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Spanish GP - Post-qualifying press conference - Pt. 1

12 May 2012

Q:
Lewis, McLaren's 150th F1 pole position today. You really had to manage to the process though, particularly with the tyres. You were in the groove from the start, but what happened at the end when you stopped out on the track?

Lewis Hamilton:
Well, firstly it was a fantastic qualifying session for me. Really, I'm very happy with the way… I think it's one of the best ones I've ever had. Amazing job by the guys in the garage. Huge thanks to the guys in the factory for bringing us the upgrades, which have worked fantastically. I stopped on the track. I was told to stop. I don't really have any idea why. But the car was feeling great today. It's a great day for the team, I think. I don't know what happened with Jenson, but he's got great strength and pace throughout the race, so I have no doubt that he will make his way up through the grid.

Q:
Pastor, a sensational session for you and Williams. Where did you find the speed from?

Pastor Maldonado:
I think we've been working so hard from the beginning of the year trying to understand these tyres and to develop our car around the tyres and I think we actually did a really good step forward for this race. We need to continue to like that, keep pushing. I think at the moment there is a great atmosphere in the factory, a great atmosphere here in the team, the car looks pretty consistent and fantastic, especially in the race pace, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It's a great feeling to be here, it's my first time in the top three, so I'm really happy and hopefully we will continue like that and I would like to say thanks to the whole team.

Q:
Fernando, a lot of updates also on the Ferrari. Are you heading in the right direction now?

Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, I think so. Obviously for us it was impossible to even dream about being in the top three in the four races, we just had eyes on Q3 with no new set [of tyres] left or anything like that, so definitely it's a step forward. The grid is so compact now that if you improve two or three tenths it makes a huge difference in terms of positions: five or six positions. So we did a step forward. I still doubt how much we did, because I think maybe P3 is a little bit over-performing what we can do at the moment. But I'm extremely happy with the lap; it was perfect. I don't think there is much more to come. I think I could put 100 more sets of tyres on and I could only repeat the lap time probably. It is the way it is. I'm extremely happy for today and hopefully we maximise or capitalise on this good starting position tomorrow with a good result.

Q:
Back to you Lewis. Obviously a lot of tyre tactics going on in qualifying today. What about the race tomorrow? What's your read on how things are going to shape up and what kind of shape do you feel you're in to become the fifth different race winner in five races?

Lewis Hamilton:
Well, we've looked after our prime tyres, which is generally the better tyre for the race, or so it seems at the moment - the longer lasting tyre. Also the option tyres are all in good condition so… I think it's going to be a massively tough race tomorrow. Of course, I've got these two great drivers next to me. I'm really happy to see this guy [Pastor Maldonado] up here and to see Williams up here and also Fernando. It's really great to see my old team-mate up here as well and I'm going to have a great battle with these guys and I really hope we're going to put on a great show for all the fans.

Q:
Lewis, congratulations. That was a great lap at the end. You must be so satisfied with it?

Lewis Hamilton:
I really am. I think every time you go out, every time you qualify you're searching for that perfect lap. You're searching to put the car in just the right sweet spot, where you're gaining all the time you could possibly gain and you're not losing anywhere and I really felt that throughout Q1, Q2 and Q3… after Q1 I was like 'damn, that should have been my Q3 lap' but I was really grateful that I was able to continue that throughout the session and yeah, fantastic feeling really - overwhelmed.

Q:
Lewis, you've started third on the grid here for the last three years and you haven't yet won this grand prix, you've been twice second. Do you really want to tick this box, win this grand prix, one of the ones you haven't yet won?

Lewis Hamilton:
Well I'm very much aware that I have an incredibly tough race tomorrow with these guys who are massively quick - also on their long runs - and just how tricky it is in general. But it would mean a huge amount for me to win here in Spain. It's always been a great place for me, it's beautiful weather all the time and the people are just incredible and the support that I've had continues to grow year by year. And it's become such a pleasure for me to come here. So, to win at one of the circuits where they have one of the biggest fan bases for F1 in general, would be fantastic.

Q:
Can you explain why there should be such changing fortune, even between team-mates? For example, your team-mate didn't get through to Q3, his [Maldonado's] team-mate didn't get through into Q2 even and his [Alonso's] team-mate starts 17th. It seems extraordinary the changing fortunes even for team-mates.

Lewis Hamilton:
I think it's surprising all of us. We are all very surprised. Obviously we are very happy that we're up here! It just fantastic to see how close it is. You lose a tenth or two, that means you have to use your next set of tyres which then has a knock-on effect for the next session if you do or don't get through. And so it's massively competitive and it's great for… I'm sure the fans are loving it - maybe not enjoying Q3 so much, but we definitely did.

Q:
Pastor, where did it come from? How much did you get sorted out in Mugello? Do you think it's a knock-on effect after Mugello?

Pastor Maldonado:
I think all the guys in the factory did a wonderful job because the upgrades we have for this race, everything is working on the car. I was pretty happy yesterday in the free practice and the balance is there. Even though our strongest point has always been in the race, so I'm looking forward for tomorrow. Actually we improved - our worst thing was the qualifying pace so pretty happy for that, pretty happy for the team, for my country, for myself. It's a great job today.

Q:
Is this a favourite circuit, one of your best? I know Bruno [Senna] said it was one of his favourite circuits…

Pastor Maldonado:
I think all of us, we know very well this circuit, we enjoy this circuit because of the combination of corners we find here, even the teams know very well. I think we have been working so hard in the winter tests here and so we find a good balance in the car and a good compromise for quali and race.

Q:
Did you feel yesterday 'hey, we can really do something here'? Did you already feel that yesterday?

Pastor Maldonado:
Yes. I think yesterday we were thinking about top ten, it was possible. This morning I was quite surprised about our performance because the car was so quick with lower fuel. This morning it was possible.

Q:
Fernando, I don't think anyone was ever going to discount you here. I don't know what it was, maybe the crowd, or Ferrari etc, etc, How much satisfaction, third on the grid?

Fernando Alonso:
Really happy. No doubt that this is a special weekend for me. And as I said on Thursday, there is always some extra motivation, some over-performing a little bit of what you have on hand, and yeah, thanks to the updates we had here, definitely we did a step forward, in the right direction because we hardly get into Q3 in the first four races and now we arrive with a little bit more comfortable way and then in Q3 the lap was good. I said before in the other conference with another hundred new tyres I would repeat the same time - I don't think there is any time left. But the points are given tomorrow, not today. We did as much as we could today and we are happy to start in a much better position that what we did in the previous grands prix. But we need the points tomorrow. Especially… the grid positions are mixed a little bit as you said, with some of the people that are in front of us in the championship, they start at the back tomorrow - so we need to take benefit of this good position today and score more points than them.

Q:
We remember in particular your start last year. Are we going to see a repeat of that?

Fernando Alonso:
I'll tell you tomorrow. Definitely, a little bit like Pastor and Williams, our race pace is much better than qualifying pace - that is normally our weakest point and we suffer on Saturday some bad positions and then compromise a little bit our race pace. So tomorrow we have a privileged position to start, so the first corner will be important if we can gain some positions, but it's important also not to lose. The race tomorrow is very long with the tyre degradation and, as I said, we must score points tomorrow, good points, with this position we have. So, aggressive start yes, crazy start not.


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