FIA post-qualifying press conference - Belgium 15 Sep 2007
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1m45.994s; 2nd Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m46.011s; 3rd Fernando Alonso (McLaren), 1m46.091s.
Q: First all Ferrari front row, and another first for you, fastest in qualifying, quickest in Q2 for the first time this year.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, it was good, but actually in the last qualifying, after the first run I found the car was not the same any more as it was. I think there is a little problem at the rear of the car but I still decided to try and improve my lap time and I managed to do it, but it doesnt feel exactly right. But we can check it later. Im happy to be on the pole, its good here, and it was a good result for the team.
Q: Well, a demanding circuit on which to have such a problem, particularly after the incidents at Monza last week. Tell us about the state of your neck at the moment and indeed, your love of this circuit.
KR: No, the neck is OK. For sure its not 100 percent right but it should be fine. The circuit is very nice. I think most people like it here, its a proper circuit for Formula One cars, long corners and its very flowing, excellent to drive. I always like it here and it seems to be very good for me.
Q: What a difference a week makes compared with the Ferrari performance at Monza, relative to McLaren-Mercedes. Here at Spa, the car looks great.
KR: Yeah, we knew that Monza was going to be a bit tricky for us and this is a bit more (similar) to Turkey, Istanbul, so we expect to be strong again here, but its going to be very close tomorrow and we just to need the best that we can. I think we are in a good position with both cars, so we will see what we can do.
Q: Felipe, the first Ferrari front row of the season. Its been a little bit of an up and down weekend. It began with an off on cold tyres yesterday morning but here you are on the front row.
Felipe Massa: Yeah, that was a small issue, just on the first lap on Friday but today I think we are back in the competition, especially looking at the last race where McLaren were a bit stronger. Here we look pretty competitive. Its pretty close, isnt it? Qualifying was so close between the drivers and I just almost I just locked the wheels in the last chicane where I think I lost a little bit which maybe caused a bit of a problem but anyway, Im happy with the lap and Im happy with the car as well, also with the strategy.
Q: That last chicane, and indeed the last sector perhaps defining the lap for many drivers. Its a long lap here, maybe difficult to keep the tyres perfect throughout the lap on that quick lap.
FM: Yeah, for sure, I was pretty happy on my lap until I got to the last corner and maybe I just was a little bit too enthusiastic and I tried to gain even more lap time but I lost a little bit. Anyway, I think it was a good lap, its not so easy to keep the tyres working perfectly, from the beginning to the end, but it seems to work in a reasonable way.
Q: And how do you enjoy the fast corners here in the Ferrari?
FM: Well, its very good. For sure Eau Rouge isnt a very demanding corner any more but we have many many others like turn 10, like many quick changes of direction which I enjoy a lot, this kind of circuit, and its always nice to come back to Spa.
Q: Fernando, what happened on your first run there, going into that tight right hander?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, I lost control of the car completely. I spun and the first set of tyres were just gone at that moment. I had only one chance, at the end, with the last new set of tyres, only one opportunity, so I was a little bit worried that something might happen on that single lap. Maybe my position was not good enough, but everything went smoothly on the lap, with no more problems and I was lucky to make the last lap good enough to be in the front.
Q: Whats the feeling within the team regarding the Ferrari performance here, how quick they are, and how quick you can be in race conditions?
FA: We are quite confident. To be honest, as they said, we all knew that Spa was maybe a little bit more like Turkey and we saw the Ferraris very strong there, so we expected them to be strong and fighting for the win tomorrow. But we made some improvements on the car from Turkey as well and it should pay off tomorrow in the race. I dont know if we can fight with them for the victory but it will not be an easy one for them, as it was in Turkey. I hope.
Q: Kimi, obviously in a great position, but an interesting first corner at Spa, perhaps the most interesting of the year, that tight right hander.
KR: Yeah, its always going to be a good challenge, not so much when youre in front, but in the middle and towards the back, something usually goes wrong there every year, so it will be interesting, but I think we should have a good start and we try to go from there. Hopefully everything goes right.
Q: Kimi, well done, the speeds have been pretty remarkable around here, the lap times.
KR: I dont know. Compared to maybe some past years, but the circuit has been changed, so its been pretty difficult to compare.
Q: But the car has been perfect?
KR: Not all weekend, but I think today its been pretty good. We had some problems on the second attempt. The rear of the car doesnt feel good, but hopefully we can find the issue and fix it.
Q: Its a very fast circuit, and if you have a problem with the rear of the car, that surely must affect your confidence.
KR: Yeah, but I just decided to try and improve and see what happens. There was nothing that we could do. We tried to look at the data but it wasnt so easy. Once we get the car back, we will try to find the problem and fix it. I just tried to do my best and it was good but the car wasnt as good as in the first run.
Q: And youre pretty confident for tomorrow?
KR: Yeah, I think so. We are usually strong in the race, so I am hopeful that we can have a strong race. Anything can happen but we will do the best that we can.
Q: Is it possible to be doing a one stop strategy here?
KR: I think it is. Maybe somebody will try, maybe not. I dont know.
Q: A big difference between the hard and soft tyres?
KR: You seem to get a bit more grip from the soft tyre, but I think in race conditions the hard tyres are going to be the better choice. I think in qualifying the tyres were working well.
Q: Felipe, interesting overtaking Lewis at the start of that session. I know it doesnt mean that much.
FM: Its always nice to overtake. Practice for the race.
Q: You had the problem on Friday; did you lose any time, have you been playing catch-up since then?
FM: Yeah, we lost time, I didnt do the whole session but it didnt affect our performance for sure. For sure, also, the session we did here some months ago was also important to find the right direction. So I dont think we needed so much time to learn the track. It was only just to improve the set-up, small modifications and thats it.
Q: On your first run, it looked as if you were just a little bit late on the brakes for La Source.
FM: Yeah, I had a bad lap, but then on the last attempt I managed to do a good lap and I think I was a little bit too aggressive at the last corner where maybe I lost important time to fight for pole position.
Q: Its seems its quite possible to be a little bit late there as weve seen quite a few drivers doing that.
FM: It is possible for sure, its a very long straight, you arrive very quickly and theres very hard braking. For sure the grip level there is also not very very high, so its always possible to lock wheels and lose important time.
Q: Fernando, you lost half-an-hour this morning with an oil leak. How much did that lose you in terms of set-up time for this afternoon?
FA: Nothing. It was not a big issue because normally at 11 oclock on a Saturday morning you learn not too much to be honest because the track temperature is completely different at qualifying. So, you know, we programmed to do two runs yesterday and we did those two runs. So more or less we did not lose any time.
Q: So the car feels as good as it could do?
FA: Yes. There is always room to improve but it is difficult. We are managing a little bit of oversteer or understeer. You know when you drive so close to the limit as we drive in qualifying if you improve the understeer the car will be loose at the rear, if you improve the rear the car will understeer. The drivers, remember, are never happy with the car balance. There is always something to improve. But from yesterday it is much, much better and we should have a good race pace in our car, I hope.
Q: From a mental point of view, when you have a spin, as you did, how do you pull yourself together for the next run?
FA: Well, you have only one chance and you are P9 or P10, so you need to complete the next lap with no mistakes and with no problems of losing too much time. So probably you dont risk as much as you would risk if you have a set time already and it is quite comfortable. So I tried to do my best, the lap was clean enough with no problems and I managed to be in the front. But for sure I was not very calm in qualifying because the spin makes things quite stressful after that.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, considering the whole season, was this your best qualifying with Ferrari so far?
KR: It is difficult to say, it is a different place, I have had some good ones before, so overall maybe yes but only the last one really counts so it was good.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) Kimi, quite often in qualifying you have not been able to get everything out of the car. What made the difference this time, so you could get the maximum out of the car?
KR: I think that the balance was very good this morning already. This makes your life a bit easier when you go into qualifying the car should be pretty good. Sometimes we havent really been able to do that for one reason or another. It still wasnt perfect but I was able to try the best I want and it has not been too bad.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Kimi, you said you had some problems in your last try. But still in the first sector you were three-tenths faster than anybody else, so how did the problems affect your driving?
KR: The rear didnt feel as good as it should, it felt too soft really and the first sector is mainly a really straight line. There is really only one corner, so for sure it doesnt affect there as much as in the middle.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Fernando, everything that happened in Paris how has it affected your mood and the mood of the team during this weekend?
FA: Nothing for me and for the team I dont think that many things changed. We are all here in the race preparing for qualifying and the strategy for tomorrow. Everybody is very focused in the race weekend and we try to win this one as we try to win every race. I didnt feel any change.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Fernando, I understand what you are saying, but today Max Mosley was so concerned about the situation you are in that he said the FIA will be monitoring carefully what is going on in McLaren. Are you really concerned, really afraid, that the team could not support you until the end?
FA: No, not at all. I am not concerned, I am fully convinced and totally happy with the teams behaviour in this situation. They always said that they will do the best they can to win races and to help both drivers to win races and championships. That is the way it is going now, so I am not concerned.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, this morning Ron explained what happened on the morning in Hungary. Could you please give us your version, just what you can say to us about it?
FA: I have no comment on this. Everybody speaks to everybody, speculates about everything We are here racing, so I think it is the first thing we have to talk about. If Ron says something it is because he wanted, if Max said something today it is because he wanted. But I am a racing driver. I will answer questions about tyres, engines and things like that.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Felipe, you are in a very difficult situation because the first corner is very tight here and most Grands Prix are decided in the first corner. Considering Kimi has more points than you in the championship, there is a very small window for the championship. What do you want to do tomorrow is the first thing?
FM: To try to win.
Q: And then?
FM: And then we will see. Then we have three more races.
Q: (Miran Alisic POP TV) I have a question for the three of you regarding racing. We are having a situation where Ferrari have won the Constructors Championship actually and McLaren are out of the Constructors Championship. Is it going to affect your racing at all because you are now free of thinking of the Constructors Championship?
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Fernando, I hear what you said earlier. But it is not speculation what Ron said earlier. He held a briefing with the British media and during that briefing he confirmed that he had an exchange with you at the Sunday morning of the Hungarian Grand Prix at which you informed him that you had information that would be damaging for the team and were threatening to go to the FIA with it. I was just wondering what your response to that would be and why you would threaten your team principal like that?
FA: I will not comment. That is what you think.