FIA Thursday press conference - Spain 06 May 2010
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), Pedro de la Rosa (BMW Sauber), Bruno Senna (HRT), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).
Q: A question to you all about the modifications you are getting here on your cars and what you are expecting they might do for the performance. Jaime, would you like to start.
Jaime Alguersuari: We have some upgrades for this race and hopefully we can see a big improvement for Barcelona. Hopefully we will have dry weather, so we can really see it and we need to see with the upgrades where the other teams are.
Q: Will it take you ahead of the next team ahead of you?
JA: If you analyse the last races and you see our qualifying we were two or three tenths off Q3, so I think with two or three tenths off Q3 it is quite nice to have a nice development. To arrive in Q3 would be a nice objective for us.
Q: Pedro, your modifications that you are expecting?
Pedro de la Rosa: Yes, as everyone really we have an aero package for Barcelona and we will just have to see how it goes Friday. We dont have any testing, so we can only guess. It is a decent step forward and very much needed.
Q: Is there something for reliability as you have had a pretty difficult time so far?
PdlR: Yeah, sure. We have a reliability upgrade from Ferrari and this is not a concern at all from now on, I think.
Q: Bruno, what are the modifications for HRT?
Bruno Senna: We dont have an aero update on the car. We are still a bit late on that side. We have a few chassis updates. We have managed finally to get the car on the rig and get some new dampers, new parts, that will make the car better to drive. I think the lap time gains wont be as large as the guys who are getting aero updates but it is good for us that we can make the tyres last a bit longer and it is a bit easier to drive the car. We have to see to quantify the lap time, we will only see tomorrow, but I think we can expect an update maybe for Silverstone and then we can look at a big step forward and we hope we can see that.
Fernando Alonso: I think as everybody we will introduce something here, but I dont think it is huge or that we change the car completely, so very small modifications, mainly aero updates and some improvements also in the engine in terms of reliability and hopefully we can be sure, as Pedro says, from now on we dont have any worries with the engine.
Q: Are you expecting it to change the hierarchy at all?
FA: No, I dont think that anything will change dramatically here. Maybe it will depend from circuit by circuit and not depend on the modifications. We saw in winter testing, the last test here, was nothing special for us. We were not competitive enough maybe in the last test in winter, so we expect a lot of work to do tomorrow and Saturday and change that situation and be as competitive as we were in some other places.
Q: Sebastian, Red Bull always bring loads of modifications to every race.
Sebastian Vettel: We try our best. Similar for all the teams in the top. You try to at least stay where you are if not make a step forward, so we brought some new parts. I think we are in the same situations as the others as I said trying to make a step forward. I had a haircut. I saw Fernando had one to. I dropped more than he did, so I hope that our car will make a bigger step than his and we can stay ahead, so we have to see. Obviously it is a lot of work tomorrow. Not quite sure if we are in the right country. Usually it is always sunny. It is quite cold I think for Spain, but if any, it should help us coming from the north. We are used to this kind of weather but wouldnt mind if it was a bit warmer, so what is wrong with your country?
FA: You have to go to my home town. It is hot.
Q: Another question to all of you. What is your target at this stage of the season? What are you looking to do to improve over the next few races? Jaime, would you like to start again.
JA: Well, for the moment I think the season has been quite good for us. We just need to keep on working like that and keep on being in the points. That is the aim for my team. That is my aim. I think we are capable of doing that and hopefully now we know the tracks more or less, we did the winter testing here, so it is a bit better than going to China or Malaysia or Australia where I have never been. Same job as we have done in the past and hopefully we are on the right path.
PdlR: The target is first to finish the race and regain the reliability we had in pre-season testing. After that we know if we finish the race we will be fighting for points, there or thereabouts, like we did in Australia. We have to do a good job, drive well, concentrated, have a good qualifying is so important these days with the current regulations and that is about it. Not make mistakes from my side and move forward.
BS: For us it is to gain big chunks of performance. I think we still have a lot to do in terms of development inside the team, even on the electronic control side, they need to be much more refined. But the focus is to continue finishing the races as it has been good for us the last two rounds. We finished with both cars and I think with more experience we can develop better but in terms of performance we need to look a bit further into the year.
FA: For us it is to maximise our potential in the coming races. I think in the first part of the championship we had a very strong car but maybe we did not take all the points we should, so no room for mistake in the next few races and recover the leadership of the championship as soon as possible.
SV: I think for us, like everyone, we had four races. One out of four was perfect. Two out of four we struggled for reliability, so we didnt finish where we wanted to and then another one out of four was chaotic. In the end I think we saved a couple of points at least. It was not our strongest weekend in China but at least some points, so it is a bit up and down. For here and for the next couple of races just trying to execute a clean Sunday. On Saturdays we have always been very strong, so just trying to convert Saturdays strength into a good Sunday result.
Q: Jaime, this is the first circuit you actually know. What sort of difference is that going to make?
JA: Well, definitely the Friday philosophy will change. I will go with a different mind in FP1 as I do not have to familiarize with the track or to learn the track. I can push from the first minute onwards, so that is mainly the best reason.
Q: Pedro, again it is a circuit you know very well but it hasnt always been lucky for you in F1. But tell us about it in other formulae.
PdlR: I think you dont want to know... It hasnt been a lucky track for me. I raced in 1991, it was my first ever race here in Formula Renault and I did not finish. My only race finish here is in 1999, my first ever race in Formula One. Since then for one reason or another I have not seen the chequered flag, so I am really looking forward to a change of luck here at home in front of my friends, my family. Dont forget my parents live just 10 minutes away, so they can listen to the engines every day, so I am really looking forward to this one and that is about it. Lets hope we revert the luck. We have been so lucky the first few races. I just want to change it a little bit.
Q: Change the luck.
PdlR: We need bad luck basically. We have had too much luck the first four.
Q: Bruno, do you feel this is a lucky circuit for you?
BS: Absolutely. Every time I have been here I have finished on the podium at least. I dont think this time I will be on the podium. If we can finish the race, have a strong race, it is good for us. We have to be realistic about our performance targets and try not to get in the way of these quick guys too much. In China we had a decent performance in the race and if the weather is playing up then we can still have a more fun race. It seems like the weather is like it is in England, so we might get lucky.
Q: Fernando, I want to remind you of a little story. A few years ago when we were going around on the drivers parade and we had just come from Imola where Michael (Schumacher) had just turned Imola red, we came here and you looked around and said, not so red this weekend and it was all blue and yellow. Whats it going to be on Sunday?
FA: I think it will be more blue.
Q: This is a good circuit for you. You have won here and had four podiums.
FA: Yes, it has been a great race for me in terms of emotions and in terms of results as well. I have been quite lucky always to be in a good position and I have been lucky always with Renault to have a competitive car here and with McLaren also one podium, so hopefully I can be on the podium again for another colour.
Q: Sebastian, youve had three poles, and actually won from the time that you didnt have pole position. The last nine races here have been won by the pole-winner, you might like to hear. So, how important is pole going to be this weekend?
SV: Pole is always important. As Pedro said, where you put the car on Saturday will determine your race result by quite a bit on Sunday, but the race is there to find out and there are no points on Saturday. I think we have had good Saturdays. In the race that I won in Malaysia I started third which is still at the front, so not too bad, but obviously the target is the same again: start from pole and try to win the race. I had a similar comment, I remember, last year in Istanbul where someone came to me on the grid and said the last five winners at Istanbul all came from pole position but it turned out to be different on that day. Statistics are nice for you guys but for us its more the day that counts and the moment, so we try to do our best. First of all we need to focus on tomorrow, trying to get every part to work and then we will see where we can put the car on Saturday on the grid and on Sunday we will have a long race, so it will be tough.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret LEquipe) Fernando, can you tell us your first memory of the Spanish Grand Prix and your best memory, and the evolution of the fans of motor racing in Spain?
FA: First memory was maybe 98 when I was close to signing for a Formula Nissan team in Spain, so I was preparing the move from go-karts to real cars. I watched that race, the Spanish Grand Prix, and then the evolution has been quite big here. I remember that seventy percent of the grandstand was foreign people coming from the centre of Europe, mostly Germans, so it was not a completely Spanish Grand Prix, I would say. Now its very different. I think the country gets involved in this week, so you can watch any channel on TV and see how the preparations are coming on and the previews, every night, every afternoon on TV, in newspapers, so there are very few people in Spain now who dont know that the Spanish Grand Prix is this weekend. So people are talking about Formula One, about tyres, about strategies, about all these things and this is very, very different, and I think its increasing every year. This is a very nice feeling. Best memory for me was 2006 when I won the race because it was the only win that Ive had at home, so hopefully this year either here or in Valencia I will dream of victory again.
Q: (Carlos Miquel Diario AS) Fernando, Pedro and Jaime; its the first time that there have been three Spanish Formula One drivers in the press conference. Whats the best quality of your compatriots, Pedro, Fernando, Jaime and do you think that Spain could win a championship of nations with the same car?
PdlR: OK, age first, yeah? Man, youve asked a lot of questions there, eh? I think that we could definitely win, for sure. We are the Spanish Armada. Its renowned to be strong. It would be fun, it would be fun actually. I think Germany would be quite tough to beat, especially, but anyway, we would be there. On the other side of the question, dont forget that Fernando and Jaime are rivals. Theyre Spanish but it doesnt mean that I (dont) want badly to beat them as well. I am really very impressed by Jaimes maturity for his age. I think hes really handled coming into Formula One in a very well organised and very mature way, so Im very impressed. What can I say about Fernando that you dont know? We know how tough he is and how hard he is to beat in the same car, so he will be a little bit of ahead of me, so I hope that I can get close to him in the race but hes a tough cookie, eh?
FA: More or less the same as Pedros answer. I think now that Spain could be favourite in this hypothetical championship, with Germany as well and Brazil may be.
BS: Thank you.
FA: As Pedro said, Jaime is very mature and I think approaching the races in a very good way, trying to learn as many things as possible with no mistakes. The time will come to him because hes very young and has a lot of time to show more potential. And with Pedro, I think hes a great driver. I had the pleasure to work with him at McLaren, so I know first-hand how good he is and all the experience that he had in his career and now hes ready to use it. Unfortunately this year the car is not perfectly OK in terms of performance, but hopefully it can improve and Pedro will show how good a driver he is.
JA: Well, I think it would be great to drive with them, because I could obviously learn so many things with the same car, the same situation. I would say a Spanish team would be quite strong in this instance, and obviously it would be a pleasure to drive with them. I could see so many things that I cant now. Its also quite strange to think about this. I think they are both great drivers and they have experience which I am lacking. I have nothing to add about Pedro; hes very mature and very experienced and he could show me so many things about Formula One. And Fernando has always been a reference for us, for me especially when I was go-karting in Spain and outside when I was watching him in Formula One, so it would be nice to do this, yes.
Q: (Alvaro Faes La Nueva Espana) Fernando, can you tell us what your feelings are when you drive in this Spanish Grand Prix and you see the huge amount of fans that are filling the grandstand, and what do you expect in this first year of you wearing the Ferrari colours and the fact that there is a new T-shirt from Ferrari in blue? I dont know if you have seen it.
FA: Yes. Emotions are always very unique and very different every year, even if you try to remember what emotion I had last year when I was going out in FP1. Its difficult to maybe compare to this year, because every year there seem to be more and more emotional laps: the first laps on Friday and also quite intense laps on Sunday as well when either you start or you finish the race and you see all the people enjoying the show. So these are very, very important days for me and I try to enjoy them as much as I can, because I know that Im in a privileged position, with all the supporters here that maybe I wont experience any more in the rest of the championship when I go to some other races. Maybe Monza will also be special this year for me and for us and for the team. Regarding the colours, as I said before, I expect a lot of red in the grandstands but the majority will be blue because there is always a good percentage of the grandstand that comes from my region, from Asturias, and Im sure they will come with their blue flags and blue colours, plus the new Ferrari T-shirt that is blue which will hopefully help all these new people buying blue Ferrari shirts.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, have you unwound in your mind the start in China and how to recover from that mistake? And how much can you gain with the F-duct on this long straight?
FA: Yeah, the start in China was quite good. I overtook two cars. I think I could have overtaken more cars if I had started a little bit earlier but I will not try, hopefully. I think it was a mistake on my part, a big mistake, so this is already in the past and Im sure that I wont do it again. Hopefully, I will try not to repeat the same mistake again or any other mistake, because its not the way you fight for the championship, but then thanks to the chaotic conditions in the race we were able to recover some positions and get some good results, so I was lucky at the end of the race to have that strange race. In terms of the F-duct, we will try some more parts tomorrow. Its not decided yet if we will use it or not on Saturday and Sunday, so tomorrow is another important day of evaluation of the system and we will see how it works.
Q: (Joris Fioriti AFP) Sebastian, youve had the best car, but youve only won one race out of four, so now the championship starts. Do you think you can make it in this new championship?
SV: Well, thats our target. I think I am in the wrong place if I dont believe in us and in myself. Yes, the first four races were a bit up and down. We had only one win but in the end thats history, we cant change it any more. We have to look ahead and thats all we try to focus on first of all tomorrow and then Saturday and Sunday and whatever comes after that is of zero importance now. All eyes are now on this weekend, so we try to go step by step and I think thats the only way that you can be consistent and the only way that you can ultimately fight for a championship.