CHAMPCAR/CART: Fittipaldi, da Matta teleconference transcript, Part II

An interview with Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta. Part 2 of 3 -- Long Beach, racing futures and perhaps a return to Brazil. Q: Can you both talk a little about the Long Beach race, the track, what they like about it, maybe some ...

An interview with Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta.
Part 2 of 3 -- Long Beach, racing futures and perhaps a return to Brazil.

Q: Can you both talk a little about the Long Beach race, the track, what they like about it, maybe some quirks in it?

Christian Fittipaldi: What I like about that track, believe it or not, I like the hairpin area, especially like in the race. You really need to be able to put the power down very well. If you can do that, you actually create a very good passing place at the end of the straight. Right after you leave the hairpin, you have a long straightaway ahead of you, so you need to exit that space as quick as you can.

Then after that, I really think the new part of the track, that fountain area, then the two quick right-handers is very nice also, the new complex which we started racing on in 2000, if I'm not mistaken. I really like the area.

The rest of the track is pretty straightforward. It's been exactly the same for the last, I don't know, but I would risk to say the last 10, 15 years. I really like it coming out of the hairpin in the race on the new complex.

Cristiano da Matta: For me, I think it's one of the most challenging street tracks we go to. Maybe together with Surfers Paradise, which is another long, challenging course. I think Long Beach, there's a big challenge. You have some hard brakings, and it has all that stuff that you have to be fast on the straights, but you can't take too much down force or you struggle in the twisty parts.

It's a challenge to set up the car there. It's quite different than the other street courses that you can just go, you don't even have to think about it, you just put the maximum level of downforce in the car, and that's it. Long Beach has this something particular that you cannot do this.

Braking is quite difficult.  I enjoy the track a lot.  I was actually
driving a Celica there for the celebrity race yesterday.  I was giving media
rides.  I was just having a lot of fun.  It's a very nice circuit.

Merrill Cain: Both of you guys, he asked about the circuit itself, but what do you like about racing in the market of Long Beach? One of CART's most popular races in the United States, a lot of celebrities, fans that come out., what is it like racing in that environment for you? We'll start with you, Christian.

Christian Fittipaldi: I would be able to answer this a couple years ago, but right now I can't answer it to you exactly the same way that you like position the question. But Cristiano thinks it's the babes because he told me already that he thinks that the Californian babes are really awesome. I can't talk about that any more because I'm a married guy already and my days are gone. So I'm a serious person right now. So I really enjoy the Californian weather and the big crowd.

I honestly think it's awesome for us to go there because there's a bunch of people, and it's great for us to put a very nice show in front of a lot of people. I think it's good for the series in general, and it's excellent for us as drivers.

Cristiano da Matta: I think it's just like what Christian said. I think he's right on everything. On the top of that, I think it's fun to go to a place that it's not only a big race, but it's a big event, too. So there's a lot of people. There's a lot of things going on - not only the race. Of course, the race for us is what matters, but it's just the atmosphere around the whole event is great. It's just a fun place to be.

Merrill Cain: And the babes aren't bad either, right?

Cristiano da Matta: Not too bad.

Christian Fittipaldi: I told you.

Cristiano da Matta:   I cannot say that, too, because I'm a serious guy,
too.  I have a serious relationship going, so I cannot say much.

Q: We're looking ahead. There's a bunch of CART teams. They're going to be heading off to Indiana. As near as I know the Newman/Haas guys aren't going. Does that take anything away or is that to you guys just another race really?

Christian Fittipaldi: Obviously, Indy is always going to be Indy. It's a huge race and everything. But unfortunately we're not in the position of going up there right now and feeling that we can put the same amount of effort that we can put in the CART series. We think that the CART series is definitely more important for us than actually going for a one-off race. I guess that's why we're putting all our efforts into the CART program.

I'm pretty sure when the right time arrives, we will be going over there together with all the other teams. But, unfortunately, based on how we think, we don't think that the right time is there. We're going to put all the effort in the CART series and try to win the whole series by all means.

Q: Christian, looking ahead now, way down the road, you certainly have a lot of racing left in your career, do we see Christian Fittipaldi as a team owner at some point in the distant future?

Christian Fittipaldi: Oh, that's a pretty interesting question. I see myself as a team owner, yes, in terms of a challenge. In terms of maybe the headaches you get as a team owner, no, I don't see myself as a team owner.

So at the moment, as you said, I still have a lot of racing ahead of me. Right now I'm really concentrating on my driving like the best way as possible. At the same time, I really give it some thought sometimes. Like I haven't made up my mind if I want to be a team owner one day. But every now and then when I have a little bit of spare time, I stop to think a little bit like if I had a team right now, what would be my team, what would I do with my team, would I do X or Y, would it be different somewhere? This is what I do basically when I have free time.

But answering your question, if I would have a team in the future, right now I have a lot of motivation to do that, especially to go very well, but I don't know if I would do it.

Cristiano da Matta: I have one thing to add on Christian's answer. When he stops racing over here, he wants to race touring cars in Brazil. We have this agreement between us both. I think the team he's talking about is a stock car team in Brazil, which means he is going to be the driver.

Q:  Speaking of Brazil, we don't seem to get a whole lot of news if there's
going to be another race in Brazil.  Obviously for both of you that's a big
deal, to have a race in your home country.  Can you comment on that?

Christian Fittipaldi: Well, it's tough question. Something we miss a lot. For me, since I stopped racing Formula 3 in Brazil in 1994, I only had two opportunities to race back in Brazil, which was the two CART events I raced there in '99 and 2000. It's not that it's completely different, but it's not a normal race either. You just have some special taste for you. You're there and like you have lots of friends there and you have the crowd really pulling for you. It's just different.

I miss it a lot. I wish we knew -- wish we could have a better answer if we could be back there, how soon or how later we going to be back there. I just hope we back there one day and get to race again.

Merrill Cain: We are looking into obviously the option of racing returning to Brazil. Hopefully we'll see something with that down the road. Again, we're looking at the all the options. I think it would be great for the guys to go back there and race there.


Interview Part III

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta