Thursday's Press Conference - Belgium
Participating: Christian Klien (Red Bull), Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), Jenson Button (BAR-Honda), Fernando Alonso (Renault), Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes)
Q. Christian, this time last year you had a good race, 13th on the grid and finished sixth. What are you hoping for this time?
Christian Klien: Yeah, last year was a good race for me and also the first time I was in the points and I finished sixth so that was a fantastic race for me here in Spa and I am really looking forward to the race here. I have another opportunity to do a race for my team and I am hoping to get some points here as well.
Q. What do you expect from the next three races, are you hoping to race or do you think this is going to be it?
CK: I already thought in Hungary that it would be my last race this year but the team believed in me and showed that I did a good job for the team so I got another two races in Turkey and Monza and now another race here in Spa so hopefully we can do again a good job, maybe get some points, it would be fantastic to stay in front of BAR. For sure it will be difficult but we will try everything. Again, for the last three races everything is open and if I do a good job here I think it is possible to do another race.
Q. Ralf, you have a good record at this circuit, you have finished five times out of six, that seems pretty good.
Ralf Schumacher: I don't know. You know, it is a nice circuit, obviously, I have had good races, average races, and it is going to be interesting looking at the weather forecast, I think it is going to be an exciting weekend for us.
Q. Looking back at the start of the season, are you disappointed Toyota haven't won, because you had a very good start to the season?
RS: You could look at it that way or the other way. If you look at the previous seasons I think they went pretty successful, so looking at that it is great what the team have achieved so far, so I look at it that from that side.
Q. Jenson, you have been described as the key to the championship recently.
Jenson Button: Yeah, we didn't really show that in Monza did we! I think Monza was a very difficult circuit for us, with low downforce, for some reason the car just didn't work very well. But I think here the car should be working much better and for the next two races also. We have a new aero package in Japan so the next four races should be good and hopefully we will be getting a bit closer to these guys.
Q. And obviously you drive your own race.
JB: Yep. What else am I supposed to do?
Q. Well, as I said, you are the key to the championship, apparently.
JB: Well, we are not going to hold back and just let these two guys race for the championship, we are here to do the best job we can as well and I think it will spice it up a bit, hopefully, if we are quick enough.
Q. Now, you are going to be asked this on a regular basis so get used to it! The Williams and BAR situation, have any further meetings take place on that, has there been any progress, what about the suggestion that you might take two years off?
JB: Wow. That would be interesting. I don't know what I am going to do for two years! Um, we have talked and I think that it is going in the right direction.
Q. To your satisfaction, which means you stay at BAR?
JB: I think it is going in the right direction for both of us, you know. We both need to get this cleared up as soon as possible. We all want to get everything sorted out before the end of the year so that we can just concentrate on next season.
Q. Fernando, since we last met you have been awarded a major sports award in Spain, can you tell us a bit about it?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, I think the award is, for a sportsman, the biggest we have in Spain and I the name is the "Prince of Asturias" award which is my city, my region. It is presented by the King of Spain on October 21 and I won this award for the sport in 2005, representing and doing a good example for the young people around the world. I am very surprised about this and very proud, for sure.
Q. This circuit hasn't been particularly good for Renault, in fact they have had one top six place since 1998, a third place. It was a bit the same at Monza, admittedly, but what are you expecting from this weekend?
FA: I think it will be good. Last year I was leading the race when I had an engine problem. So I think also last year the car was good here but we didn't finish, unfortunately, with an oil problem. So I think this year we are much more competitive and the podium is our target for this weekend and I am quite confident for the race. As Ralf said, I think the weather will be important this weekend but I hope to be lucky in this.
Q. Kimi, you won last year, front row in 2002 as well, you must be feeling pretty confident?
KR: I think so. I like this circuit a lot, the car is going well, I think this circuit suits our car better than many others so it should be okay.
Q. Anything found regarding the tyres last weekend, are you confident that will not happen again?
KR: I don't know really. I haven't spoken to the team since the race really but I think it was a one-off. I am not worried by the tyres. It was the same tyres as every other team, almost, I think, but I don't know the reason for that.
Questions From The Floor
Q. Fernando, the season is almost at an end and of course, you can be World Champion here. Is it possible not to think about it or are you totally concentrated on it?
FA: It is possible not to think (about it). I am concentrating on the race. I know it is very difficult to win the championship here because I need a Kimi retirement, basically, if I want to be a champion and I don't think that is going to happen. The McLarens are favourites to win the race so I think we will have to wait for more races.
Q. (Financial Times, Deutschland) Kimi, are you still thinking about the championship or have you given up?
KR: We haven't given up but everyone knows it is not going to be easy without any problems for Renault. Even if we win the last races it is not going to happen. I will do the best that I can. We will go race by race and try to win and then see what will happen at the end of the year.
Q. (Sud Deutsch Zeitung) Kimi, in normal day life if you had a car that let you down five times a year, what would you do with this car?
KR: I know we have been a bit unlucky in some races, but it is a good car still, it's very quick, we just need to make sure that we get rid of the reliability problems and I am 100 percent sure that we can work through that and for sure, next year, we should be strong again. It is just disappointing that the season hasn't gone as well as we hoped but that's racing.
Q. (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) Christian, the team has said that either you or Antonio will be the second driver next year. How confident are you that you will get the job?
CK: For sure, there is no decision yet but I think I did... before the season, let's put it this way, we said we would do 50-50 of the races and I have already done a lot more so it seems to me that the team have confidence in me and I think I have done a reasonably good job. I have finished nine races and in four of them I was in the points. And again. this weekend is an important race for me. I really like the circuit here, I did a good job last year here so I think that's a good reason to have a good finish here and then step by step to reach my target, to race for Red Bull next year as well.
Q. Fernando, do you feel more pressure from Spain after the award?
FA: No, no. I think it is the same pressure. I do my best every race and at the moment it's going OK. I have had good results in 2005 and I don't feel any more pressure. I have been leading the championship from the second race and I keep doing the best job possible at every race. Now we are so close to the finish, four races to go, I will keep the same confidence and motivation when I arrive at races. We are fighting both championships now, drivers and constructors, and I think every race is important and we have to finish on the podium at every race.
Q. (Andrea Cremonesi Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, may I ask a comment about your manoeuvre because Fernando was not in agreement with you when you passed him. And what do you think tested Renault for this Grand Prix?
KR: I don't know whether they tested or not. You want to know something about the overtaking? I went straight but looking at the slow motion shot in the highlights after the race I saw that Fernando didn't exactly go the right way through the corner so maybe I could have gone away, just kept going and not let him past, but the rules are that you let the guy pass and it's okay. So he was in front of me again and I overtook him. That's racing.
Q. Fernando, maybe you can say what you thought about this manoeuvre?
FA: I said already in Monza. I said it there.
Q. (Associated Press) Attendance was down in Italy, sales are going badly here, for you drivers what can be done to make Formula One more attractive?
FA: I don't know, I think in Italy the grandstand was not full because Ferrari was not fighting for the title, but in Spain, three years ago there was no television coverage for the races. Now we have seven million people watching the race and Barcelona is completely full, so I think the people are moving from one country to another and I think Formula One is still the biggest event in the world.
JB: I think that in some places the attendance might be down but in others it's definitely up, for example, Spain and also Britain seemed to be pretty good this year and at the new circuit in Turkey. I think the attendance has very good at a lot of races this year. Maybe in a couple it has been down but I think overall it has probably been up.
Q. (Dan Knutson- National Speedsport News) Ralf, what does your brother Michael say about losing the title and not being at the top any more?
RS: Actually, we have never talked about motor racing that much and so we didn't do this year honestly, so far. So I can't tell you. Ask him!
Q. Fernando and Kimi, very little is actually known about your personal relationship. We know that in the old days, drivers fighting for the championship went out together and things like that, so when actually was the last time you talked to each other maybe just the two of you in a room - have you ever done that before? Do you have anything in common?
FA: I'm always first to answer. I think, you know, with Kimi I have always had a good relationship, a lot of respect for each other. We raced in go-karts a couple of times, but in different categories because I think Kimi is one year older than me, and the last time we spoke about this is a long time ago probably, in a room together but we always say hello and bye bye and I think there's a lot of respect. I am really happy to fight with Kimi this year.
KR: I think Fernando said already everything. We met for sure for the first time in go-kart racing but it's the same for both us, we don't know much about each other, apart from racing, it is a good relationship between us but that is the way it is. We are not the closest friends but we have good respect for each other which is the main thing.
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