Brazilian GP - Thursday Press Conference

October 22, 2004

First part of this Thursday's FIA press conference with Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and Ricardo Zonta (Toyota).  Second part with David Coulthard (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Sauber) follows below first part.

A question for both of you: itís your home Grand Prix, how do you approach it? You have different circumstances in each case.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Well, first of all, Iím so happy for Ricardo that heís here, because when they said that Jarno was joining, it was probably a nice thing for Toyota, but as Ricardo had a chance to drive in some Grands Prix, this is probably the best one, so itís nice to have him here.

For me, it used to be a good Grand Prix always, but there used to be pressure. In all the phases that Iíve gone through in my life, especially after Jordan, I had to change my attitude and I had to send the emotions away from everything that I do, so I was actually joking with one of our Italian friends, saying that you donít have to believe in things, just because I havenít finished the last ten races, it doesnít mean that I wonít finish again. I have to remember the good times. I donít believe in bad luck at all. So the weekend is just nice. I have a lot of work to do. Iíve been with the press for a long time now. Actually this is probably the first time that Iíve been speaking in English. Iíve just finished on press conference in Portuguese about five minutes ago. But itís a good race. Itís one that I enjoy and itís a race where after a hard dayís work I can go back home and sleep in my bed. Itís just so good.

Ricardo ZONTA: I feel very happy to have the chance to race in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Of course, so many things have happened this year at Toyota and they have given me the chance to race again. There have been so many changes and Iím just very happy to be here, in Sao Paulo and I will try to do my best. Of course, we have to work very hard to see if we have the possibility to finish well.

Ricardo, just give us an idea of your history at this circuit? I think youíve done quite a lot of racing here; what does that do for your confidence?
RZ: Of course, racing in Brazil you want to do better and better all the time, but I started here in Formula Opel, then Formula Three. I did my second race in Formula One here and I crashed and I had a problem with my feet. But I think the motivation that you have with Brazilian people and everybody crying and saying your name is very nice. But when you are racing, you go 100 percent at any racing circuit. Here itís just extra motivation.

Has it been a bit of a problem, popping in and out of Formula One? You replaced Cristiano, then you missed out in Japan and now youíve come back again.
RZ: In China I felt very strange. I felt that something had happened in the team. Of course I didnít have the position to push for anything. I was just the test driver. Of course they gave me the opportunity to race this year and I felt something strange. After that, they said it could be Olivier or me not racing in Japan, and Brazil as well, so in the end they gave me the chance to race here and Olivier was quite nice as well, because you know how he feels these things.

How about the races youíve had so far with Toyota; you seem to have had a lot of mechanical trouble?
RZ: Yeah, in Spa, of course, I was fourth in the race with three laps to go, but at the end I had the engine problem. It would have been my best result, it would have been the best result for Toyota as well and then in China, I was eighth, fighting with Felipe Massa for eighth position and I had a gearbox problem and I had to stop, so it was quite a difficult year for me.

As a local boy, whatís the weather forecast? I hear it could be quite interesting.
RB: Itís cooler than last week. You know Brazilís weather can be quite funny. Itís so difficult to know. I donít think weíre going to have rain on Sunday but anything can happen. Iím thinking that all the time we have hot weather during the weekend, sometimes we have the rain during the weekend, so Iím just seeing the opposite now. Weíre seeing the bad weather now and probably itís going to become better. But Iím saying that because of pure feeling, I donít have any information.

Now I understand that when you played football the other day, you and Michael scored a goal eachÖ
RB: I scored a goal and Michael scored on a penalty, which is quite different... (Laughter). ... which is quite different. You know with the penalty you just choose one side and then you let it go.

So youíre feeling one up at the moment are you?
RB: Exactly. Even though now theyíre saying that I was offside and so on. Itís a bit of a thing that happens sometimes when youíre a good player and you score well, it happens in Brazil. (Laughter).

So when it comes to the race itself are you expecting any favours from Michael this weekend?
RB: No, not at all. To be very honest, when you have a kind of a friend insideÖ itís just like we are with Ricardo, Montoya, Alonso and so on. Whenever heís racing in his own place, you hope that he does well. It would have been lovely for Sato to finish on the podium in Japan. I think this is the same. At the bottom of his heart, Michael would like for me to finish quite well here, but if he had to decide whether he was going to win or let me win, Iím sure he would choose for himself to win. So Iím not expecting any presents, I donít want any presents, Iím feeling as good as ever. Iím lucky that I can be here with a competitive car, in the state of mind that Iím feeling right now, just feeling good and Iím just putting in first gear tomorrow and just seeing my people and going for it. Itís a lovely racing track for me. I think itís one of the best in terms of overtaking. Iíve heard that theyíve done something to the surface of the asphalt, but they didnít get the results that they were expecting, so maybe tomorrow we are actually saying that the track is a little bit bumpy, as usual, so itís no different and Iím feeling good, Iím feeling good. Is this the time I can win? Iíve no idea and I donít care. Weíre going to see on Sunday afternoon and itís just that it will depend much on me and much on the team that is putting in so much effort and giving me the chance to go for it.

How much did those two wins in China and Italy, how much of a difference did that make for you?
RB: Well, to be honest, if I got to Brazil without any wins, feeling that this was the last race and trying to do that, it would have been very difficult, in terms of just a pure mind game. It would have been very difficult. I think the two races were fantastic. The Japanese Grand Prix was a bit of a problem in terms of everything, but I had the speed to win the race as well if it wasnít for the qualifying and so on, so Iím feeling good. I think the two races certainly promoted a good state of mind. After Michael won the championship, I think the team relaxed in a way that gave the chance for both drivers to have a chance to win. The team is giving me a VIP feeling and Iím feeling good.

Just one final question on a different subject: we have a situation with Jenson Button whereby the Contract Recognition Board has judged that he will drive for BAR but he has already stated that he wants to drive for Williams. How does that affect a driver; just put yourself in his shoes; what would you be feeling now?
RB: First of all, I would have resolved the matter inside closed doors. I wouldnít have told the press what I wanted to do before anything went to the public, because for me, it would have been much more simple. Secondly, I think that itís very hard to drive for a team if you wish for another one. Itís just like having a girlfriend that you donít want any more, you want the other one. What do you do? I want to kiss that one, but this one is sticking with me. Itís all a bit of a difficult situation.

(Frederic Ferret Ė LíEquipe) Rubens, as you are the oldest driver of the three Brazilians, what do you think of the other two, Ricardo and Felipe?
RB: Not because Ricardo is here, but Iíve always said to the press that I didnít think Ricardo had a chance to drive at BAR. I think there was too much pressure and probably the time there with Jacques wasnít good at all. When I saw him behind me and pushing me in Spa, I wanted to protect my position, but when I saw smoke, I really wished that it wasnít him because he deserved the points there, and I think he deserved the points in Formula One, so it was just a shame that it went up in the air. But I think he does have a place in Formula One, and people should take him a little more seriously.

On Felipe, he has matured quite a lot inside Ferrari. He has still had an up-and- down season this year with Giancarlo. In terms of speed, I think he matches Giancarlo quite well. In terms of pure results, itís been a bit difficult because of all the problems heís had but he has the talent, so if he has a good set-up in terms of mind management and progresses, just keeps on going, heís going to have a good year and probably he can win races in the future as well.

(Frederic Ferret) Did you help Felipe last year when he was with Ferrari?
RB: As much as I could. We had Burti there as well. I tried to have Luciano in the team because he was a good test driver, he was a good driver so it was good for him to be there and it was nice to have Felipe there because heís a young talent, so you are always trying to see what people can do on your car. Obviously heís quite young, so when he came he was trying to learn all the time and all the things that he asked me, I managed to answer, no problem.

(Dan Knutson Ė National Speed Sport News) Rubens, one of your other home tracks, Silverstone, may not host another British Grand Prix. What do you think of that?
RB: Well, the comments are the same as everyone: I just think itís a shame. There are a couple of tracks that we should get rid of in the calendar, to be honest with you. I wouldnít name them, because that would be bad, but Silverstone isnít one of them. If there is a political problem or a financial problem, I donít know and itís none of my business but it is a shame. Itís a circuit which is fantastic to drive and I would be very sorry not to visit England for the first time in my whole life.

(Andrea Cremonesi Ė La Gazzetta dello Sport) Rubens, have you had any chance to test new parts for 2005 and how do you expect the car to be with the new regulations?
RB: I expect the car to be slower, certainly, but weíre trying to prepare ourselves well to gain back everything that we lose with the new rules. The main factor next year will be the fact that we are going to have one tyre for the whole weekend which, I donít think Formula One is prepared for, in a way. I donít think itís a goodÖ Iím sorry to be direct about that but didnít dream of Formula One, when I was a karter, to be racing on one tyre. The tyre manufacturers want to win races and they will take everything to its limit, to be quick and reliable. But maybe someone could suffer, from testing or could suffer from anything. Although Iím such a believer that weíre going to get to the end with Bridgestone, setting up everything, next year might be too early for that and Iím a little bit afraid in terms of safety. So Iím not in favour of the one tyre rule. Iím in favour of the engine, the engine seems to be going quite well and two races seems to be OK and if you have a failure, you have to change engines and lose ten positions. It might make a better show for Formula One, thatís OK, but the one tyreÖ I used to race one tyre per year in go- kart because I didnít have money (laughter) but thatís a completely different thing.

(Adrian Rodriguez-Huber Ė Agencia EFE) Rubens, who do you think will be your rivals this year in Sao Paulo, and is Fernando Alonso one of them?
RB: I think he could be. I think BAR is going to be very strong. We have a circuit here which depends very much on the aerodynamics but also the power of the engine going up the hill. In the past, Renault has been quite strong. I think last year they were a bit stronger in that they were competitive in almost every race. This year they have been up and down the whole season, so itís difficult to actually say yes, Fernando is going to be there. I predict that McLaren is going to be quite strong here from what Iíve been seeing in terms of aerodynamics and so on. I think they have quite a quick car, in terms of cornering and pace and so on. So I predict they will be very strong.

Williams have also had a difficult season. They have been up and down all the time, but many times they have been competitive in qualifying but not as competitive on race day. Iím not actually discarding any of the other teams Ė maybe Toyota can be in the top eight in qualifying, maybe have a good pace in the race as theyíve shown so many times in the past Ė which I hope anyway, but Iím not saying that because Iím saying McLaren or Williams are definitely out or Renault are definitely out. Itís not like that. I mean that I will say that the main contenders could be McLaren, the rest will always be strong. Interlagos is a track where weíve seen in the past the first six covered by just 0.3s so it could well be half the field that could have a good weekend.

(Dan Knutson) Assuming that Silverstone could be on the calendar next year, it would mean 19 races. From inside the team, how much strain does that put on the personnel?
RB: I personally like the idea, because the toughest time for us is the testing. It is tough, when you finish Sundayís race and you go direct to Jerez and you test Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Thatís quite hard. When you start from Wednesday, thatís a different matter. But I can see that you put a bit more effort on the mechanics and so on, but in terms of drivers, I think you actually have peaceful time.

RZ: I think itís very important to have a test driver, because many times the race drivers are so busy during the race weekend they get stress and everything. When they then have three or four days testing itís very hard, also for the mechanics itís very hard.

(Jose Emilio Aguiar Ė Extra) How did you manage your time before this race, did you spend time with your son, did you have any special preparation for this race?
RB: For the very first time I was lucky that I didnít test between the races, so I was able to come straight to Brazil and I got here on the Monday right after Japan, so I was able to stay with my family, I was able to capitalise a little bit on the time difference because it took me two or three days to get going on the sleeping, because in between China and Japan I stayed over there, so I was on different timing for over twenty days. Iíve been training, training quite hard, I think physically Interlagos is not easy, but Iíve spend time with my family - it was over 20 days without seeing my son, so Iíve had a chance to play Ė Silvana said last week she didnít know which one was the kid, so I definitely spent good time with him.

Ricardo, what can you realistically expect from this race, because Toyota had a very difficult season. What position do you expect here?
RZ: Well, this track is not so easy for us, because itís so bumpy and if you look at Budapest, another track that is so bumpy and we had so many problems but of course, the last time I raced here in Formula One was in 2000 and itís difficult to say to you now which position we can stay in during the race or qualifying. I think weíre going to see how the car goes tomorrow in practice.

(Andrea Cremonesi) For both of you, during the weekend there will be a show with Bruno Senna driving a Lotus that his uncle drove. Will there be special emotion for you?
RZ: Of course. With many Brazilian people here, I think it will be very emotional, also for us. Itís something for us, very emotional as well.

RB: I think many people will be coming to the race circuit to see the race, but many of them will have the pleasure to see that car running again. Itís definitely a plus that Sennaís car will be driven again. I wish I could drive the car; itís going to be nice.

Ricardo, what have been the biggest problems since last year to this?
RZ: Of course, last year we scored good points. We had some good positions, but this year itís proved very difficult to compare. Weíve had improvements from the aerodynamics but at the same time the other teams have improved as well, so many times luck hasnít been with us as well so we had car problems when we didnít score points. In the race the car is not perfect. In qualifying, OK, but in the race we have big tyre degradation and also the speed is not good enough to score points.

Second and final part of this Thursday's FIA press conference with David Coulthard (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Sauber).

Felipe this is your home race and David potentially your last race. What are your thoughts coming into this? First of all Felipe.
Felipe MASSA: Iím really happy to make my home Grand Prix and Iím looking forward to it. We donít know about the weather but I hope it will be fine and we can do a good race. Hopefully we can get points, which would be fantastic for me.

David this has actually been a good circuit for you in some ways. And Rubens was just saying he reckons McLaren are going to be tough.
David COULTHARD: I think it is a circuit I enjoy. Iíve gone well here in the past and if you remember last year I ended up pitting at the wrong time, just before I think Alonso crashed his car and there was a red flag. As far a year ago goes, I think I had a good chance of winning the race, so Iím looking forward to getting out there and seeing how the car performs. It is actually quite a short lap and last year in qualifying was incredibly close and I expect that more so this year.

How does the future look at the moment?
DC: As we speak I donít have a contract to drive in Formula One next season, but clearly there is a drive available at Williams and I think if there is a candidate available, my credentials are stronger than anyoneís out there. Iíve got pole positions, Iíve won Grands Prix, and Iíve got a lot of experience of developing cars, tyre development. Itís been quite surprising the amount of interest from sponsors because over the last few years Iíve never had an outlet for that because at McLaren you donít carry your own personal sponsors and badges. Iíve been contacted by people wanting to know what my future is and if they can be involved. In terms of that sort of thing it is a pretty exciting time and now that Williams remains the last competitive seat available, Iíve got to do everything I can to try and make them realise that I am the best of the drivers available.

What are your best memories of McLaren?
DC: Iím not good at doing the looking back thing. When you get these typical drivers questions you know Ė favourite circuit? That is easy Spa. But when it goes into things like favourite food, favourite actress, it is not something I do. So the best memories of McLaren? The Grand Prix victories have been very enjoyable, the 12 Iíve had with McLaren. The unpleasant memories have been the victories I have given away. But you spend nine years with a group of people and obviously you build up relationships. There are some friendships, some acquaintances and some I donít know because the team is always changing.

So you think there is possible potential in the future, and itís not looking too bad?
DC: Not at all. You decide you are getting older because youíve been doing this for a few years, but it is an exciting time. With uncertainly, if you have motivation to want to continue and then you get up and work and see what you can see. Obviously in this situation is not just down to your desire, it takes a number of other people to believe and want to give you an opportunity.

Going onto a slightly different subject, Jenson ButtonÖthe Contract Recognition Board has ruled in favour of BAR. Just put yourself in his shoes. What does a driver feel if he doesnít want to drive and he perhaps wants to drive for someone else?
DC: I think it is impossible to play that game and put yourself in someone elseís shoes. You can get someone else to try to do that. Journalists do that and put themselves in someoneís shoes. It is easy with the benefit of hindsight to say I would have done that Ė what an idiot, why did you do that?

We are trying to get it more accurate?
DC: Ask him. Ask him how do you feel driving for a team that you didnít want to drive for because you had lost faith in them. Iím sure you will get a no comment answer because now he has to maintain the relationship for at least another year and possibly more.

Felipe, your feelings about the year so far?
FM: I feel this year was very good for me. I had a bit of problems at the beginning of the year. But after we started to work in the wind tunnel, the car improved a lot and I did as well. I think the second part of the year was very good for me. I was all the time very competitive and I was competitive with Giancarlo and with other drivers as well. Iím just looking forward, Iíve not gone backwards. My races have been very quick and consistent. The second half of the year has been good for me and it should also be for next year as well. In terms of the car, that has improved a lot, and the Bridgestones, and Iím really looking forward.

You have the confidence to stay with the team next year. How much of a jump do you think you can make?
FM: It is very difficult to stay. Everyone wants to be first next year, and it difficult to know how much better we are going to be. I think that we are learning every race and we are improving. Even in 2002 it was difficult to develop the car and it is fantastic now to see how much the car improves. But about next year, it is difficult to say. I think we will have a very good year and a competitive car.

(Tony Dodgins Ė Motorsport News) A question for David. I just want to ask you about Silverstone with the scenario rumbling on. It seems to me there is money in the sport and you are a man with BRDC gold stars. Do you think the situation is avoidable, regrettableÖ?
DC: Although I am a BRDC member, if you have ever been along to any of the award ceremonies in the past, I am a non-active member at the moment because obviously my full attention goes to my job of driving racing cars. So as to whether it could have been avoided in terms of what the BRDC has done, I donít know. In terms of brainpower and people of hands on experience of Formula One with the BRDC, I canít imagine that they have got it wrong. Therefore it would appear from what I am reading from FOM, and that is my only knowledge of it, that it is a pure commercial thing from Bernieís organisation to run the Grand Prix.

In a nutshell what he says about how much money he charges other venues and how much he can earn by taking the Grand Prix somewhere else is the beginning of the end of it. You know you sell your services to whoever it happens to be, do you want to do a cut price deal to the local newspaper? You might do because you have probably done good in the area, but you are not going to sustain your lifestyle on that. Taking an emotional view, which we all do, certainly of the peopleÖmost of the people who eventually end up in Formula One have come through Silverstone, whether it be the foreign drivers or not - if you have come through the lower formulaes. Silverstone has played a big part in the development of drivers, engineers, journalists, fans Ė it has done as much for Formula One as any other circuit that I can imagine. It is a regrettable situation and I hope it can be rectified and we can have a Grand Prix at Silverstone. Not because...it is not the best driversí circuit in the world but it is by a long way better than some of the modern tracks we have raced on recently from a driversí point of view. I donít see what facilities are worse than what we are surrounded by here.

(Dan Knutson Ė National Speed Sport News) Iím sure you guys have heard they are voting on a new qualifying system for next year, qualifying one on Saturday and qualifying two on Sunday morning Ė combine the two times. Your opinions on that, and hopefully David you are around for that next yearÖ
FM: Well, I heard but the qualifying on the Sunday at the last race was a bit different to normal. It is better to have qualifying on Saturday and on Sunday the race. If you have two qualifying the most important one would be on the Sunday and not on Saturday. Looking for the Brazilian people, Sunday morning in Europe is very early here and no one will wake to watch the qualifying and on Saturday they can watch because it is not so early. I think the people in Europe could watch but not the people in Brazil and I think this is not good for Formula One. We could have a good time watching qualifying on a Saturday.

DC: I think the combined time thing is the way to keep people interested in Saturday and Sunday qualifying. For me personally I think the time it was on Sunday morning I wasnít giving consideration to the race fans around the world. At the moment Sunday morning, I donít know how you feel, is a waste of your life. We are living in real time here and Sunday morning you are giving away half a day of your life doing nothing. A few waves to the crowd and going out on the parade lap and then the paddock club, you canít really enjoy it. I think the challenge of going out and qualifying in the car, you feel that you are receiving something, and then having a race in the afternoon. The combined thing would be a way of having people interested on both days but it just doesnít feel right. I canít give a solid reason why it shouldnít work because if we say we are doing it we will all get used to it. It is not about a marathon; it is about how quick you are that day and not about how many marathons you have done in your life. It is not an accumulation of all the marathons you have done in your life or the 100 metres, it is about the final and in the final you either get it right or you donít. So to have qualifying added up over two days it is losing a bit about what qualifying is about. It is about man and machine on that day in history and driving the nuts off it.

(Dan Knutson) You had a battle with your future team- mate at the last race. What are your thoughts on Jacques Villeneuve?
FM: For me it is very nice having Jacques as a team-mate, a world champion and it will be interesting for me to have a team-mate like this. Iím looking forward to it, hope to do a good job, be competitive and to be in front of him would be fantastic for me. It was a good fight at the last race, but it was not the only fight I had in the race. It was the only fight they showed on the television. There was a good fight at the start of the race, and a good fight with Montoya. It was a nice fight but it was not the only one.

Source FIA

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