Drivers: Fernando Alonso (Renault), Cristiano da Matta (Toyota), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Jacques Villeneuve (BAR).

Press conference.

Q:
Fernando, first of all, your feelings for this race?

Fernando Alonso:
It will be a tough race for us because the characteristic of the circuit is not fantastic for our car. But you know, we are confident in the tyres - they should work fantastic here. And, you know, we have a new spec engine with a little more power. So that should help. We'll see, but will be a tough race we think.

Q:
Do you think you can get in amongst these three?

FA:
It will be difficult because they are fighting for the championship and they will be very strong here. But, you know, in Monza, which was a difficult race for us I started from the back with one lap less than the others. At the end, I finished eighth with a difficult car to drive and everything. So with a normal race, even in Monza, we were quite competitive. Here we can do something if we work well tomorrow morning in the test session and maybe we can have an advantage here because, as you said, this track is new for everybody basically because we cannot test even the season here. Maybe the test session is a big help for us here.

Q:
The team was saying that was a pretty heroic drive at Monza; the car was probably in fairly average condition.

FA:
Yes, was very damaged after the first crash and the other start. Then I miss the second chicane and I lost a few pieces more. Yeah, it was very damaged but still quick.

Q:
But it wasn't underweight because of all the bits that had fallen off?

FA:
No, because I didn't lose too much weight because I lost carbon pieces, you know, some grams only.

Q:
OK, thanks, Fernando. Well done. Jacques, you had a fairly good race at Monza as well. Was that encouraging?

Jacques Villeneuve:
It was fun to finally have a race where we could show what we could do. The car lasted until the end, and we had no problems.

Q:
There have been fairly interesting ideas about how you're going to keep your drive with BAR, what are your feelings about those?

JV:
You make it sound as if I'm begging to stay with the team. It's right now the team is looking to see if I'm the right driver for them; but on the other hand, I have to see if it's the right team for me as well.

Q:
Obviously, you've got a great following here in North America as you have for many, many years, this huge number of fans even in this room, as well. What can I tell them about your career for next year?

JV:
Right now there's nothing exciting to say. Two more races to go, and that's all I know.

Q:
Cristiano, similarly, here you are back in North America where you spent some past few years. What are your feelings about coming back and racing Formula One here?

Cristiano da Matta:
Well, for me just to be back in America is a great feeling again, a chance to see many people I haven't seen for a year now. So it's a good feeling. It's going to be my first time racing in this circuit, not even in the oval I haven't been here before because obviously I was racing CART, not in the area, also. It's going to be a new experience for me but it's exciting for me to be here, just a chance to see a lot of good friends.

Q:
How much do you feel you've changed in the last year since you were racing here?

CdM:
I think I'm the same.

Q:
Not changed at all?

CdM:
No, I think everything is the same.

Q:
How would you say your workload has changed in the last year?

CdM:
Testing-wise, I have a lot more this year than I had last year. Racing, I had a lot less races than I had last year. Especially at this time of the year, the schedule here in North America is quite busy, so I was quite busy at this time last year. But overall probably working a little bit harder, especially on the PR side.

Q:
OK, thanks, Cristiano. Juan Pablo, your aim obviously this weekend is to stay in contention in the championship. Has anything changed?

Juan Pablo Montoya:
Not really. It's 'go out there and do what we can'. It's three-point difference, and we can narrow the gap, so it could be ideal. We've got to try to stay in contention with Michael and make sure Kimi doesn't get ahead of us either. So it's going to be quite interesting race, but I think we should have a very good race here.

Q:
What about the fact that it's going for a lot of noisy Colombians in the grandstand this weekend?

JPM:
It's nice to see a lot of support here, a lot of Colombians and a lot of Americans here, as well, from my years in CART. I think for the Americans when I won Indy, it was a big thing, and they remember that, and I got a lot of support out of that. So it's good.

Q:
One of the questions that a lot of the specialists in Britain want to know is how are you going to get out of your Williams contract to drive for McLaren?

JPM:
First of all, I have a Williams contract for the end of '04, and then I am a free agent. As far as I know I'm driving for Williams next year.

Q:
So you don't need to get out of it?

JPM:
Not really.

Q:
Thank you very much, Juan Pablo. Michael, you have a fantastic record here; pole every year, a couple of second places and a first. How does that mean that you come to this race?

Michael Schumacher:
You know I don't think what happens in the past relates very much to what will happen this year. It's a new start, and we have to see what we can do.

Q:
You spoke about Ferrari, the challenge of Monza and the fact that they had the result, you had the result you had at Monza, fighting talk I think was something that was associated with the fact that they've woken up almost a sleeping giant, your rivals. Do you think that's going to continue for the next couple of races?

MS:
How you mean sleeping giant?

Q:
Well, that they had awoken Ferrari up. Perhaps, not that they were asleep, having said that, but perhaps that you had to work on the car so much for Monza that, you know, the car is now the top as it was before.

MS:
Yeah. (Laughter).

Q:
So what's the reaction, what's your feeling about that as you come into the next few races?

MS:
As I said before, I think we have a good car, we have a good package. We have worked very intense on every option last week. We feel we are very well prepared, but at this stage, less talking, more showing is better.

Q:
OK. Thanks, Michael. Come on to Kimi, do you feel greater pressure now that there's a little bit more of a gap than there was?

Kimi Raikkonen:
Not really. I think we just need to do our own things and try to be quicker than those two guys.

Q:
What about your preparations for this race?

KR:
Exactly the same as before. We had the testing and mainly concentrate on the tires. But I think our car should be more prepared here against Williams here and Ferrari than it was in the last race, at least I hope.

Q:
Do you look at your own record here?

KR:
Actually, I haven't finished a race so far here, but it has been many, many other circuits, also, where before I haven't done very well, and then this year has been going much better.

Q:
So you are not unconfident of coming here anyway?

KR:
No, I think the car was quite good here last year even though I was running with the nine cylinder at the end of the race, but I think it should be quite good.

 

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