Monza race winner Fernando Alonso is joined by McLaren’s Jenson Button and Felipe Massa in the post race press conference.
1. Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari), 1h16m24.572s
2. Jenson BUTTON (McLaren), 1h16m27.510s
3. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1h16m28.795s
Q: Fernando, you said pole yesterday was special, so what does that make today’s win on Ferrari’s home soil?
Fernando ALONSO: Well, something only we can compare with the feeling I had in 2006 winning in Barcelona my home grand prix. It was a very special moment that one and this is a very special moment this one as well. Fantastic feeling. Very tough race. Very strong opposition today with fantastic drive from Jenson and we tried to put both Ferraris in the first two positions. After the start it was difficult with Jenson’s good start and good pace. But the team did a fantastic job again with a fantastic spit stop and thanks to them we are sitting here. We made the overtake in the garage.
Q: What were you thinking when you saw Jenson peel into the pit lane? Did you think it was Christmas?
FA: No, we were thinking at that time to be honest about the possibility of coming in. The possibilities were two, coming in one lap earlier or one lap later. We had to find the right choice and the right moment. When we saw Jenson coming it was one of the two possibilities we had. There was one lap to push and rely on the mechanics. I think the lap was more or less okay, nothing special, but the pit stop was superb.
Q: Jenson, you soaked up all this pressure with Fernando and then you blinked first in the pit stops. What happened?
Jenson BUTTON: Yeah, the start was good. Fernando came over quite a bit at the start but I had enough room to squeeze up the inside into turn one. Then the rest of the first lap was pretty tough as the straightline speed these guys have compared to me because I am running high downforce made it very tricky to hold off the challenges. I spent most of the race looking in my mirrors and making sure that Fernando wasn’t close enough. It is so difficult around here to know whether the car is right up behind you or not, so I was watching from the TV screens to see the distance he was behind. A lot of pressure. I don’t think we quite had the pace today compared to these guys. But it was all going pretty well. I was pretty happy with the car but then we decided to pit one lap earlier than Fernando. For me when I exited the pits I had very little grip on the prime tyre. Lots of shuddering which means the tyre isn’t working, so little bit disappointing to find myself in that position and Fernando coming out of the pits in front. But we had a good weekend and to come away with a second is a great result. You want the top step but some good points and for all three of us here we have done very well for our championship hopes, so it is good heading out of Europe with a good points finish.
Q: Tell us about the start in a bit more detail. Just how close it got with the two Ferraris into the first corner.
JB: I couldn’t see Felipe. I got a very good start and I could just see Fernando. He was able to brake very late into the first corner which surprised me a little bit. But I was able to hold him off. I got a good exit out of the second corner, the second part of the chicane which was always my worry. Getting a bad exit there and Fernando could come out of my tail and then turn me into turn four. It didn’t happen. It was all looking very good but quite a tough race mentally to have Fernando behind me for most of it. But I came home second which is one off being perfect, so I am pretty happy and just looking forward to the rest of the season.
Q: Felipe, tell us about your start and battling very hard with Fernando into the first few corners and then the contact with Lewis Hamilton.
Felipe MASSA: I had a very good start. Not as good as Jenson as I think his start was maybe the best. Then I saw them braking very late at turn one and I was looking at my wheels as well trying to be the same direction at the first corner. Then I saw Fernando a little bit wide, so I tried to go to the outside and then on the exit of the second corner he had a little bit better traction, so he was able to be slightly in front of me and then he was on a good side for turn four. I was completely on the left, so when I saw him go into the corner I went as well and then I felt something on my back and that was Lewis. He was just behind Fernando on the inside. I was a little bit on the outside, so we touched. I didn’t see to be honest what happened but just felt something on my back.
Q: You stayed out longer than the other two before you made your first pit stop. Did you think you might be able to jump them?
FM: Well, it was a good idea to stay out longer but I expected the hard tyres after one lap, the out lap, to be stronger than the soft. I pitted and then I struggled like Jenson massively on the out lap. But then the hard improved and it was quicker than the soft. But anyway it was a good race. The team did a good job. I think I lost a little bit of time in the pit stop as well. Maybe that was something to fight for the positions in the front. But it was a great race especially to come here and see all these people on the main straight. You don’t see the asphalt. You just see people all around. It is just fantastic. It is a great feeling being on the podium here in Monza. It is a fantastic feeling for us.
Q: Fernando, you are right back in the championship. Are you feeling quite confident after this result?
FA: Well, I think any good result gives you extra confidence and some good motivation for the whole team to keep working hard and try not to give up at any point in the championship. We know that one race, good race or bad race, can change the positions in the championship a lot with the new points system. We need to remain calm. This was a good weekend for us. In Spa it was a bad weekend for us. We need to try to find some consistency in the last five races and we need to be fighting for the podium. That will be the key. This result is a good motivation for all us. But the remaining five races are really important with good points. We need to enjoy tonight, enjoy the next two days. I will be in Maranello Monday and Tuesday, so try to say thanks to the whole team and championship-wise it is time to think later on.
Q: Fernando, standing on that rostrum has got to be the greatest experience, hasn’t it?
FA: Yes. As I said in the other room it is something really only possible to compare with the Spanish Grand Prix victory I had in 2006. Very, very special win this one and very special feelings right now. Difficult to express but really emotional win.
Q: The important of this race is massive as well in terms of the championship.
FA: Well, regarding the results now at the end of the race knowing that (Mark) Webber was only sixth and Hamilton had the problem it is very important for the championship in terms of the points’ gap. But as I said on Thursday our chances to be champion or to have a possibility this year is not what the others will do. I think we need to find some consistency as this was a good weekend but Spa was a bad weekend, so we cannot afford to have these bad weekends. We need to have some consistency and more podiums if possible. If we do then we will see what our opponents do as well. But at the moment we don’t need to look what others are doing as sometimes we are not doing our 100 percent. That is what we have to concentrate on.
Q: Tell us about the start of the race.
FA: Well, it was very, very difficult, very stressful moment. Not so much the start as the start itself was good. I felt nothing wrong with it but Jenson had a much better start, so I tried to defend but it was not possible. I tried to fend but it was too late. Jenson took a good position for the first corner. I tried to brake late but Jenson was right on the braking point as well. I tried to negotiate the first corner. I touched the front nose of the car in Jenson’s rear left and I jumped a little bit. When I landed I touched Felipe on the right, so we had two touches in two metres of the first corner, so at that moment probably something is damaged in the car. Maybe I am not anymore competitive or the car will understeer in the next corner, so the first couple of laps were just a check of how the car was behaving. Everything was fine, so we keep pushing but the first 10 seconds of the race were quite stressful and quite negative as I thought it was a much bigger problem than it was at the end.
Q: After that was it a case of waiting until Jenson came into the pits.
FA: No, we attacked Jenson. Some laps I had confidence that before or later maybe out of Parabolica I was close enough to take the benefit of the extra speed. Our car was quicker on the straights today than Jenson, so I knew that out of Parabolica if I was close enough maybe I had the chance. I was pushing all the race to have this possibility but Jenson was driving superb and it was not possible. He was not doing a single mistake the whole lap, so Parabolica was always the same distance.
Q: Then when he did come in did you push hard for that one lap?
FA: Yeah, obviously we had two possibilities. One lap earlier than him or one lap longer depending on what he was doing. When we saw him come in we knew that we only had only one lap as after that the prime tyre was quicker. We had one lap. I pushed. The lap was 100 per cent and the pit stop felt very good for me. I stopped, changed the tyres, it was a green light. I didn’t even have first gear in. It was a surprise how quick it was. I think most of the race and most of the overtaking is thanks to the mechanics, to the team, because it was a perfect job.
Q: Then a little scare on lap 50 when you went off at the first chicane?
FA: Yeah, I had Pedro (de la Rosa) in front of me for one lap and a half and then in the first chicane I thought he was letting me by and I brake a little bit late to overtake him. Then he closed, so to avoid any risk or anything like that I said I go straight but then there were these big bumps, so I had to slow down as much as I could not to damage the car. It was a moment that maybe is better to avoid but he was there and we were lucky enough to keep the car in one piece.
Q: Jenson, first of all the wing strategy. How do you feel about it after the race?
JB: I think it was the right choice. For me the start was very good and we calculated down to the first corner that I should not lose ground because of the distance and the effect you get from the F-duct and the braking. It went according to plan, probably a little bit better according to plan the initial get-away anyway. I was leading. I didn’t feel the touch with Fernando. Looking at the footage there were quite a lot of bits that fly off. I don’t know if it’s from Fernando’s car or mine. For me the race was pretty tough as I spent the whole time looking at my mirrors trying to judge how far Fernando was behind. Their straightline was obviously a lot quicker as I had a lot more downforce on the car. It was very difficult to judge as the mirrors are shaking. But I was able to defend and keep him behind me the whole of the race I was on the circuit. He didn’t really get an opportunity to overtake, so for me everything was going smoothly. Mentally pretty draining and then we pitted one lap earlier which possibly was a mistake. The team think that the prime tyre was better than the option and it probably was a better tyre. I agree with that. But for me when I went out on the prime tyre I couldn’t find the grip on the first lap and that’s for me where I lost time. I think we made a little bit of a mistake there but second place is still good. It is good to get some good points. The team did a great job in the pit stops and staying nice and calm throughout the race and giving me as much information as they could. A happy day but obviously you want to finish first, so it is good for the championship but at the moment it is sad not to be on the top step.
Q: You think it was just that out lap where you really lost it?
JB: Yeah, I didn’t have the pace that I expected to in the race. These two were super fast the whole race. I didn’t get more than 1.4, 1.5 seconds away from Fernando the whole race, so it was very tough. I had to push the car very hard. I was surprised at how close these guys could get through the corners. I thought I would pull out a bigger gap with the amount of downforce I was running but it wasn’t possible. Today we had a very good car but I think these guys had the slight edge, so congratulations to Fernando and as I said it is great for the championship. I have got some big points here, 22 points behind Mark who is leading, so I have pulled back 13, so it is a positive day and we can look forward to Singapore.
Q: Felipe, you give the impression that perhaps you would have been better on the prime tyre rather than the option.
FM: Yeah, the race was pretty consistent for us three and suddenly we saw Jenson coming in and then he went out his out lap was not very strong. His second sector as well but then after he was improving. I was sure that maybe in one lap he would be quicker on the soft. Then we decided to stop. Maybe I would have been better to stay out, but it is always easy to say after. We talked before, but anyway it was the right case to come in and change the tyres. Then I was struggling as well on the out lap like Jenson was. But I think it was a good race. The performance was good on the car. The start was also quite difficult. The first corner and also turn four as I felt Lewis hitting me. But after that I think it was a good race.
Q: No damage on the car?
FM: I don’t think so. I didn’t check everything but I don’t think so.
Q: Happy to have the points for third?
FM: Yeah, I think it was a good result in the end. For sure at the start I had the chance to passâ€¦ maybe Fernando as well because he was struggling at the second corner with Jenson but then in the next corner he was on the inside, so it was difficult. And also in the pits. He did a very good pit stop, he was a bit closer to Jenson and he was able to pass, because it was difficult on the track. Even though Jenson didn’t have a very good top speed he still wasn’t easy to pass.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Paulo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jenson, we saw that (Sebastian) Vettel pitted on the last lap. Is that something that you could have done, to try to keep him behind, or was that never an option?
JB: I think everything is an option, youve got to keep your eyes open to every situation. We obviously thought it was the right decision to come in a lap earlier than these two but looking at it now, I don’t think it was the right call. These are difficult situations when you’ve got 0.5s lead, whether you stop a lap earlier or whether you stop a lap later, so it’s a tricky situation and I don’t feel that it worked for us today, but even so, we’ve got a good result out of it today and hopefully we will be as strong in Singapore because this was a great weekend for me and a great weekend for the team, so I look forward to more challenges in Singapore.
Q: (Frederic Ferret L’Equipe) Fernando and Felipe, you have built a winning car for Monza which is a special track. How much work do you have to do to rebuild the car for Singapore and the more conventional tracks at the end of the season?
FM: I think that if you compare Monza to the next tracks we’re going to see, it’s completely different, so we’re more or less going to go back to Monaco now, which is Singapore, where you need a completely different car to here and we know that Red Bull is very strong on these kinds of tracks and you need the downforce, so when we go to Suzuka, it’s a bit similar to Silverstone, to Turkey, to Barcelona and we see Red Bull very strong on these tracks. Anyway, for sure we’re not going to have easy races, so we have a lot of strong teams like Red Bull and McLaren which are sometimes very strong. They are there, fighting for victory, for pole positions, so I don’t think it will be easy but anyway we need to prepare our car for every track we’re going to see now and hopefully we can be competitive as we were here in all of these tracks. It’s a big job now, but I definitely trust in the team.
FA: I think Monza requires very unique rear wings. The rest of the car should be more or less the same. I think we shouldn’t be too worried about the Singapore package but as Felipe said, knowing that this track and Singapore are opposites in terms of layout and the characteristics of the corners, we would expect Red Bull to be very competitive in Singapore.
Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Jenson, the difference between you retaining the lead and being second seemed to be created in the pit stop where you were 4.2s and Fernando was 3.4s, so you were just 0.8s behind there. Is that just one of these things, or was it a bit shoddy?
JB: The pit stops are always very tricky. The guys have practised over the weekend but I am the first pit stop for the team when I come in. It’s always a tricky situation. For me, the pit stop went pretty smoothly. I was quite happy with it but I didn’t know that Fernando was that much quicker. So we lost time there but also for me, out on the circuit, when I got back out I struggled on the tyre. I could feel that I was losing time even to my option tyres which obviously weren’t in fantastic condition. It wasn’t all the pit stop, I think. It was also maybe the wrong call on our part of choosing to come in early.
Q: (Jaime Rodriguez El Mundo) Fernando, for the first time in your career you are fighting for the championship in a different situation to that in 2005 and 2006 when you were leading. Do you feel a different pressure, is it different?
FA: Well, I think I was fighting in 2007 as well. I was twenty points behind the leader and we arrived on equal points at the last race, so it’s not the best thing. Obviously we all would like to be in first position and defending the gap because in the position that we are in now there is no room to make a mistake or to retire even in one race. As we saw today with Hamilton, he was leading and after this problem today, I don’t know if he’s leading or not but he’s still fighting for the championship with no risk. For us, it’s different. If we have a problem, maybe we say bye-bye to the championship, so it’s not ideal but we have to deal with this stress or this pressure and it’s now time to deliver. Five races to go, so let’s try to do our maximum, never give up and we will try, knowing that it’s going to be very difficult.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Fernando, well done. When you joined Ferrari, was this result here today and those scenes out there beyond your wildest dreams that you could have imagined, when you started out with the team?
FA: I never imagined that it was so good. As I said sometimes this year, the integration to the team has been fantastic. The welcome by all the team, all the members, all the Italian fans has been much better than I ever dreamed of. I’ve sometimes been on the podium at Monza with all these people supporting Ferrari in the past and to imagine myself on the top step of the podium with all those fans with their Ferrari flags has been a very good feeling for me and a good shock!
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Fernando, was that the fastest pit you have ever done, or have you done quicker in practice?
FA: I don’t know really, I will have to check. I think there was one race where if the number was 3.4s today, I don’t remember if we did 3.2s one time. I don’t know if that was in a race situation. Obviously there is more stress etc. Fighting for the race, knowing that our main opponent came into the pits one lap early and you have to deliver in these three seconds here in Italy with all the pressure that they have as wellâ€¦ As I said, I felt the pit stop was the quickest I have ever done. As I said just now, when I saw the green light, I just put the first gear in at that moment, so physically there was no time to do all the buttons and they changed four tyres, so it was something very good and very impressive, and a big thanks to the team.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando you already partially answered this question but how different is this victory to your 2007 win in Monza?
FA: Well, in 2007 they were not saying very nice things or words about us as we crossed the line because we were rivals. I think McLaren was also fighting for the championship against Ferrari, so winning here was not the best thing for them and winning today, you get involved in this atmosphere with the Italian national anthem as well with all the people. It feels great. The whole weekendâ€¦ the entrance to the paddock is only one example but this welcome by everybody and this support for the team is great and I think Felipe and me have had a fantastic weekend thanks to these guys as well.
Q: (Carlos Miquel Grand Prix Actual) Fernando, do you believe that Ferrari will be consistent until the end of the season, because it’s been a season of ups and downs? And how was the braking when you came out of the pits with Button approaching, because the tyres were a little bit cold?
FA: I think the up and down thingâ€¦ obviously we try to do our best every weekend. In Spa we were not very competitive, so we were struggling a little bit but I think we were first in Hockenheim and second in Hungary, and in Spa, even if we were not competitive we cannot forget that on the first lap Barrichello hit us and we were running last by twenty seconds to the guy in front because we had to change tyres on lap two and lap three. So without that hit, with this incident, maybe Spa was a sixth or seventh or whatever position and those points would be very welcome now in the championship as it is. I expect Ferrari to be very consistent in these five races, so to answer your question: why not? Only Spa has been a little bit down.
With the pit stop exit, for sure it was not easy. The first time I looked in the mirror Jenson was very far away, so I said good, we are clearly in front of him in the first corner’ but I forgot that he was coming at 320, so he was arriving very quickly and we arrived at the first corner nearly side-by-side and then I nearly spun or I had a moment when I went onto the throttle because obviously with the new tyres I had a lot of wheelspin as soon as I touched the throttle at the first chicane and it was the only risky place. The braking was not so much, and as I said, the surprise was the speed that these cars are coming on the straight.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Felipe, you said you lost a little time in your pit stop. What happened, and if it was a normal pit stop, do you think you could have been in front of Jenson at the end of the pits?
FM: Maybe. It’s difficult to say because I came out of the pit and they were kind of passing. But anyway, I was quite close to be honest. I don’t know what happened. I just saw that they took a little bit of time to change the front right tyre but I don’t actually know what happened. Anyway, it was not as quick as Fernando’s. Fernando was very strong on the pit stop, so that’s what the pit stop means now, whatever the detail, you can lose a second. It’s difficult to say exactly, maybe little details on the wheel or the position we stopped. Maybe you can lose a little bit. That was the case and maybe it was possible but it’s difficult to say.
Q: It’s a question for Fernando: when you were driving towards Jenson and seeing that he was very consistent and was not making mistakes, did you consider at any time that you finishing second could be a good position?
FA: Yes, yes. I think lap two, lap three, the engineer came to me saying that Hamilton was out and at that moment, Webber was ninth after the start, so I realised that this was a race to finish for the championship possibilities. We knew first is amazing, especially here in Monza. We had to fight until the end, because all these tifosi deserved our fight, but knowing second was also a strong result today with the contenders out of the race.
Q: (Paulo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jenson, even if you didn’t win, do you consider this is one of your best races considering the different conditions in which you had to fight against and it was also good news for you when you heard Hamilton was out?
JB: I didn’t know until the end of the race that Hamilton was out. I obviously didn’t know that Mark had had a bad start but it wouldn’t have made any difference to me anyway. I wanted to get my head down and concentrate on being consistent because for me that was very important. If I made a mistake in one of the corners and got a bad exit onto the straight that would have been a nightmare because these two were beyond me. It was a tough race but most races when you are at the front are never easy. It was a challenging race and a race I was really enjoying. To come away with a second place is great, it’s 18 points. I’m 22 points behind the leader now and in the new points system that is not a lot at all, it’s less than a grand prix win, so it’s not a bad position to be in. I’m fourth in the championship and there are a lot of possibilities this season, so it’s a good result, a good solid result but obviously a little bit disappointed not to stay on the top step.