European Grand Prix FIA winners' press conference transcript with 1. Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes), 2h06m26.358s 2. Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 2h06m34.513s 3. Mark Webber (Red Bull), 2h07m32.032s Q: Fernando, what a day, what a race, ...
European Grand Prix FIA winners' press conference transcript with
Q: Fernando, what a day, what a race, incredible conditions, looked as if Ferrari had the better of you in the dry but in the wet, unbelievable closing laps. Talk us through them.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, I think the race was so exciting - to drive and also to watch, from the outside, I hope. It's true that we had very different conditions. The first three laps were unbelievable. It was so wet and we had aquaplaning everywhere. The safety car came out and we stopped the race because it was impossible. Then, as you said, in dry conditions I think the Ferraris were a little bit quicker than us, so we probably didn't have enough pace. And yeah, truly, the rain at the end helped us a lot and our car seemed to be a little bit better in wet conditions and luckily enough I had six laps to try to overtake Felipe.
Q: Talk us through that overtaking manoeuvre.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it was so close. The racing line was getting drier so to overtake you needed to go a little bit on the outside or the inside, on the wet part. We touched each other two times and I apologise to him (Massa) because I was so stressed when I finished the race because we nearly didn't finish the race. Now I try to enjoy the victory and forget everything.
Q: Fernando, how do you rate this as one of your race victories? You looked ecstatic on the podium.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, absolutely. I enjoyed the race so much because I like the different conditions, the different weather conditions. I always enjoy these types of races and at one point, when I was second, I said maybe it's not the right time to rain, because I was happy with second place. Lewis was out of the points and Kimi as well, so for me eight points were good enough. But then, obviously now with the final result, I like the rain, there's no doubt. Always when it rains, I'm quite happy and I have some fun. On the podium I was so happy because the race was quite exciting, as I said.
Q: Felipe, you too drove a brilliant race, set Ferrari's 200th fastest race lap today. Fantastic in the dry, talk us through those early conditions and the race from your point of view.
Felipe Massa: Well, I think it was a pretty good start, so I could manage to pass Fernando and almost try and pass Kimi, but it was a good start. And then in the beginning of the race it was very difficult, everybody on grooved tyres and it was raining and it was pretty easy to go off. I almost went off two or three times. And then suddenly I came straight into the pits and just saw Kimi not coming and I thought it was really a chance to pass him as well and I did so. The car was just very good in the dry, a little bit of understeer at the beginning of the stint but then it was really really good. I was able to pull away at a very nice and controlled pace. But then, unfortunately, the rain came again and we put another... I think our car was not so bad even in the rain, but then I don't know what happened. I took a set of tyres which was vibrating a lot from the beginning and I couldn't manage to find the pace. Then Fernando was just getting closer and closer and we had a fight.
Q: We saw some pictures of you not looking too happy as you got out of the car; what are your thoughts on that manoeuvre from Fernando?
Felipe Massa: I was really surprised when he came to say that I did that on purpose. I would never do something like that on purpose. Like I said in Barcelona, it was normal, here it was normal and it's going to be like that. So if he was a little bit unhappy, it's not my problem.
Q: Mark, great speed in qualifying and the car reliable through to the finish and your first podium since 2005.
Mark Webber: Yeah, it's a podium I can enjoy as well. It was a special day for us, no question about it. The start was not good at all. I had a huge amount of clutch slip, so I was on the back foot going into turn one and then I saw, in turn two, the BMWs which got together, and then the rain was already starting pretty quickly which was absolutely phenomenal. I didn't expect it to come that quick, because we thought it would come at least five or six laps into the race. It was there straight away. Then we obviously had to make some decisions, which wasn't too difficult at the start, to go to intermediates but then the aquaplaning that we had in second or third gear on the run down to turn five and in some other sections... it was just a sheet of water on the track. The FIA did a good job to put the safety car out to try to control and then suspend the race which was sensible.
And then after that, we obviously went onto intermediates and then grooves and then we did a really really long stint on the grooves and I struggled a little bit in the middle stint with the rears, but then I was obviously going a lot longer than Heikki and Alex and those guys. That was when I did the damage in terms of securing what was then going to be a podium, when I saw Kimi retire which I must say I wasn't that disappointed about: when you see someone (retire) when you can gain some positions. And then at the end, I thought 'my God, we've got it all in the bank, it's all fine, let's maybe start to wind the engine down and look after a few things' and then I saw the rain coming towards us and I thought 'oh my God, they're not going to give it to us easy.' It's interesting to hear Felipe's comments in terms of the vibrations that I had on the last set were massive. I think it's not unusual for us to get this on intermediates.
I was much happier if it stayed a bit dry towards the end of the race, given what was at stake. Alex was pretty close at the end but Red Bull deserve... these guys have been through a torrid start to the season, no question about it, and both cars in the points today -- David in fifth -- the whole team deserve it... the amount of effort that's gone in the background. You can say what you want, you can say it's improving, you can say this but we continue each week to come back with the same old broken record stuff but results are what count and today we've got a few points on the board, albeit due to a little bit of attrition but at the end of the day, it's a 300kms race and we were there at the end and it was really for the team today that we got the points.
Q: Fernando, suddenly the World Championship is right there in your face, and equally, an unbelievable day for Spain today, two of the main supporting events won by Spanish drivers, you've won the Grand Prix of Europe and a certain Spaniard is doing quite well in the British Open today as well.
Fernando Alonso: Yes, I don't know the full results in the other sports but as you said, for the championship, for myself, it becomes an important race but as we always said, the championship is so long, you never know what is going to happen in 15 days time in Hungary. It could be completely the opposite, anything can happen. We're still working in the same direction, the same approach. No doubt it will be tight at the end for all four drivers who are fighting but step-by-step, hopefully I can make it.
Q: Fernando, you were saying just now that you seemed to be quicker in the wet conditions; did you think it was going to be wet, did you adjust the car accordingly?
Fernando Alonso: No, no. No, we didn't expect the rain, so it was just how the car works in dry conditions and wet conditions, the difference between the two teams. You never know what they are in terms of drivability of the engine, chassis, suspension. All these small details seem to help us today in wet conditions. If we again have another wet race from now until the end of the season and we are still competitive, maybe it's right, only for this race we cannot be clear in this.
Q: The other incident, apart from that with Felipe was in the pit lane; you nearly had a collision with Giancarlo there.
Fernando Alonso: Yes. So much traffic in the pit lane. I was ready to leave the box but everybody was coming in, so the lollipop was still down and they kept waiting for a space. They saw a little opportunity before the Renault and you know the delay you have coming out from the box etc. It was just so close. That was quite close. As you said, with Felipe at the end it was close but as I said before, I apologise if I said anything to him, because it's motor racing and it's a fight. We finished the race, so I don't want to talk any more about this and I want to enjoy the win.
Q: Felipe, do you think it was a little bit of set-up? Could you see where you were missing out in the wet conditions?
Felipe Massa: No, no. I don't think it was set-up problem. I just think, at the beginning of the rain it was ok, it was not a problem. Maybe Alonso was quite close but it was not possible to pass and the car was behaving quite well. Then in the end I just took a set of tyres that were vibrating a lot, I don't know what happened, and I couldn't keep the pace anymore. Maybe something was wrong, the balance of the tyres was completely upset and it was vibrating a lot. I couldn't keep the pace and Fernando was much quicker so it was difficult to hold. So he passed me.
Q: But even, in fact, on your last set of dry tyres you were losing time to him.
Felipe Massa: No it was not true. I was really controlling the pace. He was getting closer but not so quickly, I could have gone quicker for sure. I proved already in the first stint that our car was quicker and we were pulling away in a nice way so it was just controlling the gap... But then the rain came, so it was really a shame for me because the race was already finished.
Q: You had a quite a fright when you saw what I understand was Fisichella's wheel centre on the track.
Felipe Massa: Yes, I saw something on the track. First of all my engineer said we have some debris on the main straight but I was looking and I didn't find it and I said it was close to braking. Then I just saw the part of his car in front so I was lucky. It could have been a big accident.
Q: Mark, it must be a great relief to be on the podium again?
Mark Webber: You don't say mate. It's a bloody huge relief for the whole team and for myself. We've been ripped off quite a lot in the past but it is always down to preparation. It's not due to luck, it's not due to this and that. No-one is interested in excuses, we have to get the results ourselves. Today wasn't from our position and we didn't drive to a podium in terms of pace but we were there to get a podium in a very, very difficult motor race. The whole team did a good job in terms of calling the race from the pit wall, obviously from the cockpit you have to make some decisions yourself in terms of what tyres you put on. It was a very challenging grand prix. We showed in qualifying that we were pretty solid in terms of that midfield group. Obviously we can't compete with these guys [Ferrari and McLaren], but that middle fight is crucial to us. I'm absolutely stoked. Very, very happy to get a podium, it's a big chunk of points for the team and for myself and David [Coulthard], so it's good for Red Bull too, I think to jump ahead of Toyota and yes... looking forward to Budapest.
Q: You so nearly lost the position at the NGK chicane. Tell us what happened there.
Mark Webber: The fun started at the last lap. I thought yeah 'everything is fine, we're ok.' I went down to the first corner and braked and the front right just locked up. I thought 'oh my god I have to recover it, recover it.' I lost a lot of time to Alex then, got it back, I was quite calm. The NGK chicane was ok, then when I started braking, I think the rears were so heavily grained that I think the engine braking was having a bit of fun trying to cope with that as well. So I locked the rears quite heavily and so I had to be quite defensive to finish the lap. But Alex was fair, we fought hard and he knows that he and I think along the same way so it's my time to have a little bit of luck after Canada. So today I get it.
Q: Mark, given the reliability problems for you this year, how much tension was there for you over those last laps thinking the car might just break again?
Mark Webber: Absolutely horrible, because I wasn't that confident to be honest because if you look at our reliability record it has been quite poor and there are still a lot of components that we need to get more confidence in to be honest in a grand prix. So once we had done our second stops, and I had a comfortable third going on the slick tyres and I thought 'just stay together, just stay together' and I saw the rain coming and I knew there was going to be a few variabilities before the race was over. But there is absolutely nothing I can do about that, I have to just keep pushing and if the car stops... I have plenty of experience with that, but I don't have very much experience with being up here. I'm bloody happy to be here so it's good.
Q: Fernando congratulations. We could see you were very happy on the podium. Did this victory have a different taste for you after everything that has happened in the last weeks?
Fernando Alonso: No, same taste. But obviously for the championship it is more important. When you win and your main opponents for the championship finish second or third the gap doesn't close enough to be so out there. You are happy for the win but more than the win it is also ten points from Kimi and Lewis and two from Felipe. So I was happy also for that.
Q: Massa, what do you have against Alonso? And Alonso what do you have against Massa?
Fernando Alonso: Nothing, nothing it all. As I said, I will not talk any more about this. If I say something to him I apologise already in front of everybody, so I want to enjoy the win and there is nothing at all. I was not too happy at the end of the race because we touched each other but now, five minutes later on the podium I realised that this is motor racing, so I will not talk any more.
Felipe Massa: I don't have anything against anybody, I just do my race and I follow the rules of the sport, that's all. If somebody tells me something I did wrong and I didn't, I will be unhappy. That is normal. But if he has apologized, then that's fine. He knows he was not right after the race.
Q: Considering that it was wet weather and the track was very slippery, which manoeuvre of Felipe did you not like?
Fernando Alonso: I will not talk any more. I like how we finished, I will not talk any more. I won the race.
Q: In the beginning of the race many people went off at the first corner, you obviously didn't. Were you warned from the pits that there was a lake on the inside?
Felipe Massa: I was really lucky because I braked reasonably late when we just came on lap 2 or something and it was really wet. I was really lucky because I completely locked the wheels and I though I was going to spin off but I could manage to control and fortunately I didn't manage to spin off. I think Fernando had a difficult moment as well behind me.
Fernando Alonso: I was the same, braking at the same point as Felipe, locking in the same way the tyres and we ran very wide into turn one, just on the limit. I was taking the reference of him for braking and things like that. We all had problems at that corner, I think 22 drivers had problems there.
Mark Webber: Yeah Jenson was quite quick at that point. I thought he was, not risking a lot, but anyway that is what he was doing. But anyway it was good information for me when I saw the spray stop and him sideways. Then he was looking at me going backwards so I knew it was a bit too late for him and I braked earlier.
Q: Alonso, you are only 2 points behind your teammate. Does it change your approach to the championship?
Fernando Alonso: No, not at all. I have said many times, the championship is very long and I think there are seven or eight races to go still. So every weekend is an unpredictable weekend. Even here Ferrari is very, very quick and they were quicker than us on track conditions in normal conditions. Suddenly you have a mechanical problem in Kimi's car and you have rain at the end and McLaren wins the race. This is motor racing and in the next seven races I would not put any money on any driver, anyone can win because the races are a bit unpredictable. Knowing that I approach every race always thinking to do my best. Sometimes you have a better result, sometimes not so good. If I am at two points now, then in Hungary I will do my best. Hopefully I can keep scoring more points than the leader.