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

An interview with Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta. Part 3 of 3 -- Ovals and other racing series. Q: Could you go into a little more detail on what you think might not be right 100% with your oval setup? Is it an aero issue,...

An interview with Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta.
Part 3 of 3 -- Ovals and other racing series.

Q: Could you go into a little more detail on what you think might not be right 100% with your oval setup? Is it an aero issue, balance issue front to rear, mechanical grip? What do you feel you have to work on?

Christian Fittipaldi: For example, only Cristiano drove the car. The last time I drove the car on an oval was a Firestone test at the end of last year in December in Fontana, which we had obviously the superspeedway setup on the car. The car felt very, very good. So for me the last time I drove the car felt good.

I'm going to pass this question on to him because I think he's much better to answer it to you than I am.

Cristiano da Matta: Well, for me I think we had a lot of time to discuss everything that happen on the Homestead test, which was the last time we tested the car in an oval.

We believe since a bunch of other Lolas last year and this year have been running really fast on the ovals, we really believe that it's not aero, because the car is of course obviously good in that oval configuration. The aero really works well. I mean, at least it's been working well for anybody, so the problem can't be aero. If it was something as easy to fix as aero balance from front to rear, I would be very happy now.

We believe it's something we're doing mechanically that's upsetting the balance of the car. We have some good clues for what the answer for the problem will be. But we still don't have anything confirmed.

We believe it's mechanical, but also I cannot say a hundred percent sure that it's -- I cannot confirm that it's mechanical. But everything indicates that it is.

Q: Cristiano, your name keeps coming up in connection with NASCAR, particularly the Busch Series. I understand your main interest is CART. Can you talk a little bit about what you want to achieve or what you're looking for from NASCAR Busch?

Cristiano da Matta: That's for Christian, not for me.

Christian Fittipaldi: Actually, I've always like followed that type of racing because I'm a race fan. Whatever's on TV on Sunday, if I'm sitting down at home, like I'm really watching it.

Instead of going by what everyone says, NASCAR is this, NASCAR is that, I wanted to try and take a peek over there. As I said before, all my efforts are on like the CART series and trying to do a great job this year. But at the same time I wanted to try and understand that form of motor racing, understand how everything works, see eventually if there's a good opportunity for me in the future, if I really like what I am experiencing this year, maybe it could be a way to go.

But right now, if you ask me, "Is Christian next year going to be racing NASCAR," no, I don't think so, Christian is not going to be racing NASCAR. I really enjoy the types of cars that I race. I get a big thrill when I'm driving them. I'm using my Busch races as more of a learning curve for me and really understand how the sport is over there instead of taking a dive with no experience.

If I ever did that, I think I would be going into the sport in a wrong way. I'm really on a learning curve over there. I'm going to see what's going to happen.

Q: Cristiano, this is a long break between Mexico and Long Beach. When you're on a roll like you are, many times people want to get with it. Do you feel some frustration at having no races for the last three or four weeks?

Cristiano da Matta:   No.  It's not something that is not expected.  The
calendar was there, the schedule was there since the end of last year.  We
all knew that was going to happen.  We're just getting ready for that.  It
was the same last year.  We went to Mexico and then we had a good month
between Mexico and Long Beach.  This year is the same, no different.

I think we all in the CART series know in the beginning of the season we have this big gap on the schedule, but we better enjoy them right now because after June we're not going to be at home much. So we try to enjoy it in some other way.

Q: We talked earlier about your love of blues music, Stevie Ray. Had you had time to get caught up on some of your music?

Cristiano da Matta: Well, I haven't been playing blues much lately. I've been playing guitar a lot. Been playing a lot of folk music from Brazil, a lot of bossa nova, just trying to learn some new stuff. I've been playing blues for a while, not that I'm a good blues guitar player, I'm still a very bad blues guitar player. I just wanted to try something else, see if I do something better than I play blues.

Q: What are you finding out?

Cristiano da Matta: I'm a lousy guitar player no matter what kind of music I play.

Merrill Cain: We all know that's not true.

Q: Christian, while you may not want to race Busch or stock cars up here, I know there's growing popularity in Brazil with American-style stock cars. Are you interested in doing anything in Brazil?

Christian Fittipaldi: No, no, no. Definitely not now. I think, for example, both myself and also Cristiano, we are going to end up over there, but I would say that's 15 years down the road.

Q: In your retirement you'll race them?

Christian Fittipaldi: No. I would say in my retirement, I don't want to think about anything else. I don't want to race. I just want to look and talk to people, remember the good old days.

I think we still have about three to five years that we'll still at one stage of our lives going to enjoy the racing down there.

Q: How about sports cars, a lot of people are going over like Daytona, Sebring, when you have free time?

Christian Fittipaldi: No. At the moment -- although it's a very nice kind of vehicle and very well-built, but I don't have any interest like in that type of racing right now at the moment, no.

Q: Cristiano, do you?

Cristiano da Matta: For me, I enjoy a lot this kind of racing, the endurance races. I like to race the bigger ones, like the Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans one day, but it's not on my plan for the near future. If it happens, the opportunity shows up in front of me, maybe I'll take it. Depends a lot on if it's going to upset my schedule in CART or not because, of course, that's the main focus. But I'm going to try hard to race there one day for sure, I just don't know when. I don't have a big worry to race there right now, but one day I'm pretty sure it's one kind of racing I'm really going to want to do.

Q: Christian, I know you were testing I believe at Bristol. You were scheduled to race there in the Busch race, then you had a test with your CART car that popped up. How disappointing was it to kind of get all revved up about running a stock car and then it doesn't happen?

Christian Fittipaldi: Well, it is a little bit like on the sad side, but at the same time it's very clear in my contract that the CART series has like No. 1 status over any situation, including a race situation on the Busch Series that could eventually come up.

We were actually due to run there, but unfortunately the CART team scheduled a test for me to do Thursday and Friday. It was okay if I only ran Thursday, but then by running Friday I wasn't able to go to Bristol to get the car like in the race and race on Saturday.

Now my plans are returning Monday and Tuesday in a test session. I'm going from Long Beach to Virginia, Richmond, right after the race. Right after the Montegi, we come back, I'm going to do the race the following Friday, my first race of the year, in Richmond.

Merrill Cain: Christian, Cristiano, thank you very much for joining us in the CART media teleconference this afternoon. We wish you the best of luck coming up in the race in Long Beach in a little over a week.

Cristiano da Matta: Thank you.

Christian Fittipaldi: Thank you.

Merrill Cain: We look forward to seeing you on the track at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, seen on the FOX Television Network on Sunday, April 14th, with air time scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Again, thanks to all who participated in today's call. Have a very pleasant afternoon.


Interview Part I

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta