Italian Grand Prix 2010: Thursday Press Conference

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DRIVERS: Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari), Rubens BARRICHELLO (Williams), Jenson BUTTON (McLaren), Vitantonio LIUZZI (Force India), Jarno TRULLI (Lotus)


Q. Jarno, your home race. Tell us what it means to you. New team and all that.

Jarno TRULLI: Yeah, it is always great to be back in a sunny Monza. We know Monza can also be very rainy and wet and no-one really enjoys that kind of circumstance. I enjoy Monza as it is a special atmosphere. It is a home grand prix. We have got the tifosi all around. A big Ferrari support but Italian drivers are always very welcome. Then being in Mona is special this year and it is the temple of motorsport and coming back with a heritage team like Lotus feels special. I feel sure there will be a lot of Lotus fans around as we have had all season and it will be interesting to see the reaction of those people who remember the old days. It is nice.

Q. Do you think you have got the transmission problems sorted out now?

JT: In general I think we have made a step forward in terms of reliability during the last few races. Things have been improved. But the problems are always around the corner. We don’t give up. We still have some races missing. We have to keep pushing as we are 10th in the Constructors’ Championship and that is our target. We don’t want to miss it. So maximum concentration for the rest of the season. Here in Monza should be a good track for us considering what we have shown in Canada with a similar downforce level. We are optimistic.

Q. It is going to be interesting to look at the new teams particularly as they all have to come with a different aero set-up. Is that the sort of thing you are going to be looking at?

JT: Yeah. We have seen already in Canada running with low downforce was pretty good for our car performance wise. That is why we are optimistic. Being the first season for this team we don’t have any reference points, so every race might be different in terms of performance. We are learning, so it is difficult to predict. But based on our previous performance in Canada we were much closer in Canada in terms of performance than we were in the other previous races.

Q. Rubens, 300 grands prix in Belgium. The race itself wasn’t fantastic. Tell us about the build up and what was it like to complete your 300th race?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: It was a fantastic event. On the Thursday I had the pleasure to see the drivers, to see my friends there. Even the young ones they don’t know how they are going to get there and they ask me why I have so much motivation and so much passion for it. It is quite funny to see them saying that as the world of Formula One can make you different. There is a time when you come with all the travelling and all the pressure that you suffer from yourself, from the team and from the country sometimes you forget why you do it. You do it because you love it so much. I have been doing that for such a long time. The Thursday was really nice and the whole preparation was good. It was just very unfortunate that when I came out of the high speed Blanchimont, I didn’t feel it was wet. In actual fact it was a flat corner, so I did not expect it to be so wet when I touched the brakes. The real problem was I was closing the door to (Nico) Rosberg. I was on the inside with everyone braking on the outside such as Fernando. He had time to avoid the cars in front and him and (Adrian) Sutil were the ones that were wide but were able to come back. The other ones went a bit straight. But because I was on the inside I catch him just turning. I don’t know how the hell his car was not broken as mine was a really… the wheels were up in the air. It was really unfortunate. If I could rewind a little bit and go back to there I would have done something different in a race I think we would have had a chance to finish top eight or something as it is those conditions that I love.

Q. What about your feelings for this race? You have won here three times and also finished the last nine consecutive. Monza is a circuit you enjoy, I think?

RB: It is a place that I enjoy very much. Last year to be first and second with Jenson was also a fantastic feeling as I had won for Ferrari which was great. You could see all the tifosi down there, all red. But I think they came to see me last year at the podium as well, so it was a great, great feeling. It is a place that I drive well and a place I enjoy. The combination of corners and the set-up is quite different as well. I am expecting a good weekend. It’s a new package for everyone here because of the conditions of the straight lines and so on, so I am thinking positive that it can be quite a good weekend.

Q. And your hopes for the rest of the season. What can Williams do?

RB: We are bringing a nice package to Singapore and Singapore seems to be a track where Williams go quite well. I am just very positive. We are working flat out on things and hopefully before the end of the season we can move one step ahead once again. Since Istanbul we move into Q3 quite often and one step forward I think is achievable.

Q. Vitantonio, we saw you changing a lot of things in Spa during the two days before the race. Were you happier in the race itself?

Vitantonio LIUZZI: More than the Friday and Saturday morning but still we kept fighting with this issue we have had since the beginning of the season of top speed. But even at Spa it was a nightmare from Friday morning until qualifying. It was better in the race but still it wasn’t working 100 per cent, so it has been another tough weekend but we came back from the race with one point, so it was a good recovery even though it wasn’t many points. We lost a lot of points during the season because of this issue. We are trying to figure it out every time what is happening to the car. Many times for different reasons just in my car unluckily as the team is doing 100 per cent to understand what the problem is. But this is part of the game. We keep fighting and hopefully here we should have less issues as we had a big report after Spa and we believe we could be on top of this problem especially as here we are not sure if we use the F-duct or no F-duct, so it could be a problem less.

Q. What are your chances here as the car was very good last year and the team was good last year?

VL: We did another update from Spa in the car, so we believe we can be even stronger than there. The team is pushing hard with development and even here usually you don’t tend to have much development from Spa. We made quite an interesting step forward, so we believe we could be in a strong position for top 10 again but we have to wait and see tomorrow.

Q. What are your chances of staying with the team next year? Are you looking at that or are you just looking at it race by race at the moment?

VL: I am pretty confident with the team. We have got a good relationship going on and I am linked with them for the long time, so I don’t mind. I am not thinking of the future at the moment. I just concentrate to help the team to finish in sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship, so at the moment we are concentrated on that. I don’t feel any problem for the future but we will think about this later on.

Q. Jenson, second here last year. What are your feelings coming here? You’re with a different team but are you fairly confident?

Jenson BUTTON: I think if you look at Spa our car works very well in low downforce. It is an efficient car, so there is no reason we won’t be competitive here. We should be fighting at the front and everything points towards that.

Q. You didn’t have a very good second half of the championship last year. Are you feeling generally speaking more confident?

JB: There are team situations for different individuals and also for different teams. At the moment I feel we are in a strong position. The car is working very well. We had a couple of tougher races where we weren’t quite as competitive as a couple of the other top teams. But if you look at Spa there was nothing quicker than our car. The team have done a great job of improving the car. Some of it is because of the improvements. The other side of it I think is also because of the lower downforce circuits. We are efficient in these sorts of circuits. They suit our car, so I am positive for the rest of the season. This is one where we are very low downforce and then we go to a circuit where you are putting the downforce back on, so it is a big, big change. But we have improved the car a lot and we have had a lot of time to improve the car since before the break where we had a higher downforce circuit, so we go to Singapore positive that we will still be competitive. We are not fearing anything at the moment but we do know that this circuit is a very good circuit for us.

Q. A question really for you and Fernando. We have seen Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber easing away in the championship. There is a little bit of a gap now between the chasing three behind. What are your feelings about the World Championship at this stage?

JB: It is amazing how much talk there is about the difference at the front back to fourth place or back to third place. That talk has only been for two weeks as it has only been one race that has changed the championship if you like. It can easily go around the other way. We have got six races to go, so it only needs one race really for the leaders to have a bad race. Realistically sat here now I don’t think that we need the leaders to have an incident or to not score or to have a reliability issue. We know there are still a lot of possibilities and it is necessary to be fighting for a win at every race we go to, but that is my aim.

Q. Same question for you, Fernando.

Fernando ALONSO: I think I agree with what Jenson said. I think that before Spa, we were holding a very small difference, a small gap and then after one race the gap did increase but this can change very quickly, race by race. As we saw this year with the new points system, it can change really quickly and then normally with the championships we saw two, maximum three guys fighting in the past. This year, with five or six guys in the front, you can really easily be first or sixth or seventh, you can lose a win, many points, if you do good or no good. Our aim is to do six races at the top level, the best we can, and then we will see what we can do at the end.

Q. How do you think you and Ferrari and going to go here?

FA: I think we should be competitive here. Spa didn’t get us what we expected. The performance we had in Spa was not as good as we wanted obviously, so we’ve made some changes, we’ve made some analysis of what happened in Spa and I think we’ve understood some of the problems and we are arriving here with a better package suited to Monza.

Q. And finally, your reaction to the decision yesterday of the World Council hearing?

FA: Well, I think we were already very concentrated on Monza. We are set, we are aware of the FIA’s decision, so we just have to respect it and I think that is now in the past for us, and we need to concentrate on Monza already.


Q. (Tony Lopez – La Vanguardia) Fernando, arriving at this point of the championship, do you feel this is your last opportunity for the championship, and do you need to take more risk?

FA: Well, obviously the less races to the end of the championship, the more problems you have if you have a bad weekend, so maybe not the last but one of our last chances will come here or Singapore maybe, to really recover some good points. There are still six races to go and I am still confident that if we are on the podium for all six and we win some of the races, you can very possibly be a contender in the last race, so we are still more or less calm about our chances but, as you said, knowing that Monza is important, Singapore as well, another DNF or another problem in a race will maybe be our last chance or our bye-bye to the championship, so hopefully we can do well here and start recovering some points. And being more aggressive here? I think we’ve been aggressive more or less every race in the last part of the championship. Halfway through the season we’ve been attacking the races and trying to be on the podium with a more aggressive approach, and here will be the same.

Q. (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Fernando, you came to Ferrari to become a World Champion for them; would you consider it a failure not to be champion this year?

FA: Ah, no. For sure, every championship you start or every first race you arrive to a new season you want to become champion at the end and if you cannot arrive to that goal, for sure it’s a disappointment for yourself and for the team because you’ve been preparing the championship towards the victory at the end. But I think the word failure or disaster or those sort of things are a little bit too extreme. We are in a very competitive sport, we know our opponents are very strong as well, very competitive and the champion at the end is the one that deserves it most. If we are not champions, it’s because we didn’t do enough to do it, so let’s wait and see what happens, but this first season at Ferrari, so far, has been incredible, it has been the best of my life and I’m enjoying… I’m a super-happy man, so we will see what happens in the end.

Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) We’ve already heard Alonso’s opinion of the World Council’s findings, but what about the rest of you? What did you think?

JB: It’s obviously not down to us. Our opinion doesn’t really matter in this situation. The decision is down to the FIA and the governing body, and the important thing is that we get a clarification of the rule, so we will understand and we are all working towards the same regulations and working with the same regulations and that’s key.

VL: I think the most important thing is that it’s clear for everybody that the rule is that and there are no games as in the past. Everybody did some kind of team play because it’s important for everybody to reach the goal of the championship, but it has to be done in a certain way and it’s important that everything is clear and you do it properly.

RB: I think everyone’s covered the case quite well. Nothing else to add.

JT: I respect the FIA’s decision and I think it’s good to clarify everything, so we know what we have to do for the future.

Q. (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Fernando, how do you feel that the incident in Germany has helped play a significant part in the FIA going forward now and probably changing the rule and maybe even abolishing the team orders regulation?

FA: I think, as I said, that it’s something that is in the past for us and we need to concentrate on this race in Monza, so I think we’ve already talked too much. All the August break we talked about the Germany incident. As my colleagues said now, I’m happy to see that the FIA will try to go deep in the rules and try to clarify if there is anything that is sort of not completely clear what is said in the rules and like this we will all be clearer about everything. No special feeling, nothing to say.

Q. (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando this is your first Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver. How did you feel this morning arriving at the circuit?

FA: We came in a Fiat 500, very Ferrari red, so I felt a little bit of stress because people were running behind us, because the car is quite attractive, so it was a special feeling for that reason. Nothing changed other than that. It’s a normal Grand Prix for us. Obviously in the team or in the garage, when you are with the mechanics or engineers there is a very good atmosphere here. Some of them bring family to the grandstands or some friends. They really want to do well here, because of being in Italy etc, so for sure I think inside the team it’s a special Grand Prix, so hopefully we can do well to make everybody happy.

Q. (Sarah Holt – BBC Radio Five Live) Fernando, I just wanted to ask you about the decision yesterday. Was there any sense of relief from you at all that Ferrari had escaped further punishment because in a way it’s helped keep your title challenge alive, you’re still in it now?

FA: As I said, now I think we’ve talked too much but you keep asking the same questions but the answers will not change. We were concentrating on Monza or in Spa two weeks ago, completely focused on the performance of the car and tried to be on the podium, trying to win races etc. The decision was something that we were waiting for and we were ready to respect whatever it was. Yesterday was the hearing and we were not playing a big part or a big role in it, the drivers etc, so we were just concentrated on the performance in the car. We respected the decision, we keep everything as it was, points etc, so nothing changed for us.

Q. (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Fernando, you said here, a few years ago, F1 is not a sport and your then team boss said the championship had been fixed around a table when it appeared Ferrari had been a beneficiary. Many people in the sport think you had been a beneficiary yesterday. If you win the title by less than seven points this year, do you think that the title will be as good as 2005/2006 when you were maybe fighting against the odds?

FA: Yes.

Q. (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Why?

FA: Because when you win the title, you win the title.

Q. (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Do you think if you win the title this year you will have won it fairly, on the track, not in the Paris courtroom?

FA: Yes.

Q. (Paulo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jenson, do you think this and Singapore are perhaps the last chances for you to get back into the championship?

JB: It’s obviously not over until there aren’t enough points left on the board to win the championship. I’m in a different position to the one I was in last season. I had a lead at this race last season, but now I’m the man chasing. The difference is that I think I now have a more competitive car than I had at the end of last season, so there’s a lot more possibilities. The good thing is that there are also a lot of people fighting for the championship, there are five of us, I would say, so it’s pretty mixed at the front. As you can see there’s been quite a lot of action this year because the cars have been pretty close on occasions. Yeah, it’s all still to play for. I don’t think you can just say it’s the next two races that will either put me in the championship hunt or out of it. Obviously if I didn’t finish the next two races it would be a big issue. I think I come into this race pretty relaxed and calm, under no pressure and excited about the challenge of fighting for victory round here and that has to be the aim.

Q. (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) I’d like to ask all the drivers, starting with Rubens as he’s been around the longest; yesterday the FIA published a calendar for next year with twenty races on it. I just wanted your thoughts about twenty races on a calendar that starts in early March and ends in late November? How’s it going to be?

RB: I quite enjoyed it when I saw the calendar to be honest because I think the races are better projected in a way, because this year is going to be very tiring to either stay over there for a month, or to come back, stay two days at home and then go back again. If we have twenty races it’s going to be much better for you to go and have two weekends racing in Asia than to fly to Brazil and then go back to Abu Dhabi, so I think this is much more clear to us. To have twenty races… I’ve always said that I wish to have thirty races and no testing because I think that would be more cost-effective and we would have more pleasure. I told my wife that I can race another 15 years. She didn’t like it but yeah, it’s going my way like no testing and more races.

JT: Well, I agree with what Rubens says. I enjoy racing, and obviously having the race schedule in a better way makes it more efficient and easier for us to work because it’s not actually the race itself which stresses us but the travelling around without a proper schedule. This year is going to be a really hard end to the season. Probably the last five races will be harder than the whole season. I think once we can really figure out all the movement schedules and stuff like that, it’s going to be fine, because we don’t test any more. We normally have some time to relax once we’re in Europe, a week off, which we didn’t have in the past so I’m fine with it.

FA: I agree, nothing to add. For the people that have bonus-for-points it will be a good thing to have twenty races.

JB: I think it’s good for the sponsors, more air time, more broadcasting. Racing twenty races during the season, I’m sure we can cope with that. Also I think it’s fantastic having a Grand Prix in India for the sport and obviously great for the sponsors. Yeah, it’s exciting, it’s always exciting having new circuits. There aren’t really any circuits that I want to get rid of, so it’s nice to add to the calendar.

VL: I agree on every point made by all the other drivers, especially what Fernando said. It’s a good point of view. We complained about no testing because we were too long away from circuits without testing between races sometimes, so it’s much better like this, I think.

Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Fifty percent or even more of the downforce of the cars comes from the flat bottom and the FIA will increase the test of the flexibility of the flat bottoms here. Do you think it will change the grid or the competition we’ve seen up to now?

JB: I’ll start with this one. I hope so. The floor is a big part and the diffuser is a big part of the downforce of the car and I think it’s good that it is, because I think that using the floor to create downforce is a positive thing and may be something that we should look at for the future, so I think we will be able to run closer together and possibly race closer through corners. But as long as we’re all on the same regulations, I think it doesn’t really matter where we are, if we have a lot of downforce through the floor or not, but only as long as we’re all running to the same regulations and we all understand the wording of the regulations. The important thing is that we’re all working from the same hymn sheet.

FA: I don’t think it will change too much to be honest. Before there were some kind of limits and some regulations, so we all passed the checks every weekend, and now there is a tougher regulation and I’m sure we will all pass the checks again. I don’t expect a great order change or whatever.

JT: I don’t see any problems.

VL: Me neither.

RB: I think that teams prepare bottoms differently in the way they – not those, the car ones. There are ways of treating it differently, so at the end of the day they have to pass onto it, and I think there are going to be more severe checks for those things and they can only be good for the sport because we’re going to have… We all want severity with that, whether it’s behaviour on the track, the way you treat the car, because then you know what’s right or wrong. The dubious situations are the ones that leave a margin to do something else, so I quite like that.

Q. (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) Fernando, could you give me your description please of a worthy Formula One World Champion: the ingredients that make up a worthy champion?

FA: I think that whoever is first at the end is because they have more points than the others and one’s a champion and this is the way it was throughout the history of Formula One and other sports as well: in football, in the Premier League, in tennis etc. This is not too difficult.

Q. (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) Is points the only ingredient?

FA: Yeah, I think if you are talking… because I’m sure you are talking about the decision of yesterday, you have to respect it and be calm. Respect everything as we do and don’t worry.

Q. (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) Isn’t talent an ingredient of being a great champion?

FA: Of course.

Q. (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazetta Dello Sport) Question for Jenson and Fernando: has your team decided whether or not to use the F-duct for this race?

JB: We’re still not sure. We’ve done a lot of testing in the simulator and a lot of set-up work but still don’t know, so we’ll have to wait and see.

FA: Same. I think this is one of the places where it’s not 100 percent, so tomorrow we will try to understand it better in reality and we will see. I think it will be a last moment choice.

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The Checkered Flag was set up in August 2009 and is dedicated to providing independent daily news and features from around the world of motorsport.
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