20 March: Malaysian Grand Prix - FIA Sunday Post Race Press Conference
Fernando ALONSO (Renault), 1h31m33.736s 2. Jarno TRULLI (Toyota), 1h31m58.063s 3. Nick HEIDFELD (Williams) 1h32m05.924s
Q: Fernando, it looked today as if you had to win two races; one against your opposition, and another
against the conditions out thereÖ Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, they were very tough conditions, as we knew before the start of
the race. Unfortunately the drink bottle didnít work, so half the race I had problems and I finished on the limit.
car looked faultless over that distance, but what was it like in the cockpit? FA: It was OK. I saved the tyres a little bit
at the beginning, thinking that maybe the first stint was maybe the most risky time for the rear tyres and then after that I saw
that Jarno was slowing down a little bit so I slowed down as well, to save my tyres more, and the last stint was just low revs and
saving tyres again. I wasnít pushing really hard in any part of the race. But the car was very easy to drive and really easy.
Those last closing laps in this heat must have seemed very long... FA: Not only the last, the last 15 or 20 laps were very
long and the same for everybody here in Sepang, or maybe more if you are in P1. You are very close to winning the race, itís the
second race for the engine and for the car and you are a little bit worried, obviously, but everything was perfect and the team
again showed that we are the team to beat.
Q: Jarno, congratulations to you too: the first-ever podium finish for the
Panasonic Toyota team. You tried to hold onto Fernando there in the opening laps. Tell us about that and then as the race progressedÖ Jarno
TRULLI: I had an extremely good start but again the Renaults seem to get away pretty well. Anyway, I drove my race, I was quite
competitive, I was following Fernando, but at one stage I could see that there was no match and I started managing the race, taking
care of the tyres as during the first race I had the tyre problem, and then I just managed to finish the race. It was really easy in
second position, pulling away, controlling people. From the pit they kept telling me to slow down so itís fantastic to bring the
first podium finish to Toyota.
Q: In these conditions, even more so, using the engine for two Grands Prix, the tyres for
the full distance, how near to the limit were you towards the end? JT: Letís say that we were quite comfortable on
reliability, even if, in these conditions, itís always terrible (fantastic) what Marmorini has done and his crew has done a
fantastic job over the wintertime, the reliability is there. But after half race I started pulling down the revs and trying to slow
down and taking care of the tyres and also the heat was really hard on the driverís side, and for this I have to thank (Doctor)
Ciccarelli because he treated me with an infusion as I was sick at the beginning of this week.
Q: Nick, youíve been quick
all weekend but tenth on the grid up to third place is fabulous and you donít actually look that sweaty or hot! Nick HEIDFELD:
No, it was very hot, and as usual in hot races, as Fernando just said, my drink bottle also failed. It always happens at the places
where you donít want it to happen, from the beginning onwards. Other than those two guys, I had to push very hard, as I was only
tenth in qualifying, because I made a mistake in second qualifying and I thought that cost me the race. But I had a very good start
and some good overtaking maneuvers.
Q: And an interesting race from your point of view: you were racing there with Ralf
Schumacher and later on you were right behind Mark Webber and Giancarlo Fisichella. NH: Yes, I was with two other cars at a
lot of the stages of the race, so it was not like one on one. There were two people fighting in front of me and then the third car
getting involved. It was very complex, but very interesting, and I got the upper hand.
Q: And the car, the tyres, the
engine? NH: Obviously everything was really good. In the end, as normal, we tried to save the engine a bit, pushed really
hard in the middle stint. In the end, the last ten laps, I was just controlling the pace to Montoya.
Q: Fernando, we return
to you as the first Spaniard ever to lead the FIA Formula One World Championship and Renault looking very dominant. Your thoughts
about the upcoming racesÖ FA: It will be more difficult for us, because we are starting in a very strong position but we
saw this weekend that Toyota, Williams and always McLaren and Ferrari are very strong and the competition is tough now. Bahrain was
not a perfect place for us last year, so I think we will suffer a little bit, and then when we arrive in Europe I think it will also
be tough because it has always been good for the other teams. But this year everything seems different. Renault is always good on
any type of circuit and Iím totally confident that in Bahrain we will be the reference again.
Fernando, obviously a very exhausting race, but you really enjoy this circuit, whatís it like to win here? FA: Yes, itís
one of the best places to win for me because from the driverís point of view, as I said, itís the most technical circuit, the
most difficult and the best of the championship for me with Spa and for me it makes me even more happy to win here than at maybe
Q: Obviously physically exhausting, did it affect you during the race? FA: No, because when you are
in the car, you are concentrating, air is coming in and youíre OK, but unfortunately, as I said before, the drink bottle didnít
work in this hot race and it wasnít perfect at the end and also it happened on Friday: when you are in a standing position, when
you get up quickly, the blood pressure falls and this is normal. This happens everywhere. Maybe here a little bit more.
Were you slowed by the team, or did you just ease up yourself? FA: Myself. The team asked me to reduce revs because Jarno was
also controlling the tyres and the engine, and we slowed down a little bit more but Iím really happy because this one was one of
the toughest races for the car: second race for the engine, hot temperatures for the tyres, high wear for the tyres and even if
people thought that at the beginning of the championship that I was too aggressive to manage the tyres, even in these extreme
conditions I showed that I won the race.
Q: Jarno, you made a superb start, but it looked as if when you go to third gear,
they pulled aheadÖ JT: We still have some work to do, but it is definitely nice to be here. It was a challenge when I chose
Toyota, but I chose them for several reasons, for several people and I knew there was a lot of potential in this team. Now, we know
we have to work on the engine, the chassis and the aerodynamics, but we have got tremendous, experienced people like Gascoyne,
Marmorini and lots of highly experienced engineers who can do it for the future. So it is a good boost this first podium, it came at
the right time for the team and at the right place because I believe this race is one of the toughest technically in the heat and is
the second for the engine and it is fantastic for them and I would like to thank all the Panasonic Toyota team members.
What about the tyres in this race? JT: I wanted to manage them a little bit from the beginning, I tried to follow Fernando
for the first 10 laps but then I was thinking I was pulling away from Giancarlo, but I couldnít keep Fernandoís pace so I just
wanted to slow down and take care of the tyres and then mid-race I had such a big gap that the team started to worry me about the
front tyres and I had to slow down. At the end of the race, it is nice to be second and it doesnít matter to get the hassle. Itís
important to get the car to the finish line and to score this first podium
Q: Nick a very good start. Tell us about this
opening lap? NH: It was very important to have a good start. Unfortunately, I only qualified 10th and we were held up already
in Melbourne by the two Red Bulls so I was very happy to get past them and then I was behind Kimi who was on quite a high fuel load
and held me up a bit as well and in the end I was very happy with third position.
Q: What about when you got past Ralf
Schumacher. Tell us about that bit? NH: It was a fight between three cars and that made it even more difficult and more
exciting. I just had to try and judge what was going to happen next and I just got the upper hand in the end and it was very
interesting and it was good fun.
Q: Any other German driver has to live in the shadow of at least one of the Schumacher
brothers, if not both of them, and today you beat them both so how does that feel? NH: I donít drive in Formula One to be
in the limelight, you know, I am quite happy to be in the shadow and finish on the podium.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
(Ian de Cotta, Today) : Alonso, do you think this could be the year you will win the driversí title and be the youngest champion? FA:
Well, it is only the second race and we can not say anything we are in the best position I have been in my career to win the
championship because in 2003 we were competitive in some places and some not and in 2004 we were competitive at the beginning and at
the end we lost the championship and it seems that this year we are the best at the moment in these two races and the team is
programmed to do quite good steps soon in the car and develop the car every two races more or less and if we keep like this for sure
I can have some options.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti, Corriere della Sera): Fernando, you are now leading the world championship and
you are the first Spanish driver in history to do so, what do you feel? FA: Yes, it is a fantastic feeling not just to be the
first Spanish, but just to be the first in the championship, I think to lead the world championship in Formula One is a dream for
any young driver and I reached this at 23 years old and I now only need to finish in this position in the championship. I donít
know where or when but I hope as soon as possible to fight for the championship.
Q (Mike Doodson): Nick, you and your
team-mate Mark Webber looked very closely matched during the race and you got very close at the incident that took out both Mark and
Fisichella. Was there much difference between your cars and where did you have any advantage over him at certain times? NH:
It is quite difficult to say because in the beginning I was three places behind him and I was held up quite a bit by Kimi and when I
was behind Mark I thought I was a bit quicker, but then he was fighting with Fisi so itís hard to judge.
Q: (Mike Doodson):
Did you have an opportunity to judge the incident? NH: I think Mark did a really nice move on Fisi in the second-last corner,
but therefore his exit to the back straight was not that good. It looked like Fisichella had a problem with his car and it didnít
seem to handle very nice and he managed to go just to the inside of the last corner from Mark, but, from my view, it looked like he
braked a bit too late and went straight on. It can happen.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson, Autosport) A question for all three
drivers, do you think you are in a position to stay ahead of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari this season? JT: It is very clear
they are struggling with the package and it is difficult to say what is wrong. I prefer to look at my side and improve my car, but
they were not competitive here and they looked more competitive in Australia. We will see in the next races.
think Ferrari and Michael will be stronger opponents for everybody when they sort out the problems they have now. Maybe, we will
have more problems and we will see races more like last year Ė unfortunately. So, we need to take care of our car and our pace and
performance and now in these days while Ferrari are not so strong, take the first position and the points.
course, it is our goal to stay ahead of Ferrari and to beat all the other teams and the question is how good the new Ferrari car
will be. At the moment, definitely, they are struggling and it is obvious they are not the quickest team anymore like the last
couple of years when they were dominating and I think it is a very different situation for them, they are not used to it and it will
be interesting to see how they handle it.