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Friday, May 12, 2006

Thursday press conference from Barcelona - Firts Part

With Alonso, de la Rosa, Montagny and Rosberg
Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix local hero Fernando Alonso is joined by Pedro de la Rosa, Franck Montagny and Nico Rosberg in the Thursday press conference.

Q: Franck, life must have changed for you quite a lot… Franck MONTAGNY: Yeah, just a little bit: from my living room to a race track. Yeah, quite a lot.

Q: Tell us how it all came about? FMo: Quite quickly and I am quite happy to be here, for sure. Thanks to Super Aguri for giving me this opportunity first. They called me a week before the race at Nurburgring and they asked me to come to be third driver, to do the testing on the Friday, because they could do it with a third car, and when I arrived, they asked me to do the race, because they had a problem with the second driver. I was just glad to do it.

Q: How can you see yourself improving the team, with your experience from Renault? FMo: Well, I don’t think we can improve this car, for sure, but the more we work on this car and all the things we can see from this car, we can maybe make a better car in the future. We all know that SA06 is coming soon so we can still work on new stuff, what I have learned in the past, what Takuma has learned in the past and maybe it’s going to be better.

Q: And this race is a bit of a home race for you, isn’t it? FMo: Yeah, kind of, yeah. I used to live for four years here in Spain, in Barcelona, particularly. I really love this city. It’s a very beautiful city, nice people, open minds.
I have a lot of good things to say about here.

Q: And you still have a business here? Your hairdressing business? FMo: Yeah, but I don’t cut hair, don’t get me wrong! I haven’t been there this week; no time!

Q: Nico, tremendous race at the Nurburgring. The first time you went out on the track it was as though you had huge confidence, because you instantly set fastest time. Does knowing the circuit give you that much confidence? Nico ROSBERG: Yeah, the Nurburgring is one of the tracks that I know best throughout the year, coming into F1, because I’ve done a lot of races there, and I’ve had some great success there too. So I did feel confident going onto the track. Obviously it’s always quite different when you tackle the track with a Formula One car, because the way you take the corners and everything is quite different. But I found that in especially in the beginning there, it was actually quite similar to all the other cars (I’ve driven) so it worked out quite well initially and, yeah, the whole weekend worked out quite well. It was quite a good result in the end, I think.

Q: Will you have similar confidence at all the circuits you know? NR: Yes, of course. It’s always a help when you come to a circuit and you know where you’re going to be going, also for your confidence and everything. It is a slight help, yeah, every time.

Q: What’s the pace of development like at Williams? NR: I think it’s probably very similar to all the other teams. They’re pushing like hell in the factory, that I know, and I think development has been going very well. We’ve had some steps nearly every weekend so I think we will be keeping up, for sure, and maybe coming a bit closer too, sometimes.

Q: Have you been pretty pleased with your own performance, basically? NR: Yeah, I’ve been pleased. It has been a bit up and down all the way to here, from my side and from the team’s side, but I think that could have been expected. As a whole, I have to say that I think it’s gone quite well, but I hope to progress and do even better in the future.

Q: Felipe, your first podium at the Nurburgring. What does that do for a driver, for his morale? Felipe MASSA: I think it gives you happiness, first of all, and a lot more motivation to keep doing the same job. It was very very important for me, it was a great result, it’s fantastic to be on the podium.

Q: How much of a difference did your new engineer make? FMa: For sure. If you have an engineer at Ferrari, he should be a good engineer. My ex-engineer was definitely a very very good engineer. The biggest problem was a little bit on the organisation and on the radio, so I was quite confident in my new engineer, who did a great job, talking about everything, not just the set-up, but everything that’s going on and what’s happening in the race weekend.

Q: From a Ferrari point of view, is the team going to be at a little bit at a disadvantage here in comparison to Renault who have perhaps done more testing than Ferrari have? FMa: I don’t think so. We also tested at this track and we understood many important things, many good things. We improved the car a lot, especially in the last two races, so I think we can probably be very very competitive, as we were at the Nurburgring and also at Imola.

Q: Pedro, what’s your role this weekend with McLaren Mercedes? Pedro de la ROSA: Well, my role is the same as in the past, for the past races. Firstly, it is to act as a reserve driver; if anything happens, I have to be ready. And then just keep in touch with the engineers, the team, the drivers, Michelin, you know, just being involved, as much as I can, if I can help, with the tyre selection, everything. We’ve done all the tyre testing here, prior to this Grand Prix so I’m quite aware of which tyres are here and why and help, help if I can. Nothing else.

Q: What are the particular characteristics of this circuit, what do you have to look out for? PDR: I think that the biggest problems everyone will face here is front tyre graining and blistering. Those are the two major factors that are always the limiting factor. Choosing a soft compound here you have to be careful about graining. The front left tyre has a very hard time on this track because all the corners are very long, you’re putting load on that tyre for a long time, and you stay on the throttle for a long time as well. And then you have the blistering factor which happened last year to Fernando and other Michelin runners. That’s always a risk here.

Q: Fernando, your home circuit, is it something to be looked forward to or does it make it a little bit more complicated for you? Fernando ALONSO: No, it’s the same. It’s a normal race for me but obviously with much more support from the grandstands, so for me it is extra motivation for sure, to race here at home, and hopefully to get a good result here on Sunday.

Q: We heard from Pedro about tyre choice, and there was some doubt about the tyre choice at Nurburgring. How difficult is it to make that tyre choice? FA: It’s very difficult. As Pedro said, we normally test here at Barcelona before the Grand Prix in order to chose the tyres. Sometimes we test in Paul Ricard or another circuit, to chose the tyres for a completely different circuit, and you have to guess, a little bit, to believe what the Michelin… things which will be working on that type of asphalt, temperature, conditions etc, and I think particularly here in Barcelona, because we test all winter with five or six degrees temperature. We came here in May with 25. Normally, it’s a little bit different. But normally we have been really good, in the last two years, here with the tyres so I have full confidence in the right choice for this weekend.

Q: Should you be scared or worried about Ferrari’s form at the moment? How worried are you? FA: Not much, same worry as I have from McLaren and Honda. I think we’re still the four teams which should fight for victory in all Grands Prix. In the first five races, everything worked perfectly for Renault and Ferrari and we won all five races but I think McLaren and Honda have the pace as well and they normally qualify really well, especially Honda. McLaren normally do something more in the race, always close to the podium and I’m sure that if one weekend goes right for them, it will also be a close fight and I think what we have to do is work on our car, on our programme, our strategy, do as good a weekend as we can, as we did in the first five races and the result will be good in the end.

Q: Presumably for every team it’s a matter of getting a whole number of factors absolutely right. FA: Many factors: tyre choice, how the tyres work on the car – last weekend was not perfect for the Michelin runners, I think – strategy, fuel load in qualifying, the single lap qualifying: when you put on the new set of tyres at the end of Q3 (third qualifying) has to be your best lap of the weekend if you want to be at the front. There are many things that have to be perfect all weekend, and that’s what we’re looking for this weekend.


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