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European GP: Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
22/08/2008

A question to the drivers: your feelings about the track, safety and any overtaking places?
Fernando Alonso: Well, the track I think is good. Obviously the first day is difficult for everybody to get the braking points especially as it is very hard on brakes. You need to find the braking points as soon as you can and then there are some parts that are very similar. I think going into turn 12 and going to turn 17, the two longest straights, are very similar, so one time I thought I was in turn 17 and I was in turn 12 and I missed the apex and vice-versa. This was P1. In P2 I learned the track a little bit more. It is not easy, quite challenging and also the last sector is quite nice to drive and you need to really concentrate to get the maximum there. We can say that it is not a normal street circuit, it is a little bit more than a street circuit.

Robert Kubica: Well, as Fernando said, a new track is a new challenge for everybody, especially in first free practice. Some drivers did prepare a bit more than the others with simulators and stuff like this but, anyway, it took three or four laps to learn where to go and it is not easy on the braking. There are three or four very long straights which in the end you have heavy braking, so it is a very demanding track in this area. I feel I miss some high speed corners. In the last sector there are some high speed corners but they are flat out easy, so it is a stop-and-go track which is good for me.

Do you think there are overtaking points?
RK Yeah, I mean we have seen in Hockenheim with the hairpin in corner five that once you have very hard braking after a very long straight there are opportunities to overtake as I think everybody misses overtaking in F1. I think here in Valencia we have some opportunities in two places or maybe three. Also it is quite difficult if you are on the same pace or just a bit quicker if someone doesn't make a mistake.

For the team principals: what are your impression of the infrastructure, the facilities and the event itself?
Mario Theissen: I walked the track yesterday and I can tell you it is even more challenging than to do it by car especially in the heat of lunchtime. I think they did a hell of a job. It is very impressive what they have put together here in less than a year. The track, as the drivers said, is not a real street circuit. It is quite fast. You have run-off zones as we haven't seen them on any street circuit so far. I have to say I am really impressed.

Flavio, did you walk the circuit?
Flavio Briatore: No, I was running. I saw the Olympics and I was on the circuit, so I did five kilometres. It was a good run. A little bit warm because it was 1.30 pm. No, we really need to congratulate the people of Valencia for the job they have done. I was here a few months ago and I never believed they would finish the circuit so quickly. The result, like Robert said, is not only the street circuit, it is something more than that. It is an amazing job, really. The ambience is fantastic. This is another good circuit for Formula One with the boats in the harbour, the atmosphere. It is the right way to see Formula One go. I am very impressed with the job done by Valencia.

Flavio, do you feel that Renault are falling a little bit behind with engine development?
FB There is no engine development as far as I know. We have the frozen engine, so I don't think there are any developments. What happened I believe is quite simple. The rule to block the engines last year was first for saving money, economise the engine department, and I believe Renault did what was the principal of the rule. We redid Renault Sport completely. We have 97 people less. For me it is not development at all, it is only a question to have the frozen engine. Maybe we froze a very expensive engine. It costs a lot in maintenance anyway to keep going. If we did not have this kind of rule maybe now we would have an engine at 27,000 revs. We followed the rule completely and if we are behind it is not only the engine, it is the car, the aerodynamics is something different. Like you have seen in the last three months the car has improved and Fernando has done an amazing job in the team to motivate everybody. The idea of the engineers, the federation, everybody was to freeze engines at a certain point, to have basically one per cent up or down or every engine the same. You don't want to penalise somebody for five years, it would be too long. And if somebody was in difficulty because the reliability was not there, I remember at the time McLaren had a problem with that, we are sure the federation should put the right arrangement to make sure the engine finishes the race. This is what we were talking about.

Fernando, good times today. Do you feel you are still climbing up the field this year?
FA Absolutely. I think we started the season not in a perfect way. The first three races I think we were just in Q3, P9 or P10 in Q2. Then in Barcelona we made a step and then we kept improving the car race after race. We are in a position always now to be in the top six in qualifying and always in the points in races. This is something that at the beginning of the season was impossible for us. For sure we are improving, we are climbing and this weekend maybe we will see another step forward hopefully.

Mario, it means more pressure from behind for you. But you have said you want to be getting on terms with the two ahead.
MT Well, it is never nice if you have to look back. We are pushing ahead but what I wanted to express is that we have moved resources from this year's car to next year's car already but we are still developing this year's car and we have some developments in the pipeline for the races to come. We are still pushing ahead. You cannot predict any results, so we will see what we can do.

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