Thursday FIA press
conference: French GP
June 30, 2005
Thursday French GP FIA press conference with the following
drivers: Fernando Alonso (Renault), Tiago Monteiro (Jordan), Kimi
RšikkŲnen (McLaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Jarno Trulli
Tiago, what was the reaction in Portugal after the race
two weeks ago?
Tiago MONTEIRO: The reaction was a bit crazy. Of course, everybody
had seen the circumstances and the reasons for this result, but when
itís the first Portuguese driver that gets to the podium, everybody
forgot about the circumstances and it was just a crazy crazy
atmosphere. It reminded everybody about the Euro Cup when there was
this big national enthusiasm and since Saturday, when I came back
from testing, I have been in Portugal for some PR, Iíve been doing TV
shows, radio, conferences, spending some time with sponsors, and itís
been really really busy. Itís a great atmosphere, everybodyís happy
and excited and again, as I said before, I need to take advantage of
this opportunity and enjoy it as much as I can.
You mentioned the testing, how is the latest version of
TM: Itís not ready yet, I would say. We had some teething problems:
cooling in particular so we are going to be using it as the third car
here and at Silverstone and then we have another test at Paul Ricard
after Silverstone and weíre hoping then to work on the performance.
But weíre going to use those two Fridays to work on the reliability
and hopefully we will be using the new car for Hockenheim.
Now the drivers have put out a statement that has been
signed by 19 drivers but seven have not signed. Youíre one of them.
Can you tell us why you havenít signed?
TM: The main reason is that I havenít heard of or seen this paper. I
read about it in the press but nobody contacted us or asked our
opinion, so thatís probably the main reason for it.
Jarno, first of all, a good result here last year. What
are your feelings coming here?
Jarno TRULLI: Always good, I always like Magny-Cours, even if last
year the memories werenít the best but it was still an experience
that I have now. I have a special feeling for Magny-Cours because I
was here with Prost, then I continued with Renault so I always have a
lot of supporters for the French Grand Prix so itís always nice to be
You have a new third driver in Olivier Panis; does that
make a lot of difference in your preparations?
JT: I think Olivier is an experienced driver who will do a very good
job, as well as Ricardo (Zonta) has done in the past. So itís a
pleasure for me to have Olivier on board again, on the track. I think
even for him itís nice to be back after a long time, especially here
in front of his home crowd.
Now you had your first pole position with Toyota at the
last race, but be honest with us, was there a little bit of a gamble
on low fuel?
JT: No, not really, to be honest, because we didnít know what was
going to happen on Sunday, so we were not sure. The decision (not to
race) was basically taken on Sunday, probably just before the race,
and you just go out in qualifying and try to do your best and then
think about tomorrowís race, and this is what happened. I did an
extremely good lap, everything went fine for me and for the team and
the car. Obviously Iím sure there were some people heavier than me
but I wasnít so light.
Kimi, you could say you lost ten points in the last race.
Is that the way you look at it? How do you see it?
Kimi RńIKK÷NEN: I guess it was disappointing but in the end, under
the circumstances, there was nothing I could have done so I listened
to people what we should do and that was the decision.
But looking at it from a championship point of view,
obviously Michaelís got ten points closer to you.
KR: Yeah, thatís true, but of course every race we donít race is not
going to help us because we need as many races as possible to try to
catch up Renault and Alonso but thatís the situation and we will try
to do it here.
What about this circuit, youíve had quite a good
finishing record here?
KR: Yeah, itís quite a nice circuit, itís a little bit different than
it used to be, but OK, last year maybe it wasnít our strongest race,
even though we had a new car here. I think the car should be good. We
have some new parts and a new engine for this race, so Iím looking
forward to it.
Now the FIA has reserved some dates for next year: 20
races next year, including three races on successive weekends. What
do you feel about that as a driver?
KR: I havenít seen any dates or anything, but I donít think it makes
much difference because we would be testing anyhow between races if
we donít have back-to-back. For me, it doesnít make a difference.
Fernando, your feelings about the last race, in a way
losing ten points to Michael?
Fernando ALONSO: Again, it was a difficult weekend for everybody and
not a fantastic feeling when you have to come in to the pits, but
those were the circumstances. Itís true that we lost ten points but
as Kimi said, always when we arrive at a Grand Prix we are thinking
of points and we need to race and score points which is the main
thing over the weekend so hopefully this Sunday will be a good race
Can you tell us about your time since Indianapolis?
FA: Yeah. I had three days testing in Jerez. On the day in the middle
I went to Paris for a promotion and at the weekend I was in England
at Goodwood. It was a busy week, but now we are ready for this July
with four races and concentrating on the championship.
A good race here last yearÖ
FA: Yeah, it was OK. I did the pole and then I had a close fight with
Michael with a good race, different strategies, so it was quite an
interesting race to drive and to watch also, so hopefully I think we
can be very competitive here this year. The R25 is performing very
well at all the circuits and I think here, especially, maybe even
Well Michael has won here seven times, but only once from
pole position. Is it one of your favorite circuits for that reason?
Does winning at one track make it a favorite?
Michael SCHUMACHER: Your question is it a favorite circuit because
of the fact that not winning from pole positionÖ It has been good for
me like Canada, but I think itís pretty clear what my most preferred
What are your feelings coming here under those
MS: Itís a new weekend, so I just look forward to it.
Same question as I asked Tiago about that form that 19
drivers have signed; yours is one of the signatures missing, can you
tell us why?
MS: As far as I understand, it was an initiative from Renault, I
donít recall they called me, first of all. I would have been
surprised if they had anyway. Just to make clear, this was not a GPDA
thing. I think we just have different opinions about it, which is
only natural so I would not have signed it.
Was there anything in particular about the form which you
MS: There were certain points that were never really part of the
discussion, actually, so there was no point in signing it.
(Stan Piecha - The Sun): A question for Michael Ė because
of the circumstances at the last race, where you got ten points, you
are now much closer to Kimi and Fernando in the title race. What do
you think you need to do to make it a three-way battle this season?
Another win here?
MS: I think it needs to be more than just another win here, honestly.
But it would be the right way to go ahead.
(Dan Knutson, National Speedsport News): Michael, how
competitive do you think you will be this weekend at this track?
MS: We have been working pretty hard the last month, several months,
and I think we have made some progress, pretty obviously, so I just
hope that the next step we are bringing here will bring us back into
real competition. I think we were looking quite good already in
Indianapolis and I believe we can look better than we have been.
Whether that is enoughÖ We shall see.
(Ottavio Daviddi Ė Tuttosport): A question for Michael and
Jarno. After the document we saw, do you think that the GPDA will be
weaker in the future or not?
MS: As I said, the GPDA was not involved in that one because itís
nothing to do with circuit safety or where you have to look for an
issue where you have a problem with something, here it is a
mechanical situation, from one team to another, which is not a
subject matter for the GPDA to get involved in.
JT: Well, I think the situation is not clear. I think we will be
weaker because there is something not clear as I received the
document direct from the GPDA and we all know how many people are in
the GPDA and probably most of us here are GPDA members. So, I donít
really understand the situation and I will try to understand it
better tomorrow when we will have a meeting. Anyway, we will all get
the information from the GPDA by email. So nobody can say I didnít
get the message. You can only say I didnít agree. That is my opinion.
But I think it is better to discuss it more.
(Peter Windsor - F1 Racing): Michael how representative
was your overall race time in Indianapolis of what it would have
been if there was a full grid?
MS: Put it this way, the first and last stint, I was in control of
the situation so the speed I did was not the maximum speed, but then
when pit-stop times happened, and the middle stint, that was pretty
(Peter Windsor Ė F1 Racing): Thank-you. And a second
question, to the three Michelin runners. Based on that information
and your simulations, how do you think you would have gone, knowing
the race time that Michael did?
JT: To be honest, I did not look at the race of the lap times so I
have no idea.
(Peter Windsor - F1 Racing): But what about the engineers
at Toyota, they must have looked at the data surely?
JT: I donít know to be honest you should ask them.
KR: I was on my way to New York already before the race finished. I
havenít seen my engineers yet; maybe they looked at it so I will know
later what the situation is.
FA: I saw the race, but the TV screen, not the times, so I donít know
exactly. They did a 1m 11s I think or something like that and it is
impossible to know how were the conditions on Sunday afternoon, how
much rubber there was on the track and very difficult to think what
our teams would have done.
(Andrea Cremonesi Ė La Gazzetta dello Sport): To the
Michelin guys, are you not concerned that Michelin can put now on the
track some more conservative tires and lose performance after what
Max Mosley and the World Council said yesterday. And Tiago I would
like to know why you decided to race in the end because you were in
the meeting and your team was in agreement with the decision to put
FA: I think the tires will perform exactly the same and I think the
Indianapolis problem was a very specific problem of that
configuration of the circuit and what happened there and after the
times and the performances the tires gave to us in the last test last
week, I think we are more competitive than before. I think the tires
are extremely, extremely good for this race and for Silverstone as
well and I have no worries at all.
KR: I think that for some reason the last high speed corner at
Indianapolis just didnít suit our tires and you really need to ask
Michelin about that.
JT: I donít think weíll have any safety problem or any performance
problem. What happened in Indianapolis was just a special case,
unfortunately a bad case for us and for Michelin. But these things
can happen and it is part of racing and motor sport and I think
Michelin will compete again as strong as before.
TM: Most of the times, drivers do as they are told by their teams and
sponsors and especially team managers Ė and the decision was to race
from the beginning and, also, from what I know and I heard, we never
said we wouldnít race and we actually said no matter how that whether
with a chicane or not, we were going to race. I don't know. I know
there were some other opinions out there, but we said we were always
going to race anyway. We have our sponsorsí commitments, Bridgestone
as well. So there was no way we wouldnít race.
Fernando, this is the home race for Renault, you are
leading the championship Ė is there more pressure on you to make a
good result in this race than in an other one?
FA: No. Not really, no. It is exactly the same honestly. It is the
home Grand Prix of the Renault people, a lot of them will be here and
a lot of important people from the Renault Group will be here again
so we are very optimistic for this race especially regarding the last
yearís results so I think we arrive here in a very good moment. We
are leading both championships, the car has improved a lot again last
week in Jerez, so we arrive in a perfect point this weekend in Magny-
(Salvatore Zanca - Associated Press): Michael, Formula One
took a hit with the United States race. What do you think Formula One
has to do to regain the confidence in the United States?
MS: It is pretty obvious what has happened, but despite that I think
that Formula One will return to the States at some stage and be very
strong. I donít know the calendar for next year, but there is no
reason why we should not return and show a good show again as we have
done. Plus there has been so much talk about Formula One in the
United States that it probably has created much more spectators than
(Salvatore Zanca Ė Associated Press): How can you regain
the confidence of the fans that were disillusioned?
MS: I think there is a lot you can do to state the facts Ė the fact
is that one tire company had a problem and therefore their cars
couldnít race. I think it is pretty simple and if you donít create
more casino than there is at the end of the day, then you just have
to say it is a sport and it is like an injured sportsman, or athlete,
or someone who cannot run because he has a muscle problem or
whatever, it is just the way sport happens.
(Dan Knutson Ė National Speedsport News): Can I put that
question to the other drivers and also, what do you think of
Michelinís gesture that they are going to refund the ticket prices to
all the fans plus buy 20,000 tickets and give them away for 2006 at
KR: I donít have anything to say.
FA: I think itís good that Michelin does this kind of thing to help
the people and to help all the people who were there, and because of
our fault, they didnít see a proper race.
Trulli's turn to talk
JT: Well obviously Michelin and everyone in Formula One will try to
help the USA supporters after this race at Indianapolis. It was a bit
of a downside for all of us, but obviously these things can happen.
Iíve been told that a few years ago an Indy Car race couldnít take
place because on the oval there was too much lateral G(-force) and
they didnít race for safety reasons. So itís quite similar
conditions. Unfortunately, this is a sport which pushes everything to
the limit and sometimes we go over the limit. Michelin have admitted
the failure for that race, but they will be back, and they are back
again and we will try again to go back to the USA and do our best
TM: A bit the same. The sport is all about limits, every department
is pushing to the limit, sometimes I think those things happen (that
they go over the limit). What they are doing now, I think, is fair.
They are trying to calm people down and be nice to the people who got
a bit pissed off with the situation.
(Andrea Cremonesi Ė La Gazzetta dello Sport): For all of
you, there is an idea and a proposal to put on a non-championship
race at the end of the year in Indianapolis. What do you think of
KR: Why non-championship?
FA: I donít know. Iíve heard nothing about that, so letís wait and
MS: Thereís no point in talking about stories. There are always
stories, so letís talk about facts.
JT: Well, to be honest, I havenít heard anything about this. Anyway
as I driver, I would be happy to drive.
TM: No, I havenít heard anything about this either, but the more I
drive then the happier I am. I can do five more if you want!
If you were a Formula One driver, you were a fan, sitting
in front of the TV getting ready to watch the race at Indianapolis
and then you see what happens, how would you feel about it, and how
would your consideration of Formula One be now? Would you still
consider it to be exciting?
FA: For me, yes. These things happen in the sport as we all say. If
you start watching a tennis game these days and there is a problem
with safety with one of the players and they suspend the game, these
things happen. You are disappointed at that moment. There were a lot
of fans at the track, but there was a safety problem. We all wanted
to race, we arrived, ready to race on Sunday morning but with the
configuration of the circuit that we had, it was not possible to
race. So we tried to find other solutions. OK, we had this problem
with the tires, but at the same time, I think all the fans understood
that we are at the limit. This is a tire that had won all the races
in which it had competed this year so itís not a bad tire. This is a
specific problem that we had to sort out and I think the people
TM: I think maybe it was the lack of information for the fans. We all
knew what was going on. We knew that there was a really big security
issue. I think most of the fans didnít know exactly what was
happening, so it was a bit of a farce for them. So yes, if you were
in the grandstands, and it also depends on how long youíve been there
in the sun, drinking beer and then itís likeÖ whatís going on? Of
course youíre not very happy because you donít know why people are
coming into the pits and there are only six cars on the track.
(Peter Windsor Ė F1 Racing): Michael, what was your
reaction when you realized that debris was being thrown on the track
by the fans? Did you think about stopping?
MS: No, at no time was the debris big enough or concerning enough. It
was little plastic cups. There was a bit of beer around which you
could smell, but not see. To hit us you would need to be very lucky.
We go that quickly. No, I wasnít too concerned.
(Peter Windsor Ė F1 Racing): Secondly your reaction toÖ
despite what everyone was saying about the race, the fact that the TV
ratings, the initial input globally were up for that race and
specifically in America. Why do you think that is?
MS: Good question. You should be better at answering that question!
(Tony Dodgins Ė Autosport): Question for the Michelin
guys: I think we all know that the issue is specific to turn 13 at
Indy, but Max Mosley has made public that he has been asking Michelin
questions about soft sidewalls. We go to Monza further in the
championship where we run the car very quickly and also take quite a
lot of curb. Are you worried about any issues at Monza, particularly
that itís only a few days before the extraordinary general meeting
where the penalties will be discussed again?
KR: No, Iím not worried about it. I think the circuit is completely
different, even if it is a high speed circuit, but the corners arenít
as high speed as the one at Indy. It was also a banked corner at Indy
so I think that was a small part of the problem.
FA: Same. I think three or four teams tested at Monza three weeks
ago, more than a thousand laps without problems, so the race will be
JT: Iím really not concerned. What we had in Indianapolis was a
strange situation and it was quite far away from where we are based,
so it was difficult to react for Michelin and conditions were
different from the previous season so all these things mixed up
created. Well, we know what happened. I think Monza will be a normal
Grand Prix with no problems.
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