CHAMPCAR/CART: Max Wilson interview transcript, Part II

Part 2 of 2: Q. - Max, can you tell us a bit about some of your other interests in life. A lot of the Brazilian racing drivers are guys who like surfing and things like that. What about you? Max Wilson - You know, in Brazil I live in Sao...

Part 2 of 2:

Q. - Max, can you tell us a bit about some of your other interests in life. A lot of the Brazilian racing drivers are guys who like surfing and things like that. What about you?

Max Wilson - You know, in Brazil I live in Sao Paulo, which is not far from the coast, but it's not a place that you can go to the beach every day. So normally I just go to the beach like during the summer, where we have some like Christmas time. I enjoy to go to the beach a lot and I enjoy to do some sport activities, like I like to play tennis and squash and always doing some kind of fitness training or something like this. Here, I've just moved to Broadbeach and I'm living there very close to the beach, and I'm enjoying it very much and I try to take some waves and to learn about it, too. But it has been fun.

Q. - And this is your first time in Australia?

MW - Yes. I was here the first time in December and I tested the car. December was the first time, so this is the second time, yeah.

Q. - What about the Australian lifestyle, say compared to Germany and Brazil?

MW - You know, I think it is a lot closer to the Brazilian one because in Brazil, as here, the people - the people that I met, they are very friendly and easy-going. In Germany, especially in Germany when I lived there, the people there kind of don't talk to you very often and they are very closed, I mean very cold. So here I think perhaps because you have similar kind of weather, the people behave pretty the much the same way.

Q. - Australians typically don't like people coming in and rocking their turf, and obviously being the first international driver to come and do that, how do you think they are going to treat you this year?

MW - I don't know. I hope they treat me as they treat everybody else. There is no reason to treat me in a different way. But I understand they are pretty much for Australian drivers and if someone from anywhere comes and starts to do some good, I think it's going to be a little bit more difficult. But I don't really think it bothers me because I think that's normal. But again, I'm going to do my best and I like to play hard, but in the same way play very fair. So I hope they treat me as they treat everybody else on the track.

Q. - Max, what are you looking forward to, apart from experiencing all the different race tracks around the country? Is there something in Australia that you are really looking forward to seeing or experiencing, apart from the driving?

MW - Actually, when I first came here last year I was really well impressed about the natural beauty that you have here. Like, Tony (Longhurst) took me to a tour on his boat and I saw a little bit of the coast and he took me to an island at the Gold Coast. So as much spare time that I have here, I would like to see more of Australia, because it's such a beautiful place. Is a little bit too far from everywhere else, but is very beautiful and I'd like to see as much as I can here.

Q. - How long is your deal for this year? Is it just for this year at the moment?

MW - You know, at the moment, this is going to be my first year and we have to wait and see. If everything goes well, if I like it and the team likes it, I think it can extend for many years. But it's pretty early to say.

Q. - So it is just a one-year deal at the moment?

MW - At the moment, it was one year, yes; but we have some options to carry on.

Q. - Max, could you just tell us a little bit about some of the guys you have raced against. You were a test driver with Williams at the same time as Montoya, who's obviously now a fairly big star in Formula One. You might give us your impressions of him and some of the other guys that you have raced against.

MW - I think Montoya is a very good driver. He proved that by himself, and he has a lot of talent and he's very quick. But at the same time, I think he was really lucky in his career because he was always in the right place and the right time. Like when he drove in (Formula) 3000, he drove for Dr (Helmut) Marco, which was the current champion. Then the following year he drove for Super Nova, which was the champion that year. Then he moved to America to drive for Chip Ganassi, which had been winning like four championships in a row or three championships, or something like that. And then he went to Williams to race, when the BMW engine and Michelin tyres were good. So I mean, he has a lot of talent, he's very good driver, in my opinion, but again he was really in the right place at the right time. I saw some other good drivers, maybe as good as him, that didn't have the same kind of luck.

Q. - Max, what is your plan obviously for the next week? Are you only testing this one day today, or are you actually getting more time in the car?

MW - No, this is going to be our first and only test before the first race, and so we are not testing until Melbourne now. Melbourne is going to be the next time on the track.

Q. - Have you actually seen the Albert Park circuit in any way, either played it on a computer game or something like that?

MW - No, just from the races on TV, but I never been there.

Q. - What do you expect it to be like? Obviously Willowbank is a fairly flat circuit as well, that might offer some sort of clues to set-up?

MW I never been there, so it's difficult to say. But from the TV, it seems to have a good mixture of corners, like slow turns and quick turns, and it's going to have some F1 rubber on the track, too, which makes it a lot different. I think we're going to have three short races there, like seven or 10 laps or something like this. So for me, the main thing is to go for the three starts and try to finish all the races, just to have a good idea before the championship starts.

Q. - Max, perhaps just one very basic question. Can you tell us why is it that Brazil has produced so many good racing drivers? Is it just because you've got a big population there and it's just a factor of that, or is there something particular about the karting there, or something in the water even?

MW - Despite the population, we are about 150 million, there are a lot of people there, but unfortunately among all those people not many people have the chance to do some motor sport in Brazil, because not many people have the budget or the money to do that. So I think the main reason is because, as we talked at the beginning, 30 years ago there was a guy like Fittipaldi, he did it pretty good in F1. Then, because of him, some other drivers like Piquet and then Senna did so good in F1. So I think you will always have a good reference in motor racing, as we have in soccer. But we don't have anything like cricket or rugby, or something like this, because those sports are not very popular in Brazil. But motor racing and soccer, we always have some good references. So I think that's the main reason.

Q. - You mentioned there the great names of the past, but what about the Brazilian F1 drivers of today, like Barrichello, perhaps Bernoldi, Zonta is still somewhere in the wings, and perhaps in particular the new boy, Felipe Massa, who there seem to be some very good reports about?

MW - Yes, Barrichello, I think he's a great driver. I mean, he proved that he's really good. Every time that he had a teammate before, he's always been quicker than his teammates. In Brazil, sometimes for him, because we had Piquet, Senna and Fittipaldi, sometimes the people there, they give him a hard time because we had like three champions and two of them won three times and Fittipaldi won twice. So, for Barrichello, anything less than the champion, it's very hard for him, because he's Brazilian.But again, he drives for a team that I think has the best driver right now in F1 (Michael Schumacher), which makes for him life a little bit tougher, because everything now is for Schumacher, and he's the No. 2 driver so far. But I think once he puts his head in the right place and I think he can show his talent, he might become a world champ in the future. But it all depends pretty much from him, because I think he has the talent. The other drivers, like Zonta, I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and I asked about Zonta. I don't know where he is, because he's not testing for any F1 team and I don't think he's with Jordan any more. I didn't hear anything about he's going to DTM (German touring car championship) or to some other touring cars or something, so I have no idea where he is, which is a shame, because the guy was a sports car champ and he beat drivers like Bernd Schneider from Mercedes. So I think he deserves to be somewhere, but I have no idea where he is. Felipe Massa is a driver that I know him since go-kart days, and he's a very nice guy. He went to F1 by a different way. He went to Italian (Formula) 3000, which isn't as popular as the European 3000, but he's doing a great job with Sauber. He's driving alongside Nick Heidfeld, who is a very talented driver and very experienced, much more than him, and he's doing pretty good, he's not that far behind. So I think he's going to be good. But to say if you're going to have another Brazilian champion among those three drivers I think is difficult to say.

Q. - Obviously Bernoldi is in there with Arrows. And Luciano Burti, who may be a friend of yours, is with Ferrari as a test driver as well?

MW - Yes, he's a very good and very close friend of mine, Luciano, as also is Rubens. Rubens actually is coming next week to stay with me here before the Grand Prix. So they are very good friends of mine. But Luciano, after his terrible accident last year, I think nothing better could happen to him than to be with a champion team like Ferrari. You know, he's doing some tests there and he's enjoying it a lot there. He told me that the car, it's very nice to drive and the team is - the people are very friendly. I think because they are Italian, they are more like the Brazilian style of people, not like British or German people, which are a little bit more not as happy as we are from Brazil. So he's enjoying a lot there, and he's learning a lot, and he's driving with the four-times world champion now. So I think he has a big chance to learn a lot from Schumacher and Barrichello.

Q. - Max, how important will it be for you to make your V8 Supercar debut at the Grand Prix in front of obviously all these friends and colleagues of yours that you have worked with in the past?

MW - You know, for me it doesn't make much difference. Once I get into the car, I don't really care who is watching or anything like it. For me, it's going to be more like a practice and a good opportunity to learn about the races, which I wouldn't have if I didn't go there. So I will try to finish the races and see now how bad these Australian guys are going to treat me on the track, and go from there.

Q. - Max, what's really the aim? It must be difficult starting out without any benchmark, but really what would you regard as being satisfactory in your first year in Australian V8 Supercar racing?

MW - Excuse me, I didn't understand what you mean.

Q. - It's difficult perhaps because going into V8s is an unknown, but what kind of results at the end of the year would you regard as being successful?

MW - You know, I think it's a difficult question because for me to have an idea right now is pretty early because I haven't been in the track with some other teams yet. But I think every driver should go to the track and to the championships, trying to win whatever they are, no matter how much experience they've got. I think for sure that's not always possible, but my idea is to come here to do some good, so that's my target. Where I will finish in the season or the championship is pretty early to say, but for me I came here not to be one more, I came here to try to win. So it's pretty early to say that, but I think everybody else, all the drivers, should have the same target, is win all the time. If you cannot win, you have to finish in the best position that you can, but I like to have this on my mind.

Q - Max, what's been the biggest challenge for you in settling into the car?

MW - At first, there's a lot of new things for me. Like I'm sitting for me in the wrong side of the car, first of all, because here we have to sit in the right-hand side and then change the gears with the left hand. So that's a bit difficult for me, because I'm not used to that. Again, sometimes like you feel the car is not as quick as you'd like to be, so sometimes I ended up like pushing too hard, especially on the braking points, because I see that I could brake later. But the car doesn't stop as good as the formula cars, so for me it's a little bit difficult to judge how hard I can push. But you know, I have two good teammates which makes my life a bit easier because I know I can talk to them and see what they are doing, and both of them, they have been doing this kind of race for a long time. So it's good for me.

Q. Max, you might just elaborate on the teammates. Tony Longhurst, you mentioned is one, but the other guy is?

MW - It's Simon Wills. Simon doesn't have as much experience as Tony, but he won a Konica series (V Lites) ,in which the cars are pretty similar, and last year he did a few races in the V8s too. So he's got some experience, too.

Q. - Any other questions anywhere? We've had a pretty good stint with Max, more than half an hour. If there are no more questions, Max, thank you very much for making yourself available.

MW - No, thank you very much.

Geoffrey Harris - At short notice. It's certainty been a pleasure to talk to you. If we don't have any more questions, perhaps we will wrap it up there and let Max get on with his testing. We look forward to seeing you down in Melbourne in a few days, Max.

MW - Me, too, and thank you very much.


Part I

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About this article
Series Supercars , IndyCar
Drivers Luciano Burti , Michael Schumacher , Nick Heidfeld , Max Wilson , Bernd Schneider , Felipe Massa , Chip Ganassi , Simon Wills , Tony Longhurst
Teams Sauber , Williams