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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Britain 10 Jun 2006

The post qualifying FIA Press Conference (L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren, second; Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault, pole position; Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, 10 June 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m20.253s; 2nd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m20.397s; 3rd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m20.574s.

Q: Fernando, very very close going into that last qualifying lap, you and Michael, same lap time on your first quick lap.
Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, first lap I had a little mistake in the last sector and they told me on the radio that we were second, just behind Michael, really close time, so I thought well, maybe I lost the pole with this mistake but we had a second chance with the second set of tyres and I did a normal lap with no mistakes and it’s true: four times consecutively on pole which is a fantastic moment for us.

Q: Kimi, quickest on sectors two and three, not so quick on sector one.
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, we’re losing a bit on the high speed, in a straight line. Maybe we have more downforce. But the car is quite good, it’s as good as it can be really so I was pretty happy with my second lap and I couldn’t really… OK, always maybe you can go a little bit quicker, but I was very happy with the car and it was good for us to get a little better result in qualifying.

Q: Michael, after a difficult Monaco, great to come back here with a strong qualifying performance at Silverstone.
Michael Schumacher:
Well, I’m not so sure it’s so strong. We would have expected to be a bit closer in lap times, but then you have to consider the fuel level. We will see tomorrow what the situation is on that.

Q: Bridgestone and Michelin seem to be relatively evenly matched here, but very difficult conditions, track conditions in terms of grip level and of course the wind changes.
MS:
We haven’t been here testing so we don’t know what it was like at the test but according to the lap times they were doing at the test, something is different here, it’s significantly slower. Nevertheless, it’s the same conditions for everybody. It is a little bit tricky to adapt the car to the circumstances, no doubt. It was very tricky yesterday, today we managed reasonably. We will have to see what it means for tomorrow.

Q: Fernando, it is close between the two tyre companies. How do you see the race panning out?
FA:
It will be interesting to see the long runs. I don’t think anyone has done more than a five or six lap run this weekend, so tomorrow will be a question of which tyre will be the more consistent in the race. We have full confidence in our tyre. We have a great strategy in our hands at the moment and I think that thanks to this pole position, things become easier but tomorrow it will be interesting to watch the race for sure.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Fernando, some handling problems yesterday, how was it today?
FA:
Quite similar, to be honest. I think the track conditions are really difficult for everybody and we still didn’t have a perfect balance this morning, lacking grip in the high speed corners and in qualifying everything became a little bit easy. We did some set-up changes that for sure helped the car, but also track conditions were a little bit better in qualifying with more rubber down and a little more grip, more temperature and I think all these factors improved the car balance.

Q: And less wind?
FA:
No. I think even more in qualifying to be honest, but we did some set-up changes also, to avoid the snaps and the inconsistency in the high speed corners we had in the morning, and everything worked perfectly again and I’m happy to be on pole again.

Q: In Q1, you had a substantial margin, 0.6s over the rest of the field, but then it came down a bit.
FA:
Yeah, I think we have to see what the fuel load is for tomorrow’s race, but I was P1 in Q1, P1 in Q2 and Q3 so I’m really happy that it’s not a fuel factor to be on pole position. I think we were quick in all three qualifyings so it means that the car is ready for tomorrow.

Q: Looking around you, with Kimi alongside you and Michael behind you, this is a fairly crucial pole. They all are, of course, but…
FA:
Yeah, every pole position is more and more important. We know how difficult it is to overtake these days in Formula One so pole position is twenty percent of the race, probably and we did it, but for sure, we have our main opponents very close to us so tomorrow we will have a very difficult race in front of us but hopefully we can keep first position until the end.

Q: Kimi, have you found yourself a bit short of time after yesterday or have you caught up?
KR:
I think the car is as good as it could be. It was unhelpful what happened yesterday but it didn’t really change anything for today. Anyway, we tried something different yesterday from testing and it wasn’t very good so we went back to normal settings and it seems to be quite good here, surprisingly good so I was very happy with qualifying.

Q: Most people have had a spin or something; you had one right at the end of the morning session today.
KR:
Yeah, it was my mistake. I just dropped a wheel under braking and lost the rear but it hasn’t happened for a long time, so it doesn’t matter.

Q: It was very tight for you to get out to do that last lap in qualifying…
KR:
Yeah, we were a little bit late. I needed to go full speed on the out lap which didn’t help with the tyres but the tyres were still very good at the end of the lap so I don’t think it made any difference. But it was a bit disappointing to be only one tenth or something behind first place. But second place is very good for us.

Q: Could you have been on pole?
KR:
I don’t know. It’s always easy to say afterwards but I’m happy with the result, looking at where we have been before so we will try to have a good race from here and see what happens.

Q: Michael, are you a bit disappointed? Third fastest time and you were fastest this morning.
MS:
Yeah. Naturally, you’d rather be on pole position, as I’ve said before, it’s much easier to win the race if you have the right strategy, and we’ll see how it works out for us tomorrow.

Q: Big changes after yesterday. You had a few moments yesterday?
MS:
The conditions were very difficult, and we had to do it from that position, as we think we could have done, but we have not been here testing, so we don’t have that experience, although, by the sound of it, it sounds like completely different conditions from the test so I don’t know how much it was worth

Q: Actually you became more competitive from Q1 to Q2 to Q3.
MS:
Yeah, but you have to see the conditions. I was on old tyres in Q1 for example, so you have to compare the lap.

Q: So how do you feel about tomorrow?
MS:
Good, I mean, there’s no reason not to believe that we have a package that could win the race, but then, if we can manage really to maximise our performance. As I said., strategy is an important factor, we don’t know how much fuel is on board all the cars, but we’ll see that tomorrow, and then we’ll know what the purpose of this qualifying was meant to be and we will see the long-run performance in terms of how the tyres behave over long runs and how competitive we are.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi you did not say you could fight for the victory here. Has this changed since the qualifying?
KR:
For the championship, we always try to win every race, but looking at how we did yesterday, we were not too happy, but today the car’s been better now that we’ve moved back to the normal settings that we usually use here and in testing, so definitely we are in a position to try to win the race. It all depends on what happens tomorrow. We’ll just do the best job we can and go for the win and see what happens.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, were there some problems in the pits, or what were the problems that made it so tight when you got your last lap?
KR:
I just came in so late from my last run – the previous run, so that’s why it was so late and it was enough time so it doesn’t matter anyway.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, after qualifying with Kimi alongside you and Ferrari behind you, do you feel like yesterday when you said you and Ferrari would fight, or do you think McLaren can challenge as well now?
FA:
I think McLaren can be a problem tomorrow for sure, for us, we’ve been quick compared to other people, but we are in similar conditions more or less to all the cars. I think they are competitive and for sure tomorrow, in the long runs, they are normally quite constant as we saw always in the past and they take care of the tyres so for sure they will be, tomorrow for us.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Michael, you are obviously disappointed. Is it more because you are not on the pole or because of the gap you have to Fernando or is it a general expectation after the great testing in Barcelona?
MS:
I mean, don’t read too much into the disappointment because it is very much the strategy. I know what strategy I run. Naturally, no matter what strategy you run, you wish to be on pole anyway.

Q: (Scott Piecha – The People) Michael, were you more desperate for pole because of what happened in Monaco? Did you want to banish that?
MS:
No. That is normal.

Q: (Andreas Groebl – Die Presse) Fernando, it seems like it took you quite a long time to get on the front row, and now you keep putting it on pole position after pole position. Is this indicative of a change of strategy in the team, focusing a bit more on the pole position and maybe compromising on a few other things?
FA:
I think we were quite surprised with the new qualifying system in the first few races. In Bahrain I had a mistake – coming into one corner I braked too late and I lost the first lap on my new tyres. In Malaysia we obviously put in a lot more fuel than we wanted, and in Australia I had traffic, but in this stage of qualifying (it) can happen any time and it happened to me in Australia. So the first three races, for various reasons, we were not in the normal position. We have seen that in the last four pole positions were a very big surprise because we don’t prepare for qualifying specifically, but it’s true the car seems to perform, and it’s not difficult to get the maximum in the first lap, but we were particularly happy with the car on the first lap.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Are you and Giancarlo on a different strategy, because it was very close in the other free practice sessions?
FA:
I don’t’ know. We had a meeting before the qualifying with my engineer and we didn’t have the normal meeting with technical guys so…

Q: (Bob Bull – BBC Three Counties Radio) Michael, you have your team-mate alongside you. Does this mean that Ferrari have a better strategy for the race than Renault?
MS:
We hope so. We’ll find out tomorrow.

Q: (Mike Doodson) Michael, I noticed you’ve been looking out of the window during the questions. There are a couple of banners out in the crowd in support of you. I wonder how much contact you have with your British fans. Do you feel there is a lot of support for you here?
MS:
Honestly I’ve always felt support for me here at Silverstone, but that was not the reason I was looking out. It was the Formula 3000 people, sorry, the GP2 people getting ready.