FIA press conference - Monaco

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After an amazing race in the Principality the top 3 drivers where taken to the FIA press conference. Winner Fernando Alonso, Juan Pablo Montoya and David Coulthard were happy to answer the questions of the media.

Fernando, no doubt today has been an emotional day for you: waking up to find yourself on the pole, a clean sweep for Michelin on a sad day for Michelin, and your first win here.

Fernando Alonso: "I think first of all, I want to dedicate this victory to Edouard Michelin of whom we had such sad news on Friday. I think Michelin have done a great job in Formula One over the last two or three years and especially this year, and again this race - to give us the possibility to win and to beat our opponents - I think this victory extends to Michelin. All three drivers on the podium were on Michelin tyres so thanks to them, and I dedicate this to them and all their work. Yes, it’s true that the race was quite emotional but for sure, starting from pole position makes things a little bit easier. Kimi put some pressure on me in the race. I was controlling the tyres a bit for the right moment to push because it’s impossible to overtake, so I slowed down a little bit, but yeah, it was not an easy race. You have to keep concentrated at Monaco, not touch anybody for seventy-eight laps, push to the limit and we managed to win this race. It was one of the races in the calendar I had put a cross against and thanks to all of the team and Michelin, we did it."

That control was particularly evident in the second stint when you were doing 1m 18s for a while and then suddenly down into the 1m 16s.

FA: "Yeah. In the last part of the first stint on old tyres that had done 25 laps I felt the car oversteering and not much traction in the tyres. The second stint was planned to be quite long, so I knew that the time to push was when Kimi was making his second stop, so I tried to save the tyres to give them an easy life for the first ten or 15 laps, and then push. We had a safety car period so that wasn’t the time to push but I think that thanks to the characteristics of the Monaco circuit you can control the race a little bit more."

Juan Pablo, at the beginning of the second stint you were right up with the leaders.

Juan Pablo Montoya: "Yeah, at the beginning, in the first part of the race, my car went a little bit to oversteer and I made a couple of mistakes and I lost a bit of space. In the second stint, as Fernando backed off the pace, my car was feeling pretty good so I caught up with them. It’s very hard because you start getting into traffic. You go to some circuits and traffic means one car, but here traffic is four or five cars. By the time you start passing the first one, they are already past the fifth one and they just pull away into the distance, so that makes it really hard to keep up. It’s tough. They put out blue flags and the next car which is meant to be lapped as well takes advantage of it. I had one car which nearly hit me two or three times. I thought, what’s going on?"

There’s been a lot of work at McLaren Mercedes recently, great to see that work come through in this result.

JPM: "Yeah, I think the last few races were tough, especially for me. We did quite a few changes in the car and we are heading in the right direction. I think we had good pace today, but the most important thing is to try and translate this pace into the next few races. That’s going to be the key."

David, a great drive on a one stop strategy, a very heavy fuel load in the second phase of the race.

David Coulthard: "Yeah, absolutely, so that made it quite difficult to push at the end because the tyres were worn out, but obviously delighted, for myself, to be back here. It’s been a long time. Delighted for the team and echoing Fernando’s words, as a mark of respect to Mr Michelin, we didn’t spray the champagne. Moving on from that, today was a very important day for Red Bull Racing, for all the hard work of those involved and hopefully this can give us a boost for the coming races."

And a hard day’s work, following a lot of cars for all the race distance.

DC: "Yeah, absolutely. As you mentioned, a lot of fuel in that last stint, a very long stint and obviously just had to control the way I pushed the car. Somewhat fortunate with some of the other cars dropping out, but that’s the challenge of Monaco and I think this is a great reward for everyone in the team when you consider what a difficult winter and a difficult start to the season we’ve had. There’s no bigger race than Monaco so it’s great."

Fernando, a big win for you today in terms of points; your thoughts on that?

FA: "Yeah, every race becomes more and more important for the championship. Again, Kimi didn’t take any points today so it’s ten points more than him in the championship and Michael also scored five so it’s another five, up to 22 in the championship. We’re building a nice gap, step by step and hopefully in the next coming races we can increase the gap even more and then have an easy part at the end."


So, Fernando, what’s it like to win at Monaco, because they always say it’s the most rewarding victory?

FA: "It’s nice, but after Barcelona, it’s difficult to feel something more than Spain, but sure, it’s very special, probably the most popular motor race in the world and we did it. I think in 2003 we had a small opportunity, the car wasn’t really good enough to fight for victory, but in 2004 I was teamed with Trulli and we had the incident in the tunnel. In 2005 we were on the pace until"

How hard was Kimi pushing you? You had him close behind you almost to lap 50?

FA: "Yeah, he was pushing quite hard but it’s almost impossible to overtake at Monaco. I knew that there were important parts of the race, laps close to the pit stops and the laps after the pit stops, and I wanted to have the tyres in good condition for those laps. For me, it wasn’t important to push on lap 30. I pushed two or three laps, he was behind me with no problems so when I saw that it was impossible to open up a gap, I said OK, I will manage the tyres and when it’s time to push my tyres will be ready."

And in the last stint you just seemed to be maintaining the gap.

FA: "Yeah, thanks to the people between me and Juan Pablo during the safety car period, when Juan Pablo was in clean air, he was twelve or 15 seconds behind me, so it was already impossible to catch me up and we both controlled the revs and engine, the pace and tried to finish the race."

Juan Pablo, you must be pleased with the result here today.

JPM: "We were competitive all weekend, lost of a bit of ground in the first stint. I passed a backmarker into the chicane and got completely sideways and lost a bit of time. From there, it was just a matter of trying to keep up, and when Renault and Fernando upped the pace, my car was pretty good so I managed to close the gap pretty easily. We were looking after the car and waiting to see what happens. If you have an opportunity, you take it and just everything came into our hands. Monaco is a race where you’ve just got to be there to be good and we did. We had the pace, we probably even had the pace to win the race but I think second is great. From where we’ve been in the last few races, it’s shown that McLaren and Mercedes have stepped up their game quite a lot and we’re fighting them. Now the important thing is to try and translate this into the next few races."

Do you think you can maintain this pace on conventional circuits?

JPM: "Yeah, I think we have improved our pace, I think we’re closing up a little bit to Renault. They’re still a little bit quicker than us on normal circuits but we’re definitely heading in the right direction."

Did you have any inkling what happened to Kimi; did the team mention anything to you?

JPM: "No. I wasn’t really interested to be honest. My engine came from the last race, it worked well in the last race and here it worked well all weekend. It’s good."

David, from where you were sometimes in this race, were you expecting to be on the podium?

DC: "No, of course a podium is a dream result for us, from where we are at this time. Monaco is the sort of track where you can get results like that so I’m obviously very happy to be there at the end."

You seemed to be in serious traffic for just about every lap apart from the last 15.

DC: "Rubens was obviously on a long stint and he was just holding everyone up. Again, that’s Monaco, there’s nothing you can do about it, so you’re just running round in formation, waiting for people to pit and hoping that you can get some free laps before or after your pit stop and then obviously some other cars had some problems and we were able to be in the right place and it all came out in the wash at the end. As I say, that’s Monaco. I’m very happy to be back on the podium, especially here. It’s been a tough start to the season for everyone at Red Bull so I think it’s a nice place to have a little celebration."

What were you going to be doing behind Christian?

DC: "I was going to overtake him of course! I was quicker, so working on the basis that it’s not good for teammates to crash together I was presuming he would give me some room, but I never got the chance because he stopped before then."


(Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) A question to the three of you: what do you think of the judgement that was taken yesterday by the stewards regarding Schumacher? Was it correct or too hard? What is your position?

DC: "I can answer that first – I don’t think about it. I don’t think about it. You asked me what I think about it – I don’t. That’s the only answer I’ve got."
FA: ">ame.. I don’t want to say anything."
JPM: "Really it’s, you know, it’s hard to say - from the stewards’ point of view he made something wrong and he got penalised for it. That’s it. Simple. Last year, they thought I did something wrong and I didn’t think I did and I still got penalised. It’s just racing you know. You make a mistake, or whatever it was, and that’s it."

(Damien Smith - Autosport) A question for David: apparently on television before the race, Christian Horner said that if Red Bull scored a podium today he would jump in the harbour naked. Are you going to make sure he goes through with that?

DC: "Well, he did tell me, when I was doing the slowing-down lap, that it was actually to jump in the pool at the energy centre naked so my advice was to give his ‘wally’ a good rub before he does it because if you are going to get photographed naked you want to look as favourable as possible."

(Dan Knutson, National Speed Sport News) For Fernando, at the end of the race, Michael set the fastest lap. How difficult do you think the race would have been if he had been on pole?

FA: "I don’t know, but he was not in pole and I don’t think about what the others are doing from the back and I don’t see the times also from Monteiro and Albers. It doesn’t matter. I try to see the times from Kimi, who was the main opponent today, and Webber, so I don’t know. I think the fastest laps are not really representative at all of the races. Today I think the track was improving every lap, especially here in Monaco, and while the first cars were cruising and controlling the race and the revs, to race with this engine in Silverstone, the other teams can push a lot and improve the times - and well done to them for the fastest laps."

(Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Fernando, five more points gap to Michael and ten to Kimi must be like a gift result to you for this weekend – what do you think this means for the world championship?

FA: "Every race is getting more and more interesting and important in terms of the championship. Basically, you cannot win anything in the races, but you can lose a lot and this time Kimi lost a lot and I didn’t win too much, but in seven races, four wins and three seconds is a perfect start -- and if I keep doing that in the next seven then probably the championship will look very good."

(Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Fernando, your main competitor, McLaren, is always having problems with the car, or is not so fast as your car is… Do you sometimes ask yourself -- ‘what did I do when I signed for McLaren?’

FA: "I think we will wait and see, but I have to concentrate on keeping this consistency in the championship. I think I won it last year, without making any mistakes, and by finishing with 15 podiums and now I have seven. So if I keep like this, then I can fight for this 2006 championship and for next year we will see, but it is a new challenge for sure with a new team and I am sure we will fight again for the championship next year."

(Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) A question to David: yesterday, there were some rumours that there would be some actions taken by the drivers to exclude Michael from the Drivers Asociation. As you are a director of that, can you give an update on what is the real situation?

DC: "Well, obviously, I’ve heard all of the rumours and, to be absolutely clear, there has been no discussion among the directors. There may have been individual discussions among other members of the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association), but nobody has contacted the office and our secretary is here all this weekend -- so it is rumours rather than fact. And, just to remind you all, the main role of the GPDA is for driver safety and track safety and not to be involved in political issues like stewards decisions and the two are completely separate. And, irrespective of any individual driver’s view on Michael’s actions yesterday, he does remain to be one of the most active members on track safety and one of the main funders of the GPDA over the years. So you have to separate the two things."

(Fabritsio Lazakis - Four wheels magazine) For Fernando: we saw in Spain that Renault was very fast and here you said you couldn’t build a gap ahead of Kimi. Why? What happened?

FA: "I don’t know. I think McLaren improved and we were not as competitive as we were in Barcelona in this type of track and I think we probably had more problems with the rear tyres here than our competitors. So, if you cannot build it up, there is no point in pushing and to destroy the tyres just altogether in a group. I think you just have to be conservative a little bit and to push just before the pit stops."

(James Roberts – Motorsport News) David does this result improve your chances of staying with Red Bull next year?

DC: "I think results, naturally, don’t do any harm, but the reality is that the conversations regarding next year are ongoing and have been and it is quite clear what my intention is and in a matter of course there will be an announcement."

(Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) David, was your first pit stop scheduled or to get out of traffic and did the Safety Car work in your favour or against you?

DC: "The first stop was scheduled, but we changed from a two-stop strategy to a one-stop because of not being able to get past Rubens at the start so the plan was to try and jump both the Honda and the Toyota and, obviously, I was able to get the Toyota but not Rubens. So, it was quite clear it was not going to work and that’s why we did such a long second stint. Safety Car-wise, I am not sure if it helped, or not, because I have not had a chance to see where I was on the track at that time."

(Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) How does it feel to give Red Bull this first podium in Monaco where you live and on one of your favourite tracks?

DC: "I think its great. At any given time there are only one or two teams that are fighting for victories, but Monaco is a track where you know something can happen and give a team -- I don’t want to say a smaller team because we are well funded, but we are a team that is building at the moment and its great to get these results and for my own personal satisfaction I race because I want to do as well as I possibly can and its always nice to get another podium."

(Matthias Brunner – Motorsport Aktuell) For Fernando, how do you rate your chances in the upcoming race at Silverstone?

FA: "I think it will be good for our team we were very competitive last year fighting with Juan Pablo for victory and in the tests in the winter we were extremely quick and we will be full of confidence to fight again. The tyres were really good in the winter, compared to Bridgestone, also, so hopefully we can have the chance to be fighting again."

(Byron Young – Speed Sport News) Yesterday Schumacher got a good kicking for the events on the circuit. Today, he raced from the back of the grid to finish fifth. Can I ask for your comments on his performance today please?

JPM: "Last year I started last and finished fourth! (laughter)."
DC: "My television wasn’t working so I haven’t had a chance to see it yet."
FA: "I don’t know. I only saw a lot of retirements so this normally helps"

Special thanks to the FIA