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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Brazil 21 Oct 2006

The post qualifying FIA Press Conference (L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren, second; Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, pole position; Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 21 October 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m10.680s; 2nd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m11.299s; 3rd Jarno Trulli (Toyota), 1m11.328s.

Q: Felipe, unlike your team-mate, that looked to be a perfect three sessions for you, a little bit of a tow there for you from Nick Heidfeld at the end.
Felipe Massa:
Yeah, it is definitely great to be on pole position for my home Grand Prix. I did a very very good lap. I was definitely a bit lucky to get a tow from Nick but I lost a little bit in the last corner as well, but we need to look at the data to see if I lost more than I gained because by the time I caught him, I was on the same pace as I finished the lap. But the car is just fantastic, the tyres were working really well today in the sunshine and it’s great to be here, at home, and on pole position. I only made a mistake in Q2 in the last sector, it could have also been a good lap, so I feel quite strong and really fantastic to be here. I never thought, when I was a kid, that I would be here and I’m here so I’m really happy.

Q: Celebrating your first Ferrari drive here with overalls in your national colours; you also scored your first championship points here. This means a lot to you. Describe the feeling of driving out in front of the crowd.
FM:
It’s just fantastic. You see the people around, shaking hands, and when you stop to make the start, they are there, screaming, you can even hear them and you can see the crowds. The Brazilian people are very hot about Formula One and you can see that the people enjoy it a lot, and especially pole position for me is already fantastic. I don’t even think about the race tomorrow, but it gives me even more motivation to think about the race tomorrow, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Q: Kimi, well done, on the front row for the first time for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, McLaren Mercedes looking good.
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, we didn’t really know what to expect before the Grand Prix, so I think it’s a good result. The Ferrari seems to be a bit too quick for us but hopefully we can fight for second and be on the podium for the race; so far it has been a good weekend.

Q: How was the fastest qualifying lap from your point of view? Was it a maximum lap?
KR:
Um, yeah, pretty much I think. It was the fastest that I have done this weekend. It’s the right time to do it. I don’t think there’s much more to come on the car because we are a little bit handicapped with our second race engine here against many others, but anyhow, it seems to be working well and hopefully we will have a good strong race.

Q: Jarno, the turn of speed from Suzuka continues here at Interlagos, congratulations to you.
Jarno Trulli:
Well, thank you, it’s a great pleasure to be here. Also, I think it’s the first time this season that I’m third, so I’ve been trying really hard this year to be third during qualifying, and finally we have achieved it for the last Grand Prix. I’m really happy for me and the team because we’ve been pushing really hard all through the season to improve the car, and we definitely made a good start, and now our first target for tomorrow will be to try to score as many points as possible in order to finish fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.

Q: How do you feel about the race pace for the Toyota tomorrow?
JT:
To be honest, yesterday and today we looked pretty strong, but we need to see, we need to see the kind of strategy the others are playing, compared to ours. The tyres are working pretty well, the Bridgestones are very competitive, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow to get on the podium because this year, so many times the podium has slipped away from my hands with a few laps to go, so I will try really hard tomorrow.

Q: Felipe, obviously this is Michael Schumacher’s last Grand Prix, can you describe for us the atmosphere in the Ferrari team, and also, representing the drivers, what it’s going to be like having Fernando and Michael behind you tomorrow, and how aware you are of that championship battle.
FM:
Well, for sure, in the team you can see people are a little bit sad that Michael is leaving, but I think it’s very good for him, leaving in that condition, with seven titles in his pocket. The atmosphere… for sure, in a way they are happy for him, but they are also a little bit sad to lose him. He’s a very nice guy who will be around, for sure, and the atmosphere is just trying to do the best for us. For sure, Michael was not lucky today, he doesn’t seem to have been very lucky during the last two races and he was also pretty strong during every practice. Anyway, he has a very strong car for tomorrow; for sure he will fight a lot in his race and hopefully we can finish in front, and hopefully we can score first and second. It would be fantastic for the team, we can still fight for the Constructors’ Championship. Nothing’s finished for him as well, so we will see.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Felipe, Ferrari have been so quick here this weekend; what has been the reason for that?
FM:
Well, we have a good car, it’s not difficult to explain: good car, good tyres, good package, everything is working well. Unfortunately, Michael had a problem. He seems to be not very lucky in these last two races but starting tenth, I think he’s able to fight tomorrow and bring the car to the front. Anyway, it’s just fantastic to be here, on pole for my home Grand Prix for the Brazilian people. Therefore, it is very very special, especially for me. It’s one of the most incredible days for me.

Q: Are you feeling confident about tomorrow?
FM:
Yeah, for sure, being on pole position, I don’t even need to think about tomorrow, because it’s already enough for me, but I think it gives me even more motivation to think about tomorrow and to be even stronger, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow to have a good race and hopefully stay in my position.

Q: Were you expecting Renault to be out of the top three?
FM:
No. Yesterday they were quite competitive, looking at the condition of the track and everything, but we were struggling quite a lot yesterday, especially me, to warm up the tyres, and this morning the track is a little bit hotter and the tyres are working quite well. I also changed the set-up, but I didn’t expect them to be out of the top three but they are close, anyway.

Q: Michael’s run this morning surely gives you a lot of confidence as well.
FM:
Yeah, he was very quick on scrubbed tyres. I was also quite quick on the scrubbed tyres and then we changed something on the set-up which improved it even more, so we are quite motivated and optimistic for tomorrow.
Q: But you need a bit of heat tomorrow…
FM:
That would be good. As long as the tyres are at the right temperature, they are working. Our prediction is that it should be like today, maybe even hotter.

Q: Kimi, I guess you would prefer not to make it second place here four times in a row…
KR:
It would still be good to be second, but of course we try to win, but it‘s going to be difficult against Ferrari, they’ve been very quick today, but I think we have had a pretty good weekend. Looking at how the season has gone, we seem to be quite strong. OK, it depends how much fuel everybody is carrying but I think we still have a good chance to finish high up tomorrow and that’s what we’re aiming for.

Q: Are Ferrari really too strong for you?
KR:
Looks like it, if you look at the lap times that they have been doing, but you never know what’s going to happen in the race, so we haven’t given up anything, but it looks very difficult against them.

Q: Felipe says it seems to be down to temperature, what sort of temperature do you want?
KR:
This is OK. The tyres seem to be working fine. It was a little bit hard to get them working on the first lap but once we started qualifying, the second qualifying was a bit easier and in the last one the tyres were perfect. Anything, really, for us; it doesn’t matter.

Q: Jarno, your best grid position of the year, did you expect to be in the top three?
JT:
I felt all weekend we had a good car and in the last few races the car has been working pretty well, there have been some improvements in the aero package on the mechanical side so obviously we were looking for a good result. We nearly did it in Japan and here again we proved we are quick and it is now just a matter of delivering it in the race, especially here, because we need to beat BMW for the fifth position in the Constructors Championship and so far the car has been pretty good all weekend and the tyres as well have performed well too so everything is in place for a good race tomorrow.

Q: And you are right in among the championship battle as well?
JT:
Well to be honest I am in the battle for fifth position in the constructors championship and this is our main target and the rest I don’t really care (about) so tomorrow I decide to go out and do my best and will be nice to get the podium that has so many times slipped away from my hands this year just a few laps from the end.

Q: Is it a complicated strategy tomorrow?
JT:
More or less, yes, because this circuit offers quite different open windows in terms of strategy so we need to be careful and to be lucky and we need everything to deliver a good result.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Luis Fernando Ramos – Racing) Felipe, you have three poles on the left side races is that due to any changes in the car or do you feel mentally stronger?
FM:
Well, I think in the second part of the championship I was always very competitive with Michael and always fighting tenth by tenth with him and I’ve got three pole positions which is really, really good and at two very difficult tracks like Turkey and Suzuka, and also here, so I feel really comfortable with the car and for sure it is my first year with Ferrari and like this in a top team and I am growing race by race and I think have achieved a good level now and this is more motivation for next year.

Q: (Felipe Hurtado – La Tercera) Felipe, is there extra pressure on you to become the first Brazilian to win here since 1993?
FM:
For sure, we have a lot of pressure tomorrow, but not just my own pressure for the Brazilian people but also the pressure for the team as we are still fighting for the Constructors’ Championship which is very important so we are under pressure tomorrow, but we try not to think about that and I will do my job in the best way I can and be relaxed to do 72 laps at a very high performance.

Q: Felipe, what is the situation with you in helping Michael Schumacher in this race?
FM:
It depends on Alonso, for sure, it depends where he is – if he is in the points or not. If Michael is second, for sure, maybe I can help because it is also important to win the (Drivers’) Championship for him and for the team, but we need to be very careful of Alonso.