China GP: Thursday Press Conference


Robert, podium in the last race, what effect has that had on you, what effect has that had on Poland, your country?
Robert Kubica: Well, as you say, we finished third in the Monza race. It was a good result for me and for the team as well. It was only the third race in my career. It was a good race, good place, good car, everything went really smoothly and no problems. For Poland, it was a good result, I think. I think it's good to have a good result for there and it definitely creates more interest in the country.

Has it gone a bit crazy?
RK: I don't know. I haven't been there.

You say you're not particularly emotional, yourself, about these things?
RK: It's true, I'm a racing driver and I like to race. What's going on around the world, or around Poland – it's of secondary importance. I'm concentrated on my driving and working with my team and that's the way I am.

The car has obviously made fantastic progress over the summer.
RK: Yeah, for sure we weren't expecting to be so competitive. Nick was on the second row after qualifying. Unfortunately I had not such a good lap in third qualifying in Monza, so I was starting from the third row but we knew we had good tyres for the race distance. We made a really good start and then it was important just to look after the tyres and go ahead. The car worked really well. I think Monza is something special, because it's a low downforce track so we have to wait and see how it goes here. For sure, the last test in Jerez went really well so we are making good progress.

And the prospects next year for you?
RK: I don't know.

Is your management talking to anyone else apart from BMW Sauber?
RK: You have to ask them.

Nico, you were here last year but I believe you've been doing quite a lot of pre-race work here in China; what have you been doing?
Nico Rosberg: Yeah, I arrived here on Monday, actually, to get used to the time difference here and then I had an Oris day in the middle of Shanghai which was quite nice and quite interesting and then yesterday we went to Guangzhou, if I'm pronouncing it right. Actually I do know how to spell it, because I've been there for a whole day. It's in the south of China, two hours away and it was quite impressive actually. It's a very fast-developing city, probably one of the fastest developing cities in China, if not in the world. We drove through the streets in an F1 car, it was amazing. They were so fascinated. It was a nice day in the end.

Kimi, you've been driving a car through the streets as well somewhere.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, in Dubai. It was OK, but it was mainly for the local people and media.

Probably the same number of people in the whole of Dubai as your Chinese city, Nico.
NR: I think there were 80 million people in the area where I was, but unfortunately there were no spectators allowed on the track, so there were just a few guests and journalists. They had never seen a Formula One car before, but there were safety issues.

Coming to the end of this season; it started off very well, but it's gone a bit flat of late. Would you have done things differently in terms of perhaps testing or racing?
NR: No, not at all. Definitely not. From a personal point of view it's been a relatively good season because my goal was to establish myself in Formula One and get a contract for next year which also means that the team believes in me which is very important part and I think that was my goal. So I've achieved that and now it's really all about progressing together with the team which is part of getting a better car for next year also, and progress together, and I really believe we can.

And with that experience, and knowing Lewis Hamilton from your karting days, do you think he deserves to be in Formula One as a race driver next year?
NR: I think he deserves… yes, especially after what we've seen this year in GP2. It's not up to me to decide the way it could go and things like that, they will decide for themselves really what will be the best option.

Kimi, you come here as probably the most successful driver around this circuit, with a second and a third place in the two races we've had so far, so what are your hopes this time?
KR: Hopefully I can do a bit better, but I think it's been quite good for us so we will just do our best and see where we end up.

Do you think you've got a better chance here than in Monza?
KR: I don't know. I think we have something new on the car but I wasn't at the test so I haven't seen the team… I've just arrived here. I will find out tomorrow.

What are your thoughts about your team for next year? About possible management changes? Jean Todt's importance in your career? How much are you going to be leading that team next year, as we've seen Michael do so well?
KR: I don't know what's going to happen next year. So far, I just want to finish this season and do the best I can for McLaren and then we see next year and what's going to happen, but I don't really know.

When do you have your first major contact with the team?
KR: No dates just yet, but probably sometime between the end of this season and the start of next year.

Michael, is it with a bit of relief that you've made your decision, that you've made your announcement, that you can concentrate on the championship?
Michael Schumacher: A lot of people were thinking or have the view that when you make the announcement the questions stop which is the wrong way to look at it, because the questions then start or there are new questions. But I have a target for the last three races, maximum concentration.

But it's difficult to know when the right time was to make your announcement, as you mentioned: is there ever a right time, will one ever know whether it's the right time?
MS: Yes, who knows?

What about this race here, it hasn't been one of the luckier ones for you; two races and I think 14th has been the best result.
MS: I should be able to do better this year.

What are you feelings about the circuit?
MS: I haven't got strong feelings about the place, it's not to do with bad luck or anything, it's simply that I was unfortunate the first year, I had a puncture in the race and last year we were completely out with our tyres and I hope this year we have the package to compete, which, from the nature of what we have seen so far this year, there should be no reason why we shouldn't be competitive.

These two races are obviously crucial in the championship; how do you see the level between Renault and yourselves at this stage?
MS: Very close. It depends on the characteristics of the tyres and the track and being able to pinpoint one or the other direction but it will vary and we will have to see how it goes for the last three races.

And do you think there could be a spoiler, such as Kimi, somebody coming in from outside the championship?
MS: Absolutely. If somebody improves to become competitive then we will have to see and take it as it comes.

Questions From The Floor

(Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Michael, there were hard words from Fernando in your direction. How did they affect you and how do you think they will affect the title battle now?
MS: I don't think it will affect anything and I don't think I have to react to anything.

(Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) In Monza, you said that you enjoyed the battle with Mika most, because it was pure racing. Are we now having a situation where it is not pure racing?
MS: No, I cannot say that, but with Mika I had been fighting for many years and with Fernando this is basically the first year that I do that.

(Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News) For Michael, you and Ferrari have worked so closely for 10 years – how difficult will it be for Kimi to come and to adapt to the team?
MS: Honestly, I don't think it will be difficult at all. Firstly, he is very talented and secondly Ferrari have taken Kimi on board because that is in their interests and they therefore want to be successful with him. They will do everything that is required for that. The other way around, I can only imagine it will be the same so the two have the same interests and it will be easy.

(Sal Zanka – AP) Michael what advice would you give to Kimi as an incoming Ferrari driver?
MS: The one, as I have always been doing in a way - when we have had plenty of opportunities to talk privately.

(Sal Zanka – AP) And Kimi what advice would you seek from Michael as an incoming Ferrari driver?
KR: As I said, it depends on many different things, but we will finish this year and then we will see what happens.

(Jie Zhou – Oriental Sports Daily) A question for Michael – are you afraid that there are any superstitions here?
MS: No, as I mentioned before, I don't think so. It is all up to how the car performs. We were not very good here last year and we were unlucky the year before. So we will probably be better this year anyway!

(Jie Zhou – Oriental Sports Daily) Michael, we notice you go back to your hotel at 11 o'clock or 12 o'clock – do you always go to sleep so late? (laughter, Schumacher shrugs)
MS: Not really. Eleven or twelve, it is quite normal.

Michael, what is your impression of Shanghai and for your Formula One fans who are sad that you are to retire at this time, what do you want to say to them?
MS: It is a very interesting city to come to with a lot of different things to see compared to what we see in Europe and I am very proud to have these fans and I am sad to be leaving in a way. They show that they like me to be around and that is nice to know, but one day it ends.

They hope that you will be back. Will you come back?
MS: I don't think it is a very sensible idea to have, to say that you stop and to think already when you come back.

(Marco Evangelisti – Corriere Dello Sport) Kimi, I understand that you want to concentrate on McLaren, but may I have an opinion about your future team-mate Felipe Massa and if you think he can take advantage from his experience in the team next year?
KR: I think he is a nice guy and I know him a little bit and I can't see any reason why we shouldn't be working well together, so it will be good. Yes, for sure, it will be a little easier for him because he has been there testing and racing this year, but I have all the winter and plenty of time to get to know the people and get used to everything, so there is no reason why there should be any advantage for him.

(Sal Zanka – AP) Michael, two weeks ago there was a meeting between Tiger Woods and Roger Federer and there were good comments about you – have you met either of them? And of the three, who is the best sportsman?
MS: I have not met them, unfortunately not. But I have heard a lot and I rate both of them. I am not sure you should put a ranking on either of them.

(James Allen – ITV) Michael, I don't know if you have seen Renault's preview for this race at all, but (in it) Pat Symonds has said that, when it comes to the psychological battle, Fernando is better at soaking up the pressure than you are… Is it a bit painful for you to have someone like him say something like that?
MS: Not really. It is just natural that his point of view has to be this point of view rather than the other way around. It wouldn't make sense.

(Ping He – Super Car Magazine) My question is for (Robert) Kubica, you were on an F1 podium just three rounds after your debut. What is your target this time in Shanghai?
RK: Well, I mean we had a technical situation at Monza, which is something special, the track is low down-force and, of course, we improved the car but we are back to I would say standard aerodynamic configuration and we have to see how it will go. The target is quite clear in the remaining Grands Prix – to go as fast as possible and to maybe finish in the points and I think it will difficult to repeat the result from Monza, but we will try to do our best.

I would like to know this question for Michael – do you have any plans for after your retirement?
MS: No. Not yet.

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Published: 28/09/2006
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