Drivers: Fernando Alonso (McLaren), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

TV unilaterals

Q:
Fernando, it looked as though that qualifying session had everything: traffic, threat of rain, the combination of fuel load, new tyres etc. A brilliant pole for you.

Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, I'm very very happy. It was a very important pole position and, as you said, we had a little bit of everything going on in qualifying. We were expecting rain, it came but very light and it stayed only one lap. The track was a little bit slower but then it picked up again to normal speed. We had traffic, as usual in Monaco. You can't expect to avoid the traffic and I think it was very stressful for everybody with these so-so weather conditions.

Q:
It looked as if you caught Nico Rosberg right at the end of your lap. Do you feel you lost time because of that?

FA:
Yes, absolutely. I think Nico was unlucky because when he left the pits, he did a very good 'out' lap and he crossed the line with one second to go, but it was not enough not to hold me up a little in the last three or four corners. But I think Monaco is so special that it's difficult to have a clear lap.

Q:
You were fastest in Q2, set fastest lap of the qualifying session as well. Your thoughts about the race and the speed of the McLaren Mercedes around here? It's always been a great circuit for the McLaren team.

FA:
Yeah, it is. I think the whole weekend has been quite good for us. Even this morning, in wet conditions, the car seemed to be competitive, and we are at the top always, and yeah, I think qualifying has been very good and to be on pole position here in Monaco, as last year as well, is very very important, as we know on this circuit. And to have the first pole position this year for McLaren Mercedes is also special, so I'm really happy. I hope I will enjoy it all day today.

Q:
Lewis, as we say, a clean sweep for the McLaren Mercedes team. It looked as if you were held up by Mark Webber going through the tunnel.

Lewis Hamilton:
Yeah, I had a fantastic qualifying, I think. It was quite exciting, and then it started to rain in the middle part of the session. I think I was P1 at the time and I was hoping it would continue to rain, but unfortunately it didn't. It was a bit of a gamble, a bit of a lottery really. I called in and said let's come into the pits on this lap just in case it rains towards the end. The lap was fantastic, it was really on the limit. I think I touched one of the barriers on the exit of turn four and I was three tenths up on my previous best, and then I got held up by Webber. He was on an 'out' lap. I don't know whether he saw me or what but he didn't let me past until turn eight, so I lost half a second behind him. I still managed to pull it back. I was only a tenth off my previous lap but still the tyres were gone and that was that.

Q:
Lewis, you've won three times here before, twice in Formula Three, once in GP2. It just looks as if you love driving a Formula One car around here.

LH:
I do, I do. It's an awesome track, it's my favourite and just knowing that you're brushing the barriers all the time, that there's no room for error. It's extremely quick, you wouldn't believe how quick we're going round here, 180 miles an hour between... there's not really much room there. And to me, for my first Grand Prix, I'm really happy to be second. It's good for the team and I think Fernando did a great job, but I think tomorrow is going to be interesting.

Q:
Felipe, P3 for you and an interesting moment in Q2 when your team-mate Kimi R?ikk?nen seemed to stop in a familiar place for Ferrari, and you almost hit him, for the outside, anyway.

Felipe Massa:
Yeah. I just saw the yellow flags but I didn't expect somebody to be stopped in the middle of the track, and so it was a little bit of a moment. I just managed to pass by without touching. Apart from that, the qualifying was not so bad, so looking at the pace of McLaren in practice, in the sessions, in Q1, Q2, I think in the end I managed to do a good lap. The race in Monaco is always special, there are always some surprises, so hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow, try to score as many points as possible and hopefully be on the podium.

Q:
What were the conditions like from your point of view in terms of potential rain, any rain drops falling, and indeed, the traffic?

FM:
Well, the conditions today were pretty difficult. Tomorrow we have the possibility of having some showers, maybe even in the race, so if we have that, it will really be a big lottery and it will be a little bit of a funny race but hopefully we stop in the pits to change tyres at the right moment, to do everything in the right way. The race is pretty long as well, so concentration will be very important. Hopefully we can put everything together tomorrow.

Q:
Returning to Fernando, your final thoughts on tomorrow, particularly as McLaren is the most successful team ever around Monaco. I guess it's going to be interesting from your point of view to see when Ferrari stop for fuel.

FA:
I think it's always very special to be on pole in Monaco, but also to be as long as you can in terms of fuel loads, so you need to find a compromise and we will see tomorrow how our competitors found the perfect strategy and hopefully our strategy will be better. But you never know. I think with very interesting weather conditions as well, it's a very unexpected race probably.

Press conference:

Q:
When you look back to last year, on pole then, and victory followed the day after; you must already be a little optimistic.

FA:
I think we need to wait. I think this year is a little more special, regarding the weather conditions which are not 100 percent sure, either wet or dry, so I think it could be a very difficult race, and a little bit like a lottery for everybody. So I think even starting from pole position, we have to be calm in tomorrow's race and wait and see, because the race will be very long. I also think that the cars are a little bit more difficult to drive this year with these tyres, especially under braking. We saw a lot of people going off on Thursday and the level of concentration will also be extremely high. The race is so long that even pole position will probably mean nothing.

Q:
Are you expecting rain tomorrow?

FA:
I don't know. The team said four different things in one hour, so I think everybody is so confused, the weather is changing so quickly, so I think until tomorrow at one o'clock we will not have a perfect prediction.

Q:
What was it like in the wet conditions this morning?

FA:
It was very very difficult. I think all the white lines are very very slippery. There is no possibility to avoid them because they are all around the lap. Also the kerbs are very slippery as well, as normal, and here it's quite tight, the circuit is very narrow, so if you cannot touch the white lines, and you cannot touch the kerbs, there's not much space to put the car. I think it was difficult for everybody.

Q:
I hope pole position means something...

FA:
It means something but 78 laps tomorrow, we cannot forget the points are Sunday afternoon, not Saturday.

Q:
Lewis, very interesting time on your very first lap when in theory you've got a race fuel load which was only 0.2s slower than your fastest time in the first session. Does that tell us about your fuel strategy?

LH:
I don't think so. You can take what you want from it, but it definitely doesn't mean anything about my fuel load. I think we were just extremely quick and I felt great in the car. I thought it was almost exactly the same time as I did at the end, I thought I did 1m15.9s on heavy fuel. I think that's what I qualified second with. It was good, a good lap, but at the end... it was a really exciting qualifying session. I think we did a very good job. I thought the team was quite accurate with the weather conditions; they said it was going to rain when it rained, and mid-part of the last run, it started to spit. I was on a good lap and I was fortunate to finish it but then we couldn't push for the rest of the laps. We came in, got the tyres on, and started the lap and it was good. I was three and a half tenths up by turn four and then I caught Mark Webber and I lost half a second behind him but still managed to do exactly the same time. I'm really happy with it, it's good for the team and I think it will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.

Q:
You seemed to have a drama at the hairpin and Portier; was that Webber-induced?

LH:
Yeah, well I caught him through turn four and I don't know whether he didn't see me or what. In the drivers' briefing, he was saying 'they need to be hard on us for holding people up' and he came out and held me up. But I think it was the same for everyone. It doesn't really affect me, I still got second. That's good.

Q:
Felipe, disappointed or pleased with third?

FM:
Pleased because I did a good lap, so I think it was a good position, looking at McLaren's pace. I think it was a good lap, I tried the best I could, so I think starting third is not a bad result, looking that the race here in Monaco is always very special. I think I'm definitely not disappointed. I'm confident, looking forward to the race tomorrow, and trying to finish the race with as many points as I can, looking at the championship.

Q:
Were you held up by traffic at all? You were having a word with Kubica at the end.

FM:
I don't think it was me. I had traffic, but only on my first run, which was Lewis but then when I did my best lap, I didn't have any traffic, so it was a very clean lap, so it was pretty okay, no particular problem.

 

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