FIA Thursday press conference - Turkey 27 May 2010
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Rubens Barrichello (Williams), Karun Chandhok (HRT), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP), Jarno Trulli (Lotus) and Mark Webber (Red Bull).
Q: A question to you all about your Monaco experiences. Varying experiences for different people. Jarno, would you like to start?
Jarno Trulli: My Monaco experience has not been very successful this year, probably the worst ever. I had a very bad weekend and I couldnt turn it around at all. Then in the race also I was very unlucky as I had a bad pit stop where the team was unlucky because one gun didnt work, so I found myself last after the pit stop. Then I was following Karun and for more than half the race trying to find a spot to pass him as I was quicker. A few laps to go I saw that he was struggling then I tried and obviously the move was not very successful. We collided and I was glad that no-one was injured. The accident was worse than I had expected as when you try to make a move you always try to calculate what might happen. In fact I could never have believed I would park my car on top of his car. But that was it. It was not a very successful move, but I tried. After spending more than half the race behind him I had to try. We know that in Monaco it can happen when you try to overtake someone else and that was it.
Q: Rubens, you too had a little bit of a nasty experience?
Rubens Barrichello: I was having a great weekend as we qualified well and then I had a great start. We were doing well up to the point that after the pit stop the car was handling a bit different. It felt a bit strange on the prime tyres but I was still in the points up to the point that I hit the drain cover which apparently is the final version as we can see on the video. That spun me around and I hit the barriers. I was very lucky to be honest with the whole conditions as if you crash there you are doing quite a good speed. I hit it twice and stopped quite rapidly. Still you can say it was a positive weekend as with the shunt you have got to take it positive. I didnt feel sore on the Monday which was great.
Q: What were your feelings when you first got out of the car? Did you know it hadnt been your fault?
RB: Yeah, as before I crashed it was like if I had a problem with the revs picking up. I saw something was about to go. It was a millisecond. The revs raised just before I hit the barrier, so there was something wrong and then you can see on the image that the tyre was bent before I hit. You are going pretty much straight going through little bends. The car, all of a sudden, swerved to the left.
Q: Karun, your version of Rascasse?
Karun Chandhok: Well, first of all I have got to congratulate Mark as I went back and watched the race on Monday and it was an outstanding job he did all weekend, so well done for that. Jarno had a bit more pace than us at the end. Like he said, he tried a move and it didnt work out. Its over. There is not much else to say. Everybody saw it on television and I think Mark had a good eye view of it, probably closer than he would have liked. Not much to say really. We just move on.
Q: It was a very busy race for you and a very tough race. I describe it for the new teams that it was almost like a crash test. If you car lasts around that circuit it is going to last virtually around anywhere.
KC: I ran over Rubens steering wheel earlier on in the race. It was quite difficult to get out of the way of people as the marbles offline are a real nightmare. I think the safety car helped us a few times and gave us some breathing space. It was a tough race but for me I was quite pleased. We had a problem with the diff on Saturday in qualifying and that meant we were slower than we should have been. The race was quite good. In the opening stint I caught both Lucas (di Grassi) and Jarno and we pitted before them. I was quite pleased with the way my personal race was going. In the end it didnt end up the way we wanted but Monaco is just a great place to be. I enjoyed driving around there in a Formula One car for the first time. It is just one of my favourite circuits and I really enjoyed it.
Q: Michael, your Monaco and particularly your interpretation of what happened on the last lap?
Michael Schumacher: There is nothing more to be said then we said straight after the race. Green flag. Tried. The rules were slightly different to our interpretation and points were taken away, so I think it is a straightforward thing and not too much to look backwards and just look forward to the next one, here, now.
Q: Was there absolutely no doubt that you were going to have a go coming out of Rascasse and you were going to try and overtake Fernando Alonso?
MS: Sure, yes. I sort of was told obviously by the team - similar from my side I checked everything I could check internally from driving the car to be prepared for that particular manoeuvre, yes.
Q: Up until then how was Monaco for you re-visited?
MS: It is obviously exciting to drive in Monaco, no doubt. The race by itself, I have to say, was rather boring. You just drive and you cant be overtaken, you cant overtake. You have to really wait for the pit stop or wait for mistakes. We are all professional drivers, so we hardly make mistakes, so you are just stuck in your position that you are in and finish the race. Thats it.
Q: Mark, a great drive for you and the ultimate reward with a win. How was post race and the reaction worldwide?
Mark Webber: Post race was very good. The team had a bit of a party that night and enjoyed (themselves after) their hard work from the whole week. It is an extended week in Monaco with the running on Thursday and then back-to-back with Barcelona, so a pretty tight turn-around and we managed to have a clean weekend and got a good result. The guys and girls enjoyed their result. I did as well. It was a very rewarding weekend, no question about it. It is a special race to win. It is a pretty challenging circuit and now looking forward to this one.
Q: How has the reaction been worldwide as winning Monaco, as you say, is the one to win?
MW: I suppose quite a few more people might watch Monte Carlo as a sporting event, so the general interest is probably a little bit higher than maybe some other races. What helped I suppose were the celebrations after the race. Red Bull always do things pretty cool and it made for a nice wrap-up of the weekend I suppose. That was a nice way for the media to tell the story.
Q: You basically getting wet?
MW: We had some fun.
Q: Jarno, a quick word about how Lotus are improving. They seem to be getting closer and closer to the established teams. How close can they get? Can they overtake them?
JT: I think Lotus is looking better than people can see from the race results. I am really happy about that. The team is growing up really well inside. In terms of results we started the season pretty much too far away from where we wanted to be, so I think people start to understand that we need now to focus on the 2011 season as it will be hard to catch up with the top teams this year. It is probably easier to get ready for 2011. But it is good to see that the team is improving and growing inside in the way they operate and in the way now the team is structured in order to get ready for the big challenge. This year the biggest challenge was to get on the grid and get the team ready for the season and next year will be the other challenge to try and close our gap and be mid-field. I am pretty happy. I think the combination of Mike Gascoyne and Tony Fernandes is looking good in my opinion.
Q: Rubens, I think Williams have been giving Cosworth quite a bit of feedback recently. What has been your impression of the Cosworth engine? How do you feel that that engine is? Where can it be improved? Can it be improved?
RB: As a first year I think they are doing quite well. We were expecting for the whole package to be better but all in all whenever we go to Q3 I think we are doing quite well as we dont have the whole package as good as Force India or Renault. Cosworth is trying very hard on their own, trying to sort the problems out. There are some issues with the fact that the engine starts quite well but through its life loses power, maybe a little bit more than the other engines. We are trying to work with that and see where we can get.
Q: Karun, looking at the HRT team that has now split from Dallara, what positives are there to be taken from that? Can you do your own thing with, maybe, Geoff Willis involved?
KC: They have just made the announcement yesterday and it is not really my place to comment on the way forward. I think that is something that Colin (Kolles) and the team need to talk about. There were limitations. I have driven Dallara cars in the past and I have a lot of respect for them but being a commercial car manufacturer or if you like race car manufacturer there are limitations to what a specialist Formula One team can do and can operate and develop. As its been announced it is split now and I think that is a question for the team really on what is being developed. I just rock up and drive what they give me.
Q: Michael, since Barcelona I think you have been happier in the car. Tell us what we can expect, what you expect from yourself, in the upcoming races?
MS: If you see the position we are in, it is that Red Bull is driving a little bit in their own world and delivering a good drivers job on top, so it is not just the car that you have to see there. After that it is Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and ourselves and I hope we have another little step of development here that moves us closer to this group and to be in a reasonable position to fight with them and hopefully be in front of them. It is to be seen here exactly where we are. Monaco, I dont think, is a guideline or a reference. It is a very specific track, so it is interesting from our point of view what is going to happen this weekend.
Q: Do you think this should be a continuation of Barcelona, given that Monaco is a very specific track?
MS: Yeah, if you look, we have been in a reasonable position basically right from the beginning of the season and it has continuously gone upwards. I have had two races in Australia and Malaysia I couldnt really prove from my side but from the teams side that was proven. If you take Shanghai away it just continues, Barcelona and Monaco onwards and I think it does it here and therefore it will be interesting how our car can perform physically here with the latest upgrades we have given to it.
Q: Mark, tell us a little bit about the Red Bull as the car itself seems to be quite a complicated car. How complicated is it for a driver to set it up and get the car performing to its limit?
MW: I dont think it is that complicated. A lot of Formula One cars are complicated, the McLaren and there are a few cars out there with some pretty good ideas on them. I wouldnt say it is a great deal more complicated than last years car. We have good data from last year in terms of the tyres. There have been a few changes, obviously the fuel load and things like that but there has been some stuff we can carry over in terms of set-up and stuff which is good for us to have the knowledge going forward in terms of setting the car up for this year as well. No real big surprises for us. We understand the car well and it is down to a lot of years of hard work and guys interpreting how to get the most out of it. It is going well at the moment but we know from last year that cars that are flying at the start of the year can be exposed at the end of the year. We are very conscious of the fact that we are going pretty good at the moment but we know it is a long season.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) To all of you: Bernie Ecclestone has announced that there will be a US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Im looking at your T-shirts and caps and I see names like Mercedes Benz, Red Bull, AT&T. How important is it for your teams sponsors to have a race in the US?
MW: Its a huge market, we know that. A lot of people live in North America and theyre very passionate about their sport. Theres naturally a lot of people involved in our business that do business in North America. If its of benefit for all of us to go there and hold a Grand Prix under their noses and for them to embrace Formula One racing as best they can because obviously its a different kind of sport for them, lets say so weve seen in the past that it has worked OK at Indy, and it can be exciting in Texas, so lets see how it goes. For Red Bull, we sell a lot of cans over there and it will be good if we can sell some more.
MS: Certainly, its one of the beautiful places around the world to go to and enjoy some good times, lots of great opportunities. For me, naturally, I love to go and race there as it allows me to spend some days before the race to hang out there and enjoy it. But more important for most of the manufacturers that are involved in Formula One, America is a very important market. If you think of how many countries like Brazil, Argentina, all those countries in South America, how many we had of those guys at Indy, then we should have even more, because logistically its easier to go to Texas than all the way up to Indy. Hopefully, thats the case because one of the points that we have been missing is the sort of excitement that Formula One can create and can give to the fans that are in America. Yeah, it has not fully arrived, but quite honestly you cannot expect those things to happen overnight. You have to give it continuation, and this continuation hasnt happened for a long enough time, plus maybe we havent yet got a known or successful American driver in our group that would be quite helpful for this. But certainly from our point of view we are very happy to go there.
KC: Its more of the same, really. I think America is a more developed market than say India. Its a similar thing, they are huge markets with untapped potential as far as Formula One and its partners are concerned. I think that to have a dedicated venue is a new thing. I guess Watkins Glen, so Bernie was saying, was the last time we had one. Maybe thats what it needs, a dedicated Formula One site. Im very excited to go there. My mums from San Antonio and my grandparents still live in Texas, so Id love to go there and have a race.
RB: On a personal side I love America as a whole. Ive also spent a lot of time there with the family, so its really good to be going to that side. From the manufacturers point of view, its just a great opportunity thats back again and we should never have stopped racing there. Even though the fans dont know Formula One, they are aware and they obviously know more of NASCAR and Indycar but its a great opportunity for us to show our show and get together.
JT: I like going to the US, I think its a good market and I also think that the Formula One circus is a worldwide business, so why not? We would be more than welcome to go there.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Germany) Mark, since you started your career in Melbourne 2002, this is the first time that youre leading the championship. Can you just tell us how it has felt for the last ten days, having that experience after such a long time in Formula One?
MW: Im not that interested in the points at the moment. Its nice to have quite a few but the results in the last few races have been what its all about, so thats been very rewarding. We know that theres been some missed opportunities in the past and we need to keep those to a minimum, so were looking forward, keep trying to do what weve been executing the last few events and that can be good for us in the future, but I dont feel any different really, when I get out of bed, because all of us are pretty much on the same points anyway, so Im not doing anything that different.
Q: (Ian Gordon - News of the World) Michael, without referring to Monaco itself, do you think the sports become more safety conscious over the years and that drivers should be encouraged to overtake and not be punished? Think back to the case of Lewis (Hamilton) over the last couple of years when he overtook in Belgium and got penalised by the stewards, and the same with you. Surely the drivers want to race and the fans want to see people racing?
MS: Theres no point in getting into past incidents, but the point is that if I understand the situation clearly, the FIA has identified something that happened in Monaco and they want to improve the situation, so I think thats actually something good in the sport and Im quite happy for this to happen.
Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Michael, Sir Jackie Stewart remarked in an interview yesterday that given the lack of success so far in your comeback that you were damaging your legacy. Do you agree or disagree with his comments so far?
MS: I guess its pretty fair that he has opinion and I have mine and I naturally disagree, yeah.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Mark, Sebastian (Vettel) has a different chassis here this weekend. Apparently they found a defect in it from the last couple of races. I just wondered how much that would have affected his performance in the last two races, how much that might have accounted for the fact that he wasnt really getting that close to you?
MW: Obviously I wasnt driving his car, so its difficult to know, to be honest. Well see.
Q: (Ronald Lewis - The Times) Mark, during your leaner years in Formula One, did you always maintain the belief that you would eventually get a car as good as you have now? And when did you realise it was such a good car, as well?
MW: Coming into Formula One, obviously with a small team like Minardi, moved to Jaguar and that were some exciting times there in terms of getting your first few points and starting to race towards the front which is a nice thing when you can start to do that in Formula One. Obviously we know I had some tough years after Jaguar and then a fresh opportunity at Red Bull and the clear attraction at Red Bull was Adrian (Newey). His ability to be able to produce good cars is well known, so I think that when we got the regulation change, that was something that was very attractive for our team, in our group of guys and its turned out that the last few years weve certainly been towards the front. Its nice to be in the team after all the work we put in during those tough years, even when I first arrived at Red Bull. So you are always hopeful that you get an opportunity to drive a car which is very competitive. We know that its an important part of the job but also as a driver you dont hang around this business that long if youre not performing either. So I obviously needed to keep performing, doing my best and hopefully something one day would have come around and at that moment, for sure Ive had the most competitive cars in the last few years, theres no question about that.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Two questions for Mark: are you going to use the F-duct at this Grand Prix and secondly, what advantage can that give you? Do you expect to have the same advantage that you had in Spain against the other competitors, so a huge advantage, and who will be the first challenger here: McLaren or Ferrari?
MW: Yes, we give the F-duct a go tomorrow, were going to give it a chance. To answer your second question: Barcelona, clearly we were pretty competitive there, particularly in qualifying. I think its going to be very, very hard to do that again so, as we saw in Monaco, we know its a very, very different circuit completely but things tightened up there a lot, so venue to venue, things can move around and even within the race, we saw in Barcelona that things were a little bit different. Lewis was our closest competitor in that Grand Prix, so you can argue that if we had a Turkish Grand Prix after Barcelona, you might say that the McLaren might be the guys that might be our challengers here but were also mindful of the fact that Ferrari and also if Mercedes have a clean weekend theres lots of guys that can come towards us, so were definitely not taking anything for granted, we know were working incredibly hard to get the results we have and its not easy to get them.
Q: Mark, how big is the competition between you and Sebastian?
MW: Oh, every competitor is on the grid (is competition) for all of us. We know that towards the front we have different levels of car performance, so its obvious that Im not racing Jarno this weekend but theres guys that you have more fights with throughout the season and clearly Sebastian is in a good car, hes quick and theres going to be a healthy competition there as always. Theres no secret that we like to beat each other and thats how it should be. Its healthy, very good balance within the team and Sebastians had his days in the past where hes been virtually untouchable and Im sure I hope that they dont happen too much in the future but hes very quick, we know that, and Ive got to try and keep those to a minimum. So its a good battle.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Mark, Im wondering when the last time was that you won three races in a row. This is your chance this weekend but has it happened before in your career that youve done that?
MW: I think I won a couple in F3000 but maybe not three in a row. I dont know, probably Formula Ford.
Q: (Miran Alisic - Korpmedia) For the four of you whose countries have qualified for the World Cup: before the next Grand Prix starts, the football World Cup will start in South Africa, so what do you think the prospects are for your countries and maybe you can include the prospects for the smallest country, which is my home country, Slovenia?
MW: Australia, (to Michael) yes, weve qualified, yeah. We are there, were playing you guys actually, in the first one, were playing you guys in the first match, so we hope that we can get a draw against the Germans. Well take a draw. But were in a tough group. Of course I want the Australians to do well. We have a tough group with Ghana, I think, and Germany, and the other team is also strong, so if we can get through its good, because if we finish second and England win their group, obviously we play England and of course we want to kick their asses, so then they will have big problems in their team. I honestly hope its a good World Cup for South Africa. That country has gone through a lot, weve seen some big problems there in the past and I just hope it goes off really smoothly. As a big sports fan I hope its a big sporting event for the people of South Africa and it turns out to be good.
MS: Obviously we all cross fingers for our nation and naturally, after some good results in past championships, we still hope to do a little bit better now and maybe win a final, although its very optimistic to say that, especially with the sad happening to one of the most important players that we have had recently. Nevertheless, Im sure that they will keep trying and we cross fingers. Im sorry for you Mark, but
RB: Yeah, Im sorry for both of you! Its a great time for me, its a great time for Brazil and I agree with Mark. Its great to have it there in South Africa, I think its a great opportunity to appreciate new things and I think theyve done really well with security and everything, so it should be a great show and obviously I hope that Brazil can just keep it up.
JT: Im not really into football so much but yeah, I think we won the last World Championship in Germany and obviously we will want to be back again, to see what we can do. Its not going to be easy but I think its important as everyone has said that the football World Championship is going to South Africa, its good for the people there and I guess its one of the most important sporting events in the World. We will all be watching and cheering them on and hope to see some very good days of sport. I want to see the players playing well, successfully and nicely. Thats very important for the sport.