FIA post-qualifying press conference 23 Aug 2003
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE - 23 AUGUST 2003
1. Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), 1m21.688s
2. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1m21.944s (+ 0.256s)
3. Mark WEBBER (JAGUAR), 1m22.027s (+ 0.339s)
Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.
Q: Fernando, that was a fantastic lap, much quicker than you were able to do yesterday. Talk us through the weekend.
Fernando ALONSO: It is a difficult weekend always here in Hungary, it is a difficult track because it is quite dirty on Friday and it is difficult to test anything on the car. But from the beginning the Renault was very competitive, Jarno and I were competitive yesterday, this morning, and the pole for Jarno yesterday and this today makes a lot for the team and we hope tomorrow finishes a good weekend for us.
Q: It is going to be a difficult start here, obviously it is dirty and you are on the clean side of the track. How do you think the first corner is going to be?
FA: Well, as usual it will be very, very difficult and twenty cars are very close and the first corner is very tight but hopefully our launch control will work as usual and I hope to arrive in the first corner in first place.
Q: Ralf, I guess after the last couple of weeks you have had, being on the front row is a nice feeling for you.
Ralf SCHUMACHER: On one hand it is definitely a nice feeling, the team did a good job, we had difficulties this weekend for various reasons. Certainly being second I am not so happy with, especially with the fact that being on the inside on the dirty line is not the best place to be. But hopefully Fernando will be nice and kind to open the door tomorrow and then it will be a nice race.
Q: It looked like a good lap but sector two it seemed to drop away a bit.
RS: I have no reason for that actually. Everything felt nice and clean, no problems at all. But certainly we will look at the data and see what happened.
Q: Mark, great result and interesting that both you and Renault were able to test on Friday at Hockenheim to perhaps do some preparation for this race.
Mark WEBBER: Well, I think Renault did, yeah, but we didn't really test any tyres specifically towards this Grand Prix. But overall we are very satisfied with today's qualifying. It was a very, very nice lap for me to drive, it felt on the edge and it is not easy to do those laps with quite a bit at stake - you prepare yourself for the whole weekend and then if you make an error on that lap then you pay a big price so big thanks to the team. Now we want to get some points tomorrow and that has gone a long way towards that.
Q: Do you think the changes to the circuit this year is going to make overtaking easier here?
MW: Well, it is not going to be any worse than it was, the old lay-out was very difficult because you braked into the first corner because the apex was a long way into the corner so yeah, potentially you can do something at the first corner but it is unbelievably dirty off line and the rubber on line even gets built up as the race goes on so off line is even more hazardous so we will see. Hopefully there will be no overtaking and we will finish like this.
Q: Fernando, the highest placed Bridgestone runner is in fifth place. It is looking pretty good for Michelin, isn't it?
FA: Yeah, again, this weekend Michelin has an advantage probably and I hope it continues like that until the end of the season. Nothing to say about the tyres, they are working very well, very consistent in the long runs so I think we can be pretty confident for tomorrow's race.
Q: A very interesting grid, I think you will agree, Fernando, when you look at it?
FA: I didn't look at the grid but yeah, always very interesting. The new qualifying system makes the races more interesting and tomorrow will be a tough race. Obviously the temperature is very high and it will be tough for the car, for the drivers, and it will be interesting.
Q: Do you think there are multi-stop advantages here?
FA: I don't know. Tomorrow we will see. There are many, many things here. The heat, the tyre wear, the strategy, the importance to have a good qualifying position because here it is very difficult to overtake and it will be a very interesting race from a strategy point of view.
Q: The cars have been good all weekend, both yours and Jarno's as well. Why do you think that is?
FA: I don't know why but all weekend we were very competitive. I am not happy with the balance because the track is very dirty and it is difficult to set up the car but I think we have less problems than the other teams. I don't know why. The chassis is doing a very good job here, the engine is performing very well as well, tyres are fantastic so the whole package is working fantastically here.
Q: You mentioned you weren't happy with the balance and you said that yesterday as well. Are you still not happy with it today?
FA: No, it is better today. We found some good solutions, especially for the long runs we did this morning. We were quite happy and we are confident for tomorrow.
Q: Ralf, the highest placed world championship contender on the grid. That has got to be encouraging hasn't it?
RS: Yeah, just on the wrong side. I tried very hard, but it did not work out. I don't know why the Renaults are so quick, I just don't like the idea that they are. I know certainly they did a very good job here this weekend and we have to accept that.
Q: You were very quick in the first sector, easily fastest overall...
RS: Didn't run for the next two and that is what I don't understand. I am a bit surprised. It was a very good second and third sector in my opinion. It was nice, clean, no mistakes, but I certainly have to look into that.
Q: I was going to say the third sector seemed to be where you lost out a little bit.
RS: Well, second as well but it is something that we are going to look into later.
Q: Do you think you are running the same tactics as Juan Pablo?
RS: I don't know, but I am sure I have the right one.
Q: Looking at the grid it is interesting that the world championship contenders are scattered around below you...
RS: It would be great if I could disappear and the two would stay in between, that would help me definitely. We will have to speak about that later how much they want for that!
Q: What do you think of the modifications to the circuit?
RS: I think technically it was a bit more demanding before now. We have two more braking corners. From a circuit point of view I think they did a good job in doing what they did. They have given us one more overtaking opportunity. I think into turn 10 is not good enough yet but I understand there is a second phase going to happen for next year sometime. It is less bumpy so it is definitely an improvement from that point of view. Technically I like the old circuit more.
Q: Is it going to be easier to overtake tomorrow?
RS: The straight is extended so I guess if you have a good exit out of the last corner then yes, it is easier.
Q: Even though of line is so dirty?
RS: Well, yes, but once you are on the straight it doesn't really matter if you are off line. You just try to get your position for the first corner again.
Q: Mark, well done, third on the grid. That must be a great feeling?
MW: Yeah, very satisfied. The lap was nice. I have really enjoyed driving here this weekend and I just wanted to do one more nice lap when it really counted so it was good to get that one in the bank. We had a rough time yesterday with a lot of things hurting us but we have done a really good job today and it is nice to be up the front of the grid. Obviously, overtaking is not easy and hopefully this gives us a good chance to get some points.
Q: You lost out a little bit in the final sector. Do you know where you lost the time?
MW: Maybe a little bit in the last corner, not quite getting the most out of it there, but I haven't seen the sector times yet. But I don't want to do that lap again, I am quite happy with the lap I have.
Q: Third on the grid, as Ralf pointed out, not the dirty side...
MW: Yeah, it's fine. I think the Michelins normally start better than Bridgestones anyway so, I mean, I will have Michelins all around me anyway. The Williams also will be very strong off the line even on the dirty line.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Fernando, on the first day you said you had very good vibe about Hungary, yesterday you said you couldn't even think about making pole. What is your prediction for tomorrow?
FA: Tomorrow is more difficult but here all weekend I was confident and yesterday I had a problem in free practice and I was not completely ready for qualifying. Today everything was much better. For tomorrow it is difficult to say but personally I hope to finish on the podium because after Barcelona I didn't finish on the podium any more and I want to have the same feeling again.
Q: Ralf and Mark, after almost a year of the new qualifying what is your view on whether it has made things more exciting for the fans?
RS: Certainly, if you look from our perspective today it was a perfect thing but then I experienced myself in Austria if you mess up on Friday you pay the price for the whole weekend as Mark mentioned before. So as long as your lap is clean it is fine. It is more interesting for us and I am sure it is for the spectators to be able to watch a car for one lap and to see each difference but it can be very difficult.
MW: I agree with Ralf. It is very, very demanding on the drivers and the teams. You have to have everything perfect for that one minute 22 or whatever it is and a lot rests on that for the weekend. How you are going to attack that lap is crucial to Sunday's performance. But I think all-in-all the one-lap qualifying has worked. There are also up sides to the old system, having a few shots at it, and in the last two minutes of the session the whole jigsaw fits into place. You could say this is a little bit predictable at some circuits but all-in-all I think it is quite a good step forward.
Q: All three guys, what are your thoughts on not being able to race at Montreal next year?
MW: It is real shame because I would put it up there as one of the best organised races and you know it is always nice to go to Canada and the track is different. Okay, it is not a lot longer but you have a different set-up and I think everyone, including the mechanics, enjoyed going there, certainly for different reasons, but it was a good place to go.
FA: I think the same. It was a good place to go and I like the circuit there as well. I have nothing more to add.
RS: Yeah, certainly it is a nice place but for various reasons, as I am sure you all know, it is better for Formula One to move somewhere else and if a circuit or country can't adapt to that then certainly Formula One is looking somewhere else and if you look at what is coming on the schedule next year it is an improvement.
Q: Ralf, if you are immediately in front of Montoya and he is in a better position in the championship, are you prepared to let him overtake you?
RS: Well, actually team orders are not allowed anyway so what are we talking about? I am trying to do my race as good as possible.
Q: So that's a no then?
RS: Well, I am trying to do my race and obviously since I have qualified in front of him I hope that I stay where I am.