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Q & A with Montoya and Raikkonen 23 Feb 2005

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL), McLaren Mercedes. McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 First Test, Barcelona, Spain. 24 January 2005. World © Capilitan/Sutton Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), McLaren Mercedes MP4-20. McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 First Test, Barcelona, Spain. 24 January 2005. World © SUTTON Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), McLaren Mercedes. McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 First Test, Barcelona, Spain. 24 January 2005. World © Capilitan/Sutton Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren Mercedes MP4/20 Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 7-11 February 2005. World © Bumstead/Sutton

In Melbourne Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya will compete as McLaren team mates for the first time. With pre-season testing all but complete, they have had ample opportunity to get used to each other and to the new car. They recently faced the press together to talk about new rules, their rivalry and the year ahead.

Q: A question to Juan Pablo. This is your first year with the West McLaren Mercedes team. How have you been settling in?
Juan Pablo Montoya:
It has been really good. My relationship with everyone within the team has been really good. Testing wise it has been positive, and I'm pretty pleased about everything to be honest.

Q: How has the test programme been going for you Kimi?
Kimi Raikkonen:
It's been good, we had the new car nearly a month ago and we are still working through small problems with it. But that is quite normal with a new car and it is nothing major, and we are fixing everything that comes up. The speed is there, the car is easy to drive, but it is hard to say where we are, we just need to wait and see what happens in the first race.

Q: How has it been testing the car Juan Pablo?
JPM:
It's been good, I feel a little bit more comfortable in MP4-20 than I did in last year's car, so that is positive. Like Kimi said, we have had a couple of little problems, but everything is fixed already and that is the point of winter testing. This week is it also about settling in a little bit more with the race team, and I would say things are going pretty smoothly.

Q: How well do you get on with each other, and more specifically, how do you help each other when you are working?
KR:
Everything is going smoothly between us, it is early days but we are getting on fine. The atmosphere is good and we are working well together
JPM: We are working together pretty good, going into the season we have actually only tested together at the same time for five or so days so far, but it is fine and I am looking forward to the year.

Q: How hard has it been to adapt to these new car regulations?
KR:
The new rules are different, but they are different for all the drivers. We will know more after the first few races how the rules are working and what we need to do as drivers to change if necessary

Q: Kimi, how do you think you will go against Juan Pablo in qualifying?
KR:
We have always been quite close in qualifying in previous seasons and I'm sure that will continue to be the case. For sure there are some races when I'm quicker and others when maybe Juan Pablo is quicker, so we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Q: Juan Pablo, what are your thoughts on the new qualifying format, is it better for you than the other drivers?
JPM:
Whatever the format is, it is the same for everybody. Obviously you will drive differently in the two sessions, you will push in both, but you do have to do things like look after the tyres particularly in the first session, as they are the same tyres we will race in so you don't want to flat spot them. But at the end of the day all the drivers are in the same position, and I don't think we can judge who it will suit more until we start racing.

Q: How do you both feel about the changes to the qualifying rules?
KR:
I don't think it is much different from last year really for the drivers, but it might be more difficult for the spectators to understand what is going on because you have to add the two qualifying times together. But hopefully the television companies will find a good way to show to the spectators how much you are behind or in front of someone in real time.
JPM: That's the important thing isn't it, for the organisers to find a way to make it easy for the fans to understand when they are watching it, so they know where the car on track really is. You might be slow in first qualifying but mega quick in the second session for example, so people might get a bit confused at first, but I'm sure everyone will get used to it.

Q: Juan Pablo, how does the power of the Mercedes-Benz engine compare to the one you were using last season at Williams?
JPM:
I wouldn't like to compare them, they are completely different engines for different regulations. Also, you can't expect two different brands of engine to behave the same. From what I have seen so far, Mercedes-Benz has does a really good job and I'm pretty happy to be honest.

Q: Juan Pablo, you are known as one of the most aggressive drivers. How much have the new regulations affected your driving style?
JPM:
I wouldn't say it has really. People always say that I have a really aggressive driving style, but I would say I push as hard as anyone else out here. Now of course we have to look after the cars a bit more. I think it is going to be interesting and perhaps at the first few races some drivers are going to get it really right, others are going to get it really wrong.

Q: With the new tyre and engine regulations, do you think that the ability of a better driver will be shown more?
JPM:
We will have to wait and see, it will be more important this year to have a good balance on the car, as poor balance will have a bad affect on the tyres, so you will need to work closely with your engineers and the other people in the team to do this.

Q: Kimi, has Juan Pablo joining the West McLaren Mercedes team made a difference?
KR:
In the end it doesn't actually change anything for me and how I work with the team. I am working with the same people for everything as I was last year. So I wouldn't say it is a big difference no.

Q: How important do you think it will be that the team is running a third car in Friday practice?
KR:
I think it will be good for the team, especially with the one engine for two race weekends rule. We can put as many laps as we want on the third car and will get the information back to make decisions on our Michelin tyres and other set-up requirements.

Q: The new rules have been implemented partly to make Formula One racing more exciting for the spectators. Do you think that overtaking is going to be easier?
KR:
I don't think it is really going to change much, you might get some situations when people are having problems with their tyres and then other cars will be much faster, but we will have to see what happens. There was some good racing last year and hopefully it will be the same in 2005.

Q: There is another new track this year, in Turkey, how do you prepare to race at a new circuit?
JPM:
I normally just get there and drive around. I'll do a couple of laps in a road car and see how it is. You can see where the racing line is, braking points and so on, it's pretty straightforward really.
KR: I also drive round, but usually also walk round some parts of it with my engineers. I have seen a couple of pictures of the track and it looks good.