FIA Thursday press conference - Europe 23 Jun 2011
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers - Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT), Mark Webber (Red Bull).
Q: Jaime, pit lane to eighth place in Canada. You must have been pretty pleased with that?
Jaime Alguersuari: Yeah it was a good race. We did a good job by changing the set-up for the race on Sunday. We knew it was going to rain and the possibilities to score some points, to finish the race, were difficult starting from the pit-lane. But with all the changes we did for the race it was worth doing it. I felt much better with the car, with the set-up, with everything on the race but not on Friday or even on qualifying. It was a good race from the strategy side, from the team, from my side so I was quite happy, quite pleased with the race yes.
Q: This time last year you finished 13th here. What are your feelings about this race?
JA: Well you know we have some new things coming on the car. I think I am feeling a bit better with the tyres, with the car, with the set-up, a better understanding of it. Hopefully all the things that we have new for this weekend they work all together and we can have a bit of extra pace as well and we can finish in the points. That will be the main target for sure.
Q: Daniel Ricciardo always seems to do something on Friday morning. How much is he a threat? Do you feel he is waiting in the wings ready to grab your seat in case things go wrong?
JA: No, I think it is interesting as he gets to try different things on the car and at the end, still this year, I did not find the best way to improve the car, the performance, and am just still learning about the set-up, about the tyres, about so many things on the car. It is interesting that he also gets to know the car, to try to improve things on the car. I think it is quite interesting and it makes things a bit easier, a bit faster. But still I am not 100 per cent happy with everything going on. I think Canada was very important for us and we are finding our way to the best performance.
Q: Vitantonio, a good 13th place in Montreal. It doesnt sound fantastic but 13th place is pretty good for an HRT car in the last race.
Vitantonio Liuzzi: Definitely, for us it was a good achievement. It was a big target for us. We know that in dry conditions that target would be pretty impossible if the race goes normally. But everybody did a great job. We have to use that kind of situation where it is a bit of a crazy race like happened in Montreal to use it and optimise everything and the result came. Thirteenth position is the best result of the Hispania team and our target is half done as we did a step forward in terms of the Constructors Championship and we are pushing really hard. We bring also some development every race. We had a good one for Montreal. It helped already in the dry as we have been ahead of Marussia Virgin in qualifying and in the race the crazy conditions helped us. But everybody did a really good job in the pit-stop, in strategy, and I think everybody has to be pretty pleased as I think everybody did a good job for the target we want to achieve this year.
Q: Is Marussia Virgin where you have to look? You cannot look any further, Lotus?
VL: Of course our target, we said from the beginning of the season, is to try to beat both, Virgin and Lotus. We know it is not going to be easy but thats what we are aiming for. Lotus is a bit further ahead in terms of lap time in dry condition but the programme for the championship is quite interesting. A lot of development should be coming soon. We are pushing day and night. It is not easy when you are a back marker but you are still fighting with other teams and you dont have to give up.
Q: And you have got new bits here I think?
VL: We have some little things coming here in terms of the mechanical side but we are aiming for a bigger one for Silverstone.
Q: Kamui, a year ago from 18th place on the grid to seventh here. A typical Kamui type of drive I think?
Kamui Kobayashi: I think it is another (inaudible word) race and I think it is most important how we handle strategy and tyre management, but I think this year it is different tyre with Pirelli. I think I try to do my best but I think last year I made a mistake in qualifying. This year I try to do the best in qualifying but we have to fight for the best strategy in the race.
Q: Qualifying is really where you have got to aim at isnt it? We see you regularly racing very, very hard but if you could just move up the grid a bit it is going to make it easier.
KK: Yes, I think so. We try to do always the best in qualifying. But I think this year with Pirelli tyres it is very important we manage race pace so we are definitely focussing more on race than qualifying.
Q: You have been in a points-winning position in every single race so far this year. Where do you think you can end up? Whats your target now?
KK: I dont know. I always want to get points. At the moment we manage to score points except Melbourne. But I think we have done a really great job. The team are doing good and still we are confident until the end of the season to be in the points.
Q: Do you think you can.....
KK: I try too much.
Q: You try too much?
KK: Not too much, but I mean I see if we can score points, like now. I think it is going to be enough.
Q: Fernando, you were talking earlier this week about the significance of Valencia for you. It is a significant race or a significant town or location for you?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah. Why?
Q: In that you signed your contract with Ferrari here. Your first appearance with Ferrari was the Ferrari day at the local circuit here.
FA: Yes, Valencia has been always the debut for Formula One, good years 2005 and 2006 for me. The first time in Ferrari in winter 2010. I did some shows here. First time with McLaren in 2007 on the streets so it has always been a nice feeling here in this city. I raced for a Valencian team in Formula Nissan or F3000 so quite close relationship with this town.
Q: But its a circuit that you havent necessarily done very well at in this European Grand Prix. Best of sixth in 2009.
FA: Yes, in 2008 I had accident first lap with (Kazuki) Nakajima. In 2009 sixth and 2010 safety car period, safety car line one.
Q: So do you feel it owes you a better result, a more significant result?
FA: No, obviously, we see you need to be competitive, you need to be lucky and where there are safety car periods you need to be in the right place at the right moment. As happened also in Canada with all the rain, all the red flags so all the crazy races you need a little bit of luck and I think last year we missed a little of that. Hopefully this year we can be competitive. Thats the most important thing and try to get this podium here in Valencia which is important for us, important for me as well, and hopefully we can make a good show for all the fans on Sunday. This is a circuit where the attendance is not great in past years and there has been a lot of effort from the circuit and from everybody to get maximum fans through the circuit this weekend so we need to put on a good show for them and hopefully they will enjoy the race.
Q: But you feel with a bit of luck the Ferrari is a winning car?
FA: At the moment it is difficult to win a race. There is no doubt that in Monaco and Canada we had the opportunity to win the race. Thats a fact. It is not a dream. We were very close. We were in the first row of the grid after qualifying in Canada and we were 10centimetres from winning in Monaco, finishing second, so it is true in the last two races the trend is quite good. We improve and we seem to be more competitive. Valencia, the characteristics of the circuit are a little bit similar to Canada and Monaco, so maybe here is another good opportunity but we also cannot forget we are one second behind sometimes in qualifying and with this it is difficult to win.
Q: Mark, you didnt seem to share our excitement after Canada. Now youve seen the race again, if you have seen it again, did you think it was a good race?
Mark Webber: Yeah, it was a good race. Actually I have not watched it all myself to be honest. I think mixed conditions always provide good F1 races. We know that. It is easy to confuse things for the drivers, for the teams, making the right strategy, when to go at the right time and things like that and no-one expected to see what Jenson (Button) did at the end there. It was a very good drive from him so it was unusual to have the podium positions all up in the air still with three laps to go. That was the case in Canada so it was quite unusual so yeah, it was good.
Q: This one. Obviously front row here last year and then your accident which I am sure youd prefer just to put behind you, wouldnt you?
MW: Yeah, it was a nasty one. We know that. The next race weekend I did okay so I think I have done a bit of racing since then. Looking forward to hitting the track tomorrow and getting on with it.
Q: There are some regulation changes coming up. How much do you think those are going to affect Red Bull Racing.
MW: I dont think they will make the car any faster, but I think it is the same for everybody. We have got to adapt again, get used to it, but it is nothing new for our team to adapt to a change in regulations. All the teams have to adapt and see what they can do to do the best out of it. I dont think it is going to turn the field upside down. I think everyone will still be in reasonable shape. McLaren and Ferrari are fast, we know that. We are quick but the changes, whether they will turn the championship around, I think it is unlikely.
Q: And DRS and KERS. Do you think it is going to make a difference to overtaking here?
MW: It is a very sensitive track to both of those, probably the most that we have been to. Yes, you need to have both working and it is track where there are two DRS zones here. We need to see how the first one goes, but it should be pretty straightforward in terms of how they work in the race.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, we saw that in qualifying in Canada you were pretty close to Vettel and here, with the outlawing of changing engine mapping between qualifying and the race, some are feeling that Red Bull may be penalised so do you think that this is your chance to try to get pole?
FA: I dont know. Hopefully. I dont think it will massively change qualifying. I think Sebastian was quickest in qualifying. Its true that it wasnt one second, it was two tenths, but he was the quickest in wet conditions at the start of the race. We were following him and he was nearly eight tenths or nine tenths quicker than us on Sunday with race mapping. We saw a superior car at that moment, a dominant car, the Red Bull, in qualifying and in the race as well. It seems that sometimes they push a little bit more, sometimes a little bit less. Because of that, in races you seem a little bit closer. We are not desperate to get pole here or to win this race. We need to know where we are at the moment; we need to keep working, to keep working in the direction we took two races ago, as I said. It seems that we are more competitive but we cannot under-estimate or forget how quick our opponents are.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Mark, whats your opinion about this: suddenly the officials have discovered that the exhaust systems that all the teams are using are illegal.
MW: Theres always something floating around in our sport, isnt there? We know that. We had the double diffuser a few years ago; some people say its right, some people say its wrong and now we obviously have the exhaust thing which is their interpretation. Obviously its not within the spirit of the rules so we change the rules. Obviously it would have been very, very cost effective for all of the teams to know this before the season started because everyone was already looking at it at the end of last year. Obviously, you look at the people from Enstone [Lotus-Renault] and those guys have done a huge, huge job, packaging their car and designing their concept around something like this working. So its not a trivial thing to throw into the middle of the season for the teams but they will all adjust. Everyone is in the same boat so yeah, [change it] either at the start or at the end [of the season], but in the middle - it makes it a little bit more difficult, but its the same for everyone. Were not overly concerned. Im not sitting here saying they shouldnt have done it, its just that its not a cheap exercise for people to make adjustments off the back of that.
Q: (Julien Febreau - LEquipe) Jaime, what is your situation with your Toro Rosso? There are rumours that Daniel Ricciardo could jump into the car to race even this year, or alternatively, if we listen to your boss, there is maybe a chance of you driving for Red Bull for you or Sébastien next year? What is your situation for the rest of this season and what about next year?
JA: Well, at the moment Ive said so many times that I think both of us and the team are still developing the car, still working on the car a lot. As I said before, I still have to learn lots of things, just to develop lots of things on the set-up of the car to feel better. I dont know about the situation regarding the future, because I always try to do the best that I can at every single race. I try to enjoy it because this is my job and if I was not enjoying my job, I wouldnt be here. This is the first thing to do and yeah, Im quite relaxed, quite confident because I know what I can do, what are my possibilities and at the moment the situation is what it is. Im here with Toro Rosso, a fantastic team, a good family and lots of things to learn still, lots of things to see, to develop, to work on and as I said, I hope to be in this race again. I hope to do a good race. Im still learning, still developing the car until the end of the year.
Q: (Alex Popov - RTR) Kamui, two weeks ago, you drove a beautiful race but after the finish, two different drivers - Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld - accused you of deliberately braking or at least lifting off just in front of them. Your reaction, and I will also ask Mark to comment, because you know well the danger of this type of situation.
KK: If you want, I can show you the data. I have nothing Off the line, because only the car is able to stay on the track and I was really pushing. The front tyre lost the grip line, the clean line and I couldnt change the cars direction. I just had to wait otherwise I would be completely on the wet part. I tried to do the best thing, but this was coming from a bit of overdriving.
MW: I think people at hairpins are always trying to mix up the pace a little bit, particularly in Canada. Michael was also doing a good job to make the rhythm a little bit different each lap; thats normal. But obviously hitting the brakes is a different story. Obviously if youre a bit later, a bit earlier on the throttle, thats part of racing but if youre playing with the brake pedal its obviously not something that we all agree to. Im sure hes not playing these tricks
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) I have a question for Mark and Fernando: you were also in this situation a few years ago when you were with Renault and you had the mass damper which the FIA said was OK and then it was banned by the Federation. Now it looks like there are a lot of new rules which prejudice against Red Bull. Do you think that fans can accept this, do you not think that its not serious to continually change the rules, new rules, yes, no and how can they accept it? Do you not think that its not very serious to change the rules continuously: new rules, yes, no, perhaps, we dont know if this is legal or not?
MW: I think the majority of the fans arent that bothered, to be honest. They just want to see what they have been seeing so far this year which is a lot of interesting car races. They basically have ten to fifteen per cent knowledge of whats going on behind the scenes in our sport. They just want to watch a good car race actually. You have really, really hard core fans, obviously, who understand a bit more but most people want to see a good car race so they obviously have no idea of the politics that go on in the background at this level, because they will always be there. But theyre obviously making these decisions because they think its the right thing for whatever reason it is, so you need to ask the guys who are making the decisions, why they make the decisions. I dont or the team. You design a Formula One car at the start of the season to a very very, very tight, strict regulation and go through the fine print as much as you can and then obviously there is a massive, massive conceptual change with that design book in the middle of the year. Thats the way it is and we have to get on with it.
Q: (Toni Lopez - La Vanguardia) Fernando, last year in Monza you said that with six, seven races to the end, you need to be on the podium to have a chance at the title and you got it at the end. This year, what do you think you need to have to have a chance to fight for the title?
FA: I think we need to have the best car. If we have the best car we can win the title because there is plenty of time and plenty of races to recover. If we are fifth or sixth, as we are normally in qualifying etc, its very difficult because you cannot get the pace that everybody is doing. I think the championship is long. We need to concentrate, race by race. We will try to be on the podium, we will try to win every race we do. Obviously this is sometimes very difficult or impossible but this is our aim. We are Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro so this is our goal but, as I said, we need to respect our opponents and we need to understand that in some places, in some races we cannot do that. This is also some pressure that you have when you are at Ferrari or when you are Ferrari. You need to win every race that you do, you need to win every championship that you do and despite these seven races when I think I drove the best seven races of my career, with the best qualifying laps, compared to my teammate, compared to last year, comparing different years, the starts etc, even with that, it seems that the season has been a very bad season so far, which, in some ways I agree with, because we are Ferrari, we are obliged to win every race but in some other ways, I think we need to understand and respect our rivals and to work harder than them and to close that gap in the near future.
Q: (Toni Lopez - La Vanguardia) Jaime, after your result in Canada, do you think that youre in front with a new championship for you in terms of confidence?
JA: I hope so. Weve been working a lot on the set-up of the car, the performance of the car. Until now I didnt really feel I got the best out of it. You were just still working a lot on the simulator, on the car. I think Canada was a good result for us. I think Monaco was also a good race for us, despite the crash at the end, but I think I was going to be a points finisher again. So in general we are doing good racing. We had some issues with big tyre degradation which really limited our performance in the past, as in Barcelona and Istanbul, so we had to pit once more. I think so, yeah, I think its a new championship for us. I think its a new challenge, for sure.
Q: (Gary Meenaghan - The National) Jaime and Fernando, can you just talk a little bit about Spains relationship with Formula One, when you were growing up, and what it was like, and also how it has developed over the years?
FA: Well, when I was a kid, Formula One was not important at all, or was not a sport we followed. I never saw a race on TV in my life until I was 17 or 18. I was already in Formula Nissan so when I was racing in go-karts I never saw a Formula One race; some news at the end of the year, who was World Champion, who was not World Champion but obviously we didnt know any of the names that were racing. Now, I think its quite popular in Spain. People love this sport and its true that its quite complex, as Mark said, with some regulation changes every year etc. Its not easy for the fans to follow but anyway, I think they love their motorsport as we love motorbikes as well in this country. Generally, I think in go-karts and in different categories now there are many drivers so Im sure that from now on the future will be much better for Spain and Im happy because its obviously my sport and something that I love and now Im happy that the country shares this love as well.
MW: Hes being modest because he changed the sport in this country: what he did, no four wheels before him so he did a good job.
JA: I think Spain has always been a motorbike country, especially for the riders and so on. As Mark was saying, when Fernando came and he won both titles and so on, it changed TV coverage and for sure there are more drivers coming up and developing themselves in karting as well. I was already in karting when he won his first championship in 2005, I think and then I stepped into the Red Bull Junior team so I never thought about reaching Formula One because I was in go-karting in Italy and Europe so I was just trying to do my best in go-karts. I was having fun there and then when I had the possibility to step up into Red Bull, I obviously had the chance to one day get to Formula One but I started doing Formula Renault and so on but I never thought about reaching Formula One because I would never no I was just trying to have fun and do my best.
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