British GP: Saturday Press Conference
1 – Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari)
2 – Mark WEBBER (Red Bull Racing)
3 – Michael SCHUMACHER (Mercedes)
Fernando first pole since 2010, very difficult to get it right today, especially with that long delay in Q2. What was the secret though at the end?
Fernando ALONSO: No secret. I think it’s tricky conditions for everyone. You have to be calm in some difficult moments. In Q2, as you mentioned, we were at the red flag, in position 15 and 16, Felipe and me. It was not easy, so we went through Q2 and in Q3 difficult choice between extreme and intermediate tires. We chose the intermediates and when we saw everyone planning on those tires we more or less calmed down a little bit. And then we put a lap together, which is not easy. You make a little mistake here or there and to complete a lap without making a huge mistake is not easy in these conditions. Yeah, happy with pole position after nearly two years, for Ferrari that’s a long time and we’ll see. Tomorrow is the race and with these weather conditions the qualifying becomes one of the less important qualifying of the year because everything will mix up after a few laps tomorrow maybe, but for visibility and things like that it’s always better to start at the front, so very happy.
Mark, a great duel between you and Fernando at the end there. You missed out on pole by five one hundredths of a second – it’s always good to compete against this guy [Alonso] yes?
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, it was a very tight session. Ultimately, you don’t know how you’re going, you’re completely focused on yourself, putting a lap together. As Fernando said it’s very tricky in sections around the lap. Obviously, in a session like this when you’ve got five or 10 seconds sometimes between one session to the next session obviously it’s a huge amount down to the driver to get comfortable in the conditions, also with the car. The guys did a great job. Yeah it was nip and tuck with Fernando for the pole. I think ultimately we put a pretty good lap together, our strategy in quali I was pretty happy with it, doing four laps… and race tomorrow.
Michael, another strong qualifying for you. You used to be known as the rain meister, how do you fancy your chances tomorrow in a wet British Grand Prix?
Michael SCHUMACHER: I think we look reasonably competitive in wet conditions – either on intermediate or heavy wet – so therefore rain is welcome tomorrow. It was a bit of an exciting session today, particularly Q2 where I had the wrong visor on, that didn’t have anti-fog. I didn't have much visibility and found myself sideways in Becketts. That didn’t help either. But we recovered well in the delay and got back in our rhythm. Yeah, very happy to be third; good for the team; good for my boys, so thanks to all of the guys.
Fernando, first of all well done, is it a surprise or did you feel it was a lottery a little bit out there in the conditions?
FA: It’s always a surprise to be on pole position because you know that conditions in qualifying… it’s always difficult to beat some of the guys around and we maybe feel more confident in dry conditions. We did some tests today in FP3 and the car felt quite good in the high-speed corners and we were quite happy with the balance – but in wet conditions you never know. You need to be in the right place in the right moment, with the circuit in the best conditions possible when you do the lap and that lap has to be clean with not huge mistakes because a little bit here and there you always lose or you can improve a little bit because you never know exactly the conditions of the next corner when you arrive on a day like today. It can be a little bit drier than the lap before but we saw some drops of rain on the visors so it can be a little bit wetter so it’s a little bit of… gambling what would be the grip at the next corner. To put the lap together was the only thing we had to do today and when you find yourself in pole position, for sure it’s a little bit surprising but, yeah, good to battle like this.
It was nearly all over in the first part of Q2, wasn’t it – at one point you were facing the wall?
FA: Yes. I had a spin in Turn 13. It was a lot of aquaplaning there. We changed tires, we went for the extreme tires and there was a red flag. It was impossible to run, to be honest it was a good decision. And then also it was a good decision waiting for the time the circuit was in condition to run again. So, sometimes we criticize the decisions when we are not happy with them and today they were doing a really good job. The first priority is safety, the track was not in condition to continue qualifying and we wait the necessary time to do it and we’ve been at the limit for Q3, I think P9, so it was not easy. I had a Toro Rosso for two laps in front of me with no visibility, so the Q2 lap was a little bit like a blind lap: you do whatever time the Toro Rosso will do – more or less.
How big a moment was it on the grass when you went off in Q2? You got a round of applause in the press room for sorting it out…
FA: It was very big and you are not in control of the car. You need a bit of luck and we were lucky today. With that moment in Q2, with all the decisions that we make for the tires that it was the right one – and lucky also that we put the lap together and lucky as well in the distance with Mark because there were some milliseconds. It can be first and second in a very easy way and today it was everything perfect for us. But the race is tomorrow, not today.
Mark, for you pole last year and you won in 2010, you’ve been on the podium for the last three years. A good circuit for you? You seem to have adapted very well to the British weather…
MW: It’s been a good track for me since 1995 when I won my first Formula Ford race here – so it goes back quite a while – don’t want to show my age too much! But yeah, it’s a good track, it’s challenging for the drivers and it’s nice to let the car breathe a little bit in some of the quick stuff. Obviously this morning it was nice to feel the car in dry conditions, obviously we didn’t get that in quali – and as Fernando’s touched on, it was a very tricky session for us when the track’s moving around by five, six seconds a go in terms of conditions. Each session is tricky for us. But the guys made all the right decisions. There were a few calls from the cockpit as well to pull things together and ultimately I think we got the maximum out of what we could have done today. As Fernando says, it’s a long lap to put together; there are rivers, you can improve here and there but also if you try to push a bit harder you can have no corners on the car. So it’s better to try to finish the lap and get yourself up there. Risk management was very important today. I’m very happy with my lap and ultimately we’re in a good position to start the race tomorrow. Visibility will be important if it’s wet, and go from there.
Michael, pole in 2001 of course and three wins here, how difficult was it to get going again after that hour delay? 60 minutes of delay…
MS: I guess first of all we should give applause to all the fans who remained with us in all these conditions. That’s been pretty special and big applause to them. For us, in the position that some cars had been, you would probably have wished just to finish qualifying there. The ones that would have been out, Fernando and myself, we were happy to get this opportunity under drivable conditions because Q2, when it started, almost from the beginning it was already on the limit, if not slightly over the limit, and therefore thanks to the FIA to take the right decision and abort it and put it into a spot that was probably the only one – and a perfect one – that was available today. For us to get going, it’s not that big a deal. It’s worse hanging around and waiting. It’s more tiring than driving and sitting in the car and being in action, that’s pretty straightforward to me.
How difficult was the tire choice?
MS: I think it was only initially difficult to decide but when you give it a second and watch what others do then it becomes pretty straightforward. By the end it was clear the inter was the tire to be on. Ideally you would have had more than one lap – because it was the last lap that counted and obviously you’re not allowed to make a mistake so you always somewhere leave some margin, that another lap for sure you could recover and do a much better job. Nevertheless, to then finish third was good for us. I’m pleased with this, it’s a good position to start the race from. It’s a good line and, depending on the condition we have tomorrow, maybe I’m on the lucky side because it might be the slightly drier line compared to the inner side that’s a little bit wet. We’ll find out tomorrow if that’s the case or not the case – but that expedition will be very much appreciated to me.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mike Doodson – Honorary) Michael, some of your most memorable wins have been in the wet. This circuit has a reputation for holding water. It did take a very long time to drain. Do you have any criticisms either of that or of the fact that the circuit is unpredictable from place to place as you go along, perhaps less predictable where you’ve won in the wet before?
MS: First of all, a compliment to all the marshals, they managed to get the track in pretty good shape with all the sweeping and drying up. There was almost no standing water when we went back out again. That was a good job, so in case of heavy rain tomorrow, I hope they’re going to be ready, in between the safety car or whatever they have to decide. But I think on some circuits they have that situation and they did the best from what was available today.
Q: (Manuel Franco - AS) Fernando, you said in Spanish that this pole is dedicated to someone special, is it for Maria de Villota?
FA: Yes, obviously she’s having some difficult moments, her family as well and I think all of us, this weekend, we are all racing with a little bit of sadness about the news at the beginning of the week from Marussia and from her. Anything we do this weekend hopefully will bring strength to her and her family, and we wish her a very good recovery.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov – F1Life) Fernando, first place in qualifying in the rain; was this difficult or not very difficult for you?
FA: Yes, yes, it is very difficult, always very difficult to be on pole position, but on days like today, it’s difficult for everyone. I think from pole position to 24th, we had a very difficult time in the car, because, as I said, you don’t know how the grip will be in the next corner. We had a lot of rivers on the track, especially in Q2 and it’s not just to find the last tenth or half a tenth of a second; just to complete the lap is difficult. Very stressful qualifying, but it’s the same for everybody and today we have been lucky, as I said.
Q: (Carlos Miguel – La Gaceta) Fernando, for tomorrow, will it be difficult for you on intermediate tires and what are you afraid of in the race?
FA: Well, I think the car should also be competitive on extreme wet tires, but as I said, in Q2 I did a lap exactly the same as a Toro Rosso whatever the lap. I started the lap one second behind him and I finished the lap around 0.8s behind him, and I was in and he was out, for virtually nothing. So I think with normal visibility, I think we should also be competitive with the extremes. For sure ideally we would like a dry race because you maximize the pole position a little bit and you have a bit of free air, especially in the first stint if you do a good start. If it’s wet or changeable conditions as we’ve the whole weekend, grid positions are not really important, because on lap eight it could start raining or drying up or whatever and someone at the back may have nothing to lose and could maybe change tires or whatever and finds himself first or second. It’s more difficult but let’s see. I think we felt competitive on the dry, inters and wet so we will see tomorrow what we can do.
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) How do you prepare yourself for a race which could be very wet? Is there a way of thinking differently, or driving differently for the whole of a wet race?
MW: Obviously the concentration is a little bit different to a dry Grand Prix, so you’ve got to have that in mind. Some of the straights here are not very straightforward in terms of… like out of turn seven, going through there with compromised visibility, standing water, so dry Grands Prix still obviously require immense concentration and focus to put everything together but in the wet you have more balls in the air and you need to be ready for that and also be flexible and focused and I said before, controlled aggression and stay composed. You know that the grass doesn’t have much grip so best stay away from that if you can and get to the flag.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, we saw you take the P9 position in Q2 when there were yellow flags for Grosjean. Could you explain what happened at that moment, if you feel that you’re safe(from incurring any penalty)?
FA: Yes. I didn’t set a green sector in that particular lap with the yellow. I backed off in the area where they were taking away the car, so I don’t have any worries.
Q: I’ve been asked to ask you is if any of you will be following Wimbledon after the race tomorrow?
MW: Absolutely. Federer for seven, honestly it’s a great final. Whoever wins it’s a great story. Obviously for Andy, first Grand Slam, first Wimbledon and for Roger, obviously he’s a phenomenal sportsman, to match Pistol Pete (Sampras) on seven. He’s a real inspiration, Federer. He would be good to watch.
MS: What time is it? I would like to watch it if I have time, but I would prefer not to have time!
Q: (Marco dell’Ignocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Could you not imagine that if the weather conditions and track conditions were similar tomorrow to today, would you not fear a very boring race behind the safety car?
MS: In that case we’re going to watch Federer and Murray!
FA: Hopefully not, not only for us, I think, but for the fans. As Michael said, they’ve been amazing all weekend with these weather conditions and they deserve a normal race tomorrow, so even if it’s wet, not stopping the race or nothing like that, hopefully.
MW: Charlie (Whiting, race director) has learned a lot in the last few years and has done a very good job in certain conditions, so he know what wet tires are capable of, the extreme, also factor in the visibility so they are the two main things: standing water and visibility. If they are under control then we race, if they’re not then we don’t. After that, we work through the tires and the race is OK. Tomorrow is obviously a big day for Charlie tomorrow to communicate with us like he does a good job over the last few years, no problems.
Q: (Silva Arias – Argentina) Fernando, it’s very nice for you as well to get pole position after two years, as you said before. How important is it for your team as well and for your confidence and everything?
FA: Yeah, yeah, definitely very important. It’s nice to be on pole position. We know that the conditions were not normal. They were very tricky so we are still aiming for pole position one day on a sunny day and no factors around which will prove the level of competitiveness that the car can have and that’s what we want, but until that point arrives, today’s pole position is very welcome and as I said, it’s more for the history of Ferrari etc. Two years is a long time.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Michael, you were looking strong yesterday in the wet today as well. This morning, at least from the lap time it was a different picture. Is it just an impression that the Mercedes is better in the wet and if so why?
MS: The question is how much fuel was in the cars this morning, so I think it is a hypothetical situation, to judge what you have seen in qualifying with what you have seen this morning.
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