Jaime Alguersuari believes that he will be more than able to handle the pressure of his debut Grand Prix. The Spaniard, who will become the youngest driver in Formula One history when he takes to the grid for this Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, assured reporters during Thursday afternoon’s press conference, that his lack of experience would not prevent him from trying to be competitive.
Alguersuari was joined in the press conference by BMW’s Robert Kubica, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and winner of the previous German Grand Prix, Mark Webber.
2009 HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX
THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE July 23, 2009
Jaime ALGUERSUARI (Toro Rosso),
Robert KUBICA (BMW Sauber),
Kimi RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN (Ferrari),
Mark WEBBER (Red Bull)
Q: Robert, you organised a karting event last weekend. Can you tell us about it and how it relates to Formula One?
Robert KUBICA: To say I organised it, is a bit too much. We did have some idea with Timo (Glock) to go karting for a very long time but it never worked out for one year. Then finally we fixed a date. We knew that maybe Michael (Schumacher) was coming, so we asked some drivers and they joined us, so we had good fun, a good days of driving. Also a bit of competition because once you have drivers, even if it is not an F1 track, but karting there is always competition. There is always someone who wants to be the fastest but overall I think it was good fun. There were drivers which drove for the first time in karts, so they really saw it is a hard job and it was good fun.
Q: So who was there and who was fastest?
RK: Michael was the fastest. (Vitantonio) Liuzzi was also very good.
Q: And you?
RK: I was not bad. It depends what you were testing. We were just testing with the chassis as we are preparing for a World Championship which will take place in September. I have also my driver down there and he was the fastest apart from F1 drivers. We tried testing, just preparing materials and chassis for the world championship.
Q: Let s come to this race.
RK: Back to reality.
Q: You were there two days racing.
RK: Yes, two days.
Q: You made your debut here a couple of years ago and you were in the points until you were disqualified. This is going to be your 50th grand prix. What are your feelings about this circuit?
RK: Well, I mean as you mention, I made my debut here, so it is kind of a circuit which I will remember for very long. Always fantastic atmosphere due to Polish fans which are always coming here with good atmosphere, good cheering. Unfortunately, I have never scored good results here. I did last year and the year before a points finish but never 100 per cent what we could do. For this year I think we have the smallest chance to make a good result from the Hungarian Grand Prix, so I hope to make a good race.
Q: Your best is fourth in qualifying and fifth in the race. It is a circuit which a lot of people really enjoy though, isn t it?
RK: Yeah, I think this is the kind of track which you either like or you don t like it at all. I am a driver who likes it. It is a bit different. It is true that it is a bit too small maybe for an F1 car but it is very challenging physically and also for the cars. You have to find the best balance that is possible. It is always very demanding on the tyres, so there are many things which you have to take care of.
Q: Jaime, welcome to Formula One. How do you want your name pronounced, throughout the world?
Jaime ALGUERSUARI: I know it s a little bit tough. My name is â€˜Heimi Al-gay-shuari .
Q: What are your feelings about coming into Formula One at this stage, half way through the season? How much Formula One mileage have you done already?
JA: To be honest, I have done just two aero tests. For sure I am really happy to be here, to learn the car and learn a new situation but at the end it is just another car for me, another car in my racing career, in my life. I am very happy to drive and I am looking forward to it.
Q: It might be suspected that because you haven t done GP2 you don t know the circuits. What is the situation?
JA: I know this track. I raced here before. I am quite lucky for that. I know more or less all of the tracks in Europe but obviously the overseas ones I don t know them really, like Japan, Singapore and Brazil, so for sure it is a good year to learn the tracks in Formula One as well.
Q: What has been the reaction in Spain?
JA: I think very good. They wanted another Spanish driver, so they have it now.
Q: Kimi, let s go forward to next weekend and Rally Finland. What are your thoughts about that?
Kimi RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN: I think it will be a completely different thing. I have done a few rallies but it is like club races compared to the Finland Rally. I will just go there and have fun and hopefully we are going to make it to the end and that would be nice.
Q: There are quite a few modifications to the car this weekend. What are you expecting from them?
KR: Yeah, I mean my car has some new stuff. A new front wing from what we had in the last race but unfortunately we only had one part. We have some new floor parts and a rear wing. Hopefully it will help us. This circuit is more like Monaco and the car seemed to be working pretty well there, so hopefully we can have a bit better weekend than the last one.
Q: You have been on the podium here for the last two years. And you ve won and you ve been on pole position, so your thoughts about the circuit as a whole?
KR: It is quite a nice circuit. For driving it is quite a good challenge. It is not easy to get the car right here but for the racing it can easily get a bit boring. It is a bit more like Monaco though here it is slightly easier to overtake but you need to be quite a bit faster than the guy in front of you to get past him. We will see how it goes but it is a nice place to come.
Q: What about the advantage of KERS coming out of the final corner going down into the first corner? Is it the main place for overtaking?
KR: Yeah, if you get a good run out of the last corner, then definitely the KERS will help you. On the start it will help you as it is quite a long straight before the first corner. Sure we will find out some advantage with the KERS and anyhow with that we always seem to be faster, so for us it is only a good thing.
Q: Mark, obviously the last race was a fantastic victory for you. What has happened since then? What are your feelings now coming into this? Has it been a great weight off your shoulders?
Mark WEBBER: It has been busy since the German Grand Prix. In Australia, there has been a lot of press down there. I actually had a pretty busy week planned anyway without the victory. It has been busy, no question about it. It is a bit of a weight off my shoulders of course, it is always nice to get off the mark. It would have been nicer to do it before but did not really have the chance. Germany was a great opportunity for me to do it off the pole position and it worked out very well for me and it was a big day for me and the team getting a one-two, capitalizing on our performance. That is also what we are focussing on, so it was great.
Q: And since then a great piece of news today that you have signed for next year?
MW: Yes, looking forward to staying with the guys again next year. We have had a good relationship ever since we started together and we have been through some pretty tough times in terms of development. But obviously at the moment we got hold of the new regulations pretty well. The car has been quick at all venues. We know there are going to be some teams coming towards the end of the championship. I think also starting this weekend with Renault, Ferrari and McLaren. Those guys are coming but I am very, very happy to stay at Red Bull in the future. I think we can have a good 18 odd months together and we will see what happens at the end of next year.
Q: What are your feelings about his circuit? You have a best in qualifying of third and a best finish of sixth in 2003.
MW: Well, as Kimi has already mentioned, it is pretty similar to Monaco. It is not exactly Spa or Suzuka or Silverstone but it is another track on the calendar that we have to cope with. It is not too bad. The rhythm in the second sector is sometimes quite rewarding, trying to get it alright at the top there. It is a different track, no question about it, to a lot of the other ones. It is very different to others we race on, very tight and twisty. It has always been the same. I don t mind driving here actually, it is a pretty good little track and one that you have got to get your head around. There is no point whinging about it, everyone has got the same piece of tarmac and we have got to do the best job we can.
Q: Looking at the last couple of races, how much do you believe Red Bull Racing made a step forward and how much do you believe that it was a bit of a drop off in the performance of Brawn? What is the relationship between those two?
MW: Well, Jenson (Button) for sure had a very strong race in Turkey. That was the last time we raced in slightly warmed conditions. Silverstone and the NÃ¼rburgring were a bit cooler and we capitalized with the two one-twos. We know we have added some performance to the car. We don t know what Brawn have done to their car but we know we are going faster. If they do start closing this weekend they will do that. We are doing our best and they are doing their best. We don t really think that people are going slower. We think our performance the last couple of races was because we have been going faster.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Jaime, it has been suggested already that because you lack experience and because you are so young and that you do not have the mileage underneath your belt and because there are there are other drivers out there that are perhaps more deserving of a drive in F1 that you shouldn t really be in the sport at such a young age. What would you say to those people that are suggesting that?
JA: I know I am not really experienced. I know I need some mileage in the car and that is what we are here for. I think as I said before that this is a new car for me, a new championship for me. I need to learn and I need to have experience. The first weekend around here we know it is not an easy track to do the first race but obviously this is the situation right now and we have to do our best job and drive the car. The most important thing to learn the tracks as much as we can this year and to get the best possible experience from that.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) Mark, can you just detail what the technical position of the car is this weekend? Are there any changes specifically for this race?
MW: Very small, very small. Not big changes at all. A few very tiny mechanical and aerodynamic changes but not like the big changes we have seen in the past, so quite small.
Q: (Peter Windsor Speed TV) Mark, I noticed when you mentioned the teams that you thought were going to come up in the second half of the year you didn t mention BMW. I just wondered if you think that Robert s out of it now?
MW: Ah, well. We know Robert s a great driver. He was in with a chance in the championship last year. It goes to show how fickle these cars are obviously, but he ll be back again when he gets a quick car. I think the situation we saw in NÃ¼rburgring was that Lewis was not too far away. There was only one McLaren with that type of package (the latest) and also Fernando was pretty strong as well, so there are signs that there are teams coming back and Ferrari have always been pretty close. This type of track is probably a little bit more suited maybe, so we will see how the whole back of the championship goes but I think at this venue in particular, you guys are in for a bit more of a tighter race between all teams.
Q: (Marco Degl Innocenti La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, what s your target from now until the end of the season, what s your target for Ferrari?
KR: I think the team target is to try to finish in third place in the championship. I think that s what we re aiming for. For myself, I will try to win as many points as I can, as many good results as we can and that s all we can try to do.
Q: (Alan Baldwin Reuters) Mark, apart from all the interest in Australia about the win, has there been any interest from the corporate side, the corporate Australia in actually getting behind you and putting some money behind you? When you came into this sport you had several Australian backers and you haven t got any now and I don t think there are any in Formula One anymore.
MW: Hey, look, it s quite difficult for them to compete against the European markets over here. I think with the Australian dollar (being as it is) it s not that easy to be honest, and also, I m part of the Red Bull family, very much so and fully immersed with them. I don t want to have Fred s Lawn Mower Service on my sleeve for the sake of disrupting the Red Bull brand, so Red Bull is very important to us.
Q: (Sven Pistor ARD Radio) Mark, how do you describe your relationship right now to Sebastian Vettel in your team?
MW: Amazing. It s so good, it s brilliant! We re like brothers! It s fine. It s the same as every other team-mate I ve had. We have professional relationships. It s obviously the most asked question of me from all the German press but at the end of the day we turn up, we drive the cars, we go home. We re not ringing each other between races to see what we re up to. He s here to do a job and so am I.
Q: (Sarah Holt BBC) A question for you, Jaime. Speaking of relationships with your team-mates, I wanted to ask you how Sebastien has been helping you? The two rookies are in the same team; I guess he hasn t got much experience either. Has he been able to help you at all?
JA: To be honest I think everyone is working on his own, because he also has a lot of work to do and he s also learning, as you said, he s in his first year. I ve not really talked with him so much but we will do these days, for sure, and at the end, for sure he needs to learn, I need to learn and everyone needs to gain experience.
Q: (Joris Fioriti AFP) Jaime, what s your state of mind right now? Are you very stressed? Are you confident? What do you think can happen at this race and the next ones?
JA: I m relaxed, I know what I can do, I know what people expect from me and the most important thing is that I know what I have to do. As I said before, it s another car, another race in my racing career, and in the end it s just one steering wheel and two pedals like everything. That s the target: to learn and to drive.
Q: (Carlos Miquel Diario AS) Jaime, this morning you were visited by Fernando Alonso. What did Fernando say to you and how is your relationship with him?
JA: We had a talk this morning. He obviously congratulated me for getting the seat. He s very happy and he told me to have fun, enjoy the moment and that s what I would say to another driver if it was the same situation.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) Another one for Mark: can you just give us a bit more of a sense of how you see the balance of power with Brawn, in particular the technical advances that your car s made as against the better climatic conditions here for the Brawns? Do you feel that you guys can be up with them, even in conditions which perhaps suit their car better?
MW: Absolutely. We need to race them this weekend. We ve closed in the Constructors championship, not just in the last two races but races before that and they were also hot, although Jenson won, but collectively as a team, we ve done well. That s why we re second in the championship and we re not a million miles away from the Constructors, so we re happy to go to every venue, any conditions, and race against Brawn, of course we are. The track temperatures and all those kind of things we haven t yet had this package at a very, very hot venue. We don t have the luxury these days of testing in Jerez and getting a feel for different things, so the only time we get to do it is when we go racing. So actually it s pretty hard to know how the balance of power will be come Sunday. But there s no question about it, we expect to be competitive. Whether we have the advantage that we ve had in the past remains to be seen. That s the way we went into NÃ¼rburgring. We thought and they thought that they would be closer to us in NÃ¼rburgring, and maybe some other people did as well, but actually it turned out that NÃ¼rburgring was better than Silverstone. We d have more of an answer if we tested but we don t, so we re doing our testing on Sundays now and there s just a bit more at stake.
Q: (Mark Webber) I ve got a question for Kimi. I want to know who s doing Kimi s pace notes? Is he brave man or not?
KR: Yeah. He used to do it before for Tommi MÃ¤kinen, so he should be OK. He s survived until now, so he should be OK.
MW: Honestly, I think it s a real credit to Kimi that he s having a crack at it. It s a really brave thing to do, so I wish Kimi all the best for tackling one of the hardest rallies in the world. We should take our hats off to him, so good luck with it.
Q: (Istvan Simon Autopiac) Robert, last year when you came here you were one of the favourites for the World title and lots of Polish flags were in the grandstands. This year it s a completely different situation. How has it changed your mind, your preparation for this race?
RK: It hasn t had any effect on my preparation for this race. As usual, I m preparing as always, trying to prepare physically as far as possible as well as technically with the set-up and of course with the work we have to do for all races. Every time it s a new race it s a different story, so we are trying to extract the maximum from our car and trying to do our best. Of course we know that this year our best is much more limited than it was last year but anyway we will try to do as well as we can.
Q: (Alan Baldwin Reuters) Mark, can I ask you, as one of the oldest race winners without being too ageist about it how would you have coped, coming in to Formula One as a 19-year old?
MW: Probably wouldn t have been ready, to be honest, but these days they seem to be ready a lot earlier. I ve never been a big fan of Formula One being a learning school but it seems like it is these days. I don t think Formula One is a learning school. When you arrive in Formula One you should be ready. It s not a place to learn. Anyway, some guys are doing that but it s harder without testing these days. I think we re going to see a bit more of it, maybe, in the future where guys are learning. It s not the same case as when we had a guy here a few years ago lapping eight seconds off the pace which was totally ridiculous. Jaime won t be like that, he will be quick enough, obviously, and he s going to learn but they re coming younger every time now but that s the way it is. After Formula Ford they want to be in Formula One. It was only Kimi, a long time ago, and after that we had quite a big gap. It s quite cheap if you can do it that way, go from Formula Ford to Formula One, it s a cheap option but it s not that easy when you arrive.