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Q&A with Renault’s Fernando Alonso 17 Oct 2008

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 16 October 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 October 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 October 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 October 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 16 October 2008

He may not be a championship contender, but Fernando Alonso has already made his mark on the decisive final stage of the season, with wins in Singapore and Fuji that made the title challengers look pale by comparison. After admitting he would be happy to help Felipe Massa to the crown, only Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix will reveal whether the Spaniard and his Renault are able to tip the balance. But after going second fastest in second practice, it appears they just might…

Q: Fernando, seeing you in the first corner it appears that the car goes really well on this track. You’ve been the quickest there. What is your impression?
Fernando Alonso:
Yes, the car felt pretty good but we had some issues with the tyres - like everybody else - so we have to analyze the situation and work on some set-up changes tonight. Otherwise it felt good and I have been able to do quite a lot of laps that gave us some good information. So we see tomorrow if we can translate our findings of today into performance tomorrow.

Q: You say tyre issues - does that mean with both types of tyres?
FA:
I’ve done almost similar times with both types so there was not a big difference and tomorrow morning in the practice we will again do a tyre test to make the optimal selection for the qualifying.

Q: Analyzing all the data coming from the car is one thing, but in the end it comes down to basic engineering, like the suspension and aerodynamics…
FA:
Well the data is very important, but they have to be evaluated and this happens at a race weekend overnight, rather then instantly. The next morning we will get the results and maximize the suspension and the aerodynamic setup with these data.

Q: We are in the final stage of the championship. You have been in such a situation a few times before, so you are familiar with tensing up for the big showdown. How can you avoid such a state and keep cool?
FA:
Well, this is nothing unique to Formula One - you have it in every sport and everybody in such a situation has his own unique approach to manage the stress. But that’s part of the game.

Q: When you said yesterday that you would help Felipe win the championship, was that a sort of sweet revenge for last season?
FA:
I prefer to see a Ferrari win than a McLaren coming from last year no doubt. What I find surprising is that such a notion had such a repercussion everywhere. When I see a tennis match I prefer one player over the other, the same goes for a soccer match. And when I see a fight between a Ferrari and a McLaren I prefer the Ferrari to win and I don’t understand all that hype about it.

Q: That might well be true when being a spectator at a tennis or soccer match, as you are not able to interfere. But being one of the drivers on the grid you might be able to act in favour of one or the other…
FA:
Well, I think here it will be difficult to help in any way as the Ferraris and Mclaren are very quick and they will be in front of everybody else so it will be entirely up to them to win the race. In Fuji and Singapore I was able to be in front on the grid so it was different. Here it will be different, so I will watch the race like a spectator.

Q: Do you think you will be fighting for the championship again next year?
FA:
I always said when asked when I will come back winning that I need another year. And I really believe that with whatever team I will be with next season that I will be able to fight for the championship. We will work very hard over the winter. I am pretty confident for that.

Q: After your victories in Singapore and Fuji where do you see the Renault this weekend? Do you see yourself in front of BMW Sauber and Toyota here?
FA:
Other than in Singapore and Fuji I think that we are a little bit too far away from the front runners. In Singapore and Fuji we were four-tenths or half a second behind Ferrari and McLaren, here we are eight or nine-tenths away so this could mean that we are behind BMW. The race pace should be okay, but in qualifying I think that top six or seven is the realistic target.

Q: Today the FIA requested tenders for a unified engine for 2010. What is your stance on all cars running on the same engine?
FA:
I think with unified engines and tyres it comes down more to the driver qualities, but I don’t think it is good for Formula One to be honest. We have big brands here in the paddock: Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari, and it would seem strange that we all race with the same engine. A Toyota car, a Renault car, a Mercedes car - this would no longer be Formula One.