TURKISH GP - THURSDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 24 AUGUST 2006
DRIVERS: Jenson BUTTON (Honda), David COULTHARD (Red Bull), Tiago MONTEIRO (MF1), Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLaren Mercedes)
Q: Tiago, 14th on the grid here last year and you finished 15th, but what are your memories and thoughts about this circuit?
Tiago MONTEIRO: We had quite a good race actually until we had some gearbox issues and we lost a lot of time. But time wise it was one of our best races last year, the balance was pretty good and taking into account that our car is a lot better than last year - we are really looking forward to this one. It's the kind of track that suits this car and my driving style as well, so I am looking forward to it. My memories of last year are also of my huge toothache problem and it was treated by my team owner which was quite interesting. But fortunately everything is fine this weekend and I am looking forward to it.
Q: Last weekend was a busy one for you in Holland, tell us about that?
Monteiro: Yes it was a great event in Rotterdam, we did a demo in the streets and there was a huge amount of fans there and it was a big event organised by a Dutch company with drivers like Nico Rosberg and Verstappen. It was a big, big party and was really a lot of fun with burnouts and donuts. It was raining a bit, but people were still there and it was well organised and it's good for F1 in general to have things like this, they should happen a lot more often because the fans get to see F1 really close and they see things they would normally never see at a normal race track.
Q: You nearly got a point in the last race at Hungary, what are your aims for the rest of the season?
Monteiro: It's still the same, we're still looking for points, it's not going to be easy but we are fighting for it. We obviously were close because of the circumstance of the weather which helped a lot. But we still have five races to get points.
Q: Kimi, obviously you have great memories of this circuit from last year, the pole position to victory, your thoughts about the track?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, I like the circuit a lot, of course it's a different story this year because the car is not at its best, but it is getting better but it will be hard to achieve those results. The last race was pretty good in qualifying but it went a bit wrong in the race, so we'll see what we can do.
Q: What are your aims for the rest of the season?
Raikkonen: We'll try to do our best and win races but you never know what is going to happen, so you just keep pushing and do your best.
Q: What about the challenge of this circuit?
Raikkonen: It's not the easiest one, it's quite tricky at Turn Eight. There are a lot of bumps and it's not very easy. I think it's the most difficult corner on this circuit, there is some corners that you cannot see the apex when you go in. But it's a nice circuit.
Q: David, last year 12th on the grid and you raced to seventh in the race itself, your thoughts on this track?
David COULTHARD: Well I think as the others said, it's a great track and one of the better new circuits that we have because of the challenge of the corners. Turn Eight caused a lot of problems last year because of the bumps and the fact that it's such a high-speed corner. The result from last year is kind of irrelevant because it's a different formula from what we had last season with tyre changes now. We just try and do the best, we can and try and score points.
Q: And in the last race in Hungary, 13th to fifth, even though everyone seemed to bump into your car. Was it a case of hanging on in there and winning some points?
Coulthard: There was a little bit more to it than that! Yes, in those changeable conditions lots of things can happen and inevitably people can tell stories of how they could have won the race. But you take the results at the chequered flag and that was obviously Jenson's day and for us as a team it was good points as well.
Q: And since the last race your new team-mate has been announced as Mark Webber for next year. Your thoughts on that?
Coulthard: I think it's great for the team to have two experienced drivers and obviously I feel sorry for Christian because he has been unfortunate this year. I think he has good speed and he's still very young. People have to remember than when you start at 19 or 20 and you're put in that spotlight with that pressure, you are still a young man, probably still living at home with your parents. We all can remember the transition we go through when we start to stand on our own two feet. My opinion is that he's been rushed through too quickly and therefore he hasn't had the chance to show his talent. Therefore his period with Red Bull Racing has come to an end too quickly and that makes it difficult for him to find a drive elsewhere in Formula One and that is Formula One's loss because he drives well and his feedback is good. But coming back to Mark, obviously I'm at a more consistent level of results in Formula One. He's come into it older with a bit more experience under his belt and he's been able to make more use of the opportunities that he's had and our goal will be to achieve the best results we can for the team.
Q: Jenson, coming after the great victory in Hungary, have you enjoyed the last three weeks, thinking about it?
Jenson BUTTON: Yes, very much so. I won the race and it was a very emotional moment, but I was rushed off because I had to get a flight to China and also to Tokyo, Japan. But after that I got home and saw all my family and friends. I don't see them that often and on such a special occasion it was a great event and I spent the whole night chatting to everyone. That's when it really hits home when you see everyone's feelings and emotions towards you and the race. It was a very nice feeling.
Q: Coming to this race do you feel that the pressure is off you? Are you a different driver in some ways?
Button: No, not a different driver but there is definitely less pressure. There has always been that itch I can't scratch and I think more in the media's eyes than mine, after the amount of races I've competed in and not won in Formula One. Now that isn't a concern I have anymore and I've enjoyed the win and we need to move on now, to work with the car and get a car that is quick enough to challenge for wins in the dry as well. We haven't arrived here with a car that is as quick as any others and we still have a lot of work to do to challenge the McLarens, the Renaults and the Ferraris. Hopefully we'll be a bit closer here.
Q: Thirteenth to fifth here last year and seven drivers have followed up their debut win with a second win, including two British world champions Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill, so what are your feelings about this race?
Button: As I said I don't think our car is as quick as the top three teams at the moment, but we're getting closer and that is our aim. I love this circuit, it's a circuit I went well at last year. Qualifying was a bit of a pain as I grounded out round Turn Eight and went off the circuit, but the pace of the car was very good and we could have had a better result if we'd started further up the grid. So I'm looking forward to it, but we'll have to see what our pace is like compared to the top teams.
Q: Question to you all, what did you do during the holidays?
Jenson Button: I went to Shanghai for two days and then to Japan which was lot of fun. I then flew back to Paris as I couldn't go back to Heathrow. I got the train back to London which was nice! And then I went to Ibiza for 12 days with friends and a couple of family members.
Button: I was relaxing, there is more to Ibiza, it's a beautiful island. It was really nice to relax with my friends and let it sink in and to get some sun and just do nothing for a few days.
Coulthard: I just spent some private time at home. I did some mountain biking, hiking, chasing my fiancee around - things like that.
Button: You're great at these things DC, I can't wait for the headline!(Laughter).
Raikkonen: I have been in Finland the whole time and seeing my friends and family and just doing normal stuff.
Monteiro: I went to the south of France after Hungary for a few days to see some friends as well. And then back to Portugal to do sponsors things in Lisbon.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heinz Pruller - ORF) Jenson, did you have a chance to see a replay of the race, maybe going through it again, and maybe analysing all the crazy things that happened in the race?
Button: Yeah, you know I always used to watch my races until this year and this was the first one I've watched, because this has been a pretty poor season up until Hungary. I've watched the race many times and it's always nice to see.
Coulthard: Did you fast-forward to the end?
Button: Yeah, because the middle bit was a bit boring. It was nice, it's nice to have in the cabinet.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) David and Jenson, you both know Jacques Villeneuve very well. Could you maybe reflect a little bit on his F1 career and also on his very abrupt departure?
Coulthard: I think I'm right in saying that he stopped early at BAR as well, before the end of the season, so it's kind of within character that Jacques would stop before the end of the season. He's someone who, as anyone who has spent time with him knows, he's got very strong opinions and that's one of his strengths as an individual so I don't think it's as straightforward as maybe was presented to the media after Hockenheim, as to why it came to an end.
I think he had a great career, a great motorsports career full stop, in terms of what he did in America, what he's done in Formula One, irrespective of what anyone thinks of him as a driver in the ranking list, results that I would be extremely proud of, so I think that in many ways it's in keeping with his character - to get to the point - that his career ended in the way that it did and I'm sure he'll pop up somewhere else, racing something else and acting in the same way and speaking from the heart and saying it as he sees it, which are qualities.
Button: I don't know Jacques anywhere near as well as DC (David Coulthard) does but I just hope people remember him for what he achieved because he was World Champion, and nobody can take that away from him. I know the last few years for him haven't been what he would have liked but he achieved something which so many drivers haven't.
Q: (Cedric Voisard - Le Figaro) Question to all of you: between Michael and Fernando, who do you think will be World Champion and why?
Coulthard: I think all of us could give lots of different answers, but the thing is, I don't think any of us really knows and on the basis of the past performances, you've got to say Ferrari are looking very strong. But as drivers, they have both won World Championships and I don't think anyone doubts their abilities so it's more down to which team and tyre manufacturer will field the best package in the last races, which will determine which driver will be crowned at the end of the season.
Button: Yeah, I agree. I think a lot of it does come down to the tyres, if the reliability of the cars is good, I think it does come down to the tyre manufacturers which is obviously still very very exciting.
Monteiro: Yeah, similar. Renault has obviously maybe a little bit better package at the moment but Ferrari is catching up a lot so... Looking at the last four races, it's been very close. It's going to be quite interesting.
Raikkonen: Yeah. I don't know. We just have to wait and see but I think it will be close, so there's not a lot of difference. It's whatever happens with the tyres and cars.
Q: (Cedric Voisard - Le Figaro) No names, no opinions?
Button: We've given our opinions, haven't we? We can't see into the future. We don't know what's going to happen.
Monteiro: I think what we've said... we've given our opinions and the result is Alonso, I think, because they have a better package.
Q: (Salvatore Zanca - AP) Jenson, what's the one thing you will remember about the last race and what would you remember about the previous 113 races?
Button: Winning it is the thing I remember from the last race. Previous races? I think disappointment. We lost a lot of ground from the start of the season. A lot of other teams progressed and we did not. Disappointment in the results we were getting but we've made a step forward now, I don't mean the win, I mean with the car, previous to Hockenheim and it's promising. It's nice to see that we can make big steps forward like other people have been doing this season and we are becoming more competitive again which is nice. It shows that we have it within the team. If things aren't going well, we're very good at finding the reasons for it and putting things right.
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, how much did you blame yourself in that accident with Liuzzi and did you lose a victory because of it?
Raikkonen: I think it was a racing incident and who knows? Maybe I lost it, maybe I didn't, but it doesn't make any difference any more so... Those things happen sometimes.
Q: (Heinz Pruller - ORF) Gentlemen, can I have your comments on the FIA decision from yesterday concerning the mass dampers? How you will suffer, how much it doesn't bother you?
Button: It's whether it makes a big difference to the teams that can't use it. You always hear different figures: some say two tenths, some say five tenths and also it's different on different circuits. It's difficult to know what difference it makes but we haven't used it so it doesn't really change our position, except we might be more competitive compared to the teams that have it. I don't know the teams that have been using it apart from Renault.
Coulthard: I think there's more influential things on performance: tyres, mainly, and coming back to the answer I gave to the chap in the white T-shirt who is not happy (Cedric Voisard), I think that it comes down to the package and how that package works with the influence of the tyres. I think, for Renault, their car, with the Michelin tyre, obviously saw them gain quite a bit of performance from it. The system we had saw us gain in some places and not in others, so we saw it as a tuning device in the same way that you choose to run more or less downforce, or to run a different spring set-up on the car.
So inevitably it's very much in the news at the moment because it coincides with a drop in performance from Renault, but I think it's fair to say that Bridgestone/Ferrari - Bridgestone in particular - have picked up in their performance at the same time so for sure the reason Renault were going through the process of trying to have it re-instated is because they feel it works to their advantage. If they don't win the championship, it will be one factor but I don't think it's the only thing, because there's more important things like the tyre on the track, the downforce you generate, the horsepower and honestly, whether the driver can point the thing in the right direction or not.
Raikkonen: We're not using it so it doesn't hurt us at all, but I guess to people who were using it it's not so good for them.
Monteiro: Yes, it's more of a handicap of course if you've been used to it and now you can't use it any more and you have to re-set your car and your balance without it. Obviously we haven't used it either so it doesn't affect us much, no.
Q: (Peter Windsor - F1 Racing) Kimi, I'm sure you're aware that, as a result of the seventeen laps you led in Hungary, McLaren Mercedes, for the first time this year, have now led more racing laps than the Mercedes safety car driven by Bernd Maylander. I just wonder how you see that battle developing in the remaining races and how strong McLaren will be versus the safety car.
Raikkonen: Hopefully we can beat them. At least it's the same company so it doesn't really matter but we will see what happens.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, just to clarify gossip that we heard a few days ago: Sunday night in Budapest, did you lose your wallet or did the police take your driving licence? Which is the truth?
Raikkonen: Yes, I read that I have lost my driving licence by driving and drinking. I don't know who wrote this story but for sure, he will get an interesting outcome from this and we will see what happens.
Q: Was that inaccurate?
Raikkonen: For sure we will see in the courts. I don't want to say any more.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Tiago, we always hear rumours of the team being for sale. How unsettling is that in the team for the drivers, the mechanics and the engineers and so on?
Monteiro: You can't really focus on that. It's not up to us, it's not up to the mechanics, the engineers or the drivers. It's decisions that are taken above us and we can't really intervene, so we have to try and just do our work. It doesn't affect me, I don't think it really does affect a lot of people in the team because they are all there to work and whoever their owner will be it will be the same at the end of the day, so we just move on and work and wait and see, really.