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Post-race press conference - Germany 24 Jul 2005

FIA Press Conference Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 23 July 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h26m28.599s; 2nd Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), 1h26m51.168; 3rd Jenson Button (BAR), 1h26m53.021.

Q: Fernando, a big win, not only win number six by a large margin but also on a day when your nearest championship rival failed to score.
Fernando Alonso:
Yes, it was obviously a fantastic day, perfect for me. I did my perfect race, the car’s balance was also almost perfect from the beginning to the end, we didn’t adjust anything in the pit stop because I felt really, really good and competitive. Obviously it was not enough in the first 30 laps to follow Kimi because he was a bit quicker than us, two or three tenths a lap, so I thought at that time that second place was good enough but after the retirement from Kimi the race was a little bit boring being in first place with such a gap.

Q: Boring but no doubt emotional seeing Kimi by the side of the circuit there and then obviously traffic and the normal problems that can occur in the late stages of the race.
FA:
Yes, always traffic has been a little bit worse than normal in the last two races and here again we didn’t see any blue flags at all, so it was a bit of luck, and then at the end of the race I had a group of four or five cars in front of me so I just backed off a bit, Juan Pablo was 30 seconds behind me and we didn’t have any problem at the end.

Q: Obviously, you had reliability on your side, but as you said the pace was there from Kimi in the opening laps. What are your thoughts on the difference between the McLaren and the Renault in the upcoming races?
FA:
Yes, it was a good surprise I think. McLaren were so dominant all weekend and now in the race we saw that we improved a bit. We know that in race pace we are a little bit closer to them and I think for the coming races we need to improve our car and package if we are to beat them because they are a bit quicker than us but the race is 70 laps, not 30, and we finish the races.

Q: Juan Pablo, you had the heaviest fuel load in the field and a great drive through the field into second.
Juan Pablo Montoya:
It is a bit frustrating because based on the pace on the fuel we had I should have won a race but I made a mistake yesterday. I did apologise to all the guys who work on my car yesterday but at least today I put it back on the podium coming up from 20th to second so that was not bad.

Q: And you had some interesting racing along the way?
JPM:
Yeah, it was good. The first few laps were a bit crazy. I managed to save quite a bit of fuel on the first stint, running behind traffic and when I had a clear track I pushed. The same thing when I caught Michael and Jenson, it was save fuel there. I got a bit worried when Jenson passed Michael. My car was quick by itself but not so good in traffic, but it was a good day.

Q: Yesterday, you were a great driver but how did that spin occur on that lap?
JPM:
I think the problem was on the kerb when I lifted and the rear end just came out. It was a bit of a shame, it was a good lap and I had more fuel than Kimi and my idea was to put it on pole. I knew the car was quick enough to put on pole, I knew that Kimi’s lap wasn’t great and if I got a good lap it was good enough to be there. Up to there it was a good lap, I just didn’t finish it!

Q: Jenson, your second podium finish of the year if you include Imola. It was a great race with Michael Schumacher.
Jenson Button:
Yeah, it was a good race, a lot of fun. It was nice to actually be battling with someone. Michael got in front of me at the start of the race, he drove off wide on the first turn and was able to get in front then after the first pit stop I was just stuck behind him and couldn’t get past. It is just so, so difficult to get past the Ferrari around here. I finally passed him in the hairpin then disappeared for a lap before my pit stop. But that lost me a lot of time and maybe there was a bit more we could have done if I wasn’t stuck behind him, but even so it has been a good weekend for us and I have to thank the whole team, they have done a great job.

Q: It was a great pass on Michael, right down the inside there, he tried to defend but had the line.
JB:
Yeah, Michael is never the easiest person to overtake but it was a reasonably good move. I knew at the corner apexes he was very slow and he really had to slow the car down so I knew that was the best place to do it at the slowest corner on the circuit, so I was very happy with it. To get a podium here, for the team, it is such a tough season it is a fantastic result and it can only mean better things for us for the rest of the year.

Q: And you closed a bit on Juan Pablo in the closing stages.
JB:
Yeah, you never know what people are doing, if they are taking it easy or not. But the car did feel good, as soon as I got past Michael the lap times were the low 16s, which for us was quick, and the car was working well. I had a pretty stable balance during the race and very consistent.

Q: Fernando, the world championship is looming, it was a big day for you in terms of points, what are your thoughts and approach to the remainder of the season?
FA:
At the moment, after 13 races, I approach the championship thinking race by race and so far it has been a good way to approach because I have a nice gap. So let’s keep doing the same thing. Race by race, obviously 70 points left to race and I have (an advantage of) 36, I think, so that is half of the points, so it is a good gap for me and hopefully if we keep finishing the races with our car I think it will be difficult for him to recover this.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Fernando, tell us about the rhythm in the early laps, as Kimi was pulling away from you. What were your feelings then?
FA:
The first three or four laps, yes, because I was quite conservative, I didn’t know the conditions of the track and the wind, but after that I think we were quite constant, four, three or two tenths slower than Kimi, which was more or less what we expected.

Q: The gap came down a couple of times just a fraction.
FA:
Yeah, I don’t know, I think I was always running the same times, the high 15s, and he had a little bit more non-constant pace, also coming from the people who he was lapping because the blue flags were not working well here and he had more problems than me, so sometimes the gap was a bit closer.

Q: How was the car? Was it absolutely perfect all the way through?
FA:
Yes, for me it was perfect. Normally we adjust front wings, pressures, at the stop but this race we didn’t adjust anything because I was extremely happy with it.

Q: What about next weekend in Hungary, it is a track you have already won at.
FA:
Yeah, Hungary has always been one of my favourite racetracks and I think with this year’s car it should be a good opportunity for us to be on the podium and hopefully beat McLaren, but at the moment they are the quickest.

Q: Juan Pablo, I guess you always thought it was a possibility to be on the podium even from 20th on the grid.
JPM:
I thought top five was possible. Actually getting to the podium was a bit too much to ask. I think the first few laps helped me a lot. I made up a lot of places. I think by lap three or four I was P10 already, so that helped.

Q: Tell us about the first lap because you made up eight places!
JPM:
I got about three cars straight off the line. I couldn’t see the lights and so when the cars moved I moved, because for some reason the Jordan was in an awkward position, it was right in front of the lights so I was looking ‘where are the lights?’ The start wasn’t good, but I made three places there and then through turns one, two and three I just poom, poom, poom, and that was it.

Q: Then you seemed to ease off a bit.
JPM:
Yes, there were like three or four cars, you know. I could pass one or two but I wasn’t going to pass all of them, so I just backed off and saved fuel.

Q: You had pretty bad time with the backmarkers at one point…
JPM:
Yes, I lost quite a bit of time. I thought Jenson might get me. I think Nick and Ralf were racing each other and for about half a lap I lost over a second just behind them. It was just really bad. You can understand that they were doing their own race but I was fighting for second pace and they still didn’t move out of the way.

Q: But in the end it wasn’t crucial.
JPM:
No, I pushed hard enough to have a good gap before the stop.

Q: Jenson, I guess being behind Michael was crucial for you.
JB:
Yeah it was. I lost a lot of time. He got me off the start, in the first stint he seemed to have pretty good pace and then immediately after the first stop he was a long way off the pace and I just found it really difficult to get by him. I’d get a reasonable exit out of turn two and turn three but I just couldn’t get any closer. So it took a while but in the end I lined him up and got him into turn four or five which was quite nice and then it was a lap before my pit stop so I had to push very hard to try and pull a bit of a gap out, because I knew he was going to be stopping later.

Q: Was it kind of inevitable that Juan Pablo was going to come out ahead of you?
JB:
Um, it was after that because I had been stuck behind Michael for so long and I knew that Juan Pablo had had more fuel on than we did. So, yes, it was inevitable but I still had to give it everything because maybe he would get stuck in traffic. So for us it was a great race and I could push the car all the way through which was fantastic. It was the first time this year that I have been able to push from start to finish with the car. It’s been very consistent, so yeah, very happy with third place and everyone has done a good job in the team.

Q: And another relief to get some more points?
JB:
Yeah, it has been a tough year and now it just seems to be getting better and better every race, moving forward every race, little changes, and hopefully in two or three races’ time we will be close enough to put the Renaults and McLarens under pressure. I don’t know if that’s possible but that would be fantastic.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia EFE) Fernando, do you feel like having half of the championship in your pocket already?
FA:
No, not really. I think these things can happen. You can score ten points and your main opponents nothing but the opposite way as well, so there are still unfortunately too many races to go and I think anything can happen. But for sure, every race we are doing, especially in this month, in July, we have been really really competitive, really lucky as well, so we scored more points than Michael and Kimi and the gap is quite nice now with 70 points still available.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Fernando, you were talking all the time while you were standing on the podium; who were you talking to and what did you say?
FA:
I don’t remember. I talked with these guys, with Jenson and Juan Pablo, and then with all the people on the team, all the mechanics, you see them, you see people from the kitchen, you see the physios, you see the family, the manager, so it’s difficult to stop.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) I know it is too early to congratulate you on the title, but still, regarding the fact that Renault and McLaren are driving in their own league now and there is now a 36 points lead, do you think Kimi still has any possibilities of catching you?
FA:
Yes, I think so. I think he has the best car on the grid at the moment so he can win the races in normal circumstances. Given this, we need to be careful. We know that we are in a good position but as I said before, there are still 70 points to race and if we keep finishing the races it will be difficult for him but if we have problems in two or three, maybe the gap disappears so there’s still a long way.

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia EFE) Juan Pablo, how would you describe this weekend of such mixed emotions for you and for the team?
JPM:
For me, for my side, I think everyone wanted to kill me and I wanted to kill myself as well because I think the lap was good enough to be on pole. The certain thing was that I knew I had more fuel than Kimi, and, I don’t know… When I threw it into the wall I just radioed the team and asked ‘how was it?’ and they said ‘you were a tenth up’ and I went ‘oh, great.’ So it was quite frustrating. But I said to the guys that I would try to make it up for them today and I did. I think if we had started in front it would have been a win but hey, this is the second podium for me in the year and I’ve been so unlucky all year long that it seems things are turning around a little bit now so it’s nice to see. I’m only 16 or 17 points behind Kimi already, so we are getting there slowly.

Q: (Mike Doodson) Jenson, Michael is never an easy guy to pass and you were pretty careful when you described the manoeuvre between the two of you. Was he fair with you? Did you feel that he blocked you too much, that his car was much slower than yours?
JB:
I got past, that’s the main thing. We didn’t touch. He moved across a little bit during braking but there was no issue at all.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News) Jenson, in a more general sense, why is it so difficult overtake, not just you, but in general?
JB:
Michael seemed to be pretty quick in the high speed corners, especially the first turn – it was very difficult to get close to him through there. I was able to gain a bit through turn two in the slow speed (corners), that’s where he was lacking speed, but I just couldn’t tow up to him down the straight. I think their straight-line speed is similar to us if not a little bit better so to try and catch him on the straight, even though I got a good exit, was very very difficult.

Q: (Ruth Müller - RUM) Fernando, what did you think when you saw Kimi stopped on track?
FA:
I think the same that he thought in Canada when I stopped. (Laughter)

Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Juan, I think you said just now that you would have won if you had started from the front row. Does that mean that there are still no team orders at McLaren?
JPM:
I think there are no team orders and I am only 17 points off Kimi now. So with all the DNFs and everything I’ve had… I should have been ahead of him by now but hey. It is bad for the team that Kimi didn’t finish and for the championship and everything but at least I scored some points for the team. In a way it’s nice to see that we have the fastest car out there and we have just been a bit unlucky. It’s little things that fail. For example in France a little pipe broke and dumped all the hydraulics. I don’t know what happened to Kimi today but it’s still things that have been on the car for years and never failed and it just happens in the bloody race. So it’s a bit frustrating. But things are turning around and I think the way the championship is going, there are no team orders, because they are not allowed, and if I was going to help Kimi it would be my choice but the way the championship is going at the moment it is probably going to be more of a fight between Kimi and myself for second place.

Q: Juan Pablo, has having a son changed the way you race in any way?
JPM:
People would probably say yes, but if you look at it, I passed eight cars in one lap so probably no.