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Friday, September 15, 2006

Michael Schumacher - A Champion who divides opinion

The best ever in Formula One?
Michael Schumacher will retire as a multiple drivers' world champion, a man of achievements and unequalled statistical records, but dogged by controversy fuelled by his most unforgiving critics.

At 37, he has raced in 247 Formula One Grand Prix, 178 of them for Ferrari, won 90 races, 71 for Ferrari, taken 68 pole positions, 58 for Ferrari, and set 75 fastest laps on his way to seven drivers' world titles, including five for the Scuderia.

By the end of the season, he will have taken part, all being well, in 250 races, six short of the record set by Italy's Riccardo Patrese.

It is the only significant record in the sport that he will not hold when he departs. But many critics believe, as the 1997 Champion Jacques Jacques Villeneuve said in vehement fashion recently, that he is a flawed champion, a man whose records do not just a reputation that claims he is the greatest of all time.

Too many controversial incidents have punctuated his time at the top, too many accidents, incidents and allegations of wrong-doing, including rumours that in 1994 and 1995 when he won his first titles with Benetton, that the team had an unfair advantage.

All of this has thrown shadows, but none of it should go anywhere near reducing the brilliant light created by his talent and his ability to win Formula One races in a style that he has stamped on the imagination of a wide sporting public.

No wonder thousands of the Ferrari team's red-bedecked tifosi stood on the asphalt of the Autodromo Nazionale to cheer him to the end after his 90th victory and his fifth at Monza.

It will be his last victory on European soil as he embarks on the scrap for an eighth title in the final three races of the year in China, Japan and Brazil.

But as the Italians celebrated his victory and his career, others scoffed. It has been this way since the early days due to his reputation for defending with aggression, sometimes forcing other drivers off the circuit and leaving no room for error.

His critics talk of his questionable racing ethics, but his admirers talk only of his virtuoso racing. As a result, he is a question of magnificent achievements but with a reputation that has divided the paddock.

Purists argue that he should not be included in the pantheon of greatest racing drivers alongside Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark or Stirling Moss, widely described as the greatest driver never to win the championship.

But the records speak for themselves and Schumacher will be remembered for his competitive instincts, his professionalism, his fitness and his relentless run of successes in the era that followed the 1994 death of Ayrton Senna who was, arguably, the man who introduced bruising and aggressive tactics to the tracks of Formula One.

Schumacher's catalogue of alleged misdemeanours included a collision in Adelaide at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix where Briton Hill was forced to retire and so Schumacher lifted his first title, another in 1997 when he collided deliberately with Jacques Villeneuve, but lost out and not only failed to win the title, but was punished for it too by the sport's ruling body.

He was also accused of cheating earlier this year when he left his car on the fast line ahead of Fernando Alonso's Renault in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

In short, Schumacher, though gifted with speed and other sporting attributes, is a bad loser who has mellowed as he has grown older.

And the reason he has chosen to retire at the end of the current season is as much because he is in danger of being beaten for sheer speed by younger rivals as it is any other.

Notably, this son of a bricklayer from Kerpen, near Cologne, has become the first German winner and champion in the history of Formula One. A family man, he has had little to do with the so-called glamour of the sport apart from being one of the drivers' leading spokesmen on safety and playing for their football team.

He has little idea of what he will do when he retires - but it is certain that he will play some role as an ambassador for Ferrari. It was with a sense of theatre and perfect timing that he announced his retirement at Monza for it was here in 1991 that he was revealed as a Benetton driver after a secret overnight 'transfer' from Jordan on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix.

An eighth title to add to the previous seven now beckons. It would be a sixth for Ferrari. But not even that will overshadow the fact that in Michael Schumacher, Formula One had not only a great driver and a great race winner, but also the most complete competitor in the sport's history.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Thursday FIA press conference, part II -Indianapolis

From Indianapolis
Second and final part of this Thursday’s FIA press conference with Fernando Alonso (Renault), Tiago Monteiro (MF1), Juan Pablo Montoya (Mclaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Scott Speed (Toro Rosso)
(Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News ) Juan Pablo, in Canada you went out early but in that first half, Kimi was very close to Alonso. How competitive do you think McLaren will be here?
JPM: We should be very competitive. My car in race trim was very good in Canada. And it was a bit annoying not to be able to show the pace. I think Kimi had a better qualifying car. and I thought I could have had a better race car so it was a bit frustrating from that point of view but, you know, that's the way racing goes. And I think here it should be a strong race for us. Kimi was quick last year, but we were quick everywhere last year, so we'll see. I think the trend is that we're getting better and better and better. It's a matter of trying to get a good qualifying lap.

(Bob Constanduros) Kimi said that the car seemed to be slower in the second stint, the speed seemed to go away. Why should that be? Tyres or what?
JPM: No, I think his balance was quite oversteery from qualifying. He worked the tyres harder trying to keep up the pace in the second stint which probably just killed him. I don't know.

(Derek Daly – Speed Channel) Scott, is Formula One as difficult or a lot more difficult than you anticipated?
SS: I'd say it's, for sure, more difficult because the Formula One races are very long and there's a lot of different things that happen, with the fuel loads and the tyres. To always be at 100 percent of what the car can do is very difficult, for sure.

(Derek Daly – Speed Channel) When you talk about being 100 percent, I would single out Michael here, many people do it, but the ability to run almost every lap, every race, like a qualifying lap, do you think you do that?
SS: I certainly try. I can say it's very difficult because, like I said, there's a lot of different things that go on with cold tyres, safety car periods. To always have the car on the limit, in the tricky circumstances, like cold tyres, high fuel, really worn tyres, it's a bit more difficult. But in normal race trim, yes, I think I do.

(Michael Brudenell – Detroit Free Press) Scott, what do you need to become a winner in F1? Obviously, you had tremendous success in some of the junior formulas but how do you step up and become a winner in this series?

SS: You know, I think that compared to the American forms of motorsports, Formula One is very much more of a team sport. You have to think that these teams make their own cars, their own engines, their own electronic systems that control the cars. I think that Red Bull and Toro Rosso is on the right way. But it's certainly not something that's going to happen this year - maybe next year, if things go very well and we develop at very good rate, maybe a podium could be possible. But this is also being a bit optimistic. I think it's more of a three year programme.

(Adam Hay-Nicholls - Two Paws Agency) Tiago and Juan Pablo, you both raced in Champ Cars. Do you think F1 pays enough attention to drivers racing in the US?
TM: Who in F1? The teams? Don't know if they pay enough attention, but they definitely should. I think there's talent over here, like anywhere else in the world. There's some great drivers in Champ Car, there's some great drivers in IRL. They should have a look, but then again there's also a lot of talent in Europe. So I think the level of the top guys at the front is for sure very similar, still as good. They should have a look. But, again, we race a lot more in Europe so I think they're a bit more concentrated in drivers around there.

JPM: Same.

(Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News) Scott, you sort of had a non-stop couple days here of radio interviews, TV interviews, newspaper interviews. How hectic has it been? How have you found the reception from the media here in Indianapolis?
SS: It's been fantastic. Now when I go back and everyone asks me how Formula One is starting to shape up in America, I can tell them it's going really great. It's the first time I sort of have been able to experience the media in America. It's been a very, very warm homecoming for me, for sure.

(Todd Golden – Ontario Tribune Star) Michael, American racing fans take their four-time winners at Indianapolis pretty seriously: Al Unser, A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears among them. Do you consider yourself, even though you're in a different racing discipline, part of that Indianapolis fraternity of four-time winners? Do you consider yourself part of that Indianapolis greatness?
MS: I'm not exactly sure of the history of Indianapolis, when it started, how long it is. But Formula One is there just for the years we are here, and I'm not sure if you should really put yourself into that history that much. I'm not considering it too much, no.

(Livio Orricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Alonso, considering what happened last year here, are you worried about the fact that Michelin could be so worried with safety and it could interfere in the performance of the tyre?
FA: No, no. No problems. Hundred percent sure we will not have the same problem. We cannot be conservative in this part of the championship. The teams will not allow Michelin to be conservative. We all want to win. Michelin brought here a winning tyre, for sure.

(Jim Peltz – Los Angeles Times) Michael, the number of times that you're finishing second being so uncommon given your career, does that frustrate you or give you even more drive to get back to where you were?
MS: No, neither/nor, honestly. It's just part of the game. It's natural that you simply can't win every race, although you wish. No, but last year was occasionally frustrating. But to be second, like the race in Canada actually in the final stages to get second position is some excitement.
(Derek Daly – Speed Channel) Michael, of the panel, you would be the most experienced. With the success that you've had, have you peaked or are you still potentially getting better or are you still learning or do you think you've peaked as a driver?
MS: You never stop learning, absolutely. There is a point where you stop, obviously, gaining speed, natural speed. But that starts very early. After that, it's just experience you take on. It'll never stop, honestly, because Formula One just develops all the time, and you just have to keep track of the development and just be on top of it, and that makes you develop at the same time.

(Derek Daly - Speed Channel) So would a driver with a technical feel, would he potentially have an advantage in Formula One as it is today or is it the instinct-reflex driver? Do you know what I mean by that?
MS: I don't think the reflexes - I mean, I haven't measured it. There is obviously a trade-over when maybe your reflexes slow down and experience comes in. But I only can compare myself against my team mates and I haven't looked to that so far, so...

(Tim May – Columbus Dispatch) Scott, what is the secret for an American to get to Formula One, for a lot of these guys that want to end up over there?
SS: To have the opportunity to go to Europe where you have to go through the proper ladder series. For me, I think that the European racing is much more competitive and if you stand a chance in Formula One and you don't want to step in and look silly, you have to go over there and compete and do well against the Europeans.

(Felipe Motta – Radio Panamericana) Michael, tomorrow Germany will play against Argentina. What do you expect of this match? You think it will be possible to watch the match here in the USA during the practice? I don't know if it's before or after.
MS: I don't know what time it is but if I have time, I will certainly watch it, absolutely. I think if we go through that one, then we have done already 50 percent or maybe more than 50 percent because Argentina is one of the top teams. Being able to beat them, we're looking good.

(Carlo Gomez – Diario AS) Fernando, is this your worst circuit of the year? The second question is about the match of Spain in the world soccer.
FA: Indianapolis, for sure, will be the most difficult race in all the championship for us. The car was never competitive here. We don't know why. But we hope that this year change that. The (RS) 26 has been competitive everywhere so we expect a good performance here but we have some doubts, for sure. I hope to have a good car.

Now, the soccer: nothing to say. We are always the same, we are a good team in the group and then come the important matches, and we go home. It's OK. Like this we don't have any more worries. We don't fight with the team, with the French mechanics or the English. We are not any more there, so we are happy, we concentrate only Formula One.

Source FIA

Thursday FIA press conference, part I -Indianapolis

From Indianapolis
First part of this Thursday’s FIA press conference with Fernando Alonso (Renault), Tiago Monteiro (MF1), Juan Pablo Montoya (Mclaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Scott Speed (Toro Rosso)

Tiago, you must have special memories here getting on the podium last year.
Tiago MONTEIRO: Yeah, well, obviously very special moment for us. We all know the circumstances. But we were there, we took it, we took this opportunity. We enjoyed it as much as we could, and we took advantage of it. It was great, definitely. I had a lot of fun. My team had a lot of fun. I can't thank Bridgestone, Toyota and the team for all that, can't thank them enough.

Tiago, 26 finishes out of 28 races? That’s a remarkable finishing record.
Tiago MONTEIRO: Yeah, it’s good. It’s very good reliability. We would like to have a little bit more pace as well but it’s getting a lot better. We definitely improved since… at Barcelona, the car made a real step forward and we’re getting closer and closer. We’re averaging 1.8s behind pole position at the moment, so it’s definitely quicker and if we can keep this reliability and getting quicker and quicker, that’s what we’re looking for, you know?
To be fighting with some guys up there, we really need between three and five tenths and we should be there soon.

Any animosity last weekend when the two of you came together, you and your team mate?
TM: No, no. I went there and I apologised. I made a mistake, I locked my rear wheels. I went straight to him and apologised, no problems. We talked and everything was clear.

And then you got your football team to knock out his football team!
TM: Well, he’s not happy about that, that’s for sure. I think he took that part worse than the crash on track. He’s a big football fan. Now we’ve got the English soon, so I’m looking forward to that as well. I will have the whole team on top of me!

Scott, obviously the first half of the Grand Prix season is over and here you are at your home race. Just give us an assessment of your season so far.
Scott SPEED: For it’s been fantastic. When you first get into Formula One, there’s always a question: do I belong here? Am I good enough to stay? I’ve got a lot of confidence now with that and my team has been really supportive of me, and it just feels great to be back here at home, I’ve got to tell you.

The good parts? The bad parts?
SS: Ah, well, those come in the same weekend. The good part was briefly having a point in Australia. The bad part was having it taken away.

What have been the major surprises for you?
SS: I think after the first race there hasn’t been so many surprises but you always have to do your first Grand Prix some time and it’s an experience that you have to go through and there’s a steep learning curve at the beginning. Now, we’re just all trying to improve as much as we can. It’s a bit difficult for us, because of our engine situation, to keep up, but having a tenth place last weekend was a great result for us this late in the game, and the team is doing some big steps forward.

You have got the V10 Cosworth engine as opposed to everybody else’s V8s; is that an advantage or a disadvantage?
SS: Oh, I think certainly at a track like Canada and here it’s going to hurt us because we don’t have the top horsepower but surprisingly we were still pretty competitive in Canada, so I’m still optimistic for this weekend.

Michael, you’ve always managed to be fairly anonymous in the USA; is that still the situation over the last few days?
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, even after racing in the States, it’s still the same, basically. It depends where you go, honestly. There are some places which are a bit different, but generally that’s the case.

So you’ve managed to enjoy yourself over the last couple of days then?
MS: Yeah.

Can we ask what you’ve been up to?
MS: I’ve had a nice ride with some bikes.

We’ve recently heard great optimism, from the team, that we can at some stage beat Renault and yet it hasn’t happened; you haven’t actually led a lap since Spain. Is that optimism well-founded or not, do you feel?
MS: Yup, it is. There is clearly progress happening. If you go back to the races before England, we looked pretty strong and if you see the development we have done it looked optimistic for us, but then obviously the other guys don’t stand still either.

And are you expecting more development in France? Is that going to happen?
MS: We keep on developing. There’s nothing else for us to do. We keep on fighting and see what happens.

You said at the start of the season that it’s all about the rate of development. Have you been surprised at the rate of Renault’s development?
MS: In a way, yes. You should think that we should have more resources available, but then there are two areas of development. You have the tyre development and you have the car development and it depends on what area you compare and you look at.

It was interesting last weekend in that two Bridgestone runners obviously made a mistake in their tyre choice, including your brother. There seemed to be a huge difference in performance just from making that wrong tyre choice.
MS: Well, I’m not involved in what they did and so on. We look at our own situation and we clearly weren’t strong enough, that’s what came out of that.

But here, no one’s got a better record than you or the team: four wins, Ferrari have won five out of the six races, you personally have led every one of those six races, you’ve never finished lower than second. Does that mean anything?
MS: I still have a great record in Canada as well but it doesn’t really mean anything. At the end of the day, you have to look at the now situation and we have to find out whether our package suits the circuit.

Whereas Fernando, you’ve never finished here, you’ve nine laps since 2003, I think. Again, does that mean anything?
Fernando ALONSO: It’s been quite bad for me, this Grand Prix, always. Quite unlucky. I never finished this race, I’ve never crossed the line, so hopefully this time is the good one, and if I can be on the podium, even better.

You’ve’ been doing some promotional work for Michelin, what’s the mood amongst the fans here?
FA: I think the fans are really enthusiastic about this year’s race. After what happened last year, I think everyone is expecting a good show on Sunday. We will put on a good show for them and I think that after what happened last year, we all want to go on the track tomorrow and to enjoy the weekend.

Talking about Michael being fairly anonymous here; what about yourself, now you’re a World Champion? Do people come up and recognise you?
FA: No, no, not at all. Only the Spanish people.

There’s a few of them, though.
FA: Too many!

And of course, Juan Pablo, I’m sure they recognise you more than your two neighbours there.
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Yeah, I raced here before. Here at Indianapolis I get recognised quite a lot. It’s OK. I spend a lot of time in Miami and there’s a lot of Latins there. It’s OK.

Of course, you won Indianapolis 2000 but since then, you’ve just had incidents and all sorts of things have happened to you.
JPM: Oh yes, we’ve done pretty good. I crashed with Ralf here, we’ve had all kinds of things. But it’s exciting, it’s a bit of a tricky track, it’s quite slow and it has a very long straight, so it’s an interesting balance between how much downforce you want on the car for the corners and sacrifice on the straight. I think most of the time simulations show very similar lap times whatever you do.

But how are you going to stay out trouble?
JPM: I don’t know. You know in the last race it was a bit of a shame. We had a quick car and I collided with Rosberg and it was one of those racing things that happens. I had a quick car and I needed to make sure that before Fernando went into the distance that I moved forward and I was trying to do that.

What about your future? Where do you see your future? People have talked about Williams, they even talk about you coming back here to the States.
JPM: I don’t know yet. I’m looking at it and when I make a decision you will find out. I think the difference between myself and a lot of guys is that I don’t make my decisions public. I don't talk through the press. I talk through the teams, and that's it. You guys don't hear anything, but I know what's happening.

Are you happy with what's happening?
JPM: Yeah, yeah, very. I'm very comfortable, and we'll see.

Source FIA

Monday, June 26, 2006

FIA to address BMW wing issue before Indy

The 'flexi-wing' saga continues
Honda, or any other team for that matter, did not protest BMW-Sauber's results in Montreal as the 'flexi-wing' saga continues to bubble.

This is despite the fact that Nick Heidfeld finished in the points, thus preventing Honda's Jenson Button from taking the final point.

However, boss Nick Fry held talks with the FIA's Charlie Whiting before the race and was apparently convinced to drop his protest threat.

Fry said : ''(Whiting) made it clear that all he could do was apply a normal test to their car.''

However, it is understood that Whiting will continue to investigate the matter and is likely to have further talks in Indianapolis later this week.

Fry said : ''It's not fair and it's somewhat amazing that what they are doing is not denied.''

He point-blank refused BMW's argument that the rear wing in question is legal. ''It's ludicrous. It is very clear to the rest of us - it is illegal pure and simple,'' said Fry, ''and the FIA do need to look into it.''

Schu's hopes fading says Italian press

Alonso on his way to win another title
With every passing race, Michael Schumacher's hopes of an eighth world championship in 2006 sink ever further, according to Italy's press.

''All the time, Fernando Alonso resembles 'Schumi' of the golden period,'' said La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

La Repubblica added: ''In the next weeks he will surely celebrate his second championship triumph.''

Tuttosport referred to the fact that, with his second place at Montreal, Ferrari's Schumacher passed the 1000-point mark with his Maranello based team.

But the Italian publication also noted: ''However he must be content without the dream of another title.''

La Stampa said: ''Alonso is cold-blooded; aggressive. If he has not locked up the championship yet, it is only because Grandpa Schumacher is persistent and achieved in Canada an unexpected result.''

Renault celebrates a century of GP success

From 1906 to 2006!
26 June 2006 marks the centenary of the first ever Grand Prix - won by a Michelin-shod Renault!
The morning of 26 June 1906 dawned still and warm in the French city of Le Mans. The Sarthe region was basking in a heatwave, and temperatures would exceed 30°C in the mid-day heat. Yet at 06:00 AM, in the early morning light, the flag fell to begin the first ever Grand Prix: the 1906 Grand Prix de France, organised by the Automobile Club de France.

The Grand Prix was organised on a circuit of 103.18 km laid out on the roads east of Le Mans. The distance was a world apart from current Grand Prix racing: not two hours, but two whole days of racing, with the competitors having to complete six laps on each day. Overnight, the cars were held under strict guard, with no changes permitted to them: the very first parc fermé in Grand Prix history! The total race distance was just under 1240 km, a true test of the speed and reliability of the fastest automobiles of the time.

Third away on the morning of 26 June was the Renault of 32 year-old Ferenc Szisz, car number 3A. Hungarian-born Szisz had begun his career as riding mechanic to Louis Renault in the great city-to-city races of the early 1900s. These competitions, held over open roads, ceased in 1903 following fatalities in the Paris-Madrid event – including that of Marcel Renault. His brother's death led Louis Renault to retire from driving, so when Renault returned to competition in 1905, Ferenc Szisz took became the firm's lead driver.

The AK-type Renault was built to a maximum weight formula of 1000 kg, with engine capacity unrestricted.
The Renaults featured a 13 litre engine developing 105 bhp, while the field saw engines of up to 18.3 litres (Panhard) and power outputs hitting a maximum of 130 bhp. The lightweight construction of the Renaults, though, allowed them to fit a last-minute innovation that would prove decisive.

Michelin's jante amovible (detachable rim) allowed a new wheel rim and pre-inflated tyre to be fitted in under two minutes, against the five to fifteen minutes required to replace and inflate pneumatic tyres on the solid artillery wheels that were standard at the time. The penalty was extra weight, but the Renaults – and FIATs too – were able to fit the new technology.

Crowds of 180,000 flocked to the event, including high society that made the journey from Paris. The cars were started at 90 second intervals, and by lap 3, Szisz's Renault had seized a lead it would never surrender. The Renault was clocked at a top speed of 148 kph as it passed the start and finish line, and after two gruelling days of racing, it completed the distance at an impressive average speed of 101.20 kph. Following him home in second was the FIAT of Felice Nazzaro after a race-long battle with the Clément-Brasier of Albert Clément – which did not use Michelin's new rims. A distraught Clément lost out on second place by a mere matter of minutes after two days of racing.

Indy wants new US GP contract

"We want the event to continue"
Even despite Bernie Ecclestone's apparent indifference to renewing the US Grand Prix contract, Indianapolis officials have indicated that they would like a new deal.
The president of the fabled Motor Speedway, scene of Sunday's race, indicated that he thought the F1 Supremo's media frostiness was mere 'positioning' ahead of upcoming contract negotiations.

''We'll sit down and talk in the next few weeks,'' said Joie Chitwood, ''and see what we come up with.

''We've said on many occasions that we want the event to continue.''

In the Canadian press last weekend, former triple World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart scolded 75-year-old Ecclestone for showing such disregard towards the American market.

The Scot said: ''If the manufacturers did not have (the US market), they might be out of business. I disagree with Bernie completely.''

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Interview with Jacques Villeneuve

A decade in Formula One
Ten years ago Jacques Villeneuve raced a Formula One car in front of his home crowd for the first time. Now the 1997 Formula One World Champion goes back to Montréal as a newly married man. Here the BMW Sauber F1 Team driver reflects on his life and racing career.
It is ten years since your first Canadian Grand Prix. Have things change changed a lot for you both personally and in terms of motor racing?
"Personally it has changed a lot. Obviously because I am now married and expecting a kid, so that is a big difference. On the racing side the answer is also yes. Back then I was going to every race knowing we could fight for the win and now we go to the race thinking we can fight for the points. The really good thing is we are working in the right direction to get closer to the winning circle."

You still say racing is fun for you, which is not something you often hear from racing drivers driver’s. What is the fun aspect of your sport?
"I am in racing and Formula 1 purely because of the driving. This is why it is fun. If you are in it for a different reason then things may be different. Some people I know are in it for the glamour or for being a star and that is what Formula One represents. I think they probably have a lot less fun."

Montréal is where you come from but not now where you live.
What are your feelings for the City and Country?
"That is where my roots are so it always has a special importance."

This year you go there with your new wife. Has she been there before?
"No, Johanna has never been to Quebec or Canada, so this will be an interesting trip. We will have very little time to have a look around. During the racing season it is very hard to try and find the time to appreciate a place. I think we have one day off before the race weekend and that is it."

You are a racing driver, but probably you could easily have been a downhill skier?
"I knew since I was five years old I would race cars, so I never did anything else seriously enough to be able to bring it to a professional level."

You have expressed an interest in ice hockey, so is this another sport you could have done done?
"Yes it is a sport I love, but it is not something that I did as a youngster. I only started playing it lately."

You are a keen music fan and everyone is talking about your CD that is coming out soon. Tell us about it.
"It has a folk feel to it, folk rock. I don’t know how to describe it as it is really hard to give the direction it is, but it is not heavy metal and it is not R&B. A little bit more soft music with acoustic guitars. I wrote half of the songs and do some singing. I don’t play much because we have professionals who sounded a lot better than me. It was all done in France with French people. I don’t know anything about the music business so I am learning everything. I am definitely not wanting to have another career in music as my job and my career are racing. There is no time to do anything else. I have been away from home for 17 years now so I don’t want to add to that. I am going to build a family and all that so I want to be at home."

How do you feel currently with the BMW Sauber F1 Team?
"I love the team. We work well together and the team is going in the right direction as it is progressing well. It is not a dying team. It is the other way round as it is one on the way up."

Do you feel the way they are getting the two teams together is positive?
"It has worked very well. It does not feel like two teams despite part of the team being in Munich and part in Hinwil. It is great as it is just one team with everyone working well together."

Formula 1 is often critic criticised because the fans can’t get to the drivers driver’s. What is your opinion and do you think this is fair?
"In the old days there were less fans so there was time and room. These days we spend the whole day in meetings, etc. There is just no time. When you get to the track on Thursday and start working at mid-day and get home at eight at night you have not actually sat down and just drank coffee. It is not a question of not wanting to take care of the fans there is no time and that is just the way that is. Do football fans get more autographs? I think not. In fact every sport has evolved like that and it is not just F1."

What do you think about the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park in Montreal?
"I think that is great. It gives a little touch of racing to the fans. However, in Montréal it is always good for the fans as the spectator areas are not a long way from the track so they are able to be very close to the action."

The BMW Sauber F1.06 car suites your driving style. What do you put this down to?
"I quite like the V8 engines. I enjoy driving them. I can set the car up in a more natural way to drive. It is a much more precise car to drive than the one we had last year which is good."

If you had to send a message to your fans in Montreal what would it be be?
"I am still working hard and racing strong. Hopefully it will stay that way."

A new logo for Ferrari's F1 racer

At the United States Grand Prix
Eagle eyed Ferrari fanatics should spot an extra logo on the F1 team's single seater at Indianapolis next month.
At the city's fabled Motor Speedway for the 2006 US Grand Prix, the Italian squad led by Jean Todt is tipped to wear decals bearing the 'Case IH' name, according to Auto Express.

The predominantly American brand, whose corporate colours are grey and red, is Ferrari parent Fiat's tractor-making subsidiary.

Meanwhile, it is expected that Fiat, the Turin-based Italian carmaker, will buy back a considerable stake in Ferrari from Mediobanca in September of this year.

Fiat sold the 34 per cent stake to the investment bank in 2002, but Mediobanco then sold 5 per cent to Abu Dhabi's state-controlled 'Mubadala' company.

But Fiat president Luca di Montezemolo said: ''We want to recover the entire stake (but) we are still looking at how we're going to do it.''

The carmaker owns 56 per cent of Ferrari.

Montreal's track is tough on the brakes

Brake data from Brembo

The Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal is very demanding on the brakes, the F1 cars going through successive acceleration – braking zones.
Brake system specialist Brembo gave us interesting data on the track which will be used for the Canadian Grand Prix next week.

Brembo is currently the official supplier of BMW Sauber, Ferrari, Honda, MF1, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Toyota.

Click on the picture to see all the details related to the braking performance of the cars on the Gilles Villeneuve circuit.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Button not for sale for any price

Fry emphasises long-term commitment
Even for a staggering wad of cash, Honda says it would not sell Jenson Button to a rival squad.
“Not for 100 million (Pounds Sterling),” Team Principal Nick Fry, faced with speculation that the Englishman is growing weary of Honda's lagging speed, told the Mirror.

He added: “Not for 150 million.”

At Silverstone on Saturday, Button embarrassingly slumped out of qualifying in the opening fifteen minutes, with Fry blaming Stewards' decision to call him into the weigh bridge at an inopportune moment.

But earlier this weekend, the 26-year-old racer suggested to the press that he might be ruthless in his quest to win the F1 title.

“Jenson's absolutely not for sale,” Fry continued, hinting at a long-term contract signed by Button last year. “We got married last year ... and divorce is not on the horizon. I'd be amazed if Jenson is looking around.”

Fernando Alonso snatches the Pole on England

British GP - Qualifying
It all came down to a final sequence of hot laps right at the very end of an eventful three-phase qualifying session. Michael Schumacher crossed the line to take the Provisional Pole only for Alonso to flash across the line to take the Pole Position moments later. To make matters worse for Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line seconds later and demoted the Ferrari driver to the second row of the grid.

With a 21 point lead in the Championship, Fernando Alonso does not need to win the British Grand Prix, but he has the Pole at a venue he has yet to win. Kimi Raikkonen’s last lap dash gives him an impressive front row start in his McLaren Mercedes while Schumacher has it all to do starting from third position.

Felipe Massa was a solid fourth fastest in the second Ferrari with no sign of any errors that blighted his Monaco qualifying session. Giancarlo Fisichella starts from fifth position in the second Renault, just over six-tenths off the pace of team-mate Alonso.

Rubens Barrichello continued his recent trend of showing the way to Jenson Button as he qualified a fine sixth in his Honda. For Button, the session was nothing but a disaster as he failed to make it through the first phase of qualifying. In a case of bad timing and bad planning Button completed just one run and starts a dismal 19th for his home Grand Prix.

Toyota also had a case of fixed fortunes as Ralf Schumacher qualified his TF106B in seventh position while Jarno Trulli’s bad luck continued as he suffered an engine failure even before he set a time. He therefore starts 22nd and last.

Juan Pablo Montoya qualified the second McLaren Mercedes in eighth position unable to match the pace of team-mate Raikkonen. More seriously for the Columbian is allegations of blocking in the second phase of qualifying from David Coulthard. It remains to be seen if he will be placed under investigation or not by the race Stewards.

For the first time this year, BMW Sauber qualified with both Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve in the top ten underlining the impressive pace they have shown all weekend long.

David Coulthard starts a disgruntled 11th in his Red Bull Ferrari but at least he will have the advantage of adjusting his strategy to whatever he likes being outside the top ten. Team-mate Christian Klien starts 14th.

Nico Rosberg did what he could in the Williams Cosworth but the team is struggling this weekend. Rosberg starts a solid 12th while Mark Webber, like Button, only completed one run and starts just 17th.
Toro Rosso Cosworth ran well with Tonio Liuzzi qualifying 13th and Scott Speed in 15th. Tiago Monteiro did a solid job to make it through to the second phase of qualifying in his MF1 Toyota and starts 16th ahead of Webber and team-mate Christijan Albers.

With Button just 19th, Takuma Sato and Franck Montagny made it three Honda powered machines in the final four positions on the grid. For Montagny, he was using the older and heavier SA05 chassis once again, giving away an estimated 15 kilos to team-mate Sato.

The race is all set. It is Alonso Vs Raikkonen Vs Schumacher. A three-way fight for the race win.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ferrari deny Silverstone weakness

Expect to be right on Renault's pace
Speculation that Ferrari arrive at Silverstone with a clear disadvantage has been dismissed on all sides. It is suggested that, because the Maranello based team has not tested so far at the British venue - unlike nearly every other team, including pacesetter Renault - Ferrari could struggle to keep up.

"After two or three runs I think we will all be at the same level," championship leader Fernando Alonso said.

Ferrari's Schumacher, likely to be the Spaniard's main rival on Sunday, agrees. Actually, the fact that weather forecasters did not spot Thursday's beautiful weather could put everyone on the back foot.

Team-mate Felipe Massa continued: "Our car goes well at this type of circuit. I am not at all worried."

McLaren has also been singled out as a team to watch on the old Northamptonshire airfield, but Alonso is of the belief that the cars in red will pose a bigger danger.

He said: "They were very, very quick in Barcelona last week so they arrive as favourites. It should also be good for us."

No snap decisions from Michael Schumacher

Jackie Stewart calls on Schumacher to quit
Michael Schumacher has rejected suggestions that the venom of criticism following his Monaco slip might cause him to quit F1.

The German, who is reportedly yet to sign Ferrari's offer of a new two-year contract beyond 2006, said it would be a mistake to base such an all-encompassing decision on a single event.

"If I thought like that, then you could call me short-sighted," Schumacher said at Silverstone. "But I am not short-sighted."

Former triple World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, however, has said for a long time now that the Ferrari veteran should call it a day. "If (Schumacher) wins the world title this year, fantastic. Then: out," he told New York Times. "If he doesn't win the title again: out."

Like him or not, though, Schumacher is synonymous with F1.
To the sid agency, Bernie Ecclestone, perhaps concerned that the Rascasse saga is still raging, urged the British public not to put any more pressure on 'Schummel Schumi'.

The 75-year-old said: "He did something wrong and he served his punishment."

Ralf Schumacher also stepped in to defend his big brother. "If Michael says he didn't do it intentionally then I believe him," he said.

The German also urged the drivers' union to think carefully about kicking Schumacher out. Ralf said: "Without Michael, there would not be a GPDA."

Thursday FIA press conference, part II

With Button, Coulthard and Webber
Second and final part of this Thursday’s press conference with Jenson Button (Honda), David Coulthard (Red Bull) and Mark Webber (Williams).
(Heinz Pruller - ORF) To follow this up, Mark, we had Jack Brabham in Vienna for three days recently and he told me that you are the most unlucky driver of the year. Would you agree, and what exactly happened in Monaco?
MW: Well, I think I’m probably up there with Kimi Raikkonen. I think Kimi’s had a bit of bad luck but a couple of pretty straightward podiums, I would say, a fourth place not really a threat in a few races. It’s never nice to lose points like that. Monaco? Exhaust, exhaust exploded basically. It’s all pretty tight there in terms of installation so burnt it instantaneously.

(James Allen - ITV) Mark, you’ve just said that you reckon you’ve thrown away 20 points this season. How many of those were Monaco, then? Was that ten or eight or six?
MW: Aaah. Well, Kimi was the quickest guy for sure. Fernando was controlling us. I don’t think we could have won the race. I think that Kimi’s retirement probably came because of my safety car anyway, so I think there was a minimum six, of course, but I think there was obviously another six in Melbourne, but then Kimi had a nose… you can ifs and buts, but no one’s interested in those. The results have gone, mate. No one’s interested in a shopping list of excuses why it didn’t happen. We’ve missed some solid points.
But Monaco, to the second stops, Fernando Alonso wasn’t that strong before his stop. He was controlling the middle part of the stints, and I had a bit of graining and stuff but Kimi was the strongest out of the three, I think. He was the fastest car and driver to get to the flag.

(Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport): Jenson, how frustrating is it for you to start every season as a professional driver who has not yet been able to win a race. Is that something you keep in your mind?
JB: Yes, of course its frustrating because as racing drivers we’re all here to do one job and that’s to win and it is frustrating, especially this year, because this was the year when we came into the season with everything very good. The winter testing was very positive, the car was very reliable and we were setting some very good lap times – not just over one lap but over long runs as well – we showed a lot of consistency throughout the run. The first couple of races were pretty much where we thought we were – things were going pretty well and in Bahrain we were very fast but we made a mistake, sorry, we had a problem with the clutch and the second race we finished on the podium.
We weren’t quite on the pace of the Renaults but it was pretty good – we were quite a long way ahead of the rest of the field, so it was, those two races were very good and then it started to go downhill after Australia, or during it and I think the reason is Renault and Ferrari especially have made really big improvements in every race – they just seem to have had new bits on the car and they’ve really stepped up their game. With us, we have made improvements but nowhere near as much and that’s an area we really do need to work on as a team, because we can produce very good cars at the start of the year; it’s staying competitive for the whole season that’s where were losing out a little bit.

(Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland): Jenson, continuing that, you’ve had 108 Grand Prix. How big is the pressure? I know you’re waiting desperately for your first win out there. How do you cope with that and what keeps you thinking you can be a candidate for world titles?
JB: Numbers mean nothing if you haven’t got a car that can win races. What does a number mean? Nothing at all. It might happen this race – it’s very unlikely given the speed of the Renaults, it might happen in four races time, it might not happen until next year or even the year after. Nothing changes, you still give 100 per cent and you give everything you can to achieve your goal, but like I said, it is a team effort and it’s not just down to one individual.

(Ian Parkes – Press Association): Jenson, the weight of expectation’s probably far greater when you drive here, but given that the nation’s eyes are on the World Cup, is that less pressure this weekend? Less pressure world cup?
JB: It’s great to be here – it’s gonna be a fantastic atmosphere this weekend for a British driver, but for any driver on the grid. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m under more pressure at all because I know exactly how quick the car can go and I will do everything I can to get the best performance out of it, and I can’t do any more than that so there is no outside pressure because that’s it and I can achieve that.

David, are you pleased with the progress of the RB2 this season and what are your objectives for the remainder of the season?
DC: Well, it’s only in the last few tests we’ve done where we’ve been able to rack up some serious mileage. In all of the previous testing we’ve done this season it’s been troubled. If you look at the amount of races we’ve actually finished, it’s not been much because obviously our goal is to finish them all, so only time will tell when we look back on the season to see whether we improved progress throughout the season. It’s a little bit early to say, but I’ll echo what Jenson just said in that the goal is to keep on improving as a team and we’ll look back at the end of the season and see how much we got out of it.

(Serhan Acar – CNN TV Turkey): Question for Jenson, the World Cup is starting tomorrow so do you think it will affect the interest of British spectators on Sunday? Will the Grandstands be full of people to support you and DC?
JB: It depends how well we do on Saturday in the World Cup I suppose, we’ll see if they’re still capable of coming along tomorrow, sorry, on Sunday. For me, we should have a full house because apart from being in Germany and watching it there, here is the absolute best place to be watching it, definitely. We’ll have a massive crowd with the big screens and we should have a great atmosphere. Sunday, we’re not playing in the World Cup so it should be busy, especially if the weather’s like this.
Question for all three of you. Tomorrow there is a meeting of the GPDA. Are you going to talk about Monaco and what happened with Michael, and are there going to be any consequences?
DC: Yeah, I believe it will be on the agenda. But, it’s an issue between drivers that’s how I feel it should be handled. Inevitably there’ll be someone who has to say their two pence worth, but they probably won’t say it in front of each other in the meeting. What I hope we can achieve is that all those who were quick to give their opinions to the masses, but won’t look Michael in the eye, I think that’s a lack of a man, and I think we’ll find out tomorrow just who’s prepared to say what around the table.

(Kevin Garside – Daily Telegraph) David, some of your colleagues say Michael Schumacher’s position as president of the GPDA may be under consideration after Monaco. Is that something you think is appropriate?
DC: Personally speaking, I don’t, but as a group of drivers though, we have an opportunity to take a vote. Personally were are stronger in our opinions and can influence more the sport today and the future if we are united. Drivers don’t always see eye to eye of course, but the Monaco events should just be taken as they were. Michael got his punishment, and anyone who wants to discuss it can, and then we should get on with the business of driver and track safety.

(Kevin Garside – Daily Telegraph): Same question to Jenson and Mark.
MW: I’m totally in agreement with David and Jenson on this one. We, the drivers, can sit down with him face to face and all of our opinions can come out. He was punished for what he did and it was correct and, onwards and upwards really. I don’t think the GPDA will be affected too heavily.

(Ian Parkes – Press Association): David, again, just to clarify, if there is a vote taken do you need a majority, or for it to be unanimous? How does it work?
DC: Yes, we need a majority, but I don’t believe that will be the case. I understand the question, but the outcome I don’t believe will be anything different to what we have today, so there’s no point running with it.

Jenson, are Honda capable of winning before the end of the year and do you think you have a chance of podiums?
JB: That’s a difficult one – we don’t know that yet. We don’t know when we’re getting a new aerodynamic package, whether it’s gonna be exactly what we need and whether it’s gonna be good enough to challenge the top teams or not. All I know is that we’re working very hard on improving the car in many areas and we’ll see. I hope we have a chance of getting more podiums this season and obviously I hope we can win a race, but that doesn’t make the car go quicker.
(James Allen – ITV): Can you take us through the first series of corners based on the tests you’ve done. Am I right in thinking you don’t really use the brakes until the other side of Stowe?
DC: I think in my case, I use the brakes for the last part of Becketts, but I believe some people were flat in the test here, but that depends on what fuel level you’re running. I think if the conditions are right, in qualifying through turn one, you can go flat through Becketts, maybe lifting for the middle part then down a gear for the last part. It’s fairly impressive now because this V8 formula arrived at a slightly lower top speed along with the development in tyres has seen much less difference between straights and corner speed. It’s quite impressive even somewhere like the swimming pool in Monaco. I was over 20 kph quicker over the chicane than the previous year because you don’t have to take so much speed off and the balance of the car is therefore less effected because of the pitch, so it’s definitely an impressive place to go and watch cars go quickly.

JB: We were dabbing brakes off the maggots chicane – the left-hander there we were tapping the brakes, but even Stowe you’re not tapping the brakes so hard because you’d scrub off too much speed. The first place you really hit the brakes is into Club.

MW: I think they’re all pretty similar really. It’s always been quick at Silverstone, but now it’s really fast, and as DC said, you have to be pretty accurate as well. It’s a good challenge.

(Ukkola Sanna – Ilta-Sanomat) Mark, how has it been driving with Nico Rosberg and does he have a big future as a driver?
MW: I’ve enjoyed driving with Nico actually – he’s been a very good team-mate. I’ve had some team-mates in the past who’ve not backed up their testing pace in races, but Nico’s shown he can do the business on race weekends which is important to the team. He deserves his chance in Formula One having come from GP2 and showing he can perform well there. He tested a lot with us last year. I think it was a nice time for him to slot in to Formula One with the V8s and the new tyre rules – that was good for him, and I think he’d have done a great job with V10s anyway. Clearly he’s a talented guy and he does have a very big future in Formula One, so he’s done a good job, yeah.

Source FIA

Thursday FIA press conference, part I - Silverstone

With Button, Coulthard and Webber
The British Grand Prix’s Thursday press conference with Jenson Button (Honda)), David Coulthard (Red Bull), Mark Webber (Williams).

David, you suggested that Monaco was a one-off in terms of result. Is that the way you judged it?
David COULTHARD: It’s a bit premature to say. There’s still a lot of races to go, but clearly, there were a number of things that played in our favour during the race. People dropped out, people got penalties, that can happen at other circuits as well but I think that all weekend, in all the sessions, we were always in the top six throughout most of the sessions, so that’s why I was disappointed with the eventual qualifying position, because I didn’t actually get a run at it - we chose to do one lap which in hindsight was a mistake, and we got traffic. At that type of track, mechanically the car obviously worked well. The engine, we know, has won Grand Prix already with Ferrari. It’s on the more open circuits that we don’t have quite as an efficient package so in contrast, this track will probably be a lot more difficult for us. That’s the challenge. You’ve got to react to it.

Some of the English press coverage suggested that that was going to help you keep your seat for next year.
Do you feel you’re fighting for your seat for next year?
DC: I think it’s a bit silly to suggest that one result is what people decide on why they are going to put someone in a car. I’ve got a history of consistency, scoring points, obviously won a few Grand Prix and the team know very well what I do on track, with engineers and back at the factory, so I don’t believe there’s any fight or struggle. It’s quite clear that I want to drive the car next year with all of the people that have been brought together. This is the year that hopefully they gel and I see no reason why that car, next season, can’t be competing for serious points, podiums and victories and I know that I can deliver those.

An interesting story today in Autosport suggesting that you’re in contact, in discussion with Ferrari. What have you got to say about that?
DC: Well, it’s inevitable that everyone has to know what the market-place offers. If you look at Ferrari from the outside, they’ve got one driver scoring serious points and the other one not. Any team needs to have two drivers in a position to capitalise and as I say, I didn’t score over 500 points by accident.
So you have been in contact with them.
DC: That’s none of your business. As I said, everyone talks to everyone at this stage of the season so I’m sure that even Jenson, although we believe he’s contracted to Honda, I’m sure he’s probably talking to someone as well.

Jenson, you seem to be very much aiming for third or fourth team here. Is that the position of the team at the moment?
Jenson BUTTON: We’re not going to suddenly jump forward compared to Monaco and the previous few races. Renault and Ferrari are very strong at the moment and I think McLaren are also, so it’s very difficult. It’s so competitive out there at the moment. But for us to say where we are going to finish is a silly thing to do. I think we need to just try to get the best out of the package we have and that is our aim at the moment, and then we will see where we end up. We don’t know where we will be.

Can you envisage fighting with Renault and Ferrari?
JB: No, not this weekend.

But in the future?
JB: Yeah, definitely. I think every team would hope that they can challenge Renault and Ferrari in the future, and that’s the reason why we are here, to hopefully be the best, but it’s not going to happen overnight. We are improving things, the new full-size wind tunnel coming on line, it’s going to make a big difference to us, so for the future, I’m very positive that we will be challenging at the front. But this weekend is really a weekend that we are all looking forward to, it’s a very special weekend, especially for us two (indicates Coulthard), it’s our home Grand Prix and we’re hoping for a good result and that good result is us getting the best out of the package we have at the moment and then, on Monday, we talk about where we go from there.

Just tell us about racing here at Silverstone, for you, your home Grand Prix?
JB: It is a great feeling, especially when the weather’s like this. The Australian weather was pretty poor when we were there… But this is great to see: the sun’s out and it’s going to stay out for the whole weekend which is great and it’s going to be pretty special for the fans, I think, especially the English fans, having the footy on Saturday and being able to watch it on the big screens.

Mark, Bridgestone seem to have had a good test at Barcelona but you were actually playing it down a bit, that it wasn’t so good for Williams.
Mark WEBBER: Well, I wasn’t at Barcelona, I did all the work before Monaco, and I was at the Silverstone test, so it was my test off. But in the Barcelona race, Michael was fighting with Fernando but not that hard, obviously, so that’s really the last test we’ve had on a high speed circuit like Barcelona and Silverstone. The tyre testing obviously allowed Michelin… they do their work for those sort of venues to test the tyres for this race. I think that it will all come into play actually, in terms of the track temperatures which will be pretty similar which is good, but it’s the same for both companies. But I wouldn’t say the Bridgestones can’t do the job. I think that at Williams, we need to probably get a little bit more complete on the higher speed sort of circuits. We are looking to do a really really good job here of course, in terms of pace, but so are the other guys. There’s a big group after the gap to Renault and McLaren.

Where do you feel you’re really lacking, in terms of pace, is there one particular area?
MW: Normally, in Formula One, aerodynamics play a huge role and I think it’s less of a role in Monte Carlo and more down to mechanical grip, and the tyres need to work well as well. Barcelona and Silverstone – there’s nowhere to hide. We need to work on the efficiency and work on having the car behave itself through all types of high speed corners and finishing the lap in the Complex, so that’s probably the main area we are focusing on as heavily as we can like most of the other teams, to close the gap to Renault because they are probably the best team aerodynamically at the moment.

It’s said that the deal is done between Toyota and Williams. What are your feelings about a possible change of power for next year?
MW: Well, there’s loads of speculation but as usual, until it’s all done, you never never know. But first of all Cosworth have not let us down anywhere this season in terms of… we had the one rear of the field at the start of the race in Nurburgring, but the pace of the engine has been absolutely phenomenal for us all year. It’s one of the best V8s if not the best V8 ever. It’s an incredible engine and there are some very good guys there. So if we do change, there’s a big set of shoes to fill, to fill Cosworth’s role that they’ve done for us this year.

So a question for all three of you: your feelings about the World Cup, who’s going to win, who will you be supporting?
MW: I’ve lived in England for ten years and I’ve loved the English people and the comedy and all that sort of stuff. But when it comes to sport, I hope they get absolutely battered in the World Cup, so I’m going for Australia.

Do you know where you’re going to watch Australia’s opening match?
MW: Australia? I don’t even know when they are playing first.

That’s how much you follow them!
MW: Err. Well I’ll take some interest when… like all the other Aussies, only when they’re doing well.

JB: It’s quite an obvious one: England, I think, have got a fantastic team. Hopefully they can work well together and yeah, I think this could be a very good year for English football.

Do you know where you are going to watch the opening match?
JB: My debrief room, after qualifying, I think.

David, you’ll be supporting England of course…
DC: Yeah. Honestly, I haven’t really got a big interest in football but as the British flag, British passport holder… the St George’s cross lies below the St Andrews flag, I guess England.

But you won’t necessarily be watching the match…
DC: It’s not my passion. I can understand the excitement of everyone here wanting to know what’s going on, but I take it as it comes. I guess everyone else is going to be watching it, so it’s going to be difficult to escape it.

(Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Question for DC and Jenson; I have a newspaper article here in which David is quoted as saying that basically Jenson should be ruthless. If he believes Honda can win he should stay, if not, he should get out of there now. Could I ask both of you for your comments on that?
DC: I think it’s quite a good quote isn’t it?
JB: Yeah. That’s always going to be the way. If things are going good, you want to be there. If not, you don’t. It’s a difficult one. I think it’s a good quote as well. But it’s not all down to just the one race, and maybe not even one season. Looking back from experience, you cannot keep just chopping and changing teams season to season because things do change and I think you need to understand where the team is and where they are weak and where they are moving forward and at what stage they are. For me, where I am at the moment is the best thing for me for the future. The way things are happening with the wind tunnel, and many other things within the team, I’m very positive that this is the correct place for me.

(Adam Hay-Nicholls - Two Paws Agency) Mark, after the frustrations of Monaco, where you were clearly very upset, you probably had another podium robbed from you due to mechanical failure. Are you considering moving to another team for next year?
MW: Well, I would pretty much echo what Jenson said: you always think it’s greener somewhere else. Williams have so far been so close and yet so far. We’ve probably thrown away a good part of 20 points in terms of mechanical failures but there could be a mistake around the corner which could cost us some points, but we are all suffering together with those failures and next year, it could look very, very different. We’ve got a year’s knowledge with the Bridgestone tyres, including myself as a driver but also as a team, and they are not as simple as just bolting them on the car, so that is a huge positive for Williams next year, so of course, I have to weigh things up but there’s a lot of potential for Williams to come out of this rough storm that we’re in at the moment which is not where we want to be. I think we’ve got ten points in the Constructors’ which after seven races is clearly not where we want to be. We’ve got to get our socks lifted and get on with the job.

Source FIA

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Red Bull adopt 'Superman' theme

Monaco GP - Red Bull - Preview
Red Bull is hoping that a red cape and Kryptonite can help its F1 team find form in Monaco this weekend. The energy drink-owned squad, formerly racing in the Jaguar/Ford guise, will continue the recent tradition of promoting a new movie in the famous Principality.
Last year, a Star Wars theme was adopted, which saw mechanics dressed as Storm Troopers while the car was dressed in a special livery.

In 2006, new Hollywood blockbuster 'Superman Returns' will get the Red Bull treatment, with the team currently putting the final touches on a spectacular adaptation to its huge motor home, which is floating in the Monte Carlo harbour.

The Energy Station's front entrance now resembles the headquarters of Clark Kent's 'Daily Planet' building.

Red Bull and Jaguar also promoted the 'Terminator 3' and 'Ocean's Twelve' movies.

Kevin Spacey, who acts in the Superman remake, is tipped to attend the race as a Red Bull guest.

Back on track, the team is chasing its first point since round three in Australia. Last time out in Spain, Christian Klien finished 13th with David Coulthard 15th. Tonio Liuzzi is the sister Toro Rosso camp finished in 14th splitting the two Red Bull regulars.

Wednesday FIA press conference, part I

Five drivers meet the press
First part of today’s FIA press conference ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix with Rubens Barrichello (Honda), David Coulthard (Red Bull), Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), Jarno Trulli (Toyota), Alexander Wurz (Williams).
Alex, this is very much your home race; what’s it like for you and your family when the race comes to town?
Alexander WURZ: I’ve been here for nine years, I live here now with my family. My kid is going to school above us here. I brought him there this morning, then went down to the race team. It’s kind of a bit strange. I remember four years ago picking him up from hospital when he was born on race day so I have quite some memories. But at the end of the day, when you live here and the race is coming here, it’s actually a pain in the butt because you have no more parking because the guardrails are being built up, it confuses the traffic, everyone gets a bit more stressed, hectic, the prices go up in the restaurants so I prefer the calmer time of December and January.

It’s going to get more hectic over the next few days; what’s it going to be like for the third drivers tomorrow?
AW: Well, the track usually starts off very slippery here in Monaco so actually we are just vacuum-cleaners for the other guys here, so they have fun on the rubbered-in circuit whereas we are sliding around a lot.
I remember from last year the first session is really slow and you have to be very aware of this. One is always really tempted to push but the circuit is getting so much quicker. Every time you come into the pits and you wait five minutes the other guys go one or two seconds quicker in the first session so that makes it a bit tricky because all the time you want to go out and be quickest, of course. But you have to be aware that the moment to set the best lap time is always at the end of the Thursday, and then it’s going be really hectic out there. I believe everyone is aware that many drivers are a bit afraid of qualifying but in my situation I don’t have that problem. I’m afraid of not having enough free track on Thursday afternoon.

What’s qualifying going to be like with the slower drivers?
AW: I’m sure all the other four guys here will tell you more about it. I wish I had the problem to have traffic in qualifying but it’s not my business at the moment. If I could sit here on Saturday and complain about traffic I would race and that would be fine for me.
Rubens, another year older, 34 yesterday, it’s always Monaco Grand Prix time…
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Yeah, it’s become a habit! You know when you get older, you don’t have to party any more. It’s just one more year. But I enjoyed my birthday very much, yesterday. I wasn’t working actually so it was nice to be with the family. For the first time, we made a cake. It was OK.

Qualifying seems to be going a lot better now; what about the racing?
RB: Well, in all honesty, I think Barcelona would have been a lot better. Although I saw a lot of people talking about Jenson being held up by me, I don’t think there was much truth in that. We had our pace there. He might have gone a little bit faster but it wouldn’t have changed his race. I lost five to six seconds on the way to the pits because of the (fuel) pressure, the fuel wasn’t picking up and so when I came into the pits, I still had some fuel left and I stopped, and because they didn’t know what the problem was, they kept on putting a lot of fuel in the car, and so I finished with a little bit more than what we thought and the car became heavier. The pace wasn’t there because of that. Otherwise, I think the two cars would have been close to Raikkonen’s but there was no way to finish in front of him and that’s the story. But I think Barcelona was a step forward in terms of overall pace.

What about here, with a good qualifying position?
RB: Well, qualifying is definitely good and I think the car could actually work quite well here. The problem is going to be just being on the track at the right time. Honestly, I think we should have a different qualifying (system) for here because probably five percent of us won’t say anything about qualifying, that we had a free lap, and the rest will all be (talking about) traffic, even in the last session. Probably not as much in qualifying three, but first qualifying is going to be like hell, really. You really need to give a lot of space to people on Thursday and see if they remember that on Saturday and let it go, because if somebody goes out of the pits, just thinking about life, it’s going to be quite dangerous in a way. If you’re going to go flat out up through Casino Square, from there on you can give some space.

Now the rest of you in the front row have all won this race before and I know that all of you have said afterwards what a very special victory it is. Can you just talk through how special it is to win here, and why?
David COULTHARD: I think it’s obvious to everyone who is here that this is a more challenging track because you have less room of a margin for error, and depending on the pace of your car in any particularly Grand Prix, depends on just how hard you have had to push for the entire race. I think, looking at last year’s race, Kimi was able to quite comfortable do the last stint, so he probably wasn’t under a great deal of pressure, but if you’re having to push the whole time, then you get into a sort of trance when you’re driving around here, sometimes being a little bit confused as to whether you’re driving through the barriers or round them. That’s the sort of zone you’re getting into; certainly I was! So when you come out the other side, it is such a tremendous feeling of achievement. I think every driver would, if he could pick a Grand Prix to win, he would want to win in Monaco.

Jarno TRULLI: I agree with David. This is the Grand Prix of the season: the atmosphere is nice - there are so many things. It’s got history and as David says, it’s not easy to win. It’s probably much easier to lose than win and anything can happen. Qualifying is very important, to start in front of the grid, but we’ve also seen in the past that sometimes it doesn’t help. At the end of the day, you really need to make everything work properly during the race, and try to do your best, and eventually you might win the race if you do it properly, because during the race, you can never give up, you can never slow down, you always have to be concentrated and it’s quite a long Grand Prix as well. It’s not easy because you’re not actually on a circuit, you’re on a street circuit and you don’t have any margin for mistakes, nothing, so you’re really tied up with what you’re doing and you have to make sure you do it right, all the way through the weekend. It’s nice because of the atmosphere, so many people. As an Italian as well. Italy’s just next (door), there are always a lot of supporters for Ferrari and the Italian drivers.

Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I think it’s a little bit of everything. It’s a great circuit and it’s got history. It’s Monaco, the atmosphere and it’s a challenge. What Jarno said is very true: the build-up throughout the weekend is very important and if you have the pace, it’s easier to lose the race than win it. For tradition, it’s probably the nicest race you can win.

Now Juan Pablo, you’ve been involved in some charity work today; can you tell us a bit about it?
JPM: It’s been going on for the last couple of years to be honest. We look after 2000 children already and it’s going really well. We’re promoting sports through it and today was really good news because we got $75,000 from the Steinmetz diamond helmet from last year so it’s great, it’s a really big boost for the foundation and we get a lot of support for it in Colombia too. Quite a few drivers went for the go-kart race last year and we raised quite good money from it, so it’s been going really well. My wife works a lot on it and it’s great, it’s great to give something back and for me something back to Colombia, my country, makes it very special.

The situation within the team is somewhat complex as we go through the….
JPM: Not really. I think the situation in the team is really quite good at the moment. We are all focused on doing the job we have to do, trying to make the car better. What’s happening next year? I don’t know, probably Kimi doesn’t know, probably nobody knows at the moment and I think the situation that the press is trying to create… it’s, you know, oh this and that and who is staying? Within the team it’s very good, you know. I’m focusing and I’ve been doing a lot of work the last few weeks with the test in Paul Ricard which went really well and I think we’re finding our feet a little bit. Yes, we know we need to improve in a lot of areas still but the direction is good and the spirit is good. That is the most important thing.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Money no problem for Renault

Seeking a star to replace Alonso
Renault want a top-line replacement for world champion Fernando Alonso, and are prepared to pay whatever it takes to get one, team President Alain Dassas said today in Spain.
Alonso, who won his home Spanish Grand Prix, will join rivals McLaren Mercedesnext year, leaving Renault without an established number one driver for 2007. And Dassas made it clear that the French manufacturer will stop at nothing to continue
their run of success, after earlier confirming the team's commitment to Formula One until at least 2012.

"Flavio will make proposals and selections but we are ready as Renault to do what is necessary to have a good driver," said Dassas. "We are committed for a long period of time. We have stated clearly that next year we want to have a driver who is able to give a top performance."

With only three truly front-line drivers on the Formula One grid, and one of those leaving the team at the end of the year, Renault appear to have narrowed their focus to Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher.
Both are out of contract at the end of the year, as is Renault's current Italian driver Giancarlo Fisichella, who has been told that a decision on his future will be made before the end of June.

Renault earlier confirmed that they would remain in Formula 1 until at least 2012 after signing a contract with Formula One's commercial rights holders CVC to continue in Formula One.

Speculation had mounted over the past months that Renault would leave Formula One at the end of 2007, which Dassas believed may have been a factor in Alonso's decision to leave. "I was not there half a year ago but I guess Alonso has left the team for several reasons," said Dassas.

Spanish Grand Prix press conference

With Alonso, Schumacher and Fisichella
A flawless race from Fernando Alonso saw him take his first home Grand Prix triumph in Spain while Michael Schumacher had to be satisfied with the runner-up spot ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella.

Q: Fernando, that looked like 66 perfect laps.
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, I think we did our maximum race performance today. The tyres performed really well throughout the race. We had some doubts before the start
and everything went perfectly. As we planned, we pushed in the first stint, we were lighter than the Ferraris so we needed a gap. We found the gap quite quickly and then it could have been a defensive race from there on, but it was not the case. This time Ferrari was not coming really strongly so I was just maintaining the gap and especially in the last stint, controlling the revs and trying to finish a race that was obviously very long for me today.

Q: It certainly looked as if you were enjoying the closing laps of the race. Can you just describe to us your emotions as you took the chequered flag?
FA: During the last five or six laps, I saw that Michael was slowing down as well, not pushing any more so it was just four or five laps just cruising to the end and for sure the chequered flag finished the race and I finished everything in front of everybody here, in front of my people, my supporters. I think it was the best feeling so far in Formula One, equal to the Grand Prix of Brazil, when I won the championship.
I finished third in that race with a lot of problems, defending the third place and I didn’t enjoy it so much as I did today, when I was alone, leading the race.

Q: Michael, a very strong second place for you, splitting the Renaults. How much was it defined for you having to sit behind Giancarlo Fisichella?
Michael SCHUMACHER: The race result didn’t really have anything to do with that, because Giancarlo was going at a certain pace, which at certain moments I couldn’t match and clearly, as the weekend developed, it started very well for us and then it sort of went away from us over the weekend which we obviously have to understand and look into. But we were simply not quick enough today.

Q: Obviously he won the drag race into the first corner but you obviously carried a lot more fuel into the race, a lot more than the Renaults.
MS: Yeah, I mean if you consider the amount of fuel we carried, it would have been easy to achieve pole position yesterday but our strategy was obviously different. It worked out at the Nurburgring. Here, it would have worked out had we been quick enough, but because the speed wasn’t there it didn’t work out.
Q: Your thoughts on that second place and a good solid eight points.
MS: Yeah, absolutely, it’s eight points. You have to understand at certain moments what is possible and what is not possible. You can only try so much yourself. You have to rely on your package, and again, it didn’t work out today but there’s a long way to go until the end of the season, so as we have seen, I was probably not so happy just to gain two points in the last two races. Now I’m reasonably happy to lose only two points. It’s the way it’s going to go and we’ll have to see what happens through the year.

Q: Giancarlo, P3 for you, a very strong start to the race, leading Michael, obviously very important from a team point of view, the position you took.
Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Yes, of course. We did a great start, even better than Fernando and after the first corner, we were able to hold first and second places. We set a good pace and for the first part of the race we were a bit lighter than Ferrari but the pace was quite good. In the second stint, just after the first stint, Michael came across the circuit and just passed me at the pit stop. After that, when I was in turn three, my engineers called me to say something and I was in the middle of turn three, and I lost control of the car and I went onto the gravel and maybe I damaged the car. It wasn’t bad, the car balance was OK but the grip wasn’t great, but apart from that it’s a great result for us and as we expected, it was a tough race between us and Ferrari.

Q: Fernando, returning to you, you said yesterday that you didn’t think 66 laps were going to be enough for you to enjoy but you have conceded that it seemed like a long race towards the end. Again, just talk us through those few emotional moments for you.
FA: It’s true that to race here and to race in front of an all blue grandstand is a different feeling compared to all the other races and it’s true that 66 laps is not enough probably to enjoy all the race but when you are leading with ten seconds or whatever I think you want to finish the race, already, and celebrate victory if you can. It was a fantastic day, difficult to forget for me.

Q: Fernando, does it get any better than winning at home and being greeted on the podium by your King?
FA: No, so far it’s the best thing that has probably happened to me in Formula One, apart from Brazil where I won the championship, this one was maybe a better feeling because I crossed the line winning the race. In Brazil it was a dramatic race because I had to defend third position to be champion mathematically and it’s a different feeling. Here, with no thoughts in my mind, just free to drive, to win the race, the happiness is better.

Q: Tell us about the start, Giancarlo nearly got you there.
FA: Yeah, Giancarlo had a better start. Probably the reaction time was not great for me and for sure, Giancarlo started better this time and I was lucky to defend the position from the inside line and to get first position thanks to Giancarlo, also in the first corner. It’s always better to fight with your team-mate than with any other driver.

Q: Then you did a short first stint but quite a long final stint.
FA: Yeah, the strategy played well today. It was a little different to Ferrari this time. I think it worked OK because we had pole position, we had a gap after the first stint when we were lighter and then we controlled the gap, more or less, so I’m quite happy.

Q: What animal were you copying on your car at the end?
FA: It’s a secret. It’s not an animal, either.

Q: Michael, you’ve been quite confident this weekend, so when did you realise you didn’t have the necessary pace?
MS: Basically when I had free air and couldn’t really make up enough ground.

Q: That was after Giancarlo’s pit stop?
MS: Yeah, although I wasn’t that close behind him before the first pit stop, so already there it seemed very difficult. But then we obviously knew that maybe later in the race, with a better set of tyres, it may work out differently. But I still had the option and possibility to close down but as we couldn’t do it in the second stint, we couldn’t really make any real impression and win any ground in terms of lap time, so it was clear it would be difficult.

Q: But you had at least overtaken Giancarlo?
MS: Sure. Knowing that I was so close behind him and saw him going in reasonably early, compared to what we could do, it was sort of clear although I almost lost it because I had a little moment in one of the corners, in those important laps, had a bit of traffic, so there were a couple of factors that didn’t really help, but I still made it.

Q: So it was a little bit tight to come out ahead of him.
MS: Yeah, because of the issues I just mentioned; normally it would have been a bit more clear.

Q: Obviously second place was not where you hoped to be, but only losing two points is not so bad.
MS: Yeah, that’s the way you have to see it. You have to understand that you can’t win every race. At certain moments those guys are better than us and maybe at other moments it will be the other way around. It’s a long year to go. We will keep on fighting.

Q: Giancarlo, How close were you to overtaking Fernando at the first corner?
GF: It was close, but it was just the first corner so…It was important to get through the first corner and carry on in the first two positions for us and that as done. I got a good reaction time, better than Fernando, but its okay. I’m happy. Q: What prevented you from staying ahead of Michael at the first stop?
GF: Obviously I was pushing and we were able to be a little bit quicker than him. Obviously I was a little bit lighter then the Ferraris. I think the car balance was little difficult in the rear end and a bit unstable in high-speed corners and the grip wasn’t great to push very hard. Apart from that it was a good race and just after the first pit-stop, when I was behind Michael and my engineers called me in turn three and I lost control of the car and went into the gravel. That was a critical part of the race.

Q: You were talking about the car not having fantastic grip or whatever. Was that in the first stint or did it change after you went off in the gravel?
GF: No, no. Already in the beginning of the race I was pushing, but not 100 per cent because it wasn’t comfortable enough to do that. Maybe after the exit I lost some piece but not sure.

Q: It didn’t change that much?
GF: No, not that much.

Q: (Salvatore Zanca – Associated Press) Fernando, what’s the one thing you remember about today and what did the King say to you when he handed you the trophy?
FA: The thing to remember today is a little bit of everything. The lap I did with the king in the car this morning with all the people enjoying seeing us together, and then the start, the first lap, then Michael coming out of the pits behind me. I think the people realised I was still leading the race so the next two laps were everything blue in the grandstand moving, jumping and for sure the last two laps, the emotion I have in the car. And finishing the race, so a little bit of all. With the King, nothing really, just a little bit of congratulations, a nice race and normal things in the podium

Q: (Fritz-Dieter Rencken – The Citizen) Michael, the incident where you say you nearly lost it. Was that at turn seven or was it somewhere else?
MS: Turn seven.

Q: (Mathias Brunner – Motorsport Aktuell) Michael, you were so confident yesterday of the race pace – it’s hard to believe where the pace went. Are we talking about a tyre problem here because the car apparently worked fine?
MS: I don’t believe it’s fair to blame anything on one area without studying, because, as you quite rightly say, in qualifying, if you put a bit of maths in, I would have been two or three tenths quicker than the pole position time, so it would have been reasonably possible to achieve that, but, all the long runs we did on Friday and Saturday were very quick and quite good. In the race we just weren’t able to quite match it in this situation for whatever reason. We have been here for testing in the winter, it’s sometimes a wind direction change, a temperature change or whatever, could just trigger things to shift one or the other way. We’ve seen it in the past and we’ve seen it in the last test we did here and maybe that’s what happened today. Obviously I’ve just been in the car and not been able to analyse what’s happened. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, I just know that its not what happened before.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Fernando and Michael, normally this track shows the real performance of the cars. If you look at all the other cars, they are a whole way behind you. Are you surprised at that?
FA: I am a little bit surprised, yes, because the last two races was only a fight between Ferrari and Renault and no-one has come in really strongly. Sometimes they show potential in the tests, sometimes on Fridays, sometimes in qualifying, but in the races the fight has been, at least in the last two races, between Ferrari and Renault. I think though that they can come back, especially McLaren and I’m pretty sure before later they will fight with Ferrari and Renault too.

Q: (Mike Doodson) To Michael & Fernando, the two of you have dominated this season and given us lots of pleasure. But both of your successes have been the results of team-work. Do you ever think of the prospect of having a straight race between you? Does that prospect appeal to you?
MS: So you want us to go back to go-karts? I think in any kind of motor racing, you have to rely on the team. It’s the nature of our sport – that team element and it’s a very interesting one, to me at least. Even in go-karts, you have to have a package. It’s not like playing tennis or soccer, no, even in soccer, you have to have the team.

FA: I agree.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Michael, when Alonso made his first pit stop, the gap was about 12 seconds and when you came out, the gap was similar. At that point, did you still have hopes to win the race?
MS: For me, I only start to give up when I see no sense. Most of the time that is on the last lap. Knowing the nature of the circuit where you have basically no chance to overtake, in particular if you are not quick enough. I had to give up after the last pit-stop. I drove home from then.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Giancarlo, yesterday you were saying you want to go for victory. After this race, what is your feeling for the rest of the season?
GF: It’s a good feeling. I have a great team and a great car and the potential of the car to improve and today I was slightly slower than Fernando and Michael maybe, but apart from that I proved I had a chance to win again like in Malaysia. I’m confident for that.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Giancarlo, how do you explain the almost half a minute difference between you and Fernando today?
GF: Just at the beginning, Fernando was able to go a bit quicker than me. And was just more comfortable, I was struggling a little bit with the grip and was not confident to push 100 percent. That’s all.

Friday, May 12, 2006

And Now – Michael Schumacher, Disney Actor

Schumacher set for the silver screen with Disney
Almost 15 years after his Formula One debut, seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher will be making a debut of a different kind on the same weekend as the Monaco Grand Prix.

The 37-year-old’s voice will be heard in a new animation movie from Disney titled 'Cars', in which he plays a cameo role as himself. Schumacher joins other legends of the silver screen and world of motorsport like Paul Newman, Richard Petty, Mario Andretti, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr in the cast of 'Cars'.

Schumacher found his first acting experience behind a microphone quite a challenge.

"When I first heard about this project, I was obviously hesitating as I am not at all good in acting or pretending I am somebody else, and as I have never done anything like this before,” he told “But on the other side, the story was so nice and the whole setting seemed so appealing."

“So we thought: okay, why not try, let’s just go and try it. It was quite difficult doing this, but at the same time it was a lot of fun as it was a totally new experience. And trying new things is always worth it.

“We had to stop several times, especially when I did the languages other than German and English, but in the end I hope it will come across well and the people will like it. For sure, it was a very interesting and funny thing to do."

'Cars' will stage its World Premiere at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 26th.

Directed by award-winner John Lasseter (“Toy Story,” “Toy Story 2,” “A Bug’s Life”) with animation by Pixar Animation Studios (“The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc.”), the movie tells the story of Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson).

He is 'a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed,' according to the official website, 'who discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs...'

Thursday press conference from Barcelona – Second Part

Alonso, de la Rosa, Montagny and Rosberg take questions
Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix local hero Fernando Alonso is joined by Pedro de la Rosa, Franck Montagny and Nico Rosberg in the Thursday press conference.

Q: (Salvatore Zanca – Associated Press) Fernando, what’s the biggest difference here compared to last year. The media, the fans? FA: There are not many to be honest. Last year the attention was quite high already from the people and from the media. I came here last year leading the championship with 20 points higher than Kimi (Raikkonen) and (Jarno) Trulli, so already the pressure was quite big and the people were interested. Now I arrive leading the championship again. I won last year but already this is in the past. I think people are concentrating on this year’s championship –it’s getting very interesting in the last two races and obviously people are looking on Sunday for me to do a good show.

Q: (Tom Clarkson – Tom Clarkson & Associates) Fernando, do you get more excitement out of beating Michael Schumacher than with other drivers? FA: Yes, normally yes. Many times I think that to beat the big names and big drivers and big cars normally gives you more motivation and more excitement. I think that Michael – as a seven-times world champion – it is always nice to fight with him and there is more pressure than to beat any other one. Always winning races and overtaking people is always exciting even if it is anyone.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Fernando, if you compare the development work of Renault and Ferrari in the last two races, how do you see it? FA: We saw that in the last two races Ferrari was coming very strong and won the last two races but I think it is difficult to see how the development is compared with them because we have Michelin tyres. I think compared to McLaren we’ve gone up and then, as well as improving the car race by race, we are beating them normally in the races. And with Ferrari, we don’t know because the tyres look to be more important than anything else. The Bridgestone tyres were working very well in the last two races and hopefully here we will come back fighting and McLaren also.

Q: (Kevin Garside – The Daily Telegraph) – Fernando, Bernie Ecclestone said that drivers do not in general do enough to promote Formula One and in you, we have a champion who doesn’t do much. What are your thoughts? FA: I don’t know what Bernie means with that. I have a team that pay me to do my job. I go testing, I go to promotional events and I have my sponsors, I go to my obligations, I race and this is my job in Formula One. I don’t know what more I have to do. I do everything that is in my contract that I have to.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Felipe when you race in Brazil, what are the good things and the bad things about racing in front of your home crowd? FMa: When I race in Brazil, what are the good things and bad things? It’s great to be in front of your home people with the flags and really enjoying motor racing. That’s really fantastic for me. You can feel a really great feeling to see that from your people. I think the best thing a driver can have in Formula One is to race in front of your home people.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Fernando, we asked about the possibility of Michael Schumacher going to Renault next year and you laughed at that. Now it seems you and Kimi (Raikkonen) could swap places. What’s your view on that? FA: I don’t know anything. I have decided after I fight for the championship this year, my future for next year and it doesn’t matter what the others are doing, It’s always interesting to see what the other drivers are doing, but that is just for fun rather than anything else. Whether the guy who replaces me is a name we all know or a new driver in the championship is not important.

Q: (Dominic Fugere – Le Journal de Montreal) Fernando, when I got here I was greeted by a cardboard cut-out of you at a petrol station. How do you feel about things like that? FA: Strange, for sure, because in the last two years everything grown up in Formula One. Three years ago we had half a million people watching F1 and now there are 10 million people watching the race. It has been a big change because now Formula One is a sport about which everybody is talking in the streets and for sure my image or my face is in some more places now, but for me it’s very strange.

Q: (Thierry Wilmotte - Le Soir) Fernando, is it realistic to think that who wins the championship is dependent on the tyre manufacturers? FA: No, I think for sure it will be a very important factor. If Michelin or Bridgestone is in a very dominant position from now on then yes. Maybe Ferrari or the first Michelin team will win the championship more easily. The way were now we are quite close, we are fighting every race and there’s McLaren and Honda who are also in the fight but they have not had a successful weekend so far. Now it think it is close enough and we are racing still with four teams and anything can happen so It is more reliant on small factors and the guy who finishes on the podium the most and is the most reliable and makes no mistakes will win.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Nico, there’s been a lot of potential with the car this season but a lot of frustration with reliability problems. What’s the atmosphere like in the team now? NR: Williams is known for their determination of course. Because of the recent problems we’ve had, we could have done a lot better then we have up until now. The main thing again is that Williams are always pushing ahead and trying to get solutions to the problems and so the main thing I think in the team is flat-out determination.

Q: (Tom Clarkson – F1 Racing) Fernando, how much contact have you had with McLaren recently with a view towards 2007? Have you been to the factory? FA: Nothing. Nothing at all

Q: (Carlos Miquel – Diario As) Fernando, would you like to have Pedro as a team-mate or test driver at McLaren next year? FA: For sure, Pedro knows the team very well and has lots of experience working with the team. For sure, it’s great to have another Spanish driver in the team and he can help me a lot for sure, and I hope Pedro stays next year.

Q: (Mike Doodson) Fernando, I saw a TV advert with you making some nifty dance steps. Was it really you with the dance steps? FA: Of course. Two months preparation for this. No it was not me. A joke.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Franck, I believe you have a two race deal with the team. Is that correct? What are your prospects for staying with the team beyond that? FMo: I will do the best as I can for sure. Certainly when we get to Monaco it will be tough. To be honest, I don’t really know the car so we cannot expect to be mid-grid, so I’ll fight as much as I can to do a good job and try to do my best.

Q: Is there a chance of you continuing with the team for the rest of the season? FM: I am not the right person to ask.

Q: Would they prefer an all Japanese team? Is that the case? FM: If you look on the sidepod of the car, there is badge that says ‘born in Japan’ so for sure it would be more interesting to have another Japanese driver in the car. While I’m in the car, I will try to do a very good job.

Q: (Heinz Pruller - ORF) Gentlemen, with the World Cup coming up, who do you think will be world champions, and who is your favourite player? FA: Brazil I think. My favourite player is Zidane.

FMa: We are quite strong for the world cup and definitely Ronaldinho

NR: I think Brazil is probably the favourite and Ronaldinho

FMo: Same as my friend over there: Brazil and Ronaldinho

PDR: Spain obviously, and Casillas. We have to give a little bit to ourselves.