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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Spain 13 May 2006

FIA Press Conference (L to R): Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault, Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault and Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, 13 May 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m14.648s; 2nd Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m14.709s; 3rd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m14.970s.

Q: First pole on home soil, Fernando, what an atmosphere for you for your first pole on home soil.
Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, first pole position in Spain and for sure, a great atmosphere for all the team and for me especially. I think we all enjoy this qualifying with the people in the grandstand supporting Formula One as a sport, because at the end of the day they are enjoying so much what is a new sport for us in this country and I enjoyed the lap also.

Q: It didn’t look particularly easy for you during this qualifying session; in Q2 you were P4.
FA:
Yeah, the times were really close at this circuit. We test here a lot during the winter and also down in 1m 14s, the times are really close. Yeah, it was tough. The main worry was to get through Q2 and then Q3 was the easiest part, but in fact it was the same thing as Nurburgring: Q2 so-so and then Q3 again in pole position for the second consecutive time, so a fantastic feeling.

Q: Obviously Michael was a threat to you, but it was great to have your teammate alongside you.
FA:
Yeah, I think Ferrari and Michael are obviously strong again this weekend but you know we have to concentrate in our job to take the maximum from our car. In five races, the worst place was a second place in the race, and if we keep up this consistency we will be good for the championship and I think that’s what we have to do: concentrate on our car, and on our job. OK, when Ferrari’s too strong for us we have to be happy with second place, but I think that we have to believe that victory is possible tomorrow.

Q: Giancarlo, great team performance from Renault, but you’ve been very quick all weekend.
Giancarlo Fisichella:
Yes, it’s true. It’s nice to be here. The Renault performance was very good today. We expected to be really competitive, obviously first and second on the grid tomorrow is a great result. We are really optimistic that we have a good package. I’m a little bit sad for the last couple of races, because with a better qualifying session there was a possibility to get on the podium and it was better to score a few more points for the championship but anyway, we are just at the beginning of the season so I am just looking forward and I hope to do a great race.

Q: How do you see the Michelin/Bridgestone, Renault/Ferrari battle?
GF:
It’s tough. It’s very tight. Ferrari and Bridgestone have made a big step forward together so that Ferrari has been very very competitive in the last couple of races and we expect that competitiveness during the rest of the season.

Q: Michael, I have to ask whether you’re disappointed with that or satisfied with the result?
Michael Schumacher:
It’s all about the strategy, whether you can be disappointed or you should be rather happy. In general, I think we knew we might have a little sacrifice for qualifying but we have a very strong race pace and that’s what we have to concentrate on and that’s what we obviously knew when we started the weekend: no surprise.

Q: How did the third qualifying session work out for you? It looked like you had a slight problem maybe with a slower car on your first run.
MS:
No, I didn’t have any… yeah, it’s true actually. I had Jarno in front of me. The lap wasn’t a great lap, but luckily the last lap was free of traffic.

Q And you got the best from the car and we’re now talking strategy as you say.
MS: Yeah, yeah, we maximised our performance in a way. Although my last set didn’t feel as great honestly – I should have been quicker on it – but nevertheless, we’re third, I am on the clean side of the starting grid which should be a little better for me.

Q: Fernando, a big day for you tomorrow. Is it a different feeling for you in this Spanish Grand Prix in front of your home crowd?
FA:
Yes, a little bit different. But there’s no pressure, it’s more motivation. After testing here all through the winter with empty grandstands, when you come here to the Grand Prix it’s a completely new feeling, new emotion in the car, and I enjoy it so much – every lap – and for sure tomorrow the 66 laps won’t be enough to enjoy all the race.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Fernando, the first stage is completed, what about the next one?
FA:
Next one, we will see tomorrow. The important thing today was getting the maximum from the car, get a good qualifying, again with no traffic, no problems and get through the last part of qualifying with no problems and we did our job. We did a good set-up in the car this morning preparing for qualifying and everything works OK. Again, both laps with no traffic and no problems in the car, and again, pole position after Nurburgring, second consecutive time so nothing to say, really.

Q: Did you change the car much as the conditions have changed?
FA:
Yes, to be honest. We found a different car this morning as we expected, a little bit too much oversteer in the car and then we made some changes for Q1 and everything started working OK, but in Q1 maybe there was the possibility that everything was wrong and qualifying was over, but we were lucky. We did the good job again with the engineers and all the team worked hard to be on the first row tomorrow.

Q: Were you expecting Ferrari to be your major competitors rather than Honda or McLaren?
FA:
After yesterday’s times and the analysis we did last night, I think Ferrari was the strongest competitor again. Honda were quick this morning, but not so much in qualifying and McLaren were a little bit down. But you never know in qualifying. Sometimes you are close to going out in Q2 and then you fight for pole in Q3. It’s a little bit strange.

Q: And how are you going to feel in the next 23 hours?
FA:
Looking forward to the race. As I said before in the press conference, for me it is a fantastic feeling driving here with this support from the grandstand. I see people enjoying the race so tomorrow’s 66 laps will not be enough for me. There’s only one opportunity a year, so I need to enjoy tomorrow.

Q: Giancarlo, a great Renault one-two. Did you also have to do a lot of changes?
GF:
Yes, of course we made some adjustments in the set-up and especially little things to make the car okay. The performance in the Grand Prix tomorrow looks very promising. I am happy for today and I think tomorrow we can do a good race and a good result.

Q: Very very close behind Fernando’s time. Is there a little frustration you weren’t ahead of him?
GF:
I think it’s important to be there and I think looking at the performance today I’m really disappointed with the laps that happened in the last Grand Prix. There is a chance to do much better and score a lot more points. But certainly we’ve had the potential since the beginning of the season and it’s another chance to score a lot of points.

Q: Michael, has it been a difficult weekend so far with the changing track conditions?
MS:
Not so much really. It was fairly straightforward.

Q: You have a great record. Retired once in 15 Grands Prix here. Seven times winner, seven times on pole.
MS:
It’s in the past.

Q: How clear are tactics here?
MS:
There seems to be two options. I’m not sure whether it is so clear.

Q: Obviously Felipe was ahead of you until your last run. How important was it to get ahead of him.
MS:
Honestly, I knew what Fernando’s time was and so that was my aim. The rest I worry about later. I didn’t actually know the time he (Massa) had done.

Q: The margin between yourself and Renault was quarter of a second. Did you expect that?
MS:
I’ve seen that our tyres were not superb for qualifying all weekend long so maybe a little bit down there. We believe more in the race. It may be it’s a characteristic of the two tyre manufacturers. That’s what we have and what we live with and we’re very happy with that.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Michael, you suggested that there will be different strategies within the team. Is this correct?
MS:
I didn’t say this.
Q: You suggested it.
MS:
I said there are two possibilities for the strategy. I don’t know what these guys have. They’re not going to tell us. Ask them.

Q: (Fritz-Dieter Rencken – The Citizen) Michael, it’s nothing to do with the session, but can you confirm reports that you’ll be co-operating in some sort of Hollywood movie or cartoon?
MS:
Yeah, it’s true that I give my voice for a sort of cartoon movie, yeah.

Q: (Fritz-Dieter Rencken – The Citizen) What character?
MS:
A Ferrari car, what else?