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San Marino GP - Post-Race Press Conference

NEWS STORY
24/04/2005

Q: Fernando, what a blistering final 11 laps of the race, talk us through those closing stages?
Fernando Alonso: It was probably one of the best fights I have had. I knew that Michael was more than one second faster than me so my only chance was to hold him up a little bit in the middle of the corners and then to be on the throttle a little bit earlier than him, just to have this little space for the straight and it worked well. We had a two or three corners where we were very close, and I was doing my maximum. The tyres and the car were not performing perfectly and I knew that.

Q: In the very closing stages of the race, you were quite close to slower traffic in front of you and it looked as though you were matching their pace, perhaps staying back from the traffic.
FA: Yes, the last ten laps I had the Red Bull and the Williams in front and I was hoping not to catch them because maybe I would lose a little bit of downforce and Michael may be able to overtake me. So in the really slow chicanes and in the slow corners I was braking more than normal, maybe, just to protect my rear tyres and just to keep a gap if possible.

Q: Was there ever a moment when a small voice said in your mind ‘settle for second place, don’t make a race of this, you’re leading the championship?’
FA: No. (Laughter) I was always hoping for the win after Kimi retired and I had only one picture for the race, that I was winning the race. I was ready to fight for the last laps, I really wanted the victory here.

Q: Michael, what a day, from 13th on the grid, obviously slowed down a lot in traffic but once they came in for their earlier pit stops – you had a longer first stint – the race became yours.
Michael Schumacher: Yeah, indeed, that was obviously the strategy due to the weather conditions and position we had been after yesterday’s qualifying. I am happy in one way for the race, I’m obviously quite excited but naturally, on the other hand, I’m a bit disappointed after what happened to me this morning. If you think what would have happened if this didn’t happen it would have been the perfect day for us. But here you go, we have second place, we have stunning pace and performance, that’s what we take out of this race after a tremendous effort and work from everyone in the team: test team, engineers, test drivers, Luca Badoer, Marc Gene. Everyone was just flat-out working on the limit and it paid out. I have to say a big big thank you to Bridgestone who have suffered at the start of the season from some (bad) publicity and I think they get back some very good ones pretty soon. This was the first step and there is more to come.

Q: Tell us what did happen this morning when you went wide at Rivazza in qualifying?
MS: Basically something similar to what happened to me on Friday during free practice. There is a little bump into this corner and due to the fact that we have a heavier fuel load we brake a bit earlier and I just hit this bump, heavily enough to unload the front wheel and you’re on maximum brake pressure and it just locked up and once it is locked you are just lost, you cannot really recover. I don’t think that is an excuse, that is just the facts. I am disappointed that it happened to me. In one way I should not be too worried because I don’t do too many mistakes, but one is enough and it is a sad one.

Q: You passed Jenson in very spectacular fashion at the Variante Alta, but did you have any thoughts about overtaking Fernando in those closing stages? Were you looking at a specific place or just waiting for an opportunity?
MS: I was helped a little bit by the two Williams guys, who did a… I don’t know what they did to each other into Acque Minerale, they put some dust on the circuit at some stage, and Jenson just slipped on the dust, which gave me a run at him. Otherwise I don’t think it would have been possible. With Fernando it was slightly different, because he struggled with his performance in a way and he was not that quick any more in the acceleration areas. I had a couple of areas where I thought I could have had a go but it wasn’t quite enough to finally do it. I tried, we got very close in a couple of corners, but he did a great race and did not make mistakes but that is why he won the race and I got second.

Q: Jenson, switching to you, great to finally be on the podium.
Jenson Button: Yeah, definitely. It has been a tough few races for us already this season. It’s the same sort of situation that Michael’s been in. We have all worked so hard since the last race to turn things around and we have. We are not yet on the same pace as Ferrari but they have done a fantastic job. I know they have been working night and day to turn this car around and I would just like to say thank-you to them, because it is a different car and I’m very positive that we can keep making these improvements throughout the year.

Q: How did your pace early on compare with Fernando’s?
JB: We were suffering a little bit with our fuel load. When the fuel load got a bit lower we were very competitive. I don’t know if Alonso was slowing down but I was able to catch him a little bit towards the end of the stints. But as soon as we put the fuel back in we were struggling again. It doesn’t matter any more. I’m very happy to be here on the podium. We have got so much information from this race, it is the first one we have finished this year and so it is great to be back on the podium and I think we are going to be strong when we arrive in Barcelona.

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