Features - Interview
APRIL 11, 2011
BY TONY DODGINS
Fernando Alonso had a much stronger race than qualifying session in Malaysia but a DRS wing failure and a coming-together with Lewis Hamilton meant four stops and just sixth place. Nevertheless, he left Sepang happier.
Q: What happened when you collided with Lewis Hamilton?
A 20s penalty for him and for me as well, but it doesn't change my race position so there is not a big drama. I finished sixth anyway. It was a racing incident. I tried to overtake, we touched each other, I broke the front wing, had to pit and unfortunately lost the podium possibility, but I'll try again at the next race.
Q: Did Lewis lift? Is that what caused the problem?
Q: Do you blame youself, Lewis, or was it just one of those things?
I think one of those things. We touched each other and the stewards called us to see our opinions. We don't decide and I have nothing to say about the decision, We try to race and hopefully we'll both finish next time with no problems.
Q: After qualifying it didn't look like the car was as competitive as McLaren. Do you understand?
It was fantastic to fight with Webber and McLaren. We did that a little bit in Australia as well, fighting with Jenson and Webber, but for whatever reason we are struggling a bit in qualifying and on Sunday we feel a lot more comfortable. We maybe wear the tyres a bit less than the others and so can keep more consistent laps. There is a positive atmosphere in the team and we go to China much happier.
Q: You had a DRS wing failure. Without it, where could you have finished?
It stopped working around lap 15-20 and from then it was hard to do overtaking moves. I was trying to use the KERS in different corners and straights to get close to the guy in front, try very hard under braking and then trying to change lines at the exit of the corners. It was a difficult race in terms of overtakin. Without the rear wing problem it might have been easier to overtake Lewis and then there was no problem after that, so we lost a podium possibility. I'm not too sad about the race because it was a good feeling to fight the McLarens and Red Bulls and I was leading the race for one lap -- something it was impossible to think after Australia or qualifying!
Q: Was it easy to know what was going on?
At one point of the race I was second or third and overtook Jenson, then in a different part of the race Jenson was in front of Lewis and I was fighting with Webber, who was making four stops, so it wasn't so easy or clear to know where everyone was. Heidfeld was quick at the start and Felipe had a delay in the pits. You lose visual contact with them and you don't know which strategy they are on. Yo try to do your race knowing that sometimes you are second or third and that doesn't mean you are second or third in the real race because if you are on a different strategy you can find yourself fifth or sixth in the last stint, so you need to keep pushing and saving the tyres as well. Last year after the first pit stops the race was practically over but this time you don't know what is happening until the last four or five laps, which is interesting.
Q: There's been concerns about marbles off-line but what was it actually like?
It was more difficult than Oz, for sure, so there are some concerns for places like Canada, Singapore, Monaco. If you catch a lapped car, they let you past , you go on the inside, take some marbles and then in the next corner you miss the braking point and go straight, Sepang is a very wide circuit and you come back onto the track but there will be more difficulties on narrower tracks. We need to keep an eye and be careful when we overtake someone.
Q: China should be a similar track to Malaysia but with weather more like Australia. What's your prediction?
In China we will be running in five days so there's not much chance to change cars so it will be difficult again for pace but the race is long, as we saw today. After qualifying it seemed as though the first four cars were unbeatable but today with everything normal we were second or third. We should have some opportunities if we do things right. I leave Sepang much happier.