IRL: Indy 500: Gil de Ferran Monday winner's press conference, part II

87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Gil De Ferran Monday Winner'S Press Conference Monday, May 26, 2003 Part 2 of 2 Moderator: And you're not done now in terms of a career. de Ferran: I think I'm not. Only my heart will tell me. When I told ...

87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
Gil De Ferran Monday Winner'S Press Conference
Monday, May 26, 2003

Part 2 of 2

Moderator: And you're not done now in terms of a career.

de Ferran: I think I'm not. Only my heart will tell me. When I told you that I was open-minded when I came here on Opening Day, what I meant by that is when I drive I'm happy. You know, I enjoy the sensation of driving. I enjoy challenging myself, and that's why I race, and that's why I drive. I really get a thrill out of it. A good thrill, not a bad thrill, you know. I think as long as I feel that, life as a race car driver will go on. I think the moment that I sit in the car and I'm like, "Yeah, that was OK," you know, and the moment that I start to get worse I think is when I should seriously consider what I'm going to do next. But really, I think it comes from inside. It doesn't come from my head, believe it or not, it comes from my heart, I think.

Q: Gil, continuing that theme, though, you're a family man.

de Ferran: Yes.

Q: You're deeply into that. This is an inherently risky business, you've had a couple of severe crashes. You've pretty much achieved what you can achieve, except more of them. So is it worth what you're talking about, just having fun and going on?

de Ferran: So far it has been worth it. Certainly it's a risky business, there's no doubt about that. I have recent memory to prove that. But like I said, I still sat in the car on Sunday, Opening Day on Sunday, I didn't feel good. I just wasn't driving well. It just wasn't clicking, and I wasn't having a particularly good time. Then on Monday everything just came together again. I had a good feel for the car, and I was enjoying myself again. And it's really a matter of enjoyment. I think as long as I feel that enjoyment, life will go on as normal. You know, if I'm tense, if I'm fearful and afraid of what happened to me and to my loved ones really, that's a bad sign.

Q: So does this, I guess along with your two CART titles, does this more than make up for or perhaps is even better than making it in Formula One?

de Ferran: I don't know. Somebody asked me that yesterday, said, "What is left to accomplish as a race car driver?" I said, "All I have to do now is beat Michael Schumacher." Maybe I'm a little old for that now, I don't know. For me it's not about history books, you know, and beating your records and achieving new heights. It's me against me. It's how far can I go. It will be what it will be, you know. And right now it keeps going.

Q: One more along that theme of future. How much has the thought of retirement, though, crept in? Can you envision not being back here next year to defend your victory?

de Ferran: It's too early to say that. I mean, right now I'm savoring my moment here.

Moderator: Gil, I'm interested, about the only alone time to yourself to celebrate this thing occurred after you took the checkered flag yesterday. You've been surrounded since, with the exception of when you were sleeping. Can you put us in that cockpit for that lap around the track by yourself and what goes through your head immediately after winning this race?

de Ferran: Those are very special moments for any driver. You know, for me you exercise so much restraint and I do that consciously, you know, because I think that's a better way. Throughout the month of May, and particularly on Race Day, you know, you try to really keep your emotions in check, try not to get over-excited or depressed or whatever. Try to keep an even keel in your mind as rational as you possibly can have. Certainly there's a lot of emotions playing up there, suddenly coming back from the accident, the whole meaning of the Indy 500. There's a lot going on, but you really try hard to suppress everything so you have a clear mind and you can drive properly, you know. Not like an emotional wreck. When I crossed the line, there was so much going on, you just kind of let go for a moment and then all of a sudden it all comes flooding through. It was a special moment for me because it's all about dreams, it's all about desires that you have deep inside you, you know. They all come to the surface. It's a sense of accomplishment that really makes you feel good.

Q: Gil, speaking of dreams, are you incubating any dreams for the future that would involve another role such as being a team owner, developing talent in Brazil? If that's the case, would you see that being within Formula Indy or within another venue?

de Ferran: Well, I don't know. It's funny, I think you have to have sort of a long-term plan. But it's important that you focus on the present, though, because if you live with your head in the future, that is probably not a good thing because you're not focusing on what the problems and the issues that you have at that moment in time just ahead of you. So really, I mean I've just been focusing on trying to do a good job as a race car driver for Penske Racing. Beyond that, it's been very difficult for me to decide what will be my next step if and when I stop racing. I mean, I've been so focused on this career ever since I was, I guess, I decided to have a proper go at it when I was 19. That's been my sole focus in life, is to become as good a driver as I could have, that I have not really spent any time or energy trying to create another avenue for me. And I think that in a way that has helped me. This total immersion into what I do, I think has helped me through the years, I guess. If and when I decide to stop, it will be when I start focusing on something else.

Q: Gil, knowing in a couple months you've always been a champion, you're going to be coming to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, to do a race. Compare Indy to Nazareth.

de Ferran: Well, they have left turns and that's about the only similarity. I mean, Nazareth is a very unique racetrack, very unique indeed. It's got a unique layout, and it's probably one of the most challenging tracks we go to. I mean, to go fast around there is very difficult, and the race is always very busy. It's very unique.

Q: Gil, if we go back a little more than 24 hours and you're talking about emotions and keeping them in check, did you ever think you would wind up hanging on the wire like you did yesterday?

de Ferran: I have to tell you, that was not a premeditated action there. It was interesting because we came back from the parade lap where I nearly lost my voice. And when we stopped over there, Helio came by to congratulate me, and all that kind of stuff. We exchanged some pleasantries as people do, and he walked away and I was being taken over somewhere else. Then the crowd on the, you know, just the other side of the fence, they were really cheering. At that moment I thought, "I know what I've got to do," you know, so I called him back over and said, "Man, come on, we've got to go." He was like, "OK, let's go." So I ran over there and went for it. It was a great moment. I think one, for sure, I will always remember. For Helio, he's been there three times. He climbed the fence three times, you know.

Moderator: Any other questions?

Q: You were talking about Nazareth, but any track after this, after 300,000, 400,000 people, whatever it is, and all this, how do you go to tracks like Nazareth and tracks where you know it doesn't have this buzz to it? What's your approach to it?

de Ferran: Because it's racing and because it's driving and because it's, you know, for sure, coming over here and racing in front of 400,000 or 500,000 people, however many people are here throughout the month of May, is something extremely special. But in driving and in racing, there is a very selfish pleasure there, which is challenging yourself and just the pure pleasure of going around a turn at over 200 miles per hour and with the car right on the edge and sliding all the way through. I love it whether anybody is watching or not.

Moderator: Gil, did the disappointment of last year's race, clearly you had a car fast enough to win last year's race, did the disappointment of that stay with you very long or, methodical as you are, did it disappear fairly quickly?

de Ferran: I have to say I was, you know -- sad and disappointed is certainly a good word. But you can't -- you've got to move on. You have to move on. I mean, there are things that happen, you know, they happened to me before and they will happen again. Certainly, to have that happen to you in the Indy 500 has a special, even heightened disappointment, but you've got to move on. I have a deep understanding of what goes on in the team. I know that these people try as hard as they can and they are fantastic guys. So it's just an error, you know, and I make errors myself. So I close that book and move on. This year I wasn't thinking about any of that. My thinking was, OK, let's just do a good job. What happened in 2001, 2002, really has no bearing on what will happen this year.

Q: Gil, knowing how popular F1 is in Brazil, is there any part of you that still regrets that that didn't work out? Obviously, at your age that boat has passed you by, but is there anything still inside of you that something is missing in your career?

de Ferran: You know what? I love Formula One cars, I always will. To me, I look at them and they don't even need to move. Just standing still there, I look at them and (I'm) like, "Wow." And I always will. The way that my life went and my career went, it meant that I wasn't, you know, I never ended up having an opportunity or a good opportunity to drive a Formula One car. It may be that I never will. It's not something that I dwell on, you know, because I am very happy with the road that my career took. I have been able to drive with some of the best teams in the world, being associated with some unbelievable people. Certainly my latest ride here with Penske Racing and Roger and all the people is something that I will remember for several, several years. And certainly as I look back at my career, it's something that I will be very proud of. For me it's always been more about the team and the people that you work with than anything else. When people were talking to me about CART and IRL and before there was CART or Formula One, for me it was more a choice of people and team and the people that you're with than the series itself.

Moderator: Gil, congratulations. You're a great guy and quite a gentleman, and we appreciate what you've thrilled us with here.

de Ferran: Thank you.

Moderator: I'm curious, Helio says that his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy looks like he's driving around the track at 230 miles an hour without his helmet on. Are you anxiously awaiting when that's unveiled a few months down the road?

de Ferran: Yeah. I said to the guy, I said the only problem is the ticket next year will not look as good as the ticket this year, you know that, right? But there you go.

Moderator: Gil, thanks very much. Congratulations.


Part I

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Gil de Ferran
Teams Team Penske