Q & A with Fernando Alonso
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, July 24th 2009, 10:08 GMT|
Q. At the Nurburgring you had five fastest laps in a row. What does that mean about the performance of the Renault - do you think with no traffic early on you could have won the race?
Fernando Alonso: Maybe not win the race, but a podium position was maybe a possibility. But the biggest thing was that maybe on Saturday not being in Q3, not being in the top five or top six, I think it was the biggest problem of our race. Without that mistake [in qualifying] maybe we were in a better position.
I don't know, those fastest laps were a surprise for us if I am honest with you. We did improve the car and we were confident in our updates, but to be fastest in the race was a complete surprise. So we need to confirm that pace here. The Nurburgring was very cold conditions, so maybe we had an advantage warming the tyres or whatever. We need to really do here a good race, a good weekend and confirm the good feelings.
Q. You won your first race a lot sooner than Mark Webber. When you win that race, how does it change you as a driver?
FA: Not the driver, but it changes the attention you have around you. After you win your first grand prix, the media attention and the respect from all the other drivers, it changes a little bit. And you will always be a grand prix winner for all your life. It is the same for Mark – after seven or eight years in F1, finally he won in the Nurburgring his first race and that is a step that you need to do before you grow up, and he did it at the Nurburgring. So for me it was the same in 2003, but I was 21 years old.
Q. You were breaking all the records at that time for young drivers. How much was that to do with your age?
FA: I don't know. I was beating the records as a young driver because I started very young. All my career was like this. I know in F1 it is where you have all the attention and everyone knows what you do, but when I was in go karts, when you race in cadets, you are normally between eight and 12-years-old, and I was winning when I was eight. Then you go to the next category – I was 12 and there were people between 12 and 16, and I was winning. Then you go up from there. So all my steps in my career, I was three or four years younger than my main competitors. So when I arrive to F1, it was not a surprise to be racing against all the people – but I know it is the first time you have all the media.
Q. We saw Red Bull Racing was very dominant in the last few races. Do you expect that to be the trend for the next events, or do you think a change in the temperature will make things difference?
FA: It could be different. I think many things can change, because the last two grands prix were very cold. At the Nurburgring there was also some rain, so they were not normal races. I think here will be a much more normal scenario, even if I still think that Red Bull Racing will be the quickest car here as well. But maybe the difference is not so big and Brawn can fight back for the victory. We need to see many things this weekend – also McLaren improved a lot, Toyota is quick always, Williams are there and Force India is not slow any more. It will be a very interesting weekend.
Q. Is Jenson Button still the favourite?
FA: For me yes. I think the 20 points gap is quite a big gap. It is true that Red Bull Racing finished 1-2 in the last two grands prix, but this is not a normal thing. They cannot finish always 1-2. Always something happens in the races, so Jenson has a good margin there and if I was to bet, I would bet on Jenson at the moment. But over the next three or four grands prix we will see a better picture of whether Brawn GP can still win races.
Q. Jaime Alguersuari will have his first race in a Formula 1 car this weekend. Having not driven one properly before, coming into a new team in the middle of the season, does it give him a fair chance?
FA: I think there is always a chance. When you have the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car, how can you say no? It is not possible. It is a big opportunity, the opportunity of your life, and you need to take it. Also, in a way, the Fridays of the last two championships have been test sessions. We have more or less free engines, four sets of tyres, so we can do a lot of laps on Fridays. Obviously he will not arrive 100 per cent for this race, but it is a great opportunity and hopefully in a very short time he will be 100 per cent.
Q. Does the performance of the Renault at the last race cloud the picture about your future plans?
Q. Because you did win so much and won so much as a youngster, do you see yourself leaving the sport earlier than in the days like Nigel Mansell winning the world championship at 38?
FA: Well, it is something that I am not clear about. I started when I was 19, so racing until 38 or 39 is quite a long time. If you enjoy F1 like Rubens is doing at the moment, he is not young any more but he is still loving F1 so he is still racing. I need to arrive at that time, when I am 34 or 35, and if I still love the sport then I will continue. If I am happy with my career until that moment, and I want to change my life, then I will retire. But that is something you need to have the feeling for then. It is not a decision you make now, it is a decision that your body will tell you.
Q. After this grand prix a lot of teams will switch focus onto next year's cars. How much are you thinking about this year, and how much are you thinking about next year?
FA: For next year it is important that the teams start to prepare the cars, because we saw this year that teams like McLaren, Ferrari and Renault that pushed until the last moment last season, this year they are a little bit off the pace. All the teams will start quite quickly on next year. For me, I think there is not much to think about next year. It is all about racing, it is all about the seven races remaining for this year, concentrating on driving as smooth as possible, get some podiums and good results this year. It is more about the teams concentrating on next year, for drivers it is about living in the present, living the moment, now.