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Interview with Renault's Fernando Alonso 05 Sep 2006

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault with his girlfriend Raquel del Rosario
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Turkish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 26 August 2006

For a man who has seen his 25-point lead in the championship slashed to 12 in the last five races, Fernando Alonso seems remarkably relaxed. Speaking before Monza this weekend, the Spaniard is positive Renault has what it takes to beat Ferrari at the Italian team’s home Grand Prix…

Q: Fernando, two weeks on from the race in Istanbul, what are your thoughts on the Turkish Grand Prix from Renault's perspective?
Fernando Alonso:
I think the team did a fantastic job in Turkey. We have had a strange summer, with the mass damper decision and some poor results, so it was good to prove to everybody that the car is competitive regardless. We really fought hard in that race, and it shows we are ready to fight with Ferrari all the way to the end of the championship.

Q: You kept Michael (Schumacher) behind you for 15 laps - was it revenge for Imola earlier this year?
You try and finish ahead of your competitors in every race. It is always difficult to overtake in F1, and we had the luck to do it in the pits. From that point, I knew it wouldn't be easy for Michael to get back past, so I defended my position in the normal way. It was an important result.

Q: Monza is one of the mythical Formula One tracks. What would it mean to win there?
This year I have won in Silverstone, in Monaco, in Spain - and for sure, I want to win Monza too. It is one of the legendary circuits, so it would be special to win there, and even more so to beat Ferrari at their home race. We know how important the championship is, but this is a big race as well.

Q: You run with the lowest downforce levels of the season - how does it feel to drive?
It feels like a different car when you drive in Monza. You have such low downforce that by the time you get to the end of the straight, it feels like you could fly! The steering feels light, the movements are a bit lazy, and you don't quite feel like you have everything under control. It's not a nice feeling for the driver, but it's what you need at Monza to be quick on the straights.

Q: So is straightline speed what you focus on in practice?
No, it's more than that. You need the speed but when you are running low downforce, it's hard to get good braking stability and ride over the kerbs. That's what we are always asking the engineers for - better ride on the kerbs, and more stable braking.

Q: What are your goals for the race weekend?
There is only one target for the Renault team at the moment: to finish in front of Ferrari. They have been quite dominant in the last races, so beating them means winning races. That is our focus.