Hungarian Grand Prix FIA Thursday press conference transcript with Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber) Jenson Button (BAR) Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) Q: Jacques, you have had a couple of wins here, what do you think of ...
Hungarian Grand Prix FIA Thursday press conference transcript with
Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber)
Jenson Button (BAR)
Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault)
Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren)
Q: Jacques, you have had a couple of wins here, what do you think of the circuit?
Jacques Villeneuve: It has always been a fun track to drive. A few corners have been changed since then, I think, but it doesn't change the track that much. There is good rhythm, it's physical, the race can be fun because it is easy to make mistakes and you can maybe put some pressure on someone and of course any track you win on you end up really enjoying.
Q: So do you still enjoy it?
Jacques Villeneuve: The memories are quite a few years ago so I think I need a refresher soon.
Q: Things are changing a lot with your team, what are your chances for next year, do you feel?
Jacques Villeneuve: Well, as I have a contract my chances are very good.
Jenson Button: I don't think he meant that!
Jacques Villeneuve: Why should it change? The team was sold with all the contracts in place.
Q: So, you are very confident of staying with them?
Jacques Villeneuve: Yeah, I am not even questioning it.
Q: What about the last race in Germany? It was pretty lively. Can you give us an idea of who you did contact and perhaps who you didn't?
Jacques Villeneuve: Well, people were complaining about the lack of excitement in the races, so I just wanted to make sure there would be no complaints about that this weekend! Since the beginning of the season, in the drivers' briefings, it has always been mentioned that you don't change line in the braking area and anyway in the rules you are not supposed to impede someone's progress, which means you don't put someone on the grass. The same thing happened to the two drivers. For Doornbos it was his first race, he was excited and fine, everyone can make mistakes. He kept the inside and I went for the outside then he just came back on the line as we hit the brakes. We had a little talk about it and everything was fine.
With Tiago, he spent the whole back straight and through the hairpin looking in his right-hand mirror, going to the right, going to the right, so at one point that's him telling me don't try to overtake me on the right, go for the left, which is what I did, and when we reached the braking area he came back on the line again, his excuse being 'I looked in my right mirror and I didn't see you there so I went left.' I hope he doesn't do that on highways because he is going to have a few big ones.
Q: Giancarlo, you have finished fourth, fourth, sixth in the last three races having started fourth, fourth, sixth in the last few races too. How do you feel about the last few races since Indianapolis?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Not too bad. Again, I had a few problems in the last few races, especially on Sunday. Apart from the start, where I lost a position, and then when Sato came on the back of my car, I lost four or five positions, but especially I lost one aerodynamic component and after that the brake cooling was compromised. So in the middle of the race I was already struggling with the break wear on the back, I went on the maximum brake balance forwards but it wasn't enough. In the second pit stop, when the engineers took away the tyres to check the brakes, they were very scared and the decision was to stop me in the garage. But then Flavio said 'okay, let's carry on, tell him to go slow and try to get to the end'.
It wasn't an easy decision but I think it was the right one. It was a bit dangerous but in the last few laps when my engineers said 'you are okay with the brakes, you can push' I overtook Michael and it was a fantastic, a fantastic overtaking move, and it was good because from fifth to fourth in the last laps was not easy, especially to Michael Schumacher.
Q: Your best here has been a fifth on the grid and sixth in the race in 2002. What are your feelings about this race?
Giancarlo Fisichella: This race? I like the circuit, it is really challenging, it is going to be very tough, physically and mentally because it is really hot and it is one of the most difficult circuits. I like it but it is going to be tough.
Q: Renault won here in 2003, of course, what are your feelings about how they are approaching the race, how do they feel they are going to be, particularly against McLaren?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah, this year we have been very competitive everywhere. In the last part of the season McLaren have looked a little bit stronger than us but I think this is one of the good circuits, one of the circuits where the characteristics are good for Renault, so we are optimistic to fight for the win.
Q: Jenson, the silly season has slipped into overdrive for you. Can you explain your feelings at this stage about your Williams contract and BAR?
Jenson Button: I have got very interesting memories of this room last year, quite a similar position.
Q: Only this year you have talked!
Jenson Button: Exactly. That is the difference. The situation is that I would like to be with BAR-Honda next year that is the way I feel. I think it is important to be with a team that has a works manufacturer involved and especially considering they own 45 percent of the team at the moment that is very important in Formula One and it is one of the reasons why I want to stay next year.
Q: It is one of the reasons. Can you give us an idea of what your thinking it, a driver's thinking, if you like, to choosing, especially as it appears you have an option. What are the options, what are the thoughts?
Jenson Button: It is always very difficult to predict the future. You have to try your best to do that. Obviously I have had a lot of time with BAR-Honda in the past, we have experienced lots of ups and lots of downs, but as soon as I realised last year that Honda were so focussed on not only being involved with BAR but also being part of a team, it did change my views for the future.
I have been through a few bad times with BAR-Honda this season but it really makes you realise how strong a team is when things are tough and I think I knew that we would start coming back strong this year, although we are not there yet, they are a very strong team and I think they can turn things around very quickly, and I know that Honda will never give up until they win the world championship. They are so focused. They don't go racing to sell cars, they go racing to win, and that is very different to a lot of manufacturers.
Q: What has brought it to a head now, you said you realised earlier on in the year, have you actually been in contact with Williams about this for some time?
Jenson Button: I spoke to Frank a few weeks ago.
Q: And what did he say?
Jenson Button: I think that is for Frank to comment on, really.
Q: What has brought it to a head now?
Jenson Button: Obviously we need to talk. We don't want to leave it to the end of the season because that is unfair on everyone. I think Frank understands the situation, I think a lot of people understand the situation. I am in my sixth year of Formula One, I still haven't won a race, I haven't had the equipment to do that, I don't think, but I really need to start pushing on and being with a team that can help me win races and fight for championships. It is a very difficult and a very important decision for me to make.
Q: So, a quick final question, is something going to happen this weekend? Are you going to be having further meetings this weekend?
Jenson Button: I am sure there will be further talks, not this weekend, we all need to concentrate on this weekend, but there will discussions hopefully very soon.
Q: Kimi, you are smiling. Have you got over last weekend?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah.
Q: How long does it take to get over it?
Kimi Raikkonen: It is not the first time, unfortunately, so you get used to it. But it is disappointing, obviously, but we just need to look forward for this race.
Q: When you go out, in qualifying, during the weekend, is there always a nagging doubt now, a little bell saying is it going to be okay?
Kimi Raikkonen: Not really. I think you are always thinking it is going to be alright, but sometimes those things happen. It is not nice, but I think we are in a difficult position for qualifying anyhow, because we are first out. I think this is one of the races where we are going to be penalised quite a lot going first out.
Q: You have never qualified higher than seventh here, but you have finished second when you qualified seventh. What are your feelings about that?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think it is quite difficult here because if you don't have a good qualifying it is hard to get past anyone here. We will see what we can do but I think we need to look for a good tactic and see what happens.
Q: Giancarlo, can you give us a bit more information on what happened in the incident with Taku because he said you suddenly slowed on the straight. What is your side of the story?
Giancarlo Fisichella: I don't know. I was in front of him; I had a problem in the braking of turn two. I don't know what happened, it is not my fault, for sure.
Q: I understand that, but he said it happened under braking, not under power, he said you suddenly slowed.
Giancarlo Fisichella: It was the exit for turn two, but he was behind me and he came around the back of my car, so I don't know.
Q: You didn't come off the power?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Absolutely not, no.
Q: Kimi, do you think about the championship?
Kimi Raikkonen: Not really. I don't think so. We are slipping away a little bit too much now. We still have a chance but I think we have to be realistic, so it is not there without any problems to anyone else.
Q: Kimi, there has been one extremely unfortunate incident this weekend in Budapest. What are your feelings about that?
Kimi Raikkonen: It is very sad and I obviously feel sorry for their family and for everyone but I don't really know what happened. I just read it in a Finnish newspaper.
Q: Kimi, what were your feelings when Juan Pablo said after the race at Hockenheim that it looks like the world championship is now going to be a fight between him and you for second place?
Kimi Raikkonen: I didn't hear it. I was at home already at that time. For second place, is not really what we are aiming, we want to be at the first place and we will see what happens in the last races, but this is not what I am racing for, anyhow.
Q: Giancarlo, you played in the charity football match yesterday. Can you talk us through that a bit, did you enjoy it?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yes, it was a really nice game. There were a lot of people, around 25,000 people, which is fantastic. I had a fantastic game, I played very well, I scored one goal, and I really enjoyed it. It was nice, good organisation.
Q: Did your team win?
Giancarlo Fisichella: It was six-six! (Laughter)
Q: Kimi, if Fernando wins the championship, would you say you have more lost the championship than he has won it?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think so, yes, he has won it. It is good for him if he wins but right now he is in a strong position anyhow, so...
Q: Giancarlo and Jacques, this is the 20th Hungarian Grand Prix and you are the oldest who started racing amongst this group. What are the differences in the attitude of the race from your point of view?
Jacques Villeneuve: The first few years - now I have a motorhome so I sleep at the race track - but in the first few years I didn't, I stayed in a hotel and it is a fun town, not that you see it much in a race weekend because you go to bed early, you wake up early but it always has quite a lot of character so that was always a nice place to come to race. I have no idea how it has changed because for the last few years I have been at the race track anyway, so I have no idea.
Giancarlo Fisichella: I really like the town, it is one of the best race weekends for me because I like the circuit and I really enjoy it when I am in the town, but honestly, as Jacques said, we don't have enough time to go around the city.
Q: How much has the atmosphere changed in terms of the race?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Honestly, it is the same, because when you get through the race weekend you just concentrate on the race, so it's difficult to say. But honestly, the people, the atmosphere are really nice, especially yesterday in the football game, it was fantastic.
Q: Jacques, you were his team-mate for three races and Giancarlo, you are his team-mate now: do you guys think Fernando already has the championship in his pocket and what are your feelings for the guy and as a driver?
Jacques Villeneuve: He has a big advantage and that's always the best position to be in. Any points you score early in the season always makes it harder for the other ones to catch you, even if they're faster in the second half. It's obvious that McLaren and Kimi are faster now but they are behind on points and if they make a small mistake or a car breaking down kills their chances. Fernando is very strong in the races. This year he has only made one mistake which is less than most drivers do in a season, so he is definitely driving very maturely as well.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Fernando is doing a fantastic season, he is a fantastic driver, for sure, and considering his age he is doing very well. He is really comfortable in the team, he has been quick, he's been good but he's been quite lucky this year. For him it is going to be quite easy to win the championship. I am happy for him, but together we have to win the Constructors' championship so we still have a lot of work to do.
Q: Kimi, do you believe in luck or bad luck, or more importantly, do you still believe in your car?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I believe in the team. I don't know if it is luck or bad luck, but I don't really believe in those things. We just need to keep working hard and make sure that we don't have any problems.
Q: Kimi, how long do you think you can go on like this, and when is it the time to think, at least, to think of leaving the team, changing teams?
Kimi Raikkonen: I still have a contract for next year and concerning my future, I don't really know what is happening. I have not made my mind up. Maybe I stay with them, because I am happy with all the people there, even if we have had some difficult times. We need to work in a better way just make sure that the car is very reliable. I think the speed of the car is very good so once we get everything else sorted, I think I will be more than happy to stay.
Q: To all the drivers. Obviously there is much talk about abandoning the one lap qualifying format. Do you think this is the way to go and as you may know, people can vote for two different qualifying formats on Formula1.com. Which do you prefer of the two?
Jacques Villeneuve: Neither actually. I like the one lap qualifying, I don't like it with fuel, and I think we should have two goes at it so then you can really push hard. But one lap means you don't have traffic... Everybody thinks qualifying used to be fantastic but how many times did you come back to the pits saying 'ah, there was a yellow flag' or ' there was traffic' and it just created... and then for half an hour there were no cars on the track. It wasn't that good. But now what is confusing is you qualify with fuel so you ask 'is it a good lap?', 'is it the strategy?', and you can't really push to the limit because a mistake means you'll start last. So if you just had two goes at one lap without fuel it would be perfect.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Really the same opinion as Jacques'. It is good to have the one lap qualifying but it would be nice to drive without fuel. The old format was nice because of the fuel load, it was nice for some reasons but obviously sometimes there were red or yellow flags, a lot of traffic, but there were a few chances to do a good lap. Now it is just one chance, and it is not easy.
Jenson Button: I prefer one lap, for me it is a lot more exciting, and I think only getting one chance is good. For the viewers, when we had four qualifying runs or twelve laps, maybe it is a bit more exciting to watch, but it was so frustrating for the drivers to get a good lap in. One lap qualifying is good and you also get to see everyone's laps which is quite interesting.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think the one lap is good, but I would also prefer it on low fuel because it is more fun for the drivers.
Q: Jenson, if you had not spent two thirds of the race behind Michael you would probably have been second in Hockenheim. He passed you on the outside of the first corner, over the white line, on the wrong side of the white line, against the specific instructions of the race director. What is the relationship between breaking a rule like that and breaking a technical infringement? And what sort of precedent does that set for the future anyway?
Jenson Button: I think the problem there is that it is so easy to do, to run off the circuit there, and it is very unusual that we get fined or we get a penalty or anything. It is a difficult situation. Michael was alongside me into the corner. But he knew that if I took my racing line, he could drive off over the white line and onto the run-off area, so it gave him a lot more commitment going into the corner. I think it is something we definitely need to look at because it can change the race for somebody if you're able to do that.
I also saw it happen at the hairpin on lap one. I don't know who it was but somebody - I think it was a Red Bull -- went round the outside of somebody and was able to come on in front of them, I think it was round the outside of Giancarlo and again didn't get a penalty so it is something we need to look at, because it is not using the circuit.
Q: Tomorrow is Fernando's birthday. Are there any wishes from the podium?
Jenson Button: Hopefully he's going to get really drunk. We can make sure of that. We can do that.
Giancarlo Fisichella: The question is for me?
Q: You mean you are going to buy him a drink?
Jenson Button: Yeah!
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah, it his birthday tomorrow, we will have dinner and I will speak to him to ask if he can give me a present on Sunday.
Jacques Villeneuve: Well, it's his birthday tomorrow and tomorrow is not important so that makes it very easy. If it was on Sunday then you would have to say well, I wish him a podium, but it's tomorrow so it's not the race, so let's hope he doesn't sweat too much on his birthday day.
Kimi Raikkonen: Happy Birthday! (Laughter)