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2002 F1 Teams/Drivers

Enrique Bernoldi
H. H. Frentzen

British American Racing
Jacques Villeneuve
Olivier Panis

M. Schumacher
Rubens Barrichello

Eddie Irvine
Pedro de la Rosa

Takuma Sato
Giancarlo Fisichella

Kimi Raikkonen
David Coulthard

Alex Yoong
Mark Webber

H. H. Frentzen 
Luciano Burti

Jarno Trulli
Jenson Button

Nick Heidfeld
Felipe Massa

Mika Salo
Allan McNish

Ralf Schumacher
Juan Montoya

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Brazil Thursday Press Conference

March 28, 2002

Drivers: Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA), Enrique BERNOLDI (BRA), Enrique BERNOLDI (BRA), Jenson Button (GB), Felipe MASSA (BRA), Ralf SCHUMACHER (GER)

Question: A question to you all: Would you give us a reaction to the rule changes announced by the FIA recently?

Rubens Barrichello: I feel that for the show it might be a good thing, to see what happens when you move a competitive car ten places back. You're going to see some overtaking. Which, sometimes, if you talk about Monte Carlo, is usually going to be impossible, so you're going to see some overtaking and you're going to see someone really penalized for that. So we have to be really sure that the guy did something to move him backwards, because otherwise it's not fair. We've been asking the FIA to do that, to bring the same guys who know us to all the races, and we have a stable vision of what is going on because otherwise it's going to be really unfair.

Ralf Schumacher: The only problem that feel is that we should have one or two stewards who have driven races. The engine rule is really for the technical people.

Jenson Button: On the engine side, the decision is not down to us anyway, that's for the manufacturers to decide. But ten places back is going to make very interesting racing for TV but for us, it's something that we can't really help. If we have an engine failure, it's a bit unfair putting the driver and the team back ten places.

Enrique Bernoldi: I think that, as more or less all of them said, the engine thing isn't due to the driver. As Ralf said, if the engine keeps going, it's not a big problem to me. Regarding the penalty, it's difficult to judge who is at fault if two cars crash. If somebody blocks you deliberately, then maybe you can see a little bit but if two cars are side by side and crash then it's difficult to say who is at fault, so I think being able to judge will be quite difficult.

Felipe Massa: I think it's difficult to say. For the engine, it's good for the team, but you can't really talk about this. Regarding the ten positions, if it's a big mistake - and it has to be a very big mistake - but in the World Championship, everybody fights for position. As for the show, as Rubens says, it is better.

Question: Felipe, you have just scored your first World Championship point in only your second race, but before that, you have a fairly lively start in the pre-season, with quite a few incidents. What changed?

Felipe Massa: I think I made a lot of mistakes in winter testing because I had to learn about the tests because I always wanted to push, but you don't need to push all the time in testing. It's better to find the best solution for the car and of course, I made a lot of mistakes, but I think during race weekends in Australia and Malaysia, it was very good. I'm learning.

Question: How are you approaching your home race?

Felipe Massa: I am hoping to do my best. I would like to qualify maybe in the top ten or twelve. I think we have a good car and I think it's possible to finish in the top ten. Each race is different. We don't know what will happen. I think I would like to say that I can finish in the top ten.

Question: Rubens, difficult home race with a lot of pressure; how do you approach it?

Rubens Barrichello: Actually I'm feeling quite OK. The pressure is always there and has always been. But it's the best weekend of the year for me, so I want to make the full use of that, enjoy myself while I'm driving, it's easier when I'm driving then when I'm not, because the pressure is when I'm talking or the press are wanting to write something about the next day. I'm feeling quite cool to be honest.

Question: How do you feel about the fact that Ferrari have given the car to Michael and not to you?
Rubens Barrichello: It's obvious that I would have liked to have had the new car because after four days testing in Barcelona, I felt that the car was better in every respect, so for sure, when I knew that we were only bringing one car, to be racing in my home country at my racing track, it feels sad not to have it, but I accept it and, as I've said, it is the best weekend of my year, so I have to make the full usage of the old car and by any means the race is lost. I have had a good start to the season with qualifying and racing. I have no points yet for various reasons but I'm feeling good. I'm feeling competitive, and I'm going to be a 101 percent on the car that I have.

Question: So what is the reason that you haven't got the new car?

Rubens Barrichello: The reason, I think, is that the decision was made a little late. They had to take the car apart so many times to analyse everything, so at the end of the day, they felt that that was the fastest approach to have just one car.

Question: Enrique, the Arrows looks a good car this year, but perhaps lacking in testing?

Enrique Bernoldi: Yes, for sure. We only had a few days of pre- season testing which wasn't a lot because it was a new car, and when you have a new one you always have some small problems and different problems which stop you doing a lot of mileage. But we are very positive and we are confident because the car is a car which shows to be pretty competitive and we are improving at every race. Malaysia was better than Australia and even if we couldn't get a result at the end we showed that we had the potential for a better place than last year. At the moment, we are not testing much and but when we get to Europe this will change. We are still getting to know the car, because of the few mileage that we did pre-season, as we are learning in this race and learning and developing new things, so we are progressing quite a lot and I'm really happy about what I feel we could get from the new car, the team, the engine, everything.

Question: How about Heinz-Harald as your new teammate?

Enrique Bernoldi: I think he's good for the team, especially also for me, because he's very experienced. He's won races, he's been in top teams, so he knows a lot about Formula One and for sure he can help to develop the car and also he's a quick driver and I still have a lot to learn from him. I think it's positive, not just for me but for the whole team to progress to have Heinz as a team-mate. The whole package is quite good and better than what we had last year.

Question: Have Williams got a good chance in the World Championship this year?

Ralf Schumacher: It would be nice to say that. Certainly after Malaysia we seem to be very strong. I'm pretty confident for this and even for the next race. Last year we managed to be stronger than Ferrari there, so you have to say that we look a lot stronger but there are some circuits on the schedule where we struggled last year which is what we have to wait and find out. Looking at McLaren, it's pretty early days to judge them yet. Given them a few more races. I hope it takes a longer time than a few more races, but I'm sure they are going to be up there again.

Question: The team had a massive test at Barcelona last week. Are you expecting a performance improvement from that test?

Ralf Schumacher: We tried some new tires which aren't here, so it will for Imola.

Question: What are the great advantages of your car for this circuit?

Ralf Schumacher: Part of it is definitely engine. Tire-wise we should be looking good as well. It's the whole package. Our aerodynamic efficiency seems to be very good. But as soon as we go to a circuit where we don't need maximum downforce, that's what we found last year. Juan could have won the race easily. We're pretty optimistic at the moment.

Question: Jenson, have you got over the disappointment of the last race yet?
Jenson Button: Not quite, no. I think when you're running in fourth for the whole race it's a good position to finish in, but when you've been running in third, for whatever reason - people having reliability problems or whatever - and it could be an easy third, it's always tough to end up fourth off the podium as I haven't yet been there. But I think it shows that we are moving forward which is good and we keep improving race by race, which is a big bonus for the team really. Hopefully that will show here also.

Question: What's the big difference from last year to this?

Jenson Button: It's the same people working for the team. I just think we've got a bit more experience with the car over the last two years and also the engine. I think that's what it's down to: experience. I think in 2001, (Mike) Gascoyne didn't have a lot of input into the first few races as he arrived very late and I think that's helped him, having a lot more time to really work on the car over the winter. I think that's part of it. I wouldn't say that the team this year is hugely different from last season.

Question: Do you feel in yourself much different from last year? Some people were writing you off...

Jenson Button: Yeah, I'm a different man this year, I'm completely different! I'm going to change my name as well. No, seriously, I think over the winter I've been working harder than I ever have over the winter with the car and working with the team at the factory and spending a lot of time training as well, which I think has helped. I think I've just got to grips with working with the team. I learned a lot last year, obviously. There were some very bad times, and I think coming through that really helped me. I think that's part of it. I don't think I'm a different person at all. It's a good cover-up though.


Question: Rubens, last year you struggled a bit in qualifying. Do you think that this year, with many things the same as last year, can bring you any advantage?

Rubens Barrichello: I think that if you think I have the same car, yes, but things have changed, the tires, the car itself should be a much more competitive car than the one I had a year ago. It was early season, the car developed a hell of a lot. But I think the advantage comes on the Friday when I probably have a set-up which is something that I know already. The one with which I finished last year probably could be the one to start with. That, for sure, is an advantage, but altogether, you have to see how the weekend develops because it could be a big difference.

Question: Rubens, Italian newspapers wrote today that you won't any longer accept decisions like the one where Ferrari will only give the new car to Michael and you might retire after this season if this doesn't change? Can you confirm that?

Rubens Barrichello: No, I cannot confirm that. I think that sometimes there come from Brazilian papers some really bad things which then goes into the Italian press which looks as if it's the truth. It's just sad to have this type of thing. I have no problems with Ferrari, I have no problems with anything. I'm entitled to have my opinion. I sit down with Ross and Jean, we talk and by no means am I a man of no opinion. I have my opinion, I race to win and if sometimes you have to be happy and sometimes you're not happy. Right now I'm a happy man with Ferrari. It's my third year and everything is going quite OK. I'm coming to my home race. I don't have the new car but I have old the one which is competitive. It's reliable so let's go and see what it does. I have no problem with that.

Question: For all of you. Ralf just came up with the exceptionally good suggestion that the drivers should be represented amongst the stewards. The stewards in Malaysia had to make a decision; they decided to penalize one or two drivers involved in an accident at the first corner. My question for each of the five of you is, if you had been on that stewards' panel which driver would you have penalized?

Ralf Schumacher: It's down to us. I don't think anyone should have got a fine. It was a normal race incident. Story over.

Jenson Button: I wasn't close enough to see the accident. I haven't seen it on TV.

Felipe Massa: I haven't seen it.

Rubens Barrichello: I agree with Ralf. I don't think anyone should get a penalty for what I have seen.

Enrique Bernoldi: On the first race, I didn't start and couldn't even have a look from behind. On the second, I was too far away to see, so I guess I can't really have an opinion. I saw the video once, but I was trying to look where I was. I was not really looking at the first two guys.

Question: Rubens, many people say they are afraid to come to Sao Paulo because they say it's too dangerous. What do you think about that?

Rubens Barrichello: Don't come. If you're here, enjoy! When I went to South Africa for the first time, they told me 'bring your gun'. I was afraid. I have got a gun - be careful! So I was afraid, but when I got there, it's just a civilized country. They have problems but everywhere has problems. It's just that in Brazil you only thing you have to take care is don't go out with gold around your neck. That's the only thing I can say. I live here without problems

Question: What do you think about the ticket prices for the race? Do you think they are too high?

Rubens Barrichello: What can I say? It's not something that's up to me to organize. For sure, if they were cheaper, you would probably have more people here. If they are too cheap, it will be too crowded, so I don't know. I have no idea about that.

Question: For the three Brazilians. Tell us about your first memories of Interlagos, whether racing or watching?

Enrique Bernoldi: I'm not from Sao Paulo and the first time I came here was when I was eight years old and I came here to race in a go-kart. I was down there on the back straight where the go-kart track is and I was impressed because the level of where I used to race was very low compared to here. The first time that I watched a car racing here was when I was still racing a go-kart. We used to go up against the wall and watch Formula Three cars racing here. That was still on the old track. The first time I saw Formula One here was the first year that the Grand Prix came here. I think that was in 1990 when Senna was leading and he crashed into the back of Nakajima who was a lap behind. We were all disappointed but for me it was very nice just to be here and watch Formula One for the first time in my life. I was at that time 11 years old.

Rubens Barrichello: I'm feeling a little bit older because the first race that I saw here was back in 1979. My grandmother lives between turn one and two on the old circuit so I remember seeing a race, I think Arnoux won it back in 1979 with Andretti - he spun off in turn one and his tire came close to the house, and I was desperate to and grab it. That's my first memory of Interlagos.

Felipe Massa: I've never been here to see the race on the track. I came here for testing on a Friday and I remember Senna and Piquet, Piquet in a Benetton and Senna in a McLaren and I just saw the test and I think Senna was first and Piquet was... I don't know, I don't remember. First time I saw a race was last year. I was here in the medical car and I was on a corner and I was there for the race, and if an accident had happened, I would have had to driven quickly to the accident, but nothing happened, which was good, and I just watched the race from the car.

Question: I read that a few years ago you were working for one of the teams, doing the cooking.

Felipe Massa: Yes, that was in 1997. I didn't work. My manager has a restaurant he supplied all the food for Benetton, and I delivered the food all during the week. So I came to the track with bananas and loads of food. It was good, a good experience, just to see Formula One cars.

Question: Rubens, is there a secondary reason why Ferrari are giving you the old car and Michael the new?

Rubens Barrichello: I guess it's because Michael has more points in the championship because he's leading. It was only fair to give him the car.

Question: Rubens, now you're a father, do you feel a stronger person to withstand the pressure? How has it influenced your motivation?

Rubens Barrichello: I think quite a lot, actually. Just before coming here I was with him having a good time. It's actually made me a happier man, and by making me a happier man, it means I'm having a better life. It's changed my way of thinking a bit, not to care too much about small things and not to dislike so many things. It has made me a stronger person, for sure.

Question: Every year, the drivers blame the bumps on the circuit. Do you think the bumps are too great, and tell us about the ambience of Brazil?

Ralf Schumacher: They've tried to change the bumps over the last few years which they did quite successfully on some parts of the circuit but for me, I grew up in the country so I'm not very happy to be here in some ways. The people are very nice but the traffic is bad and the best you can be after five 'o clock at night is be in a bullet-proof car and I'm not really used to that so I don't see that as normal. I'm sure Rubens does because he lives here. It's just that when you come here every year it's really hard to see all the poor people, sitting on the street or sleeping on the street.

Question: Rubens, were you surprised by Williams's pace in Malaysia, or was it all down to the tires? Was that why Ferrari have brought the new car to Interlagos?

Rubens Barrichello: I think the reason was because the car was really competitive in Barcelona, and because we were thinking about reliability, it was a good time. The car seemed to be quite reliable in Barcelona so that's why they brought it. We were expecting, as we said, after Australia that Williams and also McLaren would be a lot more competitive in Malaysia so they were. In qualifying, they were already very close and we were expecting them to be quite competitive in the race. I think if I had finished the race, Ralf would win anyway and I would finish second - not a very close one, and I assume that we would put it down to the package altogether but a little bit more to the tire.

Source: FIA

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