CHAMPCAR/CART: Fernandez, Papis press conference, part II

An interview with Adrian Fernandez Max Papis Part 2 of 3 Q: Can we say that 2003 will be the year of your triumph together with Max? Adrian Fernandez: 2003? It would be nice. I tell you, I have talked to Don and Tom. We would love to...

An interview with Adrian Fernandez Max Papis
Part 2 of 3

Q: Can we say that 2003 will be the year of your triumph together with Max?

Adrian Fernandez: 2003? It would be nice. I tell you, I have talked to Don and Tom. We would love to have Max as a driver next year. We're working in a lot of areas to try to find sponsors, as Max is working in his area to find some sponsors. I think that will be a very successful combination. It will be nice to have somebody like Max helping leading the team.

This team is still very young, but he has a lot of good talent. I think the team is ready to win. There are a few little things that we need to put in place so the team can be a hundred percent competitive.

But, drivers like Max would definitely help the team raise their game and get to where we want to be. So we're working hard to get the sponsors and to get the support we need to hire people like Max Papis. That would be ideal for us.

Q: Max, Mid-Ohio, shall we say, will be a sort of revenge to your undeserved situation?

Max Papis: First of all, definitely, no, it's not revenge because I feel I've done everything in my power to bring home results every time I could this year. It's good satisfaction for sure. I have a lot of fire and a lot of hunger inside of me in order to go out and achieve the best results I can.

There have been a lot of thoughts going through my mind, a lot of things in the past couple months. I've been thinking a lot about my life, my career. I've been training really hard in order to keep my physical fitness up, even if it's very difficult because, when you're not in a car, you cannot really replicate what the physical effort is going to be like when you're in the car.

But I feel that I have a lot of hunger and a lot of fire inside of me. Hopefully these things are going to bring home a good result for Adrian and, again, I'm always the same person, I am always a very determined and focused person. But I keep the smile on my face because motor racing is always motor racing, you know, is not a war.

Q: Adrian, looking toward this weekend, when the decision was made that you could not get back into the car, what went through your mind? How do you handle that?

Adrian Fernandez: Well, it's not the first time this has happened to me. Remember a few years ago in '99 I broke my wrist in Detroit. I actually missed four races at that time. I found PJ Jones to replace me for those races.

When you're injured, you're injured. There's nothing you can do. It's an unfortunate situation. Some of us as drivers have been there. You just have to understand your situation and your priorities actually change. My priority right now is to get as healthy as I was before and get into the race car as soon as possible.

When you're in a situation like that, basically it's hard. But, I mean, maybe '99 was a little bit harder because I was in very good position in the championship. Unfortunately, this year we're not as strong as we wish we will be in the championship. It does hurt a little bit, but at the same time I think it will be a good opportunity for us to have Don Halliday and our engineering staff work with another driver and see where we are with that.

I don't think it's too negative. I always believe that things happen for a reason. I believe this is happening for a reason. At the end we will see what opportunities this bad situation is going to bring.

Q: On Sunday the difference will be you'll be watching a car that has your name printed on the side of it, and you'll be watching it from TV.

Adrian Fernandez: It will be nice. I'll be relaxed. Max is going to be suffering there.

Max Papis:  I tell you guys, I've been watching the races on TV, as well,
from Italy.  It's a strange feeling.

Adrian Fernandez: It is a strange feeling. Don't mess around with my cockpit, Max. Don't change the things. I like things the way they are (laughter).

Max Papis: Okay. I'm going to keep it as it is.

Q:   Max, you mentioned briefly a few moments ago what it's been like for
the last five races.  You talked about trying to keep your physical
conditioning up.  You're as much, in my opinion, a mental racer as you
are a physical racer.  How have you tried to stay mentally sharp?

Max Papis: First of all, let me tell you, when I started my season this year, I never thought I would end up not racing after Laguna Seca. It's been a very unfortunate situation, something that I couldn't predict, something that really upset me a lot because I was very committed to bringing home very good results. We were on a good path to achieving great results. Actually I still hold 32 points in the championship.

Keeping the past in the past and looking in the future, I felt, being out of the races gave me time to think about my life besides motor racing. It's not easy to be out there watching people on TV that you know you can do better job than sometimes. You have the will, you have the passion, and you can't do it.

But at the same time life is unfair. Life is always unfair. You need to push things toward what is going to be the best for you. You have to create your own opportunity. Unfortunately, this situation with Adrian, again, is not what I wanted to do. Again, I'm not someone who is around in the paddock waiting for someone to get hurt to jump in the car. That's absolutely far away from any of my concepts and my value of a racer.

But I was pleased that Adrian chose me in a very unfortunate moment. In this moment I'm very close to him, I really do understand what it means being hurt. I was hurt a couple years ago in Fontana. Luckily it was the last race of the season. It took almost two months for me to recover.

It's a difficult mental process. At the same time, your mind doesn't really have much time to think about, "All right, who do I have to ask to be replacing me? Who is the guy I want in the car?" Your mind is on, "I need to get better. I need to be in the car immediately." These decisions are very delicate decisions.

To come back on my side, I say to you again, I was out of the car for a while, but the fire that is inside of me has always been inside of me and is here still. Other people have the opportunity to do what Adrian did. They didn't.

Sorry for them. I'm very pleased to join Adrian. I'm going to do the best I can and give all the fire and all the passion I've got for the sport to Adrian's team. Maybe for just one weekend, but it's a fun thing for me to do too.

Q: You say you looked at your life, had a lot of time to think. Did you come to any conclusions?

Max Papis: I'm not a poet. I'm living out my life. My life is complete even without motor racing. I'm a happy person even without motor racing. Of course, I love motor racing, and motor racing is the way for me to achieve my goals and my dreams in my life. It's the thing that I'm best at. I can't play soccer that well. I felt, you know, through motor racing, I've always been able to achieve my goals and my dreams in my life.

Again, I feel that I have a different value and different things. This is just a little bit of time to think about what's the important part of life- that is your values, being a good person and looking around to see what the future can bring. At the same time, looking the future, as I always said, I'm not desperate. I am a race car driver that has a lot of wins still in his backpack, a lot of will, and I'm going to achieve my goals and I want to do in the future.

At the moment the goal, again, is working with Adrian, giving the best things I can, and hopefully I'm going to be back at Elkhart Lake, and he will maybe need me there as an advisor, if nothing else.

Q: Adrian, have you ever talked to get any Mexican driver that you thought in 2003 probably will be in racing to prove in these events when you are missed?

Adrian Fernandez: No. We considered all of our options. We talked with our sponsors in Mexico. In reality, there is nobody really ready right now to just jump in the car. I mean, there is not much practice that you have on Friday. You have one hour and a half. After that you go to qualifying. They took a lot of the practice that we had last year on Friday. It puts a lot of pressure on somebody that has not even driven the car.

The only really guy that can do it right now is Luis Diaz from [the CART Toyota] Atlantic [Championship]. Unfortunately, there is no time to put him in the race car for practice or anything like that. Again, Honda doesn't really allow us to put any drivers without any laps in the car prior to an event. So this happened so quickly, there was not a way to make that even possible. That was an easy choice in that respect because that was not an option.

Q: Max, do you think you get revenge in life? Oriol Servia has an opportunity with Patrick [Racing], you with Adrian.

Max Papis:  You know, first of all, let me tell you, I bought a Spanish
dictionary.  So you guys can have all the Spanish interviews you want.
I'm improving my Spanish every day.  I'm watching Spanish TV.

First of all, I want to tell you something. At my first ever race at Mid-Ohio, the first ever live interview was for TV Azteca and it was difficult. I was on the grid. It's kind of a funny thing for me to be back in an all Mexican team with Adrian.

For what you said, revenge, I don't believe in revenge. Nobody owes me anything. I make my own future. I build my own future with my hands. I'm pleased that Adrian gave me this opportunity. There is no revenge because nobody did anything against me. I only have the will to achieve my goals. I'm going to use that will in the best way I can on Sunday. I know it's not going to be easy because I've never driven a Honda-powered car and I've never worked with Fernandez Racing. But I will take it step by step, try to get the best out of it, because we will have an hour and a half practice, qualifying, another hour and a half practice, qualifying. After that, maybe I will have to go back again and watch the races on TV. I will take the best out of those three days and leave them with an open heart and great feeling.

Merrill Cain: Max, you pointed out you've never driven a Honda-powered car before, you will be in a Honda this weekend. How quickly do you think it will take you to get up to speed? Do you think it benefits you from the situation you were in with Sigma, not having much testing time, but you were productive there?

Max Papis: What it takes to achieve goals and success is chemistry between the driver, engineers and mechanics. I was pleased when I walked into the Fernandez Racing shop today that I saw a lot of familiar faces, a lot of mechanics that I have worked with in the past. There's even a guy here I've been working with in Europe.

Don Halliday, I know him. I've never worked with him because it was Kenny Brack's engineer last year on my team.

I felt maybe what I've been going through with Sigma this year, you know, I don't really know. I didn't want it to be of a help because let's say I started under very different condition and circumstances. I feel now that I've learned a lot, I've matured and gained quite a lot of experience. I'm going to bring all those factors in play, with my will to succeed.

Again, I was always a Friday morning practice and Friday afternoon qualifying guy in a way that I've never really been able to practice or do anything with Sigma this year. But we've been able to achieve great goals. That tells you that, no matter what, you can achieve your dreams or goals. You need to believe in it.

I know I haven't got much time to develop, but I hope that come Sunday afternoon we will have a little bit of chemistry between all of us where I will be able to be understood without talking too much.

-cart-

Fernandez, Papis press conference, part III

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Oriol Servia , Kenny Brack , Luis Diaz