Full transcript from the FIA press conference for drivers ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, Round 7 of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, featuring: Charles Pic (Caterham), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Giedo van der Garde (Caterham), Pastor Maldonado (Williams), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Ferrari).
Charles, your second Formula One season, now of course with Caterham. What are your feelings about that? Do you feel that you’re making progress yourself now that you are in your second season?
Charles Pic: Yeah, of course. The first races were a bit difficult for us and then from China and Bahrain especially we made steps forwards and the car was working much better and I think we are still in this positive mood. We have to keep working like that. Monaco was not an easy one for us. I think the pace and performance was quite good, especially in the race, but then we had this issue with the gearbox. Overall I’m happy with the evolution we have had.
To some extent you are the team leader, in that you have more experience than Giedo. Is the progress [made] with the car being driven [ahead] by you?
CP: No, I think when you do [make] progress it’s driven [ahead] by everybody in the team. It’s a team effort and teamwork, driven [ahead] by the two drivers and all the team.
Jean-Eric, you’ve already had a busy morning. What have you been up to already today?
Jean-Eric Vergne: I was at the Polytechnic school, with the FIA for the Action for Road Safety campaign and we had a bit of a chat with the students about safety, the Golden Rules and it was nice. I drove a simulator, so yeah.
Well, you obviously had a very good qualifying in Monaco and followed it up with a good race, it was the fourth time you’ve finished eighth in a grand prix. The question is whether the car is suited to here and can you carry over that performance to here?
JEV: Yeah, hopefully. Everything can happen in Canada. Last year wasn’t really a good race for me but you know I think we can carry on the momentum. Definitely the car is getting better and better every race. We obviously don’t have anything new here but I think the whole package that we have is good enough to [have] a good race again here. I think the improvement on the car is going to continue for the whole season and I’m really pleased with that.
And the improvement with you in qualifying, that’s important?
JEV: Definitely. You know, you need to work really well during the whole weekend and to have a good qualifying, especially in Monaco, is really important. I think I’m just improving race by race, it’s as simple as that.
Giedo, a good performance again in Monaco. Here we are at another temporary circuit, but a circuit you don’t know. Can you carry over that performance from Monaco to here?
Giedo van der Garde: We’ll see by Saturday. I think so. The progress is going quite well. We knew that our first four races would be tough but the last few ones we made good progression. The relationship with the team is getting better, the work relationship is good, so I think we can do a good job here again.
You said earlier on in the year that you’d need probably a third of the season to find your feet. Are you finding your feet now?
GvdG: Yeah, as a rookie it’s not easy to come in and the first four races were just to learn as much as possible and now the progress is going really well, the relationship with the engineers is really well, with the whole team. So I’m a happy man at the moment.
Again, this is a new circuit to you. Are you finding it difficult to learn circuits?
GvdG: We did some practice on the simulator and I like more or less always a street circuit, so let’s see how it goes.
Pastor, a big accident in Monaco, any after-effects from that?
Pastor Maldonado: No, no, I’m OK. I was OK. It was a reset.
We’ve had a third of the season. Are you seeing progress at Williams?
PM: Yes. I mean, it was quite difficult to understand the car since the beginning of the season. Especially from the first race. We’ve been fighting a lot to try to fix the problems. We fix the problems but they are not easy to show. We have been working very hard, 24hours a day in the factory, especially in the wind tunnel. The problems are coming from aerodynamic. We’ve been trying to make some progress. I think we understand now a bit more the car and hopefully this race should be much better for us.
What difference should a new chassis make?
PM: The chassis is more-or-less the same. Just some new parts, aero parts. Hopefully we are going to solve…not all the problems…but have a step forward. We have been expecting that for some time.
Felipe, we saw you last in a [medical] collar. And you also have a new chassis here. Tell us a little more about that accident.
Felipe Massa: It was two accidents actually! It looks really similar, if you look from the television, but it was completely different accident. The first one, it was, I had…I just locked the wheels, went over the bumps and then I went straight. I hit the guardrail first and then I went straight. And the second one, I had a failure in the suspension. It was two different accidents in the same place. It looks very similar but it was two different things. The good thing is that I’m fine. I just felt a little bit of pain on my neck after because two crashes on the same place, in the same direction, y’know? But it was just muscles and its fine. One hundred percent fine.
And no dent in your confidence?
FM: No. For sure no. One hundred percent confident for here.
How important is a good result here for Ferrari? Because it wasn’t a very good result in Monaco.
FM: Yeah, I think it’s very important. We didn’t have the weekend we expected [to have] in Monaco. Just looking forward to going back to a good weekend – for both: for me, for Fernando, for the team. I hope the car works well on this track and we can fight for another podium again?
Nico, has the euphoria of Monaco finally worn off?
Nico Rosberg: Unfortunately yes! It goes quite quickly in this sport. Already a couple of days afterwards, the focus went completely to Montreal. I mean, first of all understanding what we did right and wrong in Monaco and then preparing for Montreal and trying to get the most out of this weekend.
But you seem to be on a roll with pole positions. What chances?
NR: Yes, well, qualifying has been very good. Our car has been the quickest car in qualifying for quite some time now. So, as a speed, I think we just have a very, very fast car. So I’m confident I’ll be quite far up the grid again in qualifying here. It is a different situation a little bit here: it’s lower downforce so that could mix things up a little bit, different track and everything so we’ll have to wait and see – but qualifying should be good, yeah.
It is a very different circuit in terms of demands; high speed and low grip as opposed to low speed and high grip, so it should be interesting to see if the car works here as well.
NR: Yes – and that’s why we need to be a little bit careful coming here. It could be a little bit of a different situation. Some other teams might be stronger or whatever. But in general we’re going to be there or thereabouts.
Questions from the floor
Nico, I understand you’re not allowed to comment on an awful lot of aspects of the recent tyre test, but one thing that we were wondering is because it was a Pirelli-specific test – you weren’t testing new components, anything like that – why were you and Lewis doing the driving rather than (test driver) Sam (Bird)?
NR: Don’t know. That was what the team decided. I think also for Pirelli it’s better if we are in the car, because it’s more representative because Sam doesn’t drive much, so for sure he won’t be able to go on our pace and bring the Pirellis through the laps exactly as we would, who had the experience of the grand prix that weekend. So definitely for Pirelli it’s an advantage to have us in the car, I would say.
Nico, there are a lot of completely useless statistics but one that is interesting about Canada is that you have qualified 6-0 here against your team mates and Lewis has qualified 5-0 against his team mates, so how important will it be on Saturday for you?
NR: I didn’t know that. It’s a track I like, definitely. I enjoy this track. I’m confident coming here and qualifying is going to be exciting and important also, but a little bit less important at this track [than Monaco] maybe because you can overtake and tyre degradation is going to be an issue, so there’s going to be a lot happening in the race. But anyway, as in all tracks, even with this statistic or no statistics, it’s always a big challenge to try and be ahead of Lewis in qualifying because he’s obviously very, very quick.
For everybody, would you comment on Sergio’s race in Monaco? Do you agree with Kimi’s views or not?
JEV: I’m not going to comment.
Felipe, why have you never got on the podium here, is there a special reason for that?
FM: So, why I never made a podium here? I think my best result was fourth. I think last year was pretty much in the right direction as well, I just spun but I was pretty quick during the weekend. Why, I don’t know. But I will try, definitely, one hundred percent.
Nico, if you say it was just a normal test, why were you and Lewis using anonymous helmets?
NR: Don’t want to comment on that. Sorry.
Nico and Felipe, the more experienced of the drivers; if it’s dry tomorrow you will try these new Pirelli tyres in free practice; is this a track too specific to draw any conclusions or will it be OK, you can draw conclusions from here and use them on other circuits in the season?
NR: For sure you can draw conclusions, yeah. Hopefully we will get a few dry laps and it will be good to try them and understand a bit more of what is to come and what to expect in the next races.
FM: I don’t think it will be so easy to have a conclusion. First of all, it’s maybe raining; you can forget about a conclusion and you need to see how many laps you can do on the tyres to understand [them], so it’s not also an easy track to understand. It’s a track that is getting better all the time, during practice, so it won’t be so easy to get a conclusion, I think.
Felipe, you had a tough moment after the accident in 2009 when you had to come back and drive. Is it easier now or is it almost the same from a psychological point of view?
FM: It’s completely different because I don’t remember anything about my accident and now I remember everything [about my two in Monaco] but that wasn’t the problem. I was fine so I just got out of the car and it was no problem. I think when you are OK you don’t have any problem, you just jump in the car and you go out again. It’s completely different from 2009.
What are your favourite memories of Montreal, whether it’s on or off the track?
FM: I hope it will be this weekend. Well, I think it was a very good race that I did for Sauber in 2004, I guess. I was fourth, so it was a very good race. I think that was the best.
NR: Not sure, maybe the qualifying my first year; I’m not sure if I was fifth or sixth, but it was a great qualifying that year, so maybe that was a good memory.
PM: I have no good memories of this track.
GvdG: I think my best memory is in 2001 when I was here for the Kart World Championship. It was my first race in Formula Super A and I won the first race, so it was a good memory. Long way back.
JEV: I don’t really remember. Maybe my holidays here. That’s it.
CP: Last year it was my first time here. Qualifying was a bit tough for us but we had a good race afterwards, so I think it was last year’s race.
Nico, last year after Monaco you were 17 points behind the leader; now you are 60 points behind. Do you think you could still be in a better position for the rest of the season, right now, compared to last year?
NR: Last year, at the same point in time, I was quite confident for the rest of the season, because we were really in a good string of results. I think there were six races where I got the most points so at the same point in time I was quite confident, but looking back, of course, it didn’t go well. Now, again, I’m confident, yeah, because the car is very fast at the moment and it’s just a matter of getting a better [understanding of] the tyres and trying to understand them better and better and we’re in that process at the moment. It’s really not easy but I think hopefully we’re making some progress. We will see again this weekend. This weekend is going to be a big challenge for that but if we can get a [better take on that] then it’s going to be a good next couple of races so I’m quite confident, yeah, maybe more confident now, then.
Nico, how concerned are you about the tyre wear on this track?
NR: It will definitely be one of the key aspects of the weekend. We have the supersofts again here, degradation is going to be an issue and possibly that’s going to be the decider as to who wins the race, who has the best control over that.
Which would you prefer: a dry or wet race, given the problems you have been having with the tyres?
NR: I don’t know. Possibly even wet, yeah, because our car is really quick in the wet. I’ve been feeling very comfortable in the wet this year…maybe even wet, yeah.
In-season testing over the use of simulators; how much more effective would that be and would you welcome it back?
FM: It would be welcomed, definitely. A simulator is always what we have, to try to understand something, but it’s always a simulator so when you are in the real situation on the track, you definitely understand a lot better so it would be welcome.
NR: Just as Felipe said, it’s so difficult to get the simulator one hundred percent realistic so there are always several things that are better when you test the real car [it’s] more accurate.
GvdG: I think it’s also good for a rookie to have more track time, of course. It’s how it is now.
To all of you: what do you think about Sergio Perez’s driving; do you share Button’s view that he should maybe calm down, or are you more on Raikkonen’s side?
GvdG: If nobody comments I will comment. I know Checco quite well, we were teammates together in 2010. I think he’s a real fighter, you know, and he’s a guy who wants to win – everybody likes to win – but of course how he raced in Monaco, sometimes he did well, sometimes going over [the top] but I think it’s a tough call.
PM: No comment.
This subject is old but it’s interesting to hear from all of you who never won the world championship up to now, about the ‘Wall of Champions’ here. Is there any particular reason it attracts world champions there, is there any technical challenge that explains all the incidents we have there?
NR: It’s a nice little legend, it’s a difficult corner, yeah, because if you go in a little bit too fast you get that second kerb too much and you’re in the wall, so it’s a very, very challenging corner, but there’s no reason to explain why a lot of world champions have gone in there.
FM: It’s two different things: it’s a different corner, it’s a corner that if you try to be a bit too aggressive you can hit the wall but it’s two different things.
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