FIA post-race press conference - Malaysia 19 Mar 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1. Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1h30m40.529s; 2. Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h30m45.114s; 3. Jenson Button (Honda), 1h30m50.160s.
Q: Giancarlo, great scenes on the podium there with your race engineer, it looked like a perfect race from pole position.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah, perfect race, it was a tough race, physically and mentally but honestly, I was quite confident, quite comfortable. The car balance was just fantastic, a little bit of graining after the pit stop but apart from that it was great. It was great to have my engineer on the podium there and I would like to thank all the Renault Formula One team. Guys!
Q: And an emotional weekend for you too.
GF: Yeah, emotional weekend. It was important for me to do my best because I lost a friend of mine a week ago, and I would like to dedicate that race to him. Ciao Pietro.
Q: Ive got to ask you about the conditions, incredible heat out there, what was it like in the cockpit?
GF: It was really hot, very very hot, already in the middle of the race I felt tired and I wouldnt say I couldnt go through to the end of the race, but its important to concentrate and just keep pushing and not lose concentration.
Q: Fernando, it says a lot about your drive from seventh place that Renault led every lap of the race but one. A great start, a fight with Mark Webber in the early stages, and then passing Jenson in the closing stages.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it was good. At the start, we tried to overtake people in the first corner. I really braked very late on the outside, I took a risk but it was my only opportunity to overtake. I was very heavy on fuel so it was impossible on the track, I could only defend my position like I did with Webber and from there on, I think the race was easier. Unfortunately we had this little problem yesterday in qualifying and it was impossible to be close to pole position.
Q: But the car was very good today, with both heavy and light fuel loads.
FA: Yeah, it has always been good here in Sepang, this year too. I think it will be competitive everywhere and for me its a perfect start to the championship. Eighteen points in two races is what I dreamed of before Bahrain and I will try and win again in Australia and finish this first part of the championship away from Europe in the best way possible.
Q: Jenson, twelfth straight finish in the points; reliable and third place but the Renaults were hard to beat, obviously.
Jenson Button: Very. There was no point in the race, really, where we could have gone any quicker. The only problem we had was Scott Speed, who held me up for a few laps and Fernando was able to jump me at the start, but apart from that, there was nothing else there. That was the maximum I could get out of the car. I was on the limit on every lap, and thats the way it is at the moment. Its good to get on the podium in the second race of the year and I am joint second or third in the championship now so its not too bad but weve got a bit of work to do.
Q: What areas, particularly, do Renault have the advantage over you at the moment, do you think?
JB: Its very difficult to say. He pulled away so quickly on the first lap, I couldnt see! But when I get back I will watch the race and I will be able to find out where the places are. But Ive got to say thanks to everyone in the team, Honda Racing. Its been a tough weekend for us, Friday was very very difficult but yesterday was a good day and to get a podium today was good but theres still a lot of hard work needed to catch these guys.
Q: Giancarlo, its been a hectic start to the 2006 season but a much better one for you now.
GF: Yes, its the opposite of last year. Im just looking forward now. Im really comfortable in the team. Theres a nice atmosphere, fantastic potential with the car and with the team and Im really looking forward to this year.
Q: Giancarlo, it looked as thought it was a faultless run.
GF: Yes, a great day - fantastic - for Renault, one-two. It was the target for this weekend, but it was difficult because all the other people were really close to us. But I had a fantastic qualifying session yesterday, the car balance was fantastic in the qualifying session and in the race today. We had a small problem with tyre graining after a couple of laps after the pit stop, but apart from that, there was a great balance, great behaviour, I was very comfortable.
Q: Was it a worry that you knew Fernando was going to go longer?
GF: I was talking with my engineer about Fernandos pace and we were on target so I was confident. I was pushing but not going over the limit and I never made a mistake. And thats great, a great day for me.
Q: Obviously you now go to Australia where you won last year. Tell us about that and your feelings going there this year?
GF: Its a great feeling. It was the first race of the season last year. It was fantastic for me and then the bad luck came through the rest of the season. This year I had bad luck in the first race and I have won the first race afterwards, so I hope I had all the bad luck in Bahrain. Now I just want to keep going, score a lot of points for me and for the team.
Q: Is Australia a race you would call one of your favourites because you won there?
GF: Its not my favourite track but Ive got fantastic memories and I feel comfortable there. We can do well there. The package is really good, the potential is there so we can fight for a win in Australia.
Q: Fernando, did qualifying basically make the difference?
FA: Yeah, I think so. I think so because with a different amount of fuel, I would easily have been on pole yesterday and starting from pole I was quick enough to maybe win the race. But these things happen and we try to manage the race. After what happened yesterday, I pushed as hard as possible and we managed to score eight points which is better than what we expected; thanks to the start and the first corner, basically. Eighteen points in two races; I hope to improve on this level in the next two.
Q: You were pushed quite hard by Mark Webber.
FA: Yeah, I knew that Webber was quite light compared to me and I was not too worried. If he tried to overtake me, I would not lose a position because I knew that there was nothing to lose, but the car was quick enough if we didnt have problems.
Q: Another good result here; it must be getting to be one of your favourite circuits.
FA: Yeah, its probably my favourite circuit. Ive always been quick here, from the beginning and I always feel something special with this track.
Q: Jenson, second on the grid, third in the race, is there some disappointment because of that?
JB: Yes, obviously, we want to be winning races and so just being on the podium is disappointing, but I think these two have proved just how quick the Renault is especially around this circuit and that is what we have got to try and achieve and we are just not quick enough at the moment. I did get held up by Scott Speed by quite a big margin, quite a few seconds, just before I had my second stop which cost me a lot of time and maybe that was enough to come out of the pits in front of Fernando, I dont know. But if you look at the full picture, we are just not as quick as the Renaults.
Q: Can the problem be fixed between now and Australia?
JB: Well, weve got obviously testing next and weve got to wait and see. It is a reasonable gap and obviously it is going to be difficult especially because both of them are competitive and doing a good job.
Q: But the encouraging thing is that you are quicker than the others?
JB: Yes, I finished 30 seconds ahead of the next car and some of thats down to Fernando holding them up at the beginning, but even so, even so it is just the Renaults that are very quick and seem to have the edge over us so weve got to hope we can solve the issues weve got next week and move forward because they need somebody to challenge them.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Question for Button. This is the second round of the championship and your team-mate who came from the winning team is in your bag in qualification and in the race. What is going on, in your opinion?
JB: Thats a difficult one. I think that the way the car works doesnt suit his style and hes taken a little bit of time to get used to it and the strange thing is that over the winter he was very competitive and it seems that when the conditions are hotter he is struggling a bit more with the car and it shows that the car is not where we wanted it to be or where we expected it to be for these first two races of the season and it shows we need to make steps forward in a couple of places.
Q: (Juha Päätalo - Financial Times Germany) Fernando, on the podium you were kissing your trophy. Was it for the eight points you gained, after yesterday, or was it the gap you have gained over Räikkönen or Schumacher?
FA: I kiss the trophy normally at all the races when I finish on the podium because for me to finish on the podium means to be consistent in the championship and the key to win it again as last year is that. Yes, this race is more important than the first race to me because the championship points compared to Räikkönen and to Michael, who on paper will be the first two opponents in the championship, is good to have them at the back and to open the gap quite a big chunk here in Malaysia like I did last year in the first races. So I enjoy more these eight points maybe more than last weekend.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Giancarlo, how do you feel when you hear Fernando say that he regards Michael and Kimi as his main opponents and, for Fernando, why dont you try to do just one stop?
GF: I dont feel anything. I think to be there I won the race today and I have the same car as him (Alonso) and I dont know if I am one of the opponents like Michael and Kimi, for Fernando, I dont know. It is okay. It is fine. I try to change his mind in the future.
FA: We thought that the tyres were not consistent enough to do so many laps. We were so worried that the last laps in the first stint were too slow, but there was nothing we could do because we had the fuel there from yesterday and after that we were much more confident to do two shorter stints and I think it worked very well.
Q: (Chak Onn Lau - Newman Magazine) Fernando, did you at any point today think you could catch Fisi and win the race?
FA: Not really. From lap 12 or 13, I saw the gap from Fisi and Jenson was too big. They were very quick at the beginning and from there I knew that maybe I was quicker at the end of the race, but not that quick to recover the gap so I just tried to concentrate on Jenson only. I knew Fisi was too quick today.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Fernando, can you explain what went wrong in qualifying yesterday and why you had so much fuel in the car at the start?
FA: We put the rig on at the Q2 and the machine said that the fuel was not going in, so we came back to the pit position and put it in again and it worked well, but in fact the time before it had also worked well. So, we did a double for it.
Q: (Frederic Ferret LEquipe) For Fernando, the electronic problems yesterday were they fixed in the evening?
FA: Yes, they were. It was just a problem in the software that it was not too difficult to sort out with the computer and the car was perfectly okay today.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Jenson, the lap times of your car look comparable to the Renaults, but there seems to be a little bit of a performance disadvantage. Can you explain where you think you are missing out?
JB: I was asked this before and it is difficult to say because I wasnt close enough to Fisi. After one lap he had a gap on me so its very difficult, but I will sit down with the engineers this afternoon and look through the race and see where I am losing. Ive got an idea but I will keep that to myself for now.
Q: (Paul Gover - Herald Sun) Fernando, did you forget Fisis name when you were talking about rivals before?
FA: No, when I said this maybe you understand wrongly. When I said that I thought there were four top teams Honda, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault and after the first race and coming from last year, I think that they finished second in the championship and third and Michael and Räikkönen should be at the start of the season the ones who will be more competitive, but I dont consider Fisi to be my opponent. I think that we work together as we did today and we need to score points for our team and if in the last part of the championship, in the last two or three races, we are fighting for sure as opponents, but at the moment we are not fighting how to beat the team-mate we are thinking how to beat the other teams.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) Giancarlo, when did you realise that you won the race?
GF: The end. The chequered flag. Well, I told you I kept talking with my engineer about Fernandos pace and sometimes he just told me push a little more or the pace is good, now especially at the end in the last stint when I was six or seven seconds behind Fernando I understood the possibility to win because Fernando was not stopping at that moment.
Q: (Paul Gover - Herald Sun) Jenson, do you think there is anybody in Melbourne who can beat the Renaults?
JB: Thats a tough question. We have to wait and see. We cant say anything yet. The pace of the Renaults is very good and at the moment, it looks like we are the closest rivals but we are still not quite on their pace. But it is also a very different circuit, Melbourne, to here. So wait and see. I think Ferrari will be there. The conditions are going to be cooler and maybe it will help them out a little bit, but hopefully were not going to let them get away with the points they have already. We need to push as hard as we can to make this championship exciting.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti - Corriere dello Sport) Giancarlo, last year in Australia you started on pole and ran away and this time the same. Is it your favourite style of racing?
GF: Well, the style of racing is nice when you win even if you start from pole or from the back. I had two opportunities and unfortunately last year in Japan I was third on the grid and I was the leader and on the last lap I was too slow and I was 15 kilometres slower than Räikkönen in the straights so there was no possibility to keep him behind me. I try to win other races starting from a different position.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Yesterday you said that the driver who goes well on this circuit usually goes well everywhere, that this circuit shows the picture of the championship. What do you think, after today, of Ferraris chances?
FA: We will see at the next race because I think they will have a slightly different car. We will see how they go. I think in Bahrain they were good last year even with the problems they had in 2005, they were good in Hungary, Imola, so in Bahrain not a surprise to see Ferrari and Michael fighting for the victory and here we knew that it was a bit worse for them. Maybe in Australia they will be back and also in Imola, but hopefully not as strong as they showed in Bahrain and hopefully like last year they will have more problems and McLaren and Honda will be our opponents.