Post-race press conference - Bahrain 03 Apr 2005
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Fernando Alonso (Renault); 2nd Jarno Trulli (Toyota); 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren).
Q: Fernando, you secured three wins in a row for Renault and 100 wins for the Renault engine in Formula One. A fantastic day for you, a hot, long race, but you made it look very simple.
Fernando Alonso: It was hotter than Malaysia, so it was the hottest race I ever raced. The car was perfect, especially after my first stop, and we proved again that our strongest point is the long runs. It is something unusual but I think useful for this championship. The car is very nice to drive again and I had a good fight with Michael for a few laps then with Jarno, and after the first pit stop I had a bit of room to be able to be a bit more conservative.
Q: I was going to ask about Michael did you feel under pressure from him in the early stages?
FA: Yes, obviously, it was very close. I think he was quicker than me in the first part of the race but as we know it is very difficult to overtake and I was quite sure that my long runs would be better than him so I was not too worried if I had Michael in front of me, if he had overtaken me, because I knew that our strongest point should be at the end.
Q: Any mechanical problems, any dramas in the race at all from your point of view?
FA: No. Again, it is the third consecutive race that I have nothing to say, no problems at all, nothing in the race and during the whole weekend and this is something fantastic, something I have never had before, so, it is a dream.
Q: Jarno, a spectacular first corner for you on the outside there, it looked as though you almost had Michael.
Jarno Trulli: Yeah, it was a good fight and actually in the next corner I tried really hard because I think he was lighter than me, but fortunately I didnt push too much, I just followed them. At the beginning I was looking pretty good, at one stage I was catching up Fernando but I believe he was just waiting and then mid race when he started to push he pulled away and the only thing I could do was finish the race in second. It was a pretty easy race, the team has done a fantastic job over the weekend and it is a dream to be here. After two races, two podiums, two second positions, it is a great start.
Q: And how were the conditions? Before the race we talked about the heat, the sand, the rubber, how was it out there?
JT: To be honest, I didnt suffer at all. In qualifying I suffered a bit of understeering, I commented before the race, but I didnt touch the car at all in set-up all through the race and I felt I had second in my pocket against my competitors, but against Fernando I didnt have much. But, anyway, it is good to be here.
Q: Kimi, great to see you on the podium, it was an eventful race for you after an eventful qualifying session. Talk us through it.
Kimi Raikkonen: We seem to have some difficulties in qualifying, we just dont get the speed out of it, but in race conditions it seems to be okay, especially at the end when I could push because the car felt really easy to drive. But during the race itself I was stuck behind two cars from the start so I just waited and waited until they went into the pits and then tried to go as fast as I could, then I gained some places and then I was behind I think it was Webber in the Williams and I was pushing him and was just catching him. He spun in front of me and then after that I was too far away from the two cars in front so I just came slowly back home.
Q: You had a bit of a moment running over one of the corners and then a bit of a drama with the radio before the pit stops.
KR: Yeah, I just went over the kerb a little bit and told them I damaged the car but actually it was okay. I asked the team if they could see anything but there was no answer and then when I was looking to come into the pit the second time I started to look at the lap times and so I looked a few times and then the radio didnt work any more so I was close to running out of petrol but luckily I came into the pits and got some more.
Q: Your team-mate Pedro de la Rosa set the fastest lap of the race, so it is looking more promising for you now.
KR: Yeah, like I said the car is good in the race but we are too far away on that point when the car is good so we need to do something to be on the front row or close to the front and then we can win a race, but when we start from eighth or ninth place that is too far away.
Q: Fernando, returning to you, we dont want to detract from the celebration today, but thinking ahead to Imola, you are in great shape. Not a good day for Ferrari again here, it is going to be an interesting weekend there.
FA: Yes, we arrive at Imola as one of the favourites, one of the teams to beat, and this is good. Hopefully Ferrari are not in the best moment, they have improved with the new car but still the tyres are probably not giving them too much and I think the work Michelin did during these races is just unbelievable and I hope it will continue like this.
Q: Fernando, quite a race for you. You return to the start of the European campaign having dominated the last two races, Renault has won the third of the races we have had so far, what does it all mean to you?
FA: It means we are truly competitive. We have shown it in these three races. I had the rain in Australia on Saturday, if not it could have been even better for me, but in a way for the team it has been a fantastic start in these hot races. Now we arrive in new conditions in Europe, tracks that all the teams know very well and we are allowed to test quite a lot and we will see how the car is there. So far the car has been difficult to beat.
Q: What about the Ferrari in those opening stages, is that going to be a real threat for the future?
FA: Well, this weekend they were probably the only ones to put our victory at risk, you know. The first few laps saw Michael, I guess, lighter than me at that stage and, you know, I was quite confident because I knew my tyres should be better in long runs and at the end of the race I was really sure that if Micahel had overtaken me it would not be too difficult to get the position back. It was a little bit of pressure, but it was not too much worry as well.
Q: Your team-mate Giancarlo had a problem with the car, was that a problem that was relayed to you and perhaps you had to take care of it?
FA: I didnt know until the team told me at the end of the race, so in the race I had no any information about Giancarlo and where to be careful on these things. Probably the only thing that can stop Renault at the moment is mechanical problems.
Q: Jarno, second again, I am just wondering how long are you going to accept second places for?
JT: Well, just after the race I went to the team and said we need to push and continue like this and we need to keep the momentum but we need to improve our performance because I am getting tired of this side and I want to be on the first step of the podium, but at the moment Renault is still too strong, Fernando is driving extremely well. It is satisfying, anyway, being here, because when I signed for this team I couldnt expect to be so quick so early, so I need to thank the team, I need to thank Mike Gascoyne and everyone because they are doing a fantastic job, and the mechanics because it is a great performance and reinforced by the fourth place from Ralf, so both cars are performing very highly.
Q: What about the conditions in the race, were they tough?
JT: It was a bit hot out there, but to be honest I didnt suffer at all, I was in a very good condition, very fit, the car was very easy to drive which helped quite a lot. I had not enough pace to catch Fernando at the beginning of the race, I was following them, but at one stage I though I could catch him and really started to push catching him up but then he responded to me mid-race and I understood there was nothing to do so I had more than 20 seconds on the next McLaren so I just had to lift off.
Q: And the tyres at the end?
JT: No problem at all, we seem pretty good on tyres, especially wear. It was a bit difficult than on some other tracks, probably, different conditions, maybe, in colder conditions, but we have a lot of new things coming up for this car and we hope that we can make the car slightly more understeering with a bit more traction and, you know, we are going in the right direction and this is the most important thing.
Q: Kimi, first of all a good start it seemed?
KR: Yeah, nothing really wrong with that. It was a little bit easier because the Red Bull was in front of me so that was good. I think I gained a few places at least one so that was good.
Q: You seemed to be having battles with somebody almost all through the race.
KR: Yeah, I was quicker than the people in front of me but I couldnt get past and the car was not very nice in the middle of the circuit, in the tight corners, but in the last part it was good. And the straight-line speed is there but once we got up to the first pit stop, the car started to handle better and better. I think the race speed is very good once we get started in the race. But the biggest problem right now is qualifying, getting on the front rows, and then we can really challenge the others.
Q: Thats going to make the difference.
KR: Yeah, I think so because we seemed to keep getting fastest laps in the race and the car is consistent, but somehow we just dont get the qualifying sorted. Its nothing new. We have had that same problem last year and the year before so its something we need to work on, and maybe change something on the car. We are going to get some new parts and hopefully it will improve the situation.
Q: Fernando, briefly back to you: did the drinks bottle work today?
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Spanish International Press Agency EFE ) Fernando, when we asked you the other day if you wanted to come to Spain leading the World Championship, you said you wanted to go to China leading the World Championship. Now you are going to be leader in Spain. How close do you see China now?
FA: Very far away, still far away. I think, as I said before, weve only done three races with no mechanical problems, no single mechanical problem in all three weekends. I know that its normal that sometimes we will have problems, the Renault team, like Fisi had today and there will be a day that it will be my turn and we have to be prepared for that. The championship is very long. We started in the best way possible and we have to keep it up like this. For this race we had a bit of aerodynamic improvements and maybe that was the key to being competitive here again. In the next races we have to have something more again and every race improving and improving if were going to keep this dominant position. But Im extremely happy to arrive in these first four or five races leading the championship. Its a dream come true for sure.
Q: (Peter Windsor Speed Channel) Fernando. Why were you so sure that Michael was running on light fuel?
FA: Jarno also said that before. It was a feeling that we all had. Comparing the car, and I was probably the quickest on Friday. I was four tenths quicker than him in first qualifying, quicker than him in second qualifying and it shouldnt be too different in the race. If he was behind me and quicker than me then I guess he was on light fuel. If not, during the race I lapped Rubens, so I guess the Bridgestone werent that competitive at the end, compared with the Michelin. I was not too worried at that stage.
Q: (Stephane Barbe LEquipe) Can you say what are the very strong points on your car? Which way can you drive it, that you were not able to drive it last year?
FA: Our strongest point is probably the long runs. We are so constant in the laps and we can push even harder when we want, basically. The car is always responding well. We have an extremely good package, starting from the aerodynamics. The team did a great job. The engine is amazing, the change they did for this year. The job they did in Viry is so fantastic and the tyres are unbelievable as well, they changed from last year. We are racing with a tyre that performs extremely well on one timed lap and so constant in the long runs with no problems at all in anything. Obviously we are running on very hot tracks. We will see at the next race in more normal conditions but at the moment the whole package is working perfectly.
Q: (Allemundeen Osman Bahrain Tribune) This is the third consecutive win for Renault after a long time. Do you think this is the end of the Ferrari dominance and the beginning of a Renault era?
FA: Ferrari were here with the new car and they showed us that they have improved and that they will be able to be fighting for victories again, as they showed us today in second qualifying and during the first laps of the race but at the moment we dont have to be too worried. We won the first three races, and during the last two, especially, Toyota was our main competitor so this is our thoughts at the moment.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson Autosport) Fernando, does leading the championship make you approach the racing in any different way because you are actually ahead, or do you just approach in exactly the way?
FA: Same way basically, not only this year, every year, I approach the races trying to finish the race, depending on how the car performs. On that particular track, you have one result. With this years car - at the moment I have the best car on the grid and if I finish the race I know that it can be a very good result and I have to approach the weekend in this way.
Q: (Stephane Barbe LEquipe) Lets talk about the car again; despite new engine rules which have to last two Grands Prix, would you say it is the same power from last year, for example, or is it a big difference?
FA: We have more power than last year, as everybody knows. As I said before, the job the team did with the engine is a complete surprise to me.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Spanish International Press Agency EFE ) Fernando, apart from Giancarlo, is Jarno the best guy to be second? Next question is for you, Jarno, what do you think of Fernandos success?
JT: I think Fernando has always been quick. I have a lot of respect for him because I get on well with him, he is an extremely nice person as well as a very quick driver and so together with a very strong team this year, with Renault they are doing what they set out to do. I am very pleased for him but I am very pleased for me too because I am doing very well with my team and it is something that nobody expected so its just like a dream for us.
FA: Im pleased for me, and Jarno as well to be second. As you said, I want my teammate also to be on the podiums like Giancarlo did in Australia which of course is fantastic for the team and we need the podiums and for sure Giancarlo will be on the podium at Imola. But if not, Jarno. I am so happy for him. I was for three years Jarnos teammate. As he said, we have a good relationship and it is proving that he is a fantastic driver and I was very proud to have such a strong team-mate for the last three years.
Q: (Alaric Gomes - Gulf News) With the Pope passing away last night, did it affect you, particularly Jarno, what did you have going on in your mind?
JT: Personally I am Italian so we are very close to the Pope, we have him at home in our country, so I was following the situation in Italy on TV and yep, when I heard the news I was really, really sad. I think that today, even if it was a great day for me, for the team, for everybody here, our thoughts and our prayers towards our Pope who has been teaching all of us a lot of things, which has been very close to our religion, for a lot of people, who has been travelling all around the world, has been the greatest ever person I have seen so far. So that is the reason why we did not celebrate on the podium. We all agreed that it was not the case this time.
FA: Same. I think it is a sad day for all of us.
Q: (Stephane Barbe LEquipe) Jarno, we faced two very hot races both here and in Malaysia and youve succeeded well. Do you think it is indicative for the rest of the season.
JT: We have done very well in the first three races of the season but I still believe our toughest races are still to come. Probably the ones ahead of us like Imola or Barcelona will be very hard. On the other hand, I believe the team is working very hard, bringing some new bits on the car soon, probably from the next race. This may solve some of the problems we were having but lets put it this way, up to now we have done a fantastic job and I do not see any reason why we cannot carry on like that. I am still very confident. Nevertheless, I have to keep my feet on the ground because its too nice at the moment. At mid-season probably I would say, yeah, we can dream about it and we can dream of a fantastic championship throughout the season, but at the moment we are talking about only three races and the championship is very long.
Q: (Stephane Barbe LEquipe) Fernando, as soon as you could drink during the race you seemed to have good physical condition. Did you work a lot on that during the winter, compared to last year or did you do the same job as before?
FA: Same job. I finished the races in a good condition last year as well, but you didnt see me because I was not on the podium but this year, especially this race, when the car was easy to drive, the drink bottle worked and you finish in a better condition.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, you mentioned a problem in qualifying, could you explain what the problem is and is it related to the tyres?
KR: We just cannot get the best out of the car in qualifying. Its nothing new. Last year I think we had the similar problem and the year before. We are very easy on the tyres in our car, so maybe we dont use them hard enough. In a race pace the car is good, especially when the circuit gets more rubber, the car was really good to drive, but it is just too late. We need to do something to be up there in qualifying and then try to challenge for wins. And I think that this circuit is not the strongest for us. I think our car is very good on high speed circuits, so lets see what we can do now at the other races.