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Malaysia GP - Thursday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
17/03/2005

Q: A question for you both: do you feel that your performance in Melbourne was fairly indicative of your overall capabilities? Was that where you expected to be?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Well, first of all, it was a weekend which was affected by Saturday's first qualifying where the weather was the main factor of the weekend. There I have been lucky and it was easy for me to manage the gap on Sunday morning and I started on pole. Then, people like Michael, my team-mate, Rubens, the McLarens; they started a little bit further back so it was a bit of a difficult race for them but somewhere, sometime in the middle of the race, all the drivers showed how competitive their cars were and themselves so I think we are in good shape. We won the race because we were quick and because we wanted to be competitive and we are quite optimistic for this weekend.

David Coulthard: Well, I would say the same about the qualifying. Obviously we had a window which helped us in first qualifying, which inevitably changed people's strategies for Sunday morning but we know we were in amongst the majority in terms of our strategy - maybe we could have been a couple of laps longer which certainly would have slowed us down a bit in second qualifying but nonetheless, our basic pace during the weekend was closer to the fastest times than we maybe would have expected so I think generally - putting to one side where we finished as a team in the points - I think our overall pace is better than where they finished with the Jaguar car, and therefore it wouldn't be a surprise if we have opportunities again to score points, but under normal running circumstances you would expect us to be behind the big four teams.

Q: It is, obviously, a new team in ownership. Where do you see it lacking? You've been with McLaren and Williams; what does your current team, Red Bull Racing, still need do you think?
DC: Well, all the obvious things. There's no problem with the people that are involved, but you need stability and investment to develop the technology. OK, regulations have changed again for this year a little bit, and every year you've got to react to those changes but in either maintaining a partnership with the current engine supplier or establishing a long term partnership with a manufacturer is obviously important and understanding that as soon as possible and increasing the investment in all areas so that the team can keep pace of development with the other teams. So for me, that's where we were at race one and it was a dry race and at various points, as Giancarlo says, you got to see what people's pace was so fast forward to race nineteen: are we still maintaining that position? Of course the dream is to reduce the gap to the big teams, but why should we, with a smaller factory, smaller resources be able to do that? So it's about reducing the potential increase in lap time that you could see during the course of the season.

Q: When you look at your lap time you were just over a second off fastest lap of the race; that must have been fairly satisfactory.
DC: Yeah, because I would believe that Fernando's lap was a charging, coming through the field, doing everything he could, whereas Giancarlo was on a maintenance programme because he had the race won from the first corner and it was just about maintaining that position. For my race, I certainly think I could have pushed a little bit harder at certain points but there was a little bit of uncertainty on my part as to what to expect the evolution of the car to be, because that's the first full distance I've done. In testing we didn't quite get there, so better to be a little bit cautious and maintain the position rather than being silly and running wide somewhere. It's a long-winded way of saying I could have been closer to the fastest lap time.

Q: So you're quite optimistic.
DC: I think that Christmas came early for the team to get two cars in the points. Circumstances played their part but nonetheless, that's what a Grand Prix throws up. We're closer to the quickest pace than I would have expected - than I potentially expected - going to Melbourne, so that gives us all a boost to get on with the job of putting things in place in the future.

Q: Giancarlo, you won by just over six seconds from somebody who had come up from eleventh place on the grid to second. How much did you have in reserve?
GF: Quite honestly, quite a lot. I was very calm during the race. The only problem for me was to get through the first corner and be the leader. As soon as I did that, I was very calm, very convinced. The car balance was really good. Right at the end, Rubens was catching me, particularly because I lost four or five second behind Jacques. Some of my engineers told me to push a little bit. I did a 25.9s which was a very good lap time and I wasn't at the limit, honestly, so I was very comfortable in the car and to win the race with six seconds to Rubens was OK. The important thing was to be first. I won the race. I'm really confident. I'm happy.

Q: Now you've been back to Europe. Is that a little bit of a disadvantage, do you think?
GF: No. The schedule for me was to go to the Maldives, but unfortunately I had a problem with my son who was in hospital with an infection. Now he's OK, he's out of hospital, but that's the reason why I went back to Europe.

Q: But you've been here since Tuesday…
GF: Yes, I've been here since Tuesday morning, I landed at 7 o' clock in Kuala Lumpur and I started a bit of a programme of training with the trainers. I'm happy. I feel OK. It's really hot, it's going to be a very tough race physically and mentally but I'm in good condition.

Q: What's the great challenge of this circuit, particularly looking at the tyre situation?
GF: It's a difficult situation, physically, mentally. It's a difficult circuit for the tyres, first of all because it's going to be very hot and then it's quite abrasive asphalt, tarmac. So for the race, it's important to keep a good pace, but it's important to save the tyres, especially the last ten laps will be very interesting. It's important to be concentrated, not to make mistakes and then you score a result.

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