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Bahrain: Post-Race Press Conference

NEWS STORY
12/03/2006

Fernando, it was close all the way, but a great start, you got up to second place on the first lap.
Fernando Alonso: Yes, the start was good and from there it was a little bit easy to think about the race but about the start maybe was two down on the first lap and then impossible to recover. In the first stint, Michael was too quick, nothing to do. We thought that we had more fuel than the others, especially yesterday in qualifying, up until lap 20 and then from there the car was performing well. We were on a similar pace to Michael and in the second stop, thanks to luck, thanks to the mechanics who did a perfect stop again, I was very close but in front of Michael and from there, I think we had a similar pace again but with me just in front.

It looked to be a bit of a tense time for you going into that second stop when you knew you had to make up time and you were in traffic there.
FA: Yeah, a lot of traffic and I think all the guys were OK to let me past but there were no blue flags at all, so the marshals were not in the race at that moment, but I was lucky enough to be in front of Michael and it was good, it was really nice and a really fun race for me.

How did you drive that last stint with Michael behind you?
FA: At the beginning quite slowly, quite conservatively, because I knew that at the beginning maybe the Michelin tyres were a little bit better and at the end maybe the Bridgestone tyres would be better. So I knew that at the end, the last four or five laps, we would have some problems with Michael, for sure, so I was a little bit conservative and I really conserved the tyres to the end, but at the end, I also had quite a nice gap – one second, one second and a half – and all the last stint was quite relaxed.

Michael, for a while Felipe was second on that first lap but by the end it was Fernando in your mirrors.
Michael Schumacher: Yes, but quite honestly if you think where we were last year, if you see what has happened over the winter time, if somebody would have told us we would finish second in this race we would have been absolutely happy about it and we are honestly happy. It’s eight points, just two down (from the maximum). Victory is certainly always nicer, no doubt. We got pole position yesterday, unfortunately I lost one lap in qualifying where, for traffic reasons I had to back off and I didn’t get the fuel, and if you look at it now, it’s the one lap that I was missing, in a way. Nevertheless, good result, good work from the team, reliable car, fast car, very promising for the rest of the season and good fighting and good racing.

Brilliant second stint from you, a lot of fuel in the car, a long run there and Fernando behind you the whole way.
MS: Yeah. Obviously he was a bit quicker in certain moments. Then I seemed to be able to just open up a little bit and got traffic, close to my pit stop, but nevertheless, you shouldn’t complain. It just goes around one or the other way and it was a good race at the end of the day. I feel a bit sorry for Felipe that he couldn’t take the result of his race but there are many races to go for him.

And how was that phase for you, following Fernando?
MS: You know what it is in Formula One, sitting behind a car, you need to be a lot quicker. When you have equal cars, it’s almost impossible to pass. Once there was a moment with a backmarker, I got a bit closer, I was having a look whether there was an opportunity but then finally it wasn’t close enough to seriously try.

Kimi, from the back of the grid, what a sensational drive from you on a one stop strategy. Talk us through the early phase; you picked up a lot of places very quickly.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think it was a bit disappointing what happened yesterday because the car has been pretty good all weekend and we got a good set-up, especially yesterday morning so starting from the last place, we knew that we had a good chance to score some points, but it really depends on the first few laps and whatever happens during the race but I got quite a few places in the first corner and I was able to follow and overtake people who were lighter, so I got past them during the first stint. We ran quite a bit longer than anyone else so we were able to gain some places and in the end, the Honda came behind me, Jenson, and it was a little bit difficult because I had quite old tyres already which had done many laps, and he was behind me with brand new tyres, so I needed to look out for him and I was able to keep him behind for five laps and then I knew that his new tyres weren’t going to be as good any more so I was able to take it easy and then come home in third place.

But you must feel encouraged by the tremendous speed from you and the car.
KR: Yeah, because we didn’t really know where we were after testing and people said we weren’t very good, but during the last month we really improved our position and when we came here the car was pretty good so it wasn’t surprising, but we didn’t really know where we were. So it was nice to see that we were strong in the race and we could have been very strong in qualifying also.

It looks like it’s going to be a very very close season, Fernando.
FA: Yeah, it will be very interesting. There are four teams fighting for victories at any circuit at the moment: Honda, McLaren, Ferrari and Renault, and I think any of them can win races, and this would make the start of the season, especially, very very interesting.

Press Conference

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