APRIL 23, 2004
SAN MARINO GP - FRIDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
Friday Press Conference
FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 23 APRIL 2004
TEAM PERSONALITIES: Norbert HAUG (MERCEDES), Paulo MARTINELLI (FERRARI), Otmar SZAFNAUER (HONDA), Mario THEISSEN (BMW) and Rob WHITE (RENAULT)
Q: Otmar, what's made the difference so far this year? It's been fantastic...
Otmar SZAFNAUER: Thanks for recognising the difference. I think we have made a step from last year, significantly and the engine's got more powerful, it's a bit lighter than it was in the past and naturally the new regulations had us focus on reliability. So we're more durable this year, we're a lot lighter and we're a little more powerful. That, in conjunction with the chassis and our new tyre supplier, I think the whole package has taken a step up and it shows on the track.
Q: Has there actually been any differences at Honda itself?
Szafnauer: We're always striving to improve at Honda and yeah, we have made some organisational changes that have helped us well as we've found some things and focused on reducing weight and increasing power.
Q: Norbert, a reverse question to that, in some ways: what has gone wrong, how curable, how solvable is it?
Norbert HAUG: Well, I think that's quite easy to answer. It was almost everything that went wrong so far. Honestly, we didn't really achieve what we wanted to achieve in the first three races but we are working very hard to come back to where we used to be. Sometimes things like that happen. They should not happen and I think all the team were very motivated, trying to make a big step in the right direction. Maybe the step was a little bit too big, but now we're working very concentrated on really improving our performance in both performance and reliability.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the reorganisation at McLaren Mercedes?
Haug: Yeah. Martin Whitmarsh is chief executive officer responsible for both chassis and engine and all the organisation and the display of the Formula One team in practical terms and we want to work as one entity and I think that is a very good step in the right direction.
Q: What about Ulrich Maik?
Haug: There's not a lot to say. There was an agreement between both parties and we split and we agreed not to discuss it any further.
Q: Rob, can you tell us about the new development on the engine here?
Rob WHITE: The RS24 was conceived from the beginning to be a robust platform for development. The engine has served us well for the first three races of the season with minor revisions for each race. Here at Imola there is a bigger step. I think it's clear that the objectives for the change were to increase the engine performance and we're pleased to have done that in terms of the peak power, the useable speed range of the engine, the torque curve shape, the driveability, the things that drivers like to see in a racing engine.
Q: And when might we see more modifications, more steps forward?
White: The strategy is to continue in this vein, that is to evolve the engine bit by bit, event by event, making changes, particularly in the way that the engine is used for each Grand Prix. There are further, bigger steps planned for later in the season, in a similar fashion to the way in which we began the season, with the iteration which has now arrived this weekend.
Q: Paulo, how different is this year's engine to last year's?
Martinelli: Well, it's an evolution of last year's engine as we have said. Basically we took last year's engine as a proper base, but most of the engine components have been completely redesigned, first of all to extend the reliability of the engine to the target of more than 700, between 700 to 800 kilometres. And the second point is to try to improve performance, so we concentrated in the winter period to define a reliable base to start the season and we are now working continually to improve performance.
Q: Is not the problem with an evolution how much development is left within the engine?
Martinelli: Well, I've just said, having a proper base there is room to improve. That's the reason why we thought that with the change of regulation what was more important was the continuity of the evolution of the engine instead of starting with a completely white sheet of paper.
Q: So you're confident there is more to come...
Martinelli: I think so, I hope so.
Q: Mario, how do you feel about the performance of the BMW engine so far this year?
Theissen: Well, I'm quite satisfied with the performance. We have managed to go up to basically the same engine speed with which we finished the engine of last season. Power is equal as well, and we are now looking at increasing power, already. So this is certainly satisfying. We have taken a bit of a different approach in terms of power development in that we don't only look at the one qualifying lap or peak power for one qualifying lap, but we want to provide this same power and same engine speed throughout the race and even in top gear, we don't want to step back a lot, just enough to allow for a tow, but no more. And we are almost there, so we can run the engine now, throughout the race, at top revs, top power and that is quite a big step which I have to say, one year ago, I didn't expect would be possible.
Q: So have you been a bit cautious up to now?
Theissen: Well, we were cautious last year during development. In the winter tests, we saw already that it would be possible to regain the same position in terms of power and engine speed and now we are looking forward.
Q: Now, can I ask you all your comments on the FIA proposals regarding engines, particularly their viability, if you feel that they are applicable?
Szafnauer: Generally, I think the gist of the proposals was to slow the cars down and we at Honda are in favour of having a very safe formula but at the same time, allowing the design freedom and technical challenges that Formula One poses today. So in general, we would be against any changes that take away the technical challenges from our engineers. I think there are things in there like the rev limiters and things of that nature, and I think those things are an anathema to Formula One in general. But making the formula safer? We're definitely for that. Reducing engine size? I think it said 2.4 litre V8. We're not against that as long as the design freedoms remain open and Formula One remains the pinnacle of motor sport.
Haug: I try to explain it like this. I think there are three main criteria that we have to face. I think we should think about creating a better sport for the spectator. That, for me, is the most important point. It is very important to save costs, because otherwise I think we will all be in trouble in a couple of years, even the companies who could basically afford to spend a lot of money, but why spend more money than necessary? I think that has to be the process and the third point is slowing the cars down. I think they're going quicker and quicker, which is normal in a tough competition, but first of all we all need to realise that this sport is made for spectators, for spectators here at the race track and mainly for spectators watching on television. And we are very open to every discussion in that direction, and we are certainly open to the proposals laid down in what Max Mosley, the FIA President, wrote to the teams and to us, and we certainly will join in the meeting and build a constructive part of it. My personal view is that a change of rules, in terms of the engine, doesn't help to save money, not at all. It's quite the opposite in that case. And I think we cannot justify saying that a new engine has eight cylinders so we save a lot of parts. I just don't think that's the right process. We should constructively think about what we have and what we can reduce in terms of speed and in terms of costs and that will be a better approach. But as I said, Mercedes Benz and McLaren will be a very constructive part of these discussions.
White: I think everybody appreciates the magnitude of the subject, everybody appreciates that it's important for the future of the sport and we at Renault certainly support the orientation of the proposals. Clearly, we've all just seen them today and there's little to say about the detail of them but we're pleased that there's something concrete to discuss and we will play an active part in discussing it as the details emerge and the process continues.
Martinelli: We think the aim of the proposals is very positive. We have to consider what we can do for the future of the sport. We have to give priority to safety, to maintain or improve the spectacle and to design a formula that still allows for the peak of technology but at reasonable cost. I think we are pleased at the approach. In my opinion, it's difficult to go into detail on any of the proposals but in general, we favour these proposals and I think that in the medium term, a displacement reduction is the best way to limit the power performance without artificial tools like speed limiters etc. It's the best idea, so we are in favour of considering a formula with a 2.4 V8 in the future, and also to consider how to extend engine life.
Theissen: If you look at the proposal to me it consists of two parts. The first part is the objectives. We fully support the objectives. There is one thing on the objectives, which is a technical solution already, which I would be careful to keep this really apart. First talk about the objectives and then the solutions. Main objectives are safety and cost reduction and in my view the cost reduction is the most urgent one. If we think we need to do something about it I think we should try and get it done before 2008 and not as late as that. On the specific engine proposal, as I've said in my view cost reduction is the most urgent thing and this is why we would not propose a different engine format. It is clear to us that if you change from a 3-litre V10 to a 2.4-litre V8 you have to do for at least one year two separate engines in parallel which would be a massive cost increase. We calculated in the past that a 2.4 V8 would be five percent lower than a 3-litre V10, no more than five percent, so in total it would be a real cost reduction. We would be happy and support extending engine life, maybe even beyond two race weekends because that would take power down and at the same time would be a massive cost cut and that is what we need. So I think we should spend some more thoughts on that direction.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mike Doodson - Mike Doodson Associates): Can I come back to the control of the engines? One of the proposals that Mr Mosley has put forward is the introduction of the standard ECU for everybody. He is clearly determined to get rid of electronic controls and I guess the introduction of the ECU is tied in with that. Can I ask each of you if they imposition of an ECU will reduce the interest of your manufacturer in Formula One? Would it be a danger to your participation?
Theissen: It is too early to talk about this. Obviously engine electronics have played a vital role in our project, it was always clear to us that we would do it in-house. On the other hand we have to carefully evaluate the proposal in order to achieve the objectives. I wouldn't feel anything at the moment, but probably something we would have a careful look at.
Martinelli: I think it is an interesting proposal to examine in detail. I think if one of the targets is cost reduction we have to consider standard hardware for electronics. It is something that is a primary goal of cost reduction. Of course the software must allow a level of freedom to develop according to the need of each engine manufacturer. On production cars, there are a lot of standard issue adapted to a lot of engines so I think it is possible that it can be used in a Formula One engine. But we have got to maintain a discussion.
White: For sure it is technically feasible. As with anything, the devil is in the detail and there will be technical details, commercial details.
Haug: I think in the first place we shouldn't exclude any reasonable suggestions, but I think it is very important we are careful in the evaluation process. I think we have made some mistakes in the past and we should not repeat them. Basically we are open for any reasonable suggestions.
Szafnauer: We at Honda have that as an in-house process. We are open to suggestions but at this time we would have to study it further. We saw it as a strategic advantage to keep it in-house and with these proposals we would have to give it some thought before we answer.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grandprix.com): The current Concorde Agreement runs out at the end of 2007, which, as far as I understand it anyway, means that you guys don't get a say because Max is saying this is what we are going to have for Formula One and it is not a case of negotiation, do you want to be here or not? Is that how you understand it?
Haug: It is hard to see a chassis running without an engine isn't it? You know my favourite solution, I think we need one Formula One and we should not open now what speaks for A and what speaks for B. If we have the right time and the right place we can find a solution and I think that is the favourite solution of all of us.
Szafnauer: I've just read them today and I thought they were proposals to be discussed at a meeting coming up in early May. Some of the proposals we agree with and others we don't, but hopefully they are just that and they are a discussion point and we will come to a solution point that is good for everybody.
Theissen: I'm not sure really how to read this because it says that we are free to put forward any additional ideas.
Martinelli: I must say it is a proposal and at Ferrari we are in Formula One. We have to analyse together as an engine manufacturer and a team if we support this idea and define what is the future of Formula One after 2007.
White: I've already bought my train ticket to go to Monaco for the meeting.
Q: (Jonathan Noble - Autosport): Mario has already commented on them, but can the other manufacturers comment on whether they would accept proposals before the current Concorde Agreement for a major engine overhaul such as reduction to 2.4-litres?
Martinelli: I think we have to change only once. We cannot think to design something in 2007 and then modify something in 2008. There is also the stability so for sure reviewed for 2008 and in the current agreement we can consider something, but I think it makes no sense to think about two different types of engine or to think about major modification of the engine structure. We have to think of only one modification.
White: I largely share that view. We would be prepared to consider something and it has already been discussed at the technical forums within the sport and we have already discussed things. But as Paolo has just said it is difficult to conceive of a rational change that would not be continued into 2008.
Haug: I can describe my favourite solution, and it should fall in place as soon as possible. I think we could cut 30 or even 50 percent of the technical costs and then with the money we saved we could put into the presentation of Formula One, into the television pictures whatever. I would be very happy if we could achieve a solution for next year but I doubt it.
Szafnauer: If we are given ample development time and it items that are good for the Formula and for us then we would be willing to do some of it.
Q: (Steve Cooper - Motorsport News): Can you guys clarify your position on supplying affordable customer engines? A year ago some of the smaller teams agreed to maintain traction control into this year in return for a cheaper deal on engines. They are perhaps a little let down that you have not come through with your promises this season.
Szafnauer: We're not foreign to racing in many Formulas and having many teams using our engines, and when we came back this time into Formula One we did just that with BAR and Jordan. But we think at this time and looking forward to our future that we would like to stay with one team and focus our resources on one team.
Haug: I think it is well known that we made the offer last year and we just couldn't find a solution with a team. That was it basically.
White: I think I am more technical expertise than commercial expertise, and there are commercial elements, but the direction the sport has to go much address this question, and continue to support the debate to find a solution.
Martinelli: I think on my side we had quite a strong experience with the Sauber Petronas team supplying the engine and I think in the new regulations we have to define a way that major teams can support, on a reasonable commercial base, smaller teams and also with a supply of engines. I think it is difficult to keep the bargain for the major manufacturer to supply a secondary team, but to define a regulation for sure if we are going to achieve a target of the use of an engine to a secondary team.
Theissen: We have always stated that we are happy to go with just one team, with BMW-Williams team. One reason has always been we don't want to loose focus and the other one limited production capacity. Before being able to take a second look at that, we need to take a look at the new regulations especially about engine life, because engine life affects the number of engine produce per year so that is critical.
THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 22 APRIL 2004
Drivers: Takuma SATO (BAR) and Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI)
Q: Michael, since Bahrain can you tell us a bit about your testing programme?
Michael SCHUMACHER: We have obviously been in Barcelona testing, I was there two days, and after that in Fiorano for two days. The funny thing is that it is rare, and I don't remember when we had the last test and we didn't have any rain period. It has been a rainy season during testing at least.
Q: And I think you were there yesterday with Valentino Rossi...
Schumacher: Yeah I was there yesterday and it was pretty interesting.
Q: Tell us about it. How did he get on?
Schumacher: He got on very good. He took some time to get into it but in the end he ended it very impressively.
Q: Obviously being a racer on two wheels he has the general feeling for it...
Schumacher: I guess so. I didn't know that but I heard yesterday that he has some karting experience which I guess did help him. But once you have the racing blood you sort of know what to do.
Q: This race is a home race for you with Fiorano close by, but I believe you also have some responsibilities with San Marino. Can you tell us about those?
Schumacher: Indeed, it is a sort of home Grand Prix for me. As the ambassador of San Marino, I am going to be at the sports awards tonight. It is good to come here. Obviously we all know about the rumours for the future of the San Marino Grand Prix, so from my side I hope that they don't come true.
Q: Can you do anything about that?
Schumacher: If I have anything to do I will try, but I think there is very little I can do.
Q: The other thing since Bahrain is that you went to Dublin and did some work with the FIA on road safety. Can you tell us about that?
Schumacher: Yeah we have been doing a few events together, the FIA and myself, in order to campaign road safety. We have the 10-second campaign and it is always about how little attention and little time you need to improve your road safety. There is little things like putting on the safety belt, having luggage in the right position, having the children's seat properly - they are little things but they have a big effect. People who have not seen the difference do not do it and they risk their lives. So we try to raise the attention because if you know the numbers of road accidents, if you see the ambitions in what there is to achieve in the next years, how much to reduce death in traffic that is pretty ambitious, especially with all the new countries coming to the European statutes - it is important to work with them and make them aware.
Q: Is that something you will be doing more of?
Schumacher: We are doing it quite regularly honestly. Whenever there is the right time because if you do it every day it is going to go in there (one ear) and out of there (the other ear). You have to do it at the right time and in the right way.
Q: So quite a busy few weeks since Bahrain?
Schumacher: I mean Dublin was in that respect busy because I had just come home and had to leave straight away again to go to Dublin so it was pretty busy. Then with the testing and so on the next week was okay. I just had two days and I was a bit easy until yesterday.
Q: Last night...
Schumacher: Even last night but I don't know if we should speak about that.
Q: That was a busy match wasn't it?
Schumacher: I was running around with my colleagues. We had a sort of positioning for our players and after sort of two minutes I saw the game and I said to all the good players like Fernando (Alonso) and some others ?you have to come to the back, you can't be the attackers'. There was no game in the front for us in the beginning, we only had to defend against these professional people. But it was fun and it was particular fun in the second-half when we changed the players.
Q: What about this weather, are you expecting this weather throughout the weekend?
Schumacher: It would be beautiful especially for the spectators. Even if the temperature went higher it would be ideal for everybody. I heard some forecasts, which doesn't seem to be for the rest of the weekend this kind of weather.
Q: Would prefer cooler temperatures? Do you think that Bridgestone need cooler temperatures or is that a bit of a myth these days?
Schumacher: There is maybe the open point of the very, very hot conditions, which we could have had in Malaysia and could have had in Bahrain - what is the situation. I believe the sort of low to normal temperature is pretty equal for us so these temperatures are good.
Q: How do you think things have gone so far this season?
Takuma SATO: Obviously we are very happy about the things that have happened and obviously the racing wasn't easy for me the first three races but the car has worked very good and strongly. All three drivers, test driver Anthony (Davidson), Jenson (Button) and I are very confident about the car and putting so much commitment into the team. We are working well. For me to come back to the Grand Prix for a second season is very good and exciting.
Q: Did you think it was going to be this good?
Sato: The beginning of the season was nervous, but the car had a lot of potential. I had a really exciting race in Bahrain so it is nice after this.
Q: There was an accusation after the first two races that you were over-driving. Do you feel that you have got that sorted out now?
Sato: It is a difficult question. Obviously a driver is always driving as fast as he can and you are always committed. The difficult things are that we have a small number of laps before the qualifying and there is a lot of things that we have to do. It is never going to be perfect. But I think now we are back in Europe it is more relaxed with the structure and the way things happen at the weekends, and more, I think, enjoyable now.
Q: What about the battle with Jarno Trulli in Bahrain?
Sato: Jarno was a little bit at the start, but basically I started with Ralf and the last 15 laps to the finish was with Alonso.
Q: And how enjoyable was that?
Sato: It was good. We were fighting for the points. I think Bahrain has a really great opportunity for overtaking people and those last 15 laps were tough, but it was a good battle.
Q: And the testing since then - Jenson did 150 laps in one day at Ricard, I presume that is pretty good...
Sato: As Michael mentioned we all went to the Barcelona test and it was a good test. Then we went to Paul Ricard and Jenson completed nearly 300 laps in two days. Unfortunately the day I arrived was stormy weather and we couldn't complete any timed laps. Basically we just did out laps to collect data. But we are on the pace in testing and we are confident for Europe and particularly here.
Q: After these first three races have you slightly reappraised your ambitions for the season? Have you thought I can do a little better than I thought I was going to do?
Sato: I think that probably the biggest grey area was how the BAR-Honda would be performing. But we did a lot of hard work over the winter and I'm particularly pleased we have shown some good performance. We have scored a lot of points and I think we will rightly continue with the package throughout the season.
Q: To come back to Michael, one of things that has come up since the last race is the certain amount of talk over weather Formula One cars should be slowed down. Do you think they should?
Schumacher: It is probably a matter of whether we arrive at a limit where we can cope with it or still can cope with it and from a drivers' point of view it is clear that we can still cope with the speeds we do. I think for the future if you see development going there has to be a direction and there is something in plan to do. If you see the relationship between the horsepower and what the tyres do and the aerodynamics are, then we have, in my view, to look at that and reduce the horsepower.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Hans van der Klis - Race Report): Michael would you like to jump on a bike now in return....
Schumacher: I do pretty regular jump on a bike. It is more a Harley Davidson bike but anyway. There is no ambitions to jump on a real race bike and try to go really racing speed. That is not my ambition. Going from a bike to a car is a pretty safe thing to do, going from a car to a bike lesser.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sports News): Could you just give us your general step on this weekend and the competition and how you think it will go....
Schumacher: There is two views you can have. One is that we have been here in the winter and were very strong, the other is that in Barcelona Takuma and Jenson have been very fast. So what does it mean? I don't know myself actually.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sports News): Michael in Bahrain you drove a fantastic race and obviously got tremendous satisfaction out of winning in such dominant fashion. It is not your fault that the other don't have a package good enough to compete direct with you but do you miss wheel-to-wheel racing with the competition?
Schumacher: You know racing and Formula One in particular has always been like this, that there is no way to get 100 percent wheel-to-wheel racing. There is periods you have more and there is periods you have less. The other periods will come.
Q: (Ian Parkes - PA News): Michael I can imagine this must be an emotional weekend for you in more ways than one, not only the death of Ayrton Senna ten-year anniversary but this time last year you lost your mother. Can you put into words your thoughts...
Schumacher: You're pretty right. Unfortunately we only think about one driver and I like to remember both drivers who have died in the same weekend. Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton died and everyone was obviously shocked about this and from my point of view it was the first experience with death in the sport I most love. The only positive I can take out of this one, and at least that is important that we have seen a lot of action in terms of safety happening since that day. Max Mosley was very much the person to drive this safety campaign very strongly forward to not let this happen as much as it is possible in the world to have a safe sport. Because to everything there is a limit but he and his group and the drivers and everybody sort of pulled on the same line in order to improve safety and if you see what safety level we have in these days, then it is a tremendous success. In this way we have to say that this is the feedback we have had since 1994. It doesn't really justify it, but at the end of the day we can see something positive out of it.
Q: (Ian Parkes - PA News): What do you remember most about Ayrton?
Schumacher: I have very mixed and many memories. The first one is in 1980 when I saw him racing in a go-kart race, and I was very impressed. Nobody knew who he was at the time, it was purely a fantastic kart racer with a lot of abilities and talent and he worked his way through to Formula One and became as successful as he did. It was a privilege for me to be able to race against him. We had some tough fights, very good fights, we had some tough times on a personal level, but we also had some good times on a personal level, which I am always keeping in good memory.
Q: (Ian Parkes - PA News): Many people try to compare the two of you. Do you think that is an unfair comparison?
Schumacher: I never wanted to be compared or try to be someone different so naturally I don't draw the comparison.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters): Going back to Valentino Rossi. Do you think he could have a future in Formula One?
Schumacher: I think it is not easy to answer. He has great ability, he has shown that many times on his racing bike and he has shown them to some degree in what he did yesterday. As he knows what it takes to do what he is doing in motor racing, in motorcycle, how much experience he needs, how much basic knowledge and experience you need in the lower classes you need to build up to this top level. I would probably say he would come to a certain level, which would be maybe competitive, but to come to the final bit is usually the difficult bit. I don't think it is the point because he just wanted to en joy himself and I'm pretty sure he did looking at the grin he had on his face yesterday. I guess today he is working on his neck to get that back in order! Otherwise it was a fun day for him.
Q: (Maurice Hamilton - The Observer): Michael, going back to the question about slowing the cars down, you mentioned engine power but the biggest gains come from the tyre war and the reduction in lap times. Is there an argument for controlled tyres?
Schumacher: I think the only way is to tell them what to do, but as we have a free sort of sport it is very difficult. To put more grooves then we'll be back on slicks basically. Not much you do about that in my view. If you see the improvement over the years, when we went from three-and-a-half litre to the three-litre we were down to 600 horsepower and everybody said the maximum you will arrive at is 700, 750 that's going to be it. Give it another two years we will be knocking on the 1000 door in my view and this is out of proportion with the size of the tyres we have, to the grip, to the aero package and that why I think that is the thing to look at.
Q: (Livio Orrichio - O Estado de Sao Paulo?): Coming back to Valentino Rossi, are you curious to ride his motorcycle as he was to drive a Formula One car?
Schumacher: I am curious to feel simply the acceleration of such a bike, not find the limit on the corners. I said before that is not my playing field.
DRIVERS: Felipe MASSA (SAUBER PETRONAS), Jarno TRULLI (RENAULT)
Q: Jarno, at the beginning of the season, Ferrari said that they feared Renault more than any other team. Do you think that fear has been fulfilled; do you think your performance has been shown so far?
Jarno TRULLI: Let's say that Ferrari was definitely right in terms that we are second in the championship so we've proved that obviously we've got a good package, we've done very well in the first three races. But it's also very clear that Ferrari is a very strong team, it's got a very strong car with two strong drivers, so they are leading the championship with quite a big gap. But we are second in the Constructors' championship and this is the most important thing for us. We know that we have a lot of work to do ahead of us, to keep this position to the end of the championship. We've got 15 races to go, still a long way, still a lot to do, especially because teams like Williams, like McLaren, like BAR, they can all do very well. Actually BAR and Williams are strong and I'm sure McLaren will recover from these disappointing first three races.
Q: You've obviously got improvements to the car here and to the engine as well. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What are your expectations?
Trulli: Actually we've got some updates here, because we know that this is the first race in Europe and Imola has always been our ?black' spot. We've never really performed very well here. We know that our car doesn't really suit this circuit but on the other hand, more than ever we are confident because we have a new engine development, which is quite a big step and some new bits on the aerodynamic side, so we are definitely confident that we can turn this black weekend around.
Q: So will you challenge Ferrari?
Trulli: Well, they've updated some things as well so it's not going to be easy to catch them. Anyway, every weekend we all try to stop their domination. Actually, at the moment, no one has succeeded but we will try, we will try.
Q: What about your relationship with teammate Fernando Alonso, do you get on well with him?
Trulli: As usual, yes. I am very happy with the way we're working in the team, and with our relationship. No problem at all.
Q: There have been quite a few changes at Renault, with Rob White now in charge of engine development, new technical director in Bob Bell - has that made a difference?
Trulli: To be honest, no. Chassis-wise, Bob Bell was already there before. He's a very experienced and an extremely good person. He knows his job. He does his job very well and we're actually doing very well, so in the end, nothing has changed. Mike has gone - it's always a loss but it hasn't really affected our performance. On the other hand, I think we gained someone like Rob White, who is an experienced engineer, he knows a lot about good engines, and he can somehow bring some new and fresh air to the Renault team, which has already made the best engine in Formula One, and is back now with an extremely powerful and particularly reliable engine. So far, with Ferrari, I think we are the only team which has finished the first three races with both cars. It's an extremely good achievement, always in the points. They are doing very well on the engine side. The engine we have this year is much better compared to last year's so it's a good advantage.
Q: Tell us about running in the half marathon in Florence last weekend?
Trulli: It was great for me because it was a way to relax, a way to get away from Formula One, to get away from people and be one of the many and not be a star as you are here always. It's a good feeling. I like running and personally I achieved an extremely good result because my aim was to run the half marathon in under 1hr 40m by the end of the season and at my second attempt, I went for 1hr 35m, so I think I now have to fix a new target, under 1hr 30m.
Q: Were you very stiff, what were the after effects?
Trulli: Absolutely not. I was really surprised because during the three weeks before, I didn't have enough time to train. I actually trained only twice, but it was probably one of those days when you can do anything with your body and just go for it. I felt so happy. I was motivated to do it, despite the fact that the weather was bad, it was raining, so it was harder, but no, nothing at all. I played football yesterday as well. It's just a question of training, to get it right.
Q: How many more marathons have you got planned?
Trulli: I'm talking about half marathons, not marathons. Marathon is slightly different. But now I've fixed a new target, to be under 1hr 30m, and now I'm too busy with Formula One, and that's the most important thing.
Q: Felipe, you're not tempted to do something like this, are you?
Felipe MASSA: Yeah, but I never did a half marathon. Maybe a marathon, but actually I run also. I try to run every day, every three days when I'm not testing. But I will do it some time, but not at the moment.
Q: Having tested for Ferrari last year, how do you feel coming back to Sauber again? How much do you feel you've changed?
Massa: There are a lot less people in the team. I already knew everybody that at Sauber, they are very professional people and I'm really happy to be back, especially as a race driver. I think the new Sauber car is a lot better than last year's Sauber. I did a back-to-back which was very good. I'm really happy. For sure we knew that the first three races would be very difficult and they were very difficult for us, but at least we scored a point in Malaysia and I think now we can improve. I trust in everybody in the team and I think now with the wind tunnel, we can improve.
Q: What did you learn, yourself, as a test driver last year with Ferrari?
Massa: I particularly learned on the technical side. I learned quite a lot. Now I understand a lot more in terms of what it means to be a Formula One driver, especially on the technical side of things. I also learned a lot, how to work with the engineers, watching Rubens and Michael working the engineers, so I learned a lot there as well. That's it. I think that year by year, experience is very important and I think after a year race driving with Sauber, and a year test driving with Ferrari, I've learned quite a lot.
Q: Some people have referred to this year's Sauber as being a blue Ferrari...
Massa: No, that's not true. Everybody knows that we have a Ferrari engine, Ferrari gearbox... I think it's a shame to build a completely different car from Ferrari, so I think we have built our own car. It's our chassis, we built it, and we work on that. But it's not true. It's our car, we built it and that's it.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Anne Giuntini - L'Equipe): How was the football match yesterday? How was it meeting the fabulous Brazilian team?
Massa: It was very interesting because in the first half of the match, I think it was better just to stop and watch the Brazilian guys playing, because it was amazing, they are really good and they were just joking with us. It was unbelievable to see how they play. And some of them don't play any more, but they are still very fit and very strong. It's unbelievable, very nice. Then in the second half, we mixed it up a bit, everybody together, and then it was much better.
Trulli: It was a bit embarrassing at one stage, to be honest. The only thing I understood is the way everyone has got his own job and everyone specialises in his own job. I'm fit, I think I'm fit and I'm an athlete. Probably I can drive a car at 360 kilometers per hour with no problem but they can play with the ball, they can do things that I will never be able to do. I can train every day, but I can never achieve what they are able to achieve, because they have talent. We have got a different talent and as Felipe says, it was amazing at one stage to stop, stand and watch them playing, because it was just absolutely amazing.
Massa: It was also funny because when I was young, a child, I was sometimes thinking I could maybe be a football player, you know? And now I have the answer. It is really impossible. To watch them play... it's really impossible to be a football player. It's better to drive a car and concentrate on Formula One, because it's nice to play and have fun, but after we saw how they played - it's impossible.
Q: (Anne Giuntini - L'Equipe): Did they make you run a lot?
Trulli: Yeah. They didn't run much, but we did, a lot! They were just passing to each other, and we were just following the ball. It was impossible to catch them. I think they are able to hide the ball from you, and if they want, you will never touch it.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sports News): For both of you guys, can you give us some of your memories of Ayrton Senna, not of the sad day when he crashed here, but other memories of that fantastic driver.
Trulli: Well, personally, when I was a go-kart driver, I was a big fan of Alain Prost and when Senna arrived, I had to stand up and say ?this is someone very special, special like Alain Prost.' It was amazing to watch them fighting. My best memory was when I actually met Ayrton because back in 1991, I was World Champion and he was World Champion in Formula One. I was World Champion in karting and we were both given our awards by the FIA at their prize-giving in Paris. It was an incredible moment for me, because I was meeting someone very special, but somehow also very nice, a very simple person. An ordinary person. That is my best memory of him. The rest everybody knows.
Massa: First of all, he was an incredible driver. I think he was part of the history of Formula One, and sport in general. As a Brazilian, I have to say that he opened a lot of doors for Brazilian people, for Brazilian drivers. I think the Brazilian drivers have a lot of respect in Formula One, after Ayrton and he was an incredible driver. I remember the race in Donington when he overtook a lot of cars at the start in the rain. I think he overtook everybody on the first lap in four corners. It was an amazing race. There are a lot of memories, but I think this race was really impressive for me.
GPWC PULLS OUT OF FORMULA ONE AGREEMENT
FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
PRACTICE 2 RESULTS
PRACTICE 1 RESULTS
A SHAKE-UP AT FORD
BERNIE FIRES A WARNING SHOT (AGAIN)
FERRARI GOES INTO PUBLISHING
MCLAREN CONFIRMS MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE
NISSAN ENGINEER TO STAY AT RENAULT