Spanish GP: Thursday
May 5, 2005
Thursday FIA press conference with the following
drivers: Christijan Albers (Minardi), Fernando Alonso (Renault),
Felipe Massa (Sauber), Tiago Monteiro (Jordan), Juan Pablo Montoya
Christijan, you were testing at Mugello last week, how
did that go with the new car?
Christijan ALBERS: It was quite important to have a test because we
had the new car for the first time and we still had some problems, so
it was really important for the Minardi team to go to Mugello to have
a good test. The first day was not so impressive. I had a little
shunt with our test driver, but the second day I was really happy, we
found a lot of time in the car and we have to see what we are going
to do this weekend. But if you look at the first time we went out
with this car in Mugello (pre-Imola) and when we ended the test last
week Iím quite happy. But we still have a long way to go and I think
the most important thing is to keep on pushing and thatís not only
for the drivers, but also for the mechanics. But I think weíre going
in the right direction. Everybody is really motivated, especially
also the mechanics Ė to work on a new car is something special again.
Weíre looking forward to this weekend. It wonít be easy but I think
after a few races we will be a little bit closer to the field.
What about your own situation? Youíve raced very
successfully in DTM for the past couple of years. How easy has it
been to change from those cars to the single-seaters of Formula One?
CA: First of all, itís quite difficult to go from the front to the
back again, but that was a decision made by me, because I wanted to
come into Formula One. Yeah, the cars are completely different. You
canít really compare them to each other. I have to say the DTM cars
are quite good cars to drive, but Formula One is the highest level
and the most exciting car to drive. Thereís much more down-force,
much more power. But from the competition side, I think DTM was quite
a good class because it was easier to fight with one another and to
drive closer to each other than in Formula One.
Felipe, your team-mate, Jacques Villeneuve has been
saying that itís much easier now for him to set up the car because
theyíre giving you a lot more freedom to do so. Does that apply to
you as well? Did you feel slightly constrained before, because you
had to use their set-up?
Felipe MASSA: No. I think things are going better now because the car
is better. The car was definitely slower than we expected at the
beginning of the (season), the first three races. At Imola, the car
was very competitive, so when you have a very competitive car, I
think, itís much easier to work with the team and find a better set-
up as well. We were quite competitive at Imola, but I think the
relationship was similar, Imola and at the other races as well,
especially for me.
What was the incident with David Coulthard at Imola, how
did you see that?
FM: Well, for me it was a race incident. When I overtook him, I was a
bit disappointed, not because of the move he made there, but I was a
bit disappointed because many times, or maybe a couple of times I
tried to overtake him going down to Rivazza on the right hand side.
We were both at 300kph and he just pushed me into the kerb and we
almost crashed at 300 kph. That was why I was disappointed and that
was why I was angry when I overtook him. For sure the finger was not
a good thing to do, but we are all in the competition, we are all
with some emotion and sometimes things can happen. For sure, I have
to apologise to him for these things but I think thatís my point of
Have you spoken to him since Imola?
FM: Yeah, Iíve spoken to him but I was surprised when I saw him
saying that he almost hit me. I think he was just kind of joking,
because both of us were smiling, so I was a bit surprised. One thing
I have to say is that Iím really open, I donít have a problem with
any drivers, I think DC is a very nice guy. Everything that happens
on the track stays on the track. That day I was a bit angry and the
day after everything was fine for me. I donít have any problem with
him. For me, heís a very nice guy.
Tiago, I guess this is almost as close as it comes to
being a home race, maybe Brazil as well. How do you feel about it?
Tiago MONTEIRO: Yes, itís true, weíre very close to Portugal
obviously and a lot of Portuguese people are coming over, some
sponsors as well, so it is very important, it is considered my home
race. It doesnít add any pressure, but youíre busier than ever. You
have to give more attention to other people, who are not usually
here, but every weekend you want to perform well anyway and you push
hard and you try and do your best, so I take it as another race at
How do you feel the season has gone so far?
TM: Iím excited and Iím positive about the whole thing. It hasnít
been easy, of course, but four finishes in four races is what we were
aiming for at the beginning of the season and weíve managed it. Itís
a huge amount of information for me, for the car, for the team, so
itís very important. So I think we have had a positive start to the
season. Weíre working on trying to get more performance, of course,
like everyone and learn, try to make as few mistakes as we can, more
track time and improve every weekend.
Obviously youíve got the Toyota engine, and weíve seen
how well a Toyota engine goes in a Toyota chassis; where do you think
the deficiencies are in the Jordan chassis?
TM: There are a few little things, I guess. The main one is that
basically we are using last yearís chassis, of course, with some
adaptations for this year, which is never the best (solution). So
thatís the main main problem. Outside that, aerodynamic parts are
really where weíre struggling at the moment. The engine is not really
adapted to this car either, so temperature-wise we are losing some
down-force sometimes because of that. But thatís the package we have
and we have to improve on that. Weíre hoping for a new car in July,
so weíre really excited about that and that will be at least a 2005
package, which is going to be different for sure. So there are a lot
of little bits that need to be worked on at the moment.
Juan Pablo, welcome back. Are you fully fit?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Yeah, Iím feeling great, to be honest. You know
itís been kind of weird to sit down at home and watch the last two
races on TV. In a way Iím very pleased. Both of the third drivers did
a fantastic job for the team so itís nice to see the team still
scoring points and everything, but itís great to be back.
What sort of fitness checks have you had to go through
since youíve been here?
JPM: Um, here, not yet. I was in England yesterday Ė no, the day
before Ė and we checked the crack and everything, that it could stand
(up to) everything and it looks very good. McLaren has got a
simulator and we went on it and the full steering movement,
everything Ė it was cool.
So you donít have to go and see anyone here?
JPM: Yeah, tomorrow morning, they just want to double-check
everything but Iím pretty happy, Iím full performance, Iím happy.
Iím sure youíve been amusedÖ
JPM: ...oh yeahÖ
Ö at the speculation regarding the origins of your
injury. Can you tell us a bit more?
JPM: Iíve heard all kinds of stories. I think this story came up, to
be honest because a lot of people think that in most of the driversí
contracts youíre not allowed to do anything, so everybody thought Ďwe
have a great story, heís out of the races and heís broken his
contract.í But sadly enough for all of them, it is the way it is.
So it was tennis?
JPM: It was tennis. I would rather say it was anything apart from
tennis because it sounds kind of dumb but thatís the way it went.
Fernando, a big week for you?
Fernando ALONSO: Yes, certainly, starting tomorrow. Today has been
quite a quiet day for me as well and I was in England until yesterday
morning and I have had a cool week so far. But tomorrow the action
starts with the practice and people coming and it will be a little
more busy. But at the end of the day, the only important thing is the
car and the set up so you spend all day with the engineers and inside
the car on the circuit and it is one race more.
So you approach it in that way?
FA: I think it is the only way possible to approach it There are too
many people who come with motivation and quite excited about this
race and for me the only way to give them some satisfaction is to
give them a good result and so I work hard for this.
Just going back to the San Marino Grand Prix, the tactics
of slowing down in the corners and keeping Michael behind you -- was
that something that came naturally to you or is it something you have
done for years in racing? How did it come about?
FA: I think I do it naturally, not only me, but all of us. We are
professional enough and we know how to keep positions and how to
control when you have a very slow car compared with your competitor
and maybe I am the only one to say this literally to the press.
One of my colleagues said you have had very strong words
about Ferrari and said they were testing more than all the other
teams. Can you clarify what you actually said about Ferrari?
FA: Yes I think we all said Ferrari has done more testing than
everyone else and we all know that. It is very surprising that
yesterday I said that and there has been a revolution in the press.
But you know it is no problem. I think we all know, all the teams, we
agreed to limit the testing days and they are the only one that does
many more. They are all allowed because anyone can do what they want
but I think it is against the spirit of the sport and against the
future for all of us.
The journalist who mentioned this to me used the word
cheating. Did you use the word cheating?
FA: In Spanish, it is trampar, which is cheating and not fair, not
fair play. And it is the same word. In this instance, I meant not
fair play. As I said, I meant against the spirit of Formula One sport.
(Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News): Tiago, you
guys do so little testing, do you and Narain purposely work to make
your set-ups on the car the same so that in the brief time you do
have at the track you can work on the same programme?
TM: We usually try, depending on the weekends. Some weekends we are
very different. But most weekends we start mostly very similar. We
work through Friday at least and maybe Saturday morning on different
ways. Its good to have information you know and it is good to have a
third driver go another different way on Friday as well. We need to
understand because we did so little winter testing thatís its testing
every day for us in the weekends. So three cars is good and we learn
(Livio Oricchio - O Estado do Sao Paulo): To Alonso, even
if you donít think about it, how do you feel yourself when you are
getting in the car and you know there are 100,000 people supporting
you in the grandstands. You are 23 years old and I can imagine how I
would feel in your placeÖ
FA: Well, the feeling is obviously great. For me it is a very special
weekend and I would like to race in Spain every 15 days. The
atmosphere is fantastic and you see the blue colour in the
grandstands and it motivates you in every corner and at the same time
it is just another race like the others and I have to prepare the
race properly with the engineers tomorrow choose the tyres, the main
thing, Saturday prepare the quail and on Sunday the race so you are
always inside the race too much to feel all around you.
(Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News): Fernando, you
have had three good races and your team-mate has had a lot of bad
luck. A drive always wants to beat his team-mate, but certainly you
donít want to beat him this way. What do you think about having Fisi
up there racing with you instead?
FA: I prefer to have Fisi of course and from the team point of view
to have the three retirements that we had is not good for all of us
and hopefully here his luck will change and we will both finish the
race and score points and then the battle is between us. But F1 is
like this and last year I didnít finish seven or eight races and had
a lot of criticisms.
(Bob McKenzie - Daily Express): BAR have been banned for
two races, they lose their points... Do you have any thoughts on that?
JPM: It is a bit surprising they were cheating to be honest, but the
only thing I found that was quite funny was a text I had from Alex
Wurz saying Ďcan I collect the trophy?í I was shocked actually that
they put them out of the races, but I think that is the way rules go
FA: Yes the same I think we all agree there are rules for all the
teams and if you are not inside them all you risk a penalty and the
amount of the penalty is not up to us. I am totally happy.
TA: Obviously if there is something wrong with the car, you need to
be punished and we donít have all the proper information anyway to
make a proper comment.
(Bob McKenzie Ė Daily Express): As drivers do you feel
sorry for Jenson and Takuma?
FA: Yes of course I think Jenson did a fantastic race in Imola and he
was on the podium and he was there for the way he drove. You know on
the qualifying laps you are risking a lot and in the whole race, in
the strategies and in the quail laps and then when it is not your
fault and you are out then it is maybe more disappointing. I am sure
they will be back.
FM: I think the driver is also part of the team. If there is
something wrong with the team, the driver is a part of it and, for
sure, the driver has less influence, but he is also a part of the
team. SoÖ. He is not responsible, but the circumstances are the same
(Mike Doodson): Fernando, I understand things are quite
difficult for you back here in Spain. You said you would like every
Grand Prix in Spain, but I suspect you would like to continue living
somewhere else, and it is Oxford at the moment, but can you give us
some examples of the hysteria that takes over people when they have a
successful Grand Prix driver in their country for the first time?
FA: Well, tomorrow we shall see a better picture for this Grand Prix
in terms of the people and the support they give me. When I am in the
car I want to see the grandstand in a blue colour and it is
motivating me, not in red. For this, I think to race in Spain every
race is more motivation and it is better, but at the same time it is
more difficult to walk on the street, to go to the hotel, to be in
the traffic, stopped, because the buses stop and they go out and they
ask for autographs and so on and so it is more difficult to move
around here, but I am in England normally and as I did this week I
relax and prepare there for the race and then arrive here at the last
moment just to sit in the car.
(Mike Doodson): Do you find the press writes a lot of
outrageous things about you? There have been some stories in
the local press about your private lifeÖ
FA: Yes sometimes there are too many news in the private life and not
enough in the sporting life and this is Spain and probably we have a
bad quality of press.
(Gonzalo Espariz Ė DPA): Juan Pablo, in what way do you
think you will be affected by not sitting in your car for so long?
JPM: Driving-wise, I think not much. We do that every winter, take a
month off and we did some laps round here in the simulator and I am
pretty comfortable and I donít know how many laps Iíve done here,
more than 1000 round this place I guessÖ It would be much harder to
come back to a track where we donít test so much, to Imola or
Bahrain, it would be harder than coming here. I donít know, just get
in the car and drive it. I think the hardest thing is going to be
being the first car out in qualifying on Saturday and thatís it.
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