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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Turkey 26 Aug 2006

FIA Press Conference (L to R): Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 26 August 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m26.907s; 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m27.284s; 3rd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m27.321s.

Q: Felipe a fantastic qualifying lap and your first career pole, your feelings and emotions?
Felipe Massa:
Yes definitely it’s a fantastic moment for me and it’s much more important than all the others will be, because when you get your first pole you feel it much more. It’s quite a surprise so I’m really, really happy and the team is doing a great job and this is really fantastic for me.

Q: And what a great circuit on which to take that pole, with Turn Eight?
FM:
Yes, Turn Eight is a challenge for everyone here and we saw many cars going off and there are a lot of bumps in the corner. It is a very difficult corner, a great challenge and I did a good job this time, I also know the corners well so I was able to put a good lap together and get pole position.

Q: You still have a chance of winning the world championship this year, it’s going to be an interesting first corner with Schumacher and Alonso behind you?
FM:
Yes for sure, it will be a very tough race and start especially. But it’s good to be in front and I’m just looking forward to being very quick and consistent in the race. As of now I have to say we are looking very strong.

Q: Michael, P2, maybe not where you want to be, but we saw you running wide on new tyres at Turn One?
Michael Schumacher:
On both types I ran wide you didn’t get the ultimate lap and in Turn One in particular. Then we aborted the first run and had an extra lap available for the last run. But we didn’t gain anything because the tyres were basically good for one lap. But it’s a great job for Felipe in particular, I’m happy for him. It’s his first pole position and he’s on the front row and that’s what counts for us at the moment.

Q: Tell us a bit about qualifying at this circuit and in particular Turn Eight?
MS:
It’s certainly very different from last year to experience the circuit, because if you have a car that basically slides and doesn’t go where you want it to go, it isn’t great fun. At this circuit we have a car where you can position it where you want it to go and that makes a difference. Because the circuit is a big challenge and everyone talks about Turn Eight, but there are a lot of corners where you don’t see the apex, so technically they are very demanding. There is a very nice combination of Turn Three, Four and Five which is quite technical so there’s quite a lot of high and low speed combinations which are a great challenge.

Q: Fernando, you looked very quick in sector one, but fell away in sector two. How do you feel?
Fernando Alonso:
Very happy to be honest. We knew that in qualifying the Ferraris would be strong today. And we believe we will have the pace in the race, so to be third just behind them with Fisichella fourth as well was the maximum the team could do today and I think we are very optimistic with our position for tomorrow.

Q: You are leading the championship by ten points, it’s very close, how does it feel going into tomorrow’s race in terms of pressure?
FA:
Well I think there is always pressure in Formula One, it doesn’t matter in which part of the championship you are. If you are in a top team, you need to do the maximum every race and it’s true that with five races to go it’s very important. But we still have to do our own race with no mistakes and if you are P1 it’s obviously much better. Tomorrow we have the chance to do it, so why not be optimistic?

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Felipe well done, how much does it mean to have this first pole position?
FM:
It’s just fantastic, the first pole position is always much more important than all the others. It’s the first time you can achieve it as a driver. But you are always trying to fight hard throughout all of your career and when you get it, it’s just fantastic. It’s a fantastic day for me and the team did a fantastic job as well for me, to be able to put the lap together. It’s the first pole position of my career so I am really happy.

Q: How good was the car and how much have you changed it over the last couple of days?
FM:
Yesterday was an important day for us as we compared the tyres and we had a clear idea which tyre to use today and we did a good job, because the tyre is working quite well, not just on the qualifying but going into the race we think it will be good as well. It was important to find the right set-up and solutions for the race.

Q: Was it quite difficult to make the tyre choice because this morning the track temperature started at 36 degrees C and went up 11 degrees in one session?
FM:
This time it was not so difficult for us.

Q: Michael, phenomenal times coming into qualifying, are you disappointed to be second?
MS:
It didn’t go exactly to plan, honestly. I had a good car and for whatever reason, I couldn’t really translate all of our performance. But then I took it a bit cautiously as I had to abort the first run. I wanted to make sure I got a reasonable lap in and we’re on the first row, so we shouldn’t really complain. If I could have made up the three tenths Felipe made, I’m not sure honestly. He must have done a very good lap in that one but we were very well sorted.

Q: The middle sector has been very good for you; do you concentrate on that?
MS:
No, you try to concentrate for every sector. There’s no point in just looking at one sector and there’s not really one sector which is more important than the other. No, that’s not really the case.

Q: So do you have the left side going down into the first corner?
MS:
I have the second position which… yeah, I think so. Yeah. The clean side. Wishful dreaming!

Q: So how do you feel about that, especially with the fast-starting reputation of the Renaults?
MS:
I would be more pleased to be on the clean side somehow, but nevertheless, we’re in the first row which is certainly… you would prefer, in a way…. there are tracks where you would prefer to be third. I don’t have enough experience on this circuit, how much of a difference there is between the right or left side, clean or dirty track, so we will check what the case was last year and we will see tomorrow anyway.

Q: Fernando, third on the grid, are you feeling pleased with that?
FA:
Yes, yes, absolutely, I think we did the maximum we can for today. I think the Ferrari and the Bridgestone tyres were extremely quick for one timed lap and we were not able to be close enough. Surprisingly, we were very quick in Q3, Q2 as well, second place so I think in qualifying, I don’t know if the temperature or whatever helped us a little bit to be close to them, but obviously not enough to be on the first row, so I think third and fourth for Renault is the normal result – the maximum result we can do today.

Q: Some people might have said that it’s because of the mass dampers that you’re third or it shows that you don’t need mass dampers, you can still be third. Which is the truer?
FA:
I don’t know. Every person will write his own opinion on this. As we said, obviously if there was not an advantage with the mass damper we didn’t have in the car for one year, obviously, so there was something there, but without anything, we managed to set up the car properly and to be half a tenth from Michael in qualifying so it’s not a (bad) result, we are not tenth and twelfth like some people hoped.

Q: Did you change the car a lot over the last couple of days?
FA:
No, not a lot but for sure you can work a little bit on the front suspension and with the front wing, with the aerodynamics, with some parts that the team changed something and there’s some new stuff coming for the next races to put the car again in the perfect solution.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Matthias Brunner – Motor Sport Aktuell) When was the last time you were on pole?
FM:
It was in a go-kart race in Brazil last year. I was on pole.

Q: (Ottavo Daviddi – Tuttosport) Felipe considering the close fight between Michael and Fernando, tomorrow you will be free to race for you, or for the team thinking of the championship?
FA:
For sure, tomorrow I will try to do the best I can, to try to do my race and also thinking about the championship. We are looking forward to fighting for the championship in whatever championship we are trying to win and I’m going to do my best, for sure, to do my race, for sure to help the team and to help myself to score as many points we can to make the turn in the championship.

Q: (Panos Diamantis – Car and Driver) I have two questions for Michael; the first one is do you believe your experience in this championship situation would help you in the last races? And the second question is, although a little irrelevant, could you please talk us through Wednesday’s charity football game?
MS:
Obviously we had the charity soccer game – whoever knows or doesn’t know – in Greece, in Athens and it was their national piloti against a celebrity team which was fun in a way. It’s always fun to play soccer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to see the city and the surroundings. I remember many years ago I was there – the last time – and a lot of things have changed, but sometime in the future I may have time to see the city.
And considering my experience, I don’t think it’s any harm. Certainly it should help, in a way.

Q: (Matthias Brunner – Motor Sport Aktuell) Michael, a couple of weeks ago we learned that in Turkey there would be an election for the new board of the GPDA. Did that happen?
MS:
No, we postponed it to a later time in the season, because that’s what we thought, without specific reasons.

Q: (Carlo Miquel Gomez – Diario As) Fernando, will you start aggressively tomorrow and try to pass Michael?
FA:
We will see. Every start is different and sometimes you plan something and it doesn’t work, because the start itself changes a lot, so we need to see how the Ferraris start, how the Renaults start tomorrow and if I have the opportunity, for sure… we know (the only) overtaking (you can do) these days in Formula One is probably just (at) pit stops and the start, so if you have a chance it’s not good to lose it.

Q: Michael, I understand yesterday from a report on autosport.com that in the drivers’ briefing that there was quite an exchange of words, particularly, between yourself and Pedro de la Rosa and Alexander Wurz. Can you tell us roughly what was said and your take on it?
MS:
I was rather quiet. They had a discussion with Charlie Whiting, they put their point of view of what happened in Hungary and the FIA made clear that they had a slightly different point of view and that was about all.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado do Sao Paulo) Alonso, you said Renault did the maximum today. Considering where you were in free practice, what can you predict for the race?
FA:
I think we will be – depending on the tyres and performance in the long runs – we will make sure in our tyre selection and in our set-up to be a perfect set-up for the race and the maximum pace for the race for letting a little bit qualifying because it was impossible to be in front of Ferrari so for this I am very optimistic for tomorrow. Hopefully everything goes well for us, the race pace comes to us but I think after the free practice and after this qualifying no one knows what is going to happen tomorrow. I think it will be dominated by tyre performance after ten or 15 laps, which nobody knows.

Q: (Luc Domenjoz - Le Matin) Michael, if we take your best sector times from Q2, you are more than 1.5s slower during qualifying. It’s not the case with Alonso, so what would you say about your strategy. Are you happy about it and what are the choices now?
MS:
There are several reasons, maybe. Maybe we were heavier than the others, maybe I didn’t have as good a lap as I could have done but we will find out tomorrow, because I know, I haven’t had a perfect lap but nevertheless, on the weight side we will see tomorrow when cars will stop.