Alonso: Very proud and very happy with the points we achieved
13 May, 2012
May 13 (FIA transcript edited by Apex) Second place at his home grand prix means that Fernando Alonso is joint leader in the points standings which surprises even himself as the Ferrari F2012 has hardly been the most effective Formula One car Maranello has ever built, but a raft of major upgrades appears to have turned it into a contender for now. The Spaniard spoke at the post race press conference and here are the highlights:
Second today and obviously a lot of progress for you and the team. And once again a blinding start…
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it was a fantastic start again. The team prepared quite nice[ly] again the clutch and everything – the procedure to do a good start. It was close on the straight until Turn One with Pastor, and then we had the better side, the inside. We took the momentum there and we led the race for the first part but then Williams anticipated the stop and got in front and at the end it was close. We had a newer tyre than Pastor and we tried a couple of times but it was not possible out of the last corner. Then in the very last laps I felt the car was strange, we lost a lot of grip. Maybe we lost some aerodynamic part or something because we were very slow…we were lucky at the end. Second place at home feels fantastic and thanks to the people that came here and the people at home and hopefully a step forward in terms of championship possibilities.
Describe your feelings at the second stop when Pastor jumped you because you were caught up behind a backmarker in that critical lap weren’t you?
FA: Yeah, we were a little bit unlucky maybe. We had a Marussia but I think he got a penalty [in] the end. Obviously, it’s not a solution now but hopefully people start to understand that they need to respect the rules and today again they didn’t and they paid the penalty. It’s more of a penalty – the penalty we paid – maybe the race win – but yeah a little bit disappointed. But they [Williams] did a great job and they had the pace, because in the last stint, if we were faster than the Williams we had the opportunity to overtake but they were quicker than us so they deserve the victory.
You got so close, right up there, and then it just went away I guess, and then by the end it looked as though you really were struggling on the tyres.
FA: Yeah, it was close with ten laps to go, ten laps to the end. We were attacking Pastor when we were closing to within one second but then the last seven or eight laps we lost the grip, around Turn Seven I felt. I informed the team some corners after, in Turn Nine, to check if everything is OK because maybe we lost some aerodynamic part of the front wing or under the floor or something because we had no more grip at all. So, from that point the last seven laps, it was monitoring the distance and the gap with Kimi. We knew it was a very long last seven laps. At the end it was close. I think one lap more and Kimi overtake us. So we were lucky at the end and happy – happy with the weekend in general, not only with the race, because we had a very strong weekend, on Fridays with good practice, the car felt more or less competitive yesterday. I think we extract everything from the car again, maximise the potential of what we have in our hands and today the start was great, the race pace was good, at one point we were lapping one Red Bull in front of us with the blue flags, so… it’s very strange. We were 57 seconds behind Vettel in Bahrain, and we were lapping Webber here. No one understands probably. Not us either.
It really was that sudden when you lost the grip? It was almost like a switch.
FA: Yeah, yeah, it was in turn seven, over the kerb maybe, something fall out of the car or something, we need to check. But it was difficult. As Pastor said, in the last corner, turn 16, it’s difficult to follow anyone after the chicane, so we knew that when you lose the position at the pitstop, you have to have a big pace advantage if you want to overtake someone. With the difference and with the pace that Williams had today, we knew it was difficult.
I suppose everybody in Italy wants to know, has Ferrari turned the corner? Are you now back in front again?
FA: We’ll see. I think when we are first and second in one qualifying and first and second in one race, we have to say that we have the best car. Until that moment we are fighting. I think this year is very difficult to have a pace advantage or to be happy with the car you have in your hands, because everything is so close. Consistency and continuous development will be important in this championship because two-tenths can be six or seven positions in one qualifying this year. But what we can say is we have probably the most difficult start of the championship in these three years in Ferrari, with a car that was not competitive at all, and we finish the first quarter of the championship, so this is the fifth race out of 20, and we are leading the championship, or the same points as Vettel, so we have to be very, very proud and very happy with the points we achieved and with the position. Maybe we have not to be so proud about how competitive we are but we are working on that.
After the first five races, and all the problems you’re supposed to have in your team, no one has scored more points than you have now. How much more confident are you today than you were on Thursday, or on the inside were you expecting this?
FA: No, I am a definitely surprised by the quantity of points that we have; I’m a bit surprised by today’s result, or the weekend’s results. We were confident of improving the car, we were hoping for some signs of improvement here in Barcelona. As I said, in Bahrain, we were nearly out of Q3 and then in the race, P9, one minute behind the leaders, so we arrived in Barcelona with some hope, some optimism about the upgrades but I think the result, the overall weekend pace has been a little bit better than expected, because we were quick in qualifying and quick in the race but this, in my opinion or how I feel after the weekend, I still don’t know where we are. I think we need to wait for more races, for the championship to stabilise a little bit because I think we maybe over-performed a little bit compared with the potential we have and maybe some other teams under-performed or they had some problems to get their tyres working or something, because, as I said, some of the results that we saw this weekend feel very strange.
If we take a look at the race, maybe it was a bad decision to stop so late after Pastor after you’d had the problem with the Marussia because it’s so important in Formula One to stay in front from the aerodynamic point of view.
FA: Yeah, obviously you never know. After the race it’s always easier to review the strategy. The choice was always to stop on the same lap or one lap later than Pastor, always try to cover the position. When Williams decided to stop in the second pit stop, we had one Marussia in front of us for a lap and a half. When we saw that in the second sector, we were already exiting behind Pastor so at that point, we decided to keep going for a few more laps and try to get the opportunity at the end of the race, with a shorter stint. I think we didn’t lose the win because of the Marussia because if you had the pace in the last stint, you had to overtake Pastor and we didn’t because they were faster than us, but for sure, we went out of the plan because of the backmarker.
Did you believe that Pastor could be your main rival today, and if not, how big a surprise is it?
FA: Yeah, I think so. We saw in general that during the weekend that Williams was good. Lewis was maybe the favourite for this race after the pace we saw from Ferrari on Friday and the pole position by half a second yesterday. With Lewis’ penalty, Pastor was the strongest at the front so no surprises.
You have already said that at the moment everything is possible and not many things are explainable which is very strange for Formula One. I don’t think we ever had this situation before. Do you, as a driver, enjoy this uncertainty or would you like to have some more answers on open questions?
FA: I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer. We probably like the unknown situation that we have now, so you arrive in Monaco next Wednesday and you don’t know if you will be a winner or if you will be out of the points. That’s what we feel at the moment, not only for us. But in a way, after eleven years in Formula One and seeing Ferrari dominate most of them, now that I’m at Ferrari, I would like to have more stability and a dominant car.