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Friday, June 30, 2006

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


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