San Marino GP:
Thursday Press Conference
Giancarlo Fisichella, Nick Heidfeld, Vitantonio Liuzzi and
April 21, 2005
Ahead of the first practice of the San Marino Grand Prix which takes
place on Friday at 11.00AM CET, Giancarlo Fisichella, Nick Heidfeld,
Vitantonio Liuzzi and Michael Schumacher talk of the season so far
and their hopes for the coming race weekend and beyond.
Q: A question I am going to be asking all of you: about new
developments on your cars for this weekend and what you’re hoping
from them? Giancarlo, I believe you have a new spec engine this
weekend and new aerodynamics?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah. I have the B-spec engine which is a bit
lighter. It is not stronger but we can run with a bit more revs and
a new front wing. That’s all.
Q: And how have they gone in testing?
GF: Not too bad. We had a good test at Paul Ricard and it looks (as
though it’s) a small improvement so already our package looks really
good and those things look promising, yeah.
Q: You ran a car in Rome last weekend; tell us about that?
GF: Yeah, it was a fantastic day for me because that road show in
Rome was exactly the first time for me…it was a really exciting day
because I was born in Rome and running with a Formula One car, in
front of all my friends, my children, a lot of fans, was fantastic.
But unfortunately the weather conditions weren’t fantastic, it was
raining, but apart from that, more than 25,000 people came to watch
it, so it was good anyway.
Q: I should think Roman streets in the rain was quite
interesting, fairly slippery?
GF: It was very slippery because it was wet and it was really bumpy,
but it wasn’t a race weekend. It was good to show everyone what a
Formula One car can do and especially to listen to the engine noise
was nice for the people.
Q: The season for you has been very much up and down, obviously
with the win in Australia followed by the problems in the next two
races. What are your feelings, particularly as your team mate
obviously capitalized on that?
GF: I told you we have a good car, a good package and we won the
first three races. Unfortunately, in Malaysia I had a problem with
the front flap which I lost just after the pit stop, and in the last
race I blew the engine just after two laps, so I was really
disappointed for that because I couldn’t score some more points,
points which are very important for the championship for drivers.
But I am looking forward, because I have a great car, I have a great
team, and here we are in my home Grand Prix so I try to do my best
to get on the podium again. Obviously the dream is to win again. But
it is going to be quite difficult, especially because in the first
qualifying session I will be one of the first guys around the
circuit and the circuit will be much better at the end of
Q: Nick, how are the modifications on the car, what are you
Nick Heidfeld: As in the last couple of races, here again we have a
few new aero parts which I am sure are going to improve the car but
we have to wait and see how the other cars have improved as well.
Q: And you tested them?
NH: Some of them, yes, but a lot of them we didn’t, as in the last
races. We have quite a strong belief in our wind tunnel now. It
worked for the last couple of races. We just got the parts just
before the weekend. We put them on and they usually worked.
Q: Now, I believe you had a shoulder injury; is that OK now? What
NH: It’s fine. It happened testing in Paul Ricard. I didn’t crash,
it was just unfortunately that while driving, probably going over a
bump or something, a muscle went into spasm and it’s still a bit
irritated now but it is not going to be a problem for the weekend.
Q: Now you have settled into Williams. I don’t think they were
expecting such a good start to the season, but has it surprised you?
NH: Yes, I think it has surprised all of us, especially after
testing. In testing we were not happy with the car at all but
already by the first race, we made such big improvements that we
were in a reasonable position and after that I was able to finish on
the podium in Malaysia and it was certainly more than we had hoped
for since we got the new car. Obviously we would have hoped to be
even stronger than that but we are all working very hard.
Q: So, it’s been a nice pleasant surprise…
NH: Yes and no. It was a pleasant surprise from what we have seen
when we launched the car but then again, we would have hoped for a
stronger start whereby we would have hoped to be able to win races
straightaway, of course.
Q: Vitantonio, modifications on the car?
Vitantonio Liuzzi: Yes of course. We had some new developments on
the aerodynamic side and on the electronic side which we tested in
Barcelona and we did a shakedown this week at Silverstone and we
are looking forward to this week. It seems quite OK. We improved a
little bit but for sure, as Nick was saying, everyone is developing
the car and we have to see our level. Fortunately Imola is a track
which fits in quite well with the whole team so we are looking
forward to the weekend.
Q: What about the role of third driver which you have been
filling up to now. Has that been frustrating or did you always know
that you were going to get these three races?
VL: In our team we knew from the beginning that me and Christian
would share, since we sat in the car for the first time in December.
Fortunately the situation has been quite clear between us. When it
was decided he would drive the first three races, I was OK. For sure
it is difficult to see the other person racing on television,
because we are born for racing and we would like to be there. But I
accepted this situation because it was good for me, I learned the
first three circuits which I had never been to before and now
fortunately it is my turn in Imola, in my home country, and it is
great to be here as a driver.
Q: Red Bull, seems to have a different attitude to Formula One…
VL: Are you sure? It seems like it?
Q: … and so do you, when I saw you under the trees in Bahrain
surrounded by pretty girls.
VL: Of course, since Red Bull bought Jaguar, everything changed in
the team. I think also from our side in the paddock, because I think
the team has put in a bit more life, because they have a big change,
they have a really big attitude, big mentality and they are showing
to everyone that when they do things they do things right, they do
it properly. So I think, as they show with the motorhome, as they’ve
shown in the past with some events, they are really great.
Mateschitz has got a great mentality and I think that as he is
supporting the team for this kind of event with these facilities, he
is doing it for the team. We are pushing to improve the car and we
are putting a lot of effort into it and I think we will get a lot of
Q: Michael, developments on the car. Have there been developments
Michael Schumacher: Yeah, we have a new aero package here, on the
tire side we have improved, or we have a different construction at
least. I think that’s about it.
Q: What about the gearbox? There were some worries about the
gearbox and it does suffer here over the curbs. Are there worries
MS: No, the curbs, anyway, don’t make worries to the gearbox. We
have had a few situations which strangely enough, did not seem to
appear during testing but I think we understood that and sorted it.
Q: So you’re quite confident that you’re not going to have the
reliability problems from Bahrain.
MS: As confident as you can be with a Formula One car, honestly. A
Formula One car is a prototype and it might stop at any point in any
day. It hasn’t been doing that for a long long time for me. In
Bahrain I stopped because of a problem with last year’s part but
they can still fail at certain times but I think we have a good
record and we shouldn’t be too concerned.
Q: You’ve said that your championship really begins here…
MS: In a way I haven’t done too much so far. Coming here to Imola
with the preparation we have been doing, we are reasonable confident
that we can fight back.
Q: Can you clear up the story about the discussions with Jean
Todt concerning the extension to your contract? Is that the case?
MS: You have to put it from the start. The question was does Ferrari
talk about Fernando. I said that from my point of view, they talk
less about Fernando rather than Jean having conversations in private
relationship about my future. These are more the subject than talk
about other drivers.
Q: So you are actually in discussion about an extension to your
MS: I have had a private chat, we are not in discussions. It is
quite open to me about when and what time I want to extend my
contract. I think it’s the best situation I can live in. I have open
doors any time I want to take a decision I’m welcome to do so and
the team supports that.
Q: (Dusko Dragic - Ekipa) How much satisfaction do you get out of
helping people by donating money, as you did for the Tsunami, and
then when you stop and help someone at the side of the road, when
the person knows who has helped them, the difference between helping
someone individually as opposed to putting a lot of money into a
Michael Schumacher: What can I say, it has been a long time back
that I have thought
about this and in 1990 I won two races behind each other in Formula
Three and got quite high prize money. And while I was about to win
this race, that was my thought, what I was going to do with this
money, who I could help with this money. So, ever since then I try
to help other people who have difficulties. There is always, if you
look amongst your friendships, initially there are always a lot of
people you can help in your family and after that it goes beyond
that. It is a good satisfaction seeing the smile of kids you have
helped. I have been in Sarajevo, with kids together, in other
places, it’s nice.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Michael, can you talk a bit about
Bahrain? Obviously, you retired early, what sort of shape are you
in, specifically the tires, and how do you think you would have been
over the last ten laps of the race? How was that weekend for you?
MS: I think the weekend certainly was better than I expected it to
be after the Malaysia experience. I think it is fair to say that I
would have had some sort of problem like Rubens had, but how extreme
it would have been is an open point, because starting from the back
of the field and working your way through uses your tires in a
different way than I was doing behind Fernando, I didn’t have to
work too hard behind him, just go a nice and steady pace without
pushing the tires, but it is difficult to say how bad it would have
been for me because there would have been a point at some stage
before the first pit stop and I think I could have taken action
against the big drama that we had with Rubens at the end, but where
it would have put me in the end, my feeling is I still would have
been on the podium.
Q: (Thierry Tassin – RTBF Belgian TV) Michael, just going back to
Bahrain, you were right behind Alonso, what were the good points of
the Renault for the first three Grands Prix?
MS: Probably the point that after Malaysia where we were so far away
we saw in Bahrain where we were back and we can fight those guys. It
is not out of our reach any more.
Q: (Thierry Tassin – RTBF Belgian TV) What are the strong points
of the Renault?
MS: I think they have not one particular strong point. As it has
always been for me as well in the past, there is not one thing only
that is a reason for success, it is a package, it goes through the
car, the tires, the engine and everything. Everything has to be
right and they have managed to do a very good job on that.
Q: (Luciano Clerico - ANSA) Michael, you are German, the new Pope
is German, what does it mean for you and for Germany?
MS: Put it this way, for me it is not so important that I am German,
the new Pope is German and what does it mean for Germany because who
is the Pope? The Pope is a person who looks after the whole world,
and whether he is German or whatever nationality, I don’t think that
is important. Certainly, for me, I am an international person myself
and for me it’s not about nationality but who the person is.
Q: (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) Michael, following on from
the question about talks earlier, what are the factors that would
encourage you to continue?
MS: What I have right now. I have said this many times. My love for
the sport is so high that I still like to continue, but I don’t see
any reason to fix myself too early.
Q: (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) When do you actually need
to begin talking to Jean Todt?
MS: That was what I was just trying to say before, they leave it
open for me. Open means open.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Michael, just continuing on that
theme, as I recall you have actually said what you love about racing
is winning, as distinct from the sport in general. When you are not
winning, and I am sure you will be winning, we all hope you will be
winning again soon, but when you are not winning and you have to
fight from the midfield, do you enjoy your life as much as a Formula
MS: If I can fight my way through from the middle of the field to
the back of the field, that wouldn’t be the thing I would want to
do, that is pretty certain, yes.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) What about the racing at the
MS: That’s pretty nice. That’s a challenge. You can see ahead, we
have a chance to win.
Q: (Byron Young – Speed Sport News) Michael, can you see yourself
driving for Ferrari to the end of your career, whether it is a
couple of years or ten years?
Q: (Byron Young – Speed Sport News) Sorry, can you just say why?
Is it the comfort factor, obviously as we said just now…
MS: I think it is very obvious why I want to do this. It is much
more than comfort. It goes beyond many things, it is difficult for
you to imagine maybe. There are a lot of good people around.
Q: (Byron Young – Speed Sport News) Sorry, is it the support you
get from the team, they back you up, the effort they put into Grand
Prix racing, all those things?
MS: It is a bit of everything, and even more.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Vitantonio, your first Grand Prix,
by how much would you want to out-qualify DC in order to feel happy
at the end of the day?
Vitantonio Liuzzi: I will do my best and, for me, as long as I am in
front it will be good. But it won’t be that easy because this is my
first race and everything is new for me, qualifying in just one lap,
so it will not be that easy, but if I can have the chance to be in
front that would be great.
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