US GP: Michelin media beakfast quotes

UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX MICHELIN MEDIA BREAKFAST QUOTES Thursday, June 29, 2006 FERNANDO ALONSO: (Assess your season so far): "Fantastic, no doubts about this. We have had a dream season so far, and now we have to finish the job in the second...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

FERNANDO ALONSO: (Assess your season so far): "Fantastic, no doubts about this. We have had a dream season so far, and now we have to finish the job in the second half. It's looking great, the team performance has been good anywhere. I lost two opportunities to win two other races, in Malaysia when we made a mistake in qualifying with the fuel load we put in the car, and in Imola we lost the race. We were quicker than Michael (Schumacher), and perhaps we pit too early. Even with that, six victories and three second places, we never expect this performance and success. With the new rules and new car, everyone has some doubts at the beginning of the season, and I think the team did a fantastic job and we were ready for the first race."

(Are you in a position now to control the championship or do you need to go for wins at every race?): "We need to go for wins. I think the best defense is to keep attacking and keep increasing the gap with second place. And if one time we have to defend, we cannot be crazy, second place or third place would be OK, but we have to keep winning. We cannot wait and see the others win. We have to keep doing the maximum team-wise, I think for the next race we have a new engine coming, some new aerodynamics in the car for Hockenheim. So I think race by race we will improve the car. Tires, every race have a new program next week at Jerez. We keep testing and improve the car and tires, and this is the only way to be champion and everyone is working the same direction, and we're very happy."

(You have said after winning at circuits where you won for the first time how special it was to win. Does Indianapolis fit into that?): "At the beginning of the season, I said that I need a podium at Monaco, Indianapolis and Canada because they are the only three trophies I didn't have at all the circuits. I did Monaco and Canada, so it's still Indianapolis to get on the podium. I think Monaco, Monza and Indianapolis are the most famous circuits in the world, and to win at any of those circuits is something special for any racing driver."

(What circuits can you compare Indianapolis?): "It's difficult, to any circuit. It has different parts of the circuit, one (infield) quite slow and not so grippy, difficult to get braking points and see the line, improving as we get more rubber down. And the second part (long straightaway), really quick, especially with the V8, maybe 12 or 13 seconds full throttle, very difficult for the engine. I don't think you can compare it to any one (circuit), impossible."

(Have you noticed anything different about the American fans this year, in the wake of last year?): "No, nothing at all so far. Yesterday in the hotel there were people waiting for us there, nothing unusual. And today, we see how they feel and enjoy Formula One, so I don't think we see any negative side coming from last year. I think the people are looking forward Sunday, and to see a good show, which we'll put on the track for them, for sure."

(Are you surprised that this many Formula One fans are here today?): "No, we were very dramatic last year, with the things that happened. I think the people understood immediately. The repercussions in the press were big because it was nothing that had happened before. But the people, the real fans of Formula One understood and supported us; the teams, Michelin, everybody, and they're here to support Formula One once again."

(How confident are you in the Michelin tire for this year?) "Every race we're in contact with them. The Monday or Tuesday we know the tires we're taking for the race, compounds, contractions and new developments in the tire. And Indianapolis is the normal thing; we know what we're bringing here, 100 percent confidence. I think we know the problem last year, they know the problem, it's completely forgotten."

(Talk about the tire necessary for this circuit.) "You need a tire that has to be quite soft for the inside part, where there's not a lot of grip. The most difficult part of the circuit is the aerodynamics of the car because you must put less wing for the long straight, but you need some support for the inside part so you can gain some time in the corners. So to find a good compromise normally is impossible, and you need to see what your opponents are doing, and be as quick as them on straight and have more wing than them on the inside part."

(What are your memories of the final 30 minutes before last year's race?): "I have probably three things in my head that I will never forget. One is the meeting we had before the race, where we tried to agree to racing, to put on for everybody a good show. We tried to agree that we had a problem with tires, and to refuse the points. We didn't want to race for points, we knew we had a problem with tires but we wanted just to race for the people out there. One team and some drivers didn't want to do that, they wanted to race alone, and they did it. This is difficult to forget all the people that were upset out there. Secondly, on the formation lap, Raikkonen was fifth and I was ninth, and I saw him warming up the tires on the last two corners and I said, 'Well, he's going to the grid so I go to the grid, as well; we need to race.' Everyone agreed to come into the pits on the formation lap, but when Kimi started to warm up the tires, I warmed up the tires. When he came in the pits, I came in the pits. We had tires, really, in good condition, I don't know why."

(Are you concerned that Michelin has chosen a conservative tire this weekend?): "No. There's not anything to be conservative for. There was a very specific problem last year that will be no more this year. There's no need to be conservative." (Nick Shorrock, Michelin F1 director, interjected: "With a team like Renault, you don't get to be conservative")

(Is it hard to forget that some drivers weren't willing to race without points last year?) "Well, people have different opinions, but I think in that moment what was more important was the 150,000 (people) out there. Not only your opinion, we have to think about the people in the sport. Sometimes we forget."

(Earlier this week Bernie Ecclestone said it doesn't matter if F1 is in America. Do you feel it's important F1 race in America?): "It's very important for me. I think Formula One, to be all the countries in the world, to be the biggest sport show you can see in the world, why not in America? Why not in the States? You have everything here, all the sports, great champions, I think Formula One has to be in America, yes, because you see 150,000 or 200,000 people here every year, even if the people don't feel it's that interesting, I think it has to be always in America."

(You have two more poles than Schumacher had at this point in his career, how much do the records mean to you?): "It's not too important for me. The most important thing to me is to win championships, even if I don't win pole positions. Important things are the points in the race and so far we're doing well. It's true in 77 Grands Prix I have achieved a lot; it's thanks to the team and the people around me. I did one year in Minardi and I finished 19th or 16th in all the races, and I didn't learn that much. It's only now that I have a winning car that I can do my job better."

NICK SHORROCK (Michelin F1 director): "To go back to 2005, we've taken a lot of time obviously to go through data, and the conclusions we've come to are very clear now. Essentially (the problem was) a combination of three effects: vertical lateral forces, speeds and the time with those forces and speeds, particularly through the banking, Turn 13. The combination of those three elements led to the fact that we didn't have the specification of tire that we should have had. All that has been gone through on several occasions after the event with our partners, we have explained exactly what happened, how that happened, and subsequently what we have done to correct all that. That has been going on now since last July and on several occasions in great detail with our partners."

(What can you tell us about the tire for 2006?): "Important start point were the tires from 2005 and all the lessons we learned from that. We've gone through a lot of work in computer simulations and a lot of tire testing, both at our headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand and also here in the United States with (inaudible) at Buffalo. All that information has been used within the context of 2006, so we're sure now, 100 percent, the tires correspond to the specification we need for this race in 2006."

(What can you tell us about the tires for this race compared to Montreal, and what we can expect if we get wet?): "Tires for Indianapolis, like any other race we go to, are prepared in advance. They're not a follow at all to Montreal or similar to any other race. We're able to characterize every circuit we go to in terms of how the car drives on the track, how the track reacts, whether it's an aggressive track or a smooth track. We're able to look at simulations of loads of increases of temperature. For instance, Barcelona is a very demanding track as far as tire temperatures are concerned, Silverstone is more demanding mechanically. So, the tires are prepared with our (team) partners at different test sessions and our tires for Indianapolis were prepared at Monza and Le Castellet (Paul Ricard circuit) with our six teams two or three weeks ago now. The tires themselves, or the compounds, we've got six different products here this weekend with our teams, and they have chosen those as a function of, first of all, what we offer in terms of performance, and how that fits into the overall setup for their car. Rain tires, as ever, are important if it does get wet. Intermediate tires we've had for some time, we've shown the benefit of those last year, and those have been further developed this year. We have a new full-wet tire, as well, and it would be nice to see the level of performance for that when or if it pours down during the course of the weekend."

FREDERIC HENRY-BIABAUD (Michelin motorsport director): (About scoring Michelin's 100th Grand Prix victory in Montreal the same weekend it announced it would not tender for the F1 tire supply from 2008-2010): "Yes, let me go back one second to the 100th victory. The way it happens is exactly the same way it happens for the World Rally, where we've achieved about 220 victories, in MotoGP where we have more than 320, it has always been achieved in a competitive environment. We do believe that competition at the highest level, which is worldwide, we must participate in a competitive environment. In other words, to show the value of our products against other people doing the same job as we are doing. So this 100th victory for us has been quite an achievement in a reasonably small amount of years we've participated in Formula One. The decision from the FIA to go for a tender starting 2008, which means there will be one, single tire manufacturer, is not in agreement with our sports philosophy. We've always said that. We don't feel that had we not have been in a competitive environment when we started in Formula One, we would not have been able to prove the value of the radial tire in a Grand Prix. And I don't think either that our competitors would have come with radial tires, which have been quite an achievement in a Formula One race, if they had not been in competition with us. This is what we're looking for, therefore, when the regulations for whatever reasons leads to a single tire manufacturer on a worldwide championship, especially Formula One, which should be the ultimate technical challenge, we are not interested. There might be some reason for doing that, but we also have our own beliefs and reason for not supporting this move. And this is why we have decided not to bid for this tender."

(Does this mean Michelin will not longer be in any competition?): "No, for the last 120 years we have been in competition. This weekend we race in Indianapolis, we race MotoGP in Donington, we racing in FIA GT in Oschersleben and we race at Lime Rock for the American Le Mans Series. We're not counting all the other competitions we're in. So I'd say the future is pretty bright, and we do believe competition is what helped us to make our product progress, and a strong visibility to our group. The sports we will be involved in are American Le Mans, MotoGP, Rally and lots of other sports, and we're also looking at other series."

(Your predictions for Indianapolis 2006): "In view of the situation where we are in the championship this is a very important race. This race for us has a very special emotional aspect, so we hope to do very well, and I think we're 100 percent prepared for that."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Bernie Ecclestone
Teams Minardi