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Q&A with Renault's Fernando Alonso 05 Jun 2009

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 23 May 2009 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 5 June 2009 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Preparations, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Thursday, 4 June 2009 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 5 June 2009

Team principal Flavio Briatore has already conceded that Renault’s 2009 title dreams are over. For a two-time world champion like Fernando Alonso that might be a bitter pill to swallow, but the Spaniard is a professional to the core and will deliver whatever his car will allow - even though his hopes for this weekend aren’t high…

Q: How was today’s free practice for you?
Fernando Alonso:
Today the soft tyres were a little disappointing, as usually they give you a quite good first lap, which was not the case today. In our case the prime tyres seem not only to be better for the race, but also for qualifying. But we are not sure yet, and we will double check this tomorrow. We might use the soft tyres in the beginning, and leave the prime tyres for Q2 and Q3. We will also observe the other teams’ decisions tomorrow, and make hopefully the right choice.

Q: No KERS in the car today. How satisfied have you been with the balance?
FA:
Today we did not get too stressed out on the set-up, as the track evolution was very big during the session, and tomorrow we will find some time to increase the performance of the car, which I hope that we are able to, as with similar fuel loads the car will be not very competitive.

Q: Here in Turkey we have three long straights and there were expectations that you would test KERS. Why is this not the case?
FA:
Well, this is always a team decision, and we always try to decide what is the best for the different circuits. Yes, you are right that we have some straights, but also some high-speed corners, where the weight distribution is very important.

Q: How different is it compared to last year with slick tyres and flatter wings?
FA:
There is not much difference compared to last year, as I would say the loss of downforce is compensated with the slick tyres and the increase of the grip. We can pretty much see this in the lap times, and they did not change too much compared to last year.

Q: So how would you sum up this Friday’s practice overall?
FA:
I think it was quite difficult for everybody, as the track conditions are very slippery, as we saw some cars going off the track. From our side we tried to concentrate on the tyre evaluation and some new parts we have introduced here.
Today it was quite windy, and especially in Turn 1 it was a disaster. And tarmac is the same for everybody, and very difficult here, as some corners are physically very demanding. So for Sunday to sustain 60 laps will be hard, and you have to be very fit.

Q: How do you see your chances for tomorrow’s qualifying?
FA:
Pretty much the same as in the last races. Considering the track conditions we have to avoid making any mistakes.

Q: The R29 - where do you think you are with the development of the car?
FA:
Basically on the same level as in the first five races. We have not introduced any major update here, so it will be a very tough weekend again. Maybe somewhere between position eight to ten for qualifying, which is not perfect.

Q: You have mentioned that you are worried about the future of the sport. What in particular worries you?
FA:
It is the fight between the teams and the FIA, what you can read everyday in the newspapers. We, the drivers, all have contracts with the teams, and if they should decide to leave Formula One this will be not easy for us. So I hope that this matter will go into the right direction within the next few weeks and that we are able to find a solution.

Q: What is your feeling about Renault’s future?
FA:
In the times of an economic downturn it is not easy for big corporations in the field of the automobile industry. And, as you know, we will not have ING as a sponsor for next year, so we cannot have too many fights on other things, as this makes it much easier for the car manufacturers to find a reason and an excuse to leave Formula One.

Q: There have been some talks about you going to Le Mans. Is this correct?
FA:
Well, I have never been there or raced an endurance race before, so I am very curious. I have a very good friend there, Antonio Garcia, who won last year’s GT1 and was in karting with me. He offered me the invitation to join him, so I will go.