MARCH 20, 2005
MALAYSIAN GP - SUNDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - POST RACE - 20 MARCH 2005
1. Fernando ALONSO (Renault), 1h31m33.736s
2. Jarno TRULLI (Toyota), 1h31m58.063s
3. Nick HEIDFELD (Williams) 1h32m05.924s
Q: Fernando, it looked today as if you had to win two races; one against your opposition, and another against the conditions out there...
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, they were very tough conditions, as we knew before the start of the race. Unfortunately the drink bottle didn't work, so half the race I had problems and I finished on the limit.
Q: The car looked faultless over that distance, but what was it like in the cockpit?
Alonso: It was OK. I saved the tyres a little bit at the beginning, thinking that maybe the first stint was maybe the most risky time for the rear tyres and then after that I saw that Jarno was slowing down a little bit so I slowed down as well, to save my tyres more, and the last stint was just low revs and saving tyres again. I wasn't pushing really hard in any part of the race. But the car was very easy to drive and really easy.
Q: Those last closing laps in this heat must have seemed very long...
Alonso: Not only the last, the last 15 or 20 laps were very long and the same for everybody here in Sepang, or maybe more if you are in P1. You are very close to winning the race, it's the second race for the engine and for the car and you are a little bit worried, obviously, but everything was perfect and the team again showed that we are the team to beat.
Q: Jarno, congratulations to you too: the first-ever podium finish for the Panasonic Toyota team. You tried to hold onto Fernando there in the opening laps. Tell us about that and then as the race progressed...
Jarno TRULLI: I had an extremely good start but again the Renaults seem to get away pretty well. Anyway, I drove my race, I was quite competitive, I was following Fernando, but at one stage I could see that there was no match and I started managing the race, taking care of the tyres as during the first race I had the tyre problem, and then I just managed to finish the race. It was really easy in second position, pulling away, controlling people. From the pit they kept telling me to slow down so it's fantastic to bring the first podium finish to Toyota.
Q: In these conditions, even more so, using the engine for two Grands Prix, the tyres for the full distance, how near to the limit were you towards the end?
Trulli: Let's say that we were quite comfortable on reliability, even if, in these conditions, it's always terrible (fantastic) what Marmorini has done and his crew has done a fantastic job over the wintertime, the reliability is there. But after half race I started pulling down the revs and trying to slow down and taking care of the tyres and also the heat was really hard on the driver's side, and for this I have to thank (Doctor) Ciccarelli because he treated me with an infusion as I was sick at the beginning of this week.
Q: Nick, you've been quick all weekend but tenth on the grid up to third place is fabulous and you don't actually look that sweaty or hot!
Nick HEIDFELD: No, it was very hot, and as usual in hot races, as Fernando just said, my drink bottle also failed. It always happens at the places where you don't want it to happen, from the beginning onwards. Other than those two guys, I had to push very hard, as I was only tenth in qualifying, because I made a mistake in second qualifying and I thought that cost me the race. But I had a very good start and some good overtaking maneuvers.
Q: And an interesting race from your point of view: you were racing there with Ralf Schumacher and later on you were right behind Mark Webber and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Heidfeld: Yes, I was with two other cars at a lot of the stages of the race, so it was not like one on one. There were two people fighting in front of me and then the third car getting involved. It was very complex, but very interesting, and I got the upper hand.
Q: And the car, the tyres, the engine?
Heidfeld: Obviously everything was really good. In the end, as normal, we tried to save the engine a bit, pushed really hard in the middle stint. In the end, the last ten laps, I was just controlling the pace to Montoya.
Q: Fernando, we return to you as the first Spaniard ever to lead the FIA Formula One World Championship and Renault looking very dominant. Your thoughts about the upcoming races...
Alonso: It will be more difficult for us, because we are starting in a very strong position but we saw this weekend that Toyota, Williams and always McLaren and Ferrari are very strong and the competition is tough now. Bahrain was not a perfect place for us last year, so I think we will suffer a little bit, and then when we arrive in Europe I think it will also be tough because it has always been good for the other teams. But this year everything seems different. Renault is always good on any type of circuit and I'm totally confident that in Bahrain we will be the reference again.
Q: Fernando, obviously a very exhausting race, but you really enjoy this circuit, what's it like to win here?
Alonso: Yes, it's one of the best places to win for me because from the driver's point of view, as I said, it's the most technical circuit, the most difficult and the best of the championship for me with Spa and for me it makes me even more happy to win here than at maybe another circuit.
Q: Obviously physically exhausting, did it affect you during the race?
Alonso: No, because when you are in the car, you are concentrating, air is coming in and you're OK, but unfortunately, as I said before, the drink bottle didn't work in this hot race and it wasn't perfect at the end and also it happened on Friday: when you are in a standing position, when you get up quickly, the blood pressure falls and this is normal. This happens everywhere. Maybe here a little bit more.
Q: Were you slowed by the team, or did you just ease up yourself?
Alonso: Myself. The team asked me to reduce revs because Jarno was also controlling the tyres and the engine, and we slowed down a little bit more but I'm really happy because this one was one of the toughest races for the car: second race for the engine, hot temperatures for the tyres, high wear for the tyres and even if people thought that at the beginning of the championship that I was too aggressive to manage the tyres, even in these extreme conditions I showed that I won the race.
Q: Jarno, you made a superb start, but it looked as if when you go to third gear, they pulled ahead...
Trulli: We still have some work to do, but it is definitely nice to be here. It was a challenge when I chose Toyota, but I chose them for several reasons, for several people and I knew there was a lot of potential in this team. Now, we know we have to work on the engine, the chassis and the aerodynamics, but we have got tremendous, experienced people like Gascoyne, Marmorini and lots of highly experienced engineers who can do it for the future. So it is a good boost this first podium, it came at the right time for the team and at the right place because I believe this race is one of the toughest technically in the heat and is the second for the engine and it is fantastic for them and I would like to thank all the Panasonic Toyota team members.
Q: What about the tyres in this race?
Trulli: I wanted to manage them a little bit from the beginning, I tried to follow Fernando for the first 10 laps but then I was thinking I was pulling away from Giancarlo, but I couldn't keep Fernando's pace so I just wanted to slow down and take care of the tyres and then mid-race I had such a big gap that the team started to worry me about the front tyres and I had to slow down. At the end of the race, it is nice to be second and it doesn't matter to get the hassle. It's important to get the car to the finish line and to score this first podium
Q: Nick a very good start. Tell us about this opening lap?
Heidfeld: It was very important to have a good start. Unfortunately, I only qualified 10th and we were held up already in Melbourne by the two Red Bulls so I was very happy to get past them and then I was behind Kimi who was on quite a high fuel load and held me up a bit as well and in the end I was very happy with third position.
Q: What about when you got past Ralf Schumacher. Tell us about that bit?
Heidfeld: It was a fight between three cars and that made it even more difficult and more exciting. I just had to try and judge what was going to happen next and I just got the upper hand in the end and it was very interesting and it was good fun.
Q: Any other German driver has to live in the shadow of at least one of the Schumacher brothers, if not both of them, and today you beat them both so how does that feel?
Heidfeld: I don't drive in Formula One to be in the limelight, you know, I am quite happy to be in the shadow and finish on the podium.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ian de Cotta, Today) : Alonso, do you think this could be the year you will win the drivers' title and be the youngest champion?
Alonso: Well, it is only the second race and we can not say anything we are in the best position I have been in my career to win the championship because in 2003 we were competitive in some places and some not and in 2004 we were competitive at the beginning and at the end we lost the championship and it seems that this year we are the best at the moment in these two races and the team is programmed to do quite good steps soon in the car and develop the car every two races more or less and if we keep like this for sure I can have some options.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti, Corriere della Sera): Fernando, you are now leading the world championship and you are the first Spanish driver in history to do so, what do you feel?
Alonso: Yes, it is a fantastic feeling not just to be the first Spanish, but just to be the first in the championship, I think to lead the world championship in Formula One is a dream for any young driver and I reached this at 23 years old and I now only need to finish in this position in the championship. I don't know where or when but I hope as soon as possible to fight for the championship.
Q: (Mike Doodson): Nick, you and your team-mate Mark Webber looked very closely matched during the race and you got very close at the incident that took out both Mark and Fisichella. Was there much difference between your cars and where did you have any advantage over him at certain times?
Heidfeld: It is quite difficult to say because in the beginning I was three places behind him and I was held up quite a bit by Kimi and when I was behind Mark I thought I was a bit quicker, but then he was fighting with Fisi so it's hard to judge.
Q: (Mike Doodson): Did you have an opportunity to judge the incident?
Heidfeld: I think Mark did a really nice move on Fisi in the second-last corner, but therefore his exit to the back straight was not that good. It looked like Fisichella had a problem with his car and it didn't seem to handle very nice and he managed to go just to the inside of the last corner from Mark, but, from my view, it looked like he braked a bit too late and went straight on. It can happen.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson, Autosport) A question for all three drivers, do you think you are in a position to stay ahead of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari this season?
Trulli: It is very clear they are struggling with the package and it is difficult to say what is wrong. I prefer to look at my side and improve my car, but they were not competitive here and they looked more competitive in Australia. We will see in the next races.
Alonso: I think Ferrari and Michael will be stronger opponents for everybody when they sort out the problems they have now. Maybe, we will have more problems and we will see races more like last year - unfortunately. So, we need to take care of our car and our pace and performance and now in these days while Ferrari are not so strong, take the first position and the points.
Heidfeld: Of course, it is our goal to stay ahead of Ferrari and to beat all the other teams and the question is how good the new Ferrari car will be. At the moment, definitely, they are struggling and it is obvious they are not the quickest team anymore like the last couple of years when they were dominating and I think it is a very different situation for them, they are not used to it and it will be interesting to see how they handle it.
SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - POST QUALIFYING - 20 MARCH 2005
1. Fernando ALONSO (Renault), 3m07.672s
2. Jarno TRULLI (Toyota), 3m07.925s
3. Giancarlo FISICHELLA (Renault)), 3m08.448s
Q: An interesting session, very close and the margins, as it turned out, remained the same as yesterday...
Fernando Alonso: Yes, very close. Yesterday, there were some cars between the 10th and the fifth position that changed a lot today and I was honestly a little worried about my position because you can be on pole, or you can be fourth very quick, so I tried to do my lap, with no mistakes, and I knew my car was good and I found a good balance again today and here we are, on pole, and we repeated the three positions we had yesterday and, hopefully, we can do it again this afternoon.
Q: And now you face perhaps the hottest Grand Prix in history?
Alonso: Yes, the whole weekend has been very tough for the drivers with very hot temperatures, but even more today, so we have to prepare ourselves now by drinking a lot between this press conference and the race start and, hopefully, we can finish the race in good condition.
Q: On the front row again, becoming a habit, Toyota looking very strong here...
Jarno Trulli: Yeah, and we are showing again our good pace and I am extremely happy for my team, Toyota, because it has been pushing a lot to give me a good car and it seems to be very competitive. So, now, I am looking forward now to the race because I want to confirm this pace in the race and that's it. I want to go out and do it this afternoon.
Q: There were a lot of questions before about fuel loads and it looks as if just about everyone here at the front was on the same fuel loads...
Trulli: Yes, I couldn't do any better than this with the fuel load I had because we believe we have done our best for the strategy and we will see how it turns out this afternoon, but I am extremely happy about this position. Again first row and again sign of progress from Toyota.
Q: Giancarlo, calmly there for third position and a nice place to watch the first corner perhaps...
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yes, it's going to be very important to go through the first corner and I would like to keep my position and if I can overtake Jarno straightaway it is better. We are very optimistic to have the right strategy for the race. The car balance was still under-steering today, but I think it is good for the race because usually there is a bit of over-steering especially at the end of the race so I am pretty confident and we will see.
Q: What do you think about the Ferraris mid-pack, about two seconds slower than you were this morning?
Fisichella: I think maybe they have a lot of fuel and are going to try a very long first stint because they have good pace to overtake some cars especially on the pit stops so at the end of the race they are there, they are going to fight for the podium.
Q: Fernando, your second pole here, what about the conditions?
Alonso: The conditions were quite similar to yesterday - a little bit cooler - but we tried to run old tyres just normally, a little more tricky. I felt the car a bit more difficult to drive, but at the same time, we're still quick and I'm extremely happy to have this pole position because yesterday I had some doubts about which strategy the other teams would chose and maybe lose the gap we had after yesterday.
Q: Jarno, the conspiracy theorists in the press room all reckoned that Toyota desperately wanted to be on pole...
Trulli: Well, I think everyone out there wanted to be on pole but we didn't really make our strategy to be on pole, we are looking forward to the race. This is what Toyota needs at the moment, some points and hopefully a good race and a podium finish. This would be great, but today we again confirmed our good pace and especially signs of progress from this extremely good team.
Q: Giancarlo, a little bit of a margin between you and Fernando and to Jarno as well. Does that reflect a different strategy?
Fisichella: Honestly, I don't know Jarno's strategy. Compared to Fernando's it's pretty similar. I had a lot of understeer even today, but I'm not worried about that. We are on the first and second row, which is very important for the team. I'm looking forward to it. We are pretty sure to have the right strategy and the right car to win the race, or to get on the podium.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Jarno, could you explain a little bit about what's been done to the car to make it so much quicker this season?
Trulli: We worked hard over the winter-time. I think this is the first Gascoyne car and it's absolutely better than the previous one in every area but there's still a lot to do, but it's definitely a good step forward, a good baseline on which to start. We have been continuing to update the car aerodynamically. Tremendous work has been done on the engine side to make it more powerful and more reliable compared to last year and compared to the first race, we have again updated the car aerodynamically so if we keep this trend, there is no reason why we can't step ahead and be with the top runners. Obviously we have understood quite a lot from the first race. We keep understanding, and I must admit that I'm working well with Ralf, he's a very quick and intelligent driver which helps. The other teammate will improve and push the team forward and the situation is brilliant at the moment. I didn't expect to be on the front row in the first two races. I expected a team, which wants to grow and this is what is happening. But, OK, probably this race we are benefiting from special track conditions or whatever, but we seem quite competitive anyway, all through the weekend. We will just try our best during the race.
Q: (Dominic Fugere - Le Journal de Montreal) Question for Jarno, you're starting in the same place as in Melbourne; you mentioned the importance of points, but in Melbourne you finished just outside the points. Do you plan on doing anything different? What do you have in mind to make sure that you hold your position?
Trulli: Just push like hell! That's it.
Q: (Livio Orrichio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) The temperature of the asphalt was generally more than 50 degrees. Were you worried about the tyre wear?
Trulli: Well the conditions are very hot, they're very tough for everybody. Michelins seem to work pretty well in these conditions and they we don't seem to be suffering from any problems, so we're not concerned at the moment, even if anything can happen in this race, especially with these new rules, because you are going to have one set of tyres for the whole race. Anything can happen at any time.
Alonso: The same. We don't have too many worries about the tyres. We have prepared for the race quite well in terms of strategy and the set-up of the car. After Friday's two sessions, we did a few changes to save the tyres a little bit more and we don't have any problems at all. But as Jarno said, it is a very special race with these temperatures, especially the asphalt over 50 degrees, and this is completely new for everybody. After testing all winter with track temperatures around 15 or 20 degrees, this will be a new experience for Michelin guys, for the teams and for everybody.
Fisichella: Well, we have quite a lot of data from Friday and it looks very promising. The Michelin tyres are working very well here, very hot conditions. We know it's going to be very difficult over the last ten or 15 laps but we are optimistic about that.
SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
RACE INCIDENTS FROM SEPANG
SUNDAY TEAM QUOTES
QUALIFYING 2 REPORT - ALONSO CONFIRMS POLE
TEAMS TO PUBLISH NEW LETTER TO FERRARI
QUALIFYING 2 RESULTS
A TEAM MEETING THIS MORNING
SCHUMACHER AND HIS PEERS
VERSTAPPEN TO TEST CHAMP CAR