FIA post-qualifying press conference - Malaysia 07 Apr 2007
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m35.043s; 2nd Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes), 1m35.310s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1m35.479s.
Q: Felipe, problems in Melbourne but you well and truly made up for them today.
Felipe Massa: Yes, Im quite happy. Unfortunately Melbourne didnt end as I had hoped. It ended up that I started at the back but Im not supposed to start completely last on the grid but here it looks just a little bit different, so Im just looking forward to having a good race tomorrow. The race will be very very tough. Hopefully I can fight very hard from the beginning to the end and hopefully I can stay in my position, so it will be a dream.
Q: A great qualifying lap by the look of it.
FM: Yeah, for sure, at the end of the day the McLaren was really really competitive, so we expect them to be competitive but they were really strong in qualifying and it just makes us work even harder to try to have a good race tomorrow but for sure, Fernando and Lewis showed that they are very competitive.
Q: How good was that qualifying lap by your standards?
FM: It was a great lap. I just tried to do everything I could at the last attempt. At the second attempt I had traffic so I couldnt improve my lap time and then the last one was just a clean lap. There was just a slight shower, I thought it was going to be a problem at the end of the lap but it just held off at the right time and it helped me a lot but it was a great lap.
Q: Fernando, on the front row again and this time splitting the two Ferraris.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, I think it has been a good day for us. To be on the first row again for the second consecutive race is good news for us, I think. We are starting from nothing, from zero and we are growing up together with Bridgestone and we are learning more about the tyres, learning about the car as well, and as I said: two races, two times on the first row, hopefully we can complete the job tomorrow.
Q: We saw Kimi get away from you in Melbourne; how do you see the race going tomorrow?
FA: Well, we will see. I think we have to be realistic and see how our pace - maybe on the long runs - is not as good as the Ferrari but they seem very very constant on the long runs but we have to say also that we improved the car last week. Looking in that area, in that direction and we saw a much more competitive package this weekend in the McLaren Mercedes car than we saw in Melbourne so I expect the race will be more competitive than Melbourne and hopefully we will have some good fights with the Ferraris.
Q: Kimi, it looked as though you had a little bit of a difficult build-up to qualifying, a bit of a question mark over your engine after the Australian Grand Prix. Talk us through the weekend from your point of view?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yes, its been a little bit guessing whats going to happen but the engine is OK in the end, so theres nothing wrong with it. It has been a little bit difficult to get the car right but it isnt too bad. I think over one lap I am suffering more than over the race distance so I think for the race it will be OK. I was expecting to have a little bit of difficulty. We will see how it goes tomorrow. I think we will have a strong race anyhow.
Q: A lot of the drivers are talking about changing conditions and how difficult it is for you to get the cars set up for the Sepang circuit. Can you talk a little bit about that?
KR: The conditions when I tested were a bit different. The car was good but it only needs a little change on the surface and it can be much more difficult. It has been slightly hard but anyhow we are in a good position for the race which is the main thing and we will see what happens tomorrow.
Q: Give us an idea what its going to be like in the race tomorrow in this Malaysian heat?
FM: It will be like racing inside a sauna! Its going to be very hard for all of us. I think everybody has been trying to prepare our shape for the race during this last two weeks but it will be a very tough race, we will lose a lot of water so its important to prepare everything we can and drink a lot tonight to be 100 percent for tomorrow. Drink water not other things!
Q: Felipe, this pole must be a relief after Australia.
FM: Yeah, after what happened in the first race Im quite happy. The whole weekend the car really responded very well in every practice session, so qualifying was really great for me, a big fight with Fernando so he really did a good job in qualifying compared to also this morning they were quite strong but in qualifying they showed very good performance so tomorrow will be very very difficult but Im quite happy to set another pole position, especially at the beginning of the championship and seeing what happened in the last race so hopefully we can carry on like that.
Q: Fastest in both sessions yesterday but not this morning; were you quite happy this morning?
FM: Yeah, this morning was not so bad, just working on the car for the race, still not really 100 percent preparation for the qualifying so I think it was a good morning and it was a great afternoon as well, so hopefully tomorrow we can carry on like that.
Q: Tell us about the track conditions during qualifying?
FM: Well, for sure the temperature here is getting high quite quickly in the morning already so we saw this morning that we already had 48 degree surface and in the qualifying it was already 50 so its quite difficult to drive in these conditions. The car is sliding quite a lot and its not so easy, so I think its quite difficult to put the lap together, so fortunately I could manage to put my lap together in the last attempt and Im quite happy for that.
Q: Fernando, are you happy with the set-up now?
FA: Yes, I am. I think weve made some improvements in the car, last night and again improvements between P3 and qualifying and everything seems to work very well and I think we have arrived at 100 percent of our potential in this qualifying and 100 percent for tomorrow, so just fingers crossed and the race should be OK.
Q: And this morning?
FA: This morning was OK, it was fine. As I said, we improved the car overnight and I was just really working with the set-up and we put everything together for Q1 and it seems to work as I said, Im very very happy with the work the team has done and we are here. It seems a little bit closer to Ferrari so everything is going in the right direction.
Q: Kimi, you werent happy with the set-up yesterday; were you happier today, even though you didnt do that many laps this morning?
KR: Yeah, we needed to be a little bit on the safe side with the engine. It didnt help but I think the car is better now than it was yesterday, still a bit difficult for one lap but I think third place is a good start place for the race so I think we can expect to have a good race.
Q: What about the heat out there?
KR: Its hot but its the same for everybody, its pretty normal.
Q: Doesnt affect you badly?
KR: Youre sweating more but I always sweat a lot so it doesnt affect my driving. I think the race is going to be hard anyway, but I think it will be OK.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi are you surprised you are not in the first row?
KR: No, I kind of expected it as I had some difficulties yesterday, so havent really been happy with the car for one lap but I think it is okay where start now, we are getting there.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) How does the situation of the engine reflect and effect in this mornings practice when you needed more laps to find the balance of the car?
KR: like I said we hoped to have more, but we are in the situation we are in and it was the best solution. Like I said, third place is okay for the race and its a long race and so many things can happen so we are going to hard in the race and see where we end up.
Q: (Mathias Brunner Motorsport Aktuell) Felipe, did I understand you correctly that during your laps there was some rain?
FM: Yes, I had some kind of small shower on the last sector and also going into turn seven, as well; it was raining a little bit. I think it was the same for everybody, but we were fighting for improving the lap time and I was wondering if we would arrive in the last corner and there was going to be a big rain, but it was not the case and it did not affect my lap. So it was good.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Felipe, it is not your first pole, but is it a little bit different from the others because it could be very important in your effort to win the world championship?
FM: Well, I think every pole position is important. I mean the pole position I had last year was really nice and very important for me as well, but for sure to have a pole now at the beginning of the championship is important to try and be at the front and bring home as many points as possible for the fight at the end. So I am looking forward to carrying on like that. In Australia, I think I could have been fighting for the pole position. Kimi did a great job there but I was able to do a good job as well. I am happy now I am here, but we need to keep working hard and keep doing our job to put both cars at the front like we did here.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Felipe, do you think you can do the same race that Kimi did in Australia?
FM: I hope so. It would be fantastic. I am going to try and do the best I can. If it is like the last race, the race last year or whatever, I am going to try to do my best like always.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Felipe, considering the pace Ferrari had in the last race, there is a chance you could be fighting your team-mate tomorrow. Do you have any guidance from the team for your behaviour on the track?
FM: Well, for sure, we are both working for the team and to put the team in the best position and best condition for the championship. For sure, we are both working in the track and you know he wants to be in front of me and I want to be in front of him, but I think we need to use our brains not to make any problems for the team. That is the most important thing.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi Tuttosport) Fernando, McLaren seems closer to Ferrari than in Australia. Do you think that the new rule about the floor has changed the situation for you?
FA: I dont know, I dont think so, to be honest. It is more due to the job the engineers and the designers did last week when we tested here last week in Malaysia and we improved the car a little bit and that we are a bit closer maybe. I dont think it is in any penalty in the Ferrari car. I think it is a little improvement in our car and also in Australia in qualifying we seemed very competitive so I think tomorrow will be much better in terms of resolving (things) in terms of where we are compared to them.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, today you used the famous engine of Melbourne. How did it feel and are you confident, or do you think that you may think more of the championship that this single race?
KR: I think the engine is okay. You always try to score as many points as you can, not just for here but also for the championship and you never know what is going to happen. So we will push as hard as we can and in some part of the race, of course, we will make a new plan if it is necessary.
Q: (Marco DeglInnocenti La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, do you think that Ferrari could still have some technical problems again tomorrow?
FA: I dont know. I think anyone can have problems tomorrow. It is a very tough race with, I think, very tough conditions out there not only for the drivers, physically, but also for the cars, the tyres and it can be a very long race. What is for sure is that we have to be as close to the Ferrari as we can be and like this we will push 100 per cent and leave them to push 100 per cent too if we are close enough.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Felipe, who do you fear most Fernando or Kimi?
FM: In which sense?! I fear both. They are both strong drivers and they are pretty much going to try everything in the race. So I fear everybody behind me.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, which is best here second or third place?
KR: I dont know. Sometimes, the third place is slightly better for the start. It depends on the circuit and I dont know if it makes much difference here to be on the inside or the outside.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Fernando, even if Lewis Hamilton does show his potential during these days, you for sure are number one in your team, twice world champion, so it is a clear ranking. Can it become a problem for Ferrari to have two drivers of equal status during the championship?
FA: I dont think so. I think at end of the day the good cars and the good drivers will be at the front and you know there is no question about that. Ferrari showed their potential and showed (it, during) the last part of winter in Australia they were more ready than everybody else and they won that race with 20 seconds ahead and Felipe had a problem there and here they are both together first and third. I dont think there will be a problem. And in our team, also, I think, even I have number one on my car at the end of the day in terms of car set up and all the things we have available, we have both drivers the same so I dont think it will make a huge difference.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, are you surprised the way Renault are struggling since you left.
FA: No (laughter). Well, you know, I think we have been testing for months in the winter and you could see that Ferrrai was a little bit ahead of everybody and then McLaren, BMW and sometimes Renault were fighting. For sure, they have had a very bad weekend here, but they will come strong again in Bahrain, because they were quick in the test there, so seems they have had a bad qualifying (here). So, I am sorry for them.