Portugese GP winners' press conference

Q Jacques congratulations on your 4th victory of the season which was crucial to keep your championship hopes alive. Did everything go completely to plan today? JV Apart from the start, yeah. We knew we had to beat Damon by at least...

Q Jacques congratulations on your 4th victory of the season which was crucial to keep your championship hopes alive. Did everything go completely to plan today?

JV Apart from the start, yeah. We knew we had to beat Damon by at least 10 points to still keep a slim chance for the championship and that's what we did today. We were counting on the start but for once Damon left the grid pretty good and we had a pretty bad one. It was looking grim at that point and then it was a good battle with Michael until we came upon some traffic. He was going slowly before the last turn hoping I would stay behind but we just got him on the outside, so I think the oval experience helped a little bit there and actually it was a lot of fun. After that I was just fighting to close to Damon and to try and overtake him in the pit stop and that's what happened.

Q As you were coming down the pit lane after your 3rd pit stop were you aware that Damon was coming down the main straight?

JV Yeah I knew whereabouts he was because I had been following him when he went in the pits and I wasn't that far, so I did a quick lap before coming in the pits to make sure I would get a good lead on him. The team did a great job because my car today was very, very strong and I could race it pretty hard.

Q Once you were ahead of Damon were you pretty confident then that you'd be able to stay ahead for the last remaining laps?

JV Yeah because when I was behind him I was slightly quicker until the last few laps when my tyres were shot because of following him and loosing all the downforce. So I knew that if we got ahead then if we didn't make any mistake or hit some traffic at the wrong spot we would finish in front.

Q Well Damon you had a great start and you built up quite a big lead pretty quickly. How confident were you at that stage that you were going to be able to stay ahead?

DH Yeah I felt pretty confident I could stay ahead but Jacques did a great job getting through the traffic. It was exciting when he caught me up but I managed to pull away and I was confident that then I would be able to stay ahead at the pit stop but he found some time in the pit stop and I was quite surprised to see him pop out in front of me. After that I tried to stay with him but he was really flying and I couldn't stay with him. I had some information on the radio later on, about 3 or 4 laps after that, that there was something wrong with the clutch so I had to go to different settings on the clutch. After that I was really concerned about finishing the race. So I can't be too disappointed because I'm only 1 point away from the world championship should Jacques win in Japan.

Q Michael you made a very long hard race with Jean Alesi.

MS Yeah true, had to fight until the end.

Q When we saw you at the end there, in the Park Ferme, you were examining the front of your car. Did you have a bit of a head to head with him at some stage?

MS Yeah. I went into him. I touched his back into turn 4 while we were together with traffic and he closed the door where I thought there's an opportunity and I couldn't stop early enough so I just knocked his rear and I cut my nose a little bit, but nothing happened badly so everything was all right.

Q Did you come in for your 3rd pit stop on schedule or did you come in a bit early?

MS No, we made a rather strange 3 stop strategy but it worked out.

Q It seemed to be similar to the one that you made very successfully in Monza possibly.

MS No, Monza was a 1 stop this is a 3 stop so it's very difficult to compare these two races. We knew that if we are behind at the start and he is on a 2 stop we would struggle to pass him so we had to think about a different solution and we found one.

Q Jacques, the next circuit is Suzuka and Damon only has to score 1 point to clinch the championship. What are your feelings about the next race?

JV Well it's going to be a good battle but Damon is looking very good to win the championship but we're not going to let down until it's over and until the last lap you never know what can happen so we'll have to just go out there and try to win it and then we'll see what Damon does.

Q Gentlemen, thank you.

-- David Goodwin

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jean Alesi