European GP – Post Qualifying Press Conference

Drivers Attending:
1. Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari), 1m31.450s
2. Fernando ALONSO (McLaren Mercedes), 1m31.741s
3. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1m31.778s


Q: Kimi, obviously a disrupted third qualifying session, tell us your thought processes before you went out for that final run, and how good the lap was.
Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Of course it s sometimes a bit difficult to wait for a long time, but it s not the first time, so we just needed to be patient and try to do the best you can. It wasn t the easiest session. We only had one chance with one set of tyres, so… The lap was good. It was easily good enough for pole so that was the main thing. I think the car has been pretty good all weekend. In the first qualifying it was a bit difficult to find the grip but then once we put the fuel in the car, it seemed to come back again so I m very happy now. It s been a bit difficult to get it on the first row but I m in first place so finally it happened.

Q: You were quickest on Friday and Saturday; how do you think the race will be with McLaren Mercedes?
KR: It s pretty easier now with one car only but I think it will be a hard race, a long race. I don t have very good memories from here, so hopefully this year it will go a bit better, but for sure it s going to be a close race as the last was. We will just do our best and hopefully we can win.

Q: Fernando, obviously difficult moments for the team; again, talk us through Q3 from your point of view.
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, it s never easy, for sure, more so if an accident happens in one of the cars in your team. But this is Formula One, this is motor racing, so we try to keep going with our job, with our work and now, after qualifying, we have a little bit more time but in those moments you have only 15 or twenty minutes stop. As Kimi said, it s not nice to be sitting in the car there and you lose the momentum a little bit, you lose the concentration as well, and you have only one chance because there s only five minutes of the session remaining and you only have one opportunity, so qualifying is a little more stressful. But I think Lewis is OK so that is the best news of qualifying.

Q: You re on the front row too: very quick in sector one but it looked like a bit of a moment in the middle of the high speed esses in sector two.
FA: Yeah, turns five and six, I lost the rear a little bit in turn five and I lost control in the oversteer until turn six, for fifty or sixty meters the car was not in my control, so I was lucky enough to put the car back on the asphalt again because I think I nearly touched the grass a little bit. So from that moment, I thought for sure that pole position was not possible any more and I tried to do a good rest of the lap, tried to be fifth or sixth. At that moment I really thought that I had lost too much time and then when I realised that I was second I was pretty pleased because I had been lucky in that moment.

Q: Felipe, it looked like you got in an extra lap right at the end…
Felipe MASSA: I hope so.

Q: A strategic qualifying session perhaps from your point of view and also tell us about the black stripe on your helmet.
FM: Yeah, it s because of the plane crash in Brazil, a pretty difficult moment for my country, so I tried to maybe give some good things for the people who lost so much and also for the country. So I put it on my helmet and on my arms as well.

Q: And the qualifying session, how was the lap from your point of view?
FM: Well, the qualifying was very good in Q1 and Q2 for me and I had a really great moment, great control on the car and then suddenly, I think, during this long period that we were in the pits I lost a little bit of the momentum, the concentration and then I couldn t do a perfect lap on the only chance we had. But I m happy anyway, I think we could show we were quick and the car is there, so I think tomorrow is a long race and I m looking forward to it.


Q: Kimi, winner of the last two races and now your second pole this year; you must feel you re on a bit of a roll at the moment.
KR: It s certainly better than it was a little bit earlier this season, but it s only pole position, it doesn t make much difference, you can still win from the other places but for sure, I think we have good speed right now and it makes life feel a little bit easier to start at the front.

Q: Are you progressively feeling more comfortable in the car or have you been fine for a race or two?
KR: Since the last two races it s been good but I guess you always learn a little bit more and more and you can progress, but we re talking small differences and sometimes when you get everything together you can be very fast and sometimes you don t get all the details exactly how you want and then it can be more difficult. But right now, this weekend has been pretty good so hopefully it s the same tomorrow.

Q: Do you feel you have the edge over McLaren here?
KR: I don t know, it s difficult to say from the fuel loads. We will see tomorrow but I think we re going to have a strong car in the race and that s the main thing.

Q: Fernando, given the moments you ve just been describing to Peter, you must be amazed to be second on the grid.
FA: Yes, I was quite happy and quite surprised. Maybe I didn t lose too much time, because I ran sideways in turn five, I touched the grass a little bit on the outside and I really lost the car and then suddenly it came back in position for turn seven. It was a lucky moment and at that point you really feel that you lost seconds because you have qualifying momentum and maybe it was only three or four tenths, but for me it seemed much more. I m really looking forward to checking on the data how much I lost but for sure when I crossed the line, I was suspecting to be a little bit further down.

Q: So does that mean that you feel pretty much on the level with Ferrari this weekend?
FA: Yeah, absolutely. I think we knew at Magny-Cours and Silverstone we were a little bit slower unfortunately. In Magny-Cours especially we saw a very good pace from Ferrari. At Silverstone, we were a little bit closer but still something more to find but here all weekend the car has been not too bad. I was first in Q1 and second in Q2, quite close to Felipe, so no doubt that here we are very close again with them and tomorrow, I think, we will see how the strategy goes for everybody but hopefully we will have a chance to win the race tomorrow.

Q: It s such a battle between McLaren and Ferrari at the moment. With your team-mate hopefully starting tenth on the grid, does that make your job that much harder?
FA: Well, maybe, maybe yes. It s not nice to start P10 but it s the way it is sometimes. The same thing happened to Ferrari. In Monaco Kimi started well back, Felipe in Australia with the gearbox problem, so I think it has been quite equal between the two teams. That s the way it is and we try to score as many points as possible.

Q: Felipe you actually had quite a lot of pressure at the start of Q3.
FM: Yeah, the car had very cold tyres and I was just struggling a little bit and Lewis was very close but then we changed tyres and things became normal.

Q: Did you find it quite difficult to get back into the rhythm for qualifying?
FM: Yeah, a little bit. I was really happy with the balance, with the car. I was at the right moment to try everything and I was doing a great lap in Q1 and Q2, so I think it was just concentration a little bit, maybe in the right moment, I think I lost the tenths (of a second) which was possible to fight for pole position. But anyway, I think we have a good car, the race is long and I m looking forward to it.


Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, considering what happened this afternoon, was it the most demanding qualifying of your career?
KR: No, I wouldn t say so. I think certainly I have had more difficult times. Probably Monaco a few years back with Fernando was harder.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi Tuttosport) With the crash of Robert Kubica in Canada and Hamilton here, do you think that there is a problem of safety in Formula One at this moment?
KR: It is always going to be dangerous, you can t take that away. Even though we try to improve the safety, you can get to a certain level but we go so fast that usually when something goes wrong somebody gets hurt. But luckily enough it is nothing serious so this is part of racing really.
FA: The same for me. I don t think there is a problem now with the safety. It is just motor racing and it has been an unlucky period with the Kubica accident and as we saw in GP2 in France and now with this one, these things happen. But I think everybody did a good job in terms of the safety in terms of the circuits. From a drivers point of view we know there is a risk to have an accident in Formula One, what we don t want is to get hurt, to have a problem. So thanks to God, or whatever, all these three accidents, even though they were big, nothing happened to the three drivers, so that is the important point.
FM: I think for sure we proved that the cars are safe. But we always have room for improvement. That is just the way it goes. People cannot say it is safe enough. With the technology we have we can always improve. I think Lewis was quite lucky that he had a lot of space there. If it was a corner where the barriers were close… For example at city tracks where you have tight corners, it would have been a massive shunt. You have this kind of problem when you are at high-speed like that. I think that is why we must think very carefully for the future when we think of doing more city tracks. I think we need to do very safe tracks and that is the way it goes. Fortunately, Lewis is fine.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) For both Ferrari drivers. Yesterday the feeling was that with a used tyre you were faster than McLaren. This morning and this afternoon did you have the same feeling?
KR: Today it is very difficult to say. We didn t do too many laps in a row. I m pretty happy with how my car is performing in race conditions, as close as we can see. I think we will have a good package tomorrow.
FM: It is difficult to say. Yesterday was yesterday, Sunday is Sunday, we will see how the car goes on Sunday but it seems to me that our car is quite competitive.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, we saw your grandmother in the boxes, have you had some time to speak with her after the pole position?
KR: I m in here, so what do you think?

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) But it seems lucky, you know because this is the second pole position for you this year…
KR: Yeah, but she wasn t at the first one, was she? So that doesn t change anything. But it is nice because probably it is her last race to be here and she is so excited, so it is good for her.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) The last question for Felipe…
FM: Is it about my grandmother as well? I called her straightaway after I left the car.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) It seems that you struggle a little bit with a heavier car and you are better with a light car?
FM: No.

Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Obviously, no-one likes to see an accident like Lewis suffered today, but is this the opportunity you have been waiting for to close the gap on Lewis in the Driver s standings?
KR: For sure it is not the way we want to do the racing but that is a part of racing. Sometimes you have an accident, sometimes it is not your fault, sometimes it is your mistakes, but it all counts. The main thing is that he is ok and probably is going to race tomorrow, but we will see. Anything can happen tomorrow, similar things can happen to us, we will see.
FA: The same thing. These things happen. Sometimes when you open a gap, sometimes you have opened it because the others have problems. As Kimi said, we have to wait until tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow the three of us have problems in the gearbox and nobody scores points. Tomorrow afternoon we will see what happens with the points.

Q: (Rene Hofmann Süddeutsche Zeitung) Fernando, do you have a hint as to what caused the crash?
FA: I don t know.

Q: (Rene Hofmann Süddeutsche Zeitung) Your engineers were checking your front right suspension, is that right?
FA: Yes, but it was quite busy in the garage, I didn t talk with the engineers to interrupt them, so I have no idea.

Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Fernando, considering that it is hard anyway to keep your concentration after such a big break, what did you think when you knew your team-mate had a problem? Did you think you may have a similar problem with your car?
FA: Yes, always when you see a similar car with a problem, you are not 100% sure whether everything is ok. But in this case today, I had no worries. No worries because it happened in Q3 and we had been racing with this same car all Saturday. So P3, Q1, Q2, and nothing happened with both cars. So the way it happened in Q3, in the middle of Q3, I was quite sure that my car was perfectly ok. But yes, maybe if this happened in a race, if you see your team-mate retiring from a race, you always think that maybe it can happen to you as well. But like I said, today I had no worries because my car was running fine all day.

Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Fernando, just for our information, can you just confirm the speed that the car was going where Lewis came off?
FA: I don t know but… 260, 270 (kph) maybe.

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