Post Qualifying Press Conference, Attended By:
1. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1m21.421s
2. Fernando ALONSO (McLaren Mercedes), 1m21.451s
3. Kimi RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN (Ferrari), 1m21.723s
Q: Felipe it is beginning to be a habit for you?
Felipe MASSA: Definitely. It is very nice, you know, three pole positions in a row this year, so with a really quick and great car and I am really happy to see the job of the team. For sure we are very competitive with McLaren during the whole weekend. They were a little bit quicker than us sometimes and really happy to be first on the qualifying and looking forward to have definitely a very important and a good race. So, really looking forward and really happy and really proud for the job done today.
Q: And a pressure-filled brilliantly-timed last qualifying run there, very, very close, three-hundredths of a second in factâ€¦
FM: Yeah, saw the results now. It was very, very tight. So I just managed to make a good lap, without mistakes, my first try was a disaster (as) I made so many mistakes, I had some cars in front, so and then the last try I really managed to put the lap together.
Q: Fernando, congratulations, on the front row for your home Grand Prix, a tremendous feeling for youâ€¦
Fernando ALONSO: Yes, absolutely. I think it has been a very good weekend for us, so far with the car performing really well, so I think the first row of the grid is a confirmation of a competitive car and a competitive package that we have been driving all weekend. So, confident for tomorrow and hopefully we can see a very good race for the battle of the victory.
Q: It looks to be incredibly close between the two top teamsâ€¦
FA: Absolutely. I think we saw yesterday and today a really close fight as we expected probably and as I said this qualifying is another confirmation of how tight the teams are, between the Ferrari and the McLaren team, and of course from a driver s point of view, we have to be always 100 per cent because you know the championship is really tight and the races as well, so you have to do 100 per cent every lap of the day.
Q: How was your final qualifying lap? Very quick on sector twoâ€¦
FA: It was very good. I think both sets of tyres and both laps were very very similar. In the last lap I improved a little bit due to having less fuel, after three or four laps, between the first set-ups, the second set you put and there was nothing more that I could get from the car. I was driving at the maximum and I think both laps were pretty good and I m happy with the front row of the grid.
Q: Kimi, third on the grid again, that s becoming a habit too, although not one you will like too much.
Kimi RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN: No, but I think it s better than nothing. I was happier today definitely with the grip of the car and I think we had good speed in the first two sectors but I always lost it in the last sector. The car was difficult to drive in the last sector and I basically lost too much time there. I think we need to find something for tomorrow and hopefully we can get it right there. But I don t think we are in such a bad position and we will see what happens.
Q: The last sector, of course, includes those new corners, and many drivers are talking about how the track is changing here very rapidly. Can you talk a bit about that and the third sector?
KR: It s quite a tricky sector, it s slow corners and you can win or lose a lot of time on those. It s different asphalt in the last part and it s making it quite difficult to get right, but it s the same for everybody and unfortunately we didn t get it as good as the rest.
Q: Felipe, every dry Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona has been won by a driver on the front row of the grid; your thoughts for the race.
FM: Well, I will let you know tomorrow after the race if it was the right thing or the wrong thing. Anyway, I m really happy to be here. Tomorrow will be a very, very difficult and tight race, for all the Spanish people and everybody who will be watching the race, and hopefully we can have some good luck and some good pace tomorrow.
Q: Lots of red in the crowd, not necessarily there for Ferrari, however.
FM: Yeah, yeah, that s true. Fernando is a little bit on the better side in this way but I m sure that they also like Latin-American people.
Q: Well done, Felipe, a lot of pressure you on there, or did you feel quite relaxed?
FM: Well, I think everybody was under pressure. If you look at the qualifying, how tight it was, I think everybody was under pressure, me as well. Fortunately we managed to do a good lap. The first attempt was not very good, I just made some mistakes and there were some cars in front of me, and I couldn t manage to do a good lap but then on the last set of tyres, I just managed to put everything together so it was good.
Q: Fernando said on Thursday that you would have a better idea, once you d seen Q1 and Q2, as to how competitive everyone now is. How do you feel about the competition?
FM: If you look at how the sessions ran out the practice sessions and then the first and second qualifying sessions I think the idea is that everyone is very very close, so Ferrari and McLaren are really on a similar pace and that s the most realistic idea that we saw today. For sure we made a good improvement in the car from the last race to this race, but McLaren did as well, so that s the way it is and we still need to work hard to improve the car even more, but the idea is that everybody is very close.
Q: Well, three hundredths behind, Fernando, do you feel that you ve got closer?
FA: Well, we will see tomorrow. Even BMW was very very quick today, especially in this morning s session and also in Q1 and Q2, so I think everyone is closer than in Bahrain all the top three or top four teams, so that s very good. I enjoy this qualifying a lot.
Q: Obviously you re pleased to be on the front row, but I m sure you would prefer to be on pole and on the left hand side.
FA: Yeah, of course, especially after the first set of tyres when I was in front of them, and they told me on the radio that we were three or four tenths in front of everybody after the first attempt. I was thinking, now I will do my second new tyre run as hard as I can and probably that will be enough to be on pole, if I improve the time that I did before a little bit but obviously it was not enough, three hundredths of a second, but as long as you are in the top three, you have the chance to fight for victory. I think top three or top four. If you start fifth or sixth, I think there is no way you can fight for victory, so in that way, I m very happy.
Q: Kimi, a little bit of a margin between you and the two ahead but you explained that from the third sector; is that right?
KR: Yeah, well I know that we lost a little bit in the third sector just because we lost the rear end of the car a bit. But apart from that I don t think it was too bad. I quite like the car but unfortunately if you re not strong in one sector it s not enough. But I think we still have a good chance.
Q: Was it a mistake in that sector or was that happening every lap?
KR: It was pretty much on all of the tyres, so it wasn t just one but there s not much you can do once you start qualifying, so it would be easier to change something, but the rules are as they are, so anyhow, I think we can work on something for tomorrow, so hopefully in the race it s a bit different.
Q: Can you make alterations for the race?
KR: Little bit on the details, not changing anything but there s stuff that we do with the computers and it s the same for everybody, so I think we can play around with those things.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, last week, looking at the test, Ferrari was about seven tenths ahead of you. Here, you re very close and on race pace it looks as though you might be a little quicker. Have you changed something or were you sand-bagging last week?
FA: I don t know. I think tests are always very difficult to read, what the results are. I think we are just concentrating on our car, on our performance, our changes and our updates and at the end of the day, when we see the times, we don t look at them too much and we donâ€˜t care because at the end of the day, you never know what fuel loads people are running and how many sets of tyres they use on that particular day, so even if the gap was seven or eight tenths last week, we were not worried. We were expecting to be close enough to fight with them and yesterday and today I think we saw this. I think the first time all weekend they have been in front of us, have been in qualifying, because in P1, P2 and P3 we were in front of them, so it should be OK for tomorrow.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi Tuttosport) Kimi, do you think you have improved your feeling with the car after the recent test or is the situation more or less the same?
KR: I think it is definitely better. I am happier with the car now than I was, so there is a gap still but we work on it and hopefully we get it right.
Q: (Juha PÃ¤Ã¤talo Financial Times Germany) Kimi, after the last race in Bahrain you said that if you don t get to the top in qualifying it is very hard to get there in the race and your position now is the same as there and is the position like it used to be or are you more confident now?
KR: I don t know, hopefully we can gain some places it is never easy especially, I think, as in Bahrain where everybody thought it was easier to overtake than here, but not much overtaking was going on there, so it s not easy but we do the best we can.
Q: (Louis Fernando Ramos – Racing Magazine) Felipe, you seem very confident the whole weekend. I want to ask you if you feel as confident as ever in your career and if this confidence is helping you to get this extra thing to get three poles in very close competitionâ€¦
FM: Well, I was confident for sure, but we didn t know exactly what McLaren was doing, so we always confident but we re waiting a little bit to see when it counts, so I am very confident in the way I am working with the team and the way the team are working with me and the way we are improving things and the way we are developing parts on the way. When I had some problems the team supported me 100 per cent like in the first two races and I think that is really good and makes me for sure motivated and I try everything I can at every moment. I am not saying I was not trying in the past, but I think when you have things working together in every area it is much better for everybody.
Q: (Jessie Chen F1 Express) How do you feel about the final corner changes? Do you like it or not?
FM: I think in terms of if we like or not, in my opinion, I don t like it. It is very tight and veryâ€¦. It is not a really nice corner like the drivers like it, but in terms of show it can be a good idea but we don t know, we have to wait and see if it was a good change or not, but in terms of driving it is not a good change. We see if it is better at least for the spectators.
FA: If we have to choose between the old circuit and the new circuit, I think none of us would prefer the new circuit. I think Pedro likes the new chicane and he is the only one, in terms of driving. But I think the track, we didn t change the corner because of the preference of the drivers, I think they changed it because the last corner was too dangerous and they needed to slow down the cars and the best way was to do the chicane, but obviously we prefer to drive in Monaco, and in Spa, all these circuits that are very dangerous.
KR: Nothing to add, reallyâ€¦. I think they are trying to improve the racing and that s the biggest thing what they have been trying to do.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, from your words I understand you feel that McLaren is superior to Ferrari on the race paceâ€¦
FA: I don t know. I have that confidence. But I think we have to wait and see tomorrow. I am always very confident and sometimes things are going well and sometimes you find yourself very slow in the race and even if you didn t expect it. Obviously, starting from the first row, after seeing what we saw all weekend, that the cars performed really well and we were always in the top two, top three, I have to be confident that s for sure.
Q: (Juha PÃ¤Ã¤talo Financial Times Germany) Felipe, how happy were you with the balance of your car today and especially did you have any problems in the last sector?
FM: Well, I was particularly happy with the balance. For sure the last sector is quite tricky. I also had some problems in the last sector especially on the previous set and I had a lot of over-steer as well on the last sector but I managed to put it together, so it is not very easy to find the right balance in the last sector especially as it is so different to the other parts of the track, so it is very difficult to set up the car, to find a compromise for every sector, so, I mean, I am not 100 per cent happy on the balance, because it is quite difficult to drive, but I am particularly happy with the balance we have found, looking at the test last week and this race weekend.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Felipe, which one is pushing you more to these pole performances – Kimi or McLaren?
FM: I think everybody. Everybody is doing a very tough job, pushing very hard as I am pushing as well. So I think when you have a competition so high between these four drivers together you cannot say which one is the more dangerous. Everyone is really pushing harder and everyone is really talented, and everyone is doing a really good job and we need to be aware of all of them.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Question for Alonso, starting from the first row even in the second position here is not the clean side of the track and it is very difficult to overtake as we have seen many times this year and is it a big problem for you?
FA: Well, I think we have to wait (and see) how the grid is. It obviously will be not as good as the clean side, but unfortunately I am getting used to it because for the first four races I was three times second and one time fourth, so I start normally on the wrong side of the grid, unfortunately. But sometimes you have a really good start even from the other side and you know, I think we have a lot of straight, a lot of metres, between the starting point and the first corner here in Barcelona, so it is not only the start you need to really brake for the first corner and we have to wait and see but I am happy to startâ€¦ I prefer second than third for sure, still some advantage to be in the first row.
Q: (StÃ©phane BarbÃ© L Equipe) Felipe, you said the new corner, the new chicane, is perhaps better for the show â€¦ so does that mean it makes it more difficult at the end of the straight during the race to keep your position?
FM: I hope it is the same in terms of overtaking and then maybe I can still keep myself at the front, anyway, we ll seeâ€¦
Q: (StÃ©phane BarbÃ© L Equipe) Did you have the opportunity to do it in the test?
FM: No, I never tried to go past any car here on the chicane.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Felipe, three poles in a row, can your qualifying skill be the key factor for the world championship this year?
FM: Well, 100 per cent key factor it is difficult to say, but it is a very important fact to be in the front and we saw in the last races that the guy who made the first corner in the front was the guy who won, so it is quite important and hopefully it will be the same.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi – Tuttosport) Fernando, when you crossed the line at the end of Q3 we heard the sound of silence in the grandstand; what can you say to your fans for tomorrow?
FA: I think the race is tomorrow, so I think we have to wait and most of the people who came here came to watch Formula One and some of them for the first time in their life, and I think that the people are enjoying the show, all the Grand Prix from Friday to Sunday. Obviously, today was the first important part of the race, which is qualifying, but I think we have to be pleased to be in the first row and it is a good starting point for the big race that is tomorrow. So, you knowâ€¦. I understand the silence but hopefully tomorrow this can become a little noisier and if not, they will enjoy, as Felipe said, a race between four drivers and two top teams that are as close as they are in this moment. I think it is nice to watch anyway.
FM: I think it is nice to see the people there, looks really fantastic to see everyday many, many people watching the qualifying, the testing, and you know, it shows how they love this sport, how Fernando creates this sport here in Spain and you know it is really fantastic to see all the people in the grandstands everyday when we are in the car.
Q: (Juha PÃ¤Ã¤talo Financial Times Germany) Fernando, the last two years you have gained a big gap in the first races of the season. This time it is a very tight battle. Which one of those gives the more fun to you?
FA: No doubt, the first. The last two years I had more fun in the first races because I won most of them and I opened a gap in the championship and I was quite, quiteâ€¦ You know (it was) important I think for the final result of the championship, the first gap, but I knew already that, well, it is a surprise to be leading the championship, with Kimi and Lewis, because I expect to be quite far behind, unfortunately, you know, I think, moving teams, new tyres, new rules also with the engine freeze with all these things I was expecting to have three or four very difficult months and you know the first five or six races of the championship, I try not to lose too many points then attack at the end of the championship and I found myself quite competitive from the beginning, so in a way I am very .. It is a nice surprise to be in the front but you know I prefer to be even more in the front as the last two years.