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Post-qualifying press conference - Brazil 24 Sep 2005

Pole sitter Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 24 September 2005

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m11.988s; 2nd Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), 1m 12.145s; 3rd Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m12.558s.

Q: Fifth pole this year, Fernando, but dare I say it, perhaps the most important pole of your career.
Fernando Alonso:
Well, I don’t know. I think tomorrow we have to finish the job. I think we’ve had a good weekend so far but this is only the start of tomorrow and we still have 71 laps to go, very important laps for me, obviously for the championship position but at the end, we do our best. Sometimes it will be OK, sometimes not. Hopefully tomorrow will be OK.

Q: There’s a big build-up for this race from Renault: new spec engine, new aero package on the car. Talk about that and how the lap was.
FA:
I think the new stuff we have on the car, well, the result is this: Fisico and me are in the top three fighting with the McLarens. Probably in the last couple of races we were not able to be so close. So I think the team did a fantastic job the last part of the championship and we the drivers are really really pleased with the car here in Interlagos and I think tomorrow everything will be OK, because in terms of reliability and things like that, it is still 100 percent sure so I think we are very confident.

Q: And your thoughts during qualifying, first on Juan Pablo’s lap, whether it was beatable, and then secondly of course, your championship rival Kimi Raikkonen.
FA:
Yeah, when I saw Juan Pablo’s lap I thought he was really really quick, four tenths better than Fisico, so I thought it was maybe difficult to beat him, but I think the track conditions improved at the end for us, for the last three or four cars, so I was able to beat Juan Pablo and obviously I didn’t see Kimi’s lap because I was in the car, on my in lap, but the engineers already informed me after turn one that it was looking better for me.

Q: Juan Pablo, out very early, seventh out, a great lap that stood for the pole virtually the whole session.
Juan Pablo Montoya:
I’m a little bit surprised, you know. I thought we would probably be top four, front two rows. It’s hard, you know, coming out of the last corner I’d been really quick in the last sector which is the fastest sector but I lost a bit of traction coming out of there with the track conditions. I think Fisichella did pretty good, being the first car out as well. I am very happy. We’ve got a very good strategy for the race and we are looking quite strong. Kimi is going to have a tough race tomorrow but I think from where I am standing it would be good to win the race.

Q: What were the track conditions like today? We saw the wind changing direction quite a lot, top speeds affected coming on to that final straight.
JPM:
It’s fine. My car has been working really good, very stable. I’m very happy because my set-up was really focused for the race and I had a fair bit of understeer during qualifying so it should be really strong.

Q: And a new helmet this weekend.
JPM:
Yeah, it’s nice. I do it here every year as a competition in Colombia and this year, with my Formula (Sondrisa) Foundation, there were about 2000 drawings so it’s really good. Every year it’s getting bigger and the girl that designed is an eight year old from Colombia and she’s here, so it’s really nice.

Q: Giancarlo, out first and here you are, top three in qualifying, a fantastic performance.
Giancarlo Fisichella:
Yeah it’s great. I’m really surprised about that. The target was to be in the first three rows but I’m third which is great. At the beginning, the track was not fantastic, it was a bit slippery, more slippery than this morning and it was easy to make a mistake. I think I did a very clean lap, I was pushing but not over the limit and that’s the reason why I am third today, I think. With the new aero package and a new spec engine we are quicker and closer to McLaren which is really important.

Q: It’s going to be fascinating because Juan Pablo being where he is, and Kimi behind you, it’s really going to be Renault versus McLaren.
GF:
Yes, as usual. All year it’s been like that and even tomorrow I think we’re going to fight against McLaren. It’s really important to be there at the end with both cars and score a lot of points, even for the Constructors’ championship.

Q: Fernando, lots of permutations in terms of the championship tomorrow, but what is your philosophy going into the race?
FA:
I think as usual we have to concentrate not to make a mistake and to finish the race. As Giancarlo said, now I think we need both cars to finish in the race and I think we are in a perfect position, with no really big trouble at the start or anything like that. We have a clean circuit in front of us so hopefully we can pull away a little bit and try to win the podium, but obviously not only in this race, but in all three races the target is to be on the podium but for sure, tomorrow if I finish on the podium it is more important for the championship.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Fernando, was pole a bit unexpected?
FA:
No, its okay. I think we did a good job all weekend and now the pole position is obviously great. I was thinking to fight with Kimi because Juan Pablo had a bad track at the beginning and with Kimi’s mistake the pole was much easier for me.

Q: What were your feelings when you saw Kimi make that mistake?
FA:
I was in turn four on my in lap, my engineer told me already that he made a mistake in turn one, so I tried to be quick in the in-lap to avoid Kimi catching me and having a penalty, that was my only worry because the pole position was quite sure.

Q: What about the wind, did that affect you at all?
FA:
I think it was more windy than at the beginning. I was a bit slower on the straight compared to the cars at the beginning of the qualifying but I had better grip in the high-speed corners, turn six and seven, because of that so I think I had a bit of an advantage because of the wind.

Q: It has been an interesting battle between you and McLaren all weekend, hasn’t it?
FA:
Yeah, it is good. For the last five or six races McLaren were too quick for us and we just hoped to win races but after 20 or 30 laps in the race we knew the best position was third or second sometimes. I think tomorrow it is different. We have a good car, we are in between them, first and third, and I think we can have a much more interesting race.

Q: Juan Pablo, you went quite early, were the track conditions not very good?
JPM:
No, I really thought the lap time was going to improve a lot more, I was expecting Kimi to do an 11.7 or something because myself, out of the last corner, even though I did pole for sector three I lost two tenths to my practice time. I went through the corner okay, put the power in and just did not have the traction, it was not good enough, but P2 I am quite happy. It is very easy to make a mistake here like you saw Kimi and it is when you are trying so hard you make a little mistake and
it can cost you half a second.

Q: Did you think you could be on pole yourself?
JPM:
No. I was expecting to be probably P4, to be honest, Kimi, Fernando, Button and myself, but I don’t mind.

Q: So it is a big surprise to see him (Fisichella) there.
JPM:
Yeah, a big surprise. But we will see what happens tomorrow.

Q: Giancarlo, so early, first guy out, it is pretty amazing you are here.
GF:
Yeah, it is. It was a bit difficult, the track was slippier than this morning, I was pushing but not over the limit, obviously. I did a clean lap, the car balance was there, and it is great. We didn’t expect third, the target was to be the first three rows. It is very encouraging for tomorrow. We have the new aero package, the new step engine and we are much closer to McLaren and we are confident to do a good result tomorrow.

Q: Is it a risk to have run the new spec engine at this stage of the season?
GF:
Honestly, no, because we did a lot of mileage not just at Silverstone but in Monza already so reliability looks very good.

Q: What is your role tomorrow – one would suggest it would be to keep Kimi behind you.
GF:
Just to score lots of points, get to the end with Fernando and score as maximum points as we can.

Q: Because you still have your target on the constructors’ championship.
GF:
Yes, and for that I need to keep Kimi behind me!

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia Efe) Fernando, are you planning to win the championship with a victory?
FA:
I don’t plan anything. Sometimes things go in the right direction, sometimes not. I think we can start in a good way but tomorrow I have nothing planned. I will try to win the championship and third it is okay. If I do three seventh positions in the last three races that is okay anyway, so I think the car is competitive enough to be on the podium all three races and for tomorrow I am sure we have a fantastic possibility because we are on pole position so I am really, really happy and looking forward to tomorrow.

Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Does it feel any different knowing you can actually be world champion tomorrow?
FA:
No, not really, not really, because I approach the weekend and the race thinking there are still three races to go, so maybe I am not so stressed for tomorrow and I will sleep perfectly tonight. If you think that this is the last race or you can be champion tomorrow then for sure you feel different, but my head is looking much forward, to China, so if I can do it tomorrow, okay, I will smile, I will be happy. If I don’t do it tomorrow I will be happy anyway.