Questions from the floor:

Q:(David Croft - BBC Radio Five Live)
Fernando, 2016 is a long time. Whose idea was it to start contract negotiations and extend it now, yours or the team's?

Fernando Alonso:
Both, I have to say. I think it was very easy, very simple for us. We started talking maybe one or two weeks ago, about the future. Both sides wanted to continue. I was very happy with the team; they seemed to be happy with me as well. So we said, OK, we make an extension of the contract. We arrived at the date of 2016 and everything is more clear for us, for the team members and for everyone: to have some stability, as we said. It was a decision from both sides.

Q: (David Croft - BBC Radio Five Live)
It's got to be the quickest contract negotiation ever, isn't it?

Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, it was very... I think when both sides want to continue, it's the best thing. You find a compromise, a decision, very, very quickly.

Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe)
Mark, last year you were mentioning Sebastian's qualifying; do you have an explanation for Sebastian's dominance this year, and do you think that the fact that you are coming up to the two races that you won against him last year will give you more strength and more confidence?

Mark Webber:
What's absolutely clear is that we were very, very, very even on the Bridgestone tyres, and it's not quite like that on the Pirellis so far, particularly on new tyres. That's not an excuse, I'm just answering your question. That's the only thing that's changed. It's a big change for the drivers, obviously, to get used to that. Seb's doing a good job and clearly it's up to me to do better. Races here? Well, look, I like Sepang, I like a lot of the tracks we've already been to but I didn't win there. This is another track that's not too bad. Monaco is a very unique venue, as we know, it's going to be very interesting this year on strategy. There's many tracks I enjoy driving on but haven't had victories on and there are some tracks which I've won at which maybe I don't enjoy as much. Yeah, I'm looking forward to this weekend. It's always been a good Grand Prix, particularly since Fernando's been at the front, in the Renault days. There's a good atmosphere with the crowd, good fireworks and all that sort of stuff. It makes a difference from the last venues; it's nice to race in front of people. They're passionate about it now, alongside their motorcycle racing. It's one of the reasons why I threw my helmet into the crowd last year, to give something back to the guys here. They're really passionate about the sport and that's good.

Q: (Toni Lopez - La Vanguardia)
Fernando, in these six seasons until the end of your contract, how many championships would you like to win, at the least+?

Fernando Alonso:
Formula One is impossible to predict and it's impossible to think about winning championships before I've even started. I think the intention is to keep enjoying racing. For sure, I think I'm in the best team possible to fight for World Championships. I think some other teams go up and down. They have good years and bad years. At Ferrari, in the worst season you finish third or second in the World Championship, so this is something that Ferrari can offer to a driver. So in these six years, I will try to enjoy racing and I'm sure that opportunity will come. Opportunity came last year. We missed it by only four points and hopefully we can repeat that fight and next time, hopefully, we can take it. But it's impossible to predict.

Q: (Andy Benson - BBC Sport)
Fernando and Mark; last year the Red Bull was about a second a lap faster than anything else around here. This year, the Red Bull has been even quicker compared to the other cars than it was last year at other circuits, so what hope or chance is there of anyone getting anywhere near the Red Bulls this weekend?

Fernando Alonso:
You're talking about his car so maybe he can answer. I think it's true that the gap was around one second here last year. This year, in some races it was even more than one second but we're working hard. I think all the teams who are trying to catch them are working hard and that gap should theoretically be less and less at every race. Here, I will be disappointed if it's one second again. So we try to give them a hard time this weekend.

Mark Webber:
Yeah, there were two tracks that stood out last year: here and Budapest, particularly in qualifying where the car was very, very strong and it was a big surprise to us and also the opposition. Of course, we hope we have a nice advantage again, coming to this venue, but it's not a given. For sure, the car should perform well around here. The gap in qualifying was quite big, the race with Lewis last year, for me, was obviously under control. He was our closest rival, then he had a problem with the front left. Seb had a problem and Fernando got second. But the race was a bit different to qualifying in terms of pace. As we have seen, again in the last three years with the Red Bull, everyone talks about qualifying now, but that's generally been a trend that we are strong in qualifying and still strong enough in the race. We haven't been unsuccessful in races in the last few years either, so yeah, I hope we still have a good gap and see what happens.

Q: (Mike Doodson - Honorary)
I guess this question is for the two veteran drivers, Mark and Fernando: with all the buttons and levers and stuff in the cockpit this year, you guys are busier than ever and inevitably it seems all the strategy is being done on the pit wall, because there are so many factors that they can perceive that you cannot. Do you regret that the driver no longer has the same control over strategy that perhaps he used to have in the past?

Mark Webber:
I think that, as usual, you will never get everyone to agree on the first part of your question in terms of levers and buttons in the cockpit. Obviously, it becomes a little bit political sometimes on those issues, in terms of what some teams like and some teams don't but in the end, when we're all using the same button or buttons at the same time, particularly in qualifying, I'm not a huge fan of us patting our tummy at the same time for no real benefit for anybody. We're just going round the track doing the same thing, basically. If we're racing, it's a different story. Whatever we can do to help the show but there are parts of the weekend when we don't need to use all the toys for the benefit of anybody. For the strategy side of things, I think we've seen the racing change, of course. It's not often that you see what happened with Fernando and I in Turkey, where Fernando comes past me and then I can come back past him again later in the race. I would like to see the last time we saw that in a grand prix, for a clean... no mechanical problems on the cars, obviously. It was just a different situation that we went through in the grand prix, so that was a little bit unusual and probably will happen again in the future. That's mainly because of the tyres, so the tyres are now playing a big role in how the grands prix are executed and you're right, yes, we're getting a lot of help from the pit wall. We've always had that, particularly in the fuelling days. In terms of influence from the pit wall, I don't think that much has changed. It's now maybe as busy - maybe a little bit more busy for us in the car than it was in fuelling days, for us, not to manipulate the strategy but we've got to try and look after the tyres a bit and that sort of stuff. In the fuelling days, it was basically just flat out and you were going against the fuel in the car. Strategy-wise, I don't think a huge amount has changed in the cockpit, more pit stops but it's the same for everyone. So the people are helping us as much as they were in the early two thousands and late nineties.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse)
Fernando, do you consider that Mark plays a key role in the championship because he's the only one, apart from Sebastian Vettel, who drives a Red Bull and so he could take points out of Sebastian? And on that matter, how do you consider yourself, Mark?

Fernando Alonso:
I think Mark, for sure, last year was taking some points from Sebastian. That hasn't happened in these four races. In the numbers, when you see the championship now, you see that Vettel is quite far in front and then a group of six or eight cars, not too far behind one another. It's only Sebastian who has got a bit too far ahead at the moment and this is also thanks to his fantastic driving in these first four races: no mistakes, very quick and he deserved all those points. So it's up to us, now, to recover this gap, it's up to us to have more competitive cars, better cars than Red Bull, so we are working on that and winning races. If we do that - the championship is long - to recover the gap and there are still plenty of races, but to do any reaction or any recovery in terms of points, you need to have the best car. It's happened in many years, it happened in 2006 to me. I remember I had a gap of 32 points to Michael in Canada, which is more or less 75 or 80 points today, and Michael had the same gap to me with two races to go. So you can catch up any distance, but you need to have the best car in one part of the championship, so we are working on that. And as you said, if it happened like last year that the Red Bull was the quickest car but sometimes Mark was winning, sometimes Sebastian was winning, sometimes they didn't finish races, sometimes they crashed together and if we can have something like that, it will be even better.

Q: (Andy Benson - BBC Sport)
Fernando, you arrived in Turkey saying that you thought the car would be two tenths quicker than it had been before, compared to the others. It turned out to be a lot more than that: you nearly halved the gap to Sebastian in qualifying. Where did that come from and what are you expecting from this weekend?

Fernando Alonso:
Well, it came from race pace and from tyre management, I think, because in qualifying, I think in Malaysia it was one second again. In China, it was 1.4s and Turkey was one second behind pole position, so more or less the same distance. But the race pace depends on how is the tyre management you can have in the race, how easy your car is in that particular race, concerning the set-up or whatever you can find on Friday; it helps the Sunday performance, so in Turkey, it seems that we went in the right direction in terms of set-up of the car, in terms of tyres and we were a little bit more competitive than expected in the race. So we would like to bring that experience to these coming races and hopefully we can keep having some advantage in tyre wear and tyre behaviour. And here, I don't know. We will see how is the performance of the car, how the new parts work but as I said, the most important thing is how you approach the weekend and how you manage your tyres.

 

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