1 – Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari)
2 – Kimi RAIKKONEN (Lotus)
3 – Michael SCHUMACHER (Mercedes)
Three former Ferrari world champions on the podium but Fernando this is a pretty good weekend to be a Spanish sportsman called Alonso. A fabulous victory for yourself.
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah. It’s difficult to express in words what is the feeling now. Winning a home grand prix is something unique – a very special feeling. I had the opportunity to do this in Barcelona in 2006 with Renault and I still remember that day perfectly. And now I did the same here in Valencia, with this special team, Ferrari, with all the grandstand full of red colour and Spanish flags. Here now, with the Euro football championship also, there is a lot of Spanish atmosphere inside all of us. Feeling very proud to be a Spanish sportsman at the moment and winning in Spain this race is probably the best victory I ever felt in terms of emotions. Nothing maybe compares to this one.
You joined in the celebrations a little early Fernando. Why did you stop your car, just to take part in the party?
FA: No, no. We had a problem with the car and we stopped it. It was the right place maybe because we had two grandstands there. It took a little bit of time for the medical car to arrive and we had eight or 10 minutes of all the people saying things about me, saying congratulations. They want me to jump. You know, fun and games and we enjoy a little bit those minutes.
Kimi, it’s a third podium position of the season for you. Was a victory possible for you today or were the tyres just not there at the end?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: I think everybody had quite old tyres at that point. I just didn’t have enough tyres. I had enough tyres to get past Hamilton on I think it was the second-last or third-last lap. We didn’t really have the speed to challenge for the win. I think on the start already I got a good start but got blocked by Maldonado in the first right-hander and lost quite a few places because of that. I was a bit behind already at that point. We made a good recovery from that position. I had quite a hard fight with people and overtaking and then second place. It’s OK of course, but not what we wanted.
Michael, they say you can’t overtake on this track but your saw your fair share today. Welcome back to the podium. At what stage did you think this podium was a possibility?
Michael SCHUMACHER: I didn’t actually think about a podium at all at the end of the race. It was crossing the line that I asked my guys ‘where did we finish?’ I saw Webber’s pit board and close to the end it showed him eighth and seventh and I knew I was one place ahead of that one. And then boys told me ‘that’s third, that’s podium’. I can’t believe that! It’s something I didn’t really expect. You sort of lose count, because I was pretty busy in the last stages of the race, plus Maldonado and Hamilton had their issue. Probably normally one minus one would give us the three but I lose count at that stage.
It’s moments like these that brought you back to the sport I’m sure.
MS: Yeah, it’s those moments that definitely you enjoy deeply. It’s just a wonderful feeling to back after such a long time. We were a couple of times close to it. It happened in a pretty spectacular way on a track where it is difficult to pass but due to various strategies and differences on track it was pretty exciting and that’s obviously the best way, if you manage the way I did today to jump the podium unexpectedly makes you extra happy.
Finally, back to you Fernando. You described this as your best victory. After the disappointment of qualifying to the euphoria or today. How do you explain that, or is it just Formula One in 2012?
FA: That’s Formula One. That’s the best thing we can say. It’s unpredictable. Good results. Still a sport. Sport is about that. Sport is about the ups and downs. Yesterday, we had a tough moment. We were said not being in Q3. But you can never give up because anything can happen in sport in general and maybe more in Formula One. There are many factors inside, there are the cars, brakes, engines – anything can have a failure in the race. There are a lot of things we need to take care: the strategies, the start, the overtaking, manoeuvres. When you put all of these in one thing you have a Formula One grand prix. Today, we had an amazing race, amazing start, some good fights, I think I remember six or seven overtakings where it was very close, we touched each other. I touched Grosjean in the restart. All of those little moments can go on the wrong side and you finish the race in the wall, or you can be the winner at the end. And today, we had all the good factors with us and the luck and we have to enjoy this.
Fernando, well done. Tell us about the pleasure of winning here at home in Spain.
FA: I don’t know what to say really. It’s an amazing feeling. As I said in the other press conference I still can remember Barcelona in 2006, now, so years after the win. So probably I will have better and better memories of today with time. Right now, it’s just too many things on my feelings and too many thanks to give to all the team, all the fans, all the support that I felt all weekend. Especially yesterday after the qualifying, you never think that you can do a good result or that you can fight for the podium or something like that. When you find yourself third in the race after the safety car, I said: ‘hopefully there is the chequered flag now and I enjoy this podium celebration.’ Two laps later I overtake Grosjean on the restart and you think again ‘hopefully the race finishes now’. Then Vettel stopped and it was a very long race until the end and, yeah, I enjoyed so much this moment. But as I said, difficult to out in words what I’m feeling.
Were you worried that the tyres were going to drop off at the end just as they did in Canada?
FA: No, they did. I was not worried. They did. They did, about eight laps from the end. I said to the team ‘the tyres are finished, we need to do something’. They said: ‘wait one more sector because they are not quicker than you at this moment’. The next sector they were the same as me. So they said: ‘wait one more lap to see how much quicker they are’ and the next lap they were the same time as us. Wait another lap and wait another and then it was three laps from the end and they were in the same lap times and we went until the end. But the tyres were as finished as in Canada but it was for everybody this time.
You mentioned a problem with the car at the end. Was that something that was also affecting the closing laps?
FA: No, I don’t think so. The car felt OK and then on the in-lap I had an emergency call to stop the car. So it was feeling OK.
So do you not know what was wrong with the car?
FA: No, I had too many things to enjoy in that moment to ask what happened in the car.
Kimi, quite a busy race for you too, what with battles with Maldonado and Hamilton.
KR: Yeah, I got a pretty good start but then in the first right-hander, the little kink, I got blocked by Maldonado so I had to back off. I lost quite a few places there, so at that point onwards it was a case of trying to catch up and try to get past people. I managed to pass some, but it was difficult to pass today. I got sight of Maldonado a few times but he pushed me wide. I tried and tried and then in the end I managed to get past some people and after the safety car I managed to get past people also. On the restart, I lost a place to Hamilton. I just got too much wheelspin out of the corner. It was quite a busy race actually. Then, when I was in the third place, a few cars retired and I thought I would try to save the tyres a bit and try to get Hamilton at some point. I saw him sliding a bit. So I think it was the second-last lap or something but I got him in the end. OK the result second after all things we went through in the race but of course you’re never happy until you win. And for the team, bad luck. It would have been much nicer to have both cars on the podium.
And your tyres. Were they shot at the end?
KR: Yeah, the rear tyres were pretty bad. Especially in the middle of the circuit. There were three or four corners that were really bad. The rest was not so bad. I think everybody had similar issues.
Michael those last few laps – you took on new tyres 16 laps from the end – must have been amazing, especially with yellow flags and all sorts of things going on. What was it like? Tell us.
MS: Yeah. Certainly I wasn’t aware I was going in the direction of a podium. Even crossing the line I wasn’t aware at that stage. But, being pretty heavily involved for most of the race in some kind of battling and then having Webber all the time on my tail and needing to fight forward but needing to pay attention to the back, that was very exciting. But that’s what I’m here for: to be excited and those guys got me excited, no doubt. And hearing finally the message P3 – yeah, that’s a sweet finish to an unexpected end.
Particularly because you and Nico were outside the points. He finished about sixth, picking up about four places in the last few laps. Extraordinary race for you guys.
MS: Yeah, we obviously had a late decision converting from a one-stop to a two-stop strategy, which meant we had good tyres towards the end of the race, when other people either did a one or an early two-stop strategy and therefore struggled by the end because they had no tyres left.
And all those points must be very welcome.
MS: Yeah, I guess it has changed my count a little bit, from the two points I had so far. They’re more than welcome.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adrian Huber – Agencia EFE) Fernando, an amazing victory but yesterday you sort of predicted what could happen today, when asked if you were sad or angry, you said ‘well, the result is no good, there are two people who are challenging me for the leadership. Vettel and Hamilton are in front but we will have to wait until tomorrow.’ You never know what can happen, and that happened.
FA: Yeah, it was another example of Fridays and Saturdays in Formula One, which are OK, are fun, are good to make some grid order in terms of performance of the car and it’s good to check where you are exactly, but at the end of the day, Friday practice is one thing, when we all normally test different parts of the car, and then Saturday is OK, it’s much better and easier to start on the first rows of the grid, for sure, to make a clean race, but until the chequered flag, anything can happen and until today at two o’ clock we had quite a bad weekend and now we have had a very good weekend. It’s something that we need to remember, always, that until the last lap in the race, we need to be positive and to trust in ourselves.
Q: (Jaime Rodriguez– El Mundo) Fernando, the last time that we saw you cry was in Abu Dhabi 2010. Now you have been crying again. Can you explain the atmosphere and the team’s hard work over the past month?
FA: No, it was more for my own feelings and the people in the grandstands. I know it’s not the best time in Spain at the moment, with the crisis and all the problems that people have. To come to a Grand Prix you have to make something extra to come here, so there are families who have made long trips to come here, they sleep in the car or in a caravan or whatever, they try to enjoy the race and yesterday… it’s not that you feel sad, we didn’t deliver what they were probably expecting, so today I think we paid back a little bit – only a little bit – the support that they gave us and all the problems that they are facing, all the worries that the Spanish people are facing at this time, together with the football team – yesterday we saw all the flags in the windows and on the street etc so there is some kind of pride in being Spanish right now with the sport: with Nadal, with the Spanish football team etc and I felt that I needed to do something and today is a very emotional day.
Q: (Carlos Miguel – La Gaceta) Fernando, now you obviously believe in this title because of two impressive victories and some luck this year which you haven’t had in other years. Do you believe in this title?
FA: I think we always need to be cautious and we always need to be honest with ourselves first and with our supporters, saying that we will fight, will work day and night to be competitive and to fight for the title which is the ultimate goal for Ferrari. Any championship in which we participate, the championship should be the target, regarding the history and the level of the team. But yesterday we were P11 and P13 so we need to work. It’s true that we believe and we will never give up, we will have confidence in ourselves and we will arrive with optimism at every Grand Prix we go to, but at the same time, apart from winning today or finishing sixth today, we know that we are not in the position that we want to be and there are a few cars quicker than us and we cannot be blind to that. We need to work.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Il Corriere Della Sera) Michael, you were back on the podium, the first since you came back with Mercedes. Is the feeling what you imagined or is it something different now?
MS: I don’t know what I mentioned or didn’t mention but the point is that it is a beautiful feeling, not only being on the podium but the way it has happened. It was not at all expected. All weekend, I predicted this to be a difficult one for us and it started to be difficult yesterday in qualifying, mainly because of my own mistakes and to recover from where we are, getting to third position is just awesome. The team and myself have been criticised here and there, particularly lately, and this is the best way to answer criticism, to go back and deliver as we did today, and therefore I’m proud, thankful and very excited.
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Michael, you said you will think about your future during the summer. Summer is beginning and you begin the summer with a podium. Does it change something for next year?
MS: I don’t think I ever said any kind of time, neither did I say summer and if you may apologise, I have no further news on that matter, so give me the time that I need and we will see.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Michael, what did you feel when you were jumping on the podium and you saw two guys who were at Ferrari after you and you saw Stella (Andrea Stella, Alonso’s race engineer who represented Ferrari on the podium) who was one of the…
MS: Yeah, well that’s what we were joking about. Andrea is Fernando’s engineer and used to be our engineer in the past and in a way it’s the order. The current driver he works for is first, the second last was Kimi and I was the third last. It’s a funny coincidence and it’s great to see him up there. He’s been doing a great job. I still remember those days and I’m happy for Fernando and the team to have achieved what they did today here and particularly the words that Fernando just said, I think everybody can feel with him and I’m just happy for them.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) The second question was about the difference between now and in the past. You criticised the tyres a little bit on Saturday, saying ‘we can’t exploit our potential.’ Do you feel that your skill is penalised?
MS: Forgive me if we only think about the positive aspects of what happened today.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando it was a complicated race, also for you coming from P11 to P1. When you look back at it, was there one key moment, was there one point where you can say ‘if I hadn’t done that, I would not have won this Grand Prix’?
FA: I think there are four or five moments in that race which changed our result. Probably the start and the first lap were very aggressive, nearly touched in the first corner, turn four I think I overtook two cars braking on the outside. That, for sure, maybe changed because we had Button… we were fighting in turn one, and then Button was like P14 or something like that. If you finish in his position, maybe the race is more difficult so we were lucky at that moment. We were lucky in some of the overtaking, I think, with Maldonado and with Webber and Michael as well, at the moment we went out of the pits. For sure, Grosjean overtaking me was very risky at the restart. We touched in the first two corners. After we touched each other I felt that the car was not very good. When you have a little contact with someone, for whatever reason you feel that the car is wrong for the next two corners, because you are so worried that something happened and that maybe you convince yourself that something has happened. But then one lap later the times were OK and the car was good. Those were the key moments of the race, plus the last stint, as I said, the tyres were finished so we had to control the tyre wear plus the pressure from Grosjean, the pressure from Hamilton, with Kimi at the end – not a single lap to relax, in a way.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Alonso, did the team tell you that Hamilton had an incident with Maldonado?
FA: They told me yellow flags in turn 12. There was a car on the outside and then I saw it was a McLaren.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, is it realistic to believe that if you had overtaken Hamilton before that you could attack Alonso?
KR: I would have overtaken if I could. I was not waiting for the last or second last lap. I just didn’t have the speed. I just had to wait until he ran out of his tyres. Then I got the chance. I tried to get closer and closer but I was not fast enough earlier on, otherwise I would definitely have tried to overtake. But basically I let him past at the restart. After the bridge, I made a mistake and he got past me. It was my own mistake.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen) Fernando, given the roller-coaster of emotions, the fact that you’ve re-taken the World Championship lead, the tyres having gone off, the Spanish situation – how do you rate this victory in your 29 races that you’ve won to date?
FA: I think from the emotional side this is the best one. The emotions that I felt on the in lap, or during the podium ceremony or right now, I think doesn’t compare to anything before. I confirm that this is the best feeling of victory by far, because the whole situation in Spain, as I said, and the grandstands, the weekend in general, how they support us. In terms of the race itself, or driving, probably they were a little better. We pushed, but as we said, these days races are decided by little factors and today we had retirements from Grosjean then from Vettel. We had the tyres, the safety car when we took the opportunity to stop as probably everybody did but we did a stop. I think there are maybe races like this year in Malaysia that I feel more proud of the driving itself.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi and Michael, about the championship, if you had to bet some money, would you put that money on Fernando or is there still some room for Vettel and Hamilton?
KR: I don’t even know what the points are so it’s a bit difficult to say. We’ve seen how quickly things can change this year. You only need one bad race and the guy wins so I wouldn’t put money, probably use it for something else.
MS: Things change so quickly – maybe I put money on myself.
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