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Post-qualifying press conference - China 15 Oct 2005

The FIA Post Qualifying Press Conference (L to R): Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault, second; Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault, pole position; Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19,  Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai, China, 15 October 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m34.080s; 2nd Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m34.401s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m34.488s.

Q: Fernando, first all-Renault front row of the season with the World Constructors’ Championship in the balance, a good start to the weekend?
Fernando Alonso:
Yes, a perfect start for us. I think qualifying has been quite good for us. I think we have a good strategy for us tomorrow as well. I am a little bit surprised to be on the pole position but the car was perfect. All weekend we didn’t use full power until now, in qualifying and the result is this. It is a fantastic package that we have found here in China and we are on the first row.

Q: You showed your pace in Japan and this is a continuation of that. In terms of fastest laps you were right there with Kimi at Suzuka.
FA:
Yeah, as I said there, I think I had quite a competitive car in Suzuka, equal to McLaren maybe. I was ready to fight them, now I have another possibility, so hopefully I can have a chance to fight with them for the victory.

Q: And for the first time this year, an engine that only has to do one Grand Prix. How does that feel?
FA:
It feels great at the moment. We have a new spec here and everything has been very positive all weekend. All the tests we did with this engine were also really, really positive so I am full of confidence for the team for tomorrow.

Q: Giancarlo, the first all-Renault front row of the season, reflecting the speed of the car since Japan.
Giancarlo Fisichella:
Yes, it’s good. Honestly I was struggling a little bit with the car balance yesterday and this morning. Then we made a couple of changes for the qualifying session and I have to say it was better, definitely; and the first row for Renault is very good, very promising for tomorrow. We are fighting for the Constructors’ Championship, and we are ready for this so we will do our best. We are in a good position and we will go for it.

Q: Virtually identical to Fernando in sectors two and three, but a little bit slower in sector one.
GF:
Yeah, I was a little bit conservative in turn one. I made a small mistake in turn two and then the rest of the lap was quite good, so I am happy about that and I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Q: Kimi, how was your lap? It looked as if you had a little bit of a problem under braking at the first tight right hander, turn four.
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, the car was not exactly perfect but it has been very good all weekend. We have a little bit of difficulty to get the tyres working on the straight but for sure in the race it is going to be good. I think we are going to be very strong in the race, so there is not much to worry about.

Q: With team mate Juan Pablo Montoya starting fifth, a reasonably good result for the team, your thoughts on the race in terms of the Constructors’ Championship and also on the engine situation? You’re using your Suzuka-winning engine here.
KR:
Yeah, but we have been using engines that have won two races, so I don’t think there should be any problem. I think we are in a very good position as a team to try to win the championship for the team and for sure we knew before qualifying that we might not get the pole but we are looking for a race win, one and two, so that’s the main thing.

Q: Returning to Fernando, I don’t know if you are aware of it Fernando but this is the 100th pole position for Michelin, very fitting that it should be secured by you for the French Renault team, of course in Pierre Dupasquier’s last race as head of the Michelin race division.
FA:
I didn’t know that, but it is great. It has been a great season for the Michelin teams, and we all have to say thanks for the success we’ve had this year and of course thanks to Pierre as well for the job he has done in all his career and I think hopefully we can offer another win for the Michelin guys tomorrow.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Fernando, a perfect lap?
FA:
Yes, I think so. I don’t think I can imagine where I could have found some more time. I drove every corner as fast as I could and the car surprised me in every corner as to how good it was, so I was just getting more and more confident, corner after corner and did the best lap of the weekend so I was lucky because it was the important lap.

Q: Has the pace been building all weekend?
FA:
Yeah, I think the track improves every five minutes here in China, and the car itself as well. We made a good number of changes this weekend in the car, in the set-up and we found the right direction of course. I think we have help also from the engine side. We have a good engine this weekend, coming for this last race, only one race and we took all the advantage, at the moment so far in qualifying and hopefully in the race tomorrow.

Q: How much can you feel the difference in the engine?
FA:
We can feel it, all the steps we have in the engine, even if they are small, all the drivers can feel it and this one as well. I think all year we have been conservative because the advantage in the championship was really nice and there was no time to risk and now we have proved that when we want to risk and we are on the first row we have the potential in the team to do a good job.

Q: Giancarlo, front row could not be much better, couldn’t it?
GF:
It is good like this because I was honestly struggling with the car balance yesterday and today and we made the last changes just before the qualifying session but it was a good improvement and I felt a better car. So first row is fantastic for us, especially because it is the last race of the season. We are two points ahead in the Constructors’ Championship. We want to win the Constructors’ Championship so we are looking forward to it.

Q: How difficult is the strategy decision here?
GF:
As usual it is difficult but we did a good testing, good practice here yesterday and this morning so we are quite confident with our strategy.

Q: Reason I asked that because Rubens won with three stops and Jenson was a second behind him on a two stop last year.
GF:
I think this year because we have to use the same set of tyres for all the race, there is just one strategy. I don’t think there will be anybody on three stops and 99 percent are on two stops.

Q: At the end there you were only just ahead of Kimi, how much was the team telling you to push?
GF:
I was keeping ahead corner by corner. There was enough space to Kimi so it was okay.

Q: Kimi, you weren’t distracted by him at all?
KR:
It is always nicer to be on your own but it doesn’t make much difference.

Q: It looked as though you ran a little bit wide at turn 14 as well at the end of the straight.
KR:
Yeah, the rear end was locking a little bit and in a few other places also but you never know when you go into qualifying whether it’s good or not and maybe it wasn’t as good as it had been in the morning, but we also had a little bit of difficulty on new tyres to get the best out of it and then after that, after the first lap it was even better, so I think it should be very good for the race.

Q: Are you surprised at how quick the Renaults have been?
KR:
Not really, we have been quickest pretty much all weekend and I think we are in a strong position for the race and that’s what we’re looking for, the race: a one-two finish and try to win the championship for the team so I’m not too worried.

Q: Again, is the strategy decision difficult?
KR:
Not really, I think we have strong tactics but we don’t really know so we need to wait and see until tomorrow but we’ll soon find out.