Italian GP: Thursday Press Conference
Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Vitantonio Liuzzi (Toro Rosso), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Jarno Trulli (Toyota), Mark Webber (Red Bull).
Q. Tonio, you have a new teammate; have things changed much within the team?
Vitantonio Liuzzi: For sure, the atmosphere is a bit different in the team. Before, it was quite heavy, now it's changed a bit, it is a bit of a fresh air. Unfortunately for Scott, but Sebastian, the last two races, he was really welcomed by the team and there was a different air inside. He is young, he has to gain experience, he has to learn with the team and I think there was a bit of a difference inside and I think everybody saw this from the outside.
Q. And in comparison, from a competition point of view?
VL: I don't think I have to say that everybody knows that obviously Scott had two years' experience. He was often giving me a hard and time, and Sebastian has to do kilometers for sure. He's really young and it was a bit easier to score points with the BMW and he's realized that. For sure, yes, he has a lot to do for next year.
Q. What about yourself for next year, what are you hoping for?
VL: I'm working on next year, for sure. My aim is to stay in F1 because that's my target since I started racing and I want to show what I can do when I am in a competitive team, because unfortunately this year we had a lot of problems. But nothing is fixed.
I think at the moment we are a bit on stand-by for the driver market and we still have to wait two or three weeks to know what's going on, but I'm working hard on it and I hope I get a chance.
Q. And would you be happy to be a test driver?
VL: No, at the moment I'm focused just on (race) driving, because I think in the last two years we didn't have many chances to show what we can do because we were always in difficult conditions so I hope that for next year, if it happens, that I can stay in Formula One, if possible in a stronger situation, so I'm pushing hard to be a driver, one of the 22.
Q. Mark, you're still having reliability problems; you must be feeling very frustrated about this year.
Mark Webber: Well, yeah, of course, the whole team is getting frustrated with it but all we can do is keep trying to press on and learn from the errors that we've made. It's not as painful when you're in good points-scoring position because I've had plenty of those in the seasons gone by as well. In Turkey we were not quick enough anyway to get in the points, so that saved me the hard work of driving around for nothing.
Q. You have been qualifying well, very often in the top ten, you've out qualified your teammate.
MW: Yeah, I'm happy with how I've driven this year. That's been enjoyable to an extent but you can only drive round in that position for so long until you're not really enjoying it as much and your motivation suffers to keep pushing for P11, P10. It's so competitive.
Giancarlo, Jarno, Renault, Toyota, it's hard (for all of us) to get in the points. That's the way it is now, so there's only one thing you can do about it and that's make a quicker car and be consistent with yourself each weekend to try and get the best job possible.
If the car breaks, it's not my job - fortunately - to try and fix those problems and I think that we should finish off more strongly reliability-wise which wouldn't be hard. We did some tests here last week to try and simulate why my failure probably happened in Turkey and it didn't happen again, so that was that reason out of the window. We're getting more information.
Q. What about the changes to this circuit that the GPDA requested? Are you happy with them?
MW: Monza's always on the edge. We are traveling at high speeds here, no question about it. The first chicane's fine. The second chicane is... every time you go there... I didn't see the run-off until the second day because I was lucky enough to make the apex most times but I had a look on one of the in-laps after I finished a run, I actually drove across it and had a look, and the asphalt is not bad, because obviously we've seen that it arrests the car, plus it doesn't trip the car up on the gravel and things like that, which is one of our biggest worries for the second chicane, and Ascari.
If we spend any time, like we saw with Lewis in Nurburgring, not really in contact with the gravel, you lose a lot of the ability to arrest the car. Parabolica is also on the edge. If you have a failure there you can probably go in pretty hard.
That's Monza, it's very difficult for us to make progress here because the guys – meaning the FIA and the people here at Monza – have tried their best to slowly chip away with it but it's probably the most dangerous first lap that we do on the run to the second chicane here, it's probably one of the most dangerous if not the most dangerous first lap that we do in the season, if it's in dry conditions.
Q. Jarno, your feelings on the same subject?
Jarno Trulli: Well, I already expressed my feelings and I feel it's quite positive what Monza circuit has done. Obviously, as Mark says, we travel at very high speeds here, so it's obviously a little bit an unsafe circuit compared to the others, but this is due only to the speed, not because of the run-off areas. I think Monza has been working very hard every time and now we are definitely happier than last year.
Q. Now it's obviously your home Grand Prix; you've twice qualified fifth, raced to fourth in 2002. What are your feelings about your home Grand Prix?
JT: Well, I always loved Monza for the atmosphere as well as for the track. I have always been very competitive, so I hope to have another good weekend, I especially hope to bounce back in the points because at the moment I'm a little bit frustrated by the last few races.
Due to the circumstances I was unable to score points, so I'm really hungry for that, and I shall really go for it this weekend, because I believe we had a very positive test last week, the team is pushing really hard and is improving the car, step by step, so from now to the end of the season we really want to get it right.
Q. This may be an unfair resume, as it were, but the team always seems to test well, you seem to practice well, qualify not badly, and then it seems to slide in the race.
JT: As I say, I think recently we have been a little bit unlucky in general, because the midfield battle is very tight, as Mark says. You really need to get it right all the way through the weekend, because with a little difficulty, you might slip out of the top ten and not score points.
This is what happened in Hungary as well for me last weekend in Turkey when I had this problem at the start, so obviously when the gaps in the midfield are so tight, you really need to get everything completely right every time and you also need a bit of luck. This year, I must say, we have always been there, we have always been fighting but we didn't get advantage in certain circumstances where our rivals got the advantage and scored many points.
Q. Giancarlo, are we to expect an announcement regarding your future and the team's future this weekend?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yes. Maybe this weekend, maybe next week. It's my target and my dream to be with the team for one more year. I expect confirmation again, obviously. Before the start of the season we were quite confident to fight for the championship but unfortunately it wasn't like that and it was a tough season. So I did my best and I'm looking forward to the confirmation again.
Q. Where do you think it's gone wrong for Renault this year?
GF: Well, maybe the changes from Michelin to Bridgestone and especially, I think in the wind tunnel; all the figures didn't work as we expected on the track, that was the main problem. Maybe the wind tunnel didn't work as we expected and we understood that problem very late in the season, so because the gap between us and especially Ferrari and McLaren is a little bit too big. The team stopped the development of the 2007 car and they are already concentrating on the 2008 car.
Q. Giancarlo, for this race, your best qualifying was third in 1997 – your first race here – and third in the race in 2005…
GF: Well, 1997 was a good race for me I was in the top three in the qualifying session and then fourth and it was my first year here with a competitive car. And two years ago was a great feeling getting on the podium in front of Italian people at my home Grand Prix and it was fantastic after Michele Alboreto 17 years ago on the podium.
It was a fantastic memory and a fantastic feeling. It would be nice to repeat again that experience but I think that realistically a podium is going to be really difficult. But looking forward to score lots of points first of all because I think the car with a low level of down-force works a little bit better and also I have a good feeling with the circuit.
Q. Kimi, obviously you are going to be racing in front of a Ferrari home crowd for the first time; what are you feelings about that?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think it is a bit more hectic this weekend because it is a home Grand Prix for the team but I don't think the racing side of things changes at all because we always try to do the best that we can and that's why we come here.
Q. Now you have set the fastest time in qualifying for the last time two years though you didn't necessarily start from pole and that must make you quite confident for this weekend?
KR: Yes, I like this circuit, but it's difficult to get the car right as you run on a low down-force and it is quite bumpy and you need to be able to drive over the curbs… It is difficult to say where we are going to be, but hopefully we are going to be in a grid position to fight for a win.
Q. Felipe believes that you, Ferrari, are better than they appeared to be in testing last week?
KR: I don't know, really, because from testing it is always difficult to say – you can only guess what fuel the other teams have, but you only really know yourselves what you are doing. I was not 100 per cent happy with the car, but we found some reasons and hopefully we will have a better set up and we'll see where we are. I think we should be ok – probably not our strongest race, but it should still be pretty good.
Questions From The Floor
Q. (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Kimi, from your perspective, how much influence and benefit has Michael Schumacher been to the team?
KR: It is difficult to say for sure, really, he has a lot of experience with the team and in Formula One, also, but I don't know actually how much he has done, because I don't really ask them who is doing what and who is responsible on which days… You have to ask from the team…
Q. (James Allen – ITV) Kimi, I am curious to know – there have been a few times this year, and it happened again in Turkey, you have made a mistake in qualifying at a critical moment and as you said the next day, it has gone on to cost you… What has happened in those situations?
KR: I just got it wrong, that's all. The tires are a bit tricky when you really push as we were able to last year when they were good for more than one lap. I think they are more difficult now and if you push too much you can lose it. We are still looking to find the ideal set-up for qualifying, but for the race we usually have a very good car.
unfortunately, qualifying is very important this year, so if you don't get it right it is very difficult to improve your position in the race. I think we have been looking into it and tried to change it a bit the way we do the qualifying and hopefully we can improve.
Q. (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Kimi, what are your feelings regarding the fresh evidence that has surfaced from the FIA with regard to the 'spy case' that is going to be heard next week?
KR: I don't know anything about that story. The feeling in the team is good and of course we would rather be in first place in both world championships, but there is a good atmosphere and it is a great team to work with. I don't think it affects our racing side at all but of course it is not nice to be asked all the time about it and it in the news all the time, but that is part of racing. In the team, we have a good atmosphere and feeling.
Q. (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) I'd like to ask the three Italian drivers: it is many years since Ferrari had an Italian driver – why do you think the team does not like Italian drivers?
GF: We don't know. First of all, in the last few years, I was under contract with other teams, so… I don't know why. I had a chat sometimes with them, but it never became very close to drive to them.
VL: I am still only two years in Formula One and you don't know what will happen, so… you never know. Maybe, they prefer Finland for selling cars. I have no idea…
JT: Well, to be honest, no-one has ever said that Italian drivers are not well-accepted in Ferrari. It is just the case that in the recent era, with Schumacher, and I have always been contracted with other teams and I had no connection with them. But they have always been good to me. They always give me ice cream! So I am happy…
Q (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Giancarlo, are Renault taking so long to make an announcement on their driver line-up because there is so much talk of a return to the team by Fernando Alonso?
GF: Yes, I think there is a lot of talk about that, but Fernando has a contract with McLaren and it is going to be difficult for him to get out of that contract and I don't know if it is the right choice, considering the package of McLaren and the package of Renault. At the moment, for Renault it is a big step… so I don't know.
Q. (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) How would you feel if Fernando did come back?
GF: I feel ok unless I cannot race for Renault next year. But if Fernando comes back and I can run with him, then it is just great.
Q. (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Giancarlo and Kimi, going back to the spying thing, have either of you been asked by the FIA for any information given that you Giancarlo were Fernando's teammate and you Kimi were at McLaren?
KR: Absolutely, no.