FIA post-race press conference - Canada 25 Jun 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h34m37.308s; 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1h34m39.419s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1h34m46.121s.
Q: Fernando, the conditions out there appeared to be diabolical; what a day!
Fernando Alonso: Yeah. The race was quite difficult because off-line there was a lot of dirt and dust coming from the tyres and you cannot make any mistakes. If you go a little bit off-line you lose one or two seconds and we saw a lot of this type of incident throughout the race, so it was not easy to keep the concentration, leading the race with a nice gap but never confident on any of the laps.
Q: Talk about the handling and balance of the car and how it was affected by the two safety car periods.
FA: Well, it was good, perfect all weekend. Obviously, without the safety cars, the gaps would have been much bigger, an easier race but you know the safety car sometimes helps you, sometimes not. But the main thing is to win the race as we did again and we had perfect Michelin work again, giving us a fantastic tyre.
Q: Michael, close behind Fernando at the end.
Michael Schumacher: Yeah, thanks to the safety car everybody got together again. It was just a shame that there wasnt another ten laps left which could have made it a little bit more entertaining. It was very easy to go off line and then to lose a lot of time. A tough race in a way but due to the beginning, it was sort of pre-decided and at a certain moment I just had to drive according to the situation which I did. There was not much more I could do. Obviously when the safety car came out, we went a little bit more on the attack and luckily we gained a position.
Q: And of course you were catching Fernando in those last couple of laps; what were your thoughts at that moment?
MS: Yes, as I said, I wished the race could have kept on going for a bit longer but then I dont know; you really need a mistake although I have to say that in these conditions it is easier to make that kind of mistake which then may lead to an overtaking possibility. But it was as it was, we kept the damage as small as possible. We didnt have a perfect weekend but we managed to have a good result finally, so we go from here on.
Q: Kimi, pushing Fernando in the early stages of the race, but time lost in the pit stops.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah. It wasnt the easiest race. The car was pretty good to start with but then at the first pit stop we had a problem with the clutch and when we put the clutch in the wheels were still spinning so it took a long time for them to get the rear wheel on and then at the second pit stop the car just stopped because the clutch wasnt working any more. I also lost second place to Michael on the second last lap or something. I just got on the sand or whatever you call it. The circuit was breaking up in a few places, so when I got on that there was nothing I could do. It wasnt ideal but anyhow we got some results and for me it doesnt really matter whether its second or third if we cannot win, so I dont really worry about it.
Q: You appeared to be carrying more fuel in the second stint; what affect did that have on the tyre wear in that situation down at the hairpin?
KR: I dont think that that was hurting any more than if wed had a little bit less fuel. The car was not maybe the easiest to drive but the problem was more the circuit breaking up so that made it more difficult than anything else.
Q: Do you think your car was maybe more affected by that than Michaels for instance?
KR: No, I dont think so. I dont know. Its hard to say but it was just a mistake and it cost us one place but that happens sometimes.
Q: Fernando, Indianapolis coming up in a weeks time. Ferrari a little bit slower in qualifying, but right there in the race and the championship still very much alive.
FA: Yeah, today we had the opportunity to have Fisichella in front of Michael and Kimi. At the end, Michael managed to finish second so the gap is not increasing too much. But Indianapolis is another chance to win again and to increase the gap again.
Q: Fernando, how much satisfaction does it give you to win this one today?
FA: Its fantastic for me again. All the victories are nice but this one, after the last two or three years, having the opportunity to win and always something happened, mistakes coming from me or mechanical problems, it was one of the races that we should have had in the previous years and now we have it.
Q: How hard was Kimi pushing you during those opening stages?
FA: Very hard. Some laps I was quicker, some laps he was quicker, I dont know why, because I was pushing always to the maximum as I think he did. But its true that at one moment he nearly overtook me, going off line in the hairpin, in turn ten. The conditions were difficult and he was putting a lot of pressure on me.
Q: It seemed you only had that one moment off line; otherwise it seemed that it was perfect every time. Were there any scares?
FA: Yes, there were. There were three or four, especially in the second stints. In the third stint, I had a 20 second gap, with no more pressure, so I was driving quite slowly, but in the second stint I knew that Kimi had more fuel than me so I was pushing to the maximum and two or three times I went off line and I lost one or two seconds again. It was not easy all race.
Q: Michael, you had a pretty good view of the Montoya/Rosberg incident. What happened?
MS: They crashed! I will leave it to them to explain.
Q: Then you were stuck behind Jarno Trulli and you were fairly desperate to get past.
MS: I was, yes. It was a crucial period of the race. We were hoping to do that at the start, which completely failed. Nevertheless, finally I got by, but at the moment it was clear that in order to do something at the front, it would need either a lot of mistakes from the guys and when I pushed to get myself there, naturally you go a little bit wide and that meant several times that I had to go off line as well, and its not nice here.
Q: You had a bit of a moment at the hairpin on lap 44 as well.
MS: I ran wide at the same place where Jacques went off but there were certain areas where you simply couldnt allow yourself to go a centimetre off line because then you were already on the dust.
Q: You had a long first stint; were you tempted to make it a one stop?
MS: Dont know, need to check the numbers, to see if we could have done or not.
Q: You went to lap 32 which was just short of half distance. You might have gone all the way to the chequered flag from there, not that it would have made any difference in the end, of course.
MS: Absolutely, so I guess thats what the guys thought.
Q: What about Indianapolis after today?
MS: Look, honestly it all depends on the tyre situation. On the car side, we know what we have for this weekend. We struggled a little bit. We managed to keep the damage as small as possible and get them to work reasonably at the end, but we need to see how much they suit this kind of circuit and I think thats what were going to see towards the end of the season, that one manufacturer is going to be better equipped at one circuit and the other at another. Obviously we have to make sure that we have the majority of that.
Q: Kimi, you nearly got by Fernando on that lap; talk us through it?
KR: Yeah, he ran a little bit wide in the same place where I made a mistake at the end of the race. I got on the inside of him but you cant get two cars through the chicane and if I braked later I would have had to go straight on so I couldnt manage anything. We got close but not close enough.
Q: And you were pushing pretty hard
KR: Yeah, for sure. We can usually keep up in the first part of the race, but after that we seem to lose some speed. We had problems in both pit stops with the clutch and it wasnt working so it always took an awful long time and I dont think we also had the speed to fight against them.
Q: Two moments at the hairpin, two pit stop problems; third place wasnt bad really.
KR: Yeah. It could have been second but in the end I dont think it matters whether its second or third. Im not fighting for the championship any more really, so we only want to win and thats the only thing that matters.
Q: What about your feelings about Indianapolis?
KR: Usually the car has been quite good there. I would say its usually better there than here so it could be a completely different story this year but I think it could be quite good for us.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Rodrigo Franca Racing) Fernando, do you think this is the toughest victory you have had this season, and if so, do you think its because McLaren and Ferrari have closed the gap or because its a different circuit.
FA: No, I dont think this was the toughest. Without the safety car I was 25 seconds ahead of Kimi and 40 ahead of Michael so for sure, it was not the toughest, but it was difficult in terms of not making any mistakes. That was for sure. The track conditions were really risky for the drivers and leading the race with a nice gap you normally have more risk, because maybe you lose concentration or you relax yourself.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Kimi, you said that you probably didnt have the speed to win again. What did you mean by that?
KR: Usually, in the first part of the race we can follow them, but then in the middle stints we always seem to lose some speed in comparison to them and even with the problems that we had in the pit stops, we couldnt really be as close as we needed to be for a win, so I think we are still behind.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Fernando, what about you? In the situation with you and Kimi did you think that you had to pit first then you wouldnt be able to win any more?
FA: Yeah, for sure. First stop I came in and he kept going on the track so at that point you maybe think yeah, you are going to get passed on the track by Kimi, but I saw that he was coming in behind me and the team informed me that he had six or seven laps more fuel than me for the second stop, so I had to open a gap and its what I did. I tried to push maximum to open a gap. At the end that was not necessary, but for sure, when the journey behind was longer, you have the thing on your mind.
Q: (Rob Martier CJAD 800 Radio Montreal) Indianapolis is next on the docket. With what has been said this week by Bernie Ecclestone leading up to the race and Tony George, I was wondering if you guys think we should continue to have a race there?
FA: Yeah, yeah, I think so. Looking at the funds though, and the people that part of last year, they were obviously not very happy, but what we felt in the previous seasons is that they are fascinated by Formula One. Its true that Formula One is not very popular in USA, but the people who go to the track are really good fans and I think they enjoyed the race. We enjoy going there, we all know what happened last year, and I think next week we will put on a good show also.
MS: Yeah, I mean I dont see any reason not to race at Indy or in the States at all. I mean, to judge the general Formula One picture on one race, I dont think thats at all fair, and the people who are not interested dont come and stay at home, so Im pretty sure were gonna have enough theyre gonna want to come - if not more (people) to some degree with all the attention that was created by last year.
Q: (Daniel Bastien Radio FM 103.3) The last, the Q3. Is there anything youd like to change instead of going around for 15 minutes just burning gas?
FA: Kimi started an answer.
KR: Maybe it could be a bit more interesting for the drivers not just wasting the fuel in the first part, maybe do something that we can go with low fuel and put some new tyres on I think so that would be nice for us. Its a bit boring just to drive around and waste fuel.
MS: I think finally we have a system that works and people are interested. Whether you can make it more perfect than what it is, I dont know. If you change something and it goes the other way around we have had some experience of that, so you might as well keep it if it is just a small change.
Q: (Matthias Brunner Motorsport Aktuell) Michael, did you touch the wall on lap 29 coming onto the straight?
Q: Did the car feel affected after that?
MS: Much quicker, no.
Q: Seriously, no effect?
MS: No, it was just a small kiss.
Q: (Riccardo Romani Corriere della Sera) Fernando, halfway through the championship you have won six. What is, looking into the next part of the season, your concern? To be relaxed too much? You said you need to feel pressure to perform.
FA: No, I think the last four races I won all the last four, but its not as easy as it probably seems on TV, but weve had a lot of pressure. Michael was quick in Monaco when he started form the back, Kimi had a mechanical problem in Monaco when he was pushing me, I think we need to keep developing the car. As we leave we have a new package here for Canada that works pretty well. We have some steps forwards for Magny-Cours, for Hockenheim, and if we keep winning like this, it is the best defence we can do. Keep attacking and keep winning races.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, as far as we understood, you kept the rear tyre on the car coming into your second pit-stop. Is that correct? You had a problem in your first pit-stop.
KR: I had in both of them. First and second, but in the second one the cars engine stopped so I did re-start it.
Q: How hard is it to drive the car in these conditions?
KR: Not so much change. It doesnt make much difference so we knew already after the first pit-stop that it would be difficult to keep the engine running so unfortunately it just stopped and when I selected a gear again. Luckily enough we got in front of Michael, so it didnt make any difference.
Q: (MC) Can you clarify this, because we thought the right rear wheel hadnt been changed at the first pit-stop.
KR: On the first one of the second?
Q: First one.
KR: I didnt feel it.
Q: You didnt feel any difference?
KR: No, they tried to change it and I dont know if they changed it or not. Maybe they did but I think so the tyres were turning because the clutch wasnt working so
Q: But they hadnt changed it?
KR: I dont know. Usually they change it. I dont look in my mirrors to see if they are changing it. I just get out of the pit-stop, so
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Michael, first of all, how important was this last-minute present from Kimi for the championship? Secondly, today McLaren was strong enough to put between you and Fernando. Are you getting worried that it could happen more often at different parts of the season?
MS: I mean, it may work against you or it may work in favour of us at some moments in the season. So far we have avoided that kind of situation and its for us to see how the rest of the season will go, but whether it was vital or not we will see at the end. If the championship is decided by a point at the end then it maybe was vital, if not then maybe not. Every point is vital in that situation.
Q: (Bill Beacon The Canadian Press) Michael, what specifically made it risky and difficult to drive out there today?
MS: Basically in the first stint, after the first stint after about 30 laps it started that the track, actually before, that the track falls apart and the asphalt got loose and more and more dust, dirt, asphalt, tyres, came flying, and even breaking itself. Pieces got thrown up. I was behind Kimi and I had stones coming towards me, so that was the main part of it. When you got off-line it was like driving on ice. I had a lot of trouble, plus having the tyres dirty and the straights, means that you could not clean them and trying to turn into turn 14 was several times impossible, so it was tricky conditions.
Q: (Matthias Brunner Motorsport Aktuell) Michael, what was the reason for your bad start?
MS: We need to analyse. It just didnt bite and didnt go.
Q: (Jeff Pappone The Global & Mail) Michael, youve been on the other side of this, dominating the sport. Now you have to watch Fernando doing the same. Does this become frustrating for you?
MS: No, last year was, to a certain degree, frustrating. This year we are having fun. Not all the time I mean you can be having more fun in winning, but you cant win all the time so the better one wins who is doing a better job in the end and we have only been able to do that twice. There have been six times for them so far so we need to do a better job.