Australian Grand Prix race winner Giancarlo Fisichella and Red Bull
racer David Coulthard talk of the Melbourne race as well as this
weekendís Malaysian Grand Prix.
Q: A question for you both: do you feel that your performance in
Melbourne was fairly indicative of your overall capabilities? Was
that where you expected to be?
Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Well, first of all, it was a weekend which was
affected by Saturdayís first qualifying where the weather was the
main factor of the weekend. There I have been lucky and it was easy
for me to manage the gap on Sunday morning and I started on pole.
Then, people like Michael, my team-mate, Rubens, the McLarens, they
started a little bit further back so it was a bit of a difficult
race for them but somewhere, sometime in the middle of the race, all
the drivers showed how competitive their cars were and themselves so
I think we are in good shape. We won the race because we were quick
and because we wanted to be competitive and we are quite optimistic
for this weekend.
David COULTHARD: Well, I would say the same about the qualifying.
Obviously we had a window which helped us in first qualifying, which
inevitably changed peopleís strategies for Sunday morning but we
know we were in amongst the majority in terms of our strategy Ė
maybe we could have been a couple of laps longer which certainly
would have slowed us down a bit in second qualifying but
nonetheless, our basic pace during the weekend was closer to the
fastest times than we maybe would have expected so I think
generally Ė putting to one side where we finished as a team in the
points Ė I think our overall pace is better than where they finished
with the Jaguar car, and therefore it wouldnít be a surprise if we
have opportunities again to score points, but under normal running
circumstances you would expect us to be behind the big four teams.
Q: It is, obviously, a new team in ownership. Where do you see it
lacking? Youíve been with McLaren and Williams; what does your
current team, Red Bull Racing, still need do you think?
DC: Well, all the obvious things. Thereís no problem with the people
that are involved, but you need stability and investment to develop
the technology. OK, regulations have changed again for this year a
little bit, and every year youíve got to react to those changes but
in either maintaining a partnership with the current engine supplier
or establishing a long term partnership with a manufacturer is
obviously important and understanding that as soon as possible and
increasing the investment in all areas so that the team can keep
pace of development with the other teams. So for me, thatís where we
were at race one and it was a dry race and at various points, as
Giancarlo says, you got to see what peopleís pace was so fast
forward to race nineteen: are we still maintaining that position? Of
course the dream is to reduce the gap to the big teams, but why
should we, with a smaller factory, smaller resources be able to do
that? So itís about reducing the potential increase in lap time that
you could see during the course of the season.
Q: When you look at your lap time you were just over a second off
fastest lap of the race; that must have been fairly satisfactory.
DC: Yeah, because I would believe that Fernandoís lap was a
charging, coming through the field, doing everything he could,
whereas Giancarlo was on a maintenance program because he had the
race won from the first corner and it was just about maintaining
that position. For my race, I certainly think I could have pushed a
little bit harder at certain points but there was a little bit of
uncertainty on my part as to what to expect the evolution of the car
to be, because thatís the first full distance Iíve done. In testing
we didnít quite get there, so better to be a little bit cautious and
maintain the position rather than being silly and running wide
somewhere. Itís a long-winded way of saying I could have been closer
to the fastest lap time.
Q: So youíre quite optimistic.
DC: I think that Christmas came early for the team to get two cars
in the points. Circumstances played their part but nonetheless,
thatís what a Grand Prix throws up. Weíre closer to the quickest
pace than I would have expected - than I potentially expected -
going to Melbourne, so that gives us all a boost to get on with the
job of putting things in place in the future.
Q: Giancarlo, you won by just over six seconds from somebody who
had come up from eleventh place on the grid to second. How much did
you have in reserve?
GF: Quite honestly, quite a lot. I was very calm during the race.
The only problem for me was to get through the first corner and be
the leader. As soon as I did that, I was very calm, very convinced.
The car balance was really good. Right at the end, Rubens was
catching me, particularly because I lost four or five seconds behind
Jacques. Some of my engineers told me to push a little bit. I did a
25.9s which was a very good lap time and I wasnít at the limit,
honestly, so I was very comfortable in the car and to win the race
with six seconds to Rubens was OK. The important thing was to be
first. I won the race. Iím really confident. Iím happy.
Q: Now youíve been back to Europe. Is that a little bit of a
disadvantage, do you think?
GF: No. The schedule for me was to go to the Maldives, but
unfortunately I had a problem with my son who was in hospital with
an infection. Now heís OK, heís out of hospital, but thatís the
reason why I went back to Europe.
Q: But youíve been here since TuesdayÖ
GF: Yes, Iíve been here since Tuesday morning, I landed at 7 oí
clock in Kuala Lumpur and I started a bit of a program of training
with the trainers. Iím happy. I feel OK. Itís really hot, itís going
to be a very tough race physically and mentally but Iím in good
Q: Whatís the great challenge of this circuit, particularly
looking at the tire situation?
GF: Itís a difficult situation, physically, mentally. Itís a
difficult circuit for the tires, first of all because itís going to
be very hot and then itís quite abrasive asphalt, tarmac. So for the
race, itís important to keep a good pace, but itís important to save
the tires, especially the last ten laps will be very interesting.
Itís important to be concentrated, not to make mistakes and then you
score a result.
Q: David, look at this circuit, the extremes of temperature, the
difficulty with the tires as Giancarlo was saying. Is it a situation
whereby if it works here, it will be OK for the rest of the season?
DC: Well, you think so with the majority of peopleís engines being
into the second phase of their life in warm conditions. Tire-wise, I
think if you look at the choices of the majority then whereas if you
look at what we raced here in the past, with prime and option then
both the prime and option that are here are quite conservative, so I
wouldnít expect any big problems with the tires. Yes, for sure, heat
is an issue, but they can simulate hot engines by putting lots of
tank tape on the radiators in winter testing. Itís not quite the
same, but in terms of running the engine hot you can do that, but
itís all the other parts for which this is the ultimate test.
Q: (James Allen Ė ITV): Giancarlo, you mentioned about your son.
How close did you come to not actually doing the race at all? Was
there a time at which you were thinking you might have to go back to
Europe before the race?
GF: Yeah, I knew that problem just before second qualifying. I was a
bit worried, but when I spoke with my wife, she told me Ďdonít
worry, weíre in the hospital but the worst moment has passed and we
have to be here just because the doctor wants to see him for a
couple of days.í Obviously I was really nervous and disappointed
about that, but as soon as the lights went out, I was just
concentrated on the race.
Q: (Marc Surer Ė Premiere TV): David, you always go at the
circuit in a Mercedes car. Now you are driving for a team which is
not related to a manufacturer. With what car are you arriving now?
DC: Well, Mercedes. I was part of the family for a long time and
Petra, who as you know looks after friends of the family, so I will
be using a Mercedes during the course of this year. Itís a brand new
one as well, theyíre very brave.
Q: (David Tremayne Ė The Independent): DC, a couple of questions
for you: how happy are you within the team and how important is it
for you as a driver to be in a team where it appears everyone loves
you and is giving you maximum support?
DC: I guess thatís because they donít all know me that well at the
moment, if you think they all love me! I donít really know that many
people in the team is the truth so far because my winter testing was
with the test team and obviously itís all the race team (whom Iím
working with now). So Iím still getting to know a lot of the people
but you know itís some of the people who I worked with 14 years ago
at Paul Stewart Racing. So, some of the oldest relationships I have
in motor sport are within what is Red Bull Racing now and it
obviously started with PSR. So I feel comfortable. I just want to do
my job and enjoy myself and go home. I donít need to feel the
banging the head against the brick wall frustration that sometimes
has been there in the past. Why do I want to do that through choice?
I actively pursued continuing my Grand Prix career because I enjoy
the thrill of going racing on a Sunday. The whole Grand Prix weekend
is a main source of pleasure to me, even on the bad days, so I
enjoyed the good fortune we had as a team in Melbourne and expect
that normal order will be resumed for the majority of the remaining
Grand Prix, but it still means we can do our jobs and give
direction, and give an opinion on what needs to be worked on.
Q: (David Tremayne Ė The Independent): You said in Melbourne that
the racerís instinct kicked in at the first corner, and you may be
aware that youíve been shit-canned quite a lot in certain areas of
the media as being over the hill and everything else. The
performance you gave there reminded a lot of people thatís probably
an incorrect view. What would you say to your critics after a race
DC: You know, people having an opinion on my as a driver isÖ theyíre
right and we as professional sports people earn our pennies because
of the public interest and the link between the racing, the media
and feeding the public, so I donít have a problem with people
deciding that on the face of it, armed with the information that
they have, their opinion is this.
But the reality is, of course, that you canít pass judgment - or
full judgment Ė unless youíre armed with all the facts, because
otherwise youíd never have trials for court cases for anything.
Youíd just walk in and go Ďguilty fók Ďem, lock Ďem upí. Iím armed
with all the facts, through my eyes because Iíve experienced the
emotions involved with being a Grand Prix driver and other people in
the team are armed with all the facts with their view. To the
outside world, depending on how close the relationship they have
with either me or other members of the team, then they get more or
less of the facts.
This is a long-winded way of not really answering the question in
that I donít have anything to say to the critics because Iím not
doing it for them. And yes, the media, you play an important part in
our sport and you can build a driver and you can break a driver, but
you know I probably did more damage on my own, through the
difficulties I had with one lap qualifying, than any single person
just saying Ďoh yeah, he should go off and do something else.í I
donít want to do something else.
Q: (Azrul Ananda Ė Jawa Pos): David, you spent so many years with
McLaren which is a very tidy team, very neat team, everything is so
organized, you tuck your shirts in. Now youíre in Red Bull which is
more relaxed; how do you feel about the difference?
DC: Well, I think McLarenís T-shirts are untucked now. Life is
becoming a little bit less formal generally, but yes, of course
McLaren has a very regimented way of operating internally and
externally, but itís people who are on the inside, and when you know
those people then itís as friendly as any other environment and I
certainly donít judge a team by how accessible it is to the outside
world, because frankly speaking, when youíre doing a job, the
minimum distractions you have Ė which means less people about the
team Ė then the better it is, you can just concentrate. Iím sure
Giancarlo doesnít mind me saying that I thought it was quite telling
in Melbourne, when I was leaving the paddock, I popped into Renault
just to say well done on his victory, and he was sitting alone in a
room. I can totally relate to why he would be doing that, because he
was wanting to savor the moment for himself, not being out there
being asked lots of questions and being harangued by people. The
inner motivation, the inner voice Ė sometimes you have to talk to
yourself a little bit to enjoy it, and not having too many people
around is a good thing.
Q: (James Allen Ė ITV): Giancarlo, in the build-up to this
season, everyone has been talking about this extraordinary battle
between Raikkonen and Montoya, the team mateís duel that everyone
has been savoring the prospect of, but the reality is that the
battle between you and Fernando is every bit as exciting and every
bit as intense. What does it feel like from the inside? Obviously
Melbourne wasnít a typical race, and heís saying ĎI donít count
Melbourne because of what happenedí but what do you feel in terms of
the battle youíre having with him?
GF: Aah, itís going to be tough. Honestly, itís nice to work with
Fernando. Heís a very a nice guy, thereís a very good friendship
between me and him. We work together which is very important for the
team and I think heís one of the best drivers in Formula One. Heís
quick and consistent during the race, so itís going to be
interesting to see how it is at the end of the season between me and
him. But for sure itís going to be tough.
Q: (Rami Tuisku Ė Ilta Sanomat): David, how does it feel now you
donít have a Finnish driver as your teammate? (Laughter)
DC: I have to buy my own vodka now. (Laughter) Iím enjoying the
relationship Iím having with Christian (Klien) and Tonio (Liuzzi)
because theyíre younger guys and developing their lives; so weíve
been training together and doing things that I never did with Mika
or with Kimi. At the end of the day, itís great if you can get along
with your teammate because it just makes the whole weekend more
pleasurable, but ultimately youíre out there trying to do your own
Q: (Wolfgang Rother Ė Premiere TV): Michael Schumacher was
heavily criticized after his move against Nick Heidfeld (in
Melbourne). Some media wrote about harsh Rambo-style driving and
there might be some aggressive feelings among the drivers now, and
there might be even some come-back in the next race. What is your
opinion about the move and the feeling?
DC: I did watch the race afterwards and my opinion of
it, and I do
have the benefit of being in the car Ė youíve got to remember that
he, sitting in the car, all he can see is this little mirror to make
a judgment where the other car is, so itís not as clear in the car
as it is from the outside. From the outside, he does appear to
squeeze, once Nick had already put himself towards the inside, would
be the obvious observation to make and then once Nick is on the
grass, and there is only one way heís going is into the side of
Michael. What we donít see clearly from the television wasÖ did Nick
just brake too late on the dust and was he always going to run into
him? Even if Michael hadnít squeezed him onto the grass, would he
still have hit him, but just at the apex?
So I think clearly Michael did move but I think thereís a bit of
over-reaction saying that heís Rambo and thereís a big push-back.
When I see him, and when we talk in the driversí briefing, the GPDA
meeting on Friday evening, then that will be one of the things that
Iíll raise and weíll talk about it and Iím sure Michael will give
his opinion but ultimately it gives you all something to talk about,
doesnít it? It was great Giancarlo winning but having an incident
adds to the spectacle.
For me, what was more questionable was the
marshals running across the track. At one point there were about
four or five marshals running from where, several years ago, a
marshal was killed, across the racing line to give him (Schumacher)
a push, for a privileged service - heíd obviously paid his valet
parking ticket beforehand. Iím not saying you donít want cars on the
track, because when thereís only 20 cars out there, you need them
all running but I know how difficult that corner is. If a driver did
make a mistake, you could, even with a yellow flag, you could end up
sliding off into somewhere.
GF: I think maybe Michaelís maneuver was to disturb Nick Heidfeld.
Maybe Nick was braking a bit too late and heís gone onto the gravel
and he couldnít stop the car. At the end of the race the marshal
(stewards) didnít give them any advertising (warning) so I think it
Q: (Heinz Pruller Ė ORF TV): Giancarlo, before the season began,
a lot of people said you would be the ideal driver for the
championship this year because you use the tires better etc. Could
you say you confirmed this in Melbourne and this is your own
GF: Well, we are just at the first race, at the start of the season.
Yes, I won the first race but we still have 18 races to go. I feel
confident to be quick, to fight for the podium, to fight to win a
race sometimes because I have a great car, I have a great team and I
feel confident, physically and mentally. So if we continue to be
competitive, if we continue to do the right development on the
package, I think we can try to win the championship, why not?
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