87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race May 25, 2003, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Winner's Press Conference Transcript Gil De Ferran Part 2 of 2 Q: I know you said you have no bitterness towards Helio, obviously, we know you don't. He said two...
87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
May 25, 2003, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Winner's Press Conference Transcript Gil De Ferran
Part 2 of 2
Q: I know you said you have no bitterness towards Helio, obviously, we know you don't. He said two things when you were out of the room, now we can talk behind his back. He said when you get wound up, you can really get going. And then he called you an old man. He and Tony (Kanaan) together. Does that get you wound up, being that old man in this young crowd?
DE FERRAN: It's a mental perspective, isn't it? From his perspective, I am an old man. But there is a lot of people in the room here that would call me a young man. So, (laughs) it depends where you look from. Hey, look, I am 35 now. From a personal standpoint, I don't feel I am driving any worse than I was driving when I was 18. In fact, I feel I am driving better. I don't feel like I am any slower, I don't feel like I take any less chances than I did when I was 18. I am probably, you know, my judgment is probably more polished than it was when I was 18. But I still do stupid things like I did in the first lap in Phoenix. (Laughs). But what can you do?
Q: Talk about passing Helio for the lead.
DE FERRAN: Sure. Whenever Helio was catching traffic, I was trying to get closer to him. I was not trying to follow him too close because I was having difficulty just staying behind him all the time because he was running on the right front all the time. I am like, 'OK, let him go a little bit, try not to use up my right front too much.' And then when I saw traffic on the horizon, I am like, 'OK, time to get close to him again.' Certainly, they had a good stop there, and he was a little distance ahead of me, and I was flat out trying to catch him.
I was sure there was a lot of cars, you know, that we were going to end up catching. So I felt, OK, this may be an opportunity, and certainly, he got bogged down there in Turn 2, real bad, actually, and he came out of there really slowly. And when I saw that developing, I was coming down Turn 1 and Turn 2 really fast, had a full head of steam coming down the backstraight, and it was just a matter of picking. The difference in speed between us at that point was so great that I could pass him. Once I was in the lead, I am like, 'OK, now concentrate,' and you know, you got to do your job.
Q: Along the same line, how long did those last 40 laps take when you got Helio in your rear-view mirror?
DE FERRAN: Let me tell you, this has been a tremendous month of the year, no doubt about that. Everybody tells me it is only 30 days or 31, but I guarantee you it's more. Those 40 laps, there was no way there were only 40 laps. (Laughs). There were a lot more than 40 laps. Every time, on the restart, certainly there's always an opportunity, if you are challenging. I know Helio will be all primed up for those restarts, I am like, 'OK, here we go again and again and again,' but thankfully, it all worked out.
Q: Your first CART win at Laguna Seca, you had your daughter there in Victory Lane. Today, you have your whole family. What is it like to share your victories?
DE FERRAN: I think that's what families are for, for you to share those precious moments with them, and they are the people that you love the most. You know, I am not a loner, so I like to share those moments with the people that I love, and certainly my family is on the very top of the list.
Q: When Jim Hall brought you here in '95, you weren't even able to get through the first turn because of the Stan Fox crash. Then you weren't able to participate at all from '96 until you came back in 2001. Did you ever feel that you would never have a chance to come back here and experience this?
DE FERRAN: I didn't even think about it. I mean, that may sound a little harsh, but it is back to the other question earlier, it's what I am doing at the time, what do I have to do, what is my job here, you know, and focus, focus, focus. Certainly, I was very grateful when I joined the team, and when Roger (Penske) said, 'Hey, we're going to Indy,' I said, 'You are the man.'
Q: Starting from the premise that you have the most outstanding team in racing, I think that almost goes without question, I just can't help but mention that of the top three finishers for three consecutive years now, that's nine places, Brazilians have held 7 of those 9 here at Indianapolis, which is incredible. I think we all notice the tremendous camaraderie between you guys. I thought it was so appropriate that it was not just you and Helio fighting those last few laps, but also Tony Kanaan. We have all enjoyed the banter between you three. Can you kind of roll those two observations together and just give us a little bit of insight into the relationships and how that really helps the racing?
DE FERRAN: I think if you meet Tony and Helio off the track, you find that it is impossible not to like them. They are really genuinely nice people, never mind they are race car drivers and stuff like that. You know, I would say that certainly all three of us have been racing for several years since we were ... Tony started when he was 9 or something and Helio when he was 11 or something. Anyway, something along those lines. So, you get to a point where you learn how to separate things.
And Tony and Helio and I, we race hard, and but we also happen to like each other. Like I said, Helio is certainly one of my best friends these days, and I just like to spend time with the guy. We put the helmet on, I know what he's there for, and I respect that. He's there to try to win the race for himself, and I respect that. I think it all stems from that understanding that you understand what the guy's role there is. And by trying to win the race, he's going to essentially have to beat you, and the same thing with Tony. As long as you have that understanding, I think everything goes smoothly.
Q: In that win in '95 at Laguna Seca, you seem to be the same person now that you were then. Same kind of demeanor, and could you talk about that a little bit? Also, you were emotional in that '95 win, can you talk about the differences in emotion now?
DE FERRAN: It's hard to say. I think the only thing that's a common thread is when I was driving for Jackie Stewart back in Europe, Jackie was always very big on emotional control. You have got to keep yourself rational. It is much better than keeping yourself emotional. It was clear to me that that was certainly the way to go. You know, one thing is to say it, and the other thing is to do it. And I certainly worked very hard to keep myself as unemotional as I have to throughout when I have to perform, but on the other hand, you know, when I let go, there's all this, you know, everything comes flooding in and is a real mess. So that's really, I think, the opposite of that exercise. I don't know if I made any sense or not.
MODERATOR: It did. Well, to the team, congratulations again, and Gil, you came to the Indy Racing League as a champion, not just by winning titles, but the way that you have handled yourself with all of this, and we're delighted with your win today. Congratulations.
DE FERRAN: Thank you.