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Australian GP: Post-Qualifying Press Conference

NEWS STORY
01/04/2006

Jenson, your third pole, tell us about that last 20 minutes?
Jenson Button: Manic. The whole day’s been pretty manic with the weather but we were a little bit off the pace when qualifying started. We were really struggling for grip so to finally get this pole position is fantastic and it shows how keeping relaxed – the whole team – and very very focused that we were able to get the pole position. So it’s fantastic and it’s great for the team. Honda have done a fantastic job over the last few weeks and it’s good to repay (them) with a pole position. I know it’s not the end result but it’s a good start.

You can’t do a lot to the car once the qualifying session begins, so how did you work on that problem?
JB: Well, it was working with the diff (differential), the TC (traction control), the tyre pressures, the front wing. There are so many little things that you can change that do help and it was really just playing around with that because we haven’t had any practice in the dry, really, over the last couple of days. So it worked and I’ve got to thank the team for that. They did a great job.

Giancarlo, keeping the momentum going after a great Malaysian Grand Prix. You set the lap time right at the end there, but you looked competitive throughout the one hour session?
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yeah. Unfortunately yesterday I had a problem with the engine and we lost good time to improve the set-up and overnight we made some changes. Yes, the car was better but it would have been good to run a little bit more yesterday. Anyway, at the end of the qualifying session the car balance was quite good. On the second lap we were quicker because there was better grip from the tyres but unfortunately I made a couple of mistakes in the first part of the circuit but apart from that I’m really happy and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We’ve got great pace for the race.

Very close race between you and Jenson into the first corner in Malaysia, could be the same story tomorrow?
GF: Yeah, it could be the same story. I’m second, he is the leader at the moment, but I think if we start as usual, we can do a great start and the target is to be first into the first corner. It’s not easy but I will do my best.

Fernando, you said yesterday how important it was to be on the first two rows of the grid here in Australia, and there you are on the second row?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it’s OK, maybe a little bit frustrating because I didn’t manage to complete the lap. I think a Sauber, Heidfeld, was in front of me. Unfortunately he made a mistake in turn 13 and then I caught him very quickly for the last two corners and I lost half a second, I think, in the last sector. But even with that, I think the car performed very well. I’m really happy with the balance so for the race we should be extremely competitive so let’s wait and see.

The guy on your right looks very fast; what are your thoughts on strategy tomorrow in terms of where you are and indeed where Honda may be on fuel load?
FA: I think we should be similar. We will see tomorrow but in the last couple of races we are not much different and without this traffic problem, we should have set quite similar lap times so I guess the strategies will not be too different.

Jenson, turning back to you, you’ve always said how much you enjoy this new qualifying system in 2006 and this one had it all: rain, traffic, accidents?
JB: Yes, it did. It was a very hectic session and I’m sure that the fans really enjoyed it. It was mad for us. Trying to get a lap time in was very difficult but we did it in the end and as I said, it’s a special feeling being on pole here.

Press Conference

Jenson, your feelings after that and looking forward to the race tomorrow?
JB: I’m still shaking with the excitement. It was a manic session: the first one with a red flag and the second one with a red flag, it was really difficult to stay calm. But to get the lap in at the end was a great feeling. The car felt very good, very good actually, on the new tyres. It was a little bit unexpected after the first two runs in qualifying one and qualifying two, but it’s good, and I am very happy with it. I still don’t know about the race. I haven’t really done that much long race pace but I’m sure it will be good.

You had a brief off in Q1 as well.
JB: Yeah. I’ve been going off a lot this weekend. I went off twice yesterday as well. It’s bit unusual but the conditions have just been so tricky out there: it’s very very windy, it’s very very low grip so to make a mistake is very easy. It’s bumpy as well so it’s tough.

Your teammate had some sort of a problem, I don’t know what it was. Did you have any idea what was happening with him and did you have any similar problem?
JB: I think his problem was just no tyre temperature - I think, but I will have to wait to get back and find out but I think that was the issue.

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