DRIVERS – Jérôme D’AMBROSIO (Lotus), Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes), Daniel RICCIARDO (Toro Rosso), Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren), Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari), Felipe MASSA (Ferrari).
Jérôme, welcome back. How prepared are you? Have you been able to prepare for your comeback?
Jerome d’AMBROSIO: Well obviously it’s been short notice. On Monday really. It’s been a bit of a hectic week for me, getting stuff done as much as I could before here to get really prepared as best as I can. As I say, I haven’t had time to think about anything really: just really getting things done and that’s it.
I guess you’ve been training though, keeping in shape, waiting for this moment?
Jd’A: Yes, definitely. As a third driver that’s part of the job: you have to keep fit and everything. It’s not something easy, not a lot of mileage on, but I did everything in the drivers’ meetings, with the engineers and everything, trying to keep up to date as much as I could with every tool I had in my hand, to be as prepared as I can if something like this happened.
So, what’s your aim in the race itself? What should we expect?
Jd’A: It’s a difficult question to answer simply because I don’t have much information to set myself a position target – or anything. I really want to stay focussed on what I’ve got to do, with the job, with the engineers, in the car. Stay focussed on that. Once that is done correctly we can hope for something good on Sunday – but only if I stay focussed on my job, so this is what I will try to do.
Nico, we keep looking at China and wondering what’s happened since then. Last weekend again seemed to be difficult.
Nico ROSBERG: Yeah definitely we’ve had some more difficult times now, lately and a little bit of a drop in performance relative to others – we know that. And we’ve been looking into it, we understand a lot of the reasons, and we’ve been pushing very, very hard to turn things around again and I’m sure the next few races are going to be a little bit better for us – how good is difficult to say.
Is the car difficult to drive, does it just not suit you any longer? What’s the nature of the car now?
NR: Amongst other things the balance is difficult, yes. Especially the last two races, due to the fact that both tracks had very long corners and especially in those long corners it has been difficult.
So Parabolica could be difficult for you.
NR: Parabolica would be a little bit more difficult for me, yes, but this track, with the low downforce and everything, I think is going to be less of a problem.
Daniel, first of all, last weekend looked as though it was going to be good, and you did manage to get some points. What are your feelings about last weekend and looking at this weekend as well?
Daniel RICCIARDO: It was nice to get some more points on the board – unfortunately longer than I was hoping since Melbourne but good to get a few more. The first stint was looking all-right. Obviously we benefitted from the mayhem at the start and we got as high as fifth, I think. I was hoping to finish up there but unfortunately we dropped back a bit in the end to ninth. But still definitely good for myself and the team to get both cars in the points. Hopefully we can build on some of that momentum and Monza obviously is a nice place for us to come: the team’s home grand prix and I’ve got a little bit of heritage myself – so it’s nice to come in with the momentum of Spa and hopefully score some more.
The Ferrari engine seemed to be pretty good in a straight line – how’s that going to affect here as well:
DR: Yeah, hopefully it helps us. Hopefully that remains. We’ll see, I guess, once we’re out on track tomorrow but as always, all teams bring a Monza downforce setting for this race and we’ll soon find out if ours is going to be competitive enough. Looking forward to it, to say the least.
And what are the aims for rest of the season? What are your intentions?
DR: Would love to get points more regularly. Would love to improve on my ninth position. I would love to get a top five – I think that would be a good achievement for myself and the team. But we’ll take it step by step for now: as I said, it’s a nice grand prix for us and obviously the team’s only victory came here so it would be nice to keep a story going for this grand prix.
Lewis, I’m sure you’re aware the paddock is full of comment about the rumours that came out yesterday. Do you have a comment to make yourself?
Lewis HAMILTON: Not really.
So, do you know where you’re driving next year?
And in terms of this race, what about last weekend’s performance from Jenson Button. How does that affect your feelings about the upcoming Italian Grand Prix?
LH: Jenson, he drove fantastically well in the last race and he showed that the car is very, very competitive – and we generally should have very similar performance here, hopefully. On our side of the garage we hope it’s a better weekend for us. It can’t really get worse.
So, how do you approach this weekend? Just looking for victory, as ever?
LH: ah no, just to pick up the pieces and get back to racing. It’ll be nice too… we’ve done a lot of work analysing and a lot of preparation for this weekend. It’ll be nice to get into the race, when you’re doing so much preparation and so much waiting the most important thing is to see your way to the race.
Fernando, first of all, just to confirm, are you perfectly OK physically?
Fernando ALONSO: Yes.
Because you were complaining of some whiplash in your shoulder?
FA: Yeah it was after the race, two hours after the Spa race there was still some pain in the back, but then on Monday morning I woke up absolutely fine, feeling 100%, so it was good news, because you never know, the day after the crash anything can happen. So it was good news on Monday morning to do a completely normal day.
You’re a two-time winner here, what do you feel your chances are here in the race on Sunday?
FA: Well, for sure it’s not going to easy. In terms of performance we’ve been not so quick in the last two or three grand prix. It was eight tenths from pole position in Hungary and eight tenths also in Spa. It’s five days from that qualifying so I don’t think we will recover eight tenths by magic button. But I think what we need to do is to maximise our performance, to extract from the car the maximum and hopefully that will give us some chance to be on the podium or if everything goes well, for sure a victory here is very special for all the Ferrari tifosi that will support us here, so we will try to do our best.
Felipe, were you pleased with the performance in Spa and how do you feel about this race?
Felipe MASSA: Well, very pleased with the performance in the race (at Spa). I think our car was more competitive in the race than in qualifying. In qualifying we were struggling a lot, especially in sector two. In the race the car was better. The car was a little bit stronger. We were able to fight and able to overtake quick cars as well. Due to the problem on the first corner at the start… I did a very, very good start, I overtook three or four cars straight away but because of this problem in the first corner I had to go completely outside of the track and I lost the positions and even more so I had to start again, my race, after the safety car. So if I had been able to be in the same position I had got to at the start, it would have even been possible to maybe fight for the podium.
Do you think the car is good in low downforce trim?
FM: I think so. The problem is that Spa is much different than this track. In Spa you do need good downforce, especially in sector two and everything. Here it’s a different track and we’ll see how the car behaves on this different track. So we hope we can have a great weekend, both of us, for our incredible fans here.
What about your own future? Is there any news on that? Do you have a deadline?
FM: Not yet. Just concentrate on the races and on the results. I hope it will not take very long but let’s concentrate on the races, try to do the best, having a good result and that’s the most important thing.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, could you explain to us what happened with you and the team after you showed the telemetry on Twitter? How do you explain this fact?
LH: Nothing happened. I had the head of the PR department ask me to take the picture off and I did.
Q: (Adrian Huber – Agencia EFE) Question for Fernando. Okay, it’s always 25 points but to win here, it’s Monza, it’s a Ferrari place and after last Sunday it looks like fate owes you one as you couldn’t build your lead and you lost points, you couldn’t match Schumacher on 24 races scoring, so what a sensation this would be winning here.
FA: Well, I think Monza is a special win, because for any Ferrari driver it’s a lot of support that you feel from the tifosi from today until Sunday and you want to give something back to them and the best thing is obviously a race win, but from a championship point of view it doesn’t change too much. Even if you’re not fighting for the championship, winning in Monza will be special anyway, because the podium celebration with all the people on the main straight etc is nice for anyone, not only fighting for the championship. So we will try to do a good race and see how many points we can make and have clear in our minds what is the priority this weekend.
Q: (Ralf Bach – R&B) A question to Nico. Do you have any idea who will be your team-mate next year?
Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association) Good afternoon Lewis. Just in general terms from your personal perspective, what would be the attraction, the positives in joining a team like Mercedes?
LH: I have no idea. I’ve not really thought about it.
OK, could I turn it round to you Nico? From your perspective, what would be the attraction for Lewis to join a team like Mercedes?
NR: I can say from my perspective. My perspective is that Mercedes and Ferrari are on one level in terms of the history in F1 and the standing. It’s very, very special to drive for the Silver Arrow, and especially to win with a Silver Arrow.
Lewis, does that resonate with you?
So, looking at it in general terms: McLaren have won the last two races and Mercedes have only won one race in the past three years, does that put it into perspective for you as to where your priorities might lie?
LH: I don’t think I’m really looking for anything to be put into perspective. I drive for McLaren, we’ve won the last two races, we’ve got another great weekend, hopefully, ahead of us and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Jerome, in what way has Romain Grosjean helped you prepare if indeed he has done so?
Jd’A: Honestly, we haven’t had much contact with Romain since then. We generally do have a good relationship at the track and normally at the track. We don’t keep in touch so much otherwise. So that hasn’t changed between Spa and here. I think it’s been only two or three days and the real hard work was with the engineers. I’ve been provided with a lot of information from both drivers from the engineers and then that’s it. If something happens during the weekend, I have a very good relationship with Romain. We’ve worked together in lower classes, so for sure he’s going to be there, and the same with Kimi. If I have something I want to ask then I will and I’m sure I will get an answer. This was not the time to speak with them, between the two races.
Q: (Vincent Marre – Sport Zeitung ) Felipe, do you think you will be able to beat Fernando again before the end of the season?
Q: ( Vincent Marre – Sport Zeitung)Here in Monza?
FM: Well, I’m trying everywhere.
Q: So how important is qualifying for you on Saturday?
FM: Very important. I think qualifying is definitely important for us, just to have an easier race. I think maybe qualifying was not so great for me this year but I always had good direction, good pace in the races, not counting the first few races but afterwards, yes. I think qualifying is very very important so we focus on that and try to have an easier direction in the race, especially from the beginning to the end.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, you said you want to stay concentrated on this race, but in your eyes, when do you want to decide to have a clearer idea of next year?
LH: I don’t have a deadline – obviously before next season I think would be useful. I’m in a great position, and I just need to focus on preparations for these races. We’ve got a long way to go before the end of the season and Jenson and I have showed in the previous race that there’s great potential in the car and in the team, so that’s really what I need to try and focus on most.
Q: (Kate Walker – Girl Racer) Lewis, in the last few races we’ve seen strong performances from McLaren amidst some pretty chaotic weather: hot, cold, wet, dry and so on. We’re now hitting the really really hot stretch of the season, from here on in. Are you concerned that with the tyres there might be a dip in form as we’re getting back into the hotter climes or have you guys cracked the rubber at last?
LH: I don’t know if we’ve cracked it, but we definitely have been improving quite a lot. Jenson proved, at the last race… he did a one stop, one of the few people to do a one stop race so there’s something going well with the car. Here will be very tough, I think, but everyone’s in the same boat but we are definitely working very very hard to make sure that we’re on top of things when it comes to these hot circuits, because tyre degradation is going to be key, I think, particularly in some of these hotter climates. But we went pretty well in Hungary so it wasn’t a disaster there but it could have been better so we need to improve on that.
Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazetta delllo Sport) Fernando, your car was completely rebuilt after the crash. Are you worried about that or are you confident that you will have a Ferrari in perfect shape?
FA: No, not worried. Obviously we make some changes and we went back to some parts of the car that we’ve been using three or four races ago and then for Monza, specially, there is a very unique aero package here so the car is a little bit different to any other track. Even with the Spa car it had changed. It was planned to change nearly completely for this race, so I don’t think it’s making a big difference.
Q: (Carlos Miguel – La Gaceta) Fernando, when the championship is so close and the cars are so close, do you really think it could be possible to win the championship with no more victories, only podiums?
FA: Who knows? I think that depends on your opponents and also what they do. If they keep sharing victories, it’s possible to win without any more wins but at the moment, we see McLaren very strong in Germany, nearly won the race there, won the race in Hungary, won the race in Spa so they can win three or four consecutive races and your gap disappears. As we said, already from the last six or seven Grands Prix, we need to focus on which one is second in the championship at the moment which, today, is Vettel so this weekend we try to finish in front of Vettel, like at the other weekends we try to finish in front of Webber.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Lewis, on the twitter subject, I know everyone is playing it down, but Jenson said after the race that he was disappointed that you had tweeted the details of the wings and everything else. Have you spoken to Jenson, have you cleared the air with him about it? It seemed to us that Jenson was seeing more in that tweet than maybe you did.
LH: I haven’t spoken to him, don’t plan to, moved on from it. Obviously it wasn’t the best thing to do and it won’t happen again, so move forward and focus on this race.
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports) Lewis, when you look at a contract or renegotiation or look to move, at your stage of your career, what is it you are looking at? Is it purely money or are there other factors?
LH: I want to win.
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports) Pure and simple you want to win.
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports) And is that win 2013 or win 2014, which is a big season, things change quite drastically in 2014, don’t they?
LH: Yeah, I always want to win, every year you compete, that’s why us drivers exist and that’s why the teams exist. It’s just making sure you’re in the right place to do so.
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports) Being in the right place, does that mean that it might pay to be in a team that manufactures their own engine and their own energy recovery systems rather than being with a customer which McLaren will be?
LH: It doesn’t mean anything.
Q: (Patricia Sanchez – La Gaceta) Jerome, so you say you’ve got plenty of information from your team. Do you think there would be room for more testing days in the calendar from your experience?
Jd’A: I have no idea yet.
Q: (Patricia Sanchez – La Gaceta) Do you feel that you’ve had plenty of time in the car?
Jd’A: You mean so far?
Q: (Patricia Sanchez – La Gaceta) Yes
Jd’A: Obviously so far, I don’t feel like I’ve had plenty of time in the car. I had one time in Mugello on a fairly wet track. No, for sure I think it’s good to get more time in the car and I can get much time in the car but I’ve got other things… I was really involved with the team all season so far, back at the factory as well, so I will try to capitalise on that.
Q: (Vincent Marre – Sport Zeitung) Jerome, are you going to change your attitude of driving now you’re coming back, having already had some experience in Formula One?
Jd’A: No, there’s no reason to change myself, change who I am and the driver that I am, stepping in for the weekend, I think that’s the worse thing you can ever do. I will approach the weekend as I have approached all the racing weekends I have been to so far. Of course, it’s a special one, we are in Monza. I’m part Italian, it’s a bit of a home race for me so I’m really cheered up for that and really going to give – as you always do – 100 percent that I have, but I’m not going to change the way I am and the way I drive.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Felipe, Lewis is quite relaxed about not knowing where he’s racing next year, but I guess in your case you’re pretty frustrated. Could you just explain how frustrated you are, and also what percentage chance you think there is of you staying at Ferrari next year?
FM: For sure, I expect to be in a different position in the championship to what I am but I’m just concentrated on my job which is driving the car, driving the quickest speed that I can. As I said, I am frustrated with my qualifying, not with my races and I’m sure that if I can improve the qualifying, I can be very strong in the races and completely change the results. As I said, I didn’t sign anything for next year yet but I think we have the possibility to sign and let’s wait and see. I don’t know when but I just need to concentrate on the results of the races. I think that’s the main important thing for my future as well.
Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazetta dello Sport) Fernando, was Monza also a special race for you before becoming a Ferrari driver and what is your special memory of this race? If you have one special memory.
FA: It has always been special, because of the speed that you reach on this circuit, so for us drivers we love to drive fast cars, we love the speed so when you come here and especially with the V10 engines, we reached 370/375 kph so Monza has always been special. As I said, I think the podium ceremony here is a little bit more emotional than any other place. But obviously when I joined Ferrari it was a different level and the enthusiasm and support that you feel is probably the best race of the calendar for us in terms of emotions.
Best memory here would be 2010 when we won here, so first time driving for Ferrari. It was a special weekend so hopefully we can repeat this moment soon, this year or the following years.
Q: (Thierry Wilmotte – le Soir) Question to all of you, but not Jerome: do you have any concerns about the fact that there is a newcomer – of course, he’s not a rookie – but a newcomer coming into the field at the wheel of a good car? Do you have some concerns about that, especially for the start of the race?
FM: For sure not.
FA: No, I don’t think so.
NR: No concern, because he’s had experience last year so he’s not a rookie.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Fernando, Felipe, in Barcelona and in Montreal, you had great changes to your car and Ferrari made a great step forward. You have regularly said you are now eight tenths slower than the fastest car. Is there room for a new package from Ferrari to make it similar to McLaren, for example?
FA: I think so. I think there are still three months of competition. There are still eight races to go, so all the teams bring some updates to every race. We just need to make ours work a little bit better than the others. In February or March we were more than a second behind the front runners, and then around Barcelona or Canada we were two or three tenths. In two or three months you can make a lot of progress. We just need to be clear on that and make some good steps which I’m sure and confident will arrive sooner or later.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jerome, you just mentioned that this is your second home Grand Prix. Could you remind us if you have some relatives here in Italy; do you come to Italy sometimes, and which part of Italy do they come from?
Jd’A: OK, so a bit of funny background here. I have grandparents from Naples in Italy, Monte Casino and one from Naples. Italy is a bit of a second home race for every racing driver in the sense that when you’re involved in go-karts you are involved in Italy most of the time, with Italian teams and for me, personally, I’ve grown up in the racing scene in junior formulae in Italy in Formula Renault, in F3000, Formula Masters, Italian teams and so on. I’ve spent a lot of my life and definitely, yeah, this is why I consider this personally as a second home race.