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Post-race press conference - Japan 09 Oct 2005

1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1h29m02.212s; 2nd Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1h29m03.845s; 3rd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h29m19.668s.

Q: Kimi, a sensational win from you from 17th on the grid, first of all talk us through the first lap, I think a bit of contact with your team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya.
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, there was quite a lot happening in the first and second corner so I was turning into the second corner and Montoya touched me on the rear wheel a little bit and got sideways and he got past me but luckily enough we didn’t damage our cars, so it was alright. The first lap was quite exciting but I ran wide in the chicane and then unfortunately for him he something happened to him and he went off but otherwise it was a good race.

Q: Then some sensational competition and Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher.
KR:
Yeah, I was behind them but unfortunately we had a slight problem with the gearing and seventh gear was a little bit too short and every now and then when I got really close I started to hit the rev limiter so it was very difficult to get past people but in the end the car started to get better and better all the time and we were able to catch up in the later part of the race.

Q: Well it looked like a phenomenal move at the end there on Giancarlo, talk us through that.
KR:
Yeah, just before my last pit stop I was able to go fast and I pulled out a bit of a gap and I was not too far behind any more when I came out so I thought maybe I would have a chance to catch him up and try to overtake and just into the last lap I was able to get him on the main straight and then I started to hit the rev limiter again but I just went as quickly as I could outside on the first corner and luckily I made it through, so it was very good.

Q: Obviously it was a disappointment not securing the Drivers’ Championship but how does this race rank in your mind in terms of enjoyment and achievement?
KR:
Of course, it was much more difficult than any other of my wins but in one way it is much nicer when you have to fight for it. So it is one of the best ones. It was great, you know, with all the problems in practice with the engine, then the ten-place penalty and all the problems in qualifying with the weather. We were still able to win and now we have a perfect place for qualifying in the last race.

Q: Giancarlo, a great result for Renault, taking the lead of the Constructors’ Championship again by two points. Talk us through the day; it looked like the win was there for you.
Giancarlo Fisichella:
Yeah, it was a tough race. I mean, not tough but I knew Kimi was quick and was catching up with me and honestly I was pushing 100 percent but he was much quicker than me and in the end, in the last three laps he was behind me and in the main straight he was much, much quicker than me, maybe because I was a bit slower at the exit of the chicane. Anyway, I did my best, second for me is good anyway, and we are higher again in the Constructors’ Championship and it is good.

Q: Ralf Schumacher took an early lead. Did you realise much earlier on that he was on a much lighter fuel load?
GF:
Yeah, the rumour was Toyota on three stops, so I was quite convinced to overtake him after the pit stop and it was just important to overtake Jenson on the start. I did that, I overtook Jenson at the start and then I was pushing and doing my race.

Q: Fernando, after Brazil you promised to be more a bit more aggressive here in Japan and that certainly proved to be the case, 16th to eighth when the safety car came out on lap one and then in traffic all day, brilliant to watch.
Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, it was okay. The first lap at the start was more similar to last year’s start, obviously the championship is not on the mind any more and no need to take care about anything, so I really went for it and it was good. But then I was quicker than the people in front of me, I overtook them, Michael and these guys, and then I pitted and unfortunately they overtook me again in the extra laps, so I had to fight again with traffic to overtake them again, pit, and overtake them again after the second pit stop. So I think the strategy this time did not work too well for us. We had an extremely competitive car, I felt quicker than Kimi today for the first time in the last part of the championship but unfortunately I was not able to beat him because before my first stop I was in front of him by a long way and because of the stops and the traffic I was third at the end. But it’s okay, starting 16th, it is good for the Constructors’ (Championship).

Q: A small hiccup with Christian Klien at the chicane there, and presumably you had to let him pass you again.
FA:
I didn’t understand because I overtook him missing the chicane so I slowed down and he overtook me again. Then I overtook him again on the main straight after I had let him past and after three laps I had seven seconds to him and the team and the FIA told me to slow down to let him past again. So I nearly stopped in the race, waited seven seconds, let Klien go ahead, and I was a bit surprised about that but there was nothing to do.

Q: And what about those great passes, first on Michael Schumacher going into 130R?
FA:
Yeah, it was very nice. In the whole championship I did like two or three overtaking moves and in this race I think I did 14, and it was good. Especially that one, I was much quicker on the straight, he closed the door on the inside going into 130R, I was on the inside, flat-out, and it was really risky but as I said before, there was nothing to lose today.

Q: Kimi, what are your thoughts going into China. With the Constructor’ Championship as close as it is, it is going to be a tense finale to the season.
KR:
Yeah, it is going to be a nice race for both teams I think. Last year our car was pretty quick there and I quite like the circuit, so for sure we will try to win the race and hopefully we can win the championship too for the team. We just need to do the best we can and we will see at the end of the race what happens.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Kimi, how does that win rate for you?
KR:
I think it is one of the best for sure, maybe the best one, because I really had to fight for it and after all the problems we had this weekend, it was very nice.

Q: It certainly looked fantastic from outside, what was it like inside?
KR:
Yeah, there was quite a lot happening during the race all the time. There was traffic and I was not really able to run at my own speed, in the clean air, only at the end. It was exciting with some nice overtaking and it is always nice when you can fight like this.

Q: You and Fernando had fantastic opening laps, were you a little bit more held up than Fernando?
KR:
Actually I went a little bit straight in the last chicane, I tried to overtake in some places and then the safety car came out. Montoya touched me a bit at the rear tyre, so I got sideways and lost a place from him but apart from that it was pretty okay.

Q: And behind Michael as well.
KR:
Yeah, after the pit stop I was able to get past him. He made a little mistake and I was quicker than him on the main straight but I had a little bit too short seventh gear, so I was hitting the limiter.

Q: And then the vital later second stop got you past Webber and Button.
KR:
Yeah, I was quicker than them but I was just closing up and I was not able to get a good run on them and I knew they were going to stop before me, so I had two laps to really push and try to gain time. I was able to pull a little bit away from them and then after the last pit stop I saw that he was not so far away and there were seven laps to go, so I went as quickly as I could and luckily I caught him on the last lap and got past him.

Q: Giancarlo, you must be very disappointed.
GF:
Yeah, I was the leader of the race until the last lap and losing the first place is not great. Kimi was flying, he was much quicker than me, and he was especially much quicker than me on the straight, maybe even because he had much better traction out of the hairpin and the chicane. I am a little bit disappointed but I did my best, I was pushing all through the race and in a way, it is a good day for us because we are back on top of the Constructors’ Championship.

Q: You built up a lead of 19 seconds after the middle stint and to have lost that must have been devastating, but did you have any major problems?
GF:
I was struggling a little bit with the rear end in the slow speed corners and with traction. The car balance in the high speed corners wasn’t too bad. He was just quicker than us, as usual, in the last (few races), after the first part of the season, it has been like that. What can I do?

Q: Fernando, a fantastic first lap, and you had to overtake Michael Schumacher twice.
FA:
Yeah, all the traffic I had in front of me I overtook twice, once on the track and then because I stopped they overtook me again. So I probably lost the race there, in the traffic. My car was really good today; for the first time in a long time I felt quicker than the McLarens today but we didn’t have the opportunity to beat them. But it’s OK; starting 16th I think all the plans we had was to get into the points, top six, top seven, so to be on the podium again is a nice surprise. It’s my 14th podium of the season, so I hope to do the 15th in China and if I can win, even better.

Q: It looked as though it was very very close with Mark Webber.
FA:
It was very close. I think I tried to overtake him twice but I wasn’t really much faster than him, so I needed a little mistake from him if I had the opportunity. He made a little mistake at the chicane, so I went for it. I think it was impossible to overtake at the outside because I tried two or three times with Michael. I learned the lesson, so I really went for the inside but there was only a little grass, there was nothing left of the asphalt, so it was a great move. That one and the other one, on Michael, around the outside of 130R were the nicest moments of the race.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Sal Zanca – AP) Kimi, what do you think about, when you’re roaring down the straight, inches apart, entering that final lap?
KR:
Well, I wanted to get past him. I was thinking which way I should go. Of course at the inside it is easier to overtake, but Fisichella went on the inside, so I didn’t have much choice but to go around the outside and try to go around him and luckily enough I made it, so I was very happy.
Q: Same question to Giancarlo, what did you think?
GF:
He was just quicker than me in the straight. I had already seen him catching me in the middle of the straight and going on the left side. I could already see the possibility of losing the first position. I did my best but unfortunately I always try to keep my position but I could see there was the possibility of a collision.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Fernando and Kimi, how do you explain that all of a sudden it was possible to overtake so many cars, especially on a circuit like Suzuka where people say it’s impossible?
KR:
I think the nature of the circuit seems to somehow suit this year better than other years. There was quite a big speed difference with some cars on the straight and I think the quick left hander is now easier so you can follow (another car) through, going flat behind people and it makes it easier to try and overtake into the chicane and onto the main straight. I think that change to the circuit has definitely made it easier to overtake here.
FA: Yeah, I don’t know why this year was a little bit easier also to follow people in the first sector where it’s usually really difficult. And 130R is easily flat, even if you follow a car that is just in front of you, so in the chicane it is a good opportunity.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, have you ever been as happy as you are now after a race and how long do you think you’re able to maintain the feeling?
KR:
I don’t know how long, this evening for sure. I am very happy, of course, for the win. Maybe it makes me happier than normal because I really needed to fight for it so maybe the feeling is stronger now because when you achieve something, when you really fight for it, it’s nicer than driving a whole race on your own in front.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Giancarlo, could you tell us what the people on the pit wall told you during the last few laps, and don’t you feel that during the first part of the race you were maybe too conservative?
GF:
I was talking with the team and the first part I was doing my pace. Then they told me to push a little bit more and I was doing that. I did my best, I told you I was always pushing, but after the middle of the race I lost rear grip and it was a bit slow in the slow chicanes and the low speed corners and even under traction.

Q: Giancarlo, do you think that the six laps behind the safety car affected the result of the race?
GF:
Yes, that’s another reason for sure. It’s another reason because there was a possibility to go away a bit more compared with all the people struggling behind other slow cars, but anyway, that is racing.