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Formula 1: United States Grand Prix

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  United States Grand Prix

Formula 1: United States Grand Prix

Rubens Barrichello
Olivier Panis
Kimi Raikkonen
September 27, 2003


THE MODERATOR: We have Olivier Panis, then second fastest for Ferrari, Rubens Barrichello. On the pole for West McLaren Mercedes, championship contender, Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi, almost seemed to come from nowhere. You seemed to have a quiet, disciplined run into this qualifying session. Did it feel like a qualifying pole lap?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: It doesn't matter how it feels, as long as you're still on the first row on the first days. You know, we haven't got much running this week. It has been bad weather. Ran only half an hour yesterday, then one session today. I wasn't very happy with the car at all yesterday and today, but we just got it right for qualifying and had a normal, good lap, and was enough.

THE MODERATOR: Obviously, you're in championship contention. Your two main rivals are obviously behind you. Talk us through your feelings going into the race tomorrow.

KIMI RAIKKONEN: Of course, it's much better position than maybe last race. But the race is long and I still think we still have a good shot at it for the race, and I'm pretty sure we should have a strong race. I don't know, we will see really what happens tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Are you approaching this as just another race weekend?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: Yeah, pretty much, because we don't have much to lose, but I think so we have more to win than lose. Just need to do our own best what we can. Hopefully is enough to win the race.

THE MODERATOR: Rubens, problems for Michael today, but you're on the front row for the sixth time this year.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Yeah, I was actually hoping for pole. I think the car looked good for the whole time, the whole weekend. On the warm-up, it felt a little bit different due to the wind, but I think everyone felt the same. The times were not as competitive as they were this morning. But having said that, it still was a good lap. It was a little bit of a compromise on the setup because of the warm-up, the car was really loose everywhere. But the compromise pay out a little bit. The car didn't feel as this morning, but it's still good.

THE MODERATOR: In the context of the championship, you find yourself in a very interesting position now.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: I mean, I love the challenges, so I think, you know, they all come to me in a way. I think it's such a good championship because you would say last race that the two main contenders were Montoya and Schumacher. Then all of a sudden you see Kimi on pole, the other two guys behind. It is, it's quite open. It's going to be very fun tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: What role are you going to play in it?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Hopefully to win the race. I think that's the first plan right now.

THE MODERATOR: Olivier, I think it's your best ever dry weather qualifying performance, great result for Toyota. Did you feel it was going to happen coming into this race?

OLIVIER PANIS: I think, to be honest, during whole weekend, we were really competitive. When I start yesterday morning, I'm already on the Top 5. I feel really good with the car. It's a really tough season for us. But I think every Grand Prix we work really hard, we improve the car step by step. In the end we looks really competitive. And, sure, to be here I'm quite happy today because is long time I don't be here. I hope we continue like this.

THE MODERATOR: You have championship contenders around you, as well, obviously.

OLIVIER PANIS: Well, but this for me don't make any difference. I don't play anything on the championship. I need to do my best for Toyota. I sure I try to do it tomorrow because we not too far to be with Jaguar to fight for the fifth place on the championship, is quite really important for us. But for me definitely tomorrow I have different race, but I want to be good.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Now if we could have some words from your own language. (National language comments.) Here they are. Kimi Raikkonen, on pole position; Rubens Barrichello alongside him; and Olivier Panis, scoring Toyota's best ever grid position in their Grand Prix history - brief Grand Prix history. Poor Olivier hasn't been in here on for a while on a Saturday afternoon. Kimi, congratulations with the pole. Did you ever think you could be on pole here?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: We knew that the car should be better here than what it was in the last race. But during this whole weekend has been quite difficult, I think so not only for us, but for other teams also because the weather hasn't been the best. They only got one hour maximum, not even that, on the dry running. And yesterday and this morning, I wasn't very happy with the car. But then we seems to found the way after the warm-up. Just the small changes for the car. We was hoping that the car was better in the qualifying. But I think so the circuit improve a lot. It was good lap. I'm very happy with it.

THE MODERATOR: So now you have a look at the order and see where your rivals in the championship are. Are you slightly readjusting your sights on the championship?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: No, is same. I haven't even been thinking that we are not in a championship fight anymore. Of course, we are, as long as there is even a small chance. Right now it looks better than before the qualifying, but is still long race to go tomorrow and we just need to do our best and hopefully win the race.

THE MODERATOR: Just going back to your quick lap, you were actually beaten by three other drivers in the first sector. Did you feel that was your weakest sector, that you would become stronger after that, or was there a problem?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: I think just doesn't matter, as long as you're quickest in the end. I took it quite easily, one of the corners, because in the morning I got the feeling that it was quite slippery. Maybe we lost a little bit time on there.

THE MODERATOR: Well done. Rubens, if I can come to you. To what extent do you feel you've lost out on running time, just as Kimi was saying? Do you feel that's had an effect on the team?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: No. I think the weather play a role a little bit because it's quite windy out there. I don't know to which extent did it affect the other cars, but it did affect us a little bit, and I think everyone, to be honest, because the times were not as competitive as this morning. So I had to gamble a little bit on the setup. I mean, I was very happy with the setup this morning. But then I had to gamble a little bit. Because if it is windy like this tomorrow, it might have an effect on the tire. I didn't have the quickest car in terms of performance, but hopefully a good one for tomorrow's race. Having said that, I'm still very happy with the lap.

THE MODERATOR: How much did you change the car after the warm-up and even after Michael's run?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: No, after Michael's run, not much, because we didn't have much of an idea. I had something like five minutes after he had his run, five to 10 minutes, sometime I guess. But is difficult to actually change anything apart from front wings, small stuff. So I just change the car from the warm-up. I had to.

THE MODERATOR: When you look at the grid order after this qualifying and the championship positions, how do you see it, as a disinterested spectator?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: I'm just sorry that I'm not on the battle because it's quite interesting. As I said in the press room, it's still very much alive. If you look from one side, I think, you know, it's quite fantastic to have the public as they are here. They were as Brazil, as Monza, they shout, they sing. I think it's going to be a good race, hopefully a clean one with everyone that is competing on the championship. I'm not treating them as I'm an outsider. I'm still there. I have some points. Obviously if you do the mathematics, I cannot beat the first place, but anything can happen, and I'll try my best to win the race.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Rubens, well done. Olivier, congratulations. You must be feeling very, very happy with the performance.

OLIVIER PANIS: Yes, definitely I'm really happy for the team and for myself definitely. But I think when we start the weekend, yesterday we were quite competitive, already on the Top 3 yesterday morning. And I'm unlucky in qualifying when I go out, start to be raining. It don't help. But again this morning, I'm quite really competitive, and we try and we continue to improve the car during the day. In the warm-up lap, is quite already good. But the traction is a little bit, for different reason, maybe the wind, but the grip level is still low. But we change some small things and in qualifying I did a very good lap. Again, like say Rubens, we need to find a compromise. But I think we have a good car for tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: One of your team members said Monza, you knew you weren't really good enough. How much has changed since then?

OLIVIER PANIS: Not much. We testing a lot between the two Grand Prix. I mean Zonta go to Jerez, Cristiano to Barcelona, and me to test some different aero kits. At the end of the day we find one quite really good. We put here. Looks like okay.

THE MODERATOR: Well done. Some questions from the floor, please.

Q. Kimi, how much does it add to your advantage that Michael Schumacher is starting significantly behind you in this race, may have to work his way for a while?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: Of course, it's helping. But I think you never know what's happen in a race. But it's more safer to start from first two rows in the race than on more behind because you can more easily have accident or things can go wrong. But the race is also long, and you don't know what the other teams are doing with the pit stops. You just need to wait and see. But, no, it looks quite good now.

Q. Kimi, how are you feeling compared to what you had in Nurburgring after the first call? Is it the same or is this more important?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: It always is important to get pole position. But maybe was more exciting in there because was first one. But it's really coming on a good time now. Is best place to start. Is crucial time in the championship. One of our best qualifyings.

Q. Olivier, you kind of used different strategy this year than other teams, Toyota. Do you think you will have the same strategy as all the others tomorrow?

OLIVIER PANIS: I think for this Grand Prix, more or less the strategy I think is quite clear. But I think is the first time -- maybe, I don't know. Is difficult to know what everybody is doing. I think we are very under good shape. I try different strategy maybe with some Grand Prix before and I think is really quite well. I'm really quite confident for that tomorrow.

Q. Rubens, you've had a pretty good run here since this race has started. What is it about this course where both you and Michael at least in the three previous races have done extremely well here?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Well, I'm not really sure. I mean, it's always the Ferrari seems to be a good car here. I don't know. I have the feeling whenever you like the place, you tend to do quite well. I like the place, so it's halfway.

Q. Kimi, considering that the top speed between McLaren and Ferrari, there's quite a difference, what about in the race? Do you think your top speed will be good enough to keep Rubens and the rest of them behind on the long straights?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: I don't even know what top speed we did in qualifying compared to Ferrari. I don't know. We will see tomorrow.

Q. Can you alter the rear wing?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: I think it's only the front wing you're allowed to test anymore. Is always compromise with the long straight and then twisting. But we will really see what happens tomorrow.

Q. Olivier, when was the last time you were on the second row? Do you feel you got a package to win?

OLIVIER PANIS: Well, for the first question, I think is long time ago. Is 1997 in Argentina, you know. I getting old now (laughter). But I'm quite happy to be here today anyway. For the second question, I really want to win a race, but I need to be really objective. I think we improve a lot during the season, but I don't think so we have the car to win yet, apart if something happen on the first corner. But after that, I think my concern for this race is to finish and to score some points, to have some possibility to beat BMW and Jaguar on the championship. I think for us is one of the priority. For the next time maybe we thinking a little bit more to win the race.

Q. Rubens, this is the third race here. Driving into the first turn is always the important part of the race to start. How difficult is this and what does it compare with, this first turn, with the other Formula 1 venues?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Well, if you compare the first turn here compared to Monza, for example, this is like a motor way. It does have space for you to go everywhere (laughter). Obviously, there are some other places that have some good scapes. In here is a tight turn. But the way that it's done with the curb, you can approach in the inside, you can cut across if you need to. Hopefully, whenever one has to go across, hopefully it's not going to rain anymore because the grass today was quite wet. But I would say anything can happen, but it can be a quite safe one.

Q. Kimi, is this (inaudible) great for you?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: I don't know. Is good. This year many times what happens in the qualifying doesn't really say much in the race. But I'm pretty confident, and we should be in a good shape.

Q. Rubens, did you have a chance to see Michael's run before you went out? Did you watch it?


Q. Can you give us an assessment of what happened you thought the first couple turns for him?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: I'm not really sure. I mean, I haven't spoke to him. I had no chance to see his data because obviously you have to wait for the car to come back for you to look into that. But it looked like he was quite loose, as well, as he went out. It didn't affect me in terms of setup. I think my car had a little bit more control in a way.

Q. Are you surprised that neither of the Williams cars made the podium, given their significant strength?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Well, you never know. This championship is so open, in a qualifying like that, so many times it started, I find in Malaysia, you never thought the Reynard would be on pole, and all of a sudden they were. So to be very honest with you, I was expecting that Montoya and Ralf would be on a quicker times. But having said that, you never know if they have full tanks. It's still quite open.

Q. Olivier, you said what this second row represents for your team, after all the work they did. What does it mean to you personally?

OLIVIER PANIS: Well, for me it mean a lot. I think I work really, really hard with the team this year. We start really far. I mean, is the second year for Toyota. I think the improvement they did this year is huge. But now the last one, we need to do it, is more difficult because, you know, to close the short gap with the best team is even really difficult. But I think I'm quite happy because every Grand Prix we try to be improve, and now on the end of the year, we continue to improve, and we are on the second row. I think that is quite really good for everybody on the Toyota team. I'm sure, I mean, you know next Grand Prix, where is it. I think it give us something really good for the fan in Japan and for Toyota - and for me definitely. For me, I'm quite happy to be on second row. I fight so many time to be here. Now I'm quite happy to fight with the best guy. Now maybe we have some fun.

Q. Kimi, although Michael is going to be pretty far back, Juan is not that far back. How much do you have to kind of be aware of where he is throughout the race?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: We just try to do our own race really. We hope that we quick enough to hold them behind and win the race. During the race, I'm not really looking what the other people are doing. We just try to do our own stuff, then we see what's happen.

Q. Kimi, emotionally, do you think today was a factor, maybe Michael had more pressure, even for you starting earlier? Is going to be a factor on the race?

KIMI RAIKKONEN: No. We just had better car today.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, gentlemen.

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