Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript Brad Pollard and Felipe Giaffone May 5, 2004 Felipe Giaffone MODERATOR: Welcome to the Indy Racing League's weekly teleconference. Today's teleconference features driver Brad Pollard from...
Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
Brad Pollard and Felipe Giaffone
May 5, 2004
MODERATOR: Welcome to the Indy Racing League's weekly teleconference. Today's teleconference features driver Brad Pollard from the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, and driver Felipe Giaffone from the IndyCar Series.
We're now joined by IndyCar Series veteran Felipe Giaffone, who was last week named for the Dreyer & Reinbold No. 24 car. Felipe is the 2001 IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year and last year competed in 11 events, finishing a season-best third at both Phoenix and Japan. He has not been in a ride yet in 2004, and the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 later this month will be his first race of the season. Thanks for joining us today.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: My pleasure.
Q: I know you talked about this a lot, especially over the last several days. Can you tell us again how quickly your deal with Dreyer & Reinbold came together.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Well, it was very quickly. Basically everything happened in 24 hours. I mean, I wasn't expecting Robbie's retirement. All of a sudden Dennis called me, I flew into Indianapolis, looked at the shop, you know. They have a great facility. At night I flew back to Orlando, Fla., the same day, and was all signed up after a few hours. It was crazy.
Q: Indeed. It's had to have been kind of tough on you to watch the first three races from the sidelines. Have you been itching to get back into the car this year?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Yeah, it's been very hard for me. You know, I went to most of the open tests. I went to the Homestead race, then to Phoenix. Just as I told you, it's just like you're like in the same place working, trying to find a job like in a place where you think you should be at, you know, but you don't have a job. It's like you've been fired from a place, but you still have to go over and over to that same place with the same people and try to get a job in the same area. It's not like any regular job, you know. But I definitely don't recommend it, you know (laughter). It's been a very hard few months for me. I'm glad that everything came back and we should be racing from now on.
Q: "Racing" is definitely the word to describe it. You got into the car at the Indianapolis test last week and really got up to speed right away. There was obviously some good chemistry with your new team from the start. Can you tell us about the process of getting to know everyone on the team, how quickly you were able to post those solid numbers?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Well, I mean, as soon as I came here, when I first met everybody, they have a good facility, good people working for them. But honestly, I mean, I was also expecting something not as good, you know, just because it would be everything new. I was outside of the car for seven months. They've been struggling a little bit in the past. I mean, I was happy, but it was like we just signed for the rest of the season, so I was happy for that. I was thinking, okay, Indy, we're going to work our way through, and maybe in the middle of the championship, we're going to be where we should be. I was very surprised when I first went out and I started pushing. It's one of those things, the track came back to me so quickly. After my third lap, I was just like -- it seems that I drove in that track like a few days ago, you know, not a year ago. The same with the car. It was the first time I was driving a Dallara. It just came very quickly. For sure, I mean, the team's setup had a big thing on that, you know, because they made me feel very comfortable with the car. For sure they gave me a fast car right out of the box. That's really good.
Q: Had you worked with any of those team members in the past?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: No, I haven't. It's a 100 percent brand-new for me (laughter).
Q: We saw you walking around the paddock area in Miami, noticed you still have a slight limp from the accident last year in Kansas. Physically where are you on the recovery? How are you feeling?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: I mean, I still have the limp, you know, but I don't think I'm going to be carrying this forever. I still have a big hardware on my right leg, and I spoke to the doctor and I think we going to have to remove this in the end of the season, the plates. I think it's the plate in my leg that bothers me. It's going to be a little while. But, I mean, as far as physically, you know, I just can't go jogging, which I used to love to do. You know, so I've been cycling, swimming, all the weights. Physically just as good as anybody.
Q: One other thing here. I know last week on top of testing the car, you were moving back here to Indianapolis. Did that go smoothly? Are you all set for the month?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Yeah, but it's been crazy. I think this last week or two, you know, nothing happens for so long, for such a long time for me, and all of a sudden I had the deal going on, then the moving. I'm all settled in right now. I mean, it's still not the way it should be. I just finished testing in Indianapolis. Which day was that? I think it was Friday.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Yeah, Thursday. Basically I flew back to Orlando. I got back home almost 1 a.m. The next day, people were packing everything at home. Then me and my wife, we drove back here on that night, you know. We drove four hours the first day, 12 the next day. We got back all right. We're just kind of taking our time to put everything where it should be in the apartment, you know.
Q: Talk about your relationship, because I know during the practice sessions at Indy last week, Robbie Buhl was very close by. Talk about that relationship as a driver who just stepped out of the car and you're the driver who stepped into his seat, how does that relationship work?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: It's been very good. I mean, Robbie, I think this is going to be a big plus for the team, you know, having Robbie right beside me or whoever. They're planning to run a second car here in the future. So I think Robbie's input is going to be very good because he's like Michael Andretti is for (Andretti) Green (Racing). (Roger) Penske, he always have some ex-drivers, you know, helping them. I think that's going to be his job. I mean, he knows exactly what's going on. Like if the car is not going good, he knows pretty much what he needs to go to try to help the team, you know. So we've been talking quite a lot. I mean, he's really good with sponsor, as well. I'm pretty sure he's going to help the team finding more and more sponsors From what I can see, he's happy right now doing what he's doing.
Q: Does it speed up the learning curve of communication, which is always so very important, to have someone that can almost work as the man in the middle between you and the team, to help both of you understand each other?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Well, I mean, he's doing a little bit of that. My engineer right now is Owen. He was with Robbie before. I think we had some good chemistry, you know, between the two of us right out of the box. I think he's trusting me as a driver. The more I run with him, the more I trust him as engineer. Robbie, at the same time, it's been us, you know. We have nice people working there. I think, again, it's going to take a while for us to be where we're like the big, very well-formed teams are. But I think this is a target that the team here has. We hopefully towards the end of the year are going to be right there.
Q: Sorry to hear you're leaving Orlando, but hopefully you'll be here again soon.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Not really leaving. Indianapolis, the weather is one of the things that bothers me. But we just -- I just put in my mind, I told my wife that we're going to be here no matter what happens. I always been living in Indianapolis, and said, 'When we have like a long-term deal, we going to go somewhere in Florida.' Like once I was in Orlando, during the day you don't have anything to do, I miss going to the shop at least a couple of times a week.
Q: It's a long way to drive to the shop.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: It is (laughter). Basically for sure like we put in our minds that it won't matter what happens, we're going to be here for at least the next three years. I mean, we can settle things down here. If everything goes right, we can buy a house and just be here, you know.
Q: How is the leg coming on? Do you have problems going through the metal detectors at the airports now?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: You know, the leg's coming along good. It still hurts a little bit to walk and to run, but I think, as I told you guys before, I'm going to have to wait and take the hardware out, then I'll be 100 percent. As far as the metal detector, you know, sometimes it beeps. But I thought it would be a bigger thing for the guys, but I think a lot of people have metals on their body. Usually like if I go just through the metal detector, you won't beep unless it's very sensitive, because it's not like a regular steel, it's made of titanium.
Q: Carbon fiber.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: But whenever they scan me with that little bar that they have, then it beeps really loud (laughter).
Q: You came up to speed very quickly. You like the car and setup. You're familiar with Indy. Your relationship with Rubens (Barrichello), has he asked for tips?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: He was helping me, as I wasn't driving. He was trying to hook me up to a few guys in Europe to do a prototype race there. So we're always in touch. I had maybe after June, I would maybe go over to Europe and do some prototype tests. Right now we stopped everything, of course. I got a ride, you know. That's not in my mind. He knows that I'm not like -- I always want as a kid to go to F1. Not anymore. I would love to have a chance to drive one of these cars, but not to go and race.
Q: No relationship to Ayrton Senna, but he was probably one of your idols?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: My father knew him because they raced together back in Brazil. The only time I met him was he gave me like a trophy one time in '88, I think. I was like 13, 14 years old. I won, they had an end of the year party in Brazil. All the kids would gain some awards. That was the first time. I never actually talked to him as a normal conversation, unfortunately. I used to love him. It was the best guy for me.
Q: You got up to speed real quick in the car you hadn't driven. How much input do you have as a driver have into the setup of the car?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Well, not much, to be honest. We discuss before I got in the car. I just told Owen the way I like the car to feel like first time out. Basically whatever I said, either was a big coincidence or he was really good (laughter). The car was just the way it should be. It worked out very good. The car, I went out, first time I was really taking my time. The lap times, didn't take long to be right there. For sure the car was very good out of the box.
Q: What do you expect from the race out of yourself?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Well, when I first signed the deal, I was expecting just to finish the race and do the best job that we could, as everything's new. But I think the better you start to go, the faster you start to go, things start to change. You start to look more like, 'Okay, if we have a good qualifying car, we're going to try to go for the pole.' Of course, in the race, if everything goes right, we're going to try to win it. But I think we're a long way to go still from qualifying to race. A lot of things can happen in the meantime. I think we just got to take our time. As you know, everything is new. We're all excited because things are going good. I know Indianapolis, I know it's a tough track. One day you can be very strong, the next day you could be very easily last. I think we got to take our time and don't get too excited and then see what happens. We have to go day to day.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much for joining us today.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Thank you.