Italian GP Thursday press conference

Drivers: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Alex Yoong (Minardi) Team personnel: Flavio Briatore (Benetton) Paul Stoddart (Minardi) Q: Paul, what are your thoughts with all the changes in store for next year? Paul ...

Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
Alex Yoong (Minardi)

Team personnel:
Flavio Briatore (Benetton)
Paul Stoddart (Minardi)

Q: Paul, what are your thoughts with all the changes in store for next year?

Paul STODDART: We knew this year would be a struggle for us with just six weeks to build a car for Melbourne but our aims were survival and credibility, I think we've done both and got a few top 10 finishes. For next year it's really exciting - we've got new engines, we always said we needed 800 horsepower and that's what we've been promised. Hopefully we can get Minardi off the bottom and if we're going to compete with the world's best that needs investment and our deal with Asiatech's given us that.

Q: The rumour is you've been talking to Proton.

PS: Don't believe everything you read in the press. We went to visit the Proton factory last week and had a nice tour and the next day we were getting Proton engines. It was just a social call.

Q: Will you have Fernando Alonso next year?

PS: You can ask Flavio that but I think I have.

Flavio Briatore: I don't know yet. We haven't decided. We start the season in March.

Q: Flavio, why did you swap Giancarlo Fisichella for Jarno Trulli in next year's line-up?

FB: No reason basically. We had the option for both driver and we decide to take Jarno for different situation. Giancarlo has done a very good job this year and I believe the two drivers is quite equal drivers but I believe the option we have with Jarno is better and not the option we have with Giancarlo. The only reason was commercial.

Q: Commercial for the team or commercial for the driver?

FB: Commercial for the team.

Q: Rubens, just going back to Spa - how easy was it to put Luciano's accident out of your mind?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: I think I've been through so many times in the past where you think 'is he hurt, is he not' I just took it that what people were telling me on the grid was true - that he was breathing, he was okay. I didn't know if he had broken anything but I had to concentrate on my job basically, this weekend was tough itself, it wasn't anything to do with Luciano. As soon as the race finished for sure I got in my car and went to the hospital but the race was a struggle and when I was running by myself I could be quite quick but it was difficult to follow people through Eau Rouge. The best moment I had in the race was the fight with Alesi. That was the only time I had fun in the race.

Q: How do you feel about second in the championship now?

RB: I think it was such a big thing in the last race, people saying it's important for me others saying it's not so important for me. I think it was very important for Michael to win his 52nd Grand Prix at the track he started. He had to do it there and it would have been very difficult if I was second he had let me by. I'm just prepared to race as hard as I can for the last three races, my life couldn't be much better so I'm just prepared to put my foot down and race as hard as I can.

Q: Michael, within the team is there a difference since you won the championship?

Michael SCHUMACHER: Certainly things are a lot more relaxed in most respects. The big weight we had on our shoulders was anyway taken away last year but still you keep on fighting for the championship as we did this year and the weight increases over the year and as happens then a lot of that falls down. But in Spa I said to Ross Brawn that the pressures, the nervousness are pretty much the same regardless. What we have to look at is what is possible to do for Rubens because it would be a beautiful picture to have the Ferraris 1 and 2.

Q: The team is more relaxed but like last time the results can still be devastating.

MS: In some cases - and that has happened very often - you get more free and you do the job more easily. Actually it increases your performance sometimes.

Q: Alex, your first Grand Prix and sitting here next to the new world champion - what are your feelings?

Alex YOONG: I've been trying to get into this very seat for such a long time and it's been a long journey and it's fantastic to be here. There are a lot of people back home supporting me and I'm just going to enjoy it the best I can. Minardi has given me a great opportunity here and I plan to do the best job that I can.

Q: What are the aims for the three races you have this year?

AY: I think it's quite hard to come in halfway through the season, the team is settled and you have to try and fit yourself into the way everything meshes. It's going to be to try to complete the races, get as much experience as possible and do a good job for Minardi. I've got to show them I can do the job and try to qualify and race well, if I can show well against my team mate even better.

Q: Team managers, has anything been decided about racing here this weekend and in the United States after this week's terrible events?

FB: In the meeting, basically, business as usual. For the moment we're racing here from tomorrow, we're racing in America in two weeks time, we race in Japan for the last race.

PS: What we will be doing is joining in with everybody else in a moment of respect at 12 o'clock tomorrow and practice will be starting a few minutes earlier and finishing a few minutes earlier so that the teams can do that.

Q: Michael, as the leader of the Formula 1 drivers, is there anything you can say in sympathy to the people of America?

MS: It's pretty difficult to find the right expression for what has happened there and what we feel. I think in all of us it's pretty much the same that what we do feel is naturally the sympathy for all of them and we will support them as much as we can. It is a tough time we are looking forward to and we have to keep improving things as much as we can to prevent this from happening again.

Q: Paul, you have a good deal of experience in running an airline - are there any practical difficulties that could prevent us from competing at Indianapolis?

PS: I think one has to obviously respect that there's been a tremendous disaster and it will be some time before anything is back to any kind of normality so I'm quite sure that we're all going to have to be a bit patient with delays around airports and security checks that may seem unnecessary and quite annoying at times but are actually necessary if we're ever going to prevent - or even attempt to prevent - what happened. There's not a lot you can do, aircraft do fly over cities and we've all known for a long time that something like this could happen. We've all feared the day and sadly it has happened. All I can say is that things must go on but there will be a price to pay and that price will be unprecedented levels of security.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Jarno Trulli , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Fernando Alonso , Alex Yoong , Ross Brawn , Paul Stoddart , Flavio Briatore
Teams Ferrari , Benetton , Minardi