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FIA post-race press conference - Turkey 27 Aug 2006

The post race FIA Press Conference (L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault, second; Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, race winner; Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 27 August 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1h28m51.082s; 2nd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h28m56.657s; 3rd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1h28m56.738s.

Q: Felipe, your emotions at winning your first Grand Prix?
Felipe Massa:
It’s just fantastic, I’ve been working so hard through my whole career to get to this moment. Just amazing, looking back to everything in my life to get to here - I’m really happy and very emotional. It’s a fantastic day for me, like yesterday was.

Q: Talk about the early laps and at the end when there was a lot going on behind you. What were the thoughts going through your head?
FM:
I did a very good start and first lap. The car was well balanced through the whole race and even after the safety car I was able to pull away and wasn’t too aggressive on the car. Every set of tyres and every part of the car was just responding in a fantastic way and I was able to keep the gap through the whole race.

Q: And your thoughts as you crossed the line?
FM:
It’s difficult to say. It’s like a dream come true, these two guys have had it before, but this is my first. It’s very special.

Q: Fernando, you took second place when the safety car came out and you held it to the end, brilliant under pressure?
Fernando Alonso:
Yes, we were lucky with the safety car and overtook Michael there. I managed to pull away a little bit and was light on fuel in the second stint. I think Michael went wide in Turn Eight because the gap increased to three or four seconds in one lap and that was probably the key to maintaining the second place. It’s true in the last 15 laps it was very close as we ran together and to finish in front by half a car length was enough to be second. It’s good, I’m very happy in a way and it would have been difficult to win because Felipe was away and impossible to catch him, so for sure we need to improve something for the forthcoming race.

Q: Talk us through those last couple of laps, did you feel confident that you could hold Michael behind you?
FA:
Yes to be honest I was confident. I was playing with the revs in the engine a little bit. It was going up and down depending on the distance I had to Michael. At the last corner I slowed just in case Michael tried a risky manoeuvre, but the exit was quite bad and the distance to the line was very close. But I knew that it was enough.

Q: Michael, obviously a frustrating day, but nonetheless a great race for the crowd?
Michael Schumacher:
Absolutely it was a nice fight at the end. But first of all, congratulations to Felipe who did a really superb job. He opened up quite a gap in the early stages of the race and was very consistent. I managed to close it just before we went to the safety car, but he didn’t do any mistakes, he drove it home superbly and that’s what is good about our team – if someone didn’t have a good weekend then someone makes up for it. Well done for him.

Q: You ran wide at Turn Eight on lap 28 and later Fernando appeared to have a slight advantage there?
MS:
Yes, with my second set I didn’t manage to do the speed I wanted to. By the end we saw that we had some blisters on the rear tyres, we also had pretty heavy fuel load and due to the fact the car was pretty difficult in Turn Eight, it lost me significant time. Then I had to make up for it and overdrove the tyres a little bit. But there was nothing else I could do, I couldn’t sit and wait any longer. I drove a little bit conservative to preserve for the end but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t supposed to be today – that’s the way it is.

Q: Finally, it was a very tight first corner between the two of you at the start?
MS:
Indeed, with Fernando it wasn’t that close – more so with Felipe, because I didn’t see him for a moment as I was side-by-side with Fernando. Felipe was easy in the first corner and we both didn’t take it easy and we were pretty close altogether.

Q: Felipe, your first grand prix win hasn’t sunk in yet, but when you win for Ferrari, which is closing in on the constructors’ championship, what a day for you?
FM:
Fantastic. I always dream to be a Ferrari driver and to win my first race for Ferrari is definitely something special for me. I’m sure people are really happy inside the team, because we’ve been doing a really good job this year. And it’s amazing for me, to have the first victory with Ferrari.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Well done Felipe, is it beginning to sink in now?
FM:
I think it will take a while.

Q: What was it like on the podium?
FM:
It’s just amazing, it’s a dream come true. It’s a dream day for me - these two guys know what I’m talking about. When you spend your whole career getting to Formula One and when you get there and win your first race – it’s just amazing. I’m really happy to be here with this incredible team who gave me a fantastic car. Just amazing, I’m really emotional and definitely I’m going to enjoy this time a lot.

Q: And you go to Monza as a Ferrari winner?
FM:
For sure, now looking at our potential, the championship is still open. There are four races still to go, you never know what can happen in these four races. Michael still has a chance to win the championship and the team now has a big, big chance to win. I also pull away on my championship in third place, I think it’s still possible. We need to focus on this target and try to do the best we can to do that.

Q: Did the start go as planned?
FM:
Yes I did a very good start and I saw that Michael and Fernando had a big fight in the first corner. But then I had a very good car and started to pull away and use the gap. Even after the safety car, the car was very good and I didn’t drive so aggressively and I tried to build my gap again. In the end I saw I was 13 seconds in front and I was just responding in a very good way. Everything was perfect, it was my day today and everything was really perfect for me.

Q: But before the safety car came out you were being caught by Michael?
FM:
Yeah, we worked together, but unfortunately Michael lost the position on the pitstop. It was very difficult to pass and for sure, the safety car wasn’t very useful for us today.

Q: Fernando, were you pretty much controlling it at the end?
FA:
Well, it’s difficult to control it when you are at the maximum. You do the maximum and you only hope that the guy behind doesn’t overtake you. Yeah, I looked in the mirror, there’s only one possibility here, at the end of the straight in turn 12 and if you do well in turn eight, turn nine, you should keep the advantage and first position until the end. I concentrated on that part of the circuit, maximum revs in that part and minimum revs in the other parts and I was quite confident that I would take the position.

Q: You were confident yesterday, was this pretty much the result you expected?
FA:
No. This is good but I was hoping to be more competitive and I was ready to win the race as we did in Barcelona. For one timed lap we were not super quick. In Barcelona we were light fuel for this, we were pole position etc but then in the race we were very good and consistent with the tyres. More or less, I think that I knew yesterday that the chance will come more in the race than in qualifying. For that I was confident and I’m happy with the result because I finished in front of Michael, obviously for the (Drivers’) championship, but in the Constructors championship we lost a little too many points.

Q: During the early stages, the first ten laps, you were dropping back quite a lot from behind the Ferraris.
FA:
Yes, I think the first set of tyres I put on the car had a little bit of front graining and I was a bit worried for the next stints but I think I started with new tyres and that was the problem. Then in the stints, in the pit stops, with scrubbed tyres, it was much more consistent.

Q: Michael, looking back, was there any other option than to come in at the same time as Felipe?
MS:
No, I don’t think so.

Q: But you were also catching Felipe before that safety car period; do you think there might have been another result if the safety car hadn’t come out?
MS:
Maybe, who knows? There’s no point in speculating on this. What you have to look at is the end result and it was a great race from Felipe.

Q: How close did you really come to overtaking Fernando?
MS:
We were pretty close in certain areas because there were a couple of moments when, obviously due to certain sectors of the circuit, Fernando had to protect his position and use different lines, which then allowed me to use different lines and then have attacking possibilities such as turns three, four, five into turn seven and then in the last corner. So there were a couple of moments but unfortunately, obviously not close enough.

Q: Were you planning that last charge to the finishing line or did it just happen?
MS:
You look for the opportunities. Obviously Fernando went very tight into the last corner to not leave any possibility there which is pretty fair, which means that the exit is very difficult so I was looking for my opportunity on the exit but then the straight is too short to the start and finish line to make up for it.

Q: And did the inside line going down into the first corner live up to your expectations?
MS:
In the end, yes. I lost a little bit probably because of less traction than you have available. I made it up in braking which got me very close to Felipe who, at that moment, took it a little bit easier as his position was safe so it just worked out.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Salvatore Zanca - AP) Fernando, after four races when you’ve been behind Michael now you’re ahead, 12 points with four races to go, is there a bit of relief in the season’s standings?
FA:
Not really. I think every weekend is a new challenge, a new opportunity to increase the gap or a new opportunity to close the gap and we need to do the maximum. Probably if I hadn’t had the problem in Hungary with the tyre, probably we are talking about 22 points, which is quite good with four races to go to the championship. I think you can increase the gap or you can lose everything very quickly these days in these races so it’s not comfortable any more, it’s just more satisfaction and I think the team is more confident arriving in the last part of the championship. This week we did it, we got in front of one of the Ferraris which in the last races we were too far behind. Obviously at Hockenheim I was a minute behind them.

Q: (Matthias Brunner – Motorsport Aktuell) Would it be fair to say that the mistake in T8 ultimately cost you second place?
MS:
I think you can say that if you want to, yeah.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado do Sao Paulo) Michael, why did you cross the finish line after the safety car went in so far behind Alonso?
MS:
So far, was it? I don’t know. I didn’t feel that first of all I had an opportunity, with my fuel load, with my tyre situation, to attack him, so I was actually making sure I didn’t lose… probably that’s what I was doing, not to be too close and lose the exit of the last corner and give Jenson a chance to overtake me, so this was the main strategy, because then I knew I should close down Fernando at some stage and take him at the pit stop.

Q: (Matthias Brunner – Motorsport Aktuell) The blistering on heavy fuel load, was that something you encountered in free practice already?
MS:
No.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Michael, in practice and qualifying you were by far the fastest in sector two whereas in the race it was just the opposite picture: you gained time in sector one and three but you lost time on Fernando in sector two. What was the reason?
MS:
It’s a good question, don’t know. The car was very difficult, particularly in turn eight for me, whereas in free practice, for sure I had a very good car there, so we need to check.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Michael, looking at the performances of Ferrari and Renault today and regarding the fact that you can test again, is it possible to catch up those 12 points in the last four races?
MS:
We can see that Felipe and myself are very strong. If we can maintain that without having the maybe unfortunate situations of safety cars coming out at the wrong moment, we could both be in front. And if I can manage to be a little bit quicker than Felipe then you can calculate yourself what that means.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) And same question to Fernando as well: how do you think the resumption of testing will change your position and is the 12 points enough to win in the end?
FA:
We will see. Nobody knows what is going to happen in the tests next week and then after the Monza race, there are another two test sessions for us. For Ferrari there are probably more. We will see. I think nobody knows. I think we are in Michelin’s and Bridgestone’s hands because at the end of the day, I think the cars are at their maximum development now. In the last part of the championship, I don’t you can find extra tenths or two tenths in the car, while the tyres can give you more than half a second so I think that as we have already said and we all know, the tyres will be the deciding point in the championship.

Q: (Matthias Brunner – Motorsport Aktuell) Felipe, congratulations. What are you doing tonight, are you staying in town or you flying out? Flying to Shanghai?
FM:
I’m staying in town, definitely, and I’m going to enjoy myself.

Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Felipe, on the radio, after passing the line, you said ‘thank-you, thank-you, sorry for Michael’. What were your feelings at that moment?
FM:
Sorry that Michael was behind Fernando. We are a team, for sure Michael is happy when I win the race but I’m also looking for him as well. I think we have a great relationship and for sure, if I’m out of the race, Michael will be sorry as well. So I was sorry because I had the feeling that maybe there was an opportunity to get even more points, so in the end, we will look for the next four races to put both cars in the front.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado do Sao Paulo) Considering the history we have in Formula One, were you worried that if Michael overtook Alonso, maybe you could let him win the race?
FM:
Yeah, and maybe not, you never know. As I said, it’s important to put both cars in the front and that’s the way it is. For sure, I’m really open to help Michael to win the championship, that’s not news.

Q: (Carlos Miquel Gomez – Diario As) Fernando, is this your best race of the year, because people usually talk of victories, but it was a very good race?
FA:
I don’t know. I think in Hungary I was a little bit better in race concerns and concentration and driving Hungary was more challenging with the wet and with all the problems we had there. I prefer my race in Hungary to this one.

Q: (Fabritsio Lazakis - Four Wheels Magazine) Michael, did you consider slowing down when the safety car came out so you could let Felipe finish his pit stop and then start yours?
MS:
No, it didn’t really make sense, because we had a certain gap to Fernando and I was hoping that this was enough to stay in front.