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Monaco GP: Post Race press conference

NEWS STORY
27/05/2007

Fernando, many variables as you said after qualifying, but today you started from pole, set fastest lap and set your second successive win here in the Principality.
Fernando Alonso: Yes, it has been a fantastic weekend, no doubt, and to score this hattrick – pole, fastest lap and race win – is something very special and even more so here in Monaco. I enjoyed today's race so much with a perfect car all through the race, and it felt so good to drive such a nice car for 78 laps and win at the end.

Of course, there was pressure from your team-mate Lewis at various stages of the race. You consolidated your lead towards the end of the second stint and then again in the third stint, but he was close to you at the beginning of that third stint.
FA: Yeah, he was. I had maybe a little bit less graining than the other cars in the first stint and I was able to open up a gap and just approaching my stop lap at the first stop, I caught Trulli and I was three laps behind, going two seconds a lap slower. It was unbelievable. I was nine seconds ahead and suddenly I was three seconds ahead. In a way, I think a little of the pressure was coming from the people that sometimes you have an advantage over, sometimes a disadvantage and I had problems in the key moments of the race, unfortunately.

What was the supersoft tyre like, the one with a potential graining problem?
FA: It was OK. I think the most difficult tyre in the end was the first one we put on; in the first stint, everybody had a little bit of graining. The track was probably not in good condition and I think that was the most difficult set of tyres. I think at the end, obviously, we slowed down the pace as well because there was no time to risk any more, so I think the supersoft were able to stay very constant all through the stint as well.

Lewis, keeping up your brilliant record of podium finish in every race so far but very very close to Fernando going into that third stint, and it looked as if you might have touched the guardrail going into Mirabeau.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, I hit the barrier plenty of times in the race and I was fortunate that we've got a solid car. The team has done a good job as usual, and it's strong enough to take the hit. But yeah, we were quick, it's extremely difficult round here trying to follow someone. All weekend both of us have had great pace and it was tough. I tried to get as close as possible and tried to get ahead but... next time, I guess.

Fernando mentioned that he was behind Trulli for a while. You had a very aggressive slice inside Jarno coming out of the swimming pool section.
LH: Yeah, today I think traffic was quite poor. It's always poor in Monaco just because it's so tight, but Fernando would get past someone and then I'd have to wait quite a while until... or have to shout on the radio to get them to put the blue flag out. So it was always tricky. I would gain and then I would lose, more or less, and so that made it extremely difficult but I had to try and be as aggressive as possible but safe at the same time. I needed to come out of this race with as many points as possible.

Going into that third stint you were very close to Fernando. What was your thinking at that point, just to push as hard as you could, perhaps force Fernando into an error?
LH: Yeah, absolutely. I knew that we were both extremely quick, and when you're behind someone you can't follow them that closely, so I knew there would be no way to get so close to him and overtake him. So the only way was to apply pressure and he's a two-time World Champion, he doesn't really make mistakes, so it's extremely difficult. He did a great job as well as the team, as always. We've made a fantastic step forward and as you can see, we were a good step ahead of everyone else today, and that's all due to the hard work the team has done.

Felipe, the only driver not to be lapped by the two McLaren Mercedes today. A big win for your opposition, however, over a minute behind them today.
Felipe Massa: Yeah, McLaren definitely showed incredible pace today. I think that even if I pushed 150 percent on the limit, it would have been the same in the end. They were pretty quick today. There was nothing I could do with them. I could only expect some mistakes or something like that, or maybe a retirement. I was just thinking of finishing third, trying to score as many points as possible. OK, now the gap is a little bit bigger, but five points is nothing in a championship like this, so let's work hard for the next race. The package for this race made it impossible to catch them, so let's try to be in front in the next races.

You had the same fuel as Fernando; where were they quicker than you in that early phase of the race?
FM: Well, in the beginning, I don't think Lewis was very quick. I also think he was a little bit heavier and I was just following him, and Fernando was much quicker than us, so that was really the key to the race for Fernando because he managed to create a gap which was a little bit easier to keep after the pit stop. And for me, I was just running behind Lewis for the first 15 laps without problems, and then I just hit traffic, so it was also very difficult for me. I also stayed a lot behind Trulli, a lot behind Davidson. I think Davidson was even penalised because of that. He was maybe ten laps in front of me. He really destroyed my race against them because they were just pulling away and I was behind the traffic. But anyway, I think the result in the end is quite good for me, for the team and we will keep fighting.

And you had a very different tyre strategy with supersoft in the last two stints. Was that a gamble taken at the time, or was that the plan?
FM: When you see that you have nothing more to put into the car to fight, we just needed to fit another set of tyres and see if we could have a better and quicker car, but in the end, it was similar so it was just the lack of pace we had today.

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