APRIL 2, 2005
BAHRAIN GP - SATURDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
SATURDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 2 APRIL 2005
1. Fernando ALONSO (Renault), 1m29.848s
2. Jarno TRULLI (Toyota), 1m29.993s
3. Michael SCHUMACHER (Ferrari), 1m30.237s
Q: The battle continues, Fernando, but it was very very close there again against Jarno...
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, again like Sepang, Jarno was our main competitor and he had been really close. Tomorrow I hope to do a better lap and get more distance.
Q: Coming off that great weekend in Malaysia, it appears as if so far the weekend has gone very very well for you?
Alonso: Yeah, it has been a good weekend again, no problems with the car at all, again the team did a fantastic job to prepare the car for this race. Everything was quite OK from the first running on Friday and we touched very few things on the car because it was already there. Today, with a little bit less fuel than yesterday and now in qualifying empty, the car is really quick again, really nice to drive and also the tyres seem to work again perfectly on hot tracks and we also have a big advantage on that.
Q: Let's talk a little bit about the conditions we may expect on race day, very hot, perhaps a bit windy, sand?
Alonso: Yes, it's still quite windy. This morning we noticed the wind had changed and was very strong, now in qualifying as well and now for the race will be a little more difficult with these conditions, to keep the concentration, the car on the track, with old tyres, with everything. It will be an interesting race for sure.
Q: Jarno, another great performance from you and the team.
Jarno TRULLI: Yeah, you're right. I'm performing well because the team is doing a great job: the engineers, the mechanics, everybody I have to thank because it looks like that if we can get everything right during the weekend we can performance well. We have to keep up this momentum and carry on working because it's not only going to be an interesting race but an interesting season for us.
Q: You were talking yesterday about a little bit of oversteer into the corners; how's the car today?
Trulli: It was slightly better. I'm still suffering from oversteer. This is my main problem here. This morning I was working on the car set-up. The car seems quick, but not as I like or as I prefer. But anyway, both me and Ralf were quick and I think tomorrow we can hopefully again do another good job.
Q: Michael, what a weekend for you so far coming out of not such a good weekend in Malaysia, coming here with the new car, difficult to get everything together, not going out when the track was at its quickest. You must be very very happy where you are right now.
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, certainly we are, particularly after, as you said, Malaysia was a bit of a wake-up call for us. It was a great effort from everybody in the team to get the new car pushed forward to this Grand Prix due to the two race engine rules. It was really needed and it's paid off. That's the reason why we are back up on top. We are within a reasonable distance to the two guys in front and we are feeling quite good.
Q: It is obviously a team sport but it appears as if Bridgestone had some problems in Malaysia. Here they appear to be right back again.
Schumacher: It is a team sport, there is no reason to say one part is responsible for a whatever, for a loss of a race. We have been winning together for five years, we have had two difficult races, particularly one. I don't think that's any worry as long as we find our way back on track and we seem to have.
Q: Your thoughts on this race at this point, how you think it might go?
Schumacher: Usually, and particularly in Malaysia we have been pretty far off in qualifying. We looked a bit better in the race - still not good enough. Now we look in reasonable condition in qualifying and race performance seems to be comparable as well, so we are not too bad.
Q: Finally, Fernando, an unusual situation for you, the first time you have been in this situation, as successful as you are with the momentum that you have. Are you enjoying it?
Alonso: Of course, I feel great. From Australia, I was P1 in Sepang on Saturday, Sunday morning, the race and now here again. So the important thing is to be there tomorrow afternoon. For sure the car is working perfectly, all the Renault team is making all the effort to keep this momentum continuing in the team. The atmosphere is fantastic and I feel happier than I have ever been.
Q: Fernando, your feelings about the provisional pole; it sounds as though you're excited about it, life's going sweetly...
Alonso: Yeah, it was a good lap but the real end of this qualifying is tomorrow. We've only started and tomorrow we have to finish the job, to be on the first row for the race. But yeah, in equal conditions we are again competitive. Tomorrow we will have a little bit of room maybe, to play with the fuel, with strategy and it has been a good weekend so far for us, a very competitive car from the beginning, not many set-up changes because the car was OK from the beginning and I'm really happy and tomorrow I hope to finish the job and start on the first row, on pole position if I can.
Q: What about the conditions since this morning, how much have they changed?
Alonso: From this morning and qualifying not too much, but from yesterday to this morning a lot. There is a strong wind that is affecting the car in some corners. Some corners it helps, some corners not and it was a little more difficult to find the right place to go. For sure in qualifying to start at the end was a bit better with these windy conditions because maybe the track was not perfect at the beginning
Q: The wind obviously affects the stability of the car; does it affect the track conditions at all?
Alonso: I think it was slower today, the track, but because it was cleaner than yesterday we improved our times, of course, but it is affecting the car and the driver a little bit so you have to be even more concentrated because the car is doing strange things sometimes.
Q: Jarno, well done again, but I am sure you just want that seat next door to you. You've been in this one rather too often...
Trulli: I'm relatively happy. Obviously when you jump in the car you don't think about what you're driving, where you are, you just want to get pole position, but it seems we still need to do some work to beat Renault. But it would be nice to be here again tomorrow because the job is going to be even tougher tomorrow. Michael is back with his Ferrari and we've got the other Renault coming up as well, so it will be an interesting session. But talking about today, I was struggling this morning with the set-up a little bit, working with my engineers to sort the car out. I didn't have a lot of confidence in the car. That's probably why I missed the one and a half tenths, but at the end of the day we must be satisfied because we could never have expected to be here when we started our relationship with Toyota last year. We are all doing a great job.
Q: You were actually down on Michael in the first sector, did you feel as though you lost out a little bit in that first sector?
Trulli: I believe we lost out everywhere a little bit because I didn't really have the confidence to push the car right to the limit but probably they would have the same feeling. Out there it was windy today so you couldn't really have full confidence to push 100 percent so I suppose everybody kept a little bit in the pocket.
Q: So tomorrow, going into the qualifying session, how much do you concentrate on trying to get pole, how much do you concentrate on a race set-up?
Trulli: Well, you know you always go out thinking you are going to get pole but at the end of the day we have to be realistic and it would be nice to be here again, as I say, so it doesn't matter if it's second or third. It would be nice to get used to this position.
Q: Michael, nice to see you too. How is the debut of the new car - I mean, for a debut this looks pretty promising?
Schumacher: Yeah, it certainly is. To be honest I hadn't expected to be up in the first three before we came here for the weekend after being quite a way off in Malaysia, but through the sessions we sort of saw that we looked quite promising with the package of the new car and tyres so were are quite happy.
Q: It looked very good this morning, what changed from this morning to qualifying? In the session this morning you were quickest by a nice margin but now you are third, what are your feelings about that?
Schumacher: I mean, the first part of this morning's session I was quickest, but maybe that was because we had less fuel on board than the others. We had to look at the last part of the second session and I was eighth or ninth, and that is the moment everyone puts on new tyres and simulates qualifying and looking from there we are quite happy where we are.
Q: To what extent have you been concentrating mainly on race set-up rather than qualifying?
Schumacher: You seriously have to be prepared for everything and you plan your work for both.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mathias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) Michael, yesterday you said that you are sure the new Ferrari is a significant step forward but you wouldn't know how big that step would be. Looking at the qualifying session, what is your impression now?
Schumacher: As I have just said before, it is a bit more promising than I had expected, because after Malaysia, seeing the gaps, which were quite significant, we haven't done a comparison of the old and new cars, the time wasn't there, so you only go for your feelings and they were good but I don't know how good, where it puts you. Such a big gap knowing from Malaysia, you don't expect that the new car can make up everything, but it made up for most of it.
Q: (Mathias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) And what gives you the confidence that a gearbox failure won't happen to your car?
Schumacher: We are pretty certain of this. We have plenty of miles with those gearboxes, it was just one odd one, which happened to be in Rubens' car, that seemed to have a problem. It is the first time we have had it and there was nothing we could do against it.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, are you surprised by the qualifying performance of Michael today?
Alonso: Yes and no. Michael to be in the top three is not a surprise but maybe looking at the Malaysian Grand Prix the Ferrari was not able to be in the top five in qualifying and now they are able to, so for sure they are a rival to care about because it is very promising the new car, but it is third, so there are two cars quicker today and I am happy.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Spanish International Press Agency EFE) Fernando, congratulations. Do you feel confident to walk out of Bahrain with a bigger lead in the championship?
Alonso: I don't know. We have only just done qualifying. But this morning we prepared the car in a good way for the race and not too much for qualifying so to be first today is good news for us.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Michael, your tyres seem to offer you a good level of grip in this qualifying. Are you confident for the race too?
Schumacher: Yeah, there weren't any problems for us yesterday and neither today.
Alonso: I don't know, there are some corners that we are losing, compared to last year, especially the quick corners, but there are a lot of corners where we are gaining, so I think both cars would have done a similar timed lap, but also this year we have a much better engine and there is nothing to compare.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - Gazzetta dello Sport) You are driving with the initial of the pope on your helmet, can you offer this performance to him?
Trulli: I know I can offer my performance to him but all I like to do is to give him my best wishes and at the moment I prefer not to talk because the situation is not clear and not particularly good for our Pope, so I prefer to keep away from anything and not to try to speculate with words about the Pope's condition, I just wish him all the best. I had the space on my helmet to put this little notice and I have done it.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Spanish International Press Agency EFE) Fernando and Jarno, you guys gave each other a hug after qualifying so relations are still good, like last year?
Alonso: Yes, still good.
Trulli: So far, so good.
Alonso: If Jarno stays that quick then maybe it is not that good. We will still keep playing football and tennis.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti - Corriere dello Sport) Fernando, yesterday you said that Jarno is probably the quickest man on the single lap, so what do you fear the most in your world championship campaign - Jarno's quickness or Michael's racing experience and charisma?
Alonso: I don't know. I always say that Jarno is for me the quickest driver in one lap but I didn't say that he was bad in the race. As Jarno said too many times, he has shown everybody how quick he is in the race, and also last weekend in Sepang, so I think I have two guys here with a lot of experience and both are at the top of the drivers in Formula One.
Q: (Peter Windsor - Speedchannel) Just a question for Fernando, could you tell us exactly where you think Jarno is quicker than Michael on one lap?
Alonso: (Laughter) I don't know! We need the same cars for everybody and one lap, but this is not possible.
Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen South Africa) Jarno, a year ago around the Australian Grand Prix weekend you said you felt the cars were too quick but earlier in response to Peter's question you seemed to be very, very happy that your car was quicker than a year ago. What is your reaction to that?
Trulli: My reaction is that if we had kept the same rules we would have gone even quicker, so at the moment the rules are working out really well and the fact that our car is as quick as last year's car is because last year's car was not so competitive and we just made a lot of development and I really believe we made a good step in slowing the cars down a little bit because this year we seem slightly slower, but keeping the same rules as last year we probably would have gone even faster.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Spanish International Press Agency EFE ) Michael, do you have any words to Fernando, leading the world championship? Is he the guy to beat this year, for you?
Schumacher: Not much to say really, he does a great job and that is why he is up there, but it is our job to push a little bit harder to make life less easy because they are having a bit too easy a time at the moment, you know.
Q: (Alaric Gomes - Gulf News) For all three of you, last week there was the regulation from the FIA medical commission regarding the use of jewellery. We met a couple of drivers who did wear jewellery, what are your thoughts on it?
Trulli: Fortunately, we are not girls, so we don't have this problem!
Alonso: I have never raced with anything, so it will be no change for me.
Q: Michael, you have a charm, I believe?
Schumacher: Yeah, but you mix up an issue which is not an issue, honestly, because the thought of it is that if someone is going to wear some crazy piercing stuff and have chains or whatever which could become a danger the rule is to prevent that to happen, and nothing else. Before you go in that direction or make up stories in that direction, you may want to look at what the rules really mean.