BRAZILIAN GP - SUNDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 22 OCTOBER 2006
1. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1h31m53.751s
2. Fernando ALONSO (Renault), 1h32m12.409s
3. Jenson BUTTON (Honda), 1h32m13.145s
Q: Felipe, you're the first Brazilian to win your home Grand Prix since Ayrton Senna.
Felipe MASSA: Yes, it's just amazing isn't it? I think it's not for 13 years that a Brazilian driver has won the Brazilian Grand Prix and for me it's just amazing: to be here, in front of my people, my first year that I have a good car - I mean a fantastic car, because after the race today, I think it was maybe the easiest race of my life, because I could control everything. I wasn't pushing a lot and you know, I'm really happy to have that moment, and I'm sure... it's just difficult to explain, it's just very very special for me.
Q: Talk about your emotions on the podium, and the slow-down lap and what it means to be a Brazilian to win in this Formula One-crazy country.
Massa: Well, it's just a dream come true. You see all the people bringing the flags, screaming your name and they are really jumping and dancing, whatever, just for you, so I think it's difficult to explain. I'm sure every driver would love to be in my position. Fernando won his home Grand Prix this year and I'm sure it was very very special for him. So it's just the best day of my life.
Q: Fernando, you had to score points here to clinch the championship; you did that well and truly, finishing second and you've won back-to-back World Championships.
Fernando ALONSO: Yes, it's been a fantastic weekend, and 'specially the race, a very long race, obviously, for us because we only needed one point to become champion, and for sure, if I could help the team become Constructors' champion as well, I was ready to do it, and you know everything was as planned. Ferrari were too quick, but we managed to overtake Kimi in the first pit stop and then a lot of pressure from Jenson, but we managed to finish second. But as you say, it didn't matter the position, the important thing today was to become champion again for the second consecutive time and we did it. Nothing more to say, it's an unbelievable feeling.
Q: Can I invite you to say a few words about Michael Schumacher in his last Grand Prix today, finished fourth only five seconds behind you at the end after a puncture he incurred in passing your teammate; very close rivalry between you two all season.
Alonso: Yeah, it has been very close. I think it was good to fight with him. I always said that to become champion when Michael was still on the track has maybe more value than when he retired and I was extremely lucky to win the last two championships he raced in. I think all the drivers wish him the best for his new life with his family. It has been a pleasure for us to race with him.
Q: Finally, Fernando, how did you pace your race once you knew Michael was in trouble; you obviously defended against Rubens, but at one point Jarno Trulli got inside you?
Alonso: Yes. When Michael had the problem with the tyre on lap three or four after the safety car, we already turned down the revs because the championship was immediately in a good move, so I think we controlled the race, basically, from the beginning, not pushing any more than what we should do.
Q: Jenson, congratulations, a great drive from fourteenth on the grid after an electronic problem yesterday, to your third podium of the year.
Jenson BUTTON: For these two it's a very very special day, Felipe winning the Grand Prix in his home country and then Fernando clinching the World Championship, so I've got to say a massive well done to both of them. But even for me, coming from fourteenth to third after yesterday's problems, is a great result and a perfect way to end the year, so it's been a fantastic day, probably one of the most enjoyable races I've had, fighting my way through the field. It wasn't just done on pit stops or from people stopping.
Q: I guess we have to ask the question where you might have finished had you not had that problem yesterday?
Button: Yeah, we couldn't have challenged Felipe, they were very very fast, but second was definitely possible. You could see by the pace. Obviously Fernando was controlling the pace and I couldn't do anything about that. They were very quick in a straight line but I've got to say a big well done to all the boys. After yesterday's problem, they've kept strong and we've come away with another podium. It's a good result considering how bad it looked before.
Q: Felipe, the championships have gone to Fernando, Renault and Michelin on a day that Ferrari and Bridgestone were resoundingly fast again, and you won that race. Your thoughts about the team this year, about Michael and about that irony about Ferrari winning on a Renault-Michelin day.
Massa: For sure they deserve it. They had a fantastic beginning to the championship and that was definitely the key to control the end of the championship. But in the same away, I think we deserve it as well. We did a fantastic job, not at the beginning of the championship but after we put everything together. We just made a very very strong car, a very very strong team and we deserved it as well, so everything is written, how it has to be. Well done to Renault, Michelin as well, and Fernando well done. But that's the way it is. I think our team did a fantastic job and well done to everybody inside the team because we really worked hard and we deserved it as well.
Q: And driving this season alongside Michael Schumacher...
Massa: It's just fantastic for me. Michael is really a friend, a very special guy for me. He was always positive about me, he always wanted to have me in the team and for me, for sure I will miss him, even if it was also an opportunity for me to stay in the team, because he retired, but I will miss him because he's just a fantastic person and he's very special for me.
Q: Felipe, there can't be anywhere better to win, can there?
Massa: No! Definitely not. I think it's just a dream come true. I always dreamt to have this day in my life and I got it, it's really amazing to be here, winning my home Grand Prix, starting from pole position with an incredible car in my hands, which I have to say was the most easiest race in my life because I had such an incredible car, in which I could control the pace from the beginning to the end. Even when Michael had a problem and he was in front of me, I could wait and help him to make his pace and just follow him without passing him, not make him lose a lap so it was quite easy. I never expected to be here in this place today, it's just a dream come true.
Q: Was the car absolutely perfect, were you absolutely perfect as well?
Massa: Well, I was very strong, for sure, from yesterday morning in practice. We managed to set up the car in the best way we could because on Friday the car was not very good and then I was not very happy with the balance and we changed everything and it was just working perfectly yesterday and today so the car was just fantastic.
Q: The only problem was it was a bit lonely for you, no one to battle with.
Massa: No, that sometimes makes it quite difficult which makes the race more difficult because you need to concentrate and sometimes I was even looking into the grandstand and I was even talking to myself, asking what are you doing, look at the track, and if you concentrate and look at the track, you can look at the grandstand afterwards. It's very nice. Always when you have a good car, it makes everything easier to work with.
Q: Fernando, exactly what you wanted; World Champion again, that must sound great.
Alonso: Yes, it has been a fantastic weekend and now I probably need some time to believe that I'm champion again. I'm 25-years old, two championships now, and two Constructors' as well. Last race for Renault after five years' relationship, fantastic way to finish the relationship with this success. I will have these memories with them all my life and to finish the last race like this is something that you never dream of, you never even try to dream of, because it's always more than what you expected.
Q: What were your feelings when you heard that Michael was in trouble, that he had a puncture?
Alonso: Well, first of all they told me to drop the revs, on lap three or four, which was a little bit of a surprise, so two or three laps later, they told me that Michael was position nineteen, because he had to stop and then I understood why we dropped the revs already on lap four. But then, no feelings. It doesn't matter for me what result Michael did today. I was only concentrating on being in the top eight. It may seem easy, but anything can happen and I didn't want to lose concentration. Also the safety car (period) was quite dangerous, a lot of debris on the track, so I tried to avoid any pieces of the car and maybe have a puncture. There are always many risks in a race and you always have to avoid them.
Q: And you were battling most of the time; who was the biggest threat?
Alonso: Jenson, Jenson for sure. I think at the beginning with Kimi, I didn't want to push too much because I knew that I had the opportunity in the pit stop. If not, third position was OK for me as well but then with Jenson, it was quite close. I didn't want to push the revs up. I was waiting; if Jenson was coming too close to me I would let him past, but on the straight, my car was quicker and Jenson didn't push me too much.
Q: Jenson, good to see you up here as well; what made the difference today, do you feel?
Button: First of all, I would like to say well done to Felipe for winning his home Grand Prix - it must be an amazing feeling - and also to Fernando for winning the World Championship a second year running. They both thoroughly deserve their results today.
Yeah, it was a good day. After yesterday's problems, it's nice to be on the podium, starting fourteenth and coming through the field. It was such an exciting race for me, especially the first 20 or 30 laps, fighting my way through, but I just couldn't get anywhere near Fernando on the straight. I would get close on the exit, the car was very good on traction but I just couldn't get close enough on the straight, he would slightly pull away, which is disappointing, but it's still nice to get third after such an enjoyable race. This is great for our team, going into the winter. We are one of the only teams who don't have drivers moving elsewhere and new drivers coming in. We can just concentrate on next season and this is a great way to finish 2006.
Q: What was the first lap like?
Button: Mayhem, yeah, mayhem. It was great. It was a lot of fun. It is always like that in the middle of the pack but especially being the last race. You're giving it your all and you see what happens and I came out on top and yeah, a fantastic day.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mathias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) Fernando, congratulations, did the team inform you regularly where Michael was, or not at all?
Alonso: When he had the puncture, they told me to drop the revs and three laps later in lap seven or eight they told me he was P19, but they were telling me it was the Constructors Championship and we needed to score enough points between us, Fisi and me, I think the Drivers' Championship we were already aware we needed to finish in the top eight and it didn't matter what Michael did.
Q: (Sal Zanca - Associated Press) Feranando, after losing a 25-points lead, did you have some worries along the way?
Alonso: Well, we lost too many points, more than we expected because of the problems we had. We had one problem in Hungary with a rear tyre and we didn't finish the race and then at Monza with the engine failure and so with these two races the advantage went very quickly and then for the last three races China, Japan and Brazil, we arrived equal points to Michael and to Ferrari and I was convinced we were able to win. I had no doubts in this last couple of weeks. I knew that Ferrari was quick, but we were also quick and I think sooner or later everyone would be put in his place. We deserved this championship and we had very bad moments this championship unfortunately with some decisions and I think we deserved it and this is just the best.
Q: (Sal Zanca - Associated Press) What decisions are you talking about?
Alonso: Well, there are many this year that I will never forget, you know.
Q: (Jaime Rodrigues - El Mundo) Fernando, what is in your head now, what are you thinking?
Alonso: In all the people in the team, who did a fantastic job, I want to say thanks again to all of them. After a five-year relationship like that, it doesn't matter which result we had today. They were completely my family in Formula One and I want to say thanks to them and to the test team, to Enstone, to Viry, to Michelin, to Kovalainen, as well, who did a lot of job for us this year and I think the first people who arrived to my house, and my family, as well, they had also had a couple of races with bad feelings for what we had this year...
Q: (Alejandro Cisternas - El Mercurio) Do you regret saying during the season that things were arranged to give Michael the championship?
Alonso: No, I didn't say that. I only said that there were some decisions that were not sportive and not fair and I know that and I think the people who did it, they know that, and now it is time for us.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret - L'Equipe) Fernando, you said Renault was your family in Formula One. What will be your best memory of all these years with them?
Alonso: The best memories will be both championships, what we felt last year, the emotion and the atmosphere in the team and what I will feel now when I go down into the garage - these ten minutes you are with the guys are the best memories because we grew up together and now we have won two consecutive years both championships and for me it is something I will never forget the years I do with Renault.
Q: (Rodrigo Franca - Speedway) Felipe, where were you when Ayrton Senna won the 1993 Brazilian Grand Prix, did you watch the race and what were your memories of it?
Massa: I think everybody watched that race. It was amazing. I remember it definitely, but I was still a kid, just 12 years old then. I was at home, not at the track, but I remember it was amazing to see Senna winning the Brazilian Grand Prix and then the people running on the track after the race - and I saw the same today so it was just very nice.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, can you repeat what you said about Michael?
Alonso: Well, I said for us not only for me, but all drivers, we are happy to race with Michael in the last couple of years. In my case I think we all wish him the best for his new life with family. He has been a great champion with all the records in Formula One. For me to race with and to win the 2005 and 2006 championships with him on the track for the last two years with Michael has more value and I am really proud to have raced with him.
Q: (Mathias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) Felipe, congratulations, from which point in the race did you take a drop and go conservatively?
Massa: I did ten very strong laps after the Safety Car and I see the gap getting bigger, seven, eight, ten seconds and then after that I reduced a little bit the revs and when I see I just came back for the last two laps before stopping the first time and then after I was already on the medium revs and 15 or 20 laps to go I reduced to the minimum revs. So I was able to control the pace, easy on the team, and easy to control today.
Q: (Eduardo Maluf Miguel - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Fernando, will Felipe Massa be your most difficult opponent when you defend this championship?
Alonso: I don't know. It is too early to say. What we can say is that Felipe will be one of the favourites next year. I think both Ferrari drivers are always in the positions to win races and championships and so I think Felipe, Kimi, the Renault drivers and hopefully the McLaren drivers will be, also with Jenson and Rubens, all the top teams, will normally be the favourite ones. But until the fourth or fifth race you will not see a clear picture.
Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen) What are your immediate plans before you go testing again?
Massa: Well, I stay here in Brazil for two days and then I go to Italy because there is a Ferrari day next weekend and then I come back to Brazil and stay one month the whole of November and then I do all of the testing, first at Barcelona, end of November, and then Jerez. I am doing a couple of days at every test.
Alonso: Well, I don't know yet. I think this week I will be in England. I want to go to the Renault factory for the last time to say thank you to everyone personally and hopefully I can go to France and do the same thing with the people for the engines and then the next weekend on Saturday or Sunday I will go to Spain to my home city and celebrate the title with them.
Button: I am going to do the same. I am going to the factories both in England and then I am in Monaco for a little while and then do my usual thing in Lanzarote for a couple of weeks - and it is not fun, trust me! (laughter)
Q: (Flavio Gomez - Warm Up) Felipe, you did what Ayrton used to do and you took the flag. Did you have any special memories about that time?
Massa: Honestly when I took the flag I remembered about Ayrton and I remembered not so much the Brazilian Grand Prix when he took the flag but the time he did it at Monaco and I always remember that moment and it was very special to see a driver getting the flag from his home country and for me it was special to do it in my home Grand Prix and I stopped straightaway in the first corner to find a flag and then I saw this guy running quickly and I took the flag and I think also he was going to jump in the car, it was really funny and very nice.
Q: Fernando, you are 25 - do you think you can win seven world titles?
Alonso: I don't think so because I will not be that long in Formula One.
Massa: Come on... So why not stop now?
Alonso: It is a good moment, but I am going to continue.
Q: (Louis Fernando Ramos - Racing) Jenson, you are the driver with most points scored from Hungary on. Do you believe that with a few extra races you could be challenging to win as well - if we had a few races left?
Button: That's the problem. There are a lot of ifs... But we have 18 races. Over the last nine races, seven races, I've scored more points than anyone, but that is only seven races - and you have got to complete the season. This has been a very up and down season for us and we finally sorted out the car for Hockenheim and since then we have had very good results and our worst result has been fifth. So, yes, it is pretty good and it bodes well for next season, but we do need the whole season. Personally, I think that as a team we are very strong. We are strong enough to challenge for a championship and we just have to make sure we build a car that is strong enough as well.
Q: (Valeria Zuqueram - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Felipe, what was in your mind when you crossed the finish line?
Button: Big party tonight!
Massa: I think I remember when I was in the go kart and fighting for winning and so I got the flag and I see the people and I was screaming in my helmet and remembering all the times from my past, particularly the difficult times, because the most easy thing to remember is the difficult times and instead of the good times. The good times are always nice, but the difficult times are harder. My family, my friends, the whole crowd and everything...
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Fernando, compared to a normal race, how much less revs were you using today?
Alonso: I don't know. I think we were at 80 per cent of them.
Q: (Carlos Miquel - Diario AS) Fernando, they are on the streets in Spain and the question is can you win the championship with McLaren next year?
Alonso: Well, I say to the people in Spain 'thank you very much' and my best memory of this year was at the Spanish Grand Prix. I don't know what I will find with the mechanics here now, this afternoon and tonight, but it will be difficult to beat what I saw in Spain and my feelings there and they supported me - especially in the hard moments this year. In the beginning everybody supported me, but then when the advantage disappeared I had double support in Spain, and really focused, and tried to help me in any way they could so thank you to all of them, now they are out on the street and totally crazy so I hope they enjoy a lot tonight because they are happy and I am happy. And for McLaren, I don't know, there were some races very good, like Monza, Kimi second, Bahrain, Kimi started last and finished third, Monaco, and some races that they were not very good so I think they were a little bit up and down and hopefully we will find some consistency and if we are regularly on the podium, why not fight for the championship?
Q: (Emiliano Rodriguez - Noticias Argentinas) Question for Fernando; today, Michael Schumacher's time in Formula One finishes; do you think this is now your time in Formula One? Do you think Fernando Alonso's time in Formula One begins today?
Alonso: I don't think so. I think you always try to finish someone and to take another new one into the role of champion of Formula One, and I don't think this is possible. Formula One changes a lot every year: the rules, the cars and sometimes you are not able to win and sometimes it's impossible, so I think what is true, in the last two years we were the best out there; the package, Renault, Michelin and me, we became champions twice and that is the only truth. From now on, nobody knows what is going to happen and hopefully I can fight for the championship, I can hopefully be in the top three, the top four with all the championships I do from now, but it's difficult to repeat what Michael did, the dominant position for so many years.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret - L'Equipe) Fernando, you won two titles with Renault, Renault won two titles with you; do you have any regrets leaving them?
Alonso: No. No. I knew that 2006 would be a good season for us, and Renault should be on top, fighting for the championship and I knew that this year there would be the possibility to become champion and we were ready to take it, but nevertheless, I feel that for the next three years, also at McLaren I will have the opportunity to have a good car. Renault, for sure, will have a good car, but hopefully I will find new motivation with McLaren, new challenge, new people, new way to work and this is really very important for me and I'm looking forward to this new thing.
Q: (Martin Filipovic - Auto Motor A Sport) Fernando, what do you think about the fact that now that Michael has retired, you will be the only World Champion driving, and all the media and public pressure will be on you?
Alonso: Well, I think this is not very important. It's good because I will have number one on my car, try to defend that number and if I'm the only one on the track who has been World Champion or not, I don't think it changes too many things. This year we started the season with Jacques, Michael and me and we finish the season with only Michael and me and all the pressure, all the focus of everybody was not changing too much.
Q: (Mathias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) Fernando, are you staying in town tonight or flying home?
Alonso: I fly home.
Q: (Erica Akie - Jornal da Tarde) Jenson, what about ending the season with more points than Rubens, and what about this year with him?
Button: Having Rubens in the team has been great for all of us, because he comes from a team that has won the World Championship many times and also working alongside Michael; he's gained a lot of experience there so he's been very good for the team. He's come with some good ideas, he understands where we are weak and also where we are strong. So yeah, he's been very good for the team. He's also been competitive and he's pushed me very hard, especially in qualifying, so we are looking forward to a good winter. We're both racing for the team next season, so it's going to be good, because we can work together and hopefully move forward the amount that we need to be challenging Renault, Ferrari and McLaren.
Q: (Claudio Nogueira - O Globo) Felipe, what changes in your life after this victory and do you believe you can become a national idol right now?
Massa: I was also thinking before that for sure, after today's victory, my life will change a lot, especially in Brazil but that's really nice because I always dream to be here, I always dreamed to be on the top of what I'm doing, and hopefully I can get a lot of support from Brazil and I know Brazilian people love Formula One. Sometimes they are even strong, because they want to see the result and today I had a fantastic result and I'm really happy about that, and hopefully I can get a lot of support to have a lot more good results like today.