Belgian GP - Sunday - Press Conference

Fernando Alonso, Belgian GP 2007

Fernando Alonso, Belgian GP 2007 

 © The Cahier Archive

16 SEPTEMBER 2007

1. Kimi RAIKKONEN (Ferrari), 1h20m39.066s
2. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1h20m43.761s
3. Fernando ALONSO (McLaren Mercedes), 1h20m53.409s

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Kimi, from the pole, it looked like a perfect day for you. You were worried, before the race, perhaps, a little bit about your neck and also about a vibration or a feeling in the rear of the car in qualifying, but it looked to be perfect.

Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yes, I think so, not really any issues during the race. Only places were sometimes when you came up to lap some people it was pretty difficult because here it's pretty low downforce, so you seem to lose a lot of grip, so it was pretty hard to get past people. But it was the same for everybody. Apart from that, the car was very good, everything went well and it was a nice race.

Q: And the neck and problem with the rear of the car?

Raikkonen: We never found anything, so it was probably in my head. The neck is OK, it's not perfect but it's definitely OK and for sure it's going to be like normal in the next races, so that's not a worry. It was a perfect thing for the team, one-two, and they did everything right today.

Q: It is amazing how quickly things have turned around from Monza. Only a week ago, a very tough race against McLaren Mercedes, but dominant here in the Ardennes.

Raikkonen: We knew that we were going to be much stronger here than we were in Monza. We know the reasons why we cannot challenge on the circuits like Monaco, Monza, Montreal. We try to fix that problem for next year, hopefully we can, and then we should be pretty strong. This is more to do with aerodynamics and our car is strong in that area, so any circuits like this are going to be OK for us.

Q: A great Ferrari one-two, Felipe. Talk us through the early laps, behind Kimi. How did your two cars compare, what sort of shape were you in at that point?

Felipe MASSA: I had a very good start but I went sideways to Kimi but the corner was a little bit in favour of him, but I managed to get a good line as well. But then I think I started with maybe too much front wing, the car was pretty oversteering in the first stint. The second stint was pretty good, we could manage to keep the same margin from the beginning to the end of the run and then in the end, the car was just perfect on the soft tyres, so maybe it was a little bit the wrong choice looking at how the track improved, but anyway, we just know now. At the beginning we needed to take some risks, but I think the race was pretty good, the car was pretty quick, consistent and I think we did a very good pace compared to McLaren.

Q: So what you're suggesting is that perhaps you could have run a longer stint on the softer tyres?

Massa: Well, in the end, it was not a very long stint, but the tyres were pretty OK to run, so there was more grip, so it was better.

Q: Well, you obviously handled the defence against McLaren-Mercedes; what was it like in the early laps in terms of any pressure or not from Fernando?

Massa: No, I just had a little bit of lack of grip in the first lap and I saw Fernando come very close but then the car was so good, so it was OK to pull out a gap and then just to build a gap for the next stop.

Q: Fernando, a very aggressive first corner and run up to Eau Rouge there against your team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Fernando ALONSO: Yes, in the first corner, Felipe locked the front tyre a little bit and was blocking the inside and I had no space, or I had a bad exit from turn one. I think also Lewis went wide at the exit of turn one, so he took a little bit of an advantage run in the tyre mark but yeah, we arrived wheel to wheel into turn three, four but I was lucky to be on the inside and to keep the position there.

Q: You got a good run inside him down the hill into Eau Rouge on slightly lighter fuel but for a minute there, it looked as if neither of you were going to give way.

Alonso: Yeah, but on this occasion I was quite confident and happy with my position into that corner. I was not too worried and as you said, I had one lap less fuel than him, so I knew that my car in the first stint should be quick enough.

Q: Did you actually touch with Lewis as he came back onto the track?

Alonso: No, no.

Q: And then the race against the Ferraris; they quickly disappeared. What was it like from your point of view, where did they seem to be quicker and how hard or not was your race as a result?

Alonso: I think they were too quick for us today. I tried quite hard in the first stint to keep pace with Felipe, just hoping around the pit stop time to make up a position but slowly they were disappearing and after the first stop, for sure, we didn't see them anymore. We lack a little bit of pace in the race. We were quite OK in qualifying but for sure in the race we were off the pace by a couple of tenths today.

Q: But the feeling seemed to be in your team that although you were right there in qualifying, you would be in good shape for the race, or were you just saying that at the time?

Alonso: No, we thought so. I think we improved from last time. Maybe in Turkey there was no possibility at all to fight with them. Today, OK, they were quicker than us but maybe we have reduced the gap a little bit, but there's still a long way to work but circuits will come now that maybe suit our car a little bit better, so I think we still have possibilities to win the race from now on.

Q: Kimi, we just heard Fernando say that he thinks the circuits coming up will suit the McLaren-Mercedes. Your call - the next race, Japan obviously, a completely open book.

Raikkonen: I don't even know how the circuit looks, so it's pretty difficult for me to say but I heard that it might be not the best place for us but we will see. I think the last three races can go either way really. I think it's going to be a close call between the teams. For sure in qualifying we always seem to have a hard time against McLaren. In the races, in some places we can be stronger but overall I think we need to improve first in qualifying. We can always challenge or at least be better in the race, so we just try to keep working and try to improve but hopefully we can win more races.

Q: And in terms of the Drivers' championship you're only a win and a bit from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando now.

Raikkonen: Yeah, like I said before, we haven't given up and we are still in the hunt. We reduced the gap again. We lost a little bit in the last race but I think anything can happen. There are still three races to go. Everybody is so close and for sure we're going to fight hard, and sometimes you get it wrong and something can go wrong for all of us. We just keep pushing and see what happens. If we can do it, it would be amazing but it's going to be difficult, but we don't give up.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: What does it mean to win three races in a row here at Spa?

Raikkonen: For sure it's nice. For sure it's my favourite circuit, it was even before I came into Formula One, so it's nothing to do with if I win or lose here. I just like it here, but I think that's the reason that I have won here. It's just a good circuit.

Q: And now you've closed up on the McLarens as well, leading a Ferrari one-two.

Raikkonen: Yeah, but unfortunately there's still a long way to go but as I said before, we're still in the championship and we keep pushing hard, hopefully we can catch up more in the next races and see if we can do it anyway.

Q: It seemed to be a troublefree race; how was the car on the softer tyres? Felipe was saying his was really good.

Raikkonen: Yeah, actually I was a bit surprised. I thought that maybe the first two laps would be OK and then it would go away a little bit but it was very good. Both tyres were working very well. I think the soft could have been very fast if we had been pushing 100 percent, so no complaints on that side at all.

Q: Felipe, it was pretty tight at the start with Fernando coming round the outside of you. He said you locked up.

Massa: Yeah, actually I didn't even see Fernando in the mirrors, because I was trying to fight with Kimi but I was on the outside, I saw Kimi went a little bit wide as well, so I needed to try to close. I didn't see Fernando, so if we were close, I didn't see, but anyway it was a good start, unfortunately not enough but it was a good start.

Q: Then you dropped back a little in the opening stages?

Massa: Yeah, I had a big problem in the first stint, there was too much oversteer, it was very difficult to drive. But then I managed to improve the car a lot at the first stop by taking out the front wing and then it was pretty good, so the lap time was pretty good and very consistent. Then when we changed again to soft tyres it was even better, so maybe we took the wrong decision with the tyres. But it is very difficult sometimes to decide which style is going to work better. Also I think the drive improved a lot from yesterday to today and I think today the soft was better than the hard.

Q: And your position in the championship? How do you feel about that now?

Massa: Well, for sure as Kimi said there is not a long way to go but we are still fighting. I will not give up until I see that the calculation is not there anymore. While we still see that there is a possibility I am going to fight.

Q: Fernando, as Peter said, quite an aggressive first corner there. Is there a slight change of approach between you and your team-mate now that you are no longer scoring points for the team but just for yourselves?

Alonso: No, same approach. Today it was just coincidence that we started third and fourth, sometimes we are spread second and fourth or whatever, and we arrived at the first corner and here at Spa it is a little bit more tricky because it is a 180 degrees corner and a very wide straight, so you can have many possibilities for the racing line into turn one. So I think it was just that, nothing changed in the approach.

Q: The margin to the Ferraris... did you think it would be about that at the end of the race?

Alonso: Yes.

Q: Not surprised?

Alonso: No. When we came on Thursday maybe we were hoping for something more after the Monza result but after the Friday sessions and especially yesterday in qualifying... Normally in qualifying we can fight with them for pole position and then in the race we struggle a little bit more. If in qualifying they were first and second we knew that the race is going to be very difficult as it was in the end.

Q: I guess you drivers have been saying it is swings and roundabouts going this way and that, all the way through the season. But we have had a major illustration of it in the last eight days haven't we?

Alonso: Yeah, the last three races I think. Turkey was completely a Ferrari track, Monza was McLaren, this one Ferrari, hopefully the next one McLaren again...

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Question to Fernando. One point... Is it a good result or is it not enough?

Alonso: I am happy with the result for sure. We have been third and fourth position and in the championship these days it is only one point difference, so it doesn't change anything for the last three races. I think the championship is very open as it was last Thursday before we came here, you know. Before I was three points behind, now I am two points, so nothing changes. What I need to do is finish the best position possible and if I win the last three races it will be enough. Even if I was four points behind, or two, or three, what I need is to win and hopefully next time I will have the chance.

Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, how big was the temptation to try for the fastest lap again?

Raikkonen: I didn't want to risk anything. The car was very good but unfortunately you don't get any points for that. Sometimes you might do it for fun but I didn't have any temptations really on this one.

Q: (Claude Yvens - Radio Contact) Fernando, you were the fastest driver, if I am not mistaken, on the second part of the circuit, whereas Felipe Massa was the fastest in the first and third parts. So what explains the difference in lap times between you and Ferraris in terms of setup?

Alonso: I think this weekend we ran a little bit more downforce than them, more wind. So we were quicker in the middle sector, all the corners are there. They ran a little bit less downforce, so they were very quick on the straights in sector one and sector three. We tried different numbers in the test here back in July and for us the best compromise was what we had on the car. With less downforce we were quicker on sector one and sector three but we lost too much in the middle sector, so I think we matched our possibilities and we have to be happy.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Kimi, we saw you do a bit of a donut spin there coming back into the pits. What happened?

Raikkonen: I lost it.

(laughter)

Raikkonen: No, I have always wanted to do one and here it is much easier so... And it was the second race engine, so it doesn't really matter if you make life harder for it.

Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Fernando, in the three races remaining what are the best circuits for the McLaren?

Alonso: Very, very difficult question as we surprise ourselves every race, so it is not anymore an easy prediction for what is going to happen. But maybe Japan can be good for us, but China and Brazil not so good.

Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Question for Massa. At the end of the race you attacked Kimi and reduced a lot the gap, in your mind was it possible to overtake him?

Massa: No, no it was not possible.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) Felipe, do you think that in the last three races you will be free to win or must you help Kimi to try to win the championship?

Massa: I think I will be free to win.

Q: (Niki Takeda - Formula PA) Felipe, could you use a little bit less drag setup than Kimi today? Were there any options?

Massa: Drag?

Q: As in less downforce.

Massa: We were already quite low, so that was too risky. We saw that McLaren was very strong on sector two, so going with less than what we had was a little bit too risky.

Q: (Carlos Miquel - Diario AS) Fernando, do you think the fight between Kimi and Felipe could help you for the championship?

Alonso: Why?

Q: Because if Kimi wins every race then Kimi at the end could be a very hard driver.

Alonso: I don't know. For sure if Kimi wins all three races for the championship I need, and also Lewis needs to be second or third, otherwise we will lose too many points. For sure the championship is very open. Felipe is in the same position and still has possibilities to win, so I think we need to be very careful to finish all three races because if you have a DNF in one of them you say bye, bye to the title. So I am happy to pass these last two races, Monza and Spa, because they are the hardest two races for the engine and those are gone, so I am happy to finish and I will be happy to finish the remaining three. The positions are up to us to win.

Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Germany) Kimi, you already talked about we are a long way into the title but does it give you any boost winning here?

Raikkonen: I think so, it doesn't matter if you win here or any other race. It helps me in the points and it helps me in the championship, so for sure it is much nicer to win than to finish third or fourth, or fifth, or second. I would rather win and have a better chance for the championship. That is what matters really.