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Post-qualifying press conference - Italy 03 Sep 2005

(L to R): Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault in the post qualifying press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 3 September 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m20.878s; 2nd Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), 1m21.054s; 3rd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m21.054s.

Q: Kimi, a bitter-sweet day again, a beautiful-looking lap, particularly through the second chicane and the Lesmos but sadly an engine change just before qualifying, so starting ten places further back.
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, it was not very good for the weekend but we’ve been quick all weekend and the car is good. Unfortunately the engine let go just on the last lap when I went out in the last practice but at least I did the best that I could. We’re starting 11th now so I think we have the speed and good tactics so we will see where we end up. It’s going to be a hard race but that’s racing. Hopefully we get a good result.

Q: Of course, it’s not the first time that it’s happened this season. You seem remarkably resilient to it and it was a great lap, you put everything you had into it.
KR:
Yeah, of course it depends what others are going to do tomorrow but I think we are in a strong position again. It’s not the first time and unfortunately it’s hurting us a lot in the championship but it’s nothing that I can change and for sure everyone is working as hard as they can so hopefully we can sort out the problems and we don’t have them any more. But it doesn’t make our lives any easier for sure.

Q: What do you think about your opportunities from eleventh on the grid in terms of overtaking on this circuit?
KR:
Like I said, we’ve had a very fast car all weekend, also last week in the test. I think here we have a better chance to overtake people than many other places but there is a tight first corner and I’m in the middle of the pack, so it’s not the perfect place to be but I think we will have good speed and we just have to wait and see what happens in the race. But it’s going to be difficult to try to win.

Q: Juan Pablo, well done, too. Effectively starting from the pole now and with a bit of a margin over the guys behind you; a great-looking lap as well.
Juan Pablo Montoya:
Yeah, it was good. I’ve struggled all weekend with a lot of understeer and I think we’ve still got a bit of understeer in the car, more than I want. But it was a clean lap, there’s a bit more in the second sector but I’m pretty happy. We’re clearly quicker than anybody else and if we can get a good run into the first corner it should be good to try to win the race tomorrow. It’s all we can do for the team.

Q: Talk about the build-up to this race, the events of Turkey and then your focus, in terms of the Constructors’ championship, on the situation now as the season draws to a close?
JPM:
I think Kimi should be quite good tomorrow and should be able to get into the points or even get on the podium, we’ll see what happens later in the race but from where we stand, even if I wanted to help him, there’s not much I can do at the moment, he’s too far back. I think the main goal at the moment is to try to win the Constructors’ (Championship). The Kimi situation today just made it a bit harder.

Q: And that first corner – as you say – a great place to be right at the front, because it is a tight corner.
JPM:
It is. I’ve been on the front row here four out of five times so it’s a good place to start again.

Q: Fernando, quite a lot of pressure on you as you went out, the BAR Hondas suddenly picking up speed and of course not a good run from your team mate Giancarlo Fisichella, a ragged-looking lap. What were your thoughts as you went out for that qualifying lap?
Fernando Alonso:
I was confident of having a good lap. I think the car was not perfect this weekend compared with last week in the test, so we had a bit more problems than we expected but we managed to do a good job this morning and to prepare the car for the race situation. Some doubts about the qualifying lap, whether we have enough speed to be on the front row, but we did it, so for tomorrow even more confidence.

Q: It is very competitive behind you, but how did Kimi’s problem this morning affect your approach to qualifying? Indeed, did it change it at all?
FA:
Not really. I think for us we have to do our best which is finish all the races, be sure that driveability-wise the car has no problems and I think that’s what we are doing. From the middle of the season we have not had the quickest car but we try to finish the races or get on the podium if we can and for this race we didn’t change anything strategy-wise.

Q: I guess it’s encouraging to see how quick you are on the straights here, this, the fastest circuit in Formula One.
FA:
Yeah, we are OK. I think Fisi was the fastest car this morning. We have to check in qualifying now, but for sure we have good straight-line speed so for tomorrow, for the race, we have confidence in the possibility to overtake or to defend our position. So I think front row for tomorrow to start the race will be good.

Q: Kimi, just back to you, thoughts on coming from behind tomorrow. Obviously the championship is still there in sight. How are you going to sleep tonight?
KR:
As good as ever. It doesn’t change my sleeping at all. It’s not going to be easy but I think it all depends on what happens. As long as we get through the first corner with no incidents I think we should be OK after that. So many things can happen in the race. We just need to do the best we can and I can push as hard as I always do. We don’t have anything to lose. In that way it’s a pretty easy race because we just go as fast as we can.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Poor Kimi, you’ve been here before with this situation but I don’t suppose you’re getting used to it, are you?
KR:
It’s not a perfect thing but we cannot change it any more so we need to make the best out of it.

Q: Was there a great change of strategy when that (engine change) happened?
KR:
A little bit but not massively, but this is the best result we could aim for and hopefully race up in the race tomorrow.

Q: Can you finish at least second to your team-mate tomorrow?
KR:
We will try to win the race but of course it’s not easy and it all depends really on what happens at the front of the race but I think we have a quick car and as long as we get through the first corners without any problems then for sure we have a good chance to fight for the race.

Q: Well I hope so. Juan Pablo, you must be very happy with the inherited pole anyway?
JPM:
Yeah, I had a decent, clean lap. I knew what sort of lap time we could do. I made a mistake this morning on new tyres, so that was the goal –to do a one minute 21 here but obviously if we could run a bit faster it would be better. I made a mistake going into the first Lesmo and it cost me a couple of tenths, but the car is good. It’s been good all weekend. A bit of understeer, but I think that’s pretty good for the race.

Q: It’s a good circuit for you as we mentioned on Thursday.
JPM:
Yes. I don’t know why but I always seem to end up on the front row. I don’t mind.

Q: What happens if you see Kimi in your mirrors?
JPM:
I don’t know. You tell me. I always want to try to help the team as much as I can and, you know, help Kimi if I can as well at the moment for the championship because I’m not completely out of it. It’s kind of normal. I try to help the team in every way I can. In a way I really doubt it. I’m sure he’s going to move up a lot but we’ll see what happens. It’s a long race and anything can happen. We’ll see.

Q: Fernando, this hasn’t been a good track for Renault in the past so you must be pleased with third. Certainly Flavio (Briatore) seemed to be.
FA:
Yes, for sure it’s a good place to finish the qualifying and a better place to start the race I the first row.

Q: So were you hoping for better?
FA:
No, I think it’s the maximum we can do. From the fourth race of the season we have not had the quickest car so we try to be as perfect as we can in every single qualifying lap and every single race, pushing all the way through the race and take the opportunities that McLaren is giving to us sometimes so I think for me third place is the normal position today and the first row for tomorrow is a little bit of a surprise. Obviously with Kimi’s problem, and tomorrow, who knows? Strategy-wise we are okay and if we have a good start we can even think about trying to win the race.

Q: It’s that consistency during the races that has certainly helped you since, as you say, since the fourth race McLaren have had the quicker car perhaps. Is that something you’ve worked on or is it something that comes naturally?
FA:
It comes naturally I think. All my career my strongest point was always my consistency in the race. It’s maybe not there in the single lap qualifying and this year even more perhaps I’ve had a good car, very consistent in the race no mechanical problems in any of the races so I try to score as many points as possible for me and the team in every race.

Q: Some drivers tend to go to sleep a little bit and their performance falls off. Do you ever go to sleep in the car?
FA:
No, no, I have Flavio on the radio, so it would not be easy.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, would you consider this as bad luck?
KR:
It is the same question you always ask if I have some problems. I don’t know where it comes from but it seems to always hit us in the times when we are gaining points to Renault. We always keep them away afterwards, but I don’t know, but it’s something that shouldn’t happen.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, is this a better circuit to try to win then it was at Magny-Cours and Silverstone?
KR:
For sure it’s a better race to try to get on the podium and better results because in here for sure it’s easier to overtake than at Silverstone or Magny-Cours but for sure its still going to be very difficult and we are just going to have to wait and see what happens in the race.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Fernando, when you see such things happen like the engine failure for Kimi, are you starting to think about the championship already?
FA:
No. I think it’s not any feeling going on. You prepare your race and sometimes you think that you are lucky because Kimi, my main opponent, is starting ten places behind, and sometimes you think you’re unlucky because with three laps less in practice yesterday, Kimi’s engine might have gone on the first lap of the race and this would be even better for me. I think, you know, I try to do my best always. Sometimes I can do it and sometimes not. Sometimes I am happy with a podium, sometimes with a victory and I think that for the last five races, I have had good luck in the championship and of course I try to race with intelligence and I try to keep the gap with as many points as I can.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) Kimi, what did you think when the team decided to change your engine?
KR:
Not much really. Of course I was disappointed, but I knew pretty much that when I went out in practice, the last laps, something had happened and usually it is not a good sign when you lose power and the engine is not running normally, so I knew already that this was not right and I had an engine change, so it was bad for me.

Q: (Adam Hay-Nicholls – Two Paws Agency) In 2008, with these plans to try to reduce the amount of dirty air out of the back of these cars to increase the chance of overtaking, is it something you welcome or are you quite happy to keep the guy behind you?
JPM:
To be honest, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I heard Max was saying something yesterday but to be honest I was with my kid so I had better things to think about. Whatever you think, it doesn’t matter. Fifty percent of the time it doesn’t even go through, but if it happens, it happens, and it’s the same for everybody.
KR: Its too many years forward. Maybe I won’t even be here then, so let’s wait and see.