Thursday's press conference – Italy
Participating: Rubens BARRICHELLO (Brawn GP), Giancarlo FISICHELLA (Ferrari), Robert KUBICA (BMW Sauber), Vitantonio LIUZZI (Force India), Jarno TRULLI (Toyota)
Q. First question to all of you. How do you think the cars will handle around here? How are they going to handle the kerbs as well?
Rubens BARRICHELLO: I am very optimistic about our chances here. It is a new area for everyone like every year. It used to be here and Hockenheim where there is a package just for this race with the low downforce. We have some of the tunnel experience which was good and hopefully it will translate well to the track. The temperatures seem to be okay which for us with the tyres is very important. Low downforce creates a situation where you put more effort onto the tyres as well. The kerbs are quite good although when we walked the circuit this morning some of them seem to be a little bit too high to be used but I expect my car to be competitive.
Q. Robert, you have got new front and rear wings here?
Robert KUBICA: Well, yes I mean we have a new front and rear wing because of the lower downforce configuration car. As Rubens mentioned, this is the only track with low downforce and looking at Spa where we were already using low downforce our car was performing much better than standard ones, so I am looking forward. Always Monza has been a very good track for our team. Even in 2006 where we were struggling to fight for the points I was able to finish on the podium here, so I hope the car will react in the same positive way for this track.
Jarno TRULLI: Well, after the experience of the last races, unpredictable for us, I would say. We have a new aero package and I am always optimistic but as we don't have any experience on this kind of track we will just have to wait and see.
Q. Giancarlo, you had a good look at the Ferrari in low downforce configuration while you were driving the Force India.
Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Yeah, obviously I cannot say a lot about the car apart from the colour which is red. It is amazing for me to be here in Monza with my home grand prix with a new team and in a Ferrari car which was my dream since when I was young. It is just great. I am sure it is going to be good for Ferrari performance this circuit with the KERS and the aerodynamic package. Obviously, I need to get comfortable and confident with the car. I will spend first of all the morning to learn everything but I am sure the second free practice will be much more comfortable and I can already be confident to be competitive.
Q. Do you think Force India are going to be a force to be reckoned with here?
GF: Yes, I think Force India are going to be quick here because Force India has been quick on the main straight in every circuit and the speed here is a very high speed circuit. They have a strong engine and very low drag, so it is a good opportunity for them.
Q. Vitantonio, you have done a lot of the straight line testing for Force India. I believe at the beginning of August you did 270km in one day of straight line testing which must have been thrilling.
Vitantonio LIUZZI: Yes, and I think last week a little more. The team is pushing a lot for development and I think the results show how much the team is pushing and for sure straight line is not like making a corner here in Monza but it gives a good idea why we made such progress and why we are always so fast and so strong in really high speed straight lines.
Q. So the team has really concentrated on straight line running?
TL: No, we concentrated to put the maximum downforce with the least drag possible. I think we showed great development in this case and I think we have got a good compromise between low downforce and drag, so I think we can be in a good position here in Monza. For sure without the KERS it won't be easy, especially here in Monza but we are really optimistic for the race weekend.
Q. And what about your own personal feelings? Are you race ready? You have done a couple of A1 races and you did some speedcar.
TL: That is what I could do to keep myself as fit as possible. Physically you can just do your best by working out in the gym and do the maximum you can to keep yourself fit. We won't know until I jump back in the car tomorrow but I feel pretty ready to be back and physically I feel fit and strong. Maybe here in Monza it will be a much softer start. If it had been Singapore it would have been much tougher, but fortunately it is here in my home race and it is a good way to start.
Q. Giancarlo, it has been a momentous time. What have you been doing at the factory since the announcement was made? How much have you had to unlearn one car and learn a new way of doing everything even though you've been in Formula One for so long?
GF: Yes, I spent most of the time in Maranello doing the seat fitting and lots of meetings with engineers and talking about the programme, the work they do in Ferrari. But I did the simulator. Usually the simulator is (becomes inaudible) but this one was the starting one, so it was comfortable or me. I did every day about two or three hours a day. It is good to learn especially the different steering wheel and how to manage the KERS, the adjustable front flaps which we didn't use in Force India. It was good to be ready for tomorrow on this programme.
Q. Is there a huge amount to learn or do you feel pretty much on top of it now?
GF: I feel on top of it. But obviously when you are going to drive the car for sure it is going to be different behaviour to Force India and I will need extra laps to get comfortable.
Q. Jarno, how encouraged were you by Spa? And this is your home races as well.
JT: Well, Spa was an interesting weekend until the Sunday start. We were coming from a difficult race like in Valencia and Spa with a new lay-out, new configuration, new downforce level and our car seemed very strong. It was just by very bad luck that both drivers didn't score any points. I think at the moment the team is not having a lot of luck. It was a shame to lose everything at the start of the first corner. It looks like for me it is not bringing me a lot of luck as every time I start from the first row the first corner is always a problem. But we come here to Monza and it is unpredictable. We just hope that we can be quick again and try again to score points and it would be nice to fight again for pole position and the victory.
Q. Monza hasn't always been very kind to you. You haven't had a fantastic time here.
JT: Well, to be honest I have always done very well. Obviously, in Monza you need to have good speed and you need to have a very good straight line speed. That is one of the most important things. But in general I have always scored good points and done a good performance.
Q. Not according to my records.
JT: Well, you always have to look at the team-mate.
Q. Rubens, you have had a fantastic record here. A couple of wins, a pole position. You have finished all the races since 2001. Your feelings about this must be very encouraging?
RB: It is. At the end of the day it is a race track that I like very much. The podium in 2004 was fantastic. I think it was the first time where the big podium was introduced, so I feel good. I think it is going to be hot, maybe a bit of a cloudy situation, maybe even wet. But if is dry I think the track is going to be good for us. I am looking forward. It is something that I have got to play catch-up until the end of the year, so I am looking forward to that.
Q. In comparison to your team-mate are you feeling very positive when you look at his championship lead?
RB: I have got to see my situation more than try to look at him or any other person. I have got to do the best I can and have a weekend where I am happy with my situation and sort out the car for myself. If you take Spa, for instance, I had plenty of chances to get to the podium and maybe really do well if it wasn't for the problem at the start. But having the problem I was still very positive at the end of the race that the two points were better than zero. You have got to take every chance not just from now but from a long time ago. I think Silverstone was a bit of a turning point and I hope to keep on going. It is positive, so I am looking forward.
Q. Robert, is this pretty much your home race? You have made Italy your home for many years.
RK: Well, yes and no. As a driver I grew up a lot in Italy. I have been racing for many years, first in karting and then in Italian teams in single seaters, Formula Renault and Formula Three, always with Italian teams. Italy gave me a lot as a driver but still I am Polish. Hungary is the closest race from my town, so I would say Hungary is my home race.
Q. BMW are pulling out at the end of the year. What is the situation regarding your future? What can you do?
RK: Well, as I said, BMW is pulling away, so it put me in a completely different position compared to the last three or four years where I was linked to BMW. I have to search some new seat for my future. I hope to be in a competitive car next year on the grid and then we will see.
Q. What can you do? Is your management talking to other teams all the time?
RK: I don't know if all the time but we are trying to do our best.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Ed Gorman - The Times) Giancarlo, could you tell us how your family and friends have reacted to this amazing opportunity and incredible development in your career?
GF: As I mentioned, it's my life's dream, but it was especially also my father's dream and all my family. All my friends are really proud of what has happened to me. I've had a lot of texts and phone calls from a lot of friends and that has been amazing. Even the press has been fantastic with me, so for a few days it's been like living in a dream for me. Actually, it's fact, so I'm looking forward to being really comfortable in the team. When I went to Ferrari, I felt the fantastic atmosphere. The mechanics are so nice. It's great, just great.
Q. (Ed Gorman - The Times) Have you got a goal for the five races? Have you set yourself a target in your mind that you want to achieve over these five races with Ferrari?
GF: Well, the target is obviously to finish third in the Constructors' Championship for Ferrari, so we need to score a lot of points with Kimi (Räikkönen). My target is to score points in every race if possible and it would obviously be nice to get on the podium but we will see.
Q. (Will Buxton - Australasian Motor Sport News) To everyone, apart from Rubens, but it kind of includes Rubens. There are five races left: who do you think is going to wind up as champion?
JT: It's so difficult to predict.
RB: I think it will be Rubens.
RK: It's difficult to say. I think a lot will depend on car performance, so we will see.
VL: Pretty similar to Robert; with a lot of development of each of the teams from now until the end of the year I think that will count a lot in the final result. As they said, it's pretty difficult to predict.
GF: Well, when they asked after six races the answer was just one driver: Jenson, because he was so strong, with a big gap ahead compared to Rubens and the other guys. Now everything has changed; Jenson has lost a lot of points compared to the others like Rubens and the Red Bull drivers, so I think everything is open between those four guys.
Q. (Jacobo Vega - La Sexta) Giancarlo, you said that you were using the simulator and you were using the KERS but do you think it's going to be difficult to use it in the car?
GF: Hopefully not. Obviously it's going to be different in the car; when you drive you are very concentrated not to brake late and to do the best you can. But it's not so difficult; you know you just need to switch a button and go flat out from the exit of the corner. It's going to be difficult to manage it at the beginning, for sure but once I have done 30 or 40 laps it will be much better, I'm sure.
Q. Robert, there is a lot of speculation whether you might have been in Fisico's position today. What do you think about that, could you have been in red instead of white?
RK: Well, I think I'm in white, so there's no more speculation. Yeah, there was some contact and I was in the interest of Ferrari but I don't think it's so easy to change teams during the year and anyway, I think we will have a competitive car here with BMW, so I'm happy to be where I am.
Q. (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Gentlemen, I'm sure you're all aware of the ongoing Renault situation at the moment. Could I just get a general perspective from all five of you? Are you surprised that something like that could happen in this sport, or does nothing surprise you in F1 anymore?
RB: Well, it's quite difficult to think that somebody would crash a car because he was told to. Very realistically speaking, I think it's easier to crash a Formula One car than drive a Formula One car, that's a fair point, because of the amount of power and everything. It's very easy to crash the car. But to get to that point, I was put into a situation in Austria which was the limit of the limit. There were eight laps of conversation, the conversation going on and things were said to me that I had to give up, but I had to give up in front of everyone, everyone knew what was going on there. It's very, very sad. If that's true, it's very, very sad. The only thing I can see is that somebody wants Briatore's head, that's all I can see now, because it sounds very strange.
RK: I would prefer not to comment.
RB: I've said everything anyway.
VL: There's definitely a very fine line; it's very difficult to believe, as Rubens said, that somebody would crash on purpose. It's a difficult thing to believe that something would have been started like that but for sure, it's a really soft thing to touch. It's not a good thing for the sport if it's true, and hopefully it will never happen again.
GF: I don't have a lot to say, because now they are investigating and until that happens, I don't want to say anything.
JT: There's very little to say. There is an investigation and we will find out what happened later. Honestly, we can only read a little but no more.
Q. (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Rubens, what was it like to drive a Ferrari in Monza?
RB: It was great. It's a special feeling, obviously. You can see everyone dressed in red, I can quite clearly see what Fisico is going through. Good for him, very, very well done. I think it's a dream that everybody has, not just the Italians. But for it to happen to an Italian right here in Monza, in front of the tifosi, is just great, a really, really good feeling, and he has to use the energy to be very powerful and do his job, because at Ferrari it's very easy to forget that you do that for the love of racing, and the pressure rises; he's going to see the pressure for himself. But it's fantastic if he uses the pressure in a positive way, it's just a fantastic feeling.
Q. (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Rubens, you have had problems at the start of three races out of twelve starts. Can you tell us what exactly has happened? Is it a car problem? RB: Well, I'm the first one to say if I've made a mistake, but quite honestly, I've been doing the same strategy at all the races, all the time. Like I said, we've had fantastic starts and bad starts. We haven't had an average start. Once, in Turkey, we had problems with a clutch that was very contaminated by oil but the other two were a wrong call in terms of positioning the clutch for the start, how much grip you would have. It's very unfortunate, especially when you think about the amount of points that I could have had in those situations, but I'm just looking forward. I still got two points from the last race and the team will be doing its best not to have any more of those... we cannot afford any more, anyway.
Q. (Paulo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Rubens, do you think there's going to be a point when the team might make a decision if the Red Bull guys are getting too close and favour Jenson or have you been assured that this will not happen?
RB: I won't accept it anyway. There's a real point there. Until there are mathematical chances... I think it's in the best interests of the team to push forward because Red Bull can be quite strong in the last races, so it would be worse for the team. I'm a team player who wants to win the championship and I'm fighting for it but if I can see that there is no mathematical way then for sure, but until then... I hope there won't be, anyway.
Q. (Joris Fioriti - AFP) Giancarlo, you replace Luca Badoer who had very poor performances in the Ferrari; do you think that this makes your life easier for the rest of the season, because you can only be better than him?
GF: No, I just want to do a proper job, to try and score points in every race and do my best, be much closer to Kimi and that's all I have to do.
Q. (Byron Young - The Daily Mirror) Giancarlo, I can understand why you're playing this down but you're a winning driver in a winning car, so surely the only ambition this weekend is to win, isn't it?
GF: Yeah, but for Ferrari this doesn't meet this ambition because, as I told you, the car in the last race was good, with Kimi's good performance. It's been quite strong. In my case, it's my dream to win straightaway on Sunday, but it's not easy to jump from a Force India car to a Ferrari car and be comfortable straight away. I'm sure I can do it, I can be quick, so I'm positive, but step-by-step.
Q. (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Giancarlo, what did you think this morning driving from Maranello to here and when you arrived here in front of the main gate?
GF: Well, every day since last Thursday has been a fantastic experience, since the announcement, when I got into the factory, doing the seat fitting. Going around now I'm much more popular after 14 years of Formula One, so Ferrari is amazing. Even this morning, I was so excited, so nervous, coming here. Actually I enjoyed driving up the motorway with Robert, because I met him in my car - we weren't on the limit, obviously. But it's just great, so I need to thank Mr Vijay Mallya, because he gave me the possibility to move to Ferrari; the president Montezemolo, I have been his personal choice; Stefano Domenicali; even my manager Enrico Zanarini did a fantastic job, so it's a dream coming true, it's fantastic for me.
Q. (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Rubens, what advice would you give to Giancarlo for these five Grands Prix with Ferrari?
RB: Well, I don't have a lot to suggest. I think that for me, even not being an Italian when I first drove for Ferrari, it was a dream as well. But quite soon, you just have to put yourself off the dream and just drive the car. Every time you get reminded when you see that it's red, and this is a good feeling. But as we've said before, Giancarlo is a winner and it's not the first time he's going out in a competitive car to win a race. He has experience. There's not much to say, I think he's going to do very well.
Q. ( Sarah Holt - BBC) A question for Giancarlo. Stefano Domenicali said that he would be happy for you to race for another team next year as well as your duties as Ferrari test driver. Are you interested in finding a race team for 2010?
GF: Well, first of all, I've got a contract for next year to be the third driver at Ferrari, and if there is a good option to find another seat in a different team it would be good, but obviously it's a season to be together with Ferrari, with Stefano and the team.
Q. (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) Jarno, you organised an auction for the earthquake victims in Abruzzo. I would like to know if you have yet reached the target you set?
JT: We have organised several events. We had a football match yesterday when we raised €70,000, so it was a fantastic event. Unfortunately, we didn't have Giancarlo and Michael (Schumacher) because obviously they were busy. And there will be a big auction on Saturday when we are going to sell some items from the drivers, from the GPDA, like overalls, helmets. Giancarlo was kind enough to donate his helmet and...
GF: ... a Ferrari one
JT: Yeah? Fantastic. So I think we are doing very well. Obviously, we are going to have some more events and auctions between now and the end of the season and at the end of the season we will see what we can do for L'Aquila and I will be glad even if my Italian colleagues like Tonio and Giancarlo can come with me to Abruzzo and eventually go there and see the people and decide what to do with this money, because obviously they have been part of it.
Q. (Boaz Korpel - The Sports Channel, Israel) Rubens, everybody is wondering about the symbol on the top of your helmet which looks like the Star of David. You have a big community of fans in Israel, so can you solve this question for us about this symbol on the top of your helmet?
RB: The star first started with someone telling me that I should have something on the top. That happened in 1995, someone came to me and said 'someone in the sky is looking at you' and for me, I felt something good about it, and I put a star there, which you could call anything, but it's just a star. It was a five pointed star. After that, I made some changes because my energy comes from a six pointed star, not a five pointed star, and people aren't just associating that to the Jewish community. It is the Star of David but if you study everything worldwide it doesn't link straight to the Jewish community. I'm Catholic but it doesn't mean anything, it's just the fact that I'm a spiritualist and I believe in any points of goodwill. I basically had one thing for the start of my career in '93, '94, '95 and now it's just the energy from the six pointed star.
Q. (Boaz Korpel - The Sports Channel, Israel) Tonio, you drove for Toro Rosso which was not so competitive when you drove for it, and now Force India seems a very strong car, so what is your aim: finishing in the points or the top ten?
VL:: Yeah, my period at Toro Rosso has been a great experience which made me grow up a lot into Formula One. In that period, for sure, we were in a difficult position because the car wasn't competitive but it taught me a lot, growing up into Formula One with Toro Rosso at the beginning. But now I'm in a different position, I grew up a lot, I learned a lot even in these one and a half years as test driver and now that the car is getting much more competitive for Force India, I get the chance to start again in a competitive car. Fortunately, I have to thank my boss Vijay Mallya who has given me this chance in my home race, to race in front of my home crowd, and that's a special feeling for me. But now I'm a more mature driver, I'm a different person from two years ago when I was at Toro Rosso, so I think I can maximise my opportunities much better and I really hope that I can help and make the team happy as we were in Spa.