Friday, October 31, 2008

FIA Thursday Press Conference - Brazil

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: Rubens Barrichello (Honda), David Coulthard (Red Bull), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Nelson Piquet (Renault)

Q: Nelson, what are your experiences of the Interlagos track? How much racing have you done here?

Nelson Piquet: To be honest not much. It is going to be like arriving at the track like I arrived in Australia or China. I did one race with my father back in 2005 if I remember. It was in an Aston Martin in a 12-hour race and that was it. When I started my F3 career here the first season we didn’t have any races here and then I went straight to England, so I don’t have much experience but I think motivation and the crowd will help me.

Q: You have had some good races recently. What chances do you think you have of holding onto the seat next year?

NP: I think I have a good chance. The team is quite happy. I mean all the boys are on my side, so I don’t see any reasons why I would be under threat. It has been a tough season obviously but I am learning a lot and improving a lot and discovering a lot of new things. It has been a tough year but I am sure we will be okay.
Q: So you are quite hopeful or confident would you say?

NP: Confident.

Q: David, what are your emotions coming into this race?

David Coulthard: I guess I should be emotional but I think it will be more on Sunday when I realise when I step out of the car, hopefully after the chequered flag, for the last time that this part of my life has come to an end. It is difficult for anyone sitting around this table, apart from Rubens who has been doing it for longer than me, to imagine what that might be like. But I am not stopping because I don’t love driving grand prix cars or I don’t love racing but I recognise that my journey has reached its natural conclusion, so when I walk out of the paddock on Sunday that will be it.

Q: You have a special livery on the car. Tell us about that.

DC: Yeah, it is great that at the last grand prix we had permission from all the teams to run my car in an independent livery which I think is a first in this modern era of Formula One. I am sure it might have happened decades ago. The teams have agreed for me to run with the ‘Wings for Life’ foundation colours which is a foundation that was started in 2004 to promote research into spinal cord injuries. I think in a lot of cases people imagine that it is extreme sports where most people are suffering from those sorts of injuries but the statistics show it is actually only about three per cent of the injuries that come from extreme sports. All of the other injuries, which is about 130,000 people a year find themselves confined to a wheelchair through household injuries, car crashes, everyday life. Currently there is very little government funding for this type of research and the pharmaceutical companies are not interested, of course, as you can’t buy a pill to cure spinal cord injury. It was founded by Dietrich Mateschitz who obviously is the founder of Red Bull and Heinz Kinigadner whose son suffered a spinal cord injury in a motorbike accident. All of the money that is raised through public donations goes to fund various institutions throughout the world and works with other foundations, like the Christopher Reeve Foundation, to find a cure for spinal cord injuries.

Q: David, you have seen many World Championships decided. What are your thoughts about this one?

DC: Well, I have been asked this a lot coming up to this race, so I will say in front of the two championship contenders what I have said to the media. With a seven point lead Lewis is the most likely to achieve the championship. I think that is quite clear. He has led the championship for the majority of the season and it should be a formality. For me Felipe is the most improved driver of the season. We have always known that he has speed, but some of his drivers this year and notably Budapest, which ultimately he wasn’t able to win that race but his pass on Lewis clearly defined himself as one of the most attacking drivers. It was a world class pass and therefore not to sit on the fence but either of these guys for me are truly worthy of this world championship. But you have to say Lewis has the upperhand, so I guess a consolation might be if Felipe wins the grand prix, satisfies the Brazilian crowd, and Lewis comes in with a points’ scoring position. But as we know, anything can happen, so I am as excited to know the outcome as everyone else.

Q: Rubens, your thoughts about the World Championship?
Rubens Barrichello: I think it has been an exciting year. It had its ups and downs but they have been fighting for a long period in quite good battles and I think it is going to be a very good ending. It is just like DC said, Lewis has the upperhand. Sunday, as far as I can see, it can be a wet day, so I think it is going to be really nice for the Brazilians to see how things come out. Thankfully, Felipe, as I have said before, has great chances to win the race which the Brazilians are really hopeful for. It is the only thing he can aim for. He has to win the race and not worry too much about the rest and see what the rest is. As a Brazilian I am really proud that we have the decision once again here as I think Brazilians deserve that.

Q: What about your own future? This is your 16th Brazilian Grand Prix.

RB: I am really proud to be here. It used to be a tough race for me at the beginning, when we lost Ayrton and so on. It was tough with lots of pressure and not a good car. But I have done really well to do just like soccer, when you play at home you play better. I have a wonderful time but the week goes past so quickly now and it is an enjoyment, lots of work but it is really nice to be here, especially for me as I was born just 100 metres away from the main door here and for me it is the best race of the whole year.

Q: And your career next year?

RB: It is on hold, obviously. I don’t want to stop. I won’t stop because I think I deserve better. I am driving better than I used to when I finished second in the championship behind Michael. The aim is not to stop. The job done this year has been quite good. If it wasn’t for minor problems I think I would have more than 20 points with a car we can see is not good at all. What I have been telling people is that I cannot sell the experience or the speed as that is a proven point. They see that and they see all the statistics. But what I can sell is my motivation. I am very honest with myself and the day I feel that I don’t have it anymore is the day I will stop, but up until now I have been driving better than ever. It is on hold as Honda wants to try some other people, test them in Barcelona. To be very honest I think they try to change the destiny of things as if they want to win by next year they need someone who is very experienced with my qualities to do it. But I am on hold. I am hopeful. I am talking to other teams as well, so hopefully it will be fine.

Q: Lewis and Felipe. A question to both of you. We have heard about the pressure. Going back to the early part of your career, how does that pressure when you were eight years old weigh up to the pressure you are feeling now?

Lewis Hamilton: For me I think it quite similar to every championship you do. For me it is just another race, that’s the way to approach it to myself and that’s how I did it in the past. It is exciting. Everyone enjoys the last race, for sure. It is great for the spectators, it is great for the fans, for the media, for the team, for everyone. We will give it the best shot we can as a team collectively and hopefully we can come out on top.

Felipe Massa: I think it is very similar. When you are racing it doesn’t matter whether you are in Formula One or in go-karts, whatever category you are. When you get inside the car you are thinking about racing. You are not thinking I am in Formula One, it is the most important motorsport. You don’t think about that, you think about racing. You think about doing your best and fighting, so for me it is exactly the same fighting for the championship in Formula One or for victory or whatever if you are fighting in a go-kart. When you are in a go-kart you want to win. It is your dream. Your motivation is to win that race or that championship. You don’t think about Formula One as you live for that moment. That’s why it is the same now. You want to win now. For sure, you have much more expectation and pressure but when you are driving you don’t think about that.

Q: Another question to both of you. What does it mean to have your families with you? What do you draw from them?

FM: I think having the family together is very important. I have always had my family together in my career. In go-kart and the other categories it was a little bit more difficult as I didn’t have so much money for them to go to the race. But at least I always had them very close to me, talking on the phone almost every day. I think it is very important as when you are happy in your private life, when you have a good family, I think it makes your professional life even better. When you get inside the car you don’t put in all the problems that you have outside. I think it is always very nice. They don’t come to every race but they come a lot and I feel very happy. For sure I don’t follow so much the advice from my mum, otherwise I would go very slow!

LH: I think as you can see I always have my family with me. I always have a part of my family with me and I know I have all my family’s support and that is what is important. I know they are proud of me and they have worked just as hard as I have to get me here today. So when I come here it is not about me, it is about us as a team together. They pretty much come to all the races, not so much the international races as it is lot of time for my brother off school. Without my family I would not be here today, so it is great we are able to share the experience throughout the season.

Q: Lewis, how important is the Constructors’ championship to you? Is there a bit of a conflict of interest there?

LH: Not really. It is quite simple really, we are here to win. We don’t have to win, so that is a pressure off our shoulders. We come here with a strong package and with a hope that we can challenge for a win and we will do the best job we can. We have not come here to finish further down the order but we obviously know that it is not do or die. It would be great for the team to win. I think the team deserve it as they have worked so hard. When you think about all the people that collectively made the two cars competitive throughout the season with a remarkable reliability. It is just down to the solid job and it would be great to give them the championship. We will do the best job we can and see what the result is.

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