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Post-qualifying press conference - Britain 09 Jul 2005

(L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren, Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault and Jenson Button (GBR) BAR in the post qualifying FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, 9 July 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m19.905s; 2nd Kimi Raikkonen* (McLaren), 1m19.932s; 3rd Jenson Button (BAR), 1m20.207s. * NOTE Raikkonen relegated to 12th on the grid, due to an engine change.

Q: A fantastic pole, Fernando, and fastest in every sector.
Fernando Alonso:
Yes, it was really good, a little bit unexpected, this pole position. The car felt much better this morning than yesterday. The team did an incredible job last night, with some different changes that we did and the car felt quite quick straight away this morning. So I was P1 in the last session, P4, so I think we went into qualifying very confident. Probably not that confident enough to get the pole, but this is a very good result for us.

Q: Coming off a great result, Renault’s home Grand Prix in France, but this is in some way this is another home race for you. Talk about the atmosphere here and coming to Silverstone leading the championship as you are.
FA:
It is fantastic, obviously. I think 70 percent of the team is English so I think this is also the home Grand Prix here at Silverstone for all the guys. It is a really interesting Grand Prix fore everyone in the team. Always when we are here, the drivers and the members of the team work together in the factory two days before the Grand Prix, so I think the atmosphere was fantastic. We are leading both championships and the weekend has started in a good way so far as well.

Q: And your thoughts on the race tomorrow? Strategy? Obviously, Kimi may be on a different fuel load?
FA:
Yeah, I think we will have different strategies, all the teams. I think they will be more similar here than in Magny-Cours, where we saw teams doing very different strategies. Anyway, the race is always very long. Hopefully it will stay constant and dry in the second half of the race, but I am really confident. For sure, what happened to Kimi is not fair that there will be again problems for him but we have to do our maximum as we did in qualifying and so far we have the pole.

Q: Kimi, for the second consecutive race you have to take an engine change and a ten place penalty on the grid.
Kimi Raikkonen:
It is not the ideal situation again, but there is nothing I can do. I can just drive as quickly as I can and we will see tomorrow what will happen. For sure, it is not the way to try to win the championship, to take every time a ten-place penalty. We are not that quick to give so much away.

Q: We saw in France you had a lot of fuel in the first stint, you picked up some places when they all came into the pits. What is it going to be like tomorrow?
KR:
We will see what happens tomorrow. It depends what happens at the front. If the front people disappear as quickly as they did in France I think we will not have a strong position, but I don’t know what they are doing. The car was pretty good today, so lets wait and see.

Q: Given the set-up for qualifying, your lap looked pretty good.
KR:
Yeah, the quick corners are not bad but the biggest problem was that what happened to us happened in the last practice and then we didn’t put the new tyres on so it was difficult to know how the car would be in qualifying. At least it went pretty much okay and the car was not too bad, so it was okay.

Q: Jenson, here we are at the British Grand Prix and you are on the front row.
Jenson Button:
Yeah, it is a great feeling. We didn’t quite expect it, so it’s fantastic to be at the front and I think we can do some pretty good things from there.

Q: Everyone wants to know, what do you think you can actually do. It looked to be a little bit down in the first sector there but very quick relative to the Renaults in sectors two and three.
JB:
We struggled a bit through Becketts and Copse, so that is a bit of a worry for the race, but apart from that the car has been working very well, in low speed corners and the other high speed corners. It is nice to be in this position to be able to fight with the Renaults and McLarens because we have had a pretty tough time of it and it can only get better from there.

Q: And the British crowd behind you, as they will be tomorrow?
JB:
Yeah, it is great to have so many fans here. There is only one time this year I have seen a crowd like this and that was in Barcelona, so it is great to see so many fans here, not just British but from around the world, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them and I am sure we can do that.

Q: Fernando, your thoughts on this Grand Prix in the context of some of the events that have happened in London over the last few days. Can you talk to us about Formula One’s approach to this tragedy.
FA:
I think we are all very sad and this is not good at all, I think, what happened in London in the last few days. All the Formula One people, we want to express our respects for the victims and their families and put a good show on for them tomorrow. The sport, especially Formula One, cannot do much on this occasion.

Q: Fernando, you were not meant to be very quick here. You told us this wasn’t a good circuit for you. What has made a difference?
FA:
I think we are all surprised about his pole position. Well, not surprised for the pole, but surprised how good the car was this morning. Yesterday we had more or less the same balance as the test and I was not really quick, I was seventh yesterday. But last night the team did a fantastic job, we had some ideas about set-up and today the car felt much, much better straight away and now I was in the top three in qualifying, and the pole position is even better.

Q: What about the lap, because it was hundredths here and there.
FA:
It was really close with Kimi. I saw the times. Obviously when I left the garage the pole was for Jenson and it was 20.3, so I knew that I was going to have a good time in the low 20s or high 19s and I didn’t know what Kimi was doing. The car felt much better so I had more and more confidence to push and I was able to get the pole so close to Kimi.

Q: Last Sunday you said you were aiming for a podium. Do you have a new target?
FA:
I think it is true that we have a much better position we thought than before we came here. The car is constant in the long runs, the tyres are fantastic, consistency-wise, so we should have a pretty strong race. Also, Kimi had a mechanical problem again, so if we can take this opportunity again to have a nice gap after the first pitstop maybe we can have a chance to win again.

Q: Kimi, how do you deal with the disappointment?
KR:
It is not the first time, so it is nothing too new, but hopefully it is the last time. Looking at what has happened to us it is just not so easy. But we try to do the best we can and see where we end up.

Q: It almost makes you go quicker in qualifying when you know you’re going to get a penalty.
KR:
No, not really. I think in normal circumstances we would be quicker also, but we need to look at the race a little bit now maybe more than in normal circumstances.

Q: We remember what the strategy was last weekend. Do we expect the same thing?
KR:
Just wait and see

Q: Obviously it’s a little bit easier to overtake here than at Magny-Cours.
KR:
Yeah, I think the circuit will be slightly easier to overtake but then there are quick corners going onto the straights so it is not always so easy to follow people through the quick part of the corners. At least I will have a new engine which is more powerful so that should help in a straight line so hopefully we can pass some people.

Q: Jenson, front row of the grid is obviously great, what are the chances?
JB:
It obviously helps us. It is disappointing for him I’m sure, but it does help us. I think our race pace here is better than it was in Magny-Cours, so I think we have a chance of staying closer to the Renaults and hopefully the McLarens. So we’re looking for a good race. For me, I think we have a good strategy as always and we will just wait and see what happens and the way the race pans out.

Q: You played down your prospects here before the start of the weekend, but what chances of a podium now?
JB:
There is always a chance, and we are helped by Kimi starting down in 12th. I don’t know, we will have to wait and see, but the long-run pace seems reasonable. Just a little bit worried about starting on the dirty side of the grid with Juan Pablo in third, but we’ll be OK.

Q: Now the Daily Mirror today says that you’re joining Ferrari next year. What comment do you have on that?
JB:
Yeah, I read that this morning as well. A nice piece! I can’t say anything on my future next year, I’m just living in the moment which is pretty good.
Q: But you won’t deny it.
JB:
I won’t, but I cannot talk about my future next year. That’s it. I am not going to say yes or no.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Dom Taylor – F1 Racing) Kimi, what’s your opinion and how do you feel about the one engine rule, given that it ruined France effectively and seems to be handicapping you here this weekend? Is this a rule that Formula One should think about getting rid of?
KR:
If I look on my side it is not very nice, but it’s the same for every team, every driver. I am not the first one who has been penalised about it. It’s just unfortunately us who has been in the last two races now but I don’t think it is the nicest thing because the race mixes the fastest cars could have gone back, at the back of the grid but then in one way it makes a better show but then if you are looking for the championship…

Q: (Mike Doodson) This is also for Kimi; in your Formula One career you have had some bad luck and it’s really been building up recently. Are you in any way superstitious? Do you worry about things happenning?
KR:
No I am not. It happens and if it happens, you can’t really change things, you just need to do better work to make sure we don’t have any reliability problems but unfortunately it always seems to happen to me, and as I said, it’s not the first time and in that way it’s nothing new. It’s hurting us a lot in the championship, and having said that, the most disappointing thing is that if it had happened last year it wouldn’t matter, but now that we’ve had a chance in the championship it seems to hit us and it’s going to cost us more.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, do you think that you can still fight for the championship having had so many problems recently?
KR:
It doesn’t make it any easier but it’s not over yet and it really depends on what happens tomorrow because it can really cost us too much tomorrow or maybe we can turn it around, I don’t know what happens. We are going to fight as long as we have any chance and we have a very strong, fast car but we need to make sure we can use the speed and not be penalised because of problems.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, at first sight it looks like a copy of Magny Cours but do you think the race is going to be any different from Magny Cours or do you think it’s about the same situation?
KR:
It depends what happens before the first pit stops really. If the front guys stay close to each other and are not pulling away as in Magny Cours then it helps us but I don’t really know how much fuel they have or what they’re going to do, so it is really pushing as hard as we can and doing our side as well and then seeing where the others are.

Q: (Bob Constanduros) Fernando, is he (Kimi) still a threat from 12th on the grid?
FA:
Yeah, of course. We saw last weekend he finished second. Michael started 13th at Imola and in the last ten laps we had a close fight. When you have a quick car you can overtake easier, and for sure McLaren have a quick car here. Let’s wait, but for sure he will be a problem.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, you just look much more calm than you were a week ago. Is it just that you are getting used to this situation or are you somehow more confident this time?
KR:
No, I am not too confident because it is not the ideal situation. Of course, you get used to disappointments but it always hurts you. But it doesn’t make any sense to be shouting and throwing your things around, because you are only wasting your energy and we just try to focus on tomorrow and do the best that we can.

Q: (Andrew Frankl – Forza) Jenson, Nigel Mansell always said that the British crowd was worth half a second a lap. Do you think that you might be able to find a little bit extra because it is your home crowd and because they are so desperate for you to succeed?
JB:
I wish it was. But Formula One is very different to most sports in the way that if you are running and if you’ve got more adrenalin pumping you can probably run faster or what have you, but in a Formula One car you have to be so precise, it’s not all about sheer power so for me it doesn’t make any difference because when you are in the car you are just focussed on driving, in between the two white lines on the circuit, you’re not looking around you and you don’t really know it’s your home Grand Prix when you’re driving. It’s when you cross the line and you see all the fans, which I have to say have been fantastic here. It’s great to see so many fans here. There’s only been one other busy Grand Prix like this on a Saturday and that was Barcelona, so it’s nice to see so many people here, on what has obviously been a difficult week in England.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, you said the other day I cannot afford to have a bad weekend, but the person who cannot afford to have a bad weekend is Kimi. So the fact you are starting from pole and he’s starting from far behind, is this giving you less pressure, is your approach a little bit different than if you were starting close to him on the grid?
FA:
Not really. As I said last week we have to do our race, our maximum and if we do well we can score a good result. If we make mistakes we can have a bad weekend. So far the team has been fantastic, no mechanical problems. I didn’t get penalised in any of the races so far so hopefully we will stay like this. The approach for the race tomorrow is exactly the same. Hopefully, as I said before, we will have no mechanical problems and when they have them we can take our opportunities. We took them in Magny Cours and now we have a chance again tomorrow.

Q: (Ian Stafford – Mail on Sunday) Jenson, earlier in the week you were saying at a squeeze you might, might make a podium placing in the Grand Prix. Now that you’re second on the grid, would you be disappointed with anything less than a podium?
JB:
Yeah, I think I would. I have still got Juan in third position, just behind me, so that is not going to be easy. We are going to have to give everything and if we make one single mistake we won’t have that podium. But there’s a possibility. We are all very excited about the race tomorrow. We think we have a good strategy and I think we can have some fun.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Fernando, when you are looking at all the problems that Kimi has had in the last few races, are you ever worried that some day it is going to hit you as well?
FA:
Yeah, for sure, we all worry about this. We have twenty drivers and we are all worried. But even more that these problems could happen in a race, not only in practice, because in a race you can always recover but if this happened ten laps later to Kimi, or it happened tomorrow in the race, it’s even more of a problem. We are all worried but at the same time, we all have confidence in the team and so far the team gave me no reason to think about any problem, because they have been fantastic and less worried probably than I should be.

Q: (Dom Taylor – F1 Racing) Kimi, what kind of effect psychologically do you think your pace has been having on Juan Pablo this season. I’m thinking particularly of the fact that you had nine more laps of fuel on board in Magny Cours and we’re possibly looking at a similar situation this weekend?
KR:
Only three laps, I think, in Magny-Cours. But I don’t know. You need to go and ask him. I think he has had a bit of a difficult season in many ways, not just with the car but he hurt himself, so it was not an easy start in a new team, but I think he had some difficulties with the handling of the new car but I think it is getting better, getting to know the car better, but I don’t know what is going on inside his head, so you need to go and ask him.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, you have a new engine this weekend. How is it working, is it working to your expectations?
FA:
It is working okay and we didn’t change it so far, so it is good, okay. All the engines we have had from the start of this season have been quite similar. We have a new spec here but it is more a reliability thing than power but some new improvements are coming in the next couple of races. I think engine-wise we are OK this year, and also our results are partially due to our good engine.

Q: (Bob McKenzie - Daily Express) Jenson, all week you’ve been telling us that you haven’t got a hope in hell here. Do you think you can win and what has changed in the state of seven days? What has the team done to the car to get you to this position?
JB:
Nothing. We haven’t changed the car since Magny-Cours. We turned up here with a very good balance already and we haven’t really made that many set-up changes all week. We’ve been suffering with a little bit of understeer in high speed corners, which I don’t think we’ve quite got to the bottom of. The actual car itself is no different than what we had in Magny Cours so maybe it’s just that our car suits this circuit or maybe it’s that half a second that Nigel always says that makes the difference. Did anyone get any pictures (of Bob Mackenzie)? Oh, you haven’t done it yet? Can’t wait, hope it’s cold!

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) Looking at this pole, Fernando, can you say that for you it is more difficult for you to lose the championship than to win it?
FA:
No, I don’t think so. I think it will be more difficult to win. To lose is very easy. You do two races with no finish and then it is gone, you are back to equal position with Kimi and maybe with a slower car, so we are not so confident. At the moment, we know that our strongest point is to finish all the races, hopefully on the podium and that is what we try to do. This is an important month, July, with four races. We started in a good way with pole and a win at Magny Cours and now pole at Silverstone, so we can hopefully finish this tomorrow afternoon.

Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Kimi, it is obviously never a good time to have an engine replaced, but if it’s on a Friday, maybe it’s better than Saturday because it is before the tyre choice is made and the strategy that you’re going to build around that. This has happened relatively late, can you talk about that and the tyre choice that perhaps you might have made if the engine had been replaced yesterday?
KR:
I think the tyre choice was already pretty clear yesterday so we wouldn’t have changed that one. But for sure, it is better to have the engine fail in the first session on Saturday or Friday because in the end, in the last session you are trying to find the right set-up for qualifying and you put the new tyres on and at least you have some idea of how the new car will be in qualifying. But now I didn’t really have a chance and I think it was a bit guessing the right set-up and they didn’t really know how the car would be, so it was for sure more difficult here than it was in the last race.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association) Jenson, starting from second on the grid, do you appreciate you have probably raised the hopes and expectations of the fans even more and is that something you’re ready to shoulder, bear the responsibility?
JB:
Yeah, definitely. I was trying to talk our performance down a little bit before the weekend and I still have the same views that in the race that the McLaren will be very strong. I hope we can have a good race, that is obviously our aim, we have a better car here than we probably have had all year. So yeah, I’m hoping that we can have a good result and I hope that nobody will be disappointed in what we do this weekend.