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June 29, 2006
THE MODERATOR: Here we are, the press conference about to start with Mike Schumacher, Tiago Monteiro, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Speed and Tiago Monteiro. Gentlemen, welcome. Doesn't seem to be very long since I last saw you.
Tiago, obviously here, great memories from last year, on the podium.
TIAGO MONTEIRO: Yeah, well, obviously very special moment for us. We all know the circumstances. But we were there, we took it, we took this opportunity. We enjoyed it as much as we could and we took advantage of it.
It was great definitely. I had a lot of fun. My team had a lot of fun. I can't thank Bridgestone, Toyota and the team for all that, can't thank them enough.
THE MODERATOR: Since then, remarkable reliability in every single race. 26 finishes out of 28 races.
TIAGO MONTEIRO: Yeah, well, it's good. Definitely it's very good reliability. We would like to have a little bit more pace, as well. But it's getting a lot better. We definitely improved since -- I remember during Barcelona, the car made a real step forward. We're getting closer and closer. We're averaging 1.8 seconds off the pole position at the moment. Definitely quicker. If we can keep this reliability and getting quicker and quicker, that's what we looking for.
To be fighting with some guys up there, we really need like between 3 and 5/10ths. We should be there soon.
THE MODERATOR: Any animosity after last weekend when the two of you came together, you and your teammate?
TIAGO MONTEIRO: Well, no. I went there and apologized. I made a mistake. I locked my rear wheels. I went straight to him and apologized. No problems. We talk. Everything is clear.
THE MODERATOR: You got your football team to knock out his football team.
TIAGO MONTEIRO: He's not happy about that, that's for sure. I think he took that part worse than the crash on track (laughter). He's a big football fan.
No, now we got the English soon, so looking forward to that as well.
THE MODERATOR: I'm sure you are.
TIAGO MONTEIRO: I have my whole team on top of you.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, obviously your first half of the Grand Prix season over, and here you are at your home race. Give us an assessment of your season so far.
SCOTT SPEED: For me it's been fantastic. You know, when you first get into Formula One, there's always a question, Do I belong here? Am I good enough to stay? I got a lot of confidence now with that. My team has been very supportive of me. Just feels great to be back here at home, I got to tell you.
THE MODERATOR: The good parts? The bad parts?
SCOTT SPEED: Those came in the same weekend. The good part was briefly having a point in Australia and the bad part was getting it taken away.
THE MODERATOR: What are the major surprises for you?
SCOTT SPEED: I think after the first race, there hasn't been so many surprises. You always have to do your first Grand Prix sometime. It's an experience that you have to go through. There's a steep learning curve at the beginning. Now we're just all trying to improve as much as we can. It's a bit difficult for us because of our engine situation, to keep up. Having a 10th place last weekend was a great result for us this late in the game.
Team is doing some big steps forward.
THE MODERATOR: You have the V10 Cosworth engine as opposed to everybody else's V8s? Is it an advantage or disadvantage?
SCOTT SPEED: Certainly at a track like Canada and here it's going to hurt us because we don't have the top horsepower. But surprisingly we were still pretty competitive in Canada. I'm still optimistic for this weekend.
THE MODERATOR: I'm sure there will be many more questions for you. Thank you.
Michael, you've always managed to be fairly anonymous in the USA. Is that still the situation over the last few days?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: Yeah, even after being racing in the States, it's still the same basically. Depends where you go honestly. There's some places a bit different, but generally that's the case.
THE MODERATOR: You've managed to enjoy yourself over the last couple days then?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: Can we ask what you've been up to?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: A nice ride with the bikes.
THE MODERATOR: Did you do Pikes Peak then?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: Pikes Peak, no.
THE MODERATOR: Some people have done that hill climb.
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: No.
THE MODERATOR: What we've heard is great optimism from the team all the time, that we can at some stage beat Renault all the time. Yet it hasn't happened. You haven't led a lap since Spain. Is that optimism well-founded or not, do you feel?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: Yeah, it is. I mean, there is clearly progress happening. If you go back to the races sort of before England, we looked pretty strong. If you see the development we have done, it looked optimistic for us. Obviously, the other guys don't stand still either.
THE MODERATOR: And the development, are you expecting obviously more development in France? Is that going to happen? Can it happen there?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: I mean, we keep on developing. There's nothing else for us to do. I mean, we keep on fighting and see what happens.
THE MODERATOR: You said at the start of the season, it's all about the rate of development. Have you been surprised at the rate of Renault's development?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: In a way, yes. I mean, you should think that we should have more sources available. But then there is the two areas of development. You have the tire development and you have the car development. It depends in which area or what area you compare and you look at.
THE MODERATOR: It was interesting last weekend, two Bridgestone runners obviously made a mistake in terms of their tire choice, including your brother. Seemed to be such a huge difference in performance just from making that wrong tire choice.
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: Well, I mean, I'm not involved in what they did, so I will look at our own situation. We clearly weren't strong enough. That's what came out.
THE MODERATOR: But here, no one has a better record than you or the team. Four wins. Ferrari have won five out of six races. You personally have led every one of those six races. You never finished lower than second. Does that mean anything?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: I still have a good record in Canada, as well. It doesn't really mean anything, honestly. End of the day, you have to look at the now situation. We have a find out whether our package suits the circuit.
THE MODERATOR: Whereas Fernando, you've never finished here. You've done nine laps since 2003, I think. Again, does that mean anything?
FERNANDO ALONSO: Been quite bad for me. Quite unlucky. I never finish this race. I never cross the line. So hopefully this time is the good one. If I can be on the podium, even better.
THE MODERATOR: You've been doing some promotional work for Michelin. What is the mood amongst the fans here?
FERNANDO ALONSO: I think the fans are really enthusiastic about this year's race after what happened last year. I think everyone is expecting a good show on Sunday. We will put a good show for them. I think, you know, after what happened last year, we all want to go on the track tomorrow and to enjoy the weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Talking about Michael being fairly anonymous here, what about yourself? Now you're a world champion. Do people come up and recognize you?
FERNANDO ALONSO: No, no, not at all. Only the Spanish people.
THE MODERATOR: There's a few of them, though.
FERNANDO ALONSO: Too many (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Of course, Juan Pablo, I'm sure they recognize you probably more than your two neighbors there.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, I race here before. Here in Indianapolis, I get recognized quite a lot. It's okay. I spend a lot of time in Miami. There's a lot of Latins there, so. But it's okay.
THE MODERATOR: In fact, you won, of course, Indianapolis 2000. But since then, you've just had sort of incidents and all sorts of things have happened to you.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, here, we done pretty good in our crash with Ralf here. We had all kinds of things. But it's exciting. It a bit, you know, tricky track. It's quite slow. It has a very long straight. It's an interesting balance in between how much downforce you want for the car in the corners and sacrifice on the straight. I think simulations most of the time show very similar lap time whatever you do.
THE MODERATOR: How are you going to stay out of trouble?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don't know. You know, last race, it's a bit of a shame. We had a quick car. I collided with Rosberg. Just one of those racing things that happens. I had a quick car, I needed to make sure before Fernando went into the distance that I moved forward. I was trying to do that.
THE MODERATOR: What about your future? Where do you see your future? People have talked about Williams. People talk about you coming back here to the States.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don't know yet. I'm looking at it. When I make a decision, you'll find out. You know, I think the difference between myself and a lot of guys, I don't make my discussions public. You know, I don't talk through the press. I talk through the teams, and that's it.
You know, you guys don't hear anything, but I know what's happening.
THE MODERATOR: Are you happy with what's happening?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, yeah, very. You know, I'm very comfortable and we'll see.
THE MODERATOR: Some questions from the floor, please.
Q. Juan Pablo, in Canada you went out early. In that first half, Kimi was very close to Alonso. How competitive do you think McLaren will be here?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: We should be very competitive. My car in race trim was very good in Canada. And it was a bit annoying not to be able to show the pace. I think Kimi had a better qualifying car. I thought I could have a better race car. It was a bit frustrating from that point of view.
You know, that's the way racing goes. And I think here it should be a strong race for us. You know, Kimi was quick last year, but we were quick everywhere last year, so we'll see.
You know, I think the trend is that we're getting better and better and better. It's a matter of trying to get a good qualifying lap.
THE MODERATOR: Kimi said that the car seemed to be slower in the second stint, speed seemed to go away. Why should that be?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No, I think his balance was quite oversteering from qualifying. He worked harder the tires trying to keep up the pace in the second stint, probably just killed him. I don't know.
THE MODERATOR: Some more questions, please.
Q. Scott, is Formula One as difficult or a lot more difficult than you anticipated?
SCOTT SPEED: I'd say it's for sure more difficult because the Formula One race is very long and there's a lot of different things that happen, with the fuel loads and the tires. To always be at a hundred percent of what the car can do is very difficult, for sure.
Q. When you talk about being a hundred percent, I would single out Michael here, many people do it, but the ability to run almost every lap, every race, like a qualifying lap, do you think you do that?
SCOTT SPEED: I certainly try. I can say it's very difficult because, like I said, there's a lot of different things that go on with cold tires, safety car periods, to always have the car on the limit, in the tricky circumstances, likes cold tires, high fuel, really worn tires, it's a bit more difficult.
But in normal race trim, yes, I think I do.
Q. Scott, what do you need to become a winner in F1? Obviously you had tremendous success in some of the junior formulas. How do you step up and become a winner in this series?
SCOTT SPEED: You know, I think compared to the American forms of motorsports, Formula One is very much more of a team sport. You have to think that these teams make their own cars, their own engines, their own electronic systems that control the cars.
I think that Red Bull and Toro Rosso is on the right way. But it's certainly not something that's going to happen this year. Maybe next year, if things go very well, we develop at very good rate, maybe a podium could be possible. But this is also being a bit optimistic. I think it's more of a three-year program.
Q. Tiago and Juan Pablo, you both raced in Champ Cars. Do you think F1 pays enough attention to drivers racing in the US?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Who in F1?
Q. The teams.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Don't know if they pay enough attention, but they definitely should. I think there's talent over here, like anywhere else in the world. There's some great drivers in Champ Car, there's some great drivers in IRL. They should have a look, but then again there's also a lot of talent in Europe.
So I think the level of the top guys at the front is obviously for sure very similar, still as good. They should have a look. But, again, we race a lot more in Europe so I think they're a bit more concentrated in drivers around there.
TIAGO MONTEIRO: Same.
Q. Scott, you sort of had a non-stop couple days here of radio interviews, TV interviews, newspaper interviews. How hectic has it been? How have you found the reception from the media here in Indianapolis?
SCOTT SPEED: It's been fantastic. Now when I go back and everyone asks me how Formula One is starting to shape up in America, I can tell them it's going really great. It's the first time I sort of have been able to experience the media in America. It's been a very, very warm homecoming for me, for sure.
Q. Michael, American racing fans take their four-time winners at Indianapolis pretty seriously. Al Unser, AJ Foyt, Rick Mears among them. Do you consider yourself, even though you're a different racing discipline, part of that Indianapolis fraternity of four-time winners? Do you consider yourself part of that Indianapolis greatness?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: I mean, I'm not exactly sure of the history of Indianapolis, when it started, how long it is. But, I mean, Formula One is there just for the years we are here, and I'm not sure if you should really put yourself into that history that much. I'm not considering it too much, no.
Q. Alonso, considering what happened last year here, are you worried about the effect that Michelin could be so worried with safety and it could interfere in the performance of the tire?
FERNANDO ALONSO: No, no. No problems. Hundred percent sure we will not have the same problem. We cannot be conservative in this part of the championship. The teams will not allow to Michelin to be conservative. We all want to win. Michelin brought here a winning tire, for sure.
Q. Michael, the number of times that you're finishing second being so uncommon given your career, does that frustrate you or give you even more drive to get back to where you were?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: No, neither/nor honestly. It's just part of the game. It's natural that you simply can't win every race, although you wish.
No, but last year was occasionally frustrating. But to be second, I mean, like a race in Canada actually in the final stage to get second position is some excitement.
Q. Michael, of the panel, you would be the most experienced. With the success that you've had, do you think -- have you peaked or are you still potentially getting better or are you still learning or do you think you've peaked as a driver?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: You never stop learning, absolutely. There is a point where you stop obviously gaining speed, natural speed. But That starts very early. After that, it's just experience you take on. I'll never stop honestly because Formula One just develops all the time and you just have to keep track of the development and just be on top of it, and that makes you developing at the same time.
Q. So would a driver with a technical feel, would he potentially have an advantage in Formula One as it is today or is it the instinct-reflex driver? Do you know what I mean by that?
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: I don't think the reflexes -- I mean, I haven't measured it. There is obviously a trade-over when maybe your reflexes slow down and experience come in. But I only can compare myself against my teammates. I haven't looked to that so far, so...
Q. Scott, what is the secret for an American to get to Formula One, for a lot of these guys that want to end up over there?
SCOTT SPEED: Yeah, to have the opportunity to go to Europe where you have to go through the proper ladder series. For me I think that the European racing is much more competitive. And if you stand a chance in Formula One and you don't want to step in and look silly, you have to go over there and compete and do well against the Europeans.
Q. Michael, tomorrow Germany will play against Argentina. What do you expect of this match? You think it will be possible to watch the match here in the USA during the practice? I don't know if it's before or after.
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: I don't know what time it is. But if I have time, I will certainly watch it, absolutely. I think if we go through that one, then we have done already 50% or maybe more than 50% because Argentina is one of the top teams. Being able to beat them, we're looking good.
Q. Fernando, is this your worst circuit of the year? The second question is about the match of Spain in the world soccer.
FERNANDO ALONSO: Indianapolis for sure will be the most difficult race in all the championship for us. The car was never competitive here. We don't know why. But, you know, we hope that this year change that. 26 has been competitive everywhere. We expect a good performance here. But we have some doubts, for sure. You know, I hope to have a good car.
Now, the soccer. Nothing to say. We are always good team. We are good in the group. Arrive the important matches, and we go home. It's okay. Like this. We don't have any more worries. We don't fight with the team, with the French mechanics or the English. We are not any more there, so we are happy concentrate only Formula One.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
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