Valencia: Thursday European GP Press Conference
Tonio Liuzzi, Vitaly Petrov, Jaime Alguersuari, Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa shared their thoughts in the opening press conference for the European GP.
Q: Tonio, a very good performance in Canada. Has the change of chassis made a huge amount of difference to you?
Vitantonio LIUZZI: Quite a bit. I think we realized what happened in races like Barcelona and Turkey where we had a lot of problems and they were two different ones. In Barcelona it was clearer that it could have been the chassis but in Turkey we realized it was an aero problem. We just realized after the race, so we changed anyway to start again from zero to the point where we were at the beginning of the season. It was definitely a good choice as we started strongly from Friday morning in Canada. We still have to wait for a proper circuit, maybe like Silverstone, to be 100 per cent that everything is back in business but we are definitely more confident that we are more in the ball park where we should be.
Q: Was there damage to the chassis? What do you think was the problem with the previous one?
TL: No, basically we changed the first chassis not because of a damage problem, but with a problem on the straight. We were scrubbing speed on the straight for some reason. We couldn't understand why and that's why we changed to the new chassis. With the new one we had a handling problem. We tried many different things and in Barcelona we were just where we were all week and we couldn't understand why. And Turkey was an aero related problem that was adding to the other chassis issue we had, so we still couldn't find exactly the right problem, so we just went back to the beginning where we started in a strong position at the beginning of the season. That's all.
Q: Can Force India maintain the pace of development?
TL: I think the team showed last year that our development curve was really high, maybe one of the best teams in development during 2009. I think they did a really great job and we are still improving. We are working... (becomes inaudible) and we have got a big program of development, so we are pushing hard. We still believe we can fight to catch Renault in the championship. We will try hard until the end. We have to look at all the others and how they are doing as the other teams are not sleeping, but we are not giving up.
Q: Vitaly, you are almost a local driver here and at least you have experience of the circuit as well. Do you feel that this is a home race for you given that you don't have a proper home race?
Vitaly PETROV: No, of course my home is in Russia, but this is almost my second home as I was living here for three years as my team was here for three years, so I moved here but now my team is Renault, so I will move to England. I know the circuit quite well as all morning I was running around this circuit.
Q: You are just about to come up to complete your first half of the season. How do you think it has gone for you, a personal self-assessment as it were. VP: Really I don't like to speak about this. I don't like to say something about myself, what was good. It was quite good results, quite bad races also. Canada was not so good. I think I am still learning. I have still a lot of races until the end of the year. I hope I will improve. I am pretty happy.
Q: Do you measure yourself against Robert Kubica? How do you get on with him and are you getting closer to his performances? VP: Of course I am getting closer. Each weekend I try to be closer to him. But anyway I do my job. I try not to focus on him. I just try to focus on myself, my driving, to improve the car with the engineers and try to do good results, for example, like Turkey. Except one touch, but it was okay.
Q: To the front row, it is to some extent a second home race to you guys. What does it mean to you individually?
Jaime ALGUERSUARI: It is always good to drive in Spain. In Barcelona it was a good environment. It is always nice to drive in your home race. For me that was Barcelona and this race is the second race I did last year after my debut and it is the first race this year that I drove last year, so it is going to be nice. Let's see how we get on during the weekend. I am really excited.
Fernando ALONSO: It is always good racing in your home country. Hopefully we will put on a good show for all the people here. As Jaime said with Barcelona and Valencia we are lucky to have these two opportunities in front of our people, so as I said hopefully we will put on a good show for them.
Pedro de la ROSA: For me it is a second opportunity in my home country in front of the Spanish fans. In Barcelona I didn't manage to finish and here I hope we will and hopefully fight for the points as well. A second opportunity and hopefully it won't slip through my fingers.
Q: An interesting point is that you haven't raced here before and your team-mate also hasn't raced, whereas with Toro Rosso both of their drivers have been here before. What does that mean to you? How easy is it to learn the circuit?
PdlR: Well, I think it will not be a problem. We have on Friday two hour-and-a-half sessions and it is more than enough to learn a track. It won't compromise the weekend, especially knowing the first session normally is very dirty here, so you cannot really learn much on set-up, so we don't compromise the track time in changing the car. We will drive the first session, learn the track and get ready for the second one which is always more representative of the track for the Saturday and Sunday. So no issues. Just learn a new track which is always a great pleasure.
Q: You have had a difficult comeback in many ways and it has been difficult for the team as well. Can you see light at the end of the tunnel?
PdlR: Sure, there is. We are getting closer to the end of the tunnel. It has been a difficult start to the year with the amount of DNFs and the one DNS that I achieved. But we should not forget that the two races I finished I was fighting in the points until the last lap. We just have to finish. We believe if we do that we will get points and that is our aim from the beginning of the year. We have been unlucky really, simple as that.
Q: To come back to Jaime, you have experience of this circuit. How important is it that both of you have experience of this circuit?
JA: I think every time you head to a new track it is always tough, so for me it is another less handicap let's say when you have a track that you know. Obviously we also drove the simulator before and I raced here last year, I also did some races in Formula Three, so it is always good. Even more it is in Spain, so we are going to have fun.
Q: I understand that quite recently you have been karting. What was the thinking behind you going karting?
JA: Because I love karting. I love karting like Formula One as I like to drive cars. Last year I did the World Cup and this year hopefully I can do another race. Between Formula One races I go to Italy to train and also in Spain here at some tracks. I train quite a lot. Karting I think is the best method to train for a driver for Formula One, for rally, whatever, as you train a lot of things and you also do cardiovascular training and at the end what you need is to drive. Also the fact I am training quite a lot on karting as we don't have much testing in Formula One, I mean we have no testing in Formula One, so for me it is always nice and at the end it is another tool to drive.
Q: Fernando, I am sure you and the team felt that you could have won in Montreal. What are the feelings about this race as it has not been a lucky one for you so far?
FA: I think it will be interesting to see this race how it goes. There have been some circuits better, some circuits with problems, some up and down for the team performance in the last couple of races, so hopefully we can continue the performance we saw in Montreal. The line that put us in a competitive level fighting with McLaren and Red Bull. In Turkey we were not quick enough, so just try to confirm the feeling of Canada and be competitive here again and hopefully finish on the podium again.
Q: You have got some developments here I believe with the blown diffuser. What do you think that is going to bring you?
FA: I think we have been improving the car every race more or less, so I think it is a matter of how much the others improve as well to see a clearer step ahead, a step forward. I think we are optimistic. We are happy with the job we have done in these last couple of weeks, so we arrive in Valencia with a good package in our car but we remain very calm about our expectation as other teams were not watching television in these last two weeks, so I think everybody will bring updates here. Hopefully ours is a little bit better than others.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Olav Mol - RTL Netherlands) Jaime and Fernando, do you agree with a lot of fans right now that the ban on refueling has made racing more intense, whether you're racing for 14th/15th or first and second, because the cars are more equal during the race, you don't have three short sprints. You all start on similar weights. So do you agree that the ban on refueling has been better or worse, or would you like to go back to the old system?
JA: I think it's obviously different to last year. You find the car is completely different in terms of handling, and obviously the tire degradation is completely different to last year. It's difficult to say if it's better or if it's worse but definitely for us, who need to take more risks to score points, to go in the front and to always be on the limit, it makes racing fairer, let's say, because it's the same for everyone. You find a five second gap from racing to qualifying and the fuel is making a big difference, so I think it's more driver-handling, how you set up the front wing and manage your tires a lot, especially on a track like Canada where the degradation is very big and the tires were quite soft, and this makes racing more fun for the drivers, because you need to fight more with the car, and it makes it more fun for Formula One in general, more overtaking, more competition; it's a good idea.
FA: I think it depends which race you take this year. If you take Canada with the tire problems, the lack of refueling looks good. If you take Turkey, you can switch off the TV because we start and then we put on the prime tire as soon as possible and the race is over because there are no more pit stops. We also lack a little bit of changing in position in qualifying. Sometimes you were not very competitive, but you were on a more aggressive strategy with five or six laps less fuel and you qualified in front. Now, these days, whatever your position is in qualifying, it's more or less your finishing position in the race. There are some advantages and some disadvantages. Hopefully people like the races a little bit more now but for us it's sometimes better, sometimes worse.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Fernando, after Montreal you were very critical of the backmarkers and Luca di Montezemolo also made some comments recently. Is that something you're going to be talking to Charlie (Whiting) about; do you expect anything different here because it's not the easiest circuit to overtake on, and are you also happy that the 107 percent rule is coming back next year?
FA: I think the problems lapping people in Canada... there's nothing we can do now. We still think that we lost the opportunity to do something better out of that race. I think that at the end of the year, over 19 races, everything balances out. So sometimes it happens to us, I'm sure it happens to the others at other races. It's already happened, and we didn't realize it and we took advantage maybe in China or Malaysia... we don't know. It happened to us, it was very obvious because we were fighting for the win but we also know that there were some problems in other races. I think there's nothing to say in tomorrow's briefing. We also know that it's not the easiest part of the race, to drive those cars, but it's the same for everybody, so we just need to do a better job next time. And for next year, the 107 percent... I don't think that next year we will see the difference that we've seen this year. I think the three new teams arrived very late this year and I think next year they will be better prepared and the gap will be closer.
Q: (Carlos Miquel - Diario AS) Fernando, you tested the new car at Fiorano; what were your feelings and what do you think the improvement in lap time could be?
FA: The feeling was very good. I was running behind a car with cameras, so it was very good at 60kph, very stable. We also did some laps without a car in front but we had like ten cameras on the car and on the helmet, so it was not very comfortable to drive. It was also my first time driving a Ferrari Formula One car at Fiorano, so I really have no idea but I think tomorrow we will have a better answer. We expect a step up with the car, a little bit quicker but as I said before, I think all the other teams will bring some new parts here, so I think the most important thing is to confirm that we are competitive here, as we did in Canada, and we need to keep improving the car. Silverstone, Hockenheim, Budapest... it's not one evolution in the car, in the year and you stop. This is a job that we need to keep doing until Abu Dhabi, so there is a long way to go but we are optimistic.
Q: (Carlos Miquel - Diario AS) And Jaime and Pedro, what about your future next season?
PdlR: It's a good question, really. I don't really know, it's very early. June is still too early, we should wait a little bit more, maybe a couple of months. So nothing 100 percent, but I believe I will still be in Formula One, at least that's what I want, and it's not looking too bad for next year.
JA: I don't know. I don't know what I do next race, so... I hope I can be in Formula One with the same team, with Toro Rosso and we will see.
Q: (Jaime Rodriguez - El Mundo) For all of you, are you following the World Cup and for the three Spanish drivers, what do you expect tomorrow in our match against Chile?
JA: Yeah, yeah, we follow. Spain. We will win.
FA: Easy, easy, easy. We will win. That's for sure.
PdlR: Against Chile or the final?
FA: Chile, if we don't win, we don't deserve...
PdlR: Ah, I think this year is a big one for us in the World Cup. I'm very happy that Fernando already has the red T-shirt on. We will do well. I really support Spain, very, very much. I like their attitude and how the players are approaching it.
TL: I will let you know in a few hours if I follow it again. For sure we have a good chance but we will see.
VP: Yeah, I follow it but it's bad luck the Russian team is not in the World Cup. Yes, I like watching Spain playing and I'm also living here, so I will also support Spain tomorrow.
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