Interview: Sauber star Giancarlo Fisichella on Massa, Monaco and the C23... 14 May 2004
Q: You had a somewhat difficult start to the season. Was it a big relief to score two points in Barcelona?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yes it was great, but we cannot say I had a difficult start. It has been better and better since the first race and already in Imola I was very close to scoring a championship point, although I had to start from 18th position. In Barcelona I had a very good qualifying and race, which resulted in scoring two points.
Q: Did the result come as a surprise to you?
GF: Not really. The team is working very hard to give me a competitive car and we are getting faster and faster.
Q: Where has this progress come from?
GF: There are several factors. During the first part of the season with the three overseas races we could not do any testing like the big 'works' teams because we don't have unlimited resources. Now, as the European season has begun, we are in the normal rhythm doing tests after each race. As a result, we understand the car better and better and are more able to exploit the great potential of the C23. In addition, Bridgestone is making constant progress, and since the race in Imola we are benefiting from the work done in our new wind tunnel.
Q: You finished all the races so far, so the reliability of the Sauber C23 seems to be one of the strong points...
GF: The reliability of the C23 is in fact outstanding. It is the basis to be ready when something unexpected happens in one of the races.
Q: The car seems to be very competitive in race conditions.
GF: Yes. The car has a very good balance, and the Bridgestone tyres are very consistent over a long stint. We have to concentrate on our qualifying now, but to finish ahead of McLaren and close to Williams in Barcelona was a great feeling.
Q: On the other hand, qualifying appears to be somewhat difficult, why?
GF: It is down to tyres. Michelin seem to have an edge on one lap, but the boys from Bridgestone are not sleeping! With further improved grid positions, we could surprise some people!
Q: Can you do something as a driver to improve this, or does it all depend on tyres?
GF: As a driver I give always 100 percent. For example, in Barcelona I qualified 12th with a lot of fuel. One of the McLarens was marginally faster but with 20 fewer kilos in the tank, and the boy driving the silver car is Kimi, isn't he?
Q: How do you get along with your team-mate, Felipe Massa? Compared to you, he is relatively inexperienced, can you still benefit from him when setting up the car?
GF: Felipe is not only a very nice guy but also a good driver, and we get along really well. The team has a completely open policy with regard to data analysis, and Felipe's input is very valuable. We always exchange our data and know exactly what we are each doing. However, at the end of the day each of us does what he thinks is best.
Q: The next race will be Monte Carlo. It is one of your favourite tracks, why?
GF: I really like the track. It's the ultimate challenge, because you need speed and precision - two of my best qualities.
Q: What do you expect from this race?
GF: Looking at our performance in Barcelona, I'm quite confident that we should again be in a position to score points in a 'normal' race, and in case something unexpected happens, I'm always ready...