2007 Canadian Grand Prix Thursday Press Conference 07.06.2007 DRIVERS: Jenson Button (HONDA) Giancarlo Fisichella (RENAULT) Ralf Schumacher (TOYOTA) Alexander Wurz (WILLIAMS) Q: Giancarlo, the performance seemed to be better in Monaco. Was...
2007 Canadian Grand Prix
Thursday Press Conference
Jenson Button (HONDA)
Giancarlo Fisichella (RENAULT)
Ralf Schumacher (TOYOTA)
Alexander Wurz (WILLIAMS)
Q: Giancarlo, the performance seemed to be better in Monaco. Was that a one-off, or can it continue here?
GF: Hopefully, yes. We are really pushing for that. The team made a big step forward. We are really, really concentrating on a few areas and with the new front wing in Monte Carlo we definitely made a step forward. We finished in front of BMW but it's difficult to say. Monaco is a very different circuit and we are even quite positive for here, but we don't know how it's going to be with a new package for low downforce.
Q: Did the test at Paul Ricard reflect potential performance here as well?
GF: Yeah, Ricard wasn't too bad for us. On the last day I was the second quickest. The car balance was quite good so it looks as if it was working a little bit better even with the level of downforce for Canada and it looks promising, but I can't say if we can be better than BMW or slower. We will see, but I'm quite optimistic.
Q: You've twice been second here and fourth from second on the grid here last year. Is it a circuit you enjoy?
GF: Yes, I've got a good feeling, I've got good memories. I think I've been on the podium four times here and actually I had the first podium of my career here in 1997, so it's a good circuit for me. I don't think it's a simple circuit because the level of grip is quite low, especially in the braking points, the stability of the car is very inconsistent but straightaway I got a good feeling. I feel comfortable on this circuit, and that's good for me.
Q: Giancarlo, can you tell us about the racing school that you've started?
GF: A nice new project. It looks like a very, very nice project. I want to give back to people like me who love this sport, (the opportunity) to learn in that academy what they need to go higher, to improve, to learn everything about this sport, so it's very nice. It doesn't mean anything about my retirement! I still want to go higher in Formula One, for many years. I've got a good staff who can look after my academy at the moment, I've got all my management, so I will just be concentrating on Formula One at the moment.
Q: But you have a racing team in GP2, now the racing school; what other projects?
GF: As I said, I love this sport and I like to be involved so that one day when I stop racing in Formula One to still be in motor racing. I'm happy about that.
Q: Jenson, again, better in qualifying in Monaco; was that a one-off, do you feel?
JB: Yeah, it was an improvement, definitely. I think we were helped by Kimi hitting the wall in qualifying but even so, the improvement was there, and in the race, you can see that we didn't perform as we expected, we didn't get into the points which I was hoping for. But 19 cars finished and we finished halfway up the grid, which is an improvement for us, plus strategy-wise we didn't have the best strategy. We thought we did, going into the race you always do, but it turned out we didn't. Our results in practice weren't correct, with the tyres and how long they were going to last throughout the race, so we didn't get the strategy quite right, but that's experience for here.
Q: Is the major improvement still scheduled for the French Grand Prix?
JB: Yeah, I think that you're going to see improvements. The good thing is that there are lots of improvements coming throughout the year and they're making a difference. We're not putting things on the car at the moment that aren't working which was happening at the start of the season, but Magny-Cours is the race that I'm personally looking forward to. I think here, where you need a very good car under braking, you need to have confidence in the car. Before Monaco I wouldn't have enjoyed this race but now that we have a car that's a lot more driveable and better under braking, I think that we should be able to have a reasonable result here. We really made a step forward with the car at Paul Ricard. The pace might still not be there but the consistency definitely is and the confidence given to the drivers so it's a good step forward and hopefully we can just build on that over the next few races.
Q: You've had a third here from second on the grid in 2004, pole in 2005, so you've had good form in the past.
JB: Yeah, I've qualified well here. First and second in those two years -- I can't remember where I was last year -- but it's just turning it into the race result here. It would be nice to get into the points. I know that that's tough at the moment because there's so much competition, especially with the reliability at the moment, it's so good with every team, but we've just got to see if we can get a better result than Monaco, because I think we ended the race thinking damn, we could have got more out of it than we did.
Q: Alex, I'm told it's the tenth anniversary of your debut in Formula One.
AW: Yes, thank you for reminding me!
Q: Does it make you feel old then?
AW: No, it doesn't actually. No, not at all. Yeah, it was ten years ago. It seems like yesterday but things have changed since then: some years as test driver, now I'm back racing and in the end, as Giancarlo said, when you like the sport, for me it doesn't really matter how long you're in it. I'm not thinking about age or how many years I'm in it, as long as you feel the fire and you're motivated then it's good to be here.
Q: Has it been difficult coming back into racing or has it been quite natural for you?
AW: No, it has been difficult not to race because it just doesn't feel right when you want to be out there racing, and when you think you should be and so of course, coming back now is good, I like it. The competition, as Jenson says, is very tough at the moment. That just makes it an extra challenge for me and for us, for everyone here, but that's what is good. You're not in Formula One to expect an easy life.
Q: Points at the last race, was that a bit of a relief for you?
AW: Well, I wasn't very tense before, I have to say. I knew it was just a matter of time until the points were coming, because I had no problems before in terms of speed or setting up the car. All that was fine, all working very well. I was a bit unlucky in the first few races and Monaco played into my hands. I made a good race with a one-stop strategy and I finished seventh, got my first two points for Williams and that's good of course.
Q: Is the car basically going better than you expected?
AW: No, not at all. It's where I thought we would be because when you come from last year -- you know Williams finished eighth in the Constructors' -- you can't, with the current competition out there and the involvement of manufacturers and the reliability of the teams, you can't turn it around overnight, but the pace of the team has really moved a long way from last year. The team is a very strong group of people who work well together. There are no egos involved, they all have one goal which is moving forwards and that's very refreshing and motivating, to be part of that team, and I think that with a bit of time Williams will definitely move forward, if we keep the patience and the motivation as we have it. And I don't see any reason why we shouldn't but again, the competition right now in Formula One is so tough, every hundredth of a second counts, every detail is important so you need to just be concentrated and get on with what everyone is good at, just making the car quicker.
Q: Ralf, here you've had a couple of pole positions, you won in 2001, you were second but disqualified a couple of years ago. This is obviously a good circuit for you; what do you feel about it this time?
RS: I don't know. Recently we have been a bit up and down with the pace. Myself, I have been struggling a little bit but we will see. As Alex just mentioned, the competition is very tough, teams have made progress, like Honda, Renault, Red Bull, so particularly in the area where we fight for points it has become very tight.
Q: The first few races were quite good, you were qualifying quite reasonably but it seems to have gone backwards; when are you expecting to go forwards again?
RS: Well, hopefully here, we will see. It comes with the development as well but in Monaco it was obviously a big struggle in qualifying which I hope won't be the case here.
Q: What are you expecting from here?
RS: It's difficult to tell because we don't really know where we are at the moment. We can, if everything runs well, fight with the teams I just mentioned but we have to wait and see.
Q: Is a bit of a worrying time, a crucial time for you with your contract coming to an end at the end of this year?
RS: Well, I think there is a lot of talk due to the results I've had recently and I think that's only normal but you don't need to worry about me.
Q: Well, if you're not worried...
RS: Not yet, no.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Jenson, last year Honda was performing much better during the second half of the season, you scored a lot of points. Do you expect to see this again this year or do you think the team should reorganise and focus on 2008 right away?
JB: Well, if we're focusing on 2008 we need to be thinking about making the improvements now. There's no use building a car for next year that's completely different to what we've had in the past. We tried that a little bit this year and it hasn't worked. Whatever we do this season is going to help towards the 2008 car. Obviously that's our goal. As a team, our goals are to win races and in the end challenge for the World Championship. That's not going to happen this year but we need to be working towards next year now which is what we are doing, and I think that our pace is going to improve. I'm not sure if it's going to be quite like the end of last year. It would be nice, a nice way to end the season, but we don't know. So many things can change through the season, as we noticed last year. We started very strong, we had a slump in the middle of the year and then we were strong at the end, and that's something as a team we really do need to work on: to have the consistency throughout the season to fight at the front and that's something that we realise and it's something we're working very hard on achieving.
Q: Ralf, what has it been like this year not having your brother to compete against? Has it changed things?
RS: Not necessarily, because I don't think I have been competing with him at the track for the last five years or four anyway. But privately, yes, some lonely dinners, that's all. But he will be here this weekend.
Continued in part 2