FIA post-race press conference - Britain 11 Jun 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h25m51.927s; 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1h26m05.878s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1h26m10.599s.
Q: Fernando, that looked to be a perfectly judged race for you and in some ways, on home soil too.
Fernando Alonso: Yes, its true. Victory today was quite OK for us. Yesterday, getting pole position made the thing a little bit easier, starting from pole. Today, we saw that we had more fuel than the others yesterday in qualifying so this also helped in terms of strategy and things like that. The tyres performed really well all through the race so there werent many opportunities for opponents to beat us and this is good news for the rest of the season. But we have to take the advantage now. We had a good car, no problems, no mechanical problems and we are taking good points, step by step.
Q: Your race was very much defined by the early phase, a lot of pressure from Kimi and Michael but you managed to pull away tenth by tenth in that early phase of the race.
FA: Yes, in the first two laps after the safety car Kimi was very quick. We had a little bit too much understeer. We prepared the car to be quick at the end of the stints. Lap by lap the car was feeling better and better, so I built a gap in the first stint and then I controlled it a little bit for the rest of the race. I had some graining problems in the second stint but nothing big and as I said, tyres were again perfect today. Thanks to all the team, all the mechanics and for the tyres; victory was in our hands again.
Q: How does it feel to win here at Silverstone, in Britain.
FA: Fantastic. To be honest, winning in Spain, Monaco, Silverstone, for me, the last three races is a dream come true. They are circuits with big names and big emotions. Great atmosphere at this circuit, its all about Formula One and to win in this country, 20 minutes away from my home in Oxford is for me a really good feeling and Ive had a fantastic day.
Q: Michael, a great drive to second place, taking second place in the second pit stops there, but very close racing with Kimi right at the start, almost touched wheels going into Abbey?
Michael Schumacher: Touched sidepods, I would say. I was already at the limit of the circuit. He didnt want to give me the inside so I had to try the outside. The rest worked out fine. We obviously got stuck in the early stages of the race but nevertheless, I have to say that we werent quick enough this weekend but we will keep on working on that.
Q: That was a great period of the race when you did take second place from Kimi. Talk us through that: very quick on that lap after your tyre change, fastest in sectors two and three.
MS: We knew we had two sets of new tyres left. We knew that all the other guys chose to use their new set at the start, so they had no new sets left, so that was the only strategy we could pull out, to come in a lap early and then have a lap free of traffic and then build a gap to second and then get into second.
Q: Kimi, it was very close with Michael there going into Abbey. What was it like in that early phase of the race for you, with Michael and also Fernando just in front of you?
Kimi Raikkonen: We were really a bit too slow in a straight line to challenge anyone. I got quite close to Fernando after the safety car and on the first lap I just couldnt quite pass him. Then I was in front of Michael and I didnt know that we got so close but we didnt hit each other which was good. It wasnt an easy race, we werent quick enough so there wasnt much we could do, but I did the best I could and we finished third. I think that was maximum that we could have done today.
Q: A good podium finish for you, but Giancarlo Fisichella was very close to you in the closing stages. What condition was your car in at that point?
KR: It wasnt perfect. I lost the rear end a little bit at the end of the race and I also got the lapped traffic in the first sector and Fisichella was always very quick through there. It was sometimes a bit difficult when you follow someone and on the back straight he was quick, but he wasnt too much of a problem. But I could have done without it also, but Im happy with third place.
Q: Fernando, the run goes on: incredible reliability, a string of podium finishes for you, eight in a row now, its been an amazing season.
FA: Yes, so far it has been fantastic: three wins and three seconds. Obviously theres nothing more to find in the car. Were running on the limit of the car. No mechanical problems, a fantastic job from all the people in the team, and for sure, we need to keep doing things like this. I think the best defence from now on will be attacking and keep winning races is what we have to do.
Q: Fernando, early on, Kimi seemed to be really having a go at you in those opening laps. How close was it?
FA: Very close. We prepared the car to be quicker in the middle and end of the stints, so for the first two laps, I had a little bit too much understeer and for sure, during the first and second laps I wasnt quick enough and Kimi obviously tried, but we had good straight line speed and it wasnt easy to overtake us, so we were lucky with that.
Q: And after that, no problems with the car?
FA: Well, the conditions havent been easy all weekend here. It was very windy in the high speed corners so there were some surprises on some of the laps. Lap by lap the circuit was changing a little bit so you have to guess when you arrive at a corner, but no, not really. The car performed really well. I had a little bit of graining during the second stint but the gap was big enough not to have too many worries.
Q: You all seem to be quite hot and tired after that race; how was it?
FA: Well, we are not used to this temperature in England and I think we have all been a little bit surprised. Its quite tough, this circuit, with these high speed corners, especially this year with the V8, very quick through the corners, and yeah, it was quite a physical race.
Q: Michael, second place, was the car good, good enough for first, do you think?
MS: Dont know! It was going well, I didnt have any particular issues or problems but its a bit difficult for me to analyse where we could have been and what could have happened. You guys sit there, have all the information. I just have my personal information but at the end of the day, we werent good enough for the weekend. That is pretty obvious.
Q: The tactics of the second pit stop were obviously vital to your second place.
MS: Yeah, we would have loved to do that at the first pit stop already, but it didnt work out. I think there was even a bit of traffic involved. Im not sure what happened at the very first pit stop, but if I remember correctly, the other two guys were on new tyres, I was on older tyres, which also made it a little bit more difficult for me to be right on Kimis tail, whereas at the second pit stop I was very close to him and then had a quick lap on new tyres and got him. But after spending forty laps or more behind him, theres no opportunity left.
Q: How worrying is the Renault pace given that were going to two flyaway races in succession?
MS: Theres nothing new or a surprise. We have seen that they are strong all year long. We have been strong all year long with a couple of hiccups in some of the races and thats the difference. So well have to work on that to get even more out of our car and to have two cars up front and that is our target and our aim. We will work on this. Ive heard some people saying that this is a crucial race but for me its not crucial at all. There are ten races to go, plenty of opportunities. We believe in ourselves and we will do a lot of hard work to get going and to take as many points as we can to be up front at the end of the year, as much as they will keep working for the opposite. Its very natural, but theres no way we are resigning at all.
Q: Kimi, obviously frustrated to have lost second place.
KR: Err, yeah, but we were just not quick enough and theres nothing that I could have done. I went as quickly as I could but with Michael on new tyres there was no way that I could have kept him behind any more. We tried, but it wasnt enough.
Q: And you were really having a go at Fernando in those early stages.
KR: Yeah, but as I said, they were quick on the back straight and I got a very good exit in the last corner before the straight but I just couldnt get a tow and we were just not quick enough so it made it impossible to overtake him.
Q: Was it an aerodynamic thing when you say slow in a straight line?
KR: I dont know if were running more downforce. Maybe we are, because we need to get more grip in the corners or maybe there is a slight difference in engines but I think its the only way we can manage to go quicker around the lap so thats what we chose to do and I still think its the best result we could have had today. The car was pretty OK, it was a bit difficult to drive when you pushed the whole way through the race but thats how the racing is.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Salvatore Zanca Associated Press) Fernando, it looked easy out there. What made it so easy for you?
FA: I think its true in the race we work hard in every race, every weekend and its going well so far. I dont know. Every race is a big challenge for us to stay competitive and working what we need to with the car. We need to keep developing, and, as I said in the press conference, we need to keep winning races to defend our position and, you know, to do a good job, as professional as we can all the time, so to keep ahead of the other teams, and I think this is a result of the victory. We are all focused, with all the people working in the same direction with no mistakes, and this is what were aiming (for).
Q: (Juha Paatalo Financial Times Deutschland) Michael, you spent the early part of the race behind Kimi. Was it just that you wanted to keep a certain distance and how much were you advantaged when you got ahead of him?
MS: I guess you could see once I was in front of him what was the difference between him and me after that. To answer your question correctly, the reason to stay a second behind him is that when you get closer you just start sliding around because this is a very high-speed circuit, aerodynamics are very important and there is unfortunately no way to try and stick close because of the track.
Q: (Juha Paatalo Financial Times Deutschland): Kimi, Once Michael passed you, you dropped back from him a bit. Were you pushing hard still, or did you accept that Michael had passed you and not go full speed anymore?
KR: We were still going as quick as we could because Fisichella in the second Renault had still not stopped and so we didnt really know where they were going to end up and we saw that they were very close to us and in the race it is important to us to have to go as quickly as we can because otherwise we might lose places, so I was going as fast as I could.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat): Fernando, Michael has a record of 19 successive podium finishes. You have now 14. Do you think that you can break the record?
FA: To be honest, we will try to finish on the podium in all of the races so far, but maybe, I dont know about the record but its not very important. To finish in front for the championships at the end of the season, then for sure if I keep moving in that direction of the top three then it puts us in a good position to defend the championship and I hope to finish a lot more times on the podium this year.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport): Michael, on the fourth lap you had a battle with Kimi going into the chicane. How close was that. It looked like it was wheel to wheel?
MS: Yes, it was. We didnt touch but I guess there wasnt a piece of papers space left. It was close but it was okay.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, that win was pretty easy. Was it your easiest win of the season?
FA: I dont know. Really, in Australia I had a little bit of a space, here, it was necessary to keep pushing all the race because we never know what was going to happen with tyres raining-wise Anything can happen in one of the pit-stops so it was worth having a little gap not to come into the pits too close. You never know whats gonna happen with Michael, He overtook Kimi at the second stop and he was on the pace with me in the Ferrari and so he had no chance to catch up and so I try to push for every lap of the race, but its with the conditions we had here very windy in the high-speed corners.
Q: (James Roberts Motorsport News): Fernando, how would you feel to have Lewis Hamilton as a team-mate next year?
FA: Dont ask me that. I try to win this year and next year we will have time enough to discuss about my team-mate. At the end of the day its not very important to me.
Q: (Luc Domenjoz Le Matin) All three of you look very sad like you lost your parents this morning. Was it a very difficult race?
FA: My parents are still at home, I hope. For me, it was okay. I think I was a little more tired in Monaco because it was a stressful race with Kimi fighting a lot. Today Im happy. Its my way of expressing my happiness.
MS: It was probably a lonely race for Fernando, there was a bit of action between me and Kimi, but it wasnt that exciting. Theres no reason to jump around and be happy. In this season theres still a long way to go and everybodys got to try and focus on what happens next rather than feeling joy too much.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) As you said, it was not an exciting race, so, to all of you, how exciting is it to race to win when you cannot even overtake the overtaking is just in the pit-stops. Is it fun to race like that?
MS: Its part of the game. I think the ideal world doesnt exist. You always can improve things absolutely, but thats the way it is and thats the way it has been for so many years.
FA: I believe if you are quick, then you will overtake the guy in front, as Michael did today not in the circuit but in the pit-stops. Formula One is not just about a fast car. Its about a strategy and a combination of many things and for this it is so popular because its quite interesting on the track in what goes on.
KR: Yeah, For sure everybody would like to have more overtaking, but, ever since Ive been in Formula One its been like this so its not only for me, its for everyone in Formula One, so in some races you have more, and some traces on high-speed circuits you just have it where people overtake on the last pit-stops. Its this kind of thing sometimes.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, when you finished fifth in Barcelona, you said that was the maximum from the car. Now that youve finished third, is that more than the maximum.
KR: I think the car has maybe improved a bit from Barcelona in a bit and that is good because we struggled a bit in Barcelona, so hard to say how much improvement weve had. We are still too slow to try to fight for wins in the races. I think Monaco was a special place where we could challenge for a win but here its back to reality.
Q: (Sean McGreevy Motoring and Leisure): Fernando, what was the significance of your stance when you finished the race? It looked like you were firing an arrow or a catapult.
FA: Yes, it was an arrow.
Q: No specific reason?