Chinese Grand Prix FIA winners' press conference transcript with 1. Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h39m53.618s 2. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1h39m57.633s 3. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), 1h40m18.994s Q: Fernando, I think the singing on the radio said...
Chinese Grand Prix FIA winners' press conference transcript with
1. Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1h39m53.618s
2. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1h39m57.633s
3. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), 1h40m18.994s
Q: Fernando, I think the singing on the radio said it all -- 'We are the Champions'.
Fernando Alonso: Yes, I think for the team it has been a fantastic season but we arrived in the last race with two points only ahead of McLaren and we pushed the car a little bit, the chassis side and the engine side, to win the Constructors'. It was not crucial but quite important for the team for the motivation for next year and thanks to the team we are here.
Q: It looked from your point of view a perfect race, everything went to plan, were you on the radio talking about a bit of understeer and putting more wing on at the first stop?
Fernando Alonso: No, the opposite, a little bit of oversteer and dropping a bit of front wing at the stop. Apart from that the car was perfect, all weekend it has been perfect. We only showed our potential in qualifying, putting all the power in the engine and a little bit in the first stint and that's all, I think. After that we ran with very low revs, Kimi was far behind and it was probably the easiest race of the year.
Q: Your emotions now on winning this second championship. You and Kimi have finished seven-all in terms of race victories but both championships have gone to you.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, I think it was a good season for us, all through the year. We won all the races at the beginning and then we had some steps in the engine and the car but we didn't take any risks because the gap was far enough to keep the distance and we showed here if we want to put a little more risk, if we want to beat McLaren, we can do it. I am a little bit frustrated that I only won seven races, the same as Kimi, because I think the car had the potential, as we saw here in the last race, to win 10 or 11 races.
Q: Kimi, a difficult race for you. I would guess. Early on you were chasing Giancarlo Fisichella, what was the situation then from your point of view?
Kimi Raikkonen: I don't really know, the car was not quick enough. It was not difficult to drive but it just wasn't quick at the start of the race but at the end of the race it got quicker and quicker and it was perfect but unfortunately it came about 40 laps too late so I was not able to do anything any more. I did my best but it wasn't enough today and the Renault was too quick, our congratulations to them and next year we try again.
Q: The safety car came out just as the Renaults were coming in for fuel, did that nullify your fuel advantage, do you think you could have picked up more pace had the safety car not come out?
Kimi Raikkonen: I don't know, it is always easy to say afterwards but it doesn't change anything so I don't really know.
Q: Your team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya right behind you hit that manhole cover, did you see any problem with the manhole cover in the lap before?
Kimi Raikkonen: I saw it a little bit, it was out of place and next time I came around it was sticking up. I missed it and I guess he ran a little bit wider and hit it so it is unfortunate for him and for the team but in the end I don't think it would have made any difference in the championship, so we pushed as hard as we could but today was not our day, so we will try next year.
Q: And in the closing stages of the race you had three cars in front of you who didn't stop in the second safety car period. What was it like after that, when racing re-commenced for you?
Kimi Raikkonen: It was okay, after the last safety car the car was much better, much quicker and they were pulling away a little bit from me but they were lighter and we knew they needed to stop so I wasn't worried about it. It was only a bit disappointing to see that I couldn't do anything any more, it was too late to try to catch Alonso, so it was easy for them but that is racing and the season could have been worse, so it is alright to go on holiday now and have some fun.
Q: Ralf, a second podium finish of the year, a great call to stay out there and you made good use of it, pulled out a lot of time and here you are on the podium.
Ralf Schumacher: Yeah, we had a very difficult weekend in the way the car was really difficult in the beginning and even in qualifying, and then we were a bit lucky with the safety car, this time lucky, last time not, so it paid off, and yeah, the team had a good strategy, the pit stops were brilliant so it worked out.
Q: How good was the car at the end, because in qualifying you were complaining about the understeer at that point, how was the handling at that stage in the race?
Ralf Schumacher: The car was, basically after the first pit stop, handling well, especially after the second safety car. It was incredible, and I was able to follow Fernando although I knew he was on more fuel. Still I was able to pull out the gap I needed, so it was just very good.
Q: Fernando, returning to you, you have won both championships, so it is time for a summary of the season and your feelings about your racing with Kimi this year, as we said, seven-all, it has been a phenomenal season of competition between you two guys.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it was pressure for me to fight with Kimi this year, a lot of respect from each other and I think it was a nice fight. At the beginning I had a better car, in the middle of the season he had a better car with more mechanical problems than me, so I won the Drivers' Championship a little bit before the end and now, as I said before, we proved we had something in the pocket at the last part of the season. We didn't put in the car because there was no reason so I am very happy and confident for next year as well because the potential is here in the team.
Q: Fernando, it must be great to feel you have got the job totally done now.
Fernando Alonso: Yes, now it is also to the team, the world championship, and for us the whole season has been a dream come true. For Renault even more so because it is the fourth year after the team came to Formula One and we are world champions. So I think it is not an easy job to do and thanks to all the people, how good they are, how professional they are, we are here.
Q: Today did you feel the safety car worked for you?
Fernando Alonso: No, I think I was a bit unlucky with the safety car. I had a 20-second gap and it disappeared after the safety car. I think a lot of people were surprised how long we could go in the first part without the safety car, probably longer than the McLaren for the first time, and also I am a little bit sad because we didn't prove that.
Q: And how was the car today, do you feel it was quicker than the McLarens?
Fernando Alonso: I think so, all weekend we have been a little bit quicker but we didn't use any of the potential that came from the new engine, we put only for qualifying, with maybe more fuel than the people thought and we did first row. I think also in the race I pushed a little bit in the first part and then I really turned down the revs because Montoya was out and even for the team second and third was enough to win, so we really chilled out.
Q: So you were reduced revs for the rest of the race?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, from lap 30 or so, the last 20 laps were really, really low revs because Montoya was out.
Q: Kimi, you were quite confident yesterday but not the result you wanted today.
Kimi Raikkonen: I thought we would be a little bit quicker. The car was handling pretty OK at the beginning of the race but it just wasn't quick enough. I don't really know why because it has been pretty good all weekend. In the end it got very good but it was 40 laps too late so I couldn't do anything else. I tried my best and got fastest lap but in the end it doesn't make any difference. Anyhow, the whole team did the best that they could but the Renault was quicker today so they deserved the championship this year and we will try again next year.
Q: Very disappointed?
Kimi Raikkonen: It doesn't really change my season much. OK, it would have been nice to win but it's not really... OK a bit disappointing in one way that we didn't win any championships this year but then this one in the last race doesn't make much difference.
Q: The second stop was vital for you to get ahead of Giancarlo.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, we had more fuel anyhow before so their stop was shorter and then, I don't know if he needed to wait a little while or not but I was okay, the team did a great stop and I got ahead of him so it was a bit easier after that.
Q: You were behind him as he came into the pits and he had the penalty for obstructing in the pit lane, did you feel...
Kimi Raikkonen: He was slowing down and then I tried to go round but (laughing) he was weaving in front of me, but I guess everybody always tries to do that but this time they got a penalty because I think there was a new rule or something after Spa. I don't really know but it doesn't make much difference in the results.
Q: I was going to say that you guys did something similar in Spa...
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, but at that time I guess it was legal, but afterwards there was some talk that if someone does it they said that maybe they would report it to the stewards and I guess it happened this time.
Q: Was there a drivers' briefing, was it mentioned in a drivers' briefing or something like that after Spa?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah.
Q: Can you remember where? Brazil, the next race?
Kimi Raikkonen: My memory is so bad, so don't ask.
Q: Ralf, I think you have overtaken your team-mate in the Drivers' championship. What does that mean to you?
Ralf Schumacher: Well, on one hand it is nice, on the other hand I have always said we always want to win races, we want to win championships and whether you are sixth, seventh, fifth, tenth. I don't even know where I am now, it doesn't really matter.
Q: Surprised to be on the podium today?
Ralf Schumacher: Um, kind of (surprised). I must say, really, kind of (surprised). The whole weekend we have been struggling big time, really. In Japan we seemed to have been strong with a bit of luck, but in the race we had a bad time with the safety car. Here we didn't expect too much from the race. The safety car helped a bit but then during the race we picked up the pace massively and that enabled me to go forward and we had a good strategy as well.
Q: And you had a few battles with Mark Webber and also with Rubens.
Ralf Schumacher: Well, it wasn't really a battle was it? Mark was always far enough behind me and Rubens, I couldn't really overtake him. We were close together but there was no real battle.
Q: But third place? You are happy with that?
Ralf Schumacher: Oh yes, especially for the team. They did a great job all year long, really pushed it and when you consider from where we came and where we are now, so it's a great thing. I have another podium in the pocket for the winter time, it keeps the motivation going and just enables us to take it from here.
Q: It's a good result to have for the next race, isn't it?
Ralf Schumacher: Yeah, we have to wait a little longer now.
Q: Fernando, do you think the change in engine was the decisive factor? What was it that gave you this strong lead?
Fernando Alonso: I think it only came from the engine because the car is the same as Suzuka. We improved the car for the last three races, from Brazil but there we did a conservative race because I needed the championship. In Suzuka we were very unlucky in qualifying in the rain, and here the chassis has been OK and as I said before, the step we made in the engine, a one-race engine, maybe it is as powerful as the McLaren and we were able to fight with them for the first time in the last ten races.
Q: Fernando, how do you celebrate tonight for the championship, and secondly after the Shanghai Grand Prix will you just go back to London or go back to Spain?
Fernando Alonso: The two questions have the same answer, I will celebrate in the aeroplane tonight, I am going to London.
Q: Kimi and Fernando, talk about one another, can you talk about the season?
Fernando Alonso: Nothing to say really, everyone knows how quick Kimi is and it's been a fantastic season for me to fight with him. He's always very calm, no mistakes. I have been lucky with my team that we had no mechanical problems and we had a good car, and I don't know, for the future it will be a good fight also because he is very young so we can be a long time in Formula One.
Kimi Raikkonen: I think when we fight against each other it has always been very fair and clean and there are no bad feelings between us. OK, I would rather win it than lose the championship but he has deserved it this year and that's fine for me. He has been quicker from the beginning, and then maybe we were a little bit quicker and in the end, you saw here that we couldn't match them again. He definitely deserves it, and I will try next year again. I will try to give him a hard time and I am sure he will do the same for me, so hopefully we will fight again next year.
Q: Fernando and Kimi, after this long season how long a break do you need to re-charge your batteries?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think I am next testing in January sometime, so that is fine for me. It doesn't really matter if you're testing or not but of course after the season it is always nice to have something else to do rather than thinking about racing and then you are more interested at the start of the next year.
Fernando Alonso: The same for me. With seasons of 19 or 20 races long, you need to start the season as far away as you can and I think my first test will be in the middle or end of January as I did this year. Until then I hope to relax and enjoy my family.
Q: Fernando, what happened in the pit lane with the engine? Some problem?
Fernando Alonso: It went on fire. My engineers kept on telling me during the in lap to really go on the throttle in the pit lane because it was the last V10 engine racing in Formula One and I was on the throttle and it got on fire a little bit -- one exhaust.