youre having to push the whole time, then you get into a sort of trance when youre driving around here, sometimes being a little bit confused as to whether youre driving through the barriers or round them. Thats the sort of zone youre getting into; certainly I was! So when you come out the other side, it is such a tremendous feeling of achievement. I think every driver would, if he could pick a Grand Prix to win, he would want to win in Monaco.
Jarno Trulli: I agree with David. This is the Grand Prix of the season: the atmosphere is nice - there are so many things. Its got history and as David says, its not easy to win. Its probably much easier to lose than win and anything can happen. Qualifying is very important, to start in front of the grid, but weve also seen in the past that sometimes it doesnt help. At the end of the day, you really need to make everything work properly during the race, and try to do your best, and eventually you might win the race if you do it properly, because during the race, you can never give up, you can never slow down, you always have to be concentrated and its quite a long Grand Prix as well. Its not easy because youre not actually on a circuit, youre on a street circuit and you dont have any margin for mistakes, nothing, so youre really tied up with what youre doing and you have to make sure you do it right, all the way through the weekend. Its nice because of the atmosphere, so many people. As an Italian as well. Italys just next (door), there are always a lot of supporters for Ferrari and the Italian drivers.
Juan Pablo Montoya: I think its a little bit of everything. Its a great circuit and its got history. Its Monaco, the atmosphere and its a challenge. What Jarno said is very true: the build-up throughout the weekend is very important and if you have the pace, its easier to lose the race than win it. For tradition, its probably the nicest race you can win.
Q: Now Juan Pablo, youve been involved in some charity work today; can you tell us a bit about it?
JPM: Its been going on for the last couple of years to be honest. We look after 2000 children already and its going really well. Were promoting sports through it and today was really good news because we got $75,000 from the Steinmetz diamond helmet from last year so its great, its a really big boost for the foundation and we get a lot of support for it in Colombia too. Quite a few drivers went for the go-kart race last year and we raised quite good money from it, so its been going really well. My wife works a lot on it and its great, its great to give something back and for me something back to Colombia, my country, makes it very special.
Q: The situation within the team is somewhat complex as we go through the .
JPM: Not really. I think the situation in the team is really quite good at the moment. We are all focused on doing the job we have to do, trying to make the car better. Whats happening next year? I dont know, probably Kimi doesnt know, probably nobody knows at the moment and I think the situation that the press is trying to create its, you know, oh this and that and who is staying? Within the team its very good, you know. Im focusing and Ive been doing a lot of work the last few weeks with the test in Paul Ricard which went really well and I think were finding our feet a little bit. Yes, we know we need to improve in a lot of areas still but the direction is good and the spirit is good. That is the most important thing.
Q: Jarno we were talking about qualifying a moment ago; what are your feelings about it?
JT: My feeling is similar to everyone here, that we have to qualify on Saturday because we are a little bit concerned. We know that Monaco so far has always been a difficult circuit on which to qualify well without traffic and on Saturday, we will be around 22 cars out there, I think too many to find a good clear lap, especially the first two qualifying sessions which will be really really difficult. Weve had some troubles already in the past races and I am sure we will have some troubles during this race and qualifying. And we all know that qualifying in Monaco is so important because overtaking is nearly impossible. So I think there will be a big fight in order to find a clear lap and try to play a good strategy, not only for the race but also for qualifying and Im sure someone will unfortunately pay and some others will be a bit luckier. But we will see. For sure I expect a tough Saturday afternoon.
Q: Watching the two Toyotas in Barcelona in the early stages, then the collision; what was happening, what was the reaction?
JT: It was very unfortunate that we collided at the first corner. I think it was a bit of a misunderstanding there between me and Ralf because I didnt expect him to attack me at the end of the straight but anyway, so far the team lets us fight as far as we can. Obviously, they dont like it if the two cars collide together. At that stage, Ralf was quicker than me because I was on old tyres which were graining and Ralf started with new tyres. It was a bit unfortunate and I just hope we dont have these kind of problems any more.
Q: Was there any consideration whereby you might have let him go through because he was quicker?
JT: We can probably agree as the drivers, we can probably do something but at the moment, me and Ralf will probably talk together and see what happens, because there might be some occasions, like the last race, where one driver is having a problem and the other is doing well. Its not the first time that that has happened to me or to him so we might swap positions and at the end of the race, we might swap back again.
Q: David, looking forward, what are your feelings about Silverstone?
DC: Well, obviously second home Grand Prix and home of British motor sport! Obviously we would like to be in a more competitive situation than we are right now. Maybe something will change in the Barcelona test next week, but otherwise we just have to go and do the best we can.
Q: Have you got bits and pieces coming for Silverstone?
DC: Weve got some test items for Barcelona but obviously they need to be proven. I think its very unlikely that were going to find something that is going to elevate us in the short term up to the pacesetters.
Q: Is it possible to catch up to those ahead of you?
DC: Of course its possible. As I have said to you before, racing drivers have balls but none of them are crystal, so I cant see into the future. But were working hard like every other team is, to try to develop our package.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heinz Prueller ORF) Gentlemen because it is such a very special Grand Prix and a special circuit, I would like to ask each one of you for your personal opinion -- which is the most critical, the most dangerous and most difficult spot on the track here and what is your favourite overtaking spot, if any?
JPM: Every part of the circuit is different and challenging. You know, you have Casino; that is very challenging; and you have Tabac; and the swimming pool, which is very fast. And dangerous? There is none. You know, you make a mistake and you hit the wall and that is it. Get out of the car and deal with it. Overtaking is about impossible. If somebody makes a mistake you might be able to pass, but even when they make a mistake they can recover here.
JT: I agree with Juan Pablo. Challenging? Its challenging a bit everywhere because, in a way, it is a street circuit and, so, each corner changes every lap basically. The one, which I like most -- the spot, the corner which I find the most challenging -- is probably the swimming pool, which is a very quick corner and technical and difficult, a little bit everywhere. (An) overtaking manoeuvre around here is nearly impossible and I remember, last year, I was following one Renault, which was three seconds a lap slower and I found it very difficult to overtake. Thats it. Thats Monaco.
DC: There are only two corners where you have any room for error, which are into the chicane and, well, into both chicanes! After the tunnel and the swimming pool And all the other corners are individual and challenging in their own way. As Jarno says, the swimming pool complex is the fastest section that we have so, you know, you often leave there thinking you could have gone a bit quicker, but like so much of this track you dont really see the corner until you arrive at the apex so that makes it quite difficult and challenging in its own way. Overtake? I think you saw Nick was able to overtake into the chicane last year and I think a few others did that as well, other than that I think it is very difficult to overtake anywhere else here.
RB: Well, I think it is a very difficult circuit and it is dangerous everywhere probably and it is very special and all because of that At the beginning of the year, I asked a friend, who races IRL, where he would like to race in Formula One and he told me Monaco. That is because it makes it special. So, actually this weekend, I am racing his colours in this grand prix and I am racing in Indianapolis this weekend there will be a car there with my colours and this is just because Monaco is so special and I think Indianapolis is special, as well, that we swapped colours for the weekend. I dont think there is any place for overtaking and it is dangerous everywhere, but it is funny. Casino Square is probably the best place.
AW: I think that the most challenging parts of Monaco are next to the circuit and not on the circuit.
Q: What do you mean by that?
AW: I cant possibly talk about this because I am married.
Q: (Dan Knutson, National Speed Sport News) For Rubens. First of all, when you say colours, do you mean helmet colours?
Q: (Dan Knutson, National Speed Sport News) And secondly, you can always learn more about the team and the car and the tyres, but where do you feel you are now in that ler\aning process?
RB: I think the team has been working very hard. If people think the results have been sad for me, and I have not been up to it, I could prove that I have been working hard. I was not happy with the brakes to start with and it was only very unlucky that we qualified badly in Australia because of the traffic. Having said that, since then there has been an improvement and it is getting better all the time, but I am still not completely happy with the car in the way that it performs in a race especially with the traction control. Honda is working very hard and we have been testing new items every time we go to the track and we know the car is fast everywhere we go and we know we have to keep the pace for the race, but I am feeling very good and this is one of the places where I think we can perform very well and in the team everything is running very smoothly.
Q: (David Croft, BBC Radio 5) Good afternoon, gentlemen. Another question for Rubens. I remember you saying, in Australia, that you found it difficult coming into the team with a car that was predominantly set up for Jensons style of driving. With your improvements in the last few races, have you had to change your driving style?
RB: There is a time when you have to get used to things. It is not just jumping from one car to another. The car had, predominantly, the brakes and the traction control working the same - and you have difference in balance, in the way that you drive the car and the position and everything - but it was completely different on the brake system. I attack the brakes harder than Jenson and I wasnt feeling the bite of the brakes. To be honest, it was a bit of a lack of experience within the team. In testing, I kept on saying the brakes, the brakes, the brakes and they said ok, for the race, we are going to have new items and everything is going to be good and, when the race came, everything was the same; and that is why I took so long and, after two or three races, when we tested new components, we actually found something; and then I improved that. I got used to the car up to a point, but I told them that if the car didnt come my way I was only going to be driving behind Jenson because I had to learn how he was driving the car. So, I am sure that, with the things I have been developing, it will help him eventually win a race as well. So, it is a mountain that we are both climbing.
Q: (Dan Knutson, National Speed Sport News) Juan this is the one time of the year when you guys come close to walls, but in Indycar racing you came close to walls a lot on ovals. How does it compare?
JPM: Well, there is no (nothing to) compare In America, there are still about six or seven street courses, so, there, it was a normal thing to do a street course whereas here it is the only one we do so pow! kind of thing you know. It is a shame we dont do more, but it is quite exciting.