Fernando Alonso Q&A: Its F1 racing, not Cirque du Soleil 25 Mar 2010
Winning the opening race of the season is always sweet, even if it doesnt necessarily reflect the grids true pecking order. No surprise then that Ferraris Fernando Alonso seems at one with the world ahead of this weekends Australian Grand Prix. Speaking to the assembled media in Melbourne on Thursday, he admitted its too soon to tell who is really quickest - and whether the new rules will make for more exciting racing
Q: Fernando, going back to Sunday afternoon in Bahrain: when you where sitting on the grid had you any idea that the Red Bulls were starting lighter than you?
Fernando Alonso: No, not really. When we are on the grid we have no idea what the others are doing and our focus is clearly on us and getting into the best position possible. So I had no idea what they were on.
Q: But isnt it so that they have a more fuel efficient engine than you? Something in the range of six kilos? Was this the reason you waited until later in the race to start an attack on Vettel?
FA: No, I think this lighter car of six or ten kilos and the better fuel efficiency of the Red Bull car is a rumour. I think that nobody should put money on the question of who had the lightest car at the start in Bahrain. We are not concentrating on those sort of questions - we are concentrating on our fuel consumption and are very happy with what we have achieved in the winter with Shell. I was prepared to attack Vettel throughout the race, but at the beginning he was definitely quicker than me with the soft tyres, and then with the hard tyres it seems that I was a little bit more comfortable behind him. But maybe it was part of the race that he was controlling. Whatever - in the end we were lucky to win the race after his problems. Hopefully this weekend we can start in front of him and dont need to wait for anybody having problems.
Q: After analyzing the race in Bahrain you said that Red Bull were slightly ahead of Ferrari. Where do you think that they have advantages and where do you see them for Ferrari?
FA: I dont know. We need a couple of races to get a clearer picture about the pecking order. I think performance-wise Red Bull is a little bit ahead of everybody now, which is no surprise as they finished the 2009 season on a high and were able to keep the momentum. But its one thing to have the fastest car and another thing to win the race. We naturally will try to push them as much as we can, but that will also depend on the circuit. Take last year - sometimes Brawn were very strong and sometimes they were facing difficulties. Hopefully this weekend we are strong and will fight for the win.
Q: Michael Schumacher paid a visit to the Ferrari hospitality unit yesterday for an extended stay. How did that go down with you, now that you are race competitors and not only test rivals?
FA: It was okay. He has done this several times during winter testing. Obviously the Ferrari kitchen is so much better
Q: Do you think that Schumacher can again rise to the performance level that he had?
FA: Yes I think so. But in the end weve only had one race and we need to wait and see how the performance of the cars is - who is quick, who is not. We also need to understand the rules better - if the show is good enough or not. We need to learn more about the tyres and what the best strategy might be. So with this in mind it is difficult to say whats with Michael. Who knows? Will he be strong? Why not? I think his talent and capacity to drive a Formula One car will never disappear. To be honest, after Bahrain is just like before Bahrain, because after only one race everything is still wide open. Ask me again in three or four races.
Q: In Bahrain the tyres lasted longer and better than many expected. What do you expect here on a very green street circuit? How do you think this will develop until Sunday? Will it be harder on the tyres compared to Bahrain?
FA: Lets wait and see. Last year it was very hard on the tyres, but as an answer to that the tyres this year are three or four steps harder than last year. So it should be better on the weekend. If we have a normal weekend - that means one without rain - it should be okay. I expect even less problems than Bahrain, even though Bahrain was okay.
Q: You just said that hopefully you can attack Vettel early on. Do you think that answers the criticism of Bahrain as having been a very boring race?
FA: No. We need to be calm and need to wait some races to really see if the new rules have some impact on the show. My guess is no. Last year of the first seven races Jenson (Button) won six. Was that boring? Maybe yes, maybe no. Michael Schumacher won five consecutive championships. Was that boring? Maybe yes, maybe no. This is Formula One. This is about technology, how precise everything works together from driver, engineer, down to mechanics. This is Formula One and not Cirque du Soleil. If people want to see extra show interludes they probably should reconsider if they want to watch Formula One.
Q: Would you agree with a number of people that making two pit stops compulsory would make all the difference?
FA: Difficult to know and to answer. I dont think so. If you have to do two stops everything will remain the same. With the qualifying format with no fuel, the fastest car holds the pole position so who will overtake that guy in the race - no one! This year we have the fastest cars starting from the best grid positions, so to overtake through that in the race is difficult - even with a creative strategy. I watched the race for analysis and for me it was not boring at all: I saw the fight between Vettel and the two Ferraris, behind was the fight between Rosberg and Hamilton in the first part, and then between Michael, Jenson and Webber in the second part, so it was a compact race with a lot of action going on. There have been many fights, unfortunately no overtaking. But this is not new because of the 2010 rules. No overtaking has been a norm over the last 15 years.
Q: You said in Bahrain that you are afraid that during the season the race will more or less be decided in the first corner and in qualifying. Do you think that the emphasis has to be on one-lap performance?
FA: It always goes into the one-lap performance - also in the previous years. But I think the pace in the race will also be important. Once again, the race in Bahrain was only the first race of a long championship. Here in Australia weve always seen very special races with much safety car action in the past. There will be circuits with overtaking possibilities - maybe Malaysia and China - so we are in the part of the championship with very interesting races ahead.