Alonso: Pole position was a nice surprise!
11 September, 2010
Sep.11 (YallaF1.com) Fernando Alonso is doing the business at Monza when it really matters. The Spaniard clinched pole position for the Italian Grand Prix, surprising himself in the process, in front of Ferrari and FIAT bosses Luca di Montezemolo and John Elkann. Pole is only part of the job done becuase the 25 points for the winner on race day is really what counts. A win for Alonso in his first Grand Prix in Italy as a red will add to his fairy tale story and catapult him back into serious title contention. The Spaniard spoke about nabbing pole position and looked ahead to the race during the post qualifying FIA press conference.
Your first Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver. Pole position. Describe the emotion.
Fernando Alonso: Well, it was a nice surprise. When I stopped in parc ferme and by radio they told me that we were keeping the first position but still cars on their laps and Jenson was pink in the second sector, so I thought now at the end as sometimes already happened this year someone will arrive at the last lap and we will be second or third by hundredths of seconds. In the end, today was different. We remain on pole position until the last minute, the chequered flag, so that was a little surprise and for sure a much better feeling and fantastic taste this pole position here in Italy for Ferrari.
You did all the work in the first run. But just take us through it. Tell us about the braking points and how they affected you.
Alonso: Well, you know we had two new set of tyres for Q3. We divided Q3 into two runs. The first run was just to put a god lap on the table and then in the second attempt to try to risk a little bit more. Sometimes here in Monza this is what happened. When you try to do a normal lap sometimes is better than when you try to risk too much. In these tricky chicanes and these fast corners with this low downforce it is very easy to over-drive a little bit, so the first lap at the end was the best one as maybe you do it in a calmer way.
You are behind in the championship at the moment. How badly do you need a victory here at Monza?
Alonso: I think tomorrow we need a podium minimum to remain in the fight. There is not a big pressure, a big stress about winning the race or winning the next races but at the same time we know we cannot afford another DNF or another bad result. We must try to be consistent and try to be on the podium minimum. Then if we can win the race it would be great. But what we need is consistency, something that we didn’t have so far in the championship and for that reason we are not fighting now for the first position, so tomorrow we have a great chance to get a strong result and we will see where our opponents finish at the end.
Now you are a Ferrari driver on pole at Monza. Tell us about the last couple of days and how it has affected you with the fans.
Alonso: Well, it has been a little surprise, to be honest. I have had a fantastic welcome here by the fans and great support for the team, for myself and it was a very nice feeling from Wednesday when I arrived here. It is a perfect place. This is a perfect place to be on pole position, here in Monza. To give them a good Saturday and hopefully a good Sunday afternoon as well.
Tell us about the technical direction over the last couple of days. Has it been fairly simple and straightforward?
Alonso: No, I think it was not easy, especially after Spa, there has been a lot of work in the factory. A lot of analysis and trying to understand why we didn’t perform as expected in Spa. We thinkwe went through the problem and everything should be clear now for us in terms of the direction to go. Then here on the track, especially yesterday, we arrived like a test day, nothing really. A weekend race. Just many new parts to try on the car, so at night we evaluated everything and we put on the car what we think was the best and today was the real first day of our maximum performance with it. The car responded well. Easy to drive. No big problems. No big set-up changes on the car as we were happy straight away, so it was very good news from today’s practice and qualifying.
And race performance, similarly encouraging?
Alonso: Yeah, I think so. I think normally in the season one of our strongest points has been the race pace, not so much the qualifying, so I don’t have too many worries about the pace tomorrow. We just need to do a good start, a consistent pace in the first sting and also when we fit the prime tyres try to be also on a good pace. We know Monza how demanding it is on the mechanical side of the car. We saw some problems on the car yesterday for many teams. We saw another problem this morning for two or three teams, so it is not an easy race to finish in terms of the mechanical side, so let’s try to have everything under control if we can and try to finish the race with the maximum points possible.
What’s your main worry in the race and you must now be very happy after the bad day in Belgium?
Alonso: The main worry for tomorrow… not only one, I think. As I said before, this is a difficult race to finish. We know Monza is not the easiest place for engine, gearbox, brakes etc, so we need to be very careful about that and have everything under control. There is the first corner… obviously in turns one and two we see some small action there. Obviously we’re in the best position possible to avoid any risk at the start which is pole position but you never know. We will then see the race pace. Yesterday I think the maximum number of laps everybody did was around eight or nine, so after nine laps nobody knows how the tyres will behave or how the case will be for anyone, so we just need to remain calm and do our race and we will see what happens in the end.
You told us about the little surprise but how much beyond expectation was this pole?
Alonso: More than a surprise, it was the worry of losing pole position as has happened this year at least three times. We were leading the times and in the last thirty seconds someone arrived and they were two milli-seconds, five tenths, one tenth, half a tenth and they were quicker than us and we always finished second or third in the last ten seconds of qualifying. So there was always that worry in my mind in the last thirty seconds of qualifying but this time it was different, so it was a great result for the team. Expectations? Every qualifying we go, every race we go, we try to be on pole position and we focus all weekend and our approach is to be on pole position and to win the race, but sometimes… or most of the times this season we never achieved that, so this was a great achievement by the team. We proved that we were quick. Felipe was doing a fantastic lap also in qualifying, being third and very quick in Q1 straight away, so the car is there. In the end, we chose different strategies in Q3: one car did a long run with one set of tyres, the other car did two runs with two new sets of tyres and that was the only difference. The car is there and that is the best news.
This morning, Luca di Montezemolo was with you in the motor home; did you tell him something special, something different?
Alonso: Well, president Montezemolo is always supporting us. We talk with him on the phone every day when we have finished practice or qualifying etc. Today he is here, trying to support the team as well, because we need some good results now, some strong results and Monza we know is a special race for the team, a very special atmosphere in the garage and in the grandstands due to Ferrari passion, so it’s good to have him here and to give him this possibility of seeing two Ferraris in the top three.
While driving for Ferrari, Michael Schumacher at least twice reversed a world championship that seemed to be lost. Do you think you can do the same tomorrow?
Alonso: Well, I think trying to do what Michael did for Ferrari would be a mistake, so I try to do my best in this championship and hopefully here is a good point of changing the way the championship goes, changing luck as well, and hopefully this pole position is a new championship for us. But we know this is a very unique layout and Red Bull is fourth and sixth and we don’t expect to see Red Bull fourth and sixth in Singapore for example. Let’s try to take our opportunities this weekend and I’m sure that the championship will be very close and we will fight until the end.
Do you think that what you have learned from Spa is transferable also to other circuits now?
Alonso: Yeah, I think so. I think we have one car, one package that should suit more or less all types of circuits. I think our main rivals have very specific characteristics in their cars and we are somewhere in the middle. I see quite a good package for the last part of the season, but as I said, we understand and we respect and we know that there will be some circuits where it will be very difficult to fight for pole positions or for wins. We need to have the best result possible every weekend and maybe here in Monza, the result is to win the podium or to win the race, so we have to take this opportunity, so hopefully tomorrow we don’t miss this one.