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Italian GP: Post Qualifying press conference

NEWS STORY
08/09/2007

Fernando, seventh this time this year you've been fastest in qualifying, but finally, for the first time since Monaco, you've been rewarded with the pole.
Fernando Alonso: Yes, I think I've been doing some good qualifying, but always in Q3, the very important laps at the end when you put on new tyres, I always had some problems. I didn't go quick enough to be on pole and I had many second places this year and finally I've got pole position, which, I think, given that we've been very quick all weekend, also last week in the test, so for whatever reason – and thanks to the good job from the team – the car is extremely quick here at Monza this weekend, on this track. We took our opportunity today, in qualifying, showing our pace. Hopefully tomorrow we can do the real job and also finish the race ahead of everybody.

As you say, quick in the test, and carrying that through to the race weekend. What's it been like in the team, the atmosphere on Ferrari's home soil, coming off that Ferrari win in the Turkish Grand Prix, and of course the other outside influences in Formula One at the moment?
FA: I think the team has been quite focused in this race especially, because Turkey has been a little bit of a disappointing weekend and race for us because even if we finished on the podium, we were not quick enough to force the Ferraris all through the weekend. We did a step forward with the car, we put all our effort into this race, to get back on the pace and we did it, so hopefully, slowly, step by step, between here and the end of the championship, the car will continue to improve and be in front of the opponents.

Lewis, it was very close: 22.0s on your second run there, not quite enough to get the pole from Fernando, as a result of which he was able to back off on his second quick run.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, it was quite a good battle we had going on there. It was a good run. The first timed lap wasn't great but I think in that last one I edged a little bit more out of the car but I wasn't one hundred per cent happy with the balance of the car, but nevertheless, we're one-two. It's great for the team. It just shows how hard we've all been working, especially the guys back at the factory. They've done a fantastic job to prepare the aero package that we have here and also Mercedes have done a great job with the engines. We've all put our heads together and again, as you said, it's the fifth time we've had the front row locked out so I hope we can maintain that tomorrow.

We've seen a number of drivers have issues here, particularly under braking. Kimi went off this morning in practice, a couple of drivers spun today. You say the balance isn't right. What's it like to drive Monza now, very high speeds, very heavy braking from high speed?
LH: When you come from a track like Turkey where it's a reasonably high downforce level to here where you have very very little, when you're accelerating, the speed is quite a bit different to what you're used to, and going through these corners with hardly any downforce is quite tough, so you're more relying on the little downforce you have but also the mechanical grip you have, so it's very very challenging, even though it looks quite simple. It's very very technical. I wouldn't say it's the most physically demanding circuit but mentally, you need to make sure you get good exits everywhere, so it is very very challenging.

Felipe, I guess all the Ferrari fans around the world are hoping you are on a very different strategy to the two McLaren-Mercedes drivers.
Felipe Massa: Well, that's difficult to say, we will see tomorrow. For sure McLaren is pretty quick here. It was very difficult to follow them in the sessions, especially in qualifying. They did a fantastic lap. I tried to do my lap. I think it was reasonable but it was missing a little bit in order to be with them. But anyway, it was good to be top three, it's good to start at the front and hopefully tomorrow we can have some surprise, something different, whatever. So I'm really looking forward. The race is long and it's important to start in the front, but for sure today McLaren is pretty strong.

You're coming off that great win in Turkey; obviously a very different circuit here in terms of downforce, set-up, the requirements from the car, but nonetheless amazing how quickly things can change in the balance of power between Ferrari and McLaren.
FM: Yeah, for sure the track is very important, the layout of the track. Sometimes we saw this year that on some tracks we were extremely competitive, extremely fast. On some tracks McLaren was just better, so until now McLaren looks pretty strong. We need to have a big hope tomorrow that our car can be competitive in the race, but you see that many things can change from one track to another.

We hear from Kimi that he caught a bump under braking; what is the car like under braking in terms of high speed into slow corners?
FM: It's not so easy, for sure, when you come from a high downforce track and you just take a lot of downforce out of the car; it's not so easy to have great balance, it's not so easy to have good grip, especially under braking. So these things can happen. For sure, I think Kimi was also a bit unlucky. Maybe he locked the wheels right on the bump; this is not the first time we see this in Formula One. So these things can happen. On this track it's even easier because you have less downforce on the car.

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