San Marino GP:
Saturday Press Conference
Kimi Raikkonen (1st), Fernando Alonso (2nd), Michael Schumacher (3rd)
April 23, 2005
It could not be much closer at the front of the provisional grid for
Sundayís San Marino Grand Prix as just 0.003s separate provisional
pole sitter Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso with Michael
Schumacher third. Hereís what the fastest three qualifiers had to
say in the post-qualifying press conference.
Q: Kimi, a great looking lap but incredibly close between you and
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, the start of the lap for me was slightly
better than Fernandoís and he almost caught me on the last sector
but it is enough. It would have been good to have a gap between me
and him tomorrow but we will see what we can do.
Q: The speed was there in Bahrain, perhaps a small mistake in
qualifying there but no mistakes today.
KR: Yeah, but the car is much better than it was in Bahrain. This
circuit seems to suit the car much better than the previous circuits
and it was already good yesterday straight out of the box and I am
pretty happy with it.
Q: Fernando, the opposition is drawing closer as we get to the
Fernando ALONSO: Yes, we knew that. Unfortunately that was the case
today but, anyway, we did our job, the weekend is difficult for us,
we know. Imola is not historically a perfect circuit for the Renault
car, it is much better this year over the curbs so we are happy and
we are there. Okay, we are second, but we are still competitive, we
are still fighting for the pole position and hopefully tomorrow for
the victory so even in bad circumstances we are there, so we are
extremely happy with the performance we are doing here this weekend.
Q: Really fighting for the pole position, it was so close between
you and Kimi, did you think the pole was on when you went out for
FA: I didnít know what Jarno was doing and I knew Kimi was 19.8 and
on my display I saw the sectors and I realized it was very close and
I did a maximum in the last section to try to get the pole but it
was not possible. But, you know, for tomorrow we have a good gap to
the guys behind us so maybe we can play a bit with the strategy as
Q: Maybe a good gap, Michael, going out as early as you did - a
legacy to your retirement in Bahrain Ė you must be very, very
pleased with that lap time.
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, indeed, we have been showing very
consistently a strong performance over the weekend with qualifying,
which is a little bit of a weak spot after we have seen all the
races, we have had a weak spot obviously in the race in mid to the
end of the race and I think we have worked very well on that one, so
overall I am pretty happy.
Q: Can you talk us through the mood at Ferrari in the build-up to
a very important race for the team, taking into account the start to
the year that you have had.
MS: After this particular start everyone was extremely motivated
seeing the performance possibility with the new car in Bahrain. We
worked very, very hard, the whole test team, the drivers, the
engineers, mechanics, everyone really pushed extremely hard and I
think we can see the result here. We are in a good mood, qualifying
confirmed what we have been doing so far and now we look forward to
the race tomorrow.
Q: One qualifying session before the race to go tomorrow, of
course, but can you just give us your thoughts on the race tomorrow?
Can you do it?
MS: I think we will be there. It is going to be tight and tough but
I think we have an opportunity.
Q: Kimi, you havenít won yet, but McLaren are a lot more
competitive. Whatís made the difference?
KR: Itís a different circuit, I think thatís the biggest difference.
The car seems to be good here. Itís not very easy over the curbs,
but thatís normal for us here, every year itís the same situation.
We may not be the best over the curbs but overall the speed is good.
Iím very happy with the car. It was already good yesterday and I
think in the race we are usually pretty good. Now weíve got
qualifying right we should be in a very good position.
Q: Michael has been quoted that his World Championship starts
here; does yours also start here?
KR: No, it started already, but of course we havenít been in the
place where we would like to be but itís not over yet, there are
many races to go and I have been in a similar situation before and
we lost it in the end. So every point we can score is very good and
important, so letís see what happens tomorrow because it depends
what people are doing with the fuel loads and stuff like that in
second qualifying. We will try to get it right.
Q: Ron Dennis says youíve got a lot more parts coming for
Barcelona; you must be fairly optimisticÖ
KR: Letís see. Hopefully thatís the case. We are getting a new
engine for the next race and some new parts and it all depends
really what happens in testing and how well things work. But I think
we will have some new things which should improve our speed.
Q: Fernando, you are second fastest, and yet you havenít had much
running over the last couple of days; that must be encouraging.
FA: Yes, we prepared the weekend in quite a different way compared
to the others with very little running, a different strategy from
the team and even with that, as I said before, Iím really pleased
with second position so close to pole, because historically this has
been quite a bad circuit for our car, especially on the curbs, and
we werenít competitive in the last two or three years and even
without the curbs, itís nice to drive again. We can push in a good
way and weíre still there, fighting for pole position in equal
conditions to everybody. So tomorrow, as Kimi said, with fuel loads
many things can change, but at the moment, weíre again showing that
weíre competitive here.
Q: The competition is closing in on Renault after their three
wins; who are you most worried about? Ferrari? McLaren? BAR?
FA: All of them. I think we have to be careful of all of them,
because we saw Kimi was the fastest car today, the fastest driver.
We saw the improvement that Ferrari have made. They are very
consistent with the lap time, they are also very quick on a single
timed lap so they will be there as well tomorrow, and also BAR and
Williams Ė they have also shown that they are quick today. So there
are a lot of things important to the podium positions and it will be
a very interesting race.
Q: The track temperatures were considerably cooler at the end of
the session than when Michael went out; did that help or hinder you?
FA: I donít know, probably at the end of qualifying the track was in
a better condition because it was cleaner and there was more rubber
down, but itís true that it was a little bit cloudy, and I was a
little bit scared about the rain and I was lucky that we didnít have
any rain, but it was probably more windy because the clouds were
coming, so I donít know, honestly, what the conditions were at the
Q: Michael, do you think it affected you, would you have
preferred warmer or cooler?
MS: Put it this way, I would have preferred to try at the end, yes!
Q: So you donít think it made all that much difference?
MS: How can we judge? Itís difficult to say.
Q: One of the problems with Ferrari and Bridgestone has been the
first lap performance, that one lap performance. Has that been
cured, do you feel?
MS: It has been improved but not cured.
Q: Ross Brawn said yesterday that there was no quick fix and yet
here you are up in third place; it seems to have come good pretty
MS: Yeh, but in Bahrain we were second in first qualifying, so I
think the car is simply very good. We have obviously had a problem
with the tires not being consistent enough for the whole race. I
think weíve done good work on that so weíre probably in good shape.
Q: (Dusko Dragic - Ekipa) This circuit is one of the greatest in
the calendar but its infrastructure is very bad. Fans, on some parts
of the circuit, can easily climb over the walls and fences. Do you
have any security worries at this circuit?
MS: Honestly, we have to have this kind of circuit. They have so
much tradition. If we only raced on new built-up circuits, we would
miss out very quickly on traditional places. Whenever everything is
perfect, itís not perfect either honestly. This has so much charm
and Iím pleased for the reasons of the circuit and the environment.
On the other hand I am also an ambassador of San Marino so there are
plenty of reasons why Iím pretty happy and I have no safety concerns
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