In a paddock not yet completely assembled as the teams fought the tightest deadline in the calendar to build up the motorhomes and working areas, Fernando Alonso sat down with the media, just three days after their last meeting at his home grand prix.
Asked about the news that technical director Aldo Costa stepped down from his role after the last race, he said, “considering this is not part of our job as drivers. We trust the team and we have full confidence in Stefano’s (team principal Domenicali) decisions as to what is best for Ferrari. I can say I feel a very positive atmosphere today here at the track. All decisions are made in the best interests of the team, so I have full confidence for the future, when I hope we can be more competitive.”
Even though Sunday’s Barcelona race did not go well for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, it’s Spanish driver is not writing off his chances on this week’s street circuit. “Monaco is so different to all the other circuits that we always see some surprises here, such as the Williams being very quick from 2004 to 2006 and also in 2008,” he began. “I am confident as to our own possibilities. We were not competitive in Spain, but as I said, this is a completely different track. We will try and do our best here at a track where aerodynamics might be less important, so maybe we can have a good weekend and score many points.”
No one can say bye bye to championship hopes after just five races
Fernando is a two time winner at this circuit and he still recalls his first victory in 2006. “It was very important for my career,” he said. “Winning in Monte Carlo is the most special for a driver, even if winning your home Grand Prix is the best feeling. We all used to watch Monaco on TV when we were kids and now we are on the streets that are very special, with a fantastic atmosphere all weekend. Even the Friday when we have some other activities, you can feel the support from the fans, so winning this race is a big prize and hopefully if we have a good weekend we can fight for that victory. I remember crossing the line when I won and being nervous all weekend, after having the chance in ’04 and ’05 and then I finally got the win in ’06 and even again in ’07.”
Fernando’s optimism in the face of a poor start to the season is something he still maintains. “We have only had five races, so no one can say bye bye to championship hopes after just five,” he explained. “The number of points we had at this stage last year is not too different to the situation we are in now. So I remain optimistic we can turn it around, but it is also true that we need to have a competitive car immediately. At the moment we are struggling too much to be a title contender as we are fighting for fifth place.”
Just a short walk for Felipe Massa from his Monegasque home to the Formula 1 paddock today, where he met the media in the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Media Motorhome.
“I think we could have an exciting Monaco race this weekend, because we have seen the effect of the tyres on this season’s racing so far,” began the Brazilian, who regards this as his second home race of the year, after Brazil. “Strategy will be very important and we can expect to see different directions in terms of race strategy to what we are used to in the past. However, given how hard overtaking is here and given the fact that the place where we will be allowed to use DRS is not the easiest part of the track, I do not expect the DRS to have such a significant effect as at the other tracks. Tyre degradation is more likely to be a significant factor in overtaking.”
At the Catalunya circuit on Sunday, Felipe, like many others, struggled to get his car to work on the hard tyres, so the fact Pirelli is bringing two different compounds here is cause for optimism. “I hope we can have a much better weekend than we did at the last race,” said the Brazilian. “The fact we will not have to deal with the hard tyres can be a factor that gives us a chance to fight properly in the race from the beginning to the end. I think the use of the softer tyres should also help in qualifying, so in general, I expect to have a weekend that could be better than Barcelona and also better than some of the other races.
The soft and supersoft tyres will be interesting to use in qualifying
The soft and supersoft tyres will be interesting to use in qualifying, because the supersoft will definitely be quicker and here in Monaco, it is still very important to start as near to the front of the grid as possible, therefore we might see people choose the optimum qualifying strategy, rather than save new tyres for the race. But, if you then have to start the race on these tyres. they will not last long, so you have to pit early and then you can come out in traffic. I think we will see different people adopt different directions and hopefully we can pick the right one.”
Finally, the Brazilian was asked about yesterday’s new that Aldo Costa was no longer the Scuderia Technical Director. “The organisational change is the one the team feels is the way we should go and I believe in the team,” he maintained. “I believe this will help us find the right direction, but this change on its own does not mean we are now going to have a great car straight away. Part of the effect of the change will only be seen in the future. We still have the same people working within all the departments, so this change is not destabilising for the team.”