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Post-race press conference - Belgium 11 Sep 2005

(L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren and Jenson Button (GBR) BAR in the post race press conference
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Belgian Grand Prix, Race, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, 11 September 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1h30m01.295; 2nd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h30m29.689; 3rd Jenson Button (BAR), 1h30m33.372.

Q: Kimi, you were there in the end but it was a difficult day with the conditions and, of course, at one point you were sitting in third behind Ralf Schumacher.
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, after the pit stop when the safety car came in we stopped and changed the tyres, put fuel in, so Ralf was quite a bit lighter because he didn’t stop so I didn’t push at the beginning because the tyres were really bad straight away. So I tried to look after them and then finally when it started to dry out my tyres were in very good condition and I was able to start pushing and I was catching up the rest very quickly and it was good.

Q: You were spectacularly quick when Juan Pablo went in and leading by six seconds when you came out from your pit stop.
KR:
Yeah, it was unfortunate for the team whatever happened in the last few laps because we could have had a one-two and we deserved it. We had a perfect race for the team and we were very unlucky what happened. I was happy with the car and everything how it went but we deserved to have both cars on the podium.

Q: How did you pace the early laps of the race when you were following Juan Pablo?
KR:
We had a decision that we don’t want to race against each other too much because there is no point as long as we can pull ahead of the rest and then we see what happens at the end of the race. But I was quicker at one point and then we stopped and he was very quick after the re-start and I couldn’t follow them but then I was also trying to look after the tyres and I caught him up in the end. I think it was a different way of driving and maybe a different set-up so it was a slightly different speed at the end of that race.

Q: Fernando, you were in the background for most of the day but right there in the end to score the second place, which is very critical to the championship target.
Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, it’s good. Conditions were really difficult for everyone today but we have a competitive car and we don’t need to risk at this point of the championship so the weather conditions was not a help this morning because I think a normal result is better for us than a fantastic race like we saw today. But sometimes it can be good and sometimes it can be bad. We did our race, our maximum, no mistakes, the car was moving a lot in the high speed corners, the rear end, I think Fisi had the same problem as me, obviously, because he had a problem in turn three so I really just backed off and tried to take points home and the second place is much better than I had expected.

Q: At that first pit stop under safety car conditions we saw a number of drivers trying drys then coming in again for intermediates. Did that thought cross your mind?
FA:
Every stop we did the dry was a little bit of a conversation on the radio already two or three laps before the pit stops but I think we did the right thing. There was no point to risk anything in this part of the championship for us. We just try to keep on the safe side.

Q: The intermediates proved to be very good over the full Grand Prix distance.
FA:
Yeah, it was tough today. We have to say thanks to Michelin, all the Michelin drivers, because we started the race with quite wet conditions and we finished with quite dry conditions and in both cases we were extremely quick, so they did a fantastic job from last year to this year.

Q: And then Juan Pablo made it easy for you at the end of the race.
FA:
Yeah, again I had some help from McLaren and I was able to take two more points. It was not really important, third place was perfect for me but second was even better.

Q: Jenson, this is your seventh consecutive finish in the points and the first points ever for BAR-Honda at a circuit that has not been too kind to the team in the past.
Jenson Button:
No, and I didn’t think it was going our way at the start of the race either. I was really, really struggling with oversteer on the first stint, I didn’t even need to turn into the corners, the rear end was coming round! After the first stop we adjusted the win, went out on slicks which was the wrong choice so we came back in and put intermediates on and the car was working very well. It was nice to catch up on the leaders in the last few laps.

Q: What was it like in the pitlane, a narrow pitlane here at Spa, with all that activity taking place.
JB:
It is very difficult and a lot of the teams were bringing in both cars so it made it a very busy pit lane. I obviously couldn’t pull into my box until Taku had gone because he was in front of me at that point, so it made it very difficult. But in the end we made the right choice at the second stop to double stint the tyres and I think that paid off for us in the end.

Q: And some good racing in the end there with Mark Webber and Rubens Barrichello.
JB:
Yeah, definitely. It was a very fun race and those conditions always bring that to a race. It was fantastic, but a lot of it I have got to say thanks to the team, they have done a fantastic job in the stops and also double stinting that set of tyres was the right way to go, so a big thank you to them.

Q: And of course they are not too used to changing wheels that much in a race these days.
JB:
Exactly, I think they got a bit of a shock when we came in and were changing tyres so often, but they did a great job.

Q: Kimi, just returning to you for your thoughts on the remaining three races in the championship and the points’ gap between you and Fernando. It closed a bit today but still a bit of ground to cover.
KR:
Yeah, if they keep finishing behind us it is not possible to catch them any more but we will fight as long as possible and we will do everything we can as a team to score as many points also for the team. We were very unlucky today because we had a perfect race and everything went well. We didn’t need to risk anything and then unfortunately these things happen and take quite a lot of points out of us. But that is racing and we need to try to make it better at the next race.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Kimi, your second consecutive win here. I guess this one was a bit more difficult than last year’s?
KR:
Well, last year was not easy either. We started from tenth so we needed to have a fight the whole race and it was similar this year. Of course, we were in a much better position because the team was one and two so we were able to really look after the cars and tyres, so in that way it was easier.

Q: You sounded like you are still fighting for the title but the hopes, perhaps, are not alive now.
KR:
You never know. We will fight as much as we can. It was really unfortunate what happened to Montoya, we really deserved to have one and two and I don’t know what happened but it was an unlucky situation for him and the team.

Q: Can you tell us what tyre wear you had all the way through the race?
KR:
At the beginning the car was very good, I was very happy with it and the tyres worked well.

Q: Which ones were you on though?
KR:
Intermediates all the way through. So, they worked perfectly in the wet conditions and the dry conditions. After the pit stop I couldn’t keep up with Montoya and Ralf really so I slowed down a bit to try to look after the tyres and then I thought that once the circuit dried up more it would be better that my tyres were in good shape and it paid off because I was very quick from that point on. I caught up with Montoya and I could run two laps longer so it was enough but we were definitely hoping to have a one-two and just before the pit stop I called him and said on the radio that there is no point to try and overtake each other and let’s just try to have a good finish. It almost came but it was an unlucky situation for the team.

Q: Because after the last stop you were much, much quicker than him.
KR:
Yeah, but then we were not really racing any more because we didn’t need to push each other and we needed to try to look after the car and tyres. Still we were doing good lap times but I don’t know what happened to him, I guess someone hit him and it was bad.

Q: Fernando, in a way a lucky second.
FA:
Yeah, always, the whole championship I have been lucky but I am always there so that is good.

Q: Exactly, that’s the point. It is what you have got to do isn’t it?
FA:
Yes, you know, it can sometimes be lucky and sometimes unlucky. Kimi had three problems in Monza – one engine problem, one tyre problem and one spin – and he still finished fourth, so maybe sometimes unlucky as well.

Q: You had a very different pace at the end to Jenson, he was absolutely rocketing and you were about six seconds slower.
FA:
Yeah, after the second pit stop I think we dropped the revs a little bit and we slowed down just to finish the race in third position and then the team informed me that Jenson had overtaken Barrichello and was much quicker than me so we tried to push at the end but that was enough and it was no time to risk.

Q: Were the tyres okay though, in the final stint?
FA:
No, not okay. We put on a new set on in the second stop and the track was too dry to put the new set on and after three laps the grip was really, really low and I had to take it easy a little bit because the tyres were not in perfect condition.

Q: Intermediates all the way through though?
FA:
Yes, me too.

Q: And will you now say you might have one hand on the trophy?
FA:
Now I don’t need to do four points more than Kimi, I only need six points and it doesn’t matter if Kimi wins, so, you know, I think Kimi has the potential to win all three races and I need six points so it is good.

Q: So you feel you might almost be there?
FA:
No, because if I don’t finish the races it will not be possible to win but if I keep finishing the races, which has been the target for the last half of the season, try to finish all races on the podium also to help the team in the constructors’ championship, it is what I am doing. This is my third consecutive second place and if I do three more now for the rest of the races it is even better for the team.

Q: Jenson, a pretty lively race for you; overtaken by Ralf and Fisichella in the early stages, then it was your turn to get back and overtake Monteiro, Webber, Villeneuve and Rubens. Pretty lively for you, wasn’t it?
JB:
Yeah it was. The first part of the race was very difficult. We did set the car up wrong, I had much too much oversteer with the car which left the door wide open for the people behind me. After the first stop we made some changes to the wing which made a big difference and the car was much better. And in the last stop we left the tyres on and that made a big difference. I think that was why we had so much better pace than the cars around us.

Q: Did you have a particularly favourite place to overtake these people?
JB:
I think it was possible everywhere because my tyres were in much better shape. I didn’t have the blocks to be rolling around on so it was a good choice by the team and myself to stay on those tyres, because after the first stint I was 16th or something because we messed up at the beginning of the race but it’s nice to end on a high and I have to thank everyone for it, for helping us get onto the podium.

Q: It must be nice to be back onto the podium.
JB:
It is nice, yeah, it’s been a little while. I think the next three races will be better for us so I am really positive. We have a lot of aero work coming for the next two races and I think we hopefully will be challenging the Renaults and they will be taking it a bit easier, so they might earn us a few points which would be nice.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, are you desperate, not getting any help from anybody else?
KR:
Of course it would help but like we saw today we were supposed to finish one and two but it didn’t happen, nothing to do with us really. I think someone hit Montoya so you cannot really know those things before it happens and of course we were taking it easy at that point. And it always happens to us so it is not good. It would help us if there were other teams taking points out of Renault but they are very consistent and quick also, so it is not so easy.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times, Germany) Question to Kimi and Fernando: from the championship point of view things this weekend haven’t really changed much. How would you describe this weekend for you; was it just routine or something special?
KR:
I think the last four or five races has not changed much, either I win two points from him, or he gets two points back, so it doesn’t go anywhere, we stay on 22 or 24 or something like that. It doesn’t help me too much. This weekend has been pretty good, everything went well but of course I would have liked to have been on pole but we knew that we have a good race car so it didn’t matter and we were hoping to have a good team finish so that was the aim and I am pretty happy how the weekend went.
FA: For me it was the same, a normal weekend for me and behind the McLarens we were quite quick, especially in dry conditions but unfortunately, once we were quick in dry conditions it rained for today, but in spite of that, we only lost two points and as Kimi said sometimes two points we gain, sometimes two points we lose.

Q: (Gaetane Morin – Le Journal du Dimanche) Kimi, is there a priority in the team between the Constructors’ championship and the Drivers’ one?
KR:
No, we want to win both and that is what we are aiming for. But I think luck is not on our side sometimes but there are still three races to go, so for sure we will try to win at least one of them and hopefully it will happen.

Q: (Thierry Wilmotte - Le Soir) Fernando, you are receiving some developments for your car in Brazil, do you think it will help you get back on top and battle with Kimi, or you don’t care and prefer to stay conservative and to stay behind him until the end of the season?
FA:
No, I hope we can beat them. There is a new aero package coming for the Brazilian Grand Prix and also obviously a new engine because I have finished my second race and that’s another evolution as well: So I think it will make a small difference in the car but maybe enough to be as quick as the McLaren. Reliability-wise, I think every part we put on the car is well-proven and there is no risk at all, so I’m totally confident.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Fernando, considering what you know of your car and the Interlagos circuit, and Kimi needs five points more than you there in order to extend the championship, what do foresee in the race?
FA:
I think it can be a good race for us. I think Interlagos has been a good circuit for the Renault characteristics and this year even more so, because the R25 performed really well in all the circuits, so if we get these new pieces for Brazil I think we can be competitive there and as I said before, I think I need six points so to be on the podium which will be the target again, not only for my championship but also for the Constructors’ and I think I am very confident that it will be possible.

Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Jenson, do you think you can interfere in the title battle over the last three races?
JB:
As I said before we have a new aero package and Renault have as well so I don’t really know where we are going to stand going into Brazil. I am happy that we can make a good improvement, it is just how good their improvement is really. But we are very positive for the last few races because of the downforce level that you run at those circuits, so that’s how the car seems to work, so we are looking forward to it and hopefully we can get a few more podiums, that would be a nice way to end the season.

Q: (Panos Diamantis – Car and Driver, Greece) Fernando, in these conditions because you have a more aggressive driving style than Kimi and Jenson, did you have to change your driving style and what does this have to do with the car and its set-up?
FA:
For today? No I didn’t change anything. All the drivers drive differently, and sometimes it’s getting better and sometimes bad but I think the Renault car is perfect for my driving style at the moment so I think it is no good to change because the car is doing it for me at the moment so it’s OK.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times, Germany) Kimi, of course, it’s always nice to win but does it spoil the taste of victory when you know that you are 25 points behind?
KR:
Not really. A win is always a win. If it could help us, or it will help is in the championship, maybe not as much we hoped but it still doesn’t change the win. All the wins count and that is why we are here, to try to win races and that’s what matters.

Q: (Mathias Brunner – Motorsport Aktuell) Fernando, you described the behaviour of your car, would you say you speculated in the wrong direction regarding set-up for today?
FA:
Yeah, I think our set-up was completely for dry conditions. Yesterday we saw that we were much quicker than everybody else on the straight and I think we had much less downforce than everybody, so the wet conditions were not a help, so it was a surprise to be that quick throughout the race and to not have too many problems. It was a good opportunity in dry conditions to fight with the McLarens here. Yesterday we were also very heavy on fuel load and today we didn’t take any advantage because it was wet and we came in when the safety car was out, but the final result was okay which is the main thing.