SEPTEMBER 23, 2005
BRAZILIAN GP - FRIDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 23 SEPTEMBER 2005
TECHNICAL DIRECTORS: Ross BRAWN (Ferrari), Sam MICHAEL (Williams), Pat SYMONDS (Renault), Geoff WILLIS (BAR)
Q: We have all been impressed with the reliability, but how marginal has it been, particularly Ross and Pat can you tell us about the engines, of course we are not really asking for detail. Has it really been that tough to make these engines to last two races and also to get the cars to the end?
Pat SYMONDS: It is difficult, but equally it is just an engineering challenge. In Formula One we have not been used to running engines for that long but in many other forms of motorsport they have. Certain things have had to change and I think our guys have adapted very well to it, we have been very pleased with the engine. Are they marginal? Yes they are. When we take them to bits they are quite scary at times, but that's really the way that should be. We don't want it to be pristine at the end of two races, we want it to be on the limit. That is how we want to do it and I think our guys have done it very successfully.
Geoff WILLIS: I think the level of skill and professionalism in the sport has steadily got better and better and compared to two or three years ago we are now running engines that are significantly lighter, more powerful, running for about five times as long, but then all the rest of the car is also extremely reliable. There is a strong level of competition so you are seeing people having to engineer their designs right close to the edge of their performance. So it is down to their procedures and processes and the very formal ways that people are working on their cars and engines to maintain that level of performance as well as that level of reliability. So yes, it is very tough, reliability has always been part of any sort of motor racing and it is as important now as it always has been.
Ross BRAWN: I think fundamentally there is no difference in the engineering challenge between making an engine last 300km or 1,500km, it is the level of performance you try to achieve with that level of reliability. Each time you strip the engine you are looking for areas that are suffering or areas that are stressed and step by step you achieve the reliability you need. I think the thing that is a little frustrating at times is the time available to do the job, because if we were able to start again with a completely new engine this would not be the most efficient way. If you can start with a completely new engine design then you can incorporate the features you want to achieve reliability with best performance and I think we have all been working with compromised designs because these engines weren't designed to last two races, they were designed to do short stints, certainly ours were. I think with the V8 engine that is coming it is the first time we will have a chance to design an engine from the very beginning knowing that it has to do two races and I think therefore the V8s could be even better than the ones we have now. It is a performance-reliability ratio. We could all blow our engines up tomorrow if we wanted to, that is not difficult. It is just the level of performance you can achieve with the reliability. The great thing about the engine is you can take them on a dyno and do a lot of the work at home.
Sam MICHAEL: I think a lot of things have changed in Formula One, not just on engines but hydraulics, gearboxes, suspension, and the default system you have in place now is so rigorous. All the teams have a target of 100 percent reliability and it has been like that for a few years now and once you have so many people and resources dedicated to that you do start to make a breakthrough. I think what Ross said is right as well, the V8 is going to be even more because of the way the regulations are written. It is much easier for the engine manufacturers because of set weights and spacings to make sure engines have got plenty of weight in them and I think it is going to get better and better.
Q: Pat, what is it like to work with Fernando Alonso, what sort of a guy is he from a professional point of view?
Symonds: He really is excellent. That may be a bit of a glib statement, because you do expect me to say that, but I have worked with many champions before and he has many of the same characteristics. I think the thing that is surprising and what is a real compliment to him is that one forgets his age, because the maturity he shows is well beyond his age, even the time he has been in Formula One, which is not long. You just forget about it. It is like you are dealing with a guy who has a destiny, he knows that destiny and he is totally comfortable with it. He is a very intelligent guy, he is particularly good at reading a race, looking after equipment, in the same way that Michael is. He knows when to go fast and when to reel it back a bit. He has a very good understanding of the tactics and what needs to be done in the race. And he enjoys it. And I think that is always refreshing. He really is a good guy to work with and if he achieves the championship as we hope and expect he will I think he will thoroughly deserve to take Michael's crown.
Q: You have worked with both, and you mentioned the analogy with Michael there. What other differences or similarities can you see?
Symonds: When you look at these people, a year in Formula One is a long time and ten years is an eternity. It is sometimes a little bit different to draw comparisons in every area and what we require of a driver technically these days is slightly different to what we wanted ten years ago and very, very different to what we wanted 20 years ago. So, I think you have to look a little bit outside the technical aspect and look at the human aspect of these people. I think champion drivers are just like champions in any sport, they have this incredible self esteem, self confidence and this ability to set themselves targets. They are realistic but difficult to achieve targets but they achieve them time and time again and that is what I see with Fernando and it is equally what I have seen in other Formula One world champions and I am quite sure you see it in all top sportsmen.
Q: Geoff, I thought you were going to be a bit more competitive than you have in the last three or four races, I thought you were going to work up to quite a bit of a climax at the end of the season.
Willis: We did want to be more competitive towards the end of the season, we are certainly still trying very hard, we have brought new things for the car this weekend and we still have more new things for the last two races. It is tough, we are seeing a hard battle at the front and both of those cars are improving steadily and the whole field now improves their cars throughout the season so simply standing still is not good enough and to stand still relative to the grid you have to make a lot of developments. It has been a tough year for us, we are still understanding and working out where we have not been competitive, we have some very strong parts of the car and engine package and some parts are not so strong and right at the moment the drive for us is as well as to try to improve performance this year is to try to solve our problems so we are in a good position for the start of next year.
Q: You now have your two drivers for next year, what happens to Takuma?
Willis: The only thing that is fixed is our race driver line-up for next year with Rubens and Jenson. Discussions continue between the team and Honda and Takuma about his opportunities for next year and the rest of our driver line-up for next year, including third driver if third driver is required, and test driver is still ongoing.
Q: Has any decision been made about third drivers?
Willis: I have heard some discussion about which teams...I really don't know. At the moment we are working on the likelihood it will be the same set of regulations as this year.
Q: Ross, I don't know how much development is going on for 2005, obviously it has taken place on the 2006 already, but how do you know what direction to go given your tyre situation so far this year?
Brawn: Well, I think we have been in a very unique situation being the only top team with Bridgestone tyres, so we have had no reference and when you have no reference it is often difficult to know what areas you should concentrate on, and we are rather welcoming the addition of Williams and Toyota as Bridgestone clients for next season because it will give us a much better measure of where we need to put our efforts, whether collectively those teams put their efforts into tyre development or you need to put the efforts into the car. What we are trying to do is both. Wherever we find more performance it will improve the situation, more aero performance, more engine power, chassis performance, better tyres, it just means we will go faster. I don't think in any area we are saying 'we have done a good enough job so we can leave it alone for next year'. We are trying to be as self-critical as we can in everything we are doing. It would be delightful if we could find a second out of the car, but that is not very realistic. But together we can try to improve the situation but we are concentrating on next year and we have a reasonably good idea of what our targets should be.
Q: Can you clarify something about Valentino Rossi testing? Apparently you said he would test every month and he said that would not be possible. What is the situation?
Brawn: Obviously he is the final arbitrator of what he does. I don't determine what he does. I probably got ahead of myself because I was asked how do you go about turning Valentino Rossi into a Grand Prix driver, and to me that is how you would do it, that would be the programme to follow if Valentino wants to go Grand Prix racing. But he has indicated he has not made that decision yet, so I think we need to wait and see what he wants to do. But if he does want to do it I think I outlined how would be the best way to approach it in my view. That decision is still to be made. Obviously he is in the middle of a championship and is committed to race next year in MotoGP, so we will wait and see.
Q: Sam, a lot of people are thinking that Nico Rosberg could be in a Williams for the next two Grands Prix. How race ready is he for Formula One?
Michael: Whether he is in for the next two Grands Prix or not is one question. He is obviously a very good young driver, he is definitely on our list for the future, whether he races for the last two Grands Prix is something that Frank Williams can decide race by race. I would say it is unlikely but there is still a possibility there. But more importantly I think he has shown what he can do in GP2, everyone has seen what he has done this year is pretty good, and what he has shown us inside a Formula One car is pretty good as well. The first time we met Nico he was 17 years old, he was clearly too young to be involved in Formula One at that stage, but it was quite a good exercise because that was about two-and-a-half years ago now and it gave him enough of a taste to know he wanted to do it, and we could see straight away he is a very intelligent guy, probably one of the smartest of his age I have come across. When I say the smartest I mean from an engineering perspective, he had a very good understanding of car dynamics, tyres and things like that, even at that age, and that was pretty impressive. I guess that has come through things handed down by his father (Keke). What happens to him in the future we will just have to wait and see. Frank has got a couple of options for our second race seat and Nico is definitely one of the guys on that list, as are others, so we will have to wait and see.
Q: Next year you are moving to Bridgestones, did you have a choice? What was the situation?
Michael: We definitely had a choice. We took that based on what we could see Bridgestone could technically deliver for us in the future, it is a long-term decision what we have done with Bridgestone. They have been the force in the last five or six years, admittedly Michelin have done a great job this year and will win the drivers and constructors titles but from what we could see of the future Bridgestone was the team to be with. And what you can't over-estimate as well is for every team that swaps over, we are doing the order of 50,000km plus testing this year, so not only do Bridgestone gain 50,000km but Michelin lose it and if Toyota go as well, which we are still waiting for their confirmation, you could have a swing of 200,000km of testing from Michelins to Bridgestones, it is simple numbers.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazetta dello Sport) Ross, coming back about Valentino. Can you clarify if it is true you have a commitment from him if he becomes a Formula One driver he would just drive for Ferrari, and do you already plan some tests with him before the end of the season?
Brawn: I would hope that if Valentino wanted to get into Formula One he would do it with Ferrari, because it is a nice combination. He has done two tests for us now, he got on very well with our people and our guys found it very exciting to have him there, so naturally it is very attractive but I think he will look at all his options and make his decision when he has to make it. As our president said, nobody is holding a gun to his head. He has to make the decisions he feels are right for him. We would certainly be interested in working with him in the future but that is something that will have to wait and see. As regards the rest of the year, I don't think anything is committed, he wants to get his championship out of the way and decide what he is going to do.
Q: And there is no exclusive contract that you are aware of with him?
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Can I ask each of you if there is any more progress on resolving the FIA's suggestion of a downforce limit in Formula One, and how that may be policed if that does get introduced?
Willis: The proposal for a downforce limit is addressed in two areas, as I understand. Both are considering a way to have a limit to the performance of the cars and try and have a long-term limit and control of performance, and also is part of an idea to improve the show, making it possible for the cars to race closer to each other and for there to be more overtaking. I am not sure necessarily, it is going to achieve either or both targets. In terms of limiting performance it is important that we try to find a regulation that gives us a stable set of technical regulations that we can explore without having to waste a lot of time and effort re-adjusting the regulations, finding a new solution, finding possibly unexpected consequences of the race-ability of the cars, so I think having the idea of imposing a downforce limit is an interesting concept, quite how we can achieve that is another point but then, as well as the performance, we've got to go back to the racing side and I'm not sure it's been any way proven yet that a downforce limit is what we need to improve the spectacle of overtaking. There are a number of formula out there, GP2 currently, IRL, which are showing that by changing the nature of the downforce generation on the car, to put rather more into the underbody of the car, and rather less onto the wings of the car does seem to be encouraging close racing or certainly the ability to follow closely. I think there are a number of things that we're going to have to look at. We need to do this on a pretty scientific basis to find out that we do come up with a set of regulations that really does achieve these two quite difficult and different challenges of performance limitation and improvement of the show.
Michael: I agree with what Geoff said, particularly about GP2. They use a skirt on the side and they have front wings close to the ground. I think they've just done that by accident but they've obviously stumbled onto something that's pretty good and initially I thought maybe it's because there's a big spread of talent in the field, but in reality there's probably four or five very good drivers in the top five and even those guys are still overtaking each other. And if you look at the following and overtaking they're doing on tracks where we wouldn't get anywhere near ourselves, I think there's definitely something to be learned from that. We've gone in the opposite direction over the last two or three years, particularly if you look at the front wings on a Formula One car. We've lifted and lifted them away from the ground, and for sure that hurts performance and reduces the lap times which was a first target, but it potentially also makes it very difficult to follow other cars. That obviously needs a bit more substantive work to work out the best way to go in Formula One.
Symonds: I agree with what's been said but I think there is on further aspect and that is that the FIA are very keen to limit the costs of being competitive in Formula One, and I think that's a very correct objective to have. And I have a feeling that they believe that if downforce was ultimately limited, in other words, if the magnitude was limited, that it would go some way to reducing costs as well in that I think that they hope that less time would be spent in wind tunnels, etc etc. It's partially true. I think that if the money is available, it will not actually stop you working in your wind tunnels because you might still be limited on the amount of downforce you have, but you will still be trying to produce that downforce with a minimal amount of drag. But the FIA's brief, really, is to try and limit the added performance that you get by spending your next million dollars or whatever it might, and I guess it will do that. You will still spend your time in the wind tunnel, but the gains that you get from it, in terms of pure lap time, will probably be less, so there is another little aspect of it, that I think is quite interesting. I'm not sure how valid it is, but it certainly comes into the equation.
Brawn: I think the reason we need a downforce... or we need to control the downforce is a lot to do with cornering speeds and the fact that we start to get close to the critical speeds that have been identified for safety reasons at a number of circuits. Every few years we change the bodywork and we all predict where we are going to be, and I would think that if not now, certainly next year most of the teams will be back where they were last year, so we've had substantial bodywork changes and we're getting close to back where we were last year. Now if conceptually you could introduce a means of limiting downforce to a certain threshold then it would seem to be simpler to control cornering speeds in that way, and then the teams would be interested in efficiency and the behaviour of the cars and the stability of the cars, more than just the generation of downforce. I think along with that, the aspects of cars being able to follow each other is very important and I agree with what's been said in that we've certainly gone the wrong route. I've commented on this before but I can remember a race a few races ago where I asked Michael 'how much faster can you go,' because he was part of the Trulli train that was going on at the time and he said 'I'm going as fast as I can. I can't go any faster.' And Jarno pulled into the pits and he went 1.5 seconds faster. He didn't have that performance in the car as far as he was concerned, because the car was behaving so badly behind the other cars. We've got to solve that because it does spoil the race. I don't think we need a dramatic increase in the amount of overtaking that goes on, but we certainly should have close racing where cars can get next to each other and attack each other. A few overtaking manoeuvres in a race would be much better. At the moment you get within 50 or 100 meters of the car in front and that's it, you're finished. You can't get any closer.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) To all of you: I would like your thoughts on Toyota's progress this year. They've made a big step, but has that been flattered slightly by the fact that, besides Renault, you have not had the best of seasons, and also, how difficult will it be for Toyota, a relatively new team, to maintain this upwardly momentum in '06?
Brawn: I think Toyota are on an upward slope. It's difficult to know when it will level off. They've certainly made pretty good progress from last year to this year. We don't know where they will be next year. I think one of the things that Toyota have demonstrated is that they are certainly willing to commit to budgets that could exceed those of any other team. I heard them announce a second wind tunnel which is a $50m or $60m project at least, plus all the people you need to run it, plus all the parts you need to put into it, so they are making a tremendous commitment. This is not a criticism of Toyota in any way whatsoever, but we have to be careful in Formula One that we don't end up with the team that spends the most money being the team that wins everything, because then it's just a spending contest and not an engineering and driver contest. I wish them every success but I hope Toyota don't end up as the Chelsea of Formula One.
Michael: I think they've obviously had a good year, regardless of where the other teams have, because even in the early parts of the year they were challenging Renault and McLaren as well. Obviously they don't look as strong towards the latter half, but they've obviously done a good job and well deserve their position in the championship. They've obviously taken three or four years to get there and they are on that road now.
Symonds: I think one of the things that's interesting is that of course we've had some reasonably new rules this year: the aerodynamics were significantly different on the cars and I think Toyota came out of the gate running, they were quick from the start, and that suggests that they tackled that change very well. As the season's gone on, they probably haven't quite kept up the relative pace and maybe there's been a bit of inconsistency but they are a relatively new team and consistency and development is something that is certainly helped by experience. As has been mentioned, they have got a big budget, they will get the job done, it is Toyota's way of doing things but I do think that fundamentally, the step that they made this year was probably down to interpretation of the regulations or certainly getting the best out of the new regulations in the shortest time.
Willis: I think really I would be repeating much of what has been said so far: they clearly have made a lot better job of the task this year than last year and the challenge is always, as you build up in the level of your competition in the business, knowing why you are quick or why you are better or why you are worse. Any one year is very important for you to be able to continue that from year to year so I'm sure they will continue to be a serious player in the business but like us, they will be needing to work out what they have done well this year and what they have not done well this year in order to do better next year.
Q: (Thierry Tassin - RTBF) Ross, can you please clarify when you are allowed to use the extreme weather tyres during a Grand Prix?
Brawn: There is no control. As long as the track has been declared wet, you can use either of the two tyres. The only requirement the FIA have is that there must be the two tyres and one of them must be a tyre which has certain land-to-sea ratio, has a certain groove pattern or a certain percentage of grooves to ensure that all the teams have a tyre that will work in very wet conditions. But when you use it, once the track has been declared wet, is up to the teams.
Q: (Thibault Larue - Sport Auto) Question for Geoff: it's a specific question as to what you are expecting from Rubens on the very first day of your co-operation, I mean in testing in November or December? Are you expecting to make him work on a specific area or to let him give you his general feeling of the package, and are you expecting he will give you new technical direction immediately?
Willis: First thing I should probably say before Ross jumps on me is that he won't be driving our car until the new year, that's my understanding of our contractual arrangement. Certainly we'll be looking forward to his contributions, his observations on our car. I gather from all the information to hand that he has a good understanding what he likes in a car, he has good technical understanding of a car, and I think we're very much looking forward to working with him, and I think the team's very fired up for next year.
Q: (Steve Cooper - F1 Racing) To Ross and Jeff, you've both had quite extensive experience of running a V8 now and I wonder if you've noticed any unusual anomalies or any kind of weird characteristics which you hadn't expected and whether we'll see F1 cars next year perhaps being a little bit different from what they are this year?
Brawn: With Pat, in fact, having probably raced one of the last V8 cars in Formula One, I have fond memories of the vibration issues that you get with the configuration of a V8 and my colleagues and staff at Ferrari haven't had that experience and despite my expectations, it's still been a new experience for them to have bits falling off that never fell off before and were never a problem before. The biggest single change is just the vibration of a V8, certainly in certain planes and certain modes, is very high and you have to rubber-mount everything, you have to give it plenty of clearance. We are having components fail which have done high mileage on a V10. Ferrari made the step from a V12 to a V10 and they thought that was bad. Now they are discovering what a V8's all about. But it's a nice challenge, an interesting engineering challenge for everyone. The engine has less torque and less power but that actually has some benefits in the way that the tyres work and the handling of the car. It is an interesting engineering challenge. Rather like this year with Toyota, it's wiping the slate clean again, everyone is having to start from a fresh reference and we don't really know where we should be. What level of power, what rpm, what fuel consumption, what is the reference? Because over a period in Formula One you acquire that information, you can observe what other teams are doing, you can see what's achievable and therefore you know what you have to try to achieve yourself. Nobody really knows with a V8; whether 700 horsepower is enough, 750 or 800, who knows? We will find out in the first part of next year. Those that don't have the highest power output will have to catch up very quickly and those that will, can consolidate a bit and work on other aspects. It's a very interesting challenge and one that we have had a reasonable amount of time to organise ourselves so, harping back to my earlier point, it has been less frustrating because we have had the time to work on it properly.
Willis: Well, I suppose the correct answer is that we are planning not to have any anomalies with a V8. We did run a V8 earlier this season, very much in very early prototype form. Since then, Honda have been working on more stages of prototypes, a lot of dyno running, and we will be back running when testing starts again after the end of the season. Certainly, I personally don't have any experience of running a V8 in Formula One but Honda have a lot of experience running V8s and it's a very big programme for them, and I think we will be well prepared for next year. As Ross says, the exciting bit and the difficult bit about a big change in the rules is you don't really know where the benchmark is and I think that will be quite interesting for the early testing of the V8s when all the teams are trying to work out whether they have got it right and whether they are strong in the right areas. As well as being reduced capacity in a V8, we also have other changes. There are some material changes in the engine for cost control reasons and also the removal of the moving trumpets. That will have an effect on the torque characteristics of the engine, particularly during the start which is another new challenge and something we won't have a good measure on until we get track testing.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Do you think McLaren may have established a decisive performance advantage this year which would lead to a period of domination in the sport for the next two or three years or do you think too much will change next year for that to take place?
Willis: I think at the moment McLaren would appear to have the strongest car but appear not to be able to turn it into success with the result that they are clearly not in the strongest position in the Drivers' championship at the moment. I think the last year has probably shown that past performance is not necessarily a good guide to future performance and I hope - certainly from our position at BAR-Honda, we are very much hoping the performance order for the next few years is not fixed because it's certainly our intention to catch up and take that top of the table. But certainly they've done a very good job this year, but also Pat and his guys have done a very good job and they are winning at the moment.
Symonds: Yeah, McLaren have done an excellent job and they have got a very fast car but we are still pushing, you know, and we have several things here, so I hope we take it right to the end. There is no precedent that says that the domination they have now is going to set the standards for future years. The domination they have had is nowhere near as marked as we've seen from Ferrari in the last few years. We've seen that things do turn around, it always happens in sport. They have a fast car but at the end of the day the championship is decided on points and points come from every aspect of the team, not just the speed of the car, it comes from the reliability, it comes from teamwork, it comes from everything. And one has to say they are not dominating in that area, we are leading the championship. It is something that we certainly are not going to forget and I hope you guys don't.
Michael: I think the same as well. I think the thing that we just talked about, the engines, is definitely going to throw another factor in there. It could re-set everybody and move all the teams around quite a bit, regardless of chassis performance. They definitely have had a stronger car at some places this year. Earlier in the year, obviously you could see Renault dominated for the first three or four races when McLaren struggled. It is nowhere near the type of domination we have seen over the last four or five years with Michael.
Brawn: I think teams do get impetus: there is the inertia that gets going and you get confidence and you are more comfortable with making the decisions you need to make, but I think regulation changes throw in a potentially disturbing factor in there and I think we have not come out of the past regulation changes very well, the last year's regulation changes. I think when there is no regulation changes you have a logical evolution of the cars. Next year there are more regulations changes again which actually are very substantial because they involve not only the engine but the level of drag you can carry on the car, the type of tyres that maybe you want with the power outputs, there are some small aerodynamic changes to the regulations next year, so it's not a very continuous year from this year to next year and that always gives the potential for someone to get it wrong and someone to get it right. But undoubtedly McLaren have a very quick car. They've not been able to capitalise on it as much as they probably would have like to have and they will have that inertia taking them through the winter into next year but regulations changes can definitely throw a double six in there.
Q: (Steve Cooper - F1 Racing) There was a meeting this morning to discuss the proposals for qualifying next year. Are you aware of what's going on are you just having to build cars to regulations that you are just imagining at the moment. What is actually happening with qualifying?
Symonds: Perhaps I should answer that as Flavio has been the leader in trying to make some changes. Flavio is of the opinion that the changes that have been proposed for qualifying for next year, which was really not much of a change other than to determine the running order in the qualifying session based on times set in fourth practice rather than in the previous race, he was of the opinion that this really was not enough to enliven qualifying and he has put together a proposal that is based on the knock-out system that has been proposed for 2008, attempting to address some of the issues that had earlier made it a 2008 proposal, in other words to try and keep qualifying with fuel in the cars etc. There was a meeting this morning where I think this was discussed and it certainly has not been discarded out of hand. So discussion will go on, I think a number of valid points were brought up in that meeting and they will continue to be discussed. I think that what's very relevant is that we are running out of time, and arguably we have run out of time for anything that affects the design of the cars and that makes the compromise quite difficult. Personally, I'm still of the opinion that we need to be very careful with qualifying. Our business is racing on Sunday and qualifying is merely a means to an end and I sometimes think the focus goes a little bit too heavily on qualifying. It's the race on Sunday that's important. If we do anything to improve qualifying at the expense of the excitement of the race then we have made a very big mistake.
THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 22 SEPTEMBER 2005
DRIVERS: Felipe Massa (Sauber), Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Antonio Pizzonia (Williams), Tiago Monteiro (Jordan), Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren)
Q: Felipe, first of all, getting towards the end of the season must be a bit difficult for you because you are probably looking forward to next season (at Ferrari) and there is not all that much happening within your current team at the end of this season.
Felipe MASSA: That is not true because the last race was quite interesting, I was able to fight for a good position, until the time I changed the tyres I was fighting for fourth position, but I am really happy this year because I want to do the best I can for Sauber, who are the team who gave me the opportunity, and then when we finish the championship I am looking forward to next year.
Q: So what are your feelings about this race?
Massa: Pretty confident. For sure, we have had the same car for four races so we didn't improve the car a lot but I like the track and the atmosphere as well so I hope we can do a good job to qualify in the top ten and finish in the points, so I am pretty confident.
Q: Are you in any way preparing for next year at this stage?
Q: Already? What sort of things are you doing?
Massa: I mean, it is difficult to prepare already now because we don't know how it is going to be next year, many things will change, especially the engine, but I am pretty optimistic and I hope to have a good car to be competitive straight away.
Q: So it is more mental preparation?
Massa: Yes, that is the only thing I can do, mental preparation.
Q: Rubens, you are a father again, congratulations. Can you give us the details?
Barrichello: Well, I left Spa at eight o'clock in the evening, got here sometime around six o'clock in the morning, we went to the doctor and he said it was going to happen that day, it was not induced or anything, so it happened that night. So I was there, so I am very happy that I was lucky enough that little Fernando waited it for me.
Q: That is an interesting name given the championship. Has it got anything to do with that?
Barrichello: Not at all, no! We wanted a name that went along with Eduardo because it sounds a bit funny when you have something like Luca and Eduardo, Fernando looks just very similar. They look very similar in the same respect, so that is quite nice.
Q: We won't be seeing him this weekend then?
Barrichello: Definitely not.
Q: Now, the identity of your team-mate for 2006 has been revealed, in that Jenson is staying at BAR. What are your feelings about that?
Barrichello: I am very happy because I think now the team has a true chance of becoming world champions. Two drivers with the full potential of becoming world champion, the backing of Honda and BAR and everything, I think that it is good we have two drivers capable of winning. I am delighted. I was really hoping he could stay with the team so now he is going to have some hard work in November and December, when I am off, and then he his taking January off and I will be working.
Q: So you are having two months off, he is having one month off.
Barrichello: I cannot drive for two months, obviously, and I will be just introducing myself to my son, so he doesn't think of me as just a piece of paper. After three months he might recognise me, so it is going to be okay!
Q: Antonio, it must be an interesting irony given the start of the season, when you had to wait right until the end of the last minute to discover whether you had the drive or Nick had the drive and here you are racing in your home Grand Prix.
Antonio PIZZONIA: Obviously it is a big surprise for me. I was not expecting to race this year. I was very lucky last year to do four races for the team and lucky again this year. I am just hoping I can do a good job for the team, score points and I will do my best. I was really lucky and very happy with the opportunity the team is giving to me, so we will see. I will just have to do my best and see what happens for next year.
Q: Exactly, with three races to go you must have your eyes on next season. What are your chances of getting a race drive, do you think?
Pizzonia: I really don't know to be honest. Last year Frank told me I had 95 percent chance of getting the seat and in the end I didn't get it. It is really difficult to predict what is going to happen so this year I am just taking my time and concentrating just on the races I am doing and just waiting to see what happens.
Q: Are you trying other teams as well?
Pizzonia: Yeah, I am trying a few other teams but obviously there are not many teams yet, and I also try different championships if I cannot get a race seat next year.
Q: So you are really casting your net quite wide?
Q: Tiago, also next season, where are you looking? Have you got a contract for next season?
Tiago MONTEIRO: No, I don't have a contract signed for next season. I had only a one-year deal with Jordan. Obviously we have talked to other teams, we were approached by other teams as well both for racing and testing, but as you know there are not a lot of race seats available any more. My main goal is to race and that is what I am concentrating on and see where we are with Midland. As I said, nothing is done but I am pretty confident that we will still be around.
Q: How much has your extraordinary finishing record had to do with it this year?
Monteiro: Well, that has obviously caught peoples' eyes and caused them to contact me. One of the reasons is reliability and also the fact that I have scored some points, but mainly in the beginning was really because of the finishes, so for sure it has really helped.
Q: Is the pressure mounting, as you get to the end of the season, to make sure you have a full-house?
Monteiro: Yes, it is now. For me it was just a joke, not a joke but it was not that important really. My main goal this year was to try and score points whenever the opportunity arose, not to finish all the races. But now we are so close to the end it is becoming more important for me and for the team as well and we want to do everything we can. I am not going to compromise the opportunity of scoring another point just to be able to finish, I will take every risk possible to score some points. But it would be great to finish to the end.
Q: And the point in Belgium, the proper point as you called it, must have been very satisfying?
Monteiro: Yes, of course. I am not putting aside the points in Indianapolis, we deserved them, definitely, but as I said, everyone was on track in Spa, it was tricky conditions for everyone, we fought for it and we got it and I was very proud of that point and really happy for me and the team, they did a great job in the pitstops.
Q: Juan Pablo, first of all, the points situation, the championship, the constructors' championship and so on. What are your priorities in these next few races?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Well, first of all we have to see what happens between Fernando and Kimi here and then take it from there. At the moment the main priority, and probably the only realistic one, is just to win the constructors.
Q: But still your own personal results?
Montoya: Yeah, you have got to look for your own personal results but at the moment I have been racing for the team for the last few races and it will probably be the same here at the moment.
Q: Now, you have had a bit of an 'attraction' to a few of the guys here, there doesn't seem to be any bad blood between you.
Montoya: No, you know, Antonio was on slick tyres and he thought he was going to be able to brake later but I think he hit a puddle and went straight into me, and I saw it on the video and that was fine. He made a mistake and it is not great for the team but you cannot change it. I don't gain anything. I was surprised what Michael did to Takuma to go to him and actually hit the visor, I was surprised he got away from it. If I had done that I would have probably been disqualified for the rest of the season or something!
Q: And with Tiago?
Montoya: I got in front of him before the braking and I braked a bit earlier and he ran straight into the back of me. He should have backed off because he was the backmarker and he decided not to and that's it. Shit happens.
Q: Does a driver think of being involved in these accidents and be extra careful not to?
Montoya: You don't think about it. When you are passing the backmarker, the guy has to be conscious enough to move out of the way, that is what I think. Antonio was trying to un-lap himself or something.
Q: And with these points being so important in the last few races, does a driver think to himself specifically I must stay off...
Montoya: What are you going to do when someone hits you in the back, twice? It is not like I am brake testing them or anything, I am doing my own thing and the guy runs in the back of me, not even in the side and 'ooh, he should have seen him', they were nowhere.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Agencia Efe) Juan Pablo, last year you had a great victory here, but how do you focus on this race because you probably cannot race for yourself?
Montoya: First of all, I am not in the best qualifying spot like I've been in the last few races, so it makes qualifying a bit harder but probably, if I'm being realistic, if Fernando is running third I probably should be able to win the race. If something changes then I will probably help Kimi again. It has been my decision in the last races to help Kimi, and here it's going to be the same thing. It is not a matter of team orders or anything, because team orders are not allowed but you've got to be a team player and that's what I've been doing the last few races. But if I'm in a position to win and Fernando's running third I will probably win the race.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Rubens, you have been on pole here, you've led here, you've never won here. Talk a little bit about what this race means to you, the highlights and the low points and how it's your home race.
Barrichello: This race at the beginning, back in 1993/1994 was easy-going because the hopes were with Ayrton the whole time, so it was quite a cool thing and it was nice just to be home and to have the same support as when I was racing the other side on the go-karts. 1995/1996 was quite different and I took all the pressure from the outside and that was quite difficult until I moved on and I started enjoying it again. Like football, when you play at home you play better and for me it is really nice. You don't see the weekend going by; when you don't feel the time going by it means that you're enjoying yourself very much - that's the feeling that I have - so obviously this is the first time since I've been driving with Ferrari that we come here not as the leaders, not dictating the pace and this is different. I'm taking the weekend to enjoy it. It's going to be very very nice to have... Felipe has already been racing but Antonio as well because it's a plus to the whole Brazilian effort. Actually I hope that we three - especially Antonio - are racing in Japan and China because it would be silly not to let him have a good chance at those tracks because he knows the car and everything already. So that's it, I'm enjoying it. For me it is fantastic just to go back home after such a long day working and change the knickers of my son! It's just fantastic.
Q: (ARD Radio Germany) Rubens, tell us a bit more about your home town, Sao Paulo? What does it mean to you?
Barrichello: Sao Paulo has been my life. I've actually lived in Interlagos for 21 years so I was riding bicycles, my whole childhood was just around here, so I know people... sometimes when I look at the grandstand I actually know them (the people), and it's a fun feeling. I don't think Sao Paulo is any more dangerous than any other places that we go: in Italy... like London, sometimes, you are scared to go in certain places. So Sao Paulo is just a nice place. You need to know where to go but it's my life, it's where I want to live when I stop racing in Formula One.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Agencia Efe) For all three Brazilians: I think this could be the first time that the World Championship could be decided in Brazil; what are your feelings about that and what is your opinion about Fernando Alonso maybe winning here?
Barrichello: In a way, I think it's great for Brazil. If Fernando can win the championship it is a plus for the Brazilians. Because I think there's no way that he's not going to win the championship, he might as well win here in front of our public, give them their first feeling of what it is to win a championship - plus the party is going to be nice, we're all going to be invited!
Massa: I think, first of all, that he deserves it because he has driven a fantastic championship. At the beginning of the year, he was quite aggressive and winning races and in the second part he was quite intelligent as well and just finished races and scored as many points as he could. I think he deserved the championship. For Brazil, it's fantastic to have this fight here in Brazil. I think if he wins the championship here it will definitely be very good for the country, because the country will be talked about everywhere. I think this would be quite good. I think he deserves it because he did a great championship; Kimi also, but he had some problems and he could run quite good the whole year without any technical problems, not like Kimi. Kimi was quite strong but he had a lot of problems.
Pizzonia: I think it would be nice for the championship to be decided here. I don't think it will be that hard for Fernando to finish third if Kimi wins the race here. But I really don't think the people in the grandstand really care about who is winning the championship or not unless it is a Brazilian. They just want to see the Brazilians winning. But I think it is going to be the first time, so it is nice for Brazil.
Q: (Peter Windsor - F1Racing) Question to Juan Pablo and Tiago; Juan Pablo, you were just saying that correctly, logically, backmarkers should get out the way if they are being lapped, and yet Tiago, as I understand it, your understanding of Charlie Whiting's instructions are that you should never get off the racing line if you're being passed, you should not change lines. Can you both comment on that and where we go from here because there seems to be total and utter confusion of what to do?
Montoya: It is very simple. One thing is not moving off the racing line, the other is backing off. It doesn't matter whether you stay on the racing line or not, it's clear that they say the racing line because you are going to pass them, that's why you've got to stay on the racing line, but if you stay on the racing line, you've got to back off to let the other car past.
Monteiro: It's a tricky situation if you know what it entails. It was never clear when we talked: should the backmarkers leave the racing line, not talking about the braking point but on the normal straight line, should you leave the clear line to the quicker car or should you stay and let the quick car go around you? We never really agreed, so it depends where you are, but because it was such a long straight line (in Turkey) and because you come out of a kink, I stayed on my line and he (Montoya) was going around. The thing is, yeah, I did back off in a straight line because I think there was more than enough time for him... he was so much quicker in a straight line that he would have time. The only thing is that I braked earlier but he also braked earlier because apparently he had a flat spot or something.
Monteiro: Anyway, I braked 55 meters...
Q: (Peter Windsor - F1Racing) Presumably, because he was on the dirty line, he was worried that his tyres weren't clean so he would therefore brake earlier.
Monteiro: Yeah, but if he braked earlier on the dirty line then he wouldn't be in front of me. I don't know where he braked anyway. I braked 55 meters earlier and my car didn't stop.
Montoya: You were 45, not 55 by the way.
Various: 45, 25, 45!
Montoya: It is very simple. The down point is that this year the backmarkers, especially... Tiago had quite a lot of problems here, he did that with Trulli and stuff. It doesn't matter, I think that's in the past. I think it is important for the backmarkers whether it's me when I'm being lapped, because I have been lapped before, or whoever is being lapped, you know, when you are going to lap them you don't think about their position because sometimes they are racing somebody and I don't really care when you're going to lap them, whether they are racing or not because you are lapping them, and you're ahead, and they need to move out of the way and they really need to back off and look after the leaders and I think that is the problem.
Q: (Peter Windsor - F1Racing) When you said you didn't agree, who didn't agree: the drivers or the FIA and the drivers?
Monteiro: No, no. It's just that every time we talk about it there are pros and cons for both situations so there's not just one... about the overtaking in a straightline, there's nothing been decided. The only thing that has been decided is that in the braking zone you don't move, that's the only thing. I mean, you can change... everyone has their opinion, they can change it all ways around. I think we should just move on. It was how many races ago? Every weekend there are some little problems like that. Everyone is fighting, and we're all going very quickly so things happen like that. We should move on from that, huh?
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Juan, you have been with McLaren almost the whole season now but during the season the momentum has been behind Kimi. He has a lot more wins, do you feel really at home with the team and comfortable with the car?
Montoya: Yeah. It is kind of sad that when things are actually turning around for me to start winning races, I need to start helping Kimi. I put myself in that (position). I broke my shoulder earlier in the year and the car was very difficult to drive for my driving style. We changed the car a lot throughout the year, and in the last few races I have always been as strong or stronger than Kimi. It's just sad that I have been helping Kimi. It is sad in a way but you have got to do it.
Q: (Mario Bauer - Auto Bild) Juan Pablo, you moved from BMW Williams to McLaren-Mercedes, both being a conglomerate of British engineering and German engine supplier. The first one didn't work at all for years, and the second one seems to work much better for you from the second part of the season on. Can you compare what is lacking and why Williams does not perform as it did, and why McLaren is on top now?
Montoya: It's hard to say, there are too many things to say why one didn't work. Probably you look at last year. BMW was not strong but in 2003 and before that they were always second behind Ferrari. Ferrari was just miles ahead, the tyres were miles ahead of our tyres, and now that our tyres are ahead of the Bridgestones... I think the BMW package this year with the Williams was not going to work because they had probably already made up their mind they were going to leave. You should ask them what problems they have had. Our car is a very good car. We have had little reliability issues, pretty stupid things that have let us down, but they are things that have been on the car for a long time and haven't failed and they only fail in the bloody races.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti - Corriere dello Sport) Rubens, I think you agreed that Ferrari is something that is slightly different all over the world. So I would like to know if it gives you any particular feeling to have your last race for Ferrari in front of your home crowd? And for example, to go to Shanghai where you won one of the most important races in history?
Barrichello: Well, it is obviously. If you take it as the last time I am racing at home for Ferrari there is an emotion behind that but I don't race for Ferrari because I like the red, I race there because I think the team was competitive and it was giving me the support to win races. In the same way that you are disappointed to leave your friends it is exciting to go to a new team. Friends are there for all time and I have friends from other teams, from Jordan, from Stewart so they will be there for all time. It doesn't mean that I am closing the case and I won't see them again. We had a fantastic relationship for six years with a car that we always dreamed to have. I think I have grown quite a lot inside the team. It is going to be really good to race here. It's a pity that we don't have the car as competitive as we would have liked it for me to win the last three races, but having said that, I got to the point that it is much more difficult to be on pole position for the last three races but it's not impossible to win the race. So there are chances and I just take them, with the knowledge that I have in Brazil, with the last two pole positions that I had, with the public behind me, I'm going to give everything because for me it would mean a lot to win my home Grand Prix with Ferrari.
FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
FRIDAY TEAM QUOTES
PRACTICE 2 RESULTS
FOSTER'S CONFIRMS F1 INVOLVEMENT
PRACTICE 1 RESULTS
INTEL DEAL BACK ON TRACK
PORTUGAL PLANS NEW F1 CIRCUIT
WEBBER LEAVES BOARD OF THE GPDA
CHANGES IN PRACTICE FORMAT?