Post-race press conference - Spain 08 May 2005
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren); 2nd Fernando Alonso (Renault); 3rd Jarno Trulli (Toyota).
Q: Kimi after all the promise, poles and speed, a great and reliable run from start to finish
Kimi Raikkonen: Yes it was very good, the car has been perfect the whole weekend and we knew that we should be pretty strong in the race. From the beginning, I pushed until the pit stop and then I saw I was leading by so much that there was no point really, anymore to put the car under so much pressure so I kept the pace up, but I didnt go full speed and won quite easily. Finally, it happened. Last race was close already. I am very happy for myself and also for the other people who have put so much effort into the car and everybody is working hard and finally we get some results. The test team has done well and everybody is working perfectly. So, hopefully we can now start winning more.
Q: It was a slightly disruptive start with the Safety Car coming out. Talk us through that. And, also, your thoughts in the closing stages bearing in mind your problems this year when the chequered flag approached
KR: Of course, you can never be 100 per cent sure until you cross the finish line so there is also something that can happen, but so far, in this race, it was perfect, but I had some small problem on a pit stop when the engine did not run very clean when I tried to pull away and I dont know what it was, but not a major problem and on the start of the race I had already a little gap and then in the third or fourth corner I saw some yellow flags and Safety Car signs and so I slowed down straightaway, but I dont know what happened really because it happened at the back of the field.
Q: And going into this race, a very technical circuit, a lot of debate about how the tyres will perform with these new regulations, your thoughts on that
KR: No. The tyres were very good, I think. So, the circuit is not as hard on the tyres as it used to be now they have resurfaced it. I could have done much quicker in the end if I had wanted, but there was no reason to push anymore so I would say the tyres worked very well, they lasted great
Q: Fernando, a great day for you, obviously not the win there, but first of all what were your thoughts when Kimi was pulling away from you at those speeds in the early laps?
Fernando Alonso: Well, I was thinking that it was not possible to follow him, he was too quick at that moment. So, I was a little bit conservative with the tyres because I knew it was the risky part of the race and after that they didnt feel too good so I wasnt pushing too hard and then the car started to feel better and better after lap 25 or somewhere like that and in the end it was perfect. But like Kimi was, there was no time to push and I had nothing in front of me and behind me Jarno was 20 seconds behind. So, when the car was good, there was no time to push, but anyway this second place here at home is like a victory for me. Its eight points in the pocket again and that is a fantastic result for me and the team and again for Monaco as well because it means we start quite on the back for quali one and Monaco is one of the circuits where that should be an advantage so I really want to finish this race and another podium is a dream for sure.
Q: Are you surprised at the difference in pace between McLaren and Renault today?
FA: Well, I think it was not too depressant at this race. I think we will have problems to beat McLaren at the moment because they look very strong, but also we are strong and I think Giancarlo set the fastest lap of the race and I think we are there, we are very close and we need to find something more and at the next races some new bits are coming for the cars so we are totally confident that we can still win races.
Q: And of course you still have reliability. This was your fifth successive podium today.
FA: Yes, five races, five podiums. I have said many times this year, this start of the season is something that I never expected and I hope to continue like this and to finish races and to score points and this is the only way to be happy and to have more confidence, race by race.
Q: Jarno, you werent that confident yesterday, but a podium finish today and a great drive
Jarno Trulli: To be honest, yes, I have to say that it was one of the best races of my career because the car wasnt very good and I had to fight very hard and I managed to keep ahead of Ralf. I had a different strategy. I was quicker with more fuel and slower with a bit less fuel its because of the car set-up. But in the end, it was a really tough job to be ahead of Ralf who was very quick and probably today deserved a third position the same as me. It is good because Toyota are doing a good job and I will never thank the Japanese enough for what they are giving me.
Q: So from your point of view, flat out the whole way and getting the maximum from the car?
JT: Yeah, right from the beginning to the end I had to push really, really hard even during my pit stops. At my first pit stop, I had a problem with the fuel rig but in the end everything worked fine and it is a great feeling to be on the podium again.
Q: Kimi, just returning to you, what is it about McLaren, Finland and Barcelona? Mika Hakkinen, your countryman, three victories here and now you have got a victory, is something going on?
KR: Yes, it seems to be a good place for us, for the team and for the Finnish people. But I hope it would have happened already last race because it would have helped us a lot in the championship because, basically, we dont have much to lose any more and we need to win the races and thats the only chance to get back in it. Its going to be difficult, but its a long season and you never know what is going to happen in a race so we need to do our best and hopefully we can get back there.
Q: Kimi, fantastic pace early on, or throughout the race, can that be translated to all circuits do you feel?
KR: Yes, we were quick at the last race so I would say we were quicker compared to the other cars here than we were at the last race at Imola, so I would say that we should be okay at every race. Okay, Monaco is a bit special place so it is hard to say before, but I think some of the races, I see no reason why we should be any slower so I am quite hopeful and we are going to get more parts for Monaco and I think at the Nurburgring after that, so hopefully we can improve it still.
Q: Were you fairly confident about reliability in spite of what happened two weeks ago?
KR: Yes, I think what happened two weeks ago was one of those unfortunate things that hadnt happened before so I was not worried about it, but you never know in racing, anything can happen you just dont know so before you finish a race you cannot be 100 per cent sure you are going to win or not even if you have a lead like I had so I just try to take care of the car, the tyres and everything and drive easily back to the finish.
Q: Were there any worries at all during the race?
KR: Yes, a little bit at the first pit stop, when I left there, the engine almost died, but then it started to go before the end of the pit lane and then at the second stop I was very careful about going slow out of the box, but at least I got out of there and I dont really know what was wrong. Some small thing with the engine so I dont think it is a problem when you are on the circuit. But it is just when you are on low throttle so
Q: Did they tell you to change anything for the next stop?
KR: Yes basically not to take a quick getaway, but to go slowly away and it should be okay. I was quite careful because I didnt need to worry so it took quite a while but it was better like that.
Q: Fernando, tell us about the start? You picked up a place, overtaking Mark Webber
FA: Yes, it was a good start. Obviously we were on the clean side (of the track) so maybe this helped me a little bit, probably the same as Kimi. I kept the gap from Kimi and Mark lost out a little bit, and I also looked in the mirror and I think Ralf was third, so Mark lost another place in turn one. The start was good, but then the safety car was a little bit of a surprise because its the first one weve had all year, and were not used to it any more, having to warm the tyres in two laps. After the re-start, I tried to do the maximum but Kimi was too quick.
Q: Round about lap 14 or 15, you lost quite a lot of time; what was that about?
FA: I had problems with the car. I didnt feel good at all, especially the rear end of the car so I looked at the tyres in the mirror to see if there was something wrong. They werent in perfect condition and I had more and more problems. I had two or three really big moments in high speed corners when I nearly spun, so I wasnt able to do normal competitive laps and Jarno and Ralf caught me very quickly.
Q: Did the tyres come back?
FA: Yeah, after lap 25 or something like that the car started to be perfect again: good balance, but there was no time to push any more because I had Kimi too far in front and Jarno too far behind. I had Fisi in front of me for a few laps, we were at a similar pace, and when the car was good again I was catching him a little bit, I think, and then a lot for two laps and I thought Im super quick now. But no, Fisi unfortunately had a problem, and my race from there was just conservative.
Q: And no other problems after that?
FA: No. Like Kimi I had little bit of a problem at the first pit stop with the engine dying a little bit. I had to pull in. But the second pit stop was OK, so maybe it was a factor for all of the teams today.
Q: Jarno, quite a battle with Ralf at the end there. Was it fun or worrying?
JT: Well, to be honest it was a battle all through the race with Ralf. It was one of those days when he was very very quick, very competitive and probably he also deserved the podium as well as me. We had similar pace, but I just beat him because I had a different strategy, I had more fuel, heavier in the beginning, heavy all race and then eventually I got ahead of him after the first pit stop. I was quite quick compared to him on heavy fuel but not on low fuel - thats probably set-up. But compared to these two guys, there was nothing I could do apart from when Fernando was struggling. It was a bit of a surprise to see Fernando slowing down so much. Apart from that Im really happy for me, for the team, for all the engineers and mechanics because it was a tough weekend for me. I wasnt completely happy about my car and to finish third with all the problems that I had or I felt I had, its a great surprise and a great result for me.
Q: It must have been quite a surprise to overtake Ralf when you had the problem with the fuel rig.
JT: Right. I did some very quick laps when he pitted, so probably I made a lot of time then. I was very quick on the way in. Yes, the team had a problem with the fuel rig, but nevertheless I got ahead of him and managed to pull away at one stage, especially on heavy fuel.
Q: What about the pace of McLaren-Mercedes?
JT: Well, I predicted it yesterday and I was right because it was very clear that Kimi and McLaren were very strong, even for Fernando and Renault, and obviously for us, at the moment, there is still a lot of work to do, but I will never thank the Japanese people enough for everything that they have given to me, because its my third podium of the season and so far its a great feeling and its a great championship for me.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Stephane Barbe LEquipe) Kimi, apart from the reliability, what are the qualities of your car and what sort of progress would you say you have made since Imola?
KR: Its always difficult to say from circuit to circuit what has changed. We only know from testing. We have new parts, new engine. All of those together makes a difference. As I said, we are going to get more new things for the car, so Im pretty hopeful we can improve it even more, but overall the car was perfect everywhere. I cannot really pick up one place where it wasnt strong, even if we were not pushing the engine hard any more in the race. I would say it was really good, one of the best cars I have driven.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazetta dello Sport) Fernando, did you talk to the King on the podium? What did he say?
FA: Nothing really special. He said something like keep like this, something like that, because we enjoyed the race. Thats what he told me. I think everyone enjoyed the race, the grandstands, the people and it was a big party what we saw this weekend here in Spain. I have to say thanks to the people, but not only me. I think everyone in Formula One has to say thanks for the atmosphere we had here in Spain.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazetta dello Sport) Jarno, when you saw the flames coming out of the back of your car, did you think that your race was nearly at an end? And on the podium, when you showed the wheel (trophy) what did you mean?
JT: When I saw the fire at the back of the car, I just said (to myself) I will pull away and go because anyway I wanted to try my best. I was fighting and I was fighting for the podium and there was nothing in my mind which could stop me at that stage. When I was on the podium I was making that signal because its just like a hello to my Italian fan club because they said that to be quick in the car, you need this bit (the forearm), which means good handling. Its the kind of way they have fun and joke about it.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, does this change anything in the championship fight?
KR: Yeah, a little bit. We have more points, more points (laughter) but I would say that we pretty much dont have anything to lose. We really need to win the races and see where we end up. We just need to do the best we can because I dont know how many points we are behind I think if we had won the last race it would have been a different story, but now theres not much to lose so we just push as hard as we can and hopefully we can come back, because its a long season and anything can happen. Maybe Renault have some bad races and we have some good ones you never know, so lets see what happens.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado do Sao Paulo) Alonso, at the beginning of the race, did you think that Kimi was lighter than you?
FA: No, at the start of the race we thought that Kimi was similar to us and I think he was one lap lighter, because he stopped one or two laps before us. So yeah, we were similar in fuel loads. I was not following him because I didnt have enough speed today, not only today, I think all weekend. As we saw yesterday with empty tanks, I think with equal conditions he was there, but with not perfect track conditions I was losing a little time, but we knew that with equal conditions Kimi was the quickest this weekend, and I wasnt too surprised by their pace. Our only chance in the race was to keep as close as we could to Kimi, try to overtake him in the pit stops and wait for a problem with the tyres for them, or something like that. We knew it would be very hard to beat them today.
Q: (Laurentzi Garmendia Berria) To all three of you, were you afraid of Michael Schumacher being able to fight back again as he did in the last race?
KR: Yeah, you never know because at the last race they were quick, but that was a different circuit, different day. You could see already a little bit in testing on Friday and Saturday that they were not exactly as strong as they were in the last race, so I was not worried about that, but you never really can say before you see the race. At Imola, you could see on Friday and Saturday that they already had the pace. Here it wasnt as clear but I was still waiting for them to do something good, but I dont think they had a very good day.
FA: Yes, the same. You never know with Ferrari and with the races this year, with the new rules one set of tyres everything can happen in 66 laps, but we didnt see Ferrari as strong as they were at Imola all weekend. Also, I think they had some other problems, a puncture, something so it wasnt a lucky weekend for them.
JT: I totally agree. Theyve said everything. Ferrari, Schumacher the whole package is extremely strong, so you always have to worry, you never know. They can come back from the back and win a race when you dont expect them to.
Q: (Juha Paatalo Financial Times Germany) Kimi, could you describe your feeling as you climbed the podium today?
KR: Its always nice really, especially when you win. But I would say it doesnt change my life much in the end. Its just one win, we need to do it more and its a nice feeling, but I wouldnt say that its anything else. You rather win than not finish or finish second, so hopefully we have many of these things coming.
Q: (Juha Paatalo Financial Times Germany) I think the King said something to you as well, because you smiled in answer. Could you tell us what?
KR: Very well done, I guess. He came to see me before the race already, so it was very nice. Hes a nice King. (Laughter)
Q: (Dominic Fugere Le Journal de Montreal) Kimi, youve said that you had great pace right from the start of the race but your teammate Juan Pablo seemed to have a little bit of a problem keeping up the same pace. Why do you think that is?
KR: I dont know. You really need to ask him yourself. Its the first race when hes come back after his injury so its never easy and maybe he didnt find the perfect set-up. When you add all those things together maybe that makes the difference.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson Autosport) Question to all three of you: do you think Michael Schumacher can still fight for the Drivers title this year and Ferrari for the Constructors title?
KR: I think so, as much as we can. Its hard to say, but like Ive said many times: you never know whats going to happen in races. You need a few bad races for the other guys and the whole table is suddenly different. As long as we do well I think its hard to catch Renault if they keep doing what theyre doing all the time, so we will see what happens.
FA: Same. I think with normal races and with all the cars finishing its difficult with this points system to recover a big gap but with two or three retirements it can change completely so with 14 or 15 races still to go, talking about the championship is not really interesting. Im sure they will be at the end. I dont know if they will fight or they will win the championship, but it will be very close for sure.
JT: I dont know how Ferrari went today, but all I can say is that Ive learned in Formula One that you can never rule anything or anyone out. We are only at the fifth race and there are still 14 races to go and anything can happen, so we must wait and see at least until mid-season.