Turkish Grand Prix FIA Thursday press conference transcript with Fernando Alonso (Renault) Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) Robert Doornbos (Minardi) Christian Klien (Red Bull) Felipe Massa (Sauber) Q: To all of you, what are your first...
Turkish Grand Prix FIA Thursday press conference transcript with
Q: To all of you, what are your first impressions of Turkey and the circuit?
Robert Doornbos: This is my first press conference and it feels quite good. The circuit looks good. I did a walk around, as we do on every new circuit, I was quite impressed with the difference in height because on the playstation you didn't really notice that and it looks like a lot of fun. I cannot wait to go out there tomorrow.
Christian Klien: As Robert said, it is very interesting this circuit, it is completely different to other tracks, it is very much up and down and a lot of corners where you can't see the entry and I was just two laps out there on the track and I think I will have to go out for some more laps in the afternoon because it looks very difficult.
Q: Were you walking or running or what?
Christian Klien: I went out with my bike, it is my supermoto bike, a KTM, which is always good fun.
Felipe Massa: Yeah, me too. I took his bike after, and I was really impressed. I think it is a very complete circuit, you can find everything, quick corners, slow corners, change of directions, heavy brakes and everything. I think we can see some overtaking in the race, so I think it is a fantastic circuit, just looking like that. Tomorrow we will have some better idea, but I was really impressed and I think they did a really good job.
Fernando Alonso: I think the same as everyone, quite impressed about the circuit, not only the facilities here in the paddock I think also the track is a little bit different compared to all the new circuits we have seen in the last three or four years, Bahrain or China, I think to go up and down is the most interesting thing from a driver's point of view because we really enjoy the lap, like Spa or some of the other circuits, so I am really happy to be here.
Q: What are your feelings from a technical point of view? Is it going to be hard on tyres? Is it high downforce, low downforce?
Fernando Alonso: It is a little bit of all. As Felipe said, it is very complex and will be very challenging for the engineers to set up the car because there are so many different parts on the track. I think it will be a medium to high downforce, the power of the engine will be quite important as well and from a driver's point of view, the corners where you cannot see the entry because it is going down or up hill will be difficult to find the line, because it is so wide as well, so it will be interesting on Friday and Saturday morning.
Rubens Barrichello: I agree with everyone, it is a great everything. Since I came into the track I saw great facilities. It is difficult to know the circuit before we actually get to see the grip level because it is so wide you can take so many lines into the corners so it is going to be good to get onto the circuit tomorrow. I walked it, I haven't done the last because it was before two when Charlie had to go in, but up to there it was quite nice.
Q: What about the first corner?
Rubens Barrichello: I have a feeling it is a corner where you are always going to tell yourself you can brake later and later because the braking point is still quite plain and then it starts to go down and there will be times where you will just overdo it and there are times when you will tell yourself you could have done more, so it is quite interesting because you don't see the turning point of the corner and I think there are some facilities to overtake there as well.
Q: Obviously it is going to be dirty and slippery for the first day, isn't it?
Rubens Barrichello: It looks grippy, in a way, but it is dirty, as a new circuit is always going to be. But it looks grippy.
Q: Robert, I think you were at a fairly major event in Rotterdam last weekend, can you tell us a bit about it?
Robert Doornbos: It has been straight after my debut in Formula One with racing it is like living in a dream for the two weeks because we did two races in a row and then went straight to Rotterdam with the whole Minardi team. It was the city where I was born so it was great for the fans and friends and sponsors, and it was quite a special feeling to drive where I used to drive my scooter and now with a Formula One car with 900hp and very narrow streets and we tried to make a good show, a lot of burn-outs, so as a driver you cannot call it work anymore, just have some fun and we made a great day out of it.
Q: A lot of people?
Robert Doornbos: About 300,000 they said, the whole city was blocked. It was great for me. I felt one day like Michael Jackson almost because the people were cheering and taking pictures wherever I went, so that was really good.
Q: What about your prospects for next year?
Robert Doornbos: This chance at Minardi came a bit out of nowhere. We want to race, for sure. Testing is nice but you can develop yourself more as a driver when you are racing and now we have done two weekends, there are six more to go this year, try to make the best of it and for me as a driver it is more important to focus on each weekend. For sure, the management already thinks to 2006 and it will be great to be there as well, maybe with the same team or maybe with another team.
Q: Christian, the last time we saw you you were on your head. Were there any after effects from that? What were your feelings about that accident?
Christian Klien: The next day I had a bit of a headache but I don't know if it was from the rolling or from the party on the Sunday night! Yeah, the crash happened quite quickly, I didn't find it a hard crash, it just happened so quickly, I landed again on all four wheels and that was a hard hit because I landed just on the floor, not the tyres, and it was quite hard on the back. But I had no problems at all after this and it is not in my mind, it is two weeks ago and we are here for the next race.
Q: Looking forward to the next few races and to next year, what are your feelings about that?
Christian Klien: It is great. I have another two races again and it is just great to be back again in the car for another two races. I am quite happy to be here in the car for here in Istanbul, new circuit where it is new for everyone, and for me it is quite easy to learn a circuit and to get used to it quite quickly, so I am looking forward to this race. And for Monza also I had a good race last year and it is good for me to show the next two races my potential and to show to the other teams and to my team, to Red Bull Racing, that I am a good driver and want to be in the car again next year.
Felipe Massa: First of all I have to say that I am very happy with this opportunity. As everyone knows, I have had a contract with Ferrari since 2001 and it is a very long contract and now they ask me for one year, driving, and I think it is a fantastic opportunity to go to such an incredible team as Ferrari and to show what I can do in a top car. It is great for me. Last time I drove for Ferrari was last year, in the middle of the year, I did one day testing in Mugello, and the next time I am going to drive will be next week.
Q: That is the Monza test?
Felipe Massa: Yep, two days testing, Tuesday and Wednesday in Monza.
Q: And then do you test for Sauber as well?
Felipe Massa: On Friday.
Q: And what are your feelings about next year?
Felipe Massa: I think it is a bit early to say. There are many things going to change for next year, engine will be a big change for every team, so I think most of the teams are already working on next year's engine and honestly, I don't have some information already about the engine, I just saw Ferrari tried it a few days ago, and I think it is too early to say about how it is going to be next year, I think it will be new for everyone.
Q: Fernando, what were your feelings after Hungary?
Fernando Alonso: I was a little bit disappointed because I didn't score points but these things happen. In the race, I was a little bit unlucky in the first corner, and then I damaged the car so much that I didn't recover to get back into the points so I just finished the race, I drove the revs, I did a normal race with no risks at all just to finish in front of some cars to get a better qualifying position for here, for Turkey, but it was not really a good Sunday for me.
Q: Obviously nobody knows this circuit; is that a good thing for you or a bad thing?
Fernando Alonso: I think it is good. Normally we are quick on the hot tracks. We saw that in Malaysia, in Bahrain. I think all these new types of circuit, with high temperatures, is not bad news for our car so I'm really confident to have a good race here. The qualifying position will not be great for me and Giancarlo but I also think Rubens and Juan Pablo will not be in a much different position compared to us, so we have to be really concentrated this weekend, we need a good result.
Q: Rubens, still six races to go with Ferrari, but looking back what will be your best memories?
Rubens Barrichello: I just have to take the opportunity to thank them very much. I had a great time, I am having a great time. I didn't take too serious the fact I could leave the team because I had a deal for next year, there was no buy-out or anything like this, so it is thanks to Jean Todt that I was able to. I was talking to BAR for a long time but it was just this year at some point that everything started to happen a little bit. Then I went to Jean and said 'if I want to leave, will you be happy to let me go' and he said 'you have one week to decide that because I am counting on you for next year' but then I came back with the news and, so, I really have to thank him for that and thank the team, because I had a great time. If it wasn't for Ferrari I wouldn't be where I am right now at 33, trying to get Honda to the very top. I still dream of being world champion, that is why I am here, that is why I feel competitive every day I wake up and that is the reason I take the challenge.
Q: Looking forward to the new team, what were the feelings, the reasons for moving?
Rubens Barrichello: Every change brings a new motivation, that is a fact, but it is the resources, the people, everything. One day Ayrton (Senna) told me about Honda, everything is in plan with Honda and BAR for next year is quite good, there is a good motivation for the team to have someone who is still young and motivated to win and to transform everything in a good way. I am not going there to actually say 'change this, change that' I am going there to learn how the team works and I am bringing the 13 years of experience to make that a winning team.
Q: There are six races left, six circuits. Which should suit you better and can we speak about that, because it looks like everything goes the opposite way this year?
Fernando Alonso: I think it will be difficult to know which circuits will be good for us and which ones for McLaren. We were so confident in our car in Monaco and Budapest and we were not competitive, especially in the last race. We were not even in the points for both cars. So let's wait and prepare the weekend with no reference from the last couple of years and hopefully we can beat them in some circuits.
Q: Felipe, what did you feel when you signed the contract with the Ferrari team, the dream of most drivers, the importance it is to Brazil? And then the press department of Ferrari does not permit you to talk to the Brazilian press, except to TV Globo? Do you not think it is missing the respect of the Brazilian press and the Brazilian people?
Felipe Massa: First of all, I feel great to be a Brazilian and to have this opportunity to be in a top team. For Brazil it is fantastic. We are not having an easy time in Brazil, everybody knows that. Brazil is coming up to a bad moment in terms of politics. I think that for me it's fantastic. I'm Brazilian, I'm young, I'm going to a fantastic team and hopefully me and Rubens will be doing a good job for the Brazilian people to give them some happiness. So this is really great for me. We announced that I am going to be with Ferrari and I was on holidays. I still have six more races to do with Sauber. It's fantastic to be in Sauber. I think I have to say thank you to Peter for these years. I am still focussed on my year. I'm talking now about Ferrari but I want to concentrate on my next six races. As I said, I'm Brazilian, I love my country, everything I will do for my country I will do.
Q: It is a big challenge to be Michael's team-mate: 1) because he's fast, 2) because there's either the real or the perceived notion that Michael gets preferential treatment and that you sometimes have to defer to him. So first of all, Rubens, what advice do you give to Felipe on how to cope with being Michael's teammate, and Felipe, how will you face up to that challenge?
Rubens Barrichello: The only thing I told Felipe was not to use the toilet on the top because I had bad times there, so just be careful there. The rest is for him to enjoy his time. He is going to have a tough time, absolutely, but if I was in his position, younger, eager to win, I probably would have done the same. I'm proud to say now that the team is different to the one when I came to Ferrari in 2000. It is much broader in its thoughts, and thinking much more of both drivers so I think Felipe will have an advantage compared to myself if you look back to 2000. But the rest is up to him to show his speed. Speed is much better than words.
Felipe Massa: One thing I have to say is that I am still young. When you have a competitive car, and when you have the opportunity to go to Ferrari it is fantastic for a young guy, so I feel ready. I have some good experience in Formula One already and now is the time to take the opportunity to show what I can do. Going to Ferrari is always an incredible opportunity.
Q: Rubens, what kind of role did what happened in Monaco between you and Michael play in your decision?
Rubens Barrichello: I had fantastic times at Ferrari and I had bad times too. The bad times always taught me and the team to improve. People ask me what is the worst time I had at Ferrari and they might think it was Austria 2002. I think that was the best time, because that was really good to change things around, really good in terms of respect because they knew I could win races without the help of anyone, so it was probably the turning point of my racing career there. But obviously being with the team the whole time, I saw it was going to be very difficult for me to actually try to win the championship, because you're there, they have two competitive drivers, Michael has been there for longer and I saw my chances much higher with a team that has not yet won a race but has all the desire and the good ingredients to do it. That was more the fact that took me to there.
Q: Rubens and Felipe, is there any chance that you split to BAR before the end of the season, and Felipe, what kind of Ferrari do you expect to find next week in Monza?
Rubens Barrichello: I think that would be impossible. It would be a lack of respect, to stop now and say I don't care any more what is going on at Ferrari. If we can still fight for the Constructors' championship I would leave Ferrari with six (titles) rather than five and that would be much better for myself and the achievement would be great. So I don't think there is any doubt I will finish the year contractually and just in the human respect, I think that would be lacking, so I'm just glad to say that I'm definitely carrying on.
Felipe Massa: It is always difficult to say how it's going to be before you test the car. I saw Ferrari was much more competitive in the last race than in the previous races and I think they are working in a good direction to improve. But it's difficult to say before you test the car. After the test I can say something.
Q: Fernando, do you think there are not as many opportunities to overtake here as written in the preview? And the second question, for everyone, is after the period of holidays and vacation, are you eager to drive again or would you rather have more time on holiday?
Fernando Alonso: There are places to overtake, like turn one, but the same opportunity as you have in Hungary, maybe. It is still very difficult these days to overtake in Formula One. It is true that because the track is wide, and you have two or three long straights, you have the opportunity, but you still have the chance to overtake, maybe one or maximum two places to overtake, not more. During this time of holidays, I think we all want to be in the car. I prefer the races when they are together, next weekend you have the next race is good for us, because I like to be in the car, racing, not testing, so when I am racing I am happy. After three weeks, you miss the car.
Q: After the holidays and vacation, are you eager to drive again?
Rubens Barrichello: I had a good time, as always when I go back to Brazil to my family, but you get eager to get back in the car. I think everyone likes those two weeks off. You just feel that you start driving fast on the roads which means that you have to get back to the (racing) car. (Laughter)
Robert Doornbos: I am a rookie anyway, so any minute I can get in the car is great now and I learn a lot from it. I did Rotterdam and then I was just waiting for this weekend to happen. I spent many hours on the Playstation and focussing on the weekend. Yeah, it is great to be in the car. The Minardi team doesn't test a lot outside the race weekends so I have to use every minute I can get.
Christian Klien: This year we have nineteen races, a lot of back-to-back races, especially in July. It was really busy, so it is nice to have two weeks off and come back hungry and enjoy racing again.
Felipe Massa: I think after some time to cool down it is time to come back and do everything we can. I still have six races with Sauber and I want to do my best to have a good result for Sauber and I want to come back to the car as quickly as I could because it was time enough for me to cool down.
Q: Felipe, you have the same contract as Rubens now? You will be there the second driver for a while?
Felipe Massa: This is not written in my contract.
Rubens Barrichello: In mine, too. (Laughter)
Q: Felipe, which engine do you drive in the Ferrari at Monza?
Felipe Massa: 10 cylinder.
Q: Felipe, you have heard Rubens say that speed talks louder than words. How do you think you will compare in terms of speed against Michael Schumacher?
Felipe Massa: I think this is the best comparison a driver can have. Michael is still, as seven times World Champion, he is still the example of every driver. If you can have this possibility to compare your speed with him, I think it's the best comparison you can have.
Q: Will you be quicker or slower?
Felipe Massa: I hope I can be quicker. I will do everything I can to be quicker, for sure.
Q: Christian, because of your special situation, which is your main goal for next year, to stay with Red Bull as a driver, or just to be a Formula One driver wherever?
Christian Klien: It would be great to stay at Red Bull. I have been supported by them for nine years and this year is the first year they have their own Formula One team and it's great to drive for them. I know all the people there and I think our team has good potential in the future, also next year with the Ferrari engines. The best thing for me would be to stay in this team, where I know everyone and where I feel comfortable and feel good and where I feel I can have a good future. But still, the main thing for me is to stay in Formula One and if I don't get an opportunity at Red Bull I also have to look with open eyes for other teams.
Q: Rubens, you said that during your thinking about going to BAR you remembered what Ayrton said to you about Honda. What did he say to you?
Rubens Barrichello: I remember because at the time when I started we shared some dinners and things and he always used to be late and he used to say he was spending time with the Honda boys trying to get the driveability and the power and everything about the car that he liked his way. The good thing is that they love this kind of a conversation, he said, and they used to do everything he asked them in order to get everything correct for his driving style and everything. I feel that the Honda is always very powerful and I'm very much looking forward to working with them.
Q: Felipe, when Rubens came into Formula One he was described as the next World Champion and he did not become World Champion, probably because he spent a lot of time with Michael Schumacher. It's very difficult to beat Michael. So don't you think that you could burn your career going to Ferrari with Michael? I know it's a good opportunity but don't you think you will burn your career?
Felipe Massa: First of all, Rubens has not quit Formula One yet so maybe he still has a chance to be World Champion and I'm sure he had a good time at Ferrari. So as I said, I'm young, I am ready for the challenge, so I'm ready to try everything I can to have a competitive car. Fernando had his chance to go to a good team and show what he could do, Kimi as well, so I want to do the same.
Q: Rubens, do you think Jenson Button will be your teammate next year and if he is, how do you think you will get on together?
Rubens Barrichello: I told the team I would have no problem with anyone, so it is up to the team to decide what's the best option. Obviously there are various options in place but I have no further comment. I have no problems, Jenson is definitely a good guy, he is one of the friends I have in the paddock so it would definitely have been no problem but it is BAR-Honda that has to decide what is the best option alongside myself.
Q: Fernando, looking at your position for qualifying, what is your main goal at this circuit and the other question is what's your opinion about turn eight?
Fernando Alonso: I'm starting tenth in qualifying, so it is not the best position here, but also if we are competitive in this track it doesn't matter if you are four or six in qualifying which is the difference. Maybe, starting there, you lose two or three positions because if we are competitive in the race we will recover, and I think the approach for this weekend is to try to win the race, try to beat McLaren. It's not an easy goal because we saw how competitive they were in the last two or three months, so it is not an easy goal but we have to approach it thinking like that.
Turn eight is the most special corner here in Turkey compared to the other tracks we have. I think we are all really concentrating on that corner, especially tomorrow. We think the tyres can really suffer there. It will be quite demanding for the tyres in turn eight, on the right side of the car, so we will see tomorrow, but for sure turn eight is the biggest challenge we have here, from the drivers and engineers' point of view.