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European GP - Thursday press conference - Pt.2

21 June 2012

Drivers: Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham), Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Pedro de la Rosa (HRT).



Questions from the floor.


Q: (Alex Popov – RTR).
Question for Fernando and Lewis, first of all for Fernando. It seems to be already a silly season but not even for the next one but for 2014 and beyond. It seems to be a lot of rumours, even from your team, about you and Sebastian together. What do you think about the possibility of this cooperation? And for Lewis, about this point, you seem to be a lot more friendly with Fernando now than back to your cooperation. What do you think? Maybe in the future would you like to work together in the same team.

Fernando Alonso:
Rumours, I think, with Ferrari are always the same: when I won the 2005 Championship with Renault, I was linked to Ferrari immediately – and I arrived in 2010. So, if Sebastian is linked now, maybe he'll arrive in five year's time. I don't know. Every summer it is the same with Ferrari, as I said, but at the moment we repeat the same thing. Extremely happy with Felipe, whatever team-mate comes in the future will be welcome, will be part of the team and part of Ferrari and, as I said, when I joined this team the most important thing in Ferrari is to help each other to make one red car win. It's something that President di Montezemolo is very clear on when you arrive on day one in Ferrari. So, whatever teammate is coming in the future, if it comes, will be no problem and we will try to work as we are doing now with Felipe.

Lewis Hamilton:
I really don't know what else to say. It looks like they have a good team already and me and Jenson provide a strong line-up here at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. That's the thing I need to focus on; that's the most important thing for us at the moment. I don't really know what else I can say.

Q: (Adrian Huber – Agencia EFE).
Question for Fernando: Fernando, would you be happy repeating last year's second place, or do you want to win here, considering this is one of the very few circuits where you haven't won yet?

Fernando Alonso:
Well, difficult question. Sure, getting some podiums now, in the next couple of races, especially in July when we have three races in four weeks, it will be important to have some consistency in this very important month, we think. But, being on Thursday, we only think about victory, because we want to win, especially here in Spain, in front of our fans and we will try our best. Difficult question because we know second in this type of Championship is also good points.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L'Equipe).
Fernando, what do you like on that track, what do you dislike and how to you rate the atmosphere of this venue?

Fernando Alonso:
From the track, I like the heavy braking in the last sector especially, which is maybe the most challenging one. The first two sectors are more or less the same. So much straights but they are not really straights so you are always turning in and it's not so easy maybe for overtaking for this reason – but in the last sector you find some interesting combination of corners that I think you enjoy. The high-speed corners plus the last braking which is a little bit challenging. What I don't like from this circuit… nothing really. I think it's all fine. There is not any place or anything that is a big problem. The atmosphere is one of the best. It's one of my preferred grands prix of the year. I like the city, I like the atmosphere here, there are a lot of activities around the grand prix as well – like Singapore in a way, with a lot of music concerts around. There are some go-kart circuits outside for the fans and some other activities, so I think the weekend overall, with the beach 400m from the track etc., makes something nice for the people that come for the weekend. I think we also like it from a driver point of view.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association).
Lewis, Ron Dennis came out with an interesting comment after the Canadian Grand Prix when he was asked about you staying with the team. He mentioned that you were coming towards the end of a contract that was signed at a time when the economy was somewhat different. He said 'now there has to be a balance.' Can you understand Ron's comments, first of all, and do you appreciate that when it comes down to negotiations with McLaren and yourself and your management team, you might have to ease off on your financial demands because economic times are very different now?

Lewis Hamilton:
Ron is a very tough negotiator. He was very tough when they negotiated the contract that I have now and I expect him to be the same when we go back in (this time). I don't see there being many problems, to be honest.

Q: (Julien Febreau – L'Equipe).
Fernando, you know Romain Grosjean pretty well from your experiences at Renault in 2009. In your opinion, what are his best qualities for this season and in which area could he still improve?

Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, I know him. We were teammates first as a test driver for us and then racing with us as well. He's a very talented driver. He won GP2 easily and in 2009 in Formula One I think the car was not so easy to drive and he found it tough, but now he's showing his potential. He's young, talented, very quick. He can keep up a very good pace with few mistakes over a whole race. Things to improve? Experience for sure because this is something that you never stop learning and the more races you do, the more championships you do, you improve little things and little tricks at different circuits. A little bit of consistency will only come from experience. I'm happy with his performance, happy for him. I think he will have a very interesting season from now on, after the podium in Canada and the toughest time will only come on Saturday with the football, I think.

Q: (Ignacio Naya - DPA).
Fernando, Pedro and Lewis, I know you are football fans. You are probably following the European Cup. I would like to know what you think about the Spanish team. Are you enjoying them, what do you expect from them, how are you going to follow the match on Saturday, and have you talked to Romain Grosjean?

Pedro de la Rosa:
Well, I'm enjoying it massively, because we are the best, it's simple, having a great time watching our team – a lot of Barcelona players in the Spanish national team which also helps. It's great to see us doing so well. Actually, I also quite liked what the Spanish coach said the other day, that we go from poor to rich too quickly. I think it's a great competition and we should never forget that all Spain is behind the team and we are all very proud. I don't know who is unhappy about it: no one. Not me.

Fernando Alonso:
Yes, same thing. I enjoy it, I watch all of Euro. I will watch Saturday here in the motorhome with some friends. I haven't spoken yet with Grosjean at the moment but I will. Yeah, I'm enjoying it as well, like Pedro. I think we are very privileged to have this national team, this generation of players. Probably, as Pedro and the coach said, we will remember this generation in a few years' time, but now it's very easy to criticise, but we will regret this soon.

Q: (David Croft – Sky TV).
I think you're sitting on the fence a bit with your football punditry here folks. What we want to know is who has got the best chance of winning this weekend, Spanish or the English football teams or Lewis or Fernando out on the track? Pedro, you get the casting vote on this one.

Pedro de la Rosa:
I don't know what you want.

Heikki Kovalainen:
Pedro, you need to talk after this press conference and ask for some money and then you make the comment.

Fernando Alonso:
I will not give you money. You can tell Lewis, no problem.

Lewis Hamilton:
I don't even know when the game is, if I'm honest. Hopefully I will be able to watch it then. They've been playing pretty well recently. I hope that we have a better shot this year than we have in the past, but there are other great teams out there. Spain, of course, is obviously one of the best teams there so it will be interesting. I'm not going to pay Pedro either.

Q: (David Croft – Sky TV).
You'll be rooting for Italy, I suppose.

Fernando Alonso:
Yes. Sorry but I prefer Italy in this game.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport).
Lewis, you said in Canada after the race that you weren't able to make a one pit stop strategy. With these hot conditions, do you believe that your car can react well or will it be too hard on the tyres? And regarding your pit stops: you had a problem with your pit stops again in the last Grand Prix and you had to push a lot. Did you work on the pit stops in the last ten days?

Lewis Hamilton:
On the tyre side of things, I anticipate it could be another very very tough weekend, trying to look after them. I think it will be very interesting to see how the teams vary as they did in the last race. You have to expect teams like Lotus and Sauber doing very very well on their long runs and Ferrari are also very very good on their long runs. So I definitely don't anticipate even doing a one stop strategy this weekend, but I will obviously try to look after the tyres as best we can.

In terms of our pit stops, we are constantly altering and improving race by race, and the guys go back to the factory after every race with footage of the pit stop to understand and analyse exactly what went wrong, so that next time we go out we don't have those problems. I think this weekend we will have an even better set of pit stops again. I think at the last race the first pit stop – if we didn't have the problem with the pull away – I think it would have maybe been the fastest of the whole season so far. I think it was 2.8s or 2.9s. The stationary time was 2.9s, I think, or something like that, so quite quick, but I lost a second as I pulled away. We are just going to keep working on it.

Q: (Olaf Mol – RTL7).
Fernando and Lewis, some countries are no longer in the European soccer championship like Holland; some of their soccer players are being criticised for not talking to their fans. Do you feel that F1 and you as drivers are doing enough for your fans?

Lewis Hamilton:
Do we think we are doing enough for the fans? I don't know. If you look at the last race, for example, we had such a great event. There are definitely races where there aren't so many people who come to watch the race, but I think we're doing a pretty good job. I don't know what else… I'm sure we can always do better, but I don't see a problem, personally.

Fernando Alonso:
Yes, I agree. Anyone can do more or less, depending on which one, but apart from NBA (National Basketball Association) I don't think there's any big sport that does a better job than Formula One.

Heikki Kovalainen:
I think that FOTA has asked the fans many times… Martin Whitmarsh has been very open and the fans have had a word, and I think many times the fans have been happy. I don't see any problem there, no.

Q: (Patrick Grivaz – Radio France).
We are here in Valencia, Spain and there is an economic crisis in Europe and in Spain particularly. I want to ask a question to Pedro and Fernando: what is your feeling about the economic crisis in Spain and what can you do about it?

Fernando Alonso:
I think we obviously feel sad and worried about the situation in Spain which is not ideal at the moment. I think we are in a completely different matter which is sport and we are having a great event in one city which will be known worldwide on Sunday on millions and millions of televisions throughout the world, so it's very good publicity. At the same time, I think the economic crisis is not only in Spain, not only in Europe but worldwide and if we question races and sporting events, we will never finish, because then we have to question why, in Poland, they hold the European Championship, maybe the Olympic Games and so on and so on, because there are macro-sporting events over which there is always a question whether they are necessary or not.

Pedro de la Rosa:
I fully agree, it's terrible for Spain, it's terrible for Europe, the world. We are in crisis. We have friends in Barcelona who have lost their jobs and it's very bad. But as Fernando said, it's not only in Spain, it's everywhere, I would say. The only thing we can do is first of all concentrate on our job and try to make their lives better with a good entertainment show on Saturday and Sunday and then also, as a team, I think HRT is an example of what you can do in Spain: invest at a difficult moment, give opportunities to young mechanics, engineers, people, drivers and this is what we are doing. It's very bad, but as I've said, crises come and go. It's not the end of the world. We have to look ahead and we have to recover, we have to fight crises and wait for the long straights that will come.

Q: (Jonathan Legard – BBC Sport).
Fernando, how much involvement do you have when teams come to select teammates, wherever you've been. Do they consult you, do they ask you what do you think of him, could you work with him?

Fernando Alonso:
In the past, never. Now at Ferrari, yes. I'm in Italy every week so when we are there, sometimes I see the president, I see Stefano (Domenicali – team principal) and we talk about development of the car, we talk about GT, now there is some work on a new GT car that they are doing some test with at the end of year. We talk about the future of F1, about Corsa Clienti which is owners of old F1 cars which they want us to take to some circuits to teach some senior drivers, and also about the future and teammates as well.

Q: (Jonathan Legard – BBC Sport).
So if you said you didn't want A or B would you hope that they listened to you?

Fernando Alonso:
I doubt it. It's an open chat, we talk, but in the end, it's their decision.

Q: (Jonathan Legard – BBC Sport).
So would you welcome to chance to work with Lewis again, would that be on the agenda or is that..?

Fernando Alonso:
No problem.

Q: (Jonathan Legard – BBC Sport).
Not a problem, no one at all, even Sebastian Vettel?

Fernando Alonso:
No problem. Why?

Q: (Jonathan Legard – BBC Sport).
There should be no reason, absolutely, but you would welcome the challenge from whoever would be deemed good enough to be a Ferrari driver or whichever team you were in?

Fernando Alonso:
Yeah. I do. I think I have a lot of respect for Felipe. I think the challenging moment, that even from the outside it's difficult to appreciate, what a challenging time he's given to me in the last three years. He's not bad, even if from the outside he looks…

Q: (Jonathan Legard – BBC Sport).
So you wouldn't mind him staying on then? Do you think he could stay on? Has he got the potential to do that?

Fernando Alonso:
I think so.

Q: (Carlos Miguel – La Gaceta).
Fernando, Lewis and Pedro: when I saw you in this row, I remembered McLaren in 2007. What were your best and worst memories of that season for you three guys when you were teammates?

Pedro de la Rosa:
From my point of view it was a pleasure to have two super drivers next to me and learn from them. It was really interesting. The worst bit, clearly, was to lose the championship at the last race in Brazil. I think that the three of us – more them than myself because I was unfortunately not driving – but we all woke up at one point at four or five am in a cold sweat around our heads, because it was a shame but they are the best, it was really a pleasure for me to be in the team with them. I learned. I'm a sponge.

Lewis Hamilton:
It was the same, losing the championship was definitely the… I had only just got to F1 but just having it and then losing it and then having it was very very tough. I think the best moment was winning my first Grand Prix that year; firstly getting into F1 and then having the great opportunity and privilege of working alongside Fernando and Pedro, and working for such a great team, and winning my first race in Montreal. That was part of my life that I could only have ever dreamed of.

Fernando Alonso:
Yes, same. The worst moment was losing the championship, for sure, at the last race after being at the top of the table for the whole season, and then we lost it at the last race. Best thing for me was the technical approach that was very different compared to Renault and all the things that I learned on the technical side in that year… I think they were very, very important for the rest of my career and I improved 200 percent as a driver that year.


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