FIA Thursday press conference - Canada 22 Jun 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Franck Montagny (Super Aguri) Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), Jacques Villeneuve (BMW Sauber)
Q: Franck, a busy time for you last weekend, finishing second at Le Mans.
Franck Montagny: Yes, quite a lot.
Q: Completely different to this?
FM: Completely different, but I think its quite exciting to do this kind of race. For me, its one of the most important races in the world and it gives you a really good feeling when you do this race.
Q: And when youre having a tough time in Formula One, to be having a good time in another category
FM: Its just good, its just good: back on the podium and to be able to set the fastest time in the car, fighting with a factory team like Audi and everything, its a very good time for a driver.
Q: And completely different type of cars?
FM: Yeah, but I think its the same philosophy. People are working on the car all year for one race. They work a lot on aerodynamic specification, on consumption specification and engine power and everything. Its the same way as we work (in Formula One), its just a different race and a different philosophy during the race but all the work beforehand is exactly the same.
Q: The team said you lost a lot of weight.
FM: Well, they say what they want.
Q: Was it very tough physically?
FM: Not physically, more mentally. You do 24 hours, you run for two and a half hours, you stop and then you have to go again, and youre up for more than 30 hours, so its quite difficult at the end when you go back at midday on the day after and you still have to focus and push without making any mistakes so for sure its a little bit difficult but its OK, everything went well.
Q: In three weeks time, your home Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, is it certain that you will be driving there for the Super Aguri team?
FM: Well, I will be there for sure, 100 percent. I dont know exactly in which position I will be. I hope I will be part of the adventure there at my home Grand Prix but nobody knows yet.
Q: Is it literally race-by-race?
FM: Kind of, yes. Its a little bit difficult, but Im quite happy anyway to be part of it for the moment. It was a little bit difficult at the beginning. Now it starts to be OK and now I just leave it, you know, and we see what happens next.
Q: Kimi, winner from seventh here last year, and youve finished in the points every year that youve been here. In comparison to certain other teams and drivers, thats a pretty good record. Is it a place that you like?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I like the circuit. OK, its not the most challenging one, but its good for racing. Last year was good, even if we had some problems with the car last year, we were still able to win and hopefully it also goes well this year.
Q: With a record like that, is it something that you look at or .
KR: I didnt even know but really, apart from last year, we always had some problems: once the tyre exploded and some other problems, but weve always been able to finish the race and get some points, so hopefully its the same this year and I can try to repeat what happened last year.
Q: What about testing last week; did that encourage you?
KR: Yeah, it was not too bad, actually. We tried many different things and we had more time to work on the car than in many other tests that weve done. Not so much tyre work, so it was quite nice.
Q: Everyones going to talk about your future, but is it a worry for you or is it something that somebody else looks after or you know is settled?
KR: No, its no worry. Im happy with whats happening now and I dont really need to worry about next year or any other years, so we will see what happens.
Q: Giancarlo here says he knows his team mate next year is Finnish, is that correct?
Giancarlo Fisichella: I was joking. Yes.
Q: But obviously you have re-signed, is that a weight off your shoulders?
GF: Yeah of course, its great. It was my target to be with the team one more year and Im just really confident about that, especially for the rest of the season. We have a fantastic humour (in the team) now, there is a great feeling in the team, the atmosphere is good. This is one of my favourite circuits. Ive done quite well in the past here. Ive never been on the highest step on the podium, but I think I had a chance to do that even last year when I was the leader of the race. Then I had a problem with the hydraulic pressure. But apart from that, as I told you, I have good confidence on this circuit and weve got a great package to do well this weekend again.
Q: In a way, youve got a better record here than the team has.
GF: Yeah, yeah. I think Ive been on the podium four times and scored a lot of points here. Even in 2004 I finished fourth with Sauber, so Im looking forward to Sunday.
Q: What are the challenges of this circuit, when it comes to the car? Obviously you need low downforce for the straight but not necessarily for the slower corners.
GF: Yeah, one of the biggest problems here is obviously the grip which is quite poor and especially tomorrow its going to be very slippery and then on Saturday and especially Sunday its going to be better but its not easy with a low level of downforce and low grip to keep the car on the ground, try to brake as late as possible and to keep good speed into the chicane.
Q: Can I just go back to something you said just now? You said one more year with Renault. That sounds as though its your last year, but I dont think you mean that, do you?
GF: Another year, which is very important at the moment. Im really happy to be the first driver who has signed the contract for next year with a top team, and its one more year which is good for me at the moment.
Q: So presumably your manager was able to find the team principal quite easily to settle that whereas Fernandos, last year, was unable to do that.
GF: Yeah, yeah. We did a good job together.
Q: Jacques, here we are back at your home circuit again. A lot of things have changed for you in the last few weeks: marriage, the records release and a good result at Silverstone.
Jacques Villeneuve: Yeah, 2006 seems to be a good and busy year. Yeah, everything is exciting. The year is going well and life outside of the car is going great, so theres nothing to complain about.
Q: Do you think that record from Silverstone, with both of you finishing in the points, seventh and eighth, obviously its useful to have those points but can you continue that in these two North American races?
JV: Well hopefully. Silverstone was good because we got points we deserved the points because nobody else had problems, which wasnt the case earlier in the season when we got points or two cars in the points when other teams failed to finish as well, so that was our best weekend as a team which is great before coming to Montreal.
Q: When you come here, do you think about the past races, the less successful ones?
JV: Well, theres been quite a few bad races here so I just try and think about 96 but thats quite a few years ago, so its not that clear.
Q: So lets talk about other records; what is the future of your musical career? Sounds a bit Bob Dylanish the voice; is that a good thing to say?
JV: Sure. Anything you can compare it to is a good thing to say. But no, the future is racing. My career, my job, everything has always been racing. I wont do anything that will take focus from the racing.
Q: How many songs have you recorded so far?
JV: Thirteen, theres an album ready.
Q: Is that going to be published?
Q: So its a matter of when? Have they got to be re-recorded?
JV: No, no. There are a lot of legal aspects that were discovering, thats all. Its taking its time because I dont want it to take time away from the racing. One hundred percent of my focus is on the racing, thats all.
Q: So its for the off-season, then?
JV: Off-season, holiday, weekend, whatever.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dean McNulty Toronto Sun) Jacques, last week at Silverstone you expressed some frustration at your contract talks with BMW Sauber. Has there been any development in that area?
JV: No, its a very calm area at the moment. The earlier it is sorted the better and I definitely want to be here next year.
Q: (Pino Allievi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, out of speculation, do you know what you will be doing next year?
KR: I think so, not 100 per cent, but for sure I will be in Formula one next year, so its not something I have to worry about. Im happy with how things are going and for sure, I will know at some point this year whats there for me.
Q: (Bill Beacon The Canadian Press) Kimi, how do you compare where you and the team are this year compared to last year? Youre third in the championship. Did you expect to be higher up?
KR: For sure, last year everybody in the team was expecting us to be fighting for the championship, and for sure that was the case and now were are for sure not in as strong a position as last year so I think its not the level of confidence that it was last year coming into this race trying to win and I think we need to have a very good car and some things could happen. We just have to do the best that we can.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) Kimi, Jacques and Giancarlo, how competitive do you think your cars will be on the Indy F1 track next week?
GF: I think our car has been competitive on every kind of circuit last year and this year, so I think we are again able to be competitive there why not?
KR: I think there are some races where we can fight for wins if we get everything working and some races where we are not right up there so usually the car has been quite good in Indianapolis so I hope its the same this year.
JV: Our car in testing in medium to low downforce settings seemed to work well so it should be alright for Indianapolis.
Q: (Jenna Fryer Associated Press) Staying with that subject, can you tell me your thoughts and memories of last years boycott, and for Jacques in particular, do you think the race can re-bound?
JV: Well, there was no choice last year. I think theres a law in Indiana where if something is dangerous and you still do it, and something goes wrong, then youre a culprit. Once it was known there was a problem then we couldnt carry on because if there was a problem there was a chance that any one of us could go to jail, so its not a question of boycotting if you - we tried to find solutions and nobody was helped in that direction so what else could we do? There just was no choice basically, so it wasnt a case of boycotting, there just was no choice.
GF: Yeah, no choice. First on Saturday and Sunday morning just before the race we had a few meetings together with the drivers and team manager but didnt find any solutions and the problem was just too much of a safety issue. The best thing to do was just go home.
KR: Yeah, it wasnt a nice thing but unfortunately there was nothing that we or anybody could have done but this year there should not be any problem.
Q: Jacques, can the race be a success there?
JV: Last year was quite damaging, but I think Michelin took care of everyone cost them an arm and a leg but hopefully the compensation that everybody got was worth it and if theres a very good show this year Im sure that part of last year can be cleansed a bit.
Q: (Frederic Ferret LEquipe) Franck, what have been your plans between Sunday and today?
FM: Sunday night I stayed in Le Mans with the guys and Monday morning I flew to Barcelona to drop some stuff, and on Tuesday I flew over to Montreal and had some time over here. Yesterday I was on the track because I dont know the circuit so I walked the circuit with my engineer and got some details for this weekend.
Q: Is the preparation different because of the 24 hours?
FM: No, I think theres a bit better preparation actually. Yeah, its been a very good month because weve had lots of racing and preparation for the 24 hours and so I think the preparation has been perfect.
Q: You are not more tired?
FM: Im a little bit more tired, but Im 28 so its no problem.
Q: (Dominic Fugere Le Journal de Montreal) Jacques, you said the car is working well in low to medium downforce, so what are your expectations for the weekend?
JV: The expectations are high - from whole team as well. The tyre geometry seems to work well that seems to be the main gain. You can always have a bad surprise: we thought wed be really competitive there but it turned out to be our least competitive race so youre always ready for surprises, but in general, Montreal is a track where weve been competitive, its just that things went wrong at some point in the race. Thats what we want to try and avoid this year.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Kimi, when you say you are not 100 per cent sure yet, what are you doing to make your decision 100 per cent sure and what criteria are you using?
KR: I think there are many things that I have to be 100 percent sure and that I will get them. It could be a small thing, but in the end, for me its a big thing so I just have to wait some time to see where were going with our team and then look at my options.
Q: Giancarlo. You have a great record here twice third, twice second. You have a fantastic car. Do you feel unstoppable?
GF: I feel very, very confident and very comfortable with the circuit and with the package we have Im just positive to score a great result on Sunday and a car to be on the top of the podium.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, does your decision have any impact on what Michael (Schumacher) does in Formula One and where he will drive?
KR: It doesnt make any difference. My decision is my own. Even Alonso has a contract with Mercedes and McLaren already it doesnt make my decision any different, or Michael obviously. In the end I will make a decision that is right for me.
Q: (Bill Beacon The Canadian Press) Giancarlo, how has it gone this year with Alonso because hes so far ahead in the race? How does that work between you and how do you see yourself finishing this season?
GF: With Fernando its a very good friendship - we work well together and for the rest of the season I just hope to score lots of points, to win some other races and to hope to be in the top three at the end of the championship. The first part of the season has been a little bit up and down. In the first race we made a mistake in the race in Bahrain and I couldnt finish the race, then the second race I won, and then the third race I had a fuel problem in qualifying and it was difficult to recover from the middle of the grid to the top position. But I think I did my best on the way. I got a chance to do well for the future.