Press Conference at USGP
Fernando Alonso, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher, Scott
June 16, 2005
MODERATOR: From our right to left in the front row, Fernando
Alonso, World Championship leader and Michael Schumacher,
reigning world champion. Back row, Juan Pablo Montoya and
Scott Speed, who is the third driver for Red Bull Racing.
Q: Juan Pablo, if I could start first of all with you.
Memories of Indianapolis, it's a nice place for you to come?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, it's a nice racetrack to come to
and it's a bit different from any other track and it's got
big components between the infield in Turn One, so it's
pretty interesting. The car should be really quick around
here, so looking forward to that.
Q: I mean the performance in Montreal must have been very
JM: Yeah, the Renault was quite strong, as well, we thought
the race was going to be quite tight but it was going to, I
think it was going to a good race to the end.
Q: Yeah. Just give us your take on what exactly happened,
the sort of time scale exactly when the Safety Car came out,
et cetera, et cetera.
JM: The Safety Car came out and my side of the team was
discussing what to do on base because we had like a 30-odd
second lead. They said we're backing up both cars to look
after the cars the Renault was out. At the same time the
Safety Car came out, and they noticed it was too late.
Q: And there on?
JM: They had to make me stop, normal thing coming out of the
pits. And I approached, the blue light came on and I
radioed, said, 'Do we have to stop or not?' I didn't think
they heard me, and the blue light came on, I thought maybe I
read it as a mistake because it shouldn't have came on. I
decided to go through it. My mistake in a way but, you know,
I thought they're going to give me a drive-through penalty
or something or ask me to go to the back of the line or
something. But then after that they decided to get me out of
the race. I think it's very harsh to be honest, unfair. But
that's what it is.
Q: You've got over it now?
JM: Yeah, I'm over it. It's been a tough season for me, very
unlucky. The things with the FIA hasn't helped.
Q: OK. Thanks Juan Pablo.
Scott, first of all, I think you've had a pretty tough
schedule over the last eight days or so. Tell us about it.
SCOTT SPEED: Unfortunately in GP2, the championship I'm
running and concentrating this year, we've had limited test
days and the last two official days were between Montreal
and here. I've had to fly back and drive on Tuesday, which
was not so productive because of rain. So I'm back last
night doing the travel.
Q: Fairly fresh, feeling OK?
SS: Yeah, yeah. The training that you do in the offseason is
what prepares you for this kind of schedule because it's to
Q: How did you find driving a Formula One car, how did you
find your first Grand Prix participation?
SS: OK. I think all the media around is one of the biggest
differences. A day goes by a lot quicker. The car itself is
quite nice to drive, it's obviously got a lot more
aerodynamic performance and it's quite pleasurable.
Q: And is it difficult to drive? I mean, is it a big
difference from GP2?
SS: Yeah, it's quite a big difference from anything with the
aerodynamic performance, driving style is a bit different.
But once you get used to it, it's not so bad.
Q: Obviously you've mentioned the media a moment ago, you're
very important for Formula One, you're very important for
the United States as well. Is that a lot of pressure?
SS: Yeah, I don't think there's so much pressure at this
moment. I mean, driving on Fridays, you're not really
competing with anything and you're not compared with anyone
really. So I think the pressure will be a lot more when you
get into qualifying and the race.
Q: OK. I'm sure there will be more questions for you. Thank
you for the moment.
Michael, I know you've just had a great press conference out
there, great reception as well. One question you didn't
answer, chicken or beef. Did you not hear that?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: I don't know the meaning of it,
Q: I suppose it's whether you prefer chicken or beef.
MS: Think so?
Q: Yeah. (Laughter)
MS: I like beef if that's it.
Q: That's it, they just wanted, somebody wanted the answer
to it, that's all.
You've also had a great record here, three pole positions,
three wins. That must be encouraging for you, especially
with the performance last week.
MS: I mean, you have to be pretty honest about what happened
last week. I mean, I would have been fifth in normal
circumstance and not second as I finished. So at the end of
the day, it didn't show very much off last week, but we have
had some very good performances through the year like in
Monte Carlo in the race. So depends on where we are at this
circuit whether we're sort of more Imola like or whether
we're more whatever, Barcelona or other races.
Q: Now, your brother has been quoted a bit as saying that
you were tired, you were not having as much fun as you did
last year and for that reason you will retire soon. What's
your reply to that?
MS: I mean, I don't know how he comes up with that. I mean,
as much as I speak with you, I speak with him and tell him
how much I enjoy actually. Even though I'm not winning, you
can enjoy. You don't need always to win to be happy. The
race last week, the race in Monaco, there were plenty of
races, Imola, that were great fun. So I'm not lacking fun,
neither I do motivation. There are phases like this that are
not so successful, but we have been so successful that I
think it's pretty normal. And for me, I knew it would come
to go through as long - and we are, in my view - as long as
you're competitive and not completely somewhere gone and you
have no chance, I'm pretty happy to go through this as I'm
pretty sure we make our way up to the front again, and we'll
be there. Honestly, I think he has a couple of other things
to think about and speak about.
Q: Thank you very much, Michael. Thank you.
Fernando, your feelings after Canada, after the Canadian
FERNANDO ALONSO: The first moment you are sad because it's
the first retirement of the year. But these things happen in
motor racing. After that, I think it was nice to have only
one -- three days off and come back to the next race because
you forget very quickly, and we can prepare this
Indianapolis race a little bit strong.
Q: But was the performance of McLaren and to some extent
Ferrari a bit worrying as well there?
FA: The McLaren, yes. I think after the first pit stop of
the Ferrari, we knew that we were in good shape with them
and with the McLaren, the big opponents there. And yeah,
obviously we push very hard in the race, especially when
Giancarlo retired. The team told me that I should go quicker
to have a nice gap with Juan Pablo because probably in the
second stop they were longer than us. So this pressure was
maybe too much.
Q: What about the fact that you've never actually finished
at this circuit before, does that worry you?
FA: Yeah, a lot. Always in Indianapolis I never finish the
race. So I hope this year to break this thing, and we have
fantastic car in this season and we were able to fight for
the podium in all the races, in fact. And to finish here in
the podium or to finish the race for me will be a big, big
MODERATOR: OK, thanks very much. I'm sure there are some
questions out here. If you would stick up your hand, a
microphone will come to you and if you will give me your
name and publication. Yes, Steve.
Q: Juan Pablo, before you joined McLaren, Ron Dennis said he
felt you had a way to deal with South American drivers to
press their buttons, make them work. Can you explain how
your relationship with Ron is, and how he motivates you and
how he makes things go, particularly with the troubles
you've had in the last few races?
JM: I think the team has been very supportive, and the last
few races have been a bit unlucky. The first two races when
I came back, I think the first race was really hard for me,
and I hardly could drive the car with the pain. Monaco was a
bit of the same. Next race was good; there was hope there,
and I got rammed by another car, nothing my fault, nothing I
could do about it. The last race was this.
It's been frustrating. Ron has been, I think, not only Ron,
but the whole team has been 100 percent behind me and makes
my life a lot easier. I proved the last race I can do it.
I'm not too concerned, they're not too concerned. It's just
a matter of getting the things together. The way he presses
buttons, I don't see it. He's nice and very straightforward
with everything, and I am the same way with the things that
I don't like to him. So when you have a very straightforward
relationship, you work things work.
Q: To Scott Speed, how much is David Coulthard with all his
experience and even Christian Klien been able to help you
and just give you advice on circuits and driving the car?
SS: I think all the drivers with Red Bull have been quite
open and helpful in every way they can. So it's quite a good
relationship that we have with the whole team. Everyone
there is kind of like a big family.
Q: Michael, with the amount of investment with the top
teams, particularly Ferrari, the massive amount of
information that you have, it's hard for people to
understand that Ferrari struggle this year. Is it because
McLaren and Renault in particular have taken a quantum leap
or do you believe your car is as good as it was last year?
MS: I mean, the point is that the development rate of
Formula One can and is extremely quick. We have had quite an
advantage last year. There's been rule changes, which sort
of re-zeroed things, and quite frankly, we as a whole
package probably didn't do as good a job as we have been
doing last year. That's, in a way, the situation. And the
other teams have done a very good job on the other side,
which leveled out the situation.
Q: Question for Fernando. Would you be happy here with
podium or could you expect a fifth victory of the year here?
FA: At the moment before we start in the process, I think to
thinking a podium is a more realistic target for us,
especially because we go out third, I think, in qualifying.
So this would not help us, our grid position. I think to
finish on the podium is a great result for us here. But at
the same time we always approach the weekends for the
victory and we have to do the maximum we can, I think. We
have a good car, we can have some luck, also, and good
start, you never know. We'll see how the weekend is running,
but at the moment the podium, I think, is a good target for
Q: Juan, with the experience you had with America and yellow
flags, did you know pretty quickly that you were screwed
when they didn't call you in immediately?
JM: Yeah, 100 percent.
Q: So is the decision only from the team or can you override
JM: No, it's not about overriding, you've got to be a part of the
team. When the Safety Car came out, the team is on the radio going
Safety Car. They had about 2- or 300 meters to call me in. Problem is,
both of my guys that run the race, they were talking to each other at
the moment when it went to Safety Car. They were trying to decide what
pace, how quick we should go because we had enough pace to win the
race where we were. And even if the Safety Car wouldn't come out, we
were bailing out completely over a second a lap, and they were trying
to have both cars doing the same thing. So they were discussing data
at that point when the Safety Car came out. When they radioed them,
they were on the radio, so they couldn't hear it. It's not lack of
anything; they made a mistake like I had made a mistake before. We've
got to get the things together. It's unlucky, but that's what it is. I
think a lot of people thought -- I heard this comment that they were
trying to favor Kimi to
win the race. It sounds pretty stupid when I would have been
only nine points behind Kimi. One of the goals is to win the
Constructor Championship. Myself scoring zero points and
Kimi 10 doesn't help, does it?
Q: When that happens, you were so close to the win --
JM: It's not the first time.
Q: Do you scream in your helmet, shout in the radio?
JM: When I was here in America, Ganassi did it twice to me
in Detroit two years in a row, and I was winning the race
both times. He was doing something else when it went yellow.
It doesn't matter, you know. That's what it is. For me,
actually I don't care really that I didn't win the race, I
don't really care that, you know, the -- it doesn't matter,
it doesn't change anything now. You're out of the race and
whatever. But after all, you know, for me the most important
thing is I was struggling to drive the car quickly. You
know, I could have my run -- race pace was good, but I
haven't been able to do much qualifying pace, I couldn't get
the most out of the car or anything, and I did. We did a lot
of work, went a different way from Kimi the whole weekend
and it paid off.
Q: Good. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Some more questions, please.
Q: Scott, we often hear Americans say why is an F1 car so
cool to drive. You've driven it three times. When you first
got in that car, what really impressed you about the Formula
SS: I think the same thing the first time when everyone gets
in it: The aerodynamic performances are on a completely
different level than everything else. The amount of G-forces
and power you have is uncomparable.
Q: Fernando, are your worries limited to the McLaren
Mercedes team or are other rivals going to be big here?
FA: I think a lot of teams are very competitive in this
race. I think McLaren, obviously, are one of the strongest,
Renault, Ferrari is coming back, BAR-Honda, sometimes they
are quick, as well, like they did in the pole position in
Canada. You know, every race is very open. When you arrive
on Friday, it's difficult to predict a result for
qualifying, for the race. I think our main competition now
is with the McLaren, one, because Kimi is second in the
Drivers' Championship from me. Also because the McLaren is
second in the Constructor after us. So we have to race with
them probably in this race these days.
Q: Question to Michael. This weekend, Sebastien Loeb will
participate at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. What do you think of
this position of Sebastien Loeb? Could you be interested to
be back at Le Mans after your Formula One career is
MS: The question is, will Le Mans still be in existence?
The point is it's quite interesting to see that he jumps
into this side of racing. I've been competing against him in
Race of Champions, and that was nice to meet him, actually.
He's a very, very nice guy. So it will be interesting to see
what he can do in this category. I'm pretty sure he has the
ability to drive those cars fast. I don't feel attracted
very much mainly due to the level of safety that's on that
Q: Scott, you said things would be different when you got to
Indianapolis, maybe all of this would kind of hit you. It's
maybe too early in the weekend, but you're sitting here with
Michael and Fernando and Juan Pablo here in Indianapolis.
Three years ago, this has happened so quickly, can you talk
about that for a second?
SS: Yeah, for sure, everything is happening quite quickly.
For one it's great to be back in America, much less driving
a Formula One car here. So, yeah, it's quite a good week. My
dad's finally here being able to drive - watch me drive a
Formula One car, which is quite nice, as well. Yeah, I'm
really lucky to be in the situation I am in. I've had a
great opportunity with Red Bull, and we're making the most
out of it.
Q: With Scott, if I can continue. You leave your family,
your home country, you go to a different culture, different
racetracks. That's a tall order for most people. Was it
difficult or for you is it just what you had to do to chase
the dream? And how difficult was it leaving everything
SS: Yeah, OK, leaving home at 19 to move to Europe was a bit
difficult. As well as on top of everything I developed a
disease called ulcerative colitis, which is a disease of
your intestines which after two years, it was quite
debilitating at times. It's been in remission, and we found
a way to control it. Now the living situation I have in
Austria is quite nice, and I have a good situation there. Of
course, missing your family and all your friends from home
is the biggest thing.
Q: Michael, one question. You followed Fernando very, very
closely in Imola and followed Kimi very closely in the last
race in Canada. What difference did you notice in
motivation, concentration, driving technique, driving style,
car control, whatever?
MS: I mean, first of all, I wasn't that close to Kimi as I
was to Fernando in Imola. There's not much to say. Those
guys are great drivers, and they know how to drive their
cars. You can't really judge unless you know actually the
car because you don't know whether it's the driver doing
something or the car is doing and he's controlling that. So
there's no point really in getting into that. Except I would
have wished Fernando would have done something similar to
what Kimi did five laps to the end in Imola. (Laughter)
Q: Would you ever accept any indecent suggestions from your
Q: Would you ever accept any indecent suggestions from your
JM: What do you call indecent suggestions? Just ask
straight, I don't care.
Q: If they tell you to back down.
JM: If mathematically I'm out of the points, yeah, you would
be - it would be a case of work with the team, not against
the team. But until that happens, I think we've still got
quite a few races. I think I got the pace to close the
points on Fernando and Kimi, so I'm not too bothered about
that, to be honest. I don't know, the press is being - I
read somewhere they thought they were going to let Kimi by
and I was only eleven points behind Kimi. I thought it was
quite stupid, actually, the guy writing it but they can
write whatever you want, I don't care, to be honest.
Q: For Michael, a two-part question. In the Bridgestone
press conference, you talked about riding a motorcycle
earlier this week. Many years from now when you retire,
would you like to do something like ride a motorcycle from
say New York to California across country? The second part
of the question is how enjoyable was it to hear questions
from the fans who asked questions about your dogs and things
we don't usually talk about to you?
MS: There were some quite interesting questions today, great
audience. It's sort of interesting when you think America,
every time we talk about it, sort of doesn't know Formula
One. But if you see the audience we have here, at least
those guys here are very well informed.
Riding New York/California, I haven't thought about that.
But at the moment I have more important things to think
about. Ask Ralf, yes. (Laughter)
Q: Juan, the situation you were in at the last race, you
said you knew the minute you didn't go in the pits that your
race was ruined and you had a bit of time, obviously the
team had time to get you in. The obvious thing to do is to
bring you both in and stack one behind the other.
JM: That's what they were going to do; that was the plan.
Q: Did you ever consider just arriving in the pit lane or is
that a huge no-no?
JM: Well, if the team is not prepared for you, I think
you've got to work with the team. You cannot -- same way,
you know, they -- they were going to call me in and they
were late, what happens if I would have done the other
thing? What happens if I go into the pits, and they say,
'What are you doing here?' You know, you've got to be a part
of the team, and if you don't trust the team, you know, you
shouldn't be racing for them or shouldn't even be doing it,
to be honest. People forget this is a team sport, not only a
driver sport. We're the ones people see on TV but there are
over a hundred people working here for us to make sure we
get the good results, and back in the factory over 500
people doing the same thing. So if you're not that part of
the team, then you shouldn't be involved in it.
Q: Michael, your brother obviously doesn't have fond
memories of the race here last year. So I was wondering if
he's expressed anything to you, concerns about coming back
here this year?
MS: No. I mean, honestly what has happened may happen at any
other circuit, any other time. That's how we would see it.
It's not circuit-related. Same as when I had the accident in
1999, Silverstone, next time you come there, you have one
little think about it but then you continue as normal.
MODERATOR: Some more questions.
Q: The question is to all drivers. We received some minutes
ago a communication from FIA with the suggestion for the
regulations 2008, and we could see that the clutch cannot be
used with the left hand but left foot now, and slick tires
mainly as far as I understand reading that. What do you
think about it?
MODERATOR: I don't suppose any of you have been able to read
that communication. Have you heard about this suggestion for
2008 regulations, no hand-operated clutches, normal gear
shift, slick tires? Any thoughts, anyone? I think it's a
little too early.
OK, yes, sir.
Q: Fernando, I guess Michael got to answer some questions
about his dogs and other things we don't normally talk
about. What should American fans - I mean, as you're the
leader coming in here, what would should we know about you,
what would we find interesting about you?
FA: I don't know. Every person I think is different, and I
think because I'm quite young, I think probably the young
people likes me; and because I like to do the normal things,
nothing really special, and be with friends, a lot of sport.
Play tennis this afternoon with friends here. And also have
family living here in Oklahoma. So, you know, I like
America, and I think probably the American people like me.
Q: Question for Michael and also for Fernando. What's your
opinion about the talks that maybe Danica Patrick could
enter as a woman in Formula One? And do you think that could
be definitely push for Formula One being more known in the
States because of that? Would that be sad or does it matter
MS: You're the leader.
FA: Well, for sure it's a help for Formula One to be in
America. I think for Danica's case, good opportunity to
drive here on Friday, I guess, with Honda. And for us, it's
also a pleasure to be part of a big group in Formula One and
also to have some women. I think it's good for the sport,
it's good for Formula One and not only for America.
MODERATOR: We understand that Danica isn't actually going to
MS: Oh, she's not going to drive? That's a shame.
Q: So your feelings on that?
MS: Yeah, pretty similar. Not much to add.
Q: If I can follow up on that. Scott, your opportunity
obviously is part of this Red Bull American Driver
Development Program. Have you been told that if you're quick
enough or develop enough, that the seat is yours? Is it sort
of one day at a time, one race at a time, one championship
at a time?
SS: Right now my focus is clearly on winning GP2 races, and
the Friday testing is something we're able to do in between
the GP2 schedule and it's mostly just to gain valuable
Formula One experience.
Q: Which means you didn't answer my question (Laughter). So
with Red Bull, they haven't intimated to you that this is --
I mean, you are going to be in the seat, this is the plan,
this is the development, this is the course we're going to
SS: Yeah, OK. Of course, the plan the whole time has been to
try to get into Formula One. There's no set date or anything
at this moment. We're kind of taking it as it comes.
Q: Obviously, the demands on your time is going to be huge
as your F1 involvement increases. Does it bother you when
the media focuses on the driver so much that the time
requirements at the interviews, all the stuff you have to
try and fit in, is that a distraction? Does it bother you?
SS: No, it's not such a big distraction. You have your time
to focus on the car before you get into it and to do your
job. I think it's quite all right. It makes the day go by a
Q: Juan, one question to you. Can you clarify once more what
happens if Ron comes over the radio and goes, 'Let Kimi pass
for the championship?'
JM: I don't think he would do that because we're not allowed
to do that, are we? I think the rules say there's no team
orders. I think if that would happen, it would be my
decision, not Ron's decision to help the team. You know, I
think I'm pretty clear on what we have to do. I'm clear, I
still believe I have a chance for the championship. But
being realistic, having a chance for the championship,
you've got to be realistic to know when it stops. I think
the team now -- honestly, I'm pretty straightforward. If
this year I need to help Kimi, doesn't mean the end of the
year because I had my injury, the bad luck I've been having
doesn't mean I'm going to be out of the championship next
year. So I think you've got to be a team player in every
aspect. If this year means helping Kimi, then that's what
it's going to be. But it wouldn't come as a team order.
Q: But you decided right here right now no team orders?
JM: I think as there's no team orders, it would have to be
my decision, not the team's.
Q: Juan Pablo, you said, you explained it was a
miscommunication in Canada last weekend. Yet a similar thing
happened at Magny-Cours in 2003 with Williams.
JM: No, it's different. There's no point of comparison. It
is really no point for comparison because, you know, what
happened in Magny-Cours, there's no similarity with this.
There's not a thing that they plan to finish one/two or
anything like that. It wasn't -- I think it's from my point
of view a completely different thing. And, you know, Ron, I
think if -- I believe if, for example, Frank or Patrick
thought they made a mistake, I think they wouldn't have done
what Ron did. He came to me through the race, when I got out
of the race and he actually came to my hotel room that night
to apologize for what happened. I don't think I would have
seen that at Williams. So I'm pretty confident the team is
100 percent behind me.
Q: Question for Juan Pablo. I heard that you were quite
quick outside the track and you got a speeding fine. What
JM: Last speeding ticket, it was over a year ago.
Q: I thought it was somewhere here.
JM: No, bad rumor.
MODERATOR: Any more questions? Any more? That's it. Thanks
very much, gentlemen. Well done.
Q: Michael, you are still looking for your first
victory of the year. Will it be this weekend?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: If I listen to the support, we should do it; there
shouldn't be any question about that! But as you have seen lately,
we're sort of struggling a little bit, and we haven't been all the way
competitive so far. But as usual we will try our best. Bridgestone is
highly motivated, and ourselves, we're pushing to get the car going,
get the car back to the competitiveness we had in the past and last
year in particular. The competition is tough. Those other guys, the
other teams are doing a great job, and it's difficult to beat them at
Q: Of course, the rules this year require that the engines last for
two races and you use one set of Bridgestone tires for the complete
event. Has that changed the way you approach the race, have you
changed your driving style to accommodate the new tire rules this
MS: It has certainly changed, big time. All winter long we had to no
longer work for just a 20 lap stint, but we had to work for the whole
300kms race distance, and even more (because) we have to do
qualifying. At the winter time, there were two qualifying sessions,
now there is only one. So there was quite a big demand for testing and
development because we didn't really want to take away any
performance; we wanted to keep the performance. And on the other side,
keep the tires as durable as they have to be. It was a pretty tough
task. I think we've improved massively since the beginning of the
season. It's an area where Bridgestone is working very hard with a lot
of progress every time, and there's a lot to come.
Q: Mr Yasukawa, with the new tire regulation this year, how has that
changed Bridgestone's product, now they have to make it last all the
way through qualifying and the race?
HIROSHI YASAKAWA: This new regulation has a very strong impact for us
because last year when you were watching the races you saw tire
changes - maybe once, or twice, or three times. But this year we
cannot see tire changes, which means that we have to produce, as
Michael explained, around 380kms - or 250 miles. Then our technical
people are concerned about safety; safety is very important. Of course
we have concerns about speed and new compounds, constructions, new
shape, but our mission is safe tires. But anyway, it's a new challenge
Q: Michael, the five most recent of your World Championships have come
on Bridgestone tires. Right now you're going through your longest
winless drought since your early days in F1 with Benetton. How do you
react to those challenges of getting Ferrari back on top? How are
things different from when you were on top for all those years?
MS: Well, I mean it's quite obvious what is the difference; we started
most of the races quite a bit further back, except the Canadian GP,
where we were on a different strategy than most other people. It's
just a different challenge. I have to say as long as we are as
competitive as we are, and we have shown in several races like in
Imola, like in Monte Carlo, where we did the fastest lap, we have the
speed. We are there in terms of speed, we just don't get it there all
the time, and in particular in qualifying, because we struggle to get
the car at the right spot of the grid and to then have a good race.
Most of the time we have to compromise the race a little bit for that
one lap issue in qualifying. Which then brings us into this circle
which is difficult to get out of. Anyway, the most important thing is
to know that it's F1; it's a very high level of competition, you have
great drivers, you have great teams. Everybody has the same target;
everybody wants to win. And we have been winning for the last five or
six years, and at some stage you have to accept that maybe somebody
else can do a better job. It's our motivation and challenge to again
show that we can come back. I'm so confident of that; I have no doubt
about that. It just may take a little longer.
Q: Mr. Yasakawa, it's been reported that Bridgestone would welcome
some additional teams on its tires in addition to Minardi, Jordan and
Ferrari. Your thoughts on having more customer teams?
HY: Now we support three teams, but I'm very happy working with
Ferrari, and Ferrari's cooperation is huge, especially test-wise and
racing, as well. And anyhow Michael helps us a lot, and we have a very
long relationship and we have very good communications. But if you
look at F1, 10 teams are running, and now we support just three. If
we're concerned about this imbalance, then maybe we can have one or
two more teams, this is true.
Q: Michael, you've won three of the five races held here at the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We have a new racing surface on the track
this year. Bridgestone has a great record of success. What do you look
forward to in the race, given all the variables at the Indianapolis
MS: There's only one target for us, we definitely want to win, there's
no doubt about that. We have made again certain improvements to the
car, to the tires, and as you said there's a new tarmac. We have to
see how that sort of moves the situation, whether it's going to bring
the ball into our hand, or it gives it away a little bit further. It's
such a fine line; it can tip over one or the other way very easily.
Q: Some people have complained that the season is too long. Ron Dennis
has said that he wants to go back to 16 races. How do you feel about
that, do you really think it's too long? And would you like to race in
Mexico, as they are building a new track in Cancun?
MS: If Ron doesn't want to race 19 races, he is more than welcome not
to! Honestly our season is anyway as long as it would be with 16
or 19 races, or 20 races. We start at the beginning of January, and it
goes all the way until mid-December. So whether we do a lot of racing,
or a lot of testing, what is easier to prefer? I prefer to race than
to test, that is very clear. I have been in Mexico in the early 90s. I
have been down there with sports cars and F1. And we had a great time
there. The circuit was a big challenge, and I'm pretty sure we have a
lot of support down in Mexico, as we always have. So I think we all
would be quite happy to return.
Q: Michael, your brother, Ralf, has been giving interviews in Germany
suggesting that you may be thinking of retiring at the end of this
season. We know that's not a new issue, but can you just confirm what
your plans are?
MS: Keep on racing! Honestly, as long as I am competitive, and you're
happy to see me, I'll keep on.
Q: There have been rumors in the press that you might try to go for 10
World Championships, that you might not retire at the end of 2006 when
your contract runs out. What's the situation there?
MS: One thing you have to know, rumors, that's what the press lives
from. There is no such target for me. I want to enjoy it as long as I
can enjoy it. I only enjoy it when I'm competitive. I feel competitive
still, and as long as this is the case, I will keep on, and whatever
comes, it will come. Honestly, the main target has arrived in 2000.
When the first championship has been achieved together with Ferrari,
that was the main thing. It was so exciting for all of us to achieve
this goal. Ever since, everything that arrived after that, it was just
a present. It's great, but I'm not targeting anything in particular,
except running, enjoying, and getting such support as I'm getting here
Q: In the future do you see yourself keeping in the racing scene,
maybe having a team, maybe being a team director like Niki Lauda,
doing something like that, or are you going to go home and just come
to the Monaco GP every year or something?
MS: One thing is for sure - the only team director you should talk
about is Jean Todt. He is working really an incredible amount. He
never lacks motivation, and he is the big pusher in the background at
all times. Especially in these days he's giving more than 100 percent
when you sometimes think it's not possible. Honestly, I have a very
good life as a race driver. I wouldn't want to swap with him any time!
Q: Michael, do you have any pets?
MS: We have dogs. They don't go very well with cats, our dogs at
least. They are like a German Shepherd dog but a different breed, but
in that direction. There are three of them, so no space for cats.
Q: Your wife, Corinna, enjoys horses, I believe?
MS: Yes, she enjoys Western horses; that's her big passion. Just
before we came to the Canadian GP, there was a two-week break roughly
after Nurburgring to Canada, we've been in Montana at a ranch. We
enjoyed very much the nature, riding horses, and just being around
with the kids and her. I do really appreciate very much her main
interest with horses. I love the horses, too, the kids they love
horses, so after racing that's quite an important subject that we're
spending time with.
Q: What athlete among all sports around the world do you most admire?
MS: I am a soccer fan, but soccer is one thing. Honestly, if you see
what the cyclists are doing, and in particular if you see what Lance
(Armstrong) is doing, that's very, very outstanding for me. I do quite
a lot of physical preparation, and I sort of think I know what it
takes, what they are doing, and it's unbelievable what effort, what
motivation, what dedication they have to have to do that.
Q: How do you feel about the newest qualifying format, and would you
like qualifying to go back to the old format where everyone is on the
track at once?
MS: Well, I have to say I did enjoy that in the past, yes. No doubt.
It was a sort of thrill in the end of the last five minutes of the
session to get out and wonder whether you'd get in that lap or not.
The way the rules are, it is simply the only choice how we could deal
with the situation. On the other side, I've experienced that with all
the changes that we've been doing in the last years, you never keep
everybody happy. Somebody will always find a reason to complain. To
me, we should have stuck where we were and maybe accepted that some
people were not happy because some people now are not happy.
Q: What's the most athletically challenging course on the F1 circuit?
MS: Malaysia is very, very tough for us, and Monte Carlo in a way.
It's a different challenge. Malaysia is very hot, very humid, a lot of
G force. Our neck and body gets really thrown around big time with all
this heat. And then Monte Carlo is very demanding on the physical
side, and the concentration side. So those two circuits, they are
quite tough for us.
Q: It appears that the car and tires weren't working well together
earlier in the year, but after a two-three finish in Montreal, do you
feel like the tire program is back on track? And do you feel that you
can realistically challenge for the championship this year?
MS: Put it this way. As I keep saying, as long as mathematically we
are in the position of fighting for the championship, we will keep on
fighting, no doubt about that.
Q: You mentioned that you and your family come here to the United
States. What is it about America that appeals to you as a place to
visit and vacation?
MS: First of all you have great spots country-wise. We just came from
a tour with the bikes from Asheville (N.C.) up to Indianapolis, and we
stayed in this Blue Ridge Parkway area. We spent about one and half
days there. Then we went to Dealer's Point, we did this run. And that
was just awesome. You have so many beautiful places to experience, and
having the chance to come here to race, I obviously want to take the
opportunity and see the country.
Q: What is it about motorcycling that appeals so much? You were here
on a bike last year, as well.
MS: I love biking, particularly because you just feel so free. You get
the air, you feel like you're in the open sky. It's like diving in a
way. That's on the opposite side, you're in the water, you glide, you
feel a bit like flying.
Q: And you ride a Harley? Do you wear a helmet?
MS: Yes. Yes, at all times!
Q: Mr. Yasakawa, can you tell us why Japanese fans seem to be so
passionate about F1 and Ferrari?
HY: I think there are two reasons. One is there is a young, talented
driver, Takuma Sato. He's very popular. Also we have two car
manufacturers involved, which are Toyota and Honda. Both of them are
not using our tires, but anyhow, they are very popular.
Q: Michael, on a personal note your generous contribution to tsunami
relief is well known, a $10 million donation. You and your wife have
long been philanthropic, particularly with regard to the United
Nations children's charities and so forth. What's your philosophy
about making those donations?
MS: It was sort of triggered, I think it was in '89 (actually 1990). I
won two races in F3, and there was very heavy prize money, it was at
the time £20,000, and it was to win both races in Macau and Fuji. They
put this prize money out because they didn't expect anyone would win
both races! It did happen, by a lot of luck, to me, and it happened
that I knew at some stage in the race I would win this money. And when
I knew I was going to win this money, I thought what am I going to do
with that? My immediate thought was I want to help somebody with it,
and especially in the family at that time I had somebody in the family
I could help big time, and I did so. Ever since I've had this
opportunity to be known, famous, I've raised through some charity
auctions a lot of money, and I've earned a lot of money. I feel I
should do something for other people as well, that's the main
Q: Could you tell us the story of the amulet that you wear around your
neck, where it came from and what it means to you?
MS: I'm not wearing it right now - I always wear it when I race or
qualify - not to wear it out! The fact is my wife made this amulet,
it's a special design of hers and it has all the initials of her, the
kids, and it has some symbol on it which I believe in. That's what
it's about. It's not very much; it gives me a lot of luck.
Q: Mr. Yasakawa, would you tell us a bit about the interrelationship
between Bridgestone's racing program and its commercial relationship
with manufacturers such as Ferrari?
HY: We have a very good relationship with the Ferrari racing
department and also the commercial side as well. If you remember the
Ferrari Enzo was put on our tires, 100 percent, tested by maybe
Michael, and also now the Super America. It's a very beautiful car,
like America, and it's also using our tires. We have with both side a
very good relationship.
Q: Michael, right now Fernando is in the same situation as Kimi was
two years ago. He had a huge lead, and you were chipping away, and
this is what you have to do if you want to win the championship. Kimi
could be a factor, and some of the other guys. Could you comment?
MS: It's obvious that those two guys are the main contenders for the
championship, and those ones are the ones to beat. It's very simple.
It would be great if I could finally end up like in 2003.
Q: It's known that the more data you have, the better off you are when
you go to a race. Having so few teams working with Bridgestone tires
and not having as much data as the other brand, do you feel that
that's more of a challenge for both of you?
HY: We have a very good relationship between Ferrari and ourselves.
But if we are concerned about the future, maybe we have to be
concerned about the balance. At this moment we have a very good
relationship. If some teams ask us, we'll be very welcoming, and we'll
Q: Michael, are you looking forward to the new V8 formula coming?
MS: Put it this way, we're trying to slow down F1 to sort of keep the
safety situation at the limit. We kept on improving speed, which we
like no doubt, and you like. But on the other side, circuits are built
for a certain speed. So we kept just tipping over that edge, and
that's why we have had the changes we have seen from last year to this
year. That was all the background of it. We're not very successful
with all these changes we have been doing, because we probably have
five to 10 people thinking about it, changing the rules, making the
cars slower, but we have hundreds of engineers doing the complete
opposite. It's pretty easy to know who wins! With this V8 engine, I
think finally we are going to achieve a big step, because to lose that
much power, to gain that back, it's very difficult. In my view the
relationship between grip, aerodynamics and engine power, we sort of
shifted away. We always changed tires, aerodynamics, but we never
looked at the engine. If you see what horsepower we have arrived at,
although it's great, I think the ratio should be adjusted a little
bit. I'm pretty sure you won't suffer from any attraction of F1 with
the V8 or not V8.
Q: Have you ever thought about something you'd like to do, perhaps
after F1 - anything else in motorsport that you'd like to accomplish?
MS: I'm not feeling that old yet! Frankly, F1 is the ultimate. So I
don't see any reason to feel challenged by any other thing. As I said
I'm still feeling pretty young inside, so I have no intention to do
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