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Post-race press conference - Italy 04 Sep 2005

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren won the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Race Day, Monza, Italy, 4 September 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

1st Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), 1h14m28.659s; 2nd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h14m31.138s; 3rd Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1h14m46.634s.

Q: Juan Pablo, it looked to be relatively straightforward until those closing laps, but before we get into those, let’s just talk through the first phase of the race with Fernando right on your tail.
Juan Pablo Montoya:
Well, I pushed really hard for the first few laps and I opened up a gap and I felt quite comfortable. We thought we were going longer than them so it was a matter of just maintaining the gap and then the car became quite oversteery. You’ve got a lot of adjustment in the car. I worked with it a little bit, but I never really felt comfortable with it to be able to push hard so it was like one lap you could push but the next lap it would go really bad. Generally it went pretty good but we got to the end of the race. I could see the tyre breaking up a little bit on the left but at the end it just went really bad, there was just no grip.

Q: So how did you go into those closing laps? How can you drive the car that way bearing in mind the problems that Kimi had earlier in the year, and the problem that Kimi had in the race today, also with a tyre?
JPM:
The thing was you couldn’t really push or lean on the tyre or anything. It was go as slow as you can, I turned down the engine before that, so I brought it back up to full power and everything and I think that helped me a little bit. I was calculating but I couldn’t go any quicker to be honest. Any quicker was a big risk to go off. When I had four seconds with two laps to go I thought it should be OK.

Q: But you did it and this was the scene of your first Grand Prix win as well, so an emotional day for you.
JPM:
Yeah, the first time I won here I couldn’t spray any champagne so it was nice to do it here to be honest. It’s nice, it’s good for me for the championship. I think we only took a point off Renault here but it’s better than nothing.

Q: Fernando, you raced him long and hard in the early phase of the race, but when the pit stops came, it looked as though you had a slowish ‘out’ lap.
Fernando Alonso:
Yes, I felt I had very bad grip going out of the pits. Maybe the tyres were a little bit dirty and maybe they weren’t ready on the first lap. I was penalised a little bit by this and the first laps after the pit stops I lost a little bit of time but I was lucky that I wasn’t fighting with anyone so I took the race quite easily.

Q: But you weren’t far away from Juan Pablo in those closing laps.
FA:
Yeah, at the end the team informed me of the tyre problem that Juan Pablo was suffering. I pushed a little bit more and like Juan Pablo, I turned the engine up again, full power and we tried to put on some pressure but maybe it was too late, but for us, second place is good. The target for the last six or seven races was to be on the podium and I am constantly on the podium and sometimes in front of Kimi, so it’s OK for me.

Q: Giancarlo, a great drive from where you qualified yesterday. Look back at that qualifying lap, shame it wasn’t cleaner. If you’d started a little bit higher up the grid…
Giancarlo Fisichella:
Yeah. Unfortunately yesterday I had a problem braking for turn one, I had a problem with the retardation and I couldn’t stop the car. I lost more than six tenths there, so today was a bit of a difficult race for me, starting from eighth position but the car balance was good, just the grip level was really poor and it was really difficult, but the strategy was perfect. I had no problems in the pit stops so today has been a good day for me and I’m able to achieve a good third position which is what I expected from this race.

Q: As it turned out, you were running a lot more fuel than the guys just ahead of you in the early phases of the race. Were you aware of that at the time, did you know that the pit stops were going to help you as much they did?
GF:
Well, yeah, we know more or less the fuel load compared with other people. We were quite optimistic that we had more fuel than the two BARs and the two Ferraris. I was a little bit worried about Jarno’s fuel, and in fact he stopped one lap before me, but on that lap I overtook him and I went through to the end in third position.

Q: Juan Pablo, this was the first Grand Prix since the Dutch Grand Prix in 1961 with no mechanical retirements. On this sort of circuit, a relatively quick lap, I guess the traffic must have been horrendous.
JPM:
Yeah, the traffic was really bad. Most of the people moved out of the way pretty quickly. I was a bit concerned right before my last stop because I had four cars ahead of me and I thought ‘Oh no’ and they just told me that Fernando had pitted. You never know how much time you’re going to lose. I lost about a second so it wasn’t so bad. I think it was good enough that I managed to open up a gap to Fernando on that stint.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Juan Pablo, a good start off the line?
JPM:
Yeah, we got off the line really well. I had a good start. It was a bit strange for us in the last race to have a bad start. Here, I had a good start and I braked quite early into the first corner. I didn’t have anybody close to me so it went quite well. I pushed quite hard in the first two laps and I opened up a good gap and then I started having loads of oversteer. I didn’t have any in testing last week or anything. How we got it here I don’t know. Every year I come here I have the same thing. You go testing – the car’s fantastic. Qualifying – good. Get to the race and it just goes tits up. But even like that I managed to adjust all the differential and all the things on the car and went around a little bit and afterwards, when they told me I had to push and open a gap I managed to open a gap, even with the car like that, so it was good.

Q: So did you manage to dial out some of that oversteer?
JPM:
I dialed out some of it but I didn’t have any confidence in the car to lean on it, to go into the corners and say OK, I’m going to lean on it because I tried to close the diffs and everything and mid-corner, when I had a stable entry it would just understeer so it was one or the other. It was a bit of a pain in the ass but it was good. Even like that, I won the race, so I don’t mind.

Q: Could that have contributed to your tyre problem?
JPM:
No. It was kind of strange because from the word ‘go’ the oversteer was there and right at the end, I was looking at the tyres constantly in the mirrors and you could see a little bit on the left tyre but after the last stop it just broke into pieces.

Q: Had you been told about what happened to Kimi’s tyre?
JPM:
No. I actually asked where Kimi was running because my plan was if Kimi was behind me to help him for the championship and I never really got to that point. They told me he had just pitted again. It was a bit of a surprise for me because I had seen him pitting on the TV, so I thought he’s pitting now and I radioed the team and they said he had a problem with the tyres so it was a bit of a shock. And they said look after your left rear tyre, and I had been having oversteer all day long on it.

Q: You really lost time from lap 47 onwards, really just the last six laps.
JPM:
I had a big moment going through the Parabolica, I was very close to spinning and I wondered what the heck happened. From then on, it just became undriveable. I could probably have done one more lap in the lead and that was about it.

Q: Fernando, were you a bit surprised by the opening lap pace?
FA:
Not really. I think I was extremely slow in the first two laps. The front tyres were not working at all and I thought for a moment that I had something wrong with the front wing and that I had touched maybe Juan Pablo at the first corner or something because there was no grip at all. Then I felt the same problem with the car after the pit stops so I’m pretty sure that the front tyres, when they cool down a little bit, have problems with temperatures. So I think in the first two laps I lost three seconds with Juan Pablo and then I was on the same pace more or less.

Q: At the end you were catching him of course. You were reeling him in and then you seemed to slow down a little bit.
FA:
Yeah, five laps from the end the team informed me of the problem that Juan Pablo was having with the tyre and I think we push the limit again. We put the full power on the engine with maximum revs and we tried to catch him, but on the last lap he was too far and I short-shifted again and took care of the engine. We have to use it in Spa as well obviously.

Q: You had an interesting little time with Kimi didn’t you, on about lap 20?
FA:
Yes, I went out of the pits and he was behind me. I tried to stop him as much as I could, but again I had this problem with front tyres so I was very, very slow in one part. It was good because he was going slowly too, but it was very easy to overtake me, so he did it in the end.

Q: And you went across the kerbs with him as well didn’t you?
FA:
Yeah, I think he was a little bit unfair in the overtaking manoeuvre as he cut the first chicane and then he let me pass to recover the position because it was not fair what he did, but not enough because he was really in the tow and tried to overtake me into turn four. It was a little bit of a strange manoeuvre.

Q: So where did he overtake you exactly?
FA:
Turn four.

Q: Which is the?
FA:
Second chicane. Thanks to cutting the first chicane as well.

Q: Do you feel you now have your hands almost on that championship?
FA:
No, not really. I think every race is different. If I have a problem in one of the races probably I’m not able to recover as quickly as the McLaren does at the moment. If they have a problem with the engine in qualifying then they still finish on the podium and for us if we have a problem then we will have problems to be even in the top five or six, so let’s keep doing the same thing as professionally as we can and do perfect weekends with no mechanical problems and good laps in qualifying and a strong race on Sundays. If we can keep doing that for sure then we’ll have two hands on the championship very soon.

Q: Giancarlo, well done. Eighth on the opening lap, did you think you could be on the podium?
GF:
I was confident honestly, at the start of the race. Unfortunately we had a problem in the qualifying session with the brakes in turn one and I lost six tenths and otherwise I was able to be I think third today on the grid. But anyway, we knew about other people in front of me, that they were stopping much earlier than me so I was quiet. I was driving carefully and the balance of the car wasn’t too bad but the grip level was very, very low today. The strategy was perfect and the team did a good job on the pit stops, so I was confident, especially when I was in that third position, to run through to the end and keep my third position.

Q: And you’d overtaken Jarno as well during the pit stops.
GF:
Yeah, because he stopped one lap earlier than me and that was especially because I had one more lap of fuel than he did and that was very important, so the strategy we made yesterday was perfect.

QUESTIONS FROM FLOOR

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Fernando, you can finish the championship at the next race at Spa-Franorchamps in Belgium, but where is the place you would like to finish the championship?
FA:
I think all the circuits where we are going are very important to me. First of all, Spa is my favourite circuit and I won my first race in (Formula) 3000 there. It’s really good and I will finish the championship there if I can. Brazil also is a good track to win the championship at and Japan and China as well. It really doesn’t matter.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Fernando, theoretically it’s possible to still lose the championship, but do you think it’s really possible to lose it?
FA:
I try not to think like that, but for sure it’s not 100 per cent sure. If I don’t finish the next two races for example then I will be just seven points ahead in Japan, so it’s really difficult. I think Kimi has the potential to win all the races remaining so I need to get as many points as I need. I think it is 27 points now so I need to do 14 points as soon as I can.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) But is there a moment that you feel like you can taste the championship already?
FA:
No, because I saw it in Hungary. We were arriving there with good confidence and 36 points over Kimi but I touched with Ralf at the start and on one of my favourite circuits and one where we should have been equal to McLaren. We were nowhere and the advantage was ten points less so how I can feel confidence with any distance left? I need to finish the races on the podium first of all and I managed to do it for 15 races this season and four more would be good.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) But still, does it mean that you are trying to keep the championship out of your mind?
FA:
I’m a racing driver and I think that when I arrive at a Grand Prix, I focus on winning the race. After qualifying, depending on your position and depending on the positions of your opponents, you think different strategies so you take into account the championship points advantage or not. I think we are fighting with McLaren for the constructors’ championship as well so there are two things to think about and I am not 100 percent on the drivers’ only.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News) – Giancarlo, there was some bumping and banging in the first chicane at the start. Can you talk us through your first lap at the chicane?
GF:
Obviously, there’s not enough space for all the cars there and all the drivers want to overtake, but I didn’t gain any positions or lose any positions so it was okay. It was a bit dangerous because a couple of times I was really close to Schumacher in front of me and even on the left hand side it was Ralf very close, but it was important to get through without any problems from the first chicane.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) To Montoya, you did a great demonstration of courage today. Weren’t you afraid at any moment of the race, on a circuit with speeds of 370kph, about the condition of your tyres?
JPM:
No.

Q: To both Renault drivers, we saw on TV Flavio talking quite hectically on the radio. Who was he talking to and what was it about?
GF:
I don’t know. He wasn’t talking with us because we only talk to engineers. I don’t know if Fernando had a chat with him.

Q: You said he sometimes wakes you up.
FA:
Yeah sometimes, when you sleep, or you are not quick enough, he tries to put some pressure on you, but not today. I think he was quite relaxed with Kimi far back.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazetta dello Sport) Juan Pablo, you told us just now you were not afraid, but at any moment did you think about what happened to your team-mate at the Nurburging?
JPM:
I thought about it on the last lap. I was actually going into turn one on the last lap and I braked and I didn’t want it to happen, and I was lucky enough that it didn’t. Looking at the tyre as far as rubber goes, there is nothing left, but the casing and everything held up pretty well, so Michelin did a good job today. We need to understand what happened because I think the only team to have it was McLaren, but it’s strange because we tested these tyres all in the tests last week and it was fine.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) – Fernando, today you did a great race, but considering Kimi’s problem, maybe you have been a bit lucky. Do you agree?
FA:
Again, yes and no. I think I’m lucky because maybe in normal circumstances maybe would have won the race, but I’m unlucky because he could have broken the engine in the race and had zero points and also Juan Pablo, with the tyre, if the race was one lap, or two laps longer, then maybe I’d have won the race. Maybe I’m a little bit unlucky at that point. I think the feeling is that I have been a little bit lucky in the whole championship, but I have 103 points and I did them myself and in the fantastic car I’ve got.