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Post-qualifying press conference - Europe 06 May 2006

The post qualifying FIA Press Conference (L to R): Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, second; Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault, pole position; Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, 6 May 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m29.819s; 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m30.028s; 3rd Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m30.407s.

Q: Fernando, it looks to have been a difficult weekend so far, but in the last 15 minutes of qualifying, it all happened for you.
Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, it was not easy this morning to find the balance, nor yesterday, but I think we did a good job with the car. We made some changes overnight and now for qualifying. They seemed to work OK. Qualifying is always a bit stressful and difficult, especially Q2 when you cannot make a mistake, otherwise you are out. We are really close in the top ten normally. In Q3, everything worked fine for us today, no problems, no traffic, and completely the opposite of the last four qualifying sessions when I’ve had a little bit of everything in Q3.

Q: Michael, very quick all weekend. Dramatic last few minutes for you; tell us about those last two runs.
Michael Schumacher:
The first one wasn’t that clear in terms of traffic and preparation. Neither was the second; again there were quite a few cars just in front of me, but nevertheless, I’m on the first row with a strong package, good race pace, so it should be interesting tomorrow.

Q: Felipe, also looking strong all weekend and carrying on the good work from Imola.
Felipe Massa:
Yeah, it’s definitely very good for us to start on the first and second row. I think I did a good lap. It was a little bit windy; during the whole qualifying session it was not so easy to do a good lap. I’m quite happy to be here and as Michael said, we feel quite strong for the race. We have a good package, so hopefully tomorrow the pictures will be very good as well.

Q: Thoughts on the race tomorrow, Fernando. Ferrari are very close, looks like a good motor race.
FA:
Yeah, it will be an interesting race, to see what happens. I think we have good race pace. They also have a good pace in the long runs, so hopefully it will be close and I hope to fight for victory. You never know what will happen in the end but at least it seems that we are there again and competitive and this is the important thing, to always be on the podium.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Fernando, first front row, first pole this year; bit of a strange statistic…
FA:
Yeah, we had four qualifyings which have been a little bit difficult in the first four races. Sometimes because of the traffic, sometimes by mistake and sometimes I made some mistakes also, like in Bahrain on my best lap. So we’ve never had a normal qualifying and today we had clear laps and we managed to make some changes to the car to improve it because yesterday we had some problems and I think we are in a much better position to start than in the previous race.

Q: The basic problem yesterday seemed to be a lack of grip, a lot of drivers complaining of that. Obviously the track conditions have changed, but you’ve changed the car as well.
FA:
Yeah, we did the normal changes to make the car better overnight and everything seems to have worked quite well. It’s always been difficult to start well here; the first corner is really tight so it’s better not to be in the middle of the group so I’m really happy to be on pole here, maybe better than in Malaysia which is not so important because it’s a very wide circuit.

Q: Except you have Ferraris on either side of you.
FA:
Yes, Ferrari seem strong again this weekend and hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow with them.

Q: Michael, were you a bit surprised by the Renault speed?
MS:
No.

Q: You were very quick this morning but they have become very quick this morning and have been certainly quick this weekend.
MS:
Yeah, but they never been slow all season, so I’m not really surprised they’re that quick.

Q: Did you change the car much from yesterday to today?
MS:
We always work on the car. We always do some detailed work. At this circuit we haven’t necessarily the need to make big changes.

Q: But as things have gone so far, it’s been a regular weekend for you then?
MS:
Yep.

Q: Are you disappointed not to be on pole then with things like your traffic problems?
MS:
It wasn’t necessarily a problem because the lap itself was free. The preparation was not as great but nevertheless, I’m pretty happy to be alongside Fernando on the front row and with Felipe just behind Fernando, so I think we will have a good performance tomorrow.

Q: Could this be a continuation of San Marino Grand Prix?
MS:
Honestly, there is no reason why we should not be strong anywhere anytime.

Q: So still confident?
MS:
Yep.

Q: Felipe, are you pleased to be third on the grid because you two have been pretty quick this weekend?
FM:
Yeah, we’ve been quite quick and I’m quite happy. I think we were quick the whole time because we have a good package. I thought they did a great job last week and pretty much I know we have a very strong car for the race tomorrow and it is always very good to start in the top three.

Q: Was qualifying hectic with the two of you coming in for pit-stops at the same time? Fernando was on his own.
FM:
Yeah, it was very tricky in this qualifying to find the right moment to go out and to try to avoid the traffic. Basically, I thought today there were maybe six or seven cars together in a very small gap between each other, so it was difficult to find my way, but we managed to have good luck. In the end, it was very difficult to find a free way in qualifying and this time it was no problem.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Michael, one lap was very quick and the other two were not. Was that just related to the track or had it something to do with the set-up of the car?
MS:
As you know, we’re not allowed to work on the set-up.

Q: (Philippe Joubin - L’Equipe) Fernando, you said you made some changes with the car. What was wrong with the car (in the first place)?
FA:
The grip was not there in the morning. We did the normal changes that we do on a Friday night to make the car better and more comfortable to drive. The tyres were not working.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi – Tuttosport) Fernando, usually you have a very good start and do you think it will be a key moment of the race tomorrow?
FA:
No, it will not be a key moment of the race. It is always better to have a car that can give you a start well enough to protect your position or to gain some positions. If you start well, it is much easier to drive through turn one. We normally have a good time in the first four races, so I am confident of keeping the first position in turn one.

Q: (Panos Seitanidis – Drive Magazine) If this is a continuation of Imola, how will your roles be with the cars on a track where you can overtake more?
FA:
We will see tomorrow how the race develops. There are 60 laps so anything can happen. We will see how we play the strategies and we will see what happens for both the teams. We have to race on the track for sure. There are a little more possibilities – not many, but one or two more than in Imola.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Michael, one thing that’s important here is the tyre performance of Bridgestone. Until now, how happy are you with the tyre performance on long runs and how confident are you for the race tomorrow?
MS:
Very confident. I think we understood what we did in Imola, we knew what changes we had to do to not run the same troubles and still have a good performance.