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Spanish GP: Thursday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
05/05/2005

Christijan, you were testing at Mugello last week, how did that go with the new car?
Christijan Albers: It was quite important to have a test because we had the new car for the first time and we still had some problems, so it was really important for the Minardi team to go to Mugello to have a good test. The first day was not so impressive. I had a little shunt with our test driver, but the second day I was really happy, we found a lot of time in the car and we have to see what we are going to do this weekend. But if you look at the first time we went out with this car in Mugello (pre-Imola) and when we ended the test last week I'm quite happy. But we still have a long way to go and I think the most important thing is to keep on pushing and that's not only for the drivers, but also for the mechanics. But I think we're going in the right direction. Everybody is really motivated, especially also the mechanics - to work on a new car is something special again. We're looking forward to this weekend. It won't be easy but I think after a few races we will be a little bit closer to the field.

What about your own situation? You've raced very successfully in DTM for the past couple of years. How easy has it been to change from those cars to the single-seaters of Formula One?
CA: First of all, it's quite difficult to go from the front to the back again, but that was a decision made by me, because I wanted to come into Formula One. Yeah, the cars are completely different. You can't really compare them to each other. I have to say the DTM cars are quite good cars to drive, but Formula One is the highest level and the most exciting car to drive. There's much more down-force, much more power. But from the competition side, I think DTM was quite a good class because it was easier to fight with one another and to drive closer to each other than in Formula One.

Felipe, your team-mate, Jacques Villeneuve has been saying that it's much easier now for him to set up the car because they're giving you a lot more freedom to do so. Does that apply to you as well? Did you feel slightly constrained before, because you had to use their set-up?
Felipe Massa: No. I think things are going better now because the car is better. The car was definitely slower than we expected at the beginning of the (season), the first three races. At Imola, the car was very competitive, so when you have a very competitive car, I think, it's much easier to work with the team and find a better set-up as well. We were quite competitive at Imola, but I think the relationship was similar, Imola and at the other races as well, especially for me.

What was the incident with David Coulthard at Imola, how did you see that?
FM: Well, for me it was a race incident. When I overtook him, I was a bit disappointed, not because of the move he made there, but I was a bit disappointed because many times, or maybe a couple of times I tried to overtake him going down to Rivazza on the right hand side. We were both at 300kph and he just pushed me into the kerb and we almost crashed at 300 kph. That was why I was disappointed and that was why I was angry when I overtook him. For sure the finger was not a good thing to do, but we are all in the competition, we are all with some emotion and sometimes things can happen. For sure, I have to apologise to him for these things but I think that's my point of view.

Have you spoken to him since Imola?
FM: Yeah, I've spoken to him but I was surprised when I saw him saying that he almost hit me. I think he was just kind of joking, because both of us were smiling, so I was a bit surprised. One thing I have to say is that I'm really open, I don't have a problem with any drivers, I think DC is a very nice guy. Everything that happens on the track stays on the track. That day I was a bit angry and the day after everything was fine for me. I don't have any problem with him. For me, he's a very nice guy.

Tiago, I guess this is almost as close as it comes to being a home race, maybe Brazil as well. How do you feel about it?
Tiago Monteiro: Yes, it's true, we're very close to Portugal obviously and a lot of Portuguese people are coming over, some sponsors as well, so it is very important, it is considered my home race. It doesn't add any pressure, but you're busier than ever. You have to give more attention to other people, who are not usually here, but every weekend you want to perform well anyway and you push hard and you try and do your best, so I take it as another race at the moment.

How do you feel the season has gone so far?
TM: I'm excited and I'm positive about the whole thing. It hasn't been easy, of course, but four finishes in four races is what we were aiming for at the beginning of the season and we've managed it. It's a huge amount of information for me, for the car, for the team, so it's very important. So I think we have had a positive start to the season. We're working on trying to get more performance, of course, like everyone and learn, try to make as few mistakes as we can, more track time and improve every weekend.

Obviously you've got the Toyota engine, and we've seen how well a Toyota engine goes in a Toyota chassis; where do you think the deficiencies are in the Jordan chassis?
TM: There are a few little things, I guess. The main one is that basically we are using last year's chassis, of course, with some adaptations for this year, which is never the best (solution). So that's the main main problem. Outside that, aerodynamic parts are really where we're struggling at the moment. The engine is not really adapted to this car either, so temperature-wise we are losing some down-force sometimes because of that. But that's the package we have and we have to improve on that. We're hoping for a new car in July, so we're really excited about that and that will be at least a 2005 package, which is going to be different for sure. So there are a lot of little bits that need to be worked on at the moment.

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