Korean GP: Sunday Press Conference
1st. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2nd: Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
3rd: Felipe Massa, Ferrari
Q: Fernando, three wins in the last four races. A real game changer of a day as far as the championship is concerned. You must be pretty delighted?
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, absolutely. One of the best races of the year for us, for the team, both cars on the podium, fantastic achievement for Ferrari. We were competitive all weekend. In qualifying yesterday we saw a very strong car, so we knew the race pace was there but with the weather conditions you never know. This morning was wet and we knew that it was a tricky race. A race to finish and winning the race, I think it is the first wet race that I have won, so I am even happier.
Q: Lewis, you were very keen behind the safety car at the start to get the race started but it looked like it was a bit of a struggle today particularly with the tires. But, nevertheless, you are back in the championship fight.
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, I think still a great result. Very happy with it. Of course some small mistakes but very tricky conditions out there. I think Fernando did a fantastic job. They generally had a little bit more grip than us today and my tires were shot right at the end, so it was really just about bringing the car home and trying to score as many points. But it is good for the championship and it is good for the team. I hope that in the next two races we can have some better results.
Q: Felipe, give us your read on the conditions today. A bit of night driving at the end and what third place means to you and the Ferrari team.
Felipe MASSA: Well, it means good points for the team. It means a good race in very difficult conditions as at the end it definitely was very, very dark. Even though we have a very strong light in the steering wheel, which was very, very strong, it was difficult to see in front as it was coming very strong on your face. But anyway I think it was a good race. Very difficult race. We saw very tricky conditions at the beginning. The visibility was almost zero, so it was very difficult to see where the car in front was. But I am very happy for this position, for me and for the team and Fernando did a very good job as well.
Q: Fernando, just two races left in this championship. You are 11 points clear of Mark Webber and 21 clear of Lewis. How are you feeling right now?
FA: Well, I think nothing changed really. We know that with the new points system anything can happen in one race. If you don't score, you lose 25 points to one of your main opponents, so nothing has changed. Here it was bad luck for Mark and Sebastian (Vettel) but anything can happen in the next two races. There are still four or five contenders, so as we repeat many times, being on the podium, being consistent maybe is the key to winning the championship. We have been doing well, very concentrated, very focused in the last six or seven races but the last two we cannot forget we need to be on the podium and fighting for victory in the next two races.
Q: Fernando, that was a phenomenal win in extraordinary conditions. Was it just a matter of hanging on in there and, as you say, just finishing and getting the thing to the end?
FA: Well, obviously we know these types of races are very difficult. New track, so no reference for driving in wet conditions in this Korean circuit, so everything to discover in the first couple of laps. I think it is better to lose four or five seconds in the first 10 laps of the race and then build up the pace slowly. We knew that, so try to remain calm. Conditions were extremely difficult, no visibility at all for the first 10 laps of the race plus the safety car laps, so not easy but then the car was performing well with both tires, the extreme and the inters. Maybe not as good as Sebastian in some parts of the race but when Mark had the problem and we saw the retirement it changed the picture of the race and finishing on the podium was enough for us.
Q: What about the tires at the end as you were still setting... well, you set a 1min 51 when the next closest was a 1m 54.
FA: They were getting into slicks, so there were some corners with dry line and the tires were very good and you felt a lot of grip and still some corners with a little bit more standing water, so those corners were a little bit trickier. Easy to lock the tires, easy to have too much wheel spin but they were in better condition than some other cars because I was able to run a few seconds quicker.
Q: At the pit stop there seemed to be a slight problem with the front right?
FA: Yes, it was my mistake.
Q: What happened?
FA: I locked the tires and I arrived sideways, so I think it was difficult for the mechanic in the position I stopped.
Q: Lewis, immediately when you put on the intermediates you were on the radio saying that you felt that there was a wear problem with them. How did they turn out in the end?
LH: They weren't too bad, actually. I had to push very hard on the first lap to jump places and then my tires were quite good in the mid-part of the stint and I was catching Fernando and was looking quite strong and then the rears began to drop off and I obviously lost ground to him. At the first corner, locking was a bit of an issue for us but nonetheless we got good points, unexpected I would say for this weekend.
Q: And the conditions during the race? The most extreme you've had?
LH: No, they weren't the most extreme. I've been in more extreme races, that's for sure, but it was very dark at the end, probably the darkest it's ever been, so the last few laps were an interesting experience.
Q: You had that moment at the first corner, was that the only moment off the circuit?
LH: Yeah. I was really struggling with the brakes, locking the fronts, locking the rears, finding the right balance, and locked both fronts into turn one. But otherwise we were very, very quick everywhere else, first and second sector. I think in the last sector we seemed to - especially the last corner in fact - I would lose 15 meters to these guys at least, so it was very, very difficult to keep up with them.
Q: Felipe, a podium just before we go to Brazil, that's ideal timing.
FM: Yes, sure. I think it was a good result seeing how difficult the race was, the beginning, especially visibility - I can't imagine what the visibility was like for the people behind, but I was sixth, so I wasn't that far in front, so it was quite difficult. But anyway I think the track conditions... Charlie (Whiting, FIA race director) started the race at the right time I think, when the visibility was still difficult but it was possible to race and so it was a good job. I think the race was good. I was struggling a bit on the intermediates at the start of the second stint. In the first ten or 15 laps the pace was very good, all three guys together and then I was struggling with the rear tires, so I was going back and back, so I couldn't carry the same pace but anyway the distance between me and Michael (Schumacher) was quite OK to bring the car home and I think it was a great result for the team.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Jaime Rodriguez - El Mundo) Can you explain the biggest change in Scuderia Ferrari since the summer?
FA: Luck. I think we've been competitive from Silverstone onwards. At Silverstone we had a problem with a maneuver on Kubica and a drive-through losing 14 positions. In Valencia we had a very poor result and bad luck as well. Of course, I think the car improved a lot and the team is doing a fantastic job every race in bringing new parts but as I said, from Silverstone onwards I think we had a car to always be on the podium. We struggled to be on the podium for one part of the season, as I said, maybe because of the luck factor. And now we are achieving more wins than expected because of the luck factor as well, because today we were third and one Red Bull crashed, one Red Bull blew up, so as we said many times, luck at the end of the year is compensated.
Q: Fernando, now you are leading the championship and in normal conditions you don't need to attack. How much will your approach to races change and your driving and racing strategy?
FA: Nothing really, I think. One result and one race doesn't change the picture of the championship. There are still four contenders now, I guess, or five. We knew before coming here that it's important to finish every race. As we said many times, finishing on the podium is something that secures you a lot of points every weekend and more or less certainly puts you in a position to fight for the championship in Abu Dhabi. So we need to keep this consistency in the next two races. Obviously winning races is fantastic and every weekend we go with the aim of winning, but sometimes we know it's not possible, so we need to maximize our potential every weekend.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, you said that on some parts of the circuit Sebastian was faster, on other parts you were. Do you think you could have caught him in the end; did you see the condition of his tires versus yours?
FA: I didn't see the condition of his tires. On the extreme wet I think he was a little bit quicker but when we fitted intermediates, it seems that we were able to maintain the pace a little bit closer to him, just around a second, a second and a half behind. And then, for sure, the last part of the race, the last six or seven laps, were extremely difficult with nearly slick intermediate tires and whichever of the two cars had the better tires there was maybe the one winning the race because we saw a difference of between three and four seconds a lap, depending on the condition of the tires. So it's difficult to guess how it was for Sebastian.
Q: (Gary Chappell - The Daily Express) Lewis, you spent a long time behind the safety car, you were getting very frustrated. What was going through your mind there? Why do you think the race was delayed so much?
LH: I wasn't frustrated, I just wanted to race.
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Fernando, when the red flag was out, were you worried that there might not be a race at all?
FA: I was not thinking anything special, to be honest. I was preparing the race with my engineers. I was talking about the tires, about the pressures, brake temperatures etc, so I didn't have time to think whether the race was on or off.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - AFP) Lewis, 21 points behind with two races remaining, how do you rate your chances of being 2010 champion?
LH: Today we picked up some good points. Of course it could always be better. If you look at the last four races, we haven't picked up many points, but still, to be there or thereabouts is good. We have to make some improvements to the car, I think. Generally our qualifying pace isn't good enough but I think we've got some positive things coming for the next couple of races, so it's not impossible. We'll keep pushing and putting pressure on. As you've seen today, things can happen. I really wasn't expecting to see the two Red Bulls drop out but this is how incredibly close this championship is. Obviously Fernando and the Ferraris are very, very quick, but it's still not out of reach.
Q: (Miguel Sanz - Marca) Fernando, considering all the incidents, is this the most difficult victory and probably the most tasty victory of the year?
FA: Yes, no doubt. I think it's one of the most tricky conditions' victories I've ever had, probably, because we started with very extreme conditions, red flag, then a couple of laps behind the safety car. Then we switched to intermediates with no reference from this circuit from previous years or no reference on Friday or Saturday because we ran in dry conditions, and then on the last couple of laps it was very dark and with slick tires in the wet. So overall, all conditions were difficult, so victory tastes very good.
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