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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

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.


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