10 September: Belgian Grand Prix - FIA Post Qualifying Press Conference
Juan Pablo MONTOYA (McLaren), 1m46.391s 2. Kimi RńIKK÷NEN (McLaren), 1m46.440s 3. Giancarlo FISICHELLA (Renault), 1m46.497
Q: Juan Pablo, heading McLarenís first one-two in qualifying since Imola 2001 with your first pole for
the team (NB: JPM was handed pole in Italy due to KRís engine change penalty) and what a place to do it. Juan Pablo MONTOYA:
Yeah, in the last race I was lucky to get on pole because Kimi had a penalty but it was nice to get the first proper pole this year.
It is good. The car worked well. Yesterday we had a problem and I couldnít do any running, the second session was washed out and
the first we had to change the engine, but it was lucky enough that they decided to change the engine before we even started the
practice so I lost the practice but it didnít cost us much and I think it was quite good. I am pretty pleased. The car behaved
well and I think it behaved a little better than expected so that was good.
Q: It looked a beautifully smooth lap. JPM:
It was a clean lap. I had a reference to my practice time and before I got into the chicane I had a bit more than I needed.
A few umbrellas coming up towards the end there. Were there any doubts or problems with the weather in your mind as you went out? JPM:
Well, it was quite funny. I went to put my helmet on to get into the car and as I was doing that it started to drop as Trulli was
starting his lap and I thought Ďoh, typical, we finally get a good qualifying spot and it is going to vanishí. But the weather
held out pretty surprisingly to be honest.
Q: Kimi, in terms of your championship position and what you need to do this
weekend to win, it looks very strong for your team. Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, it is good for the team. It was a bit difficult
this weekend to find the perfect set-up but it was better than in the morning. In the morning the car went off on new tyres and I
didnít want to do it again, so it was okay. Second place is a good place to start and we will try to work from there.
There were surprisingly close lap times here if you look at Toyota and Renault, they are very close to you. KR: Yeah, but letís
wait and see what happens in the race. It could turn out to be not as close as it looks.
Q: Giancarlo, sadly you will get a
ten place drop on the grid because of that engine change before qualifying. Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Yeah, unfortunately we did
an engine change just before the qualifying session. There was some possibility to keep the same engine but unfortunately at the end
they decided to change it. I am a bit disappointed for that especially considering that for my qualifying lap I am pretty happy
because I did a good lap, the car was better than this morning. I have a good potential to recover some positions tomorrow, I have a
good speed and I think it would be nice to get on the podium again. I will try all my best because the last race was good for me.
Where do you see the Renault and McLaren pace comparing tomorrow? GF: Well, considering in the last few races McLaren were
stronger than us, I think we have maybe a different strategy, but you never know. The car looks alright here. We expected to be much
slower than McLaren and we are quite close, so I think tomorrow is going to be a very interesting race.
Q: Juan, as we have
seen it is very unpredictable weather here in the Ardennes mountains. It could rain tomorrow, what are your thoughts on a wet race? JPM:
I wouldnít mind, especially as we are starting in front. If you had a bad qualifying, for instance if it had rained badly before I
went out, it would have been a disaster because going down into the turn after Eau Rouge, if you are behind P4 you cannot see
anything. It would be quite entertaining, actually, in the wet.
Q: Juan Pablo, two poles in
seven days; all youíve seen is the number oneÖ JPM: Yeah, you know itís kind of interesting. The car behaved well,
surprisingly well and I was very concerned before going into qualifying, first because of the weather and secondly because the
balance wasnít so good and my pace wasnít that special either. So I was a little bit worried but I went out to qualify and it
behaved quite nicely so I was very glad, to be honest.
Q: But having said that, you werenít actually fastest in any of
the sectors. JPM: No, but look at Giancarlo for example, you look at his speed, he took the entire wing off so heís very
quick in the first sector and other people did the opposite. Other people put on a lot of downforce, probably like Trulli and he was
very quick in the middle sector, but he was still slow on the straight so I think McLaren really did a good job in finding the
balance between top speed and grip.
Q: Is it easier or worse having your team-mate starting alongside you tomorrow? JPM:
It is going to be interesting. I think Iím in a position to still help the team. Kimiís still got a possibility for the
championship so if I have a chance to help him tomorrow, I will help him again.
Q: Kimi, Juan Pablo had a problem with the
engine and had to change the engine; does that worry you at all? KR: No, I think they found the problem that they had in the
last race and they decided to change the engine to make sure that it doesnít happen again.
Q: You were very quick in the
final sector; how did you feel about the other two sectors? KR: It was okay. I was not really on the limit so second place is
fine for the race. I think we have a good chance to have a good result for the team and that is what we need now. I need to try to
get good results for the championship, try to have some chance to win it, but this is the best possible way to go for this race.
Obviously nobody ran on dry tyres yesterday afternoon. How much of a gamble was the choice of tyres? KR: I think for us it
was quite clear. The only problem was to find a good set-up for the car and it hasnít been perfect today, but also for me the
set-up was pretty good in qualifying, so I am very happy with the car now so we will just have to wait and see what happens in the
Q: Giancarlo, same question for you really, because at least they had the luxury of a third driver yesterday to help
with the tyre choice whereas you didnít. How much of a gamble has your tyre choice been? GF: It was quite difficult,
especially this morning. We did just three laps of running with the two different compounds and that is not enough to make a choice
for the race. It is really important to have a third driver running on Friday. Anyway, we havenít got the possibility but I think
we made a good choice and a nice job today.
Q: You were very quick in the first sector Ė as Juan Pablo pointed out,
perhaps a little less wing Ė 0.6s down in the second sector. Is that roughly the story? GF: Yeah, we tried to keep the same
engine as Monza until the last moment to see if it was okay to run with it in the race but unfortunately it was too damaged inside,
so just before the qualifying session we changed the engine. Because of that, we lose ten places straight away. Itís better to go
with low downforce to have good speed and have the possibility tomorrow to overtake some cars because we have a good potential and I
think if everything is going to be alright we can score lots of points. I would like to get on the podium again.
yesterday in the press conference, people were talking about Fisichellaís bad luck. Do you see it as that? GF: What can I
say? It is just that, because the team is pushing on both cars. Like Kimi is fighting for the championship and he usually has more
problems than Juan Pablo. I think itís just bad luck and I hope to have better luck tomorrow.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
(Andrea Cremonesi Ė La Gazzetta dello Sport) For all of you, the weather forecast seems not good for tomorrow. Did you work on the
car set-up taking that into account? JPM: In my opinion you cannot really do too much about it. We had dry qualifying today
and the qualifying is probably the most important thing. I think there is always a balance of how much wing you carry and how much
you donít. It is not 100 percent guarantee that itís going to rain so at the moment, our best bet was to go full dry and I think
thatís where we are. But even like this, when you fit wet tyres the car at the moment behaves quite well, so I donít worry about
it to be honest.
Q: So there is not much difference, Kimi, between the dry and wet settings? KR: Not really. Of
course there are some little things which you can change, but our car seems to be pretty good. If you just go out on wet tyres it is
working well enough so itís always a gamble to see how the weather is, especially here. They were expecting to have a bad day
today but it has been brilliant so letís wait and see tomorrow.
Q: Giancarlo, a low downforce setting doesnít sound so
good for the wet. GF: Considering the levels of downforce it is better if it is dry because it is going to be a difficult
race for me if it is wet. You know, in wet conditions I usually feel comfortable. I did my first pole position in wet conditions; I
won in Brazil when it was wet so itís going to be alright even if itís wet; a bit difficult for me but itís going to be
Q: (Heikki Kulta Ė Turun Sanomat) Kimi, last year you won from tenth on the grid, is it now easier from the
front row with a helpful team-mate? KR: It is never easy to win. We will try to have a good race for the team. We are in a
much stronger position than we were last year. But the race is very long and so many things can happen: the weather first of all and
then we need to get through the first corners to be able to fight for a win so we will just try to do the best we can and hopefully
everything works well.
Q: (Pascal Dro Ė Auto Plus) Do you expect some very different fuel load strategies for tomorrow? JPM:
You always see different fuel strategies. Itís hard to say. With this track you use a lot of fuel per lap so it probably wonít
be as different as other places but you always see different strategies. Itís normal.
Q: Giancarlo? GF: It is
difficult to say. You know, from the middle of the season McLaren was much stronger than us and they were consistently longer than
us in qualifying and for the first stint in the race. Presumably they are even heavier than us but our potential is quite good here.
The car balance looks alright and I think we are better than we expected.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi Ė La Gazzetta dello Sport)
Kimi, you used to do a long first stint. We saw it in Monza and even when you have to come back from the other position in France
and Silverstone. Do you think we expect something like this tomorrow? KR: It really depends what the other teams are doing.
We are in a strong position but it is too early to say really, where we are going to end up after the first pit stops and how long
we are going to run against the others because nobody knows.