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Post-qualifying press conference - Australia 05 Mar 2005

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault in the FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 5 March 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m33.171s; 2nd Jarno Trulli (Toyota), 1m35.270s; 3rd Mark Webber (BMW Williams), 1m36.717s.

Q: Giancarlo, a lot has been said about the Renault over the winter, about how well it is going, as we saw yesterday, but I guess no-one expected the conditions that determined this session today?
Giancarlo Fisichella:
First of all I am really happy about my qualifying session. Yes, I have been really lucky because I went out at the right moment and as soon as I finished my flying lap it started raining. So it is great as well because I have a big gap ahead of my competitors. The car felt good, I have a good feeling with the balance, I feel comfortable and as I told you it is the best start in my life and I know I have a great car and I will fight to win the race.

Q: You mentioned it rained towards the end of that lap, did that affect you in any way? Did you have to come off the pace a little?
GF:
It was raining just at the end of my flying lap so after turn one it was very heavy and on my in lap it was difficult to come back. I went even a little on the grass, but I was slowing down and it was okay.

Q: Jarno, perhaps this was a little bit of a surprise for you, after a relatively difficult weekend so far? A great result today?
Jarno Trulli:
I think I have to point out that anyway, compared to the people that run with me, with intermediate tyres, I was the quickest. The car seems good, felt good all weekend. We have done different testing all the weekend, even this morning, and I think the performance is there. Obviously Giancarlo is the only driver ahead of me, with slick tyres, but I am happy that I couldn’t have had a better start to the season.

Q: What are your thoughts now on tomorrow and how it will go tomorrow? Obviously the weather is an unknown factor, but if it is normal how will you approach qualifying?
JT:
Well with this new format it is a bit of a gamble as we have seen today and so we have to play it by ear. Let’s see what happens tomorrow and I will try to do my best. It will be nice to score some points at the end of the race, but again anything can happen. It would be nice to start the season well with my new team and bring some points and starting from now to the end improving our performance.

Q: Mark, Australian Grand Prix, and here you are P3 on the first day of qualifying. Things couldn’t be looking better for you than they do at the moment and I hope that’s not tempting fate.
Mark Webber:
Of course, it was a very lucky session for us, whatever the order was they were going to be the quickest at the time. We did a reasonable lap and then there were a few others who went quicker because the track was quicker and then Giancarlo took some grooves and Jacques, who was relatively close to me on his grooved tyres. Then it rained at the end and that was a bonus for us because of the aggregate position because nobody could improve so tomorrow morning we will see. I think the grid will stay relatively close. I think the traffic was quite close at the end in terms of the guys on the wets so they might move around a little bit. No-one knows what the weather is going to do. If it is dry, I don’t think anyone is going to be spread out anything as much as they were today.

Q: It was more than a fair lap. You are three seconds quicker than your team-mate and it looked a great lap out on the circuit.
MW:
Yes, I was very happy with it. I got my braking points pretty good which is not easy in those conditions because the track is changing a lot in front of you, picking the right tyres, the right pressures, all those kinds of thing are crucial. Nick did make a small mistake. So I don’t think it is fair to compare too much. Happy with the lap.

Q: Back to you Giancarlo: obviously you want to be on pole tomorrow and it is there for the taking, what will be your philosophy going into the session tomorrow, obviously with fuel and having to run used tyres in your case?
GF:
Yes, I think we are going to play a little with the fuel load. We have enough of a gap to do that. I think it is better to be conservative on my flying lap tomorrow. I have nothing to lose. So it is better to be in pole position.

Q: But it is not always easy to drive a conservative lap….
GF:
That’s right. Conservative, but not slow.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Giancarlo, first of all, can we establish that you were on dry tyres?
GF:
It wasn’t easy to make the decision in that moment. The circuit was getting dryer and dryer very quickly and on the out lap I was really nervous. It was very slippery and some parts were quite damp and so it wasn’t so easy. The car balance was good and the grip was good enough to push a little bit apart from some places where it was damp. I did a clean lap and I am happy about that. It is really good because I have a big gap compared with my competitors and this is good for tomorrow. We can play a little with the fuel loads and I can be a little bit conservative on my second qualifying session.

Q: How has the dry weather running been so far?
GF:
Well, we didn’t run enough in dry conditions yesterday. We did just over 20 laps and the car balance was quite good. It wasn’t fantastic, but overnight we did the right things and this morning was better. Yesterday we drove all day with a lot of fuel. I was confident yesterday even if I wasn’t in the top eight places. So I am happy now because I am on pole and I hope to keep it tomorrow.

Q: Jarno, intermediate tyres… Were you tempted to go on to dry tyres?
JT:
I think it was too early. So far from what we had seen this morning, I was about right with the intermediates and it was a bit difficult with the dry tyres and then a lot was down to the slick tyre choice. At the end of the day, I think I did quite a good lap on intermediates and this time has turned out pretty well for me and for the team.

Q: What about tomorrow morning? You want it wet or dry?
JT:
Well, it’s a gamble at the moment. No-one knows. It is always better to have dry conditions for safety. We have seen when it was quite wet a few drivers had a bit of a moment so I just wish tomorrow will be stable conditions. It doesn’t matter if it is wet or dry so long as it is stable.

Q: Mark, a good start?
MW:
Yes, but the weather was good to us. The lap was okay. It rained relatively soon after us and that is why we are where we are.

Q: Were you tempted to go on to dries?
MW:
No, it was too early for us. Jenson was the first Michelin runner and he did a 41 I think and then I think there was a bit of a break and there was no way Nick and I could go on grooves. So we thought inters was the right tyre and it definitely was for us.

Q: How has the dry weather running been?
MW:
Not too bad, we need to find some more pace, no question about it. I am very confident we can race some of the teams. I think Renault, McLaren and Ferrari are strong, but we can definitely race everyone after that.

Q: And a good grid position will help, of course?
MW:
Yes, well if it is bone dry in the morning, I don’t think the grid will change a great deal. So, that’s a good place for us to start, no question about it.

Questions from the floor

Q: (James Stanford - Herald Sun): I would just like to ask about some of the guys who are well back on the grid, like for example Michael Schumacher. He has a lot of time to make up, I’m not exactly sure how much, but how hard will it be for him to make that up tomorrow?
MW:
Impossible if it is dry. The gap is so big. He may be able to gain a few positions if it is a dry track compared to who he is around. But he will be thinking about the race. He can’t control the weather. The lap times change so much in different conditions that the driver is at the mercy of the conditions really.

Q: (Fritz-Dieter Rencken - The Citizen) Giancarlo, in the past, if you were sitting where you are sitting now, you could go to bed knowing that tomorrow you will start from pole position. How does it feel now, knowing that you may not under the present system?
GF:
It is fantastic (hasn’t understood the question). I am here to be on pole and I am working hard. We are working hard to make that happen. It is a great day for me. Not just because we are on pole, but because the package is working very well. I think it is going to be a better system for us compared to the past.

Q: What Dieter was saying that normally, in the past, you would now know you would be on pole position, whereas now you don’t know you will be on pole, because there is still another session.
GF:
Yeah, yeah. I told you I have a big gap already compared to Jarno who is in second place. This is great for me. I told you tomorrow I may be a bit conservative which is better, but I’ve got nothing to lose.

Q: (Michael Lynch – The Age) Question for Mark: how will the new tyre regulations, engine regulations, the second qualifying and everything affect your mind-set overnight and the way in which you tackle and approach the way you set the car up for tomorrow’s qualifying session?
MW:
Well, all the set-up work is generally done on Friday, especially because we knew it was going to rain today so we did all that set-up work for dry conditions on Friday and the engine rule is not really something the driver can control so that’s pretty invisible for us and also for the fans. But the race will be a big learning curve for everyone tomorrow. If it’s a bone dry race, we have to learn how to make the tyres get to the end of the race and it’s the first time Bridgestone, Michelin, every team in the paddock has had to do that in racing conditions. Testing is one thing, racing is another, so we are sleeping tonight with a few unanswered questions, there’s no doubt about it but we will see how we go tomorrow.

Q: (Dom Taylor – F1 Racing) Giancarlo, we’ve had a very bizarre first qualifying session and obviously you’re a beneficiary of that. Do you think the car is quick enough for you to be sat here, had we had a normal qualifying session?
GF:
Yes, I guess so. I think this morning we showed our pace. I think that with McLaren we are the quickest at the moment. We showed that even in testing. We’ve been one of the quickest everywhere, especially in the last test in Barcelona. Our pace was really really good, not just over one lap but especially over a race distance.