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FIA Thursday Press Conference at USGP
Fernando Alonso, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher, Scott Speed
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 encouraging.
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 be expected.

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, honestly.

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 Grand Prix.
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 pleasure.

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 us.

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 One car?
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 finished?
MS: The question is, will Le Mans still be in existence? (Laughter)
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 circuit.

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 behind?
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 own team?
JM: What?

Q: Would you ever accept any indecent suggestions from your own team?
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 to you?
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 drive.
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 take?
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 bit quicker.

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 happened there?
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 the moment.

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 year?
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 for us.

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 Motor Speedway?
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 today.

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 motivation.

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 discuss.

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 something different.

Source USGP

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