Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m26.797s; 2nd Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m27.039s; 3rd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m27.050s.
Q: It was a very confident looking pole position, does the car feel as competitive here as it does everywhere else?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think so. Yesterday was not perfect but really the day yesterday was really only to try to find the right tyre and I think we got a good choice on that and over night we changed the car and straight away from the morning it was good. We did a good lap time before the qualifying so we were quite confident but on a new circuit you never know how it is going to be in qualifying. It was quite tough but I am very happy with the car.
Q: Giancarlo, the first time we have had two Renault drivers in the top three in qualifying since Malaysia. We heard some radio transmission to you just before the start of your lap talking about the condition of the wind, which had changed. Did that help you?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yes. There was a very strong wind on the start-finish line and quite a lot of strong wind at the end of the back straight and especially in the braking point it was pretty difficult, but it was a clean lap, I was a bit conservative on the first and second parts but on the last sector I did very well and considering even Barrichello was very close it was good. It is encouraging for tomorrow, looking forward, and I want to go for the podium, the target is to win the race.
Q: And what are your thoughts on the circuit design?
GF: Yeah, I agree with Kimi. It is a nice circuit. Already when I walked around on Thursday morning it was really nice and especially the first few laps were very exciting, so it is great, I am happy to be here and I hope to have a great race tomorrow.
Q: Fernando, a good looking lap as well but Giancarlo was slightly quicker in the third sector there.
Fernando Alonso: I think I was a little bit surprised about the wind in the back straight and a little bit in turn 12, maybe I lost half a tenth or something like that, which is enough to be second, but I am happy to be third, it is the clean side of the grid so we should have a better start and hopefully we can go through the first corner, not like Hungary, where we lost the nose. I think we have to finish tomorrow and we are in a perfect position to achieve a good result.
Q: Your championship rival Kimi is on the pole, of course. Talk a little about the dilemma between going for the win and scoring points.
FA: It is not easy to manage, but at the moment we are thinking to beat McLaren and to beat Kimi because I think it is the only way to be right in the championship. Sometimes we can do it, sometimes not, and the times we cannot we have to think and to score points, and I think tomorrow we have a good chance. We have the two Renaults in the top three, which means the car is competitive here, so lets try tomorrow.
Q: Kimi, just going back to you, a long hot race tomorrow, anti-clockwise, a very fast corner there putting a lot of g-force through the car and the necks of the drivers.
KR: Yeah, it is not going to be easy, also because we had some holiday and when you are not driving for a while it is harder but I dont mind and lets see how it goes and it shouldnt be any problem.
Q: Kimi, having seen quite a few other drivers make mistakes, were you at all careful or was it 100 percent?
KR: I thought that we had a little bit in hand. In the morning on new tyres, I went off in corner eight so I knew that it was going to be a bit tricky. Most of the guys who made a mistake went off there. Maybe (I was) a little bit (cautious) but not really. I tried to drive it as hard as I could.
Q: Just in that one corner then.
KR: Yeah, and at the end of the back straight, coming into the last part. I ran a little bit wide and locked the rear end for some time but I knew that I was quick enough in the first part so it didnt matter.
Q: Do you think were going to see the same sort of incidents during the race itself tomorrow?
KR: Hopefully not for me, at least. But I dont know, it might be tricky but we will see how it goes.
Q: You talked about changes to the car; were they major changes?
KR: Not really. We only knew the set-up since yesterday. It was not really perfect so we did a few little things that we wanted to try and it was pretty good in the morning already and we were happy so we didnt change it any more and I think it is a very good race car.
Q: Is there a thought about the set-up of the car between here and turn eight then from turn eight back again, because thats quite quick?
KR: Of course, you try to compromise. For sure you dont get it completely right in every corner but you try and make it as good as you can overall and try to put in effort where the car is not perfect so try to work more on those areas.
Q: Giancarlo, you set a very quick final sector time, are you concentrating more on that quick part of the circuit?
GF: Well, I did a good last sector time but I think without Rubens it would have been better. I lost a bit of concentration Im not saying I was on pole without him but for sure a few hundredths better was possible. Anyway, it was a good clean lap, a bit conservative at the beginning. The car balance was much better than yesterday and then this morning so I am happy about the performance and looking forward to tomorrow.
Q: And of course, quicker than your teammate
GF: It was nice to be on pole, not quicker than my teammate. We are together, we have to work together for Renault. It is not important if I am quicker or slower than him. It is important to score lots of points tomorrow.
Q: Is turn eight the major problem for you in the race tomorrow?
GF: It is a difficult corner. If you lose the apex there is a lot of understeering and if you are not on the line, its really really dusty and really slippery so as you saw in qualifying a couple of cars lost the apex and they lost the lap so it is really important to be concentrated there tomorrow. Apart from that, the rest of the circuit is a little bit difficult but its not critical.
Q: It is not one apex it is four apexes!
GF: Exactly, but the first part of the corner is really important.
Q: And the left side of the grid, is that a problem?
GF: Maybe, maybe yes. But hopefully not. We have a good start position so Im looking forward to it.
Q: Fernando, you went relatively early, halfway through the field in fact, you must be pleased with third.
FA: Yeah, I am surprised to be third. I think starting tenth with one or two cars that didnt do their laps, like Karthikeyan, so I was the eighth car on the track and I am quite happy and surprised to be in the top three.
Q: What do you think will happen in the first corner in the race tomorrow?
FA: It will be a new challenge for all of us, new circuit, no reference at all from the past, so we will see how the first corner is. Obviously, there will only be one line, because the outside line is very dirty, so it will be difficult for 20 cars to go on the same line so there will be some problems. Hopefully we are in the top cars so it will be a little bit easier at the first corner. I am starting from the clean side which is good here and at Hungary and places like this with a lot of dust on the track, so I am quite happy and really pleased with the lap and the position as well.
Q: We have seen a lot of drivers make mistakes. Is this one of the trickiest circuits on the calendar?
FA: I think so. I think it is very slippery, especially the outside line, and there are a few very special corners, like turn one and three, where you cant see the entry of the corner so you have to guess what is the turn-in point, and this is not easy, especially in single lap qualifying when you have to push, you have to get the maximum. You can lose a lot in all the corners or you can gain a lot of time. This is one of the characteristics of the circuit so when you have to push, it is a big risk for everybody.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia EFE) Fernando, you said you were happy. What must happen for you to be even happier tomorrow?
FA: I think tomorrow we have a good chance to be on the podium and hopefully fighting for the win. The car is competitive here, as we saw today, both cars in the top three, so this is not like Hungary any more, where we were struggling a little bit and not competitive at all. We came back here in the right direction so maybe tomorrow we can really fight with McLaren, our opponents, again.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Giancarlo, if you are second in the race and your teammate is just behind you, in that case do you think the position of the championship can suggest to you a particularly strategy to help Fernando?
GF: At the moment there are no team orders at Renault, but I told you already at the last couple of races, if Fernando is fighting for the championship and if he needs help from me I will help him.
Q: (Livio Orichio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, it seems that you have the fastest car as we saw yesterday, this morning and in qualifying. If you lose your first position at the start of the race, do you think it will be easy for you to get back to first place?
KR: Hopefully I will not lose it, that is the aim. I dont know. It is not possible to say, after practice, whether it is easy to overtake or not. It is never easy to overtake so even if we have long straights, it could be very tricky. But we have a pretty good starting system so hopefully we will keep first place.
Q: (Juha Paatalo Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, knowing your strategy and regarding your performance today in qualifying, how confident are you for victory?
KR: For sure, we try to win, that is the only aim for us, it is the only way to try to get the championship. I am pretty confident, we have a very good car. I think the car was not so good in qualifying as it will be in the race, looking at this morning. We had some difficulty getting the tyres working on one lap so I am very confident.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, can you expect any help from Juan Pablo tomorrow? Hes now in a position to give it to you.
KR: We try to score as many points for the team as we can. We need to fight for both championships and we will see how it goes in the race. We dont have any team orders and we will do our own races and see where we end up.
Q: (Juha Paatalo Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, are you surprised that the Renaults are so close to you here?
KR: No, it has been the same all year, Sometimes they are quicker, sometimes us. Even yesterday we seemed to have a little bit of a gap to the others but that is quite normal on a new circuit and once everybody gets the set-up right, its always going to be closer, but nobody knows how much fuel people are carrying so we will have to wait and see tomorrow. Im happy what happened today for us and of course they are close to us but we will just try to beat them.
Q: (Stephane Barbe LEquipe) Fernando, could you speak about your lap? It seemed on the TV that you ran a bit wide in the last hairpin, is that the case?
FA: Yeah, it was okay, but for sure turn 12, the corner after the long straight, I was braking a little bit at the same point and I missed the apex a bit but these things happen. I dont know how much I lost, I will see on the data, but I would be surprised if it was more than half a tenth or something like that, but I am really happy with the lap and the time I did.