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FIA Thursday press conference - Abu Dhabi

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Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Fernando Alonso (Renault), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Adrian Sutil (Force India) and Jarno Trulli (Toyota)

Q: A question to you all. What are your reactions to seeing the Yas Island Circuit for the first time. The facilities? The circuit? Adrian, would you like to start?
Adrian Sutil: Impressive, lets say. A very nice circuit, very big. I think it is the biggest Ive ever seen. The facilities are amazing. It is going to be an interesting weekend really.
Jarno Trulli: I think I agree. I was impressed with the facilities and the place and the circuit. So far it seems to be very well made with the surface and the kerbs. I think the run-off area so far seems pretty good. Obviously before we judge the circuit lay-out we need to have a run.
Kimi Raikkonen: I have only seen the paddock area so far. I havent been around the circuit yet. It looks all new and you can see a bit that it is last minute but, overall, it is a very big, massive thing and it will be one of the nicest when everything is ready.

Q: Fernando, have you looked at it on the simulator?
Fernando Alonso: No, no simulator for us. Not even Play Station this time. It will be the first lap tomorrow. Again, the same as all the others, I am very impressed with all the facilities. The circuit itself and the lay-out I think we need to wait until tomorrow as in the car you have always different feelings and different sensations, so I am looking forward. It will be an interesting weekend especially with the late start for the race, with the lights, so it can be quite a good show for television.

Q: Adrian, you have tried it on the simulator, havent you?
AS: Yes, I tried it on the simulator. It is quite good to drive but lets say, not overwhelming, but lets see how it is in the real. It is always a different thing.

Q: Do you think you can continue the form you have shown in the last few races here?
AS: Well, hopefully yes. There are long straights on this circuit, so hopefully it will suit our car but it is hard to say where we are. It went really well in the last races, especially in qualifying where our pace was great. But it is a new circuit and we have no set-up here. For everybody it is a big challenge, so lets see how we go but we try to do the best out of the car and hope for a really good race.

Q: There are a lot of right angle turns here. Do you think they will hurt the car?
AS: Yeah, a long straight and then hairpins. Some second gear corners, some first gear corners, so actually really slow corners everywhere. I am not sure if it suits us but we will have to try and make the best out of it. But when I walked the circuit today I had quite a good feeling, so hopefully it is the truth.

Q: What about your future? What are the chances of staying on at Force India?
AS: Well, at the moment I am still not confirmed but we are talking with Force India for sure and it would be a good thing to do another season there. Both sides are interested and I feel really well with my team at the moment.

Q: Jarno, a similar questions to you really, concerning your form over the last few races and your future.
JT: I think it was really good by the team to show the performance in the last few races after a poor middle of the season. It was nice to be back fighting for the front. I think we missed a little bit of luck but all in all it was nice to prove that Toyota was bouncing back after a fantastic start to the season. But to be honest we have gone through such an up and down season that it is difficult to predict what is going to happen for this race. These hot conditions should suit our car but it is only a hope and we will only find out during the weekend. Regarding the future, I have nothing to say or add at the moment.

Q: Are you talking to other teams as well at the moment?
JT: I prefer not to make any speculation. Obviously I have got some options.

Q: What are your thoughts on possibly leaving Toyota?
JT: Obviously there is a high chance to be leaving Toyota but it difficult to say and talk about. A lot is up in the air.

Q: Kimi, what are your thoughts on leaving Ferrari?
KR: Well, it is not any different than a few races ago. I dont have a contract anymore with them. It is the last race and we try to make a good result and we will see what happens in the future.

Q: Is your focus totally on Formula One or would you like to pursue your rallying career?
KR: Basically I have a few different options and we will see what is the best one overall and then make my decision.

Q: Would rallying be a consideration?
KR: It is definitely one of them, but I mean it is not just Formula One and rallying. There are other things I could do and we will see what happens.

Q: Just looking back at the second part of the season. You have only scored two points less than the person who has scored the most points. Considering that development has stopped on the car it is a pretty remarkable record, isnt it?
KR: Yeah, I think we had a good second half. The car is definitely not the fastest but we found a pretty good way of working with the car and getting the best out of. It has been more normal to drive than for a long time before. Once you get something that you have a good feeling with, then usually you get good results. The bigger teams or the better teams who have been faster this year should have done better; better cars, better results and better points overall in the last part but they havent and I think we did pretty well.

Q: It seems almost unfair that the focus has been on your team-mates and how fast they have been going whereas you have been racking up points all the time.
KR: It makes no difference for me really. I dont think they have been going very fast and they can talk to them as much as they want. We just try to score points and get good results. That has been our aim and is still our aim in the last race and hopefully we can get a bit more than McLaren.

Q: Fernando, looking at your future and leaving Renault. What are your thoughts on those?
FA: Well, obviously it is finishing one of the steps that you do in your career and now it is time to move forward and change team. It will be quite an emotional race as it has been many years with Renault now, seven years with them, and I know everybody in the team. Some of them after so many years are good friends to me, so for sure I will miss them in the future but a new challenge is ahead of me now and I am looking forward to next year as well.

Q: When do you go to Ferrari for the first time? Is there a date?
FA: No, there is not a date.

Q: No ideas?
FA: No, soon.

Q: Pretty soon?
FA: Hopefully, yes.

Q: I know for a long time you had somewhere to live in Oxford. Are you going to have somewhere in Maranello?
FA: No, I will be in Switzerland, where I am now, but it is not too far from Maranello. It is only three hours driving or whatever, or two, so it wont be too difficult to go there.


Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) If I can ask all of you. Jean Todt is the new President of the FIA. What would you like to see him achieve and accomplish for Formula One? Jarno, would you like to start?
JT: I mean he knows better than me what Formula One needs at the moment. Probably stability and consistency in terms of rules as this will help the cost cutting. There are plenty of things that will be discussed with the team principals. They really have to work together in order to get Formula One back to where it was last year. This year has been pretty difficult in general. On our side, the drivers side, I think we have always had a good relationship with the FIA people. We look after safety and it will be important to talk to each other.
KR: I think he is going to do good work. I think he is a good guy for this work and he is very straightforward and not too much politics. But I know from working with him that he is going to be the right guy.
FA: The same. I think his experience in Formula One will be a huge help to improve things and he will have a better idea of what Formula One needs. He is quite a clever guy, so I am sure we are in good hands now.
AS: Yeah, I think a good President. He has a lot of experience in Formula One and he knows whats important. I think the biggest point is maybe the drivers can also argue a little bit than just being asked about situations and stuff like that as it did not really happen, I think I had a feeling, in the last years. That will be the most important thing for myself that we are in there for discussions as well sometimes.

Q: (Chris Lines - Associated Press) Question for you all about the late start: starting in the afternoon, going into the evening. We had a situation in Australia, first race of the year, with a similar kind of timing. Towards the end of the race there were complaints from the drivers about the sun getting in their eyes, complaints about the track cooling down, so the grip wasnt as good. Do you have concerns here for the same reasons?
KR: I dont think there will be any problems. Of course, it might look a little bit different at some point when the sun disappears but the lights, at least in Singapore, were so good that you hardly see the difference between day and night. Here, it will be quite hot anyhow, so it should be OK.

Q: Would ten degrees make a lot of difference to the track temperature?
FA: I dont think so. I think in Australia the temperatures were different. Here, the track temperature at the start of the race will maybe be 50 degrees, so it will never be cool enough to give you problems warming up the tyres.
AS: Very similar. I think it wont be a real problem. The only place where we were quite late this year with the sunset was in Australia. It was a little bit difficult, for sure, in some corners but not a problem for me, and temperature-wise, well, its so hot here anyway, so we shouldnt have a problem. For sure you have to readjust the temperatures but its about communicating with the engineers and just doing the right thing at the right time.
JT: I agree. In general temperatures shouldnt be a problem. The only question mark which we will eventually find out about tomorrow will be the shadows because of the sunset in this twilight race. Weve got the experience of Australia and all the time schedule has been moved, so already tomorrow we will find out, so we will get an idea.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Question to Jarno and Adrian: Im just wondering if you two guys have settled your differences after your exchange of words following your first lap accident in Brazil?
JT: I think were going to discuss it probably tomorrow in the drivers briefing and in the GPDA briefing. Obviously it was very disappointing to end the race like that, especially on the first lap. Obviously I think I had every reason to be extremely furious. Ive got all the evidence to show that I was there, I was next to him, so I think tomorrow we are going to discuss it.
AS: I think theres nothing to discuss. It was a quite obvious incident. In the end it was very disappointing for myself, even more, I think, because I was the one who was just driving and he lost control of his car and crashed in my back, so it was not my problem, it was his problem. I dont know why hes freaking out like that, to be honest.
JT: (Laughing) If you want, I can show you some pictures. I dont know if youre blind but they clearly show you that my front wing is next to your front wing, so…
AS: Yeah, but youre trying to overtake me on the outside on the kerbing. There was not a problem…
JT: So you mean… you didnt move there…
AS: No, you were just not going off the power. The same happened in Barcelona where you lost control again and crashed again into a Force India car. You just have to sometimes also…
JT: I just lost…
AS: ...expect the limits of the car. If theres no way to go, you have to back off, thats how racing is, and I dont know how long you want to learn it.
JT: In Barcelona I spun and he hit me because he tapped the kerb, he completely cut the circuit and he didnt slow down, so basically… Anyway, I think its better…
FA: (to KR) Shall we go?
AS: No, no. Watch the race in Barcelona. I didnt hit you, you hit me. I dont know whats the problem, but maybe your eyes are a problem.
JT: I dont have any feeling about him.
AS: I dont understand, really, sorry.

Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) I was actually going to ask a similar question, but maybe the two of you can agree on what you said after the incident in Brazil, because obviously Jarno was seen to be gesticulating and saying quite a few things. Could you just tell us what was said at the time?
JT: I was furious because I said ‘didnt you see me? I mean, I was next to him and he kept pushing me going outside until I was obviously on the kerbs. I couldnt believe…
AS: …the kerbs, not a problem to be on the kerb, I think. Wheres the problem?
JT: Ok, no problem, its OK. As long as we know the rules.
AS: I know the rules.
JT: Fantastic.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, you were behind these two guys. Could you give us your point of view and Kimi, we heard something about you taking a sabbatical next year in 2010. Is that true, its an option or not?
KR: I can if I want. I can do whatever I want, but like I said before, I havent made my decision what I want to do yet.
FA: Yes, I saw everything, more or less. Second or third row, because I had two cars in front of me but as Jarno said, I think tomorrow in the drivers briefing we will discuss… deep.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - AFP) Do you think, the four of you, that Jenson Button is a good champion for the sport, or just that he had the best car this year?
FA: I think hes a good champion for Formula One and he deserved it. He did a very good job this season. Its true that in the second half he maybe didnt score the points that people expected but it was very difficult to keep the same average points as in the first half, when he won all the races. For that reason, you have the feeling that he stepped back a little bit but I think he did a very good job. If you look at the overall view of the championship from race one to the final race, he was the best of us, so he deserved it. Its good for him, good for Brawn and good for the sport, I think.
AS: Yes, I think he deserved it, definitely. I think it was quite hard in the last races because he was maybe struggling a little bit with the car and the car just wasnt the fastest anymore, so they were harder races for him, but I think he always made the best of his possibilities and scored points, a few points, sometimes more points but it was definitely enough for the championship, so my congratulations to him. He did a good job this year, yeah.
JT: I think hes a very well deserved champion because its turned out a good season. Obviously hes had some ups and downs but he managed to handle the situation; when he had the best car he proved he was a race winner and when he had to defend he just drove well, always keeping his head cool. I think in the end, he deserved it.
KR: Yeah, he had the most points, also at the end of the season but whoever gets the most points deserves it, so hes definitely the right man for that.

Q: (Flavio Vanetti - Corriere dello Sport) Kimi, what would like to tell Fernando as hes joining Ferrari to replace you?
KR: I dont think I need to tell him anything; for sure he will find out. Hes been in Formula One a long time and hes not going to have any issues there. I think hes probably been there before and met the people already, so theres not much to say.

Q: (Gautam Sharma - F1 Racing, Middle East) Question for Fernando: do you know anything about the car you will be driving next year and do you have any expectations for the season or are you just taking it as it comes?
FA: I dont know anything so far, about the 2010 car but hopefully its quick enough to fight for the title which is the main goal not only for myself but for the team as well. After one season that was not good for me and maybe not good enough for Ferrari either, I think next year hopefully we have the possibility to fight and then you can win, you lose, it depends on many details but at least there is the possibility to be winning some races and afterwards you will see race by race. You never have any specific programme before the championship. You take it as it comes, later.

Q: (Jonathan Legard - BBC Sport) Question for Kimi: you talk about your options. I just wondered how important it would be if you decided to stay in Formula One, if you found another team, that you could do some rallying as well, like you did with Ferrari or whether thats something of a stumbling block, wanting to do another form of motor sport as well as doing Formula One?
KR: Its definitely going to be Formula One, its going to be in the contract that Im allowed to do it (rallying). Its not going to hurt you. Any kind of driving is always going to give you some experience, so I dont see whats the issue. Its been working well this year, so as long as it doesnt disturb what youre doing in Formula One or whatever you do, I dont see that theres any problem.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - AFP) Both championships have been settled. Will this race be the last opportunity to show yourselves, the ones that dont have a team for next year?
JT: I think we race for the team as well. We dont only race for us. We always want to do our best and obviously this is the last race and we want to finish on a high, not just for us or the team. Basically were in the same boat.
KR: You always try to do your best - at least, I try and its the same story in the last race: we try to get back third place in the championship for the team. I think its a bit late if you only try to do your best in the last race to try to prove yourself to some other team, then you shouldnt be there. Its the same story as any race this year: we try to do the maximum.
AS: For me it makes no difference. Im always trying to get the best out of the car and do my best. Its the last race but theres no difference for me.

Q: (Jonathan Legard - BBC Sport) Fernando, after you won the title in 2005, there were still two races to go. How did you approach those? Just thinking of Jenson Buttons approach; hes done it now, is there a sense of release, any different approach to the race?
FA: I think he will be more relaxed because you did the job already, and they also won the constructors championship, so there is nothing really to fight for, so you approach the race relaxed and you enjoy the weekend, while in the last two or three races you maybe had some stress when you arrived at a race. For me, 2005 was different because we were fighting for the constructors championship until the last race, so there was still a little bit of stress in the weekend, but for him it will be quite a fun weekend.


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Flash news

New Williams to appear next week

Williams 2008 car is to make its track debut next week, the team have confirmed. The FW30 will get its first outing at Spains Valencia circuit on Tuesday, 22 January.
Williams have announced no plans for an official launch. Instead, the press will get their first glimpse of the Toyota-powered challenger as it participates in regular testing alongside rivals.
For its debut, the FW30 will feature the second of a series of six special winter liveries designed to commemorate Williams 30th year in Formula One racing. Its race colours will be revealed in time for the Australian Grand Prix on March 16.
Renault's 2008 machine, the R28, is also expected to make its first track appearance at Valencia next Tuesday.

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