Q & A with Stefano Domenicali
|By Jonathan Noble||Sunday, April 26th 2009, 17:12 GMT|
Q. You scored your first points here, but is it a genuine improvement?
Stefano Domenicali: Well, the first point was the minimum step we should have done today. Unfortunately we should have done a step with two cars. When you start the race and you see our cars touch at the first corner, you say: mamma mia! It is really difficult.
In terms of performance, I think what we have seen is that during the race the pace was not too bad. Above all, if you look at the situation with Felipe who had the problem, came in and had to put the fuel in, he was stuck in the middle of traffic. But when he was clear he was pretty fast. He was much quicker than the ones in front of him with low fuel - also Kimi with the soft tyre was not so bad at all. So I think generally speaking the improvement of performance was there – even if I need to say that it is not enough.
What we have seen today for example is something that was for sure in the right direction, but if you look at the pace of Lewis Hamilton at McLaren it was really good. So they did a good step, and that is why when we are speaking about the development of the car, we need to make sure that we are not focused only underneath the car [with the diffuser] because this will be wrong.
I think that the improvement of the performance of the car has to be taken all around it, because that is what we have seen from McLaren and Red Bull – they did a great car. We need to make sure that all the things we have to do in terms of improving the performance is 360 degrees around the car.
Q. What are the drivers saying are the weak point of the car?
SD: Lack of grip. That is the biggest problem we have for the moment.
Q. Mechanical as well as aero?
SD: Mainly aero.
Q. That was one of the best performances from Kimi for a long time, a fantastic Q1 and Q2, although unlucky with the tyres in Q3. And in the race he was incredible.
SD: Yes, I think Kimi did a really great weekend. He performed very, very well, and this is what we are looking for also for the future. Now what we have to do is bring much more performance to our cars, and if we give them the car it has to be reliable first of all, then I am sure that we have all the elements to come back.
Q. How important psychologically was it to get some points on the board?
SD: Well, I think for sure it is a very important point. It was a breath of air that we needed at this moment, with the pressure that we had. We need to keep our feet on the ground. It was the minimum that we could have done today, so we need to make sure that we solve all the issues we have. At least we know what we have to do, but again it was important to arrive at the chequered flag.
Q. Did you speak to Luca di Montezemolo, and what were his thoughts?
SD: Sure. I think that it was very important for him to be here, as least for us to feel that he is very close to us in this difficult moment. We know our responsibility and he is here to push us to do the right thing, with a positive pressure I must say. We discussed a lot of things. I keep him informed every time on everything, so it is not only when he is here it is also when he is home in the different part of the world, because he has a lot of things to do. He relies on the group and he is very important for us.
Q. Speaking of your president, he flies in to watch the race and your two cars collide at the first corner. What were your feelings when that happened?
SD: Honestly, it is worse than that, because when we were in the garage before starting we had a problem on the telemetry on Felipe's car – so we said 'Mamma Mia, it is going to be another difficult Sunday.'
So with this telemetry problem we were completely blind. We were asking Felipe to check some parameters on his own because we could not see on the telemetry – we did a fantastic job together to make sure that we were able to manage the car in those conditions. On top of that we had the KERS that was not working for him at the start and it was on and off during the race – because maybe it was a problem of the temperature or some other things. So considering what happened he had a good race.
Q. How big a step will you bring to Spain?
SD: Well, we know that the step at least in comparison of our situation should be very good. But we don't know what the others are doing. We need to be very cool and we know we will have a different car, that will for sure be better than the car we have now, but to say that it will be really the step, big step or small step, we need to see where the others will be because for sure they will not be asleep.
Q. Do you know what happened at Kimi's last pitstop?
SD: Unfortunately we could have, I believe, fight for fifth place but we had a problem with the flange. It started rotating, so it took a little bit more time. That cost him to get out in front of Rubens.
Q. You've talked about the Spanish Grand Prix. How critical does that race come to your season?
SD: For sure it is an important race. First of all, because we should have the first step in terms of improvement of the car – but I don't want to say that Spain is the last chance. This is not the case. For sure it will be important but not vital.