DRIVERS: Fernando Alonso (Renault), Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes), Nick Heidfeld (BMW-Sauber)

Press conference

Q:
Nick, how do you turn around the massive disappointment in Bahrain?

Nick Heidfeld:
Well, I think the position obviously was quite poor for the team. We could have performed stronger from our pace but it still would have been difficult to get into the points. Unfortunately we both had to change our front nose as we made contact with some other cars in turn one but that happens a lot easier if you don't start at the front. We knew that we would struggle more and more in certain races as we did not get any major updates as the team decided pretty early on that rather than bringing small updates we would provide a big package here in Barcelona. Here in the past it worked and I think this year the theory behind it was logical because everybody, including myself, was surprised by how close the teams were together this season. Everybody thought with the new regulations there would be massive differences but if you look at the last couple of races there are sometimes 10 cars within just a couple of tenths. Therefore it would have been the right choice to do small steps. We hope that we will make a bigger one here.

Q:
You have brought new bits and pieces here. Do you think that is going to bring you right back into the top 10?

NH:
Impossible to answer that. First of all we hope to see on the track what we have seen in simulation and the wind tunnel, then we can carry on with proper development. But as you all know the big question is what do all the other guys bring.

Q:
And yet you are not using the double diffuser or the KERS here. What would that do?

NH:
Well, we found out with KERS this season that it is not as big an advantage as probably people thought before the season. Some teams use it, some don't. Sometimes you put it in one race and take it out the other. Here probably it definitely would have been an advantage on the start because I think it is the longest straight until turn one, so it would have a big effect there. But in terms of overall lap time it is not that easy to simulate. We are still working on it and plan to have it back in the car in Istanbul as well as a double diffuser.

Q:
Lewis, have you found KERS useful this year and can you envisage not using it?

Lewis Hamilton:
I think we would be a bit further behind if we did not have it. Mercedes Benz have done a fantastic job in preparing ours. It is performing fantastically through all the races with no reliability problems, so I am quite confident using it.

Q:
And Fernando?

Fernando Alonso:
I don't know to be honest. I think some races it helps, some others not much. We are also happy with our system. We have not had big problems, only in Malaysia I think when it was that amount of water we had some issues. But we are happy with the system but as Nick said it is difficult to simulate or calculate the lap time advantage especially on some circuits, so it is something that we need a little bit more time.

Q:
Giancarlo, you were perhaps expecting to use KERS here. You obviously do see an advantage in it?

Giancarlo Fisichella:
Well, I never used it. We were supposed to use it here but unfortunately we delayed the programme and hopefully it is going to be introduced in Germany. I never drove with the KERS, so I can't say a lot.

Q:
What about the modifications you had in the last grand prix? They really did seem to give you a little bit of an advantage?

GF:
Yeah, the team did a good effort to build the double diffuser. It was a good step forward obviously. We made a step forward but not enough to move forward in the grid positions. Actually in the first two stints I was quite competitive and I was, let's say, one of the quickest in the circuit but once I went with the hard tyres I was struggling with the grip level and I could not score a better result. We need another good step like that. Here we will have a new adjustable front wing which is a small step forward, so let's see where we are.

Q:
You have that here. Any other bits here as well?

GF:
Just a few small bits, so not enough I think to move our grid position.

Q:
So you might just get a little bit left behind again?

GF:
Probably. Maybe in Monaco we will have another good step.

Q:
Fernando, looking at this circuit you won from pole in 2006. You have been on the podium another three times. Obviously it is your home circuit. Is it a circuit that you like as well?

FA:
Yeah, I like it. Obviously we all test a lot here in the winter time and we all know the circuit quite well, so it is not a big advantage for me to be at a home track as it is like a home track for everybody. It is a very special race for me. The atmosphere here is quite good and the support from the grandstand I can really feel it. Every year we come here it is something special and this year I think it will be the same. The whole team is doing 120 per cent every race but here 130 percent as it is good for everybody, also the mechanics, everyone in the team is quite well supported here.

Q:
Pat Symonds says he has been disappointed so far. Is it the same with you?

FA:
Yeah, I think when we finished winter testing in Jerez we were quite optimistic. All winter we have been more or less competitive. We knew in terms of pace and lap time what the others were doing and we were very comfortable with our pace and with our car. The balance of the car was good. We did not have big problems, so we arrived in Australia really convinced that we were ready to fight for podium positions and things like that and it was not the case, so it was some kind of surprise how competitive some other teams were in Australia. We knew that Brawn were quick in the last two tests but Red Bull, Williams, we really thought that they were behind us. We started improving the car from Australia. We introduced a new package in China, some new parts also in Bahrain, some new parts here as well. We try to catch up but as Pat said I think we were expecting a little bit more from the first four races, so only five points are not enough for the championship battle.

Q:
I have been down in the paddock and a succession of cardboard boxes of varying different sizes have been carried into the garage. How much are you expecting this weekend?

FA:
I think not much unfortunately. As I said, we will improve the car from the last race, but it is difficult to simulate what the advantage will be. It can be one tenth, it can be two maybe four but who knows. But I think in this particular race everyone will introduce new parts in the car, so everyone is around these two, four tenths or six or whatever if someone was clever enough. We all will move more or less these two or three tenths forward and the positions will remain more or less the same.

Q:
Lewis, going back two months ago when you were last testing here I think things did not look so good. How are your feelings about the progress that has been made since then?

LH:
Well, when we tested here I think the team kind of felt that perhaps we would not be so bad but when we arrived we were between two-and-a-half and three seconds slower than the leading cars, so that was a big shock to the system and the team have pushed incredibly, just an incredible amount from then on. I think the progress that we have seen in our performance from the second day we did here until now has been phenomenal. I think the team have done a great job and to see the results that we are getting, fourth in the last race, was a result of that but for sure there is still a long, long way for us to go and we are coming from a long way behind, so like Fernando said I think everyone this weekend will have made a step forward, so probably the positions will be pretty much the same as before.

Q:
Do you think that rate of progress can take you back to where you were last year?

LH:
Who knows? We will have to wait and see. I guess this weekend is a good indication of whether that is the case or not. We have a couple of things put on the car but like Fernando said we don't have a lot of things going on the car that are radical steps for us. It is just bit by bit that we are adding bits to the car. This weekend it will be interesting to see how far everyone else has stepped forward and the difficult thing is whilst we progress everyone else progresses at more or less the same pace and the key for us is to try and progress a bit faster than them. But with the way the world is, with the economy and everything, it is not the easiest to do that, so it is tough times.

Q:
Tomorrow you are going to be honoured by the circuit here. They are going to unveil a plaque to you. What are your feelings about that?

LH:
I was just recently told about it, just half an hour ago. I think it is fantastic. It will be a great moment to be standing. I don't know if Fernando will be there. Is it all the drivers? Well, I think it will be great to be standing next to Fernando as a known Formula One World Champion. I think it will be a real privilege.

 

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