FIA post-qualifying press conference - Canada 24 Jun 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m14.942s; 2nd Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), 1m15.178s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m15.386s.
Q: Fernando, Giancarlo is always very quick here, it was a close race to the pole.
Fernando Alonso: Yes, it was. I think it has been a tough competition between us three - with Kimi and Giancarlo all weekend and now in qualifying. I think it is a good result for us, a normal result. We have been the three quickest drivers, always, and also in qualifying and hopefully tomorrow we can repeat the podium.
Q: A great result for Michelin, too, on a track whose condition appeared to be changing constantly.
FA: Yeah, every lap it is better and better. More rubber is going down, more grip, but its the same for everybody so now in qualifying its always important to have your chance, your new tyres at the end of the session. I think we all did and the result has been perfect for us, first and second, and now we have to finish the job tomorrow.
Q: Giancarlo, very close to the pole there, and you do love this place.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah, I do, and Im happy about the performance we achieved today, first and second for Renault is great and Im happy about the second position. Hopefully weve got a good strategy and even tomorrow we are in good shape to score lots of points, to get on the podium. Obviously the target is to win the race.
Q: The track is evolving, how do you see the conditions tomorrow, how do you think the race will go?
GF: Well, today it was quite hot and it wasnt too bad. I think tomorrow we are going to have the same conditions. Maybe at the beginning of the race the grip level is going to be a bit poor but then after the middle of the race its going to be alright.
Q: Kimi, a great result for McLaren Mercedes, again consistently quick in qualifying. It looked like a good session for you.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, but I think I was much happier with the car in the morning, so I was quite surprised to end up in third. Even the car didnt feel very nice, but it was a good result and I think we should be pretty OK for the race.
Q: Do you put that down to the changing conditions? A lot of drivers said the track went to oversteer?
KR: We changed the car a little bit for the race so hopefully it will be easier in the race and it will work out then, but we just need to wait and see.
Q: You won here last year; how close can you get to the Renaults tomorrow?
KR: Hopefully closer than in the last race but they seem to be very quick here but I think we have been improving and the car is getting better, so hopefully we can fight against them.
Q: Fernando, the second front row of the grid for the team this year. It just goes on and on. Talk a little about Renaults performance in these two North American races.
FA: I think we have been really quick, really competitive in the first half of the season. For both Renaults to be on the first row in the ninth race means that the team keeps on developing the car and keeps working hard to win the championship again this year, so Im really happy and Im proud of the job the teams doing. I think these two races will be difficult for us. Ferrari are our main opponent for the championship. We know that these are good circuits for them, high speed and low downforce, but at the first one we are doing our maximum. Since that is working OK, Indianapolis will also be OK.
Q: Fernando, fifth successive pole, its pretty remarkable isnt it?
FA: Yeah. To be honest, its been really good. At the beginning of the season, I had a couple of problems with this new format of qualifying and from Imola, I think Ive always been on pole and Ive been really quick, really happy with the results in qualifying and also in the race but especially in qualifying. Fifth consecutive time on pole is something that Ive never experienced before and its great, so lets keep going.
Q: And this is a race where you really want to do well. Its one of the races thats been missing off the portfolio as it were. Any scares during the first two days?
FA: No, not at all. I think it has been really good for us so far. No problems with the car, we didnt touch the set-up with the car or anything. The car was quick straightaway in all conditions. The track kept changing with more and more grip but the balance was always perfect so no worries for tomorrow at all.
Q: You sound as though you expect Ferrari to be more competitive in the race.
FA: Yeah, I think so. I think Ferrari will be competitive here and at Indianapolis as well. Yesterday they were not too quick. Today they were much better, so maybe tomorrow, with more rubber down, they keep going better and better, but hopefully not enough to win and if we finish in front of them it will be a great result.
Q: Giancarlo, how much have you changed the car during the last couple of days?
GF: A bit with the front bar and the front wing. Even the last change was just before my last flying lap. We put some more front wing on because there was a bit of understeer. The balance was not too bad. Its just difficult in braking with poor grip but apart from that we are first and second so its just great for us.
Q: Im sure you were hoping for pole though.
GF: Yeah of course. I did my best but Im second and thats great anyway, and tomorrow weve got the same chance to win, so we will see.
Q: What was the grip like at the start of the session?
GF: In Q1? A bit poor, bit poor and you are a bit conservative because it is not important to do a crazy lap and if you make a mistake you are not in the top 16, so its just important to do a clean lap and dont be crazy.
Q: But then it got better from there.
GF: Yeah. At the end it was definitely better.
Q: Kimi, you sound a bit disappointed, as if you hoped to be better.
KR: Yeah, I think so. After the morning the car felt a bit better and I was expecting it to be handling a little bit better in qualifying. It wasnt, but we changed the car a little bit for the race so well see what happens then.
Q: Yeah, because you cant do very much during qualifying can you? Between qualifying and the race?
KR: I think so, if we get more up around the circuit then it can help us for sure, and even the car didnt feel as good as I was hoping as good as in the morning, when we were quite quick, so thats good to hear.
Q: What was going wrong? The feeling?
KR: It was just sliding a bit too much more than in the morning.
Q: But you dont feel any worry for tomorrow then?
KR: No. Not really.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Fernando, you said that Ferrari might not have given 100 per cent yet and you were not relieved yesterday. How relieved are you now that they are so back behind you?
FA: Today I think its more relative. I think the times on Friday are not really important and you cannot really believe everything, but today, yeah, in the normal qualifying conditions, the same for everybody, they were not in the top three or top four in any of the qualifying, so it seems that we have something more than them here. It is probably a good job from Michelin giving us a very good tyre again and giving us the possibility to be in front of them again in qualifying. We need to do the job again tomorrow. Qualifying is only the start of the weekend.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Kimi, when you said you were sliding around a little bit more, did you just take away a little bit of the wings to be faster on the straight? What was the reason for that?
KR: Maybe. We reduced the wing a little bit for the straight-line speed. It was near quick enough so maybe in the race we can change it.
Q: (Randy Phillips The Gazette) Fernando, you now have five consecutive poles. Can you give us any idea what differences you feel in the car itself over that stretch of races? How different is the car in terms of its speed and performance?
FA: Every race is a new feeling and a new challenge, for sure. Especially this one is the first one with low downforce in the championship, so the car feels really different, difficult to brake. The straight-line speed I enjoy for sure, but to stop the car in the corners is more difficult, so its a different style of driving for sure. You dont drive the same here or Monaco, because its more out of concentration to get one lap in qualifying on the limit and then to control the race, but to do the pole position here in Canada is much more risk, much more challenge to the driver. You are very close to the wall with the chicanes and high speed. It is not easy.
Q: (Randy Phillips The Gazette) Is it the most difficult?
FA: No, its not the most difficult for sure, it is the first time with low downforce in a qualifying session like this and its the first time you have something more adrenaline in your body.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Fernando, this morning you went off the circuit two times. That happens almost never. What happened exactly?
FA: It was nothing. I was trying some set-up in the front to get away from the oversteer and it was maybe too stiff so I was locking the front tyres and I missed the corner, so now I learned and hopefully tomorrow I dont touch the grass any more.
Q: (Bill Beacon The Canadian Press) Giancarlo, if your team-mate has a nice healthy lead, I know your team says there are no team orders, but does it ever enter your mind that you can help Renault and help Fernando win a championship by just driving a certain way?
GF: We are a team and we work together. I think Fernando has a big gap in that and hes quick enough that he doesnt need any help and that is the same thing for Renault because we have a good gap to Ferrari in the constructors championship which is the second team and we need to do the best result for us so go out to the end of the race and do a one-two.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Kimi, this is your second consecutive top three qualifying and the other guys are a long way behind you. How confident are you for the race? Do you think the curve of McLaren could be heading up?
KR: I think in the last few races since Monaco weve been definitely better in the races and qualifying, but were still not quick enough against Renault so we still have work to do but its going definitely in the right direction.