MALAYSIAN GP - SATURDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
SATURDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - POST QUALIFYING - 18 MARCH 2006
1. Giancarlo FISICHELLA (Renault), 1m33.840s
2. Jenson BUTTON (Honda), 1m33.986s
3. Nico ROSBERG (Williams), 1m34.626s
Q: Looked like another superlative performance there from Renault; your thoughts and what was it like in terms of the heat?
Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Yes, it is. Yesterday we ran without any problems and this morning we made some adjustments overnight and the car was much more easy to drive. I felt very comfortable in the three qualifying sessions, and especially in the last one, I was very comfortable with the car. The set-up was fantastic and it's a great result after last Sunday where we already had a problem on the Saturday.
Q: Incredibly high temperatures; what was it like on that longish run prior to the pole there?
Fisichella: It's really tough. It's going to be the toughest race of the season for me, but physically and mentally I am very strong, I feel right and yes, it will be a tough race but it will be the same for everybody.
Q: Interesting to see some of the major opposition - both of the McLaren Mercedes and of course your team mate Fernando - a little bit behind you on the grid.
Fisichella: I don't know why. Fernando is eighth, I think. That's not his position. I don't know what his problem is, but I'm really happy for my performance and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
Q: Jenson, not very happy yesterday but a great performance today.
Jenson BUTTON: No, yesterday we were struggling quite a bit with the car set-up but they did a lot of hard work overnight and we're here. The car is working a lot better today so I've got to thank the team for all their hard work overnight, they did a fantastic job of turning things around really, because it wasn't looking this good. But I'm happy with second, it would have been nice to have been first but that's pretty much all the time we had.
Q: You said from the start how much you were enjoying this new qualifying session, a lot of heat out there, a lot of laps, a lot of work to do.
Button: Yes, but the problem is when you're stuck in the garage more than anything else. Driving the car's not so bad, it's in the garage, but we've done a good job with fans and everything so I haven't got too hot. It's a bit of a challenge, it's good.
Q: We've had some problems with engines this weekend; indeed, we've had one problem with the Honda engine of your team mate. Your thoughts on reliability and what it's going to take tomorrow in these very difficult conditions.
Button: It's going to be tough on everything: on the driver, on the tyres and even on the car. It's never easy around this circuit, it's always very hot and very humid, and luckily we're very well prepared for tomorrow and now we're just going to have to work out if our strategy is the right one and I think it is.
Q: Nico, a fantastic performance; fastest lap in the Bahrain Grand Prix and now third fastest in Malaysia, just ahead of Michael Schumacher.
Nico ROSBERG: Yeah, it's not too bad. I'm really really pleased at how it went. I have to thank the team also because I had a great car which gave me the possibility to go so far up to third. I'm really really pleased and I'm looking forward to tomorrow now.
Q: Obviously the Williams Cosworth is a very good package here, but talk about it from your point of view; you are a rookie and yet you make it look very very easy.
Rosberg: Well that's not true, that's for sure. It's not easy at all. It's just going well, I've fitted in well with the team, we're working very well together with the engineers and everything and it's great, especially in the race when we will be extra strong compared to qualifying. Maybe we will have a little bit of an edge in the race and we could look good for tomorrow.
Q: It's a big jump from GP2 to Formula One and very very difficult conditions here; how are you going to fare in the heat tomorrow?
Rosberg: Yeah, it's definitely not going to be easy, that's for sure, but I felt good in Bahrain throughout the race. It was not too hard and also today in qualifying. I was sweating a fair bit but otherwise it was OK so I think it will be alright for tomorrow.
Q: Giancarlo, returning to you, a difficult race here for you last year, and of course a difficult race for you in Bahrain, but everything is looking good for you at the moment.
Fisichella: Yeah, yeah, exactly. The first race of last season was fantastic, it was a fantastic memory for me. I won the first race of the season straight away and this year was totally different for me, but I am looking forward to this race. I've got a great car, a great team and a fantastic package to be looking forward.
Q: Giancarlo, well done, but your timing is not very good: the Italian press is on strike - not here of course!
Fisichella: As usual. It's not the best time to do the pole but anyway it's good for me because it is a great answer after the last race where we made a big mistake. But anyway, the package is fantastic, the performance is good, I'm sure, and a chance during this season to do well.
Q: You were quick this morning; did you think you could be on pole this afternoon?
Fisichella: Already this morning, no, but I was confident I could be in the top four, top two rows, yes and already yesterday we had a good set-up. Overnight we went through with a different set-up and straight away this morning it was much better, even with scrubbed tyres I was quicker. In the qualifying session it was fantastic.
Q: What sort of confidence have the team been able to give you about the engine after last weekend?
Fisichella: Well, they made a mistake with the butterfly and we know what the problem was, so it shouldn't happen again. We fixed it and we are confident not to have any more trouble.
Q: Jenson, second on the grid, an improvement from last weekend.
Button: Yeah, this is great for us because we didn't expect this yesterday. In fact we didn't expect it up until the first qualifying session really, when the car suddenly came alive. We had a few issues yesterday with the set-up, we were quite a long way off what we expected here but I think I need to say thanks to the team who have done a fantastic job overnight and they've really turned the car around. It's not just on one lap pace, the long run pace is fantastic now. It's a big step forward from yesterday so I'm very very happy to be on the front row and I think we can have a good race.
Q: Just to continue the progression in qualifying through to Australia...
Button: It would be great to be on pole but there's tomorrow first. I think we have a good strategy and that's the great thing. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. It's going to be tough for all of us, the heat, but it's an extra challenge, I suppose.
Q: Your team mate has had to have a new engine; are there any similar worries for you?
Button: No, there are not massive worries that I'm going to have a problem tomorrow. They know the issues with Rubens's engine and it shouldn't be a problem at all, so they're confident that we're not going to have any issues tomorrow which is great. I think with the heat, I think they understand where we are so that's good.
Q: Did you want to make any further adjustments during qualifying? You're only allowed to make very limited adjustments.
Button: No, because when I jumped into the car during qualifying it was a big step forward from what we had in practice so the car felt good. We made a few adjustments to the front wing and that was about it, and then a few adjustments to the differential and the traction control. But the car was good.
Q: Nico I have to say that I was not expecting to see you so soon on either Saturday or Sunday afternoon in here, but congratulations. Well done. And, as Peter said, ahead of Michael Schumacher... You were nine when he won his first World Championship! Is that a bit of a surprise to you?
Rosberg: Well, no. I am just really, really pleased with the way it has gone, the qualifying session and everything, and to be third is special for me. I am really happy and, as Jenson said, I must thank my team because they gave me a great car, and especially my engineers, who gave me the possibilities of going so far up.
Q: What was the feeling after Bahrain? Did you gain a lot of confidence from that?
Rosberg: Yes, of course, because testing is one thing, but then you come to the races and you are starting anew. So it was important for me to give a good impression and I think I managed to give quite a good impression straightaway and that was very important for me and it boosted my confidence also and that is important when you are driving a car.
Q: Well, third on grid is pretty good isn't it?
Rosberg: Thank you.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Deutschland): Nico, it is a fantastic job regarding the number of laps you have driven on this track so far. Can you describe how long it took you to learn the track and gain confidence?
Rosberg: Well, It's not easy to learn a new track, but I am normally quite strong at it. So yes I got into it quite quickly on my four laps and soon I got used to it. It may also have been a help that I did not know this track because in Bahrain I have done many many laps with a GP2 and so I just went out with the F1 car and did the same thing and it didn't work at all. You have to learn every corner from new. Here I didn't have any reference so I just went out and pushed the car to the limit and that helped me a little bit because I didn't know the track. Now I know it pretty well.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) We heard you dedicate the pole to a friend who passed away. Can you say who this friend was?
Fisichella: He was a friend of mine and we started karting (together) when we were eight-year-olds and unfortunately last Sunday he died in an accident and I am pretty sad for that and so I dedicate the pole position to him and hope to dedicate a great race tomorrow, too.
Q: Giancarlo, it seemed to be a very similar situation to Australia last year, but it is the second race and not the first one. It means you are going for racing now and does it mean something important now for the world championship?
Fisichella: It is just the beginning of the season and the first race, as you know, was a disaster, but it is only the first race and I am only 10 points behind the leader, not 50, so I have still got the possibility to win the race and to do anyway a great result tomorrow and I have a great team and great package to fight for the championship. Why not?
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) For Nico, are you afraid of the heat for tomorrow?
Rosberg: No, afraid no, that would be stupid to be afraid. Bahrain, in the race, I was very surprised that it was quite easy for me, actually, the first race and I think it was the same for everybody. It is quite an easy track, physically. All I know from today is that it is going to be very hard in the race for sure very difficult but where's the problem? I will just push and get to the end for sure.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Germany) Nico, what were the first words on the radio from your team after finishing third?
Rosberg: Nothing really, I must say. They just said 'you are P2 but wait for Giancarlo because he is finishing his lap' and that's all they said. But I am sure they are very pleased with the result that I have done in qualifying. I am sure they are happy and I am going to go and see them later.
Q: (Ann Yeow - Hot Magazine) Would you prefer it if it rains tomorrow?
Fisichella: Considering my position on the grid, no, but anyway even in the wet conditions I feel confident.
Button: Wet or dry, it's not an issue, but we've done most of our running in the dry, and we are quick in the dry.