Thursday's Press Conference - Italy
Participating: Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
Q. Giancarlo, I believe you were demonstrating the car in Russia last weekend; can you tell us a little bit about that event?
Giancarlo Fisichella: It was a fantastic event. I really enjoyed it. On Sunday there were 150,000 people around the circuit which was near Red Square. The city is fantastic, I enjoyed it there. It was a little bit of a busy programme with the interviews and stuff like that, but honestly, I had a good time.
Q. Was there lots of enthusiasm?
GF: Lots of enthusiasm, yes. There were a lot of people coming from different countries but they were very interested in Formula One.
Q. Coming to the final five races of the season, you have a fairly interesting role to play. What are your particular aims for the end of the season?
GF: For me it's to score a lot of points in the Championship - Drivers' and Constructors'. My aim now is to finish third in the Drivers' Championship and to try to win the Constructors' Championship for Renault. We are quite competitive, we should be able to do that so I will really try my best.
Q. What about this circuit because it hasn't been all that good for you, it hasn't even been all that good for Renault either but the test wasn't too bad.
GF: No, the test wasn't too bad. There were a couple of good days, especially on Thursday. I did 146 laps which is quite a lot. We are competitive but I still think McLaren are a bit stronger than us, but we seem to be just behind them.
Q. After a day like that, how exhausted are you?
GF: Yeah, it was a bit tough, especially because of the race in Istanbul on Sunday, just a few days earlier, and then on Wednesday I did nearly 100 laps and the day after 146. At the end of the day, some parts of my body were a bit bruised, but it's good for training.
Q. Juan Pablo, you have somewhat better form here and obviously a good test here as well. You've always been on the front row here, two pole positions, a win as well. How are you feeling about this Grand Prix?
Juan Pablo Montoya: I think it should be a good race for us. From what Giancarlo said as well, I think we looked really strong in testing but we have to wait and see what happens here. I think my car had some balance issues even though the car was very quick. I think if we find that it would be quite good for here.
Q. Martin Whitmarsh of McLaren says the team needs five one-twos in the next five races. How do you feel about that?
JPM: Kimi's trying to beat Fernando for the Drivers' Championship but at the same point, the goal is for the team to win the Constructors' Championship. I think the Drivers' is a bit unlikely but the Constructors' is probably a very realistic goal to achieve. I think we've got the quickest car and I think we've got to try to win it.
Q. So what's your role in the next five races?
JPM: I think the same thing as I always do: do the best I can for the team and that's that.
Q. What are you feelings in retrospect about the last few laps of the Turkish Grand Prix?
JPM: I think it's very frustrating when you get to lap somebody and they never even move out of the way. I passed him before the braking (point). He was probably 100 meters before the braking (point) and I was right in front of him and we got to the braking (point) and I think if I hadn't been there, he would have gone straight on anyway. It's frustrating, especially when you're lapping somebody and you're not even racing him, he's completely out of the equation. It's pretty stupid but that's what it is.
Q. You've had a look at the...
JPM: ...the video, yeah.
Q. And presumably the telemetry...
JPM: Yes, I braked in the same place as the lap before. I was doing exactly the same thing every lap. I passed him before we even got to the kerb and everything. I braked and I was starting to turn in and he just rammed me. And then I went through turn eight on the first lap a bit carefully, waiting to see what the car did - it didn't do anything - and on the next lap I pushed and it stepped out. I looked (at the car) after the race and the whole diffuser was all broken, so probably the car was well within the limits the first time I went through there. So, a silly mistake but hey, it happens.
Q. Jarno, a little bit similar situation concerning form here as Giancarlo. It's not been your luckiest circuit.
Jarno Trulli: I always like this circuit very much and I've always been very quick and competitive but I never have had very good luck here, but I hope to turn it around this weekend, even if I think it's going to be a tough race for us because last week we did some testing here and we never really looked competitive. But nevertheless if I can just put the car in front with a good qualifying lap, then I can try to race from there.
Q. Looking at the last few races, things seemed to have stabilised a little bit.
JT: Well, I must admit that the car is sometimes competitive and on some other circuits it doesn't look very competitive, as in Turkey. We struggled all weekend and I was finally able to achieve sixth position which was the best we could do, while the race before in Hungary was definitely much better. We were very competitive, we were quick all weekend, so it's more down to the track rather than anything else. We still don't have a very competitive car but we can still, sometimes, play a good role fighting for the podium.
Q. So what's the aim in the final five races then?
JT: Well, I must say that up to now this year we have achieved a lot more than we expected. We scored four podiums, between me and Ralf, and I think that's a lot. Both drivers have a lot of points. We just need to try to keep scoring points for the remainder of the season. It would be nice to fight for the championship but we mustn't forget that McLaren and Renault are very very strong and then BAR is coming back, Ferrari is sometimes competitive, so there is quite a big battle to get on the podium and score points. The realistic aim is to keep scoring points until the end of the season and hopefully finish third or fourth for sure in the Constructors' championship.
Q. Michael, you seem to have been in the news a lot recently. I've heard lots of different versions of plans for the future. What is the real situation?
Michael Schumacher: It's pretty easy. I'm a Ferrari driver and I'm pretty happy with that. I've said many times that next year I will take a decision on an extension and we will see. There was never anything else before so sure. You know your colleagues.
Q. How did you feel the testing went here?
MS: I read some times which were different to what we did and what we actually have done, because there was something in media which suggested that we did a low 1m 20s. I don't know when we were supposed to do that but the fact is that we were too slow here and we didn't look too competitive.
Q. Is there any reason why that might change for the race itself?
MS: Unless it rains, no.
Q. You made some interesting comments about the cars in low downforce trim here, the one circuit where you run the cars in low downforce settings. Can you tell us what the cars are like around this circuit?
MS: Actually they do behave better than they have done in the past compared to the past years, they are much less critical to drive. There seems to be more grip available and the car handles pretty good, so in a way it's fine. You think you have a better car in your hands but then you look much slower than you have been.
Q. What was it like in the past? Was it very skittish?
MS: Yes, very nervous, very much on the edge all the time. It seems to be a little bit more forgiving right now.
Q. You've also expressed some worries about the second chicane; does that continue to be a worry?
MS: It has been a worry to us for many years. The GPDA has been sending out notes for that chicane (to be changed) for a long time and I hear every year there's a plan to change it but it just ends up with hearing about it rather than actual action.
Questions From The Floor
Q. (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News) Michael, after five years of winning titles, what motivates you to carry on when things are not going so well?
MS: You have to see the ups and downs we've had this year. Obviously people have referred to their short-term memory, and even me. When I think back to Turkey I wasn't happy about it but if you look at the year all together, I'm third in the Drivers' Championship and we are third in the Constructors' Championship. We had been winning absolutely and we are not where we want to be, but we've had our ups and downs and with this and with a very clear situation, we understand we can improve. We don't know when we can improve but we will just keep on fighting. If you imagine how other guys have been in our position for years and they are still motivated. I'm looking forward to challenge the leaders. I have every reason to be motivated to challenge again.
Q. (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Deutschland) Michael, how do you rate Felipe Massa?
MS: We have known Felipe a bit longer now. He started to do some testing with us and for years he has been at Sauber. When you look at where he started and where he is right now, you see a steady curve of improving and learning and I think he's doing a very good job. His real position right now is obviously something we'll have to find out when he comes with us but I rate him very highly as he has done some very good races and qualifyings. It maybe doesn't look as obvious because he has driven for Sauber who are not so competitive, to prove his abilities, but if you study him in a bit more in detail then you can see how good he can be. Being a Ferrari driver is different from being a Sauber driver but he will have a lot of support from us to get the best out of him because that's in our interests.
Q. (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Michael, in the past at Monza it's been great, this year if you don't out-score Fernando Alonso then that's the championship over. What are your thoughts?
MS: Honestly it's not something that happens overnight. I've been saying that until it's not mathematically impossible to win then I'll keep fighting but also I'm a realist and some races ago I pretty much knew that it's no longer possible to fight for the championship, and especially after Turkey. It was a surprise that we got this far before being counted out of the championship. Nobody expected this and next year we will fight very hard to make our way back again.
Q. (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Michael, are you confident you'll be back at the head of the queue next season?
MS: Yes indeed. Bridgestone is obviously highly motivated. They've had trouble this year with the pressure they got but I'm pretty sure they'll find a way. It is taking longer than we wish to, but sometimes things just take more time and I'm confident because on the car side we're probably not where McLaren is at the moment but we're not that far off them and when things are going together it should be OK.
Q. (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) Juan Pablo, if Kimi wins the title, will your position in the team be weaker?
JPM: No, I don't think it changes anything at all. Kimi's got his group that he's working with and I've got my group and at the moment he looks a bit stronger than me. I struggled a bit when I was out for a few races but I'm not too concerned. I've done a lot of work on the car and the car has improved a lot and I'm very pleased with the way things are going. If Kimi wins then it'll be very good for him but my goal is to win the Constructors' Championship for the team and we'll see what next year brings. I think I'll just need to find a better balance for myself with the car and get a bit more comfortable with it.
Q. (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News) To all four of you, a few years down the road, if one of your kids comes to you and says 'I want to be a racing driver' how much will you support them and help them?
GF: It would be nice for him to follow me into motor racing. It would be interesting and it would be nice to help him.
JPM: Same. If he wants to race or do anything else then I'll be there for him.
JT: I'd prefer him not to be a driver but if he wanted to be then I'll support him.
MS: I'd prefer it if he played golf or tennis.
Q. (Steve Cooper - F1 Racing) To Gianfranco and Juan Pablo, although team orders are banned, do you have a plan?
JPM: From my point of view, I have to do the best I can for the team. Using the example of Hungary, I let Kimi by on the first lap because he was on a weaker strategy and he needed to be further up to take advantage of that. In a way I handed it to him but it would have looked silly if I had been out of the race later on and Michael had won it, so if an opportunity comes up like that to help then yeah, but that's as far as it goes.
GF: In our team the most important thing is to score lots of points for the Constructors' Championship and Fernando has a good gap in the Drivers' Championship so he doesn't need help any more.
Q. (Dominic Fugere - Le Journal de Montreal) Gianfranco and Juan Pablo, at what age would you want your sons to start karting and Michael and Jarno why are you not keen?
JT: It's hard to say but the pressure in this job is quite high, the media are not the most beautiful people in the world. It's a hard job for sure and I think swimming or tennis looks easier and nicer than being a Formula One driver. The career is quite long, starting when you are eight in karts, and you go through so many Formulas and so much disappointment. Also there's a lot of variables. Pure athletes like cyclists rely more on themselves than on technical things like we do.
MS: It's tough to imagine my little one following in my steps. If you think about what you guys would ask him and the pressure for him to get out of my shadow. It's such a heavy burden and I don't see any reason to push him towards racing unless it's what he wants.
GF: When I started my career I was eight so this is one of the best ages to start if he wants to start a career.
JPM: Whenever he wants. I go to kart races and I still drive do if he wants to have a go, I'm sure Ill help him. It needs to be a hobby, not a profession to make it work. That's a problem with lots of fathers. They tell their sons they'll be World Champion when they're eight years old. Too much pressure.
Q. (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Michael, can you understand the speculation on your future, bearing in mind you're not winning at the moment and you only have one year on your Ferrari contract?
MS: Sure the media have their job and most do it well and some less well, and they say some of us do it well and some not so well so it's natural.
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