Win in Germany worth more than ten points says champion
Despite losing two races on the trot and seeing Michael Schumacher take vital points out of his championship lead, Fernando Alonso is in confident mood ahead of this weekends Hockenheim race
Q: What is your outlook for the coming races?
Fernando Alonso: I am feeling very optimistic. We had a strong first half of the season, and they key thing now is to keep going and finalise the job. The Renault team is ready, and I am ready. I think we can finish 2006 the same way we started it.
Q: This seems to be a season where, more than ever, people are talking about tyre performance
FA: We are in the middle of a good fight between the tyre manufacturers at the moment. Michelin and Bridgestone are pushing each other hard at every race. We have fantastic tyres on the car and Michelin are giving us the extra performance, that's why we are leading the championship. I am confident for the rest of the year and certain that Michelin can become champions again.
Q: The other key theme is in-season development. How do Renault compare to their rivals?
FA: I think we are developing the car in a good way at the moment. We began the season with a fantastic car, so maybe that left us a little less room to improve than the other teams. But even our competitors are developing and trying to come back, we are still winning races. The team hasn't stopped improving the car and engine, they have done a really good job.
Q: Ferrari beat Renault on home turf in France - would beating Michael Schumacher at his home race be an important win?
FA: It's important to beat Michael at every race - not just Hockenheim! We know that at this stage of the season, we have to be finishing in front of the Ferraris. But I think that a win in Germany could be worth more than ten points because of the psychological aspect. I try to win all the races - but it would mean a lot to take the victory here.
Q: What are the demands of the circuit in Hockenheim?
FA: It is a very physical track. The temperatures are always extremely hot, which makes it very demanding for the drivers. In terms of the car, straight-line speed is still something you need in Hockenheim - not like in the old days, but the circuit has long straights even now. In the slow corners, the grip is always low but you need good mechanical settings and a driveable car. It is a delicate compromise to find to be quick here, and not an easy one to find.