Italian GP Thursday press conference

Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton-Playlife) Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Jarno Trulli (Jordan-Honda) Ricardo Zonta (BAR-Honda) Q. This is Ferrari's home race, Michael. How do you prepare for it?...

Drivers:
Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton-Playlife)
Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes)
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
Jarno Trulli (Jordan-Honda)
Ricardo Zonta (BAR-Honda)

Q. This is Ferrari's home race, Michael. How do you prepare for it? How important is it as far as you are concerned?

Michael Schumacher: It's not really any different than Spa was. We had the test here last week, we were able to set up the car. Mentally and physically, for me there is no difference at all. This race is important for us. But whatever [may have happened] after this race, the championship will not be finished. This is just one of the four races that are still to go, so I don't really feel this is the crucial one. To some degree, [what happens] can make life more or less difficult for us.. But that's it.

Q. From a technical point of view, do you have a lot of new stuff coming here?

MS: We have the natural developments for the car. But there is nothing special to point out.

Q. In terms of the circuit, is this one of your favourites?

MS: N-n-no, I wouldn't say that. Everyone knows that the favourites are Spa, Suzuka, Monaco ... Hungary; circuits that are technically difficult. This is not so difficult: it has long straights, hard braking and chicanes to be ridden. There's nothing that's really challenging.

Q. How much is the support of the tifosi worth in terms of lap time?

MS: We'll find out! For sure it is great to have the extra motivation. I have always said that I feel the motivation more than any pressure when coming to a home race. We have had great times here, particularly the last year I was here, [in 1998] ... and last time I wasn't here. Let's hope we can start where we left off in 1998.

Q. Your feelings on this Mika?

Mika Hakkinen: This is a really important race, like every Grand Prix. The concentration and preparation [for Monza] are the same as they are at any Grand Prix. The target is to get as many points as possible for me and for the team.

Q. I understand you may have a new Evolution engine here ...

MH: Mario Illien can tell you more [than I can] about what's going on with the engine side. When we tested last week, as usual we were testing something new on the engine side. Speak to Mario about that.

Q. Is this a circuit you enjoy?

MH: Yes and no. There are some corners here which are very interesting and challenging to drive. There are also some corners which are not so nice. In one sense it is a very difficult track: you are going at 350 km/h on the straight, and then you have to brake at exactly the right place to carry the correct speed into the corner, then you have to accelerate very hard again. Psychologically it is very demanding and difficult to drive, compared with other circuits.

Q. Are the tifosi reasonably fair to you?

MH: There are always good and bad fans, and some of the less friendly ones are showing the middle finger. To a sporting mind, that is quite disappointing to see. But at the same time, emotions can get a bit high, and I can understand the Italian temperament. Some other fans here are very friendly: they want to shake your hand and get an autograph, things like that. So there are two sides, but mainly the fans here are very pleasant.

Q. Ricardo, the last time Mika and Michael were sitting on each side of you, we were at Spa and all three of you were travelling at over 300 km/h. We have heard quite a lot from them about that, but what about you?

Ricardo Zonta: I saw a Ferrari coming from behind, so I just slowed down a little bit and left room for him to pass. When I saw another car was coming through on the right side I thought it was a dangerous move - but it worked very well.

Q. You did a fantastic job because you kept cool ...

RZ: Yes, but I had only seen Michael until the moment when I was in the middle of the straight. I didn't move all the way over to the right because the track was still a little bit damp there. One moment later, though, I felt something coming through there - and it was Mika.

Q. What was your reaction to that?

RZ: I got on to the radio and [my crew] said the two other guys were crazy!

Q. What can you see in terms of your future, because that's a little bit up in the air? Are you willing to be a test driver or do you hope to race?

RZ: This is quite a difficult moment for me now. I have been speaking with some teams [about racing for them]. McLaren has also given me the opportunity to test the car [if I wish to do that], which would increase my experience in F1. But maybe I will [be able to] have another season of racing in F1.

Q. It's pretty much your decision, though, isn't it?

RZ: There are a lot of negotiations, of course, and no we need to find whichever is best for my future.

Q. Giancarlo, you have had some painful driving experiences recently. Tell us about them ...

Giancarlo Fisichella: I am fine now, but after two big accidents [at Spa and in testing at Monza] in three days it is not a fantastic experience for a driver, especially mentally. I have had a good rest and I did some training. I am confident and there is only one small problem, with my right ankle. But for Sunday it will be OK.

Q. You finished well in the first six or eight races of the season, since when there has been a complete drought. What has happened?

GF: I lost some points and I have been a bit unlucky to have had two accidents at the start, in Austria and Germany, then these two big accidents. It has been a very unlucky period. Now I just hope to make a comeback and to score some points. Normally the car is very reliable. I just worry about Sunday, because in the test here I had a problem with the brakes - I lost the brake pads in the Variante Ascari - and because the speed there is so high it meant that I had a very big accident. We are still investigating what the problem could have been. I am usually very quiet with the mechanics [who prepare my car]: there is a good feeling between us. I really believe in them.

Q. Jarno, your fans have to come a long way, even further than Giancarlo's, from the south ...

Jarno Trulli: Yes. This will be an interesting Grand Prix for me. The car has seemed very competitive in the last few races, so I hope to do well here in front of my home crowd.

Q. Tell us about your travels over the past ten days.

JT: I've been very busy. I flew to Northern Ireland after the Grand Prix at Spa, to take part in the Belfast Motorsport Show. It was my first time in Ireland and there were lots of mad Irish people, so it was very nice to see they were all big supporters of Jordan Grand Prix. Then I came back here to Monza for the test. After that, on Sunday, we had the tenth birthday of Jordan Grand Prix [at Donington Park], which was even [more extraordinary] than Belfast. I have never seen so many people at a race track, just for one team. Donington Park looked like a Grand Prix weekend: it was amazing. We had de Cesaris and Watson in the cars, there were families there with their kids. To be honest, it was not a day I will regret ...

Q. There are suggestions that the British Grand Prix may go back to Donington Park in 2002. What do you think of the circuit?

JT: It looks like a very technical circuit, but apparently they need to do some work on it. It is not long enough and the paddock needs to be rebuilt. It could be a good opportunity, but there is a lot of work to be done [before it could be used for a Grand Prix].

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Jarno Trulli , Michael Schumacher , Mika Hakkinen , Ricardo Zonta
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Benetton , Jordan