Belgian GP qualifying press conference

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Here in Britain the BBC failed to show the post-qualifying press conference. This was particularly frustrating given we had such an exciting and unpredictable qualifying session. Apparently it was due a rugby match which was on afterwards.

For those who missed it, here’s a transcript of the press conference. BBC have now put the first four questions online (for British users only).

Q: Giancarlo, your best qualifying position this season up to this point was 13th. Only one question to ask you. How did you do it?
Giancarlo Fisichella: I don?t know. It is unbelievable. I did not expect to be on pole position, especially after yesterday. I was sixth and I was quite surprised because there was a lot of understeer and the measurements on the downforce were not good. This morning we went through the problems and the car was much better straight away and in the qualifying session the car was even better than I expected, so I was able to be the quickest in Q1, the fourth quickest in Q2 and pole position in Q3. It is amazing. It is fantastic. I am so happy about that and I need to thank the team as they did a fantastic job. I did not expect that result, so I am really, really happy and really confident for tomorrow.

Q: Jarno, you were quick all through the day; tell us why you think that we?ve got the result that we?ve got this afternoon?
Jarno Trulli: Well, it?s a mystery honestly. We haven?t done anything on the car compared to the last few races and suddenly here we are extremely competitive. We?ve been competitive all the way through while we?ve been setting up the car and it?s great, it?s great for the engineers, for the team and all my mechanics in the team because we?re going through a difficult moment because we don?t understand why sometimes we struggle so much and sometimes we are so quick like today. So it?s a very good day, I?m very confident for tomorrow because as I say, I?ve been running most of the weekend on heavy fuel, so being second in qualifying with a good fuel load, I think I?m going to have a good race tomorrow.

Q: Nick, a poignant result for you with BMW announcing that they are pulling out of F1. What will this mean to you and the whole team?
Nick Heidfeld: It is obviously very important to everyone in the team. We said after BMW decided to pull out that BMW wants to leave on a high and not with what we have shown in the first couple of races. It is even more important for the squad in Hinwil. We are working at the moment on securing the team. It is difficult to say what is going to happen at this moment in time but it is great that we can show that we had a good performance.

Q: Giancarlo, you have picked a great moment for all kinds of reasons to get this result. You have shown what you can do today.
GF: Yes, absolutely. This is one of my favourite circuits. I did well in the past and I was sure to be competitive this year too. But I did not expect, as I told you, to be on pole. It is great. I feel so happy for myself, for the team, for the mechanics and engineers. Everybody did a fantastic job. We did a fantastic step forward, especially from the last race. Considering our budget I did not expect that.

Q: Giancarlo, tell us really what has made the difference.
GF: Obviously the new aero package for this circuit and actually yesterday I was quite surprised to be sixth and the car balance was completely away. We understood the problem this morning. We went through the problem and straight away when we put the car on the ground it was much better. We were confident to be top 15. Like that to be top 10. But to be on pole we did not expect that. In Q1 I was first and in Q2 I was fourth quickest, so we played to do the pole and I am on pole. It is a fantastic result. I am really happy for that and for myself, for the team and for all the mechanics and for the engineers. They did a fantastic job, even in the factory the development has been really good. I could not believe that considering out budget. It is amazing, so thanks to all the team and we need to keep going like that.

Q: There was a bit of an incident this morning when you hit something and damaged the nose. Can you tell us something about that?
GF: It was on the out lap. It was a rabbit. You know what, my engineers told me that in England when you do something with a rabbit it brings you luck. That was true, so next time I will go round the circuit to find some other rabbit.

Q: But it damaged the nose section, didn?t it?
GF: I damaged the nose and we were able to repair it at the end of free practice and for the qualifying session everything was perfect.

Q: Would you say that you are quite aggressively fuelled for tomorrow?
GF: Well, actually I think we are a little bit aggressive. We knew to be top three was important. But don?t forget I was fourth quickest in Q2, so we are not so slow.

Q: Jarno, why do you think this situation is as it is?
JT: It is a good question which none of us can answer at the moment, especially when things go wrong. As when things go right we know that we have got a good car. We always had it from the beginning of the season but we understand that sometimes it just slips away and we are not competitive and we are very bad sometimes. Sometimes it happens through the weekend from one session to another. We came here and straight away we were looking really strong and in qualifying basically I was always topping the time. In Q1 I took it a little bit easy but in Q2 I was again top and I think I did also a very good Q3, so it is looking pretty good for the race and I have to thank the team. I dedicate this to all my mechanics and everybody there as we are going through a difficult moment and sometimes it is hard to not understand what is going on.

Q: Obviously you had new wings here and a little bit of a problem with the back end. How much of a difference have the wings made and did you get the grip that you needed?
JT: We did not really get any special update here, just the downforce and the wing level for this kind of circuit. We took a lot of wing off yesterday and spent most of the time basically balancing the car between the high-speed section and the mid-speed section which normally requires more downforce. The car has been more or less competitive. We made a little change on the car set-up this morning which went in the right direction for better handling and better traction and it is looking pretty good for tomorrow because I spent most of the weekend on race fuel and only qualified on low fuel. I am very happy.

Q: Quite a few of you came in after one lap of Q3 to change tyres. Was there a difference in tyre wear?
JT: It was just a question of limiting time. We couldn?t do two runs. We were only able to do one proper run, so as everybody did, we went out with a set of used tyres just to check the balance and come in for new tyres and do two flying laps.

Q: It was the same thing with you Nick?
NH: Yes. The problem here is that the circuit is so long and you didn?t have enough time.

Q: Having finished six times in 11th, you must be very pleased with third?
NH: Yes, definitely I am. Before I was joking with my number one mechanic. He did show me three and for me it was clear that we would make it into Q3 anyway. I thought that was what he meant. Then I asked him ??do you mean position three or Q3.? Then he laughed and said both and it was great that we managed to be there.

Q: And some new bits on the car here as well?
NH: Yeah, we have a couple of small updates but nothing major. A bigger one is planned for Singapore. I think one reason why it?s a bit more mixed here is that it?s a completely different track. It?s the first time that we?ve used the medium downforce package. Up to this point we?ve usually stuck on the car what we?ve found but here that?s probably why it looks completely different.

Q: And yesterday you said you still had some set-up work to do; presumably that went well this morning?
NH: Yes. Actually, I think from the end of P2 until now we made good progress. We made changes overnight all of which we kept, and then this morning we made another couple of changes and it went pretty smoothly. Of course, from time to time we have traffic, that?s a problem especially in Q1, that?s what happened. In Q2, I wasn?t happy with the set of tyres. We all know that sometimes there are small differences, so I was convinced that Q3 could be quite good.

Questions from the floor

Q: (Marco Degl?Innocenti ?ǣ La Gazzetta dello Sport) Giancarlo, until yesterday it seems that you were dreaming of driving for Ferrari in the last two races. Has that changed something??
NH: You?d better stay where you are, no?
GF: Oh yeah, it?s always a dream for all drivers in Formula One, I think, and even in the other categories, to drive for Ferrari. It?s a dream, especially for an Italian driver like me. So far it?s still a dream and considering today?s result, I need to think about that if they are going to call me. I?m just concentrating on Force India?s season, on tomorrow?s race and then we will see. I don?t want to think anything about the next race, if I am there or at Force India, but I have a contract with Force India and I have had no contact with Ferrari.

Q: (Ian Parkes ?ǣ The Press Association) Giancarlo, congratulations. Obviously it?s an astonishing performance but is any part of today a show to try and help you get that drive with Ferrari?
GF: I have no idea. I know that Luca (Badoer) is last again today and he had an accident but that doesn?t mean anything. He?s still learning and for sure, my result is something that is incredible with a Force India. It?s a great day. As I told you, I want to do the best and just be concentrated on tomorrow?s race.

Q: (Istvan Simon ?ǣ Autopiac) Giancarlo, do you remember when your first pole position was?
GF: My first pole position was in Austria 1998, yes, it was wet; a long time ago.

Q: (Marco Evangelisti ?ǣ Corriere dello Sport) Giancarlo, your team is supposed to have financial trouble for next year. Can this kind of result help the team to go on and what about your own career?
GF: Well yes, there are a lot of rumours about that but for sure being on pole helps any team, so I hope it?s a good help. Our budget is limited compared to most of the other teams but we are doing well. Everything is going well, there is no problem to go ahead. And about my future, it?s too early to say. I didn?t have any contact with other teams and I still haven?t spoken to Force India about next year but today is something that is good to go ahead for the future. I would still like to be a Formula One driver in the future, but obviously I need a car to be competitive, like today.

Q: (Balazs Vajta ?ǣ Autosport Es Formula) This is a question for all three drivers: for tomorrow, do you prefer a wet or dry race, and did you take that into consideration with your fuel loads in qualifying?
NH: I would definitely prefer wet conditions. I enjoy driving in the wet; although I?m starting P3, it would be nice. No, we didn?t take it into consideration for the fuel level. It would have been even more important for downforce level. As I tried yesterday on low downforce, I tried the dry set-up, I was nowhere. You put a little downforce on the car and suddenly it works. We had a small forecast for rain maybe in qualifying which just appeared an hour before qualifying, but we stuck to what we planned and no, we don?t think it will rain.
GF: Well, in my case, considering today it?s going to be better if it?s dry tomorrow, even if yesterday in wet conditions, from what we see, I was the quickest, so in any case I would be happier.
JT: Well, we planned a dry race and we?ve been running mainly in dry conditions, so we prefer to go on dry.

Q: (Ian Parkes ?ǣ The Press Association) Jarno, obviously Toyota have waited such a long time for that first victory. How would you assess your chances going into tomorrow now?
JT: I will just go out and try to do my best. I know that we can win the race and I will really be pushing very, very hard because we need this win, the team needs it.

Q: (Marco Degl?Innocenti ?ǣ La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jarno and Nick, we know that Sauber still want to race, and there are also some rumours about the future of Toyota, so how do you think that your performance and your race tomorrow at Spa could influence your near future?
NH: Well, I think it?s always important to show a good performance. For sure, people look at the performance you do at the moment but you know we have both been in Formula One long enough and we have both fought against very competitive drivers and I think I can speak for both of us, we did beat quite a lot of the good guys who are still in Formula One now. So it can only help. I?m very confident for next season anyway, as I said before, both in talks with other teams before BMW decided to pull out. What I hope more is that this result will help the team to survive for next season. As I said, BMW is pulling out but it doesn?t mean that the Sauber guys in Hinwil will stop. We are all working very hard to secure the future for them.
JT: Well, regarding the situation with the team, obviously a win or a good result will definitely help everyone, everyone in the team for a decision for next year. So far I?m not aware of what?s going on with Toyota but for sure they are keen to stay if they can win races and they can be competitive but as you all know, it?s a deciding moment because in the economic situation they cannot take any decision on the future budget. But we definitely need a good result, especially for the team because I stand by all my mechanics and engineers working in the team with their families etc. They also need a job for next year, so I will go for it tomorrow.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi ?ǣ Tuttosport) A question to both Italian drivers: apart from these results, I don?t think this is a good moment for Italian drivers in Formula One. I mean there are no younger drivers coming in etc. Do you think this result can change the situation?
JT: It?s a crazy season, to be honest. If you look at the season, it changes at every race and sometimes we see competitive cars being slow from one session to another or from one race to another. It?s hard to understand what?s going on. It?s also harder to get a feeling of what will happen. One thing that is certain is that there is a lot of uncertainty in Formula One at the moment, in the teams and in the drivers? market. It?s like that and you just have to play it by ear. We are out there to do our best and we will do it for us and for our team and eventually we will see.
GF: You know last race we didn?t get through Q3 and this race we are first and second. It depends on the car, the situation. I think we show many times how good we are and we have been in Formula One since 1997,1998, so I think we are good enough to be good, to win. It depends on the situation, it depends on the car, that?s all.

Q: (Joris Fioriti ?ǣ AFP) Jarno, you?ve had lots of ups and downs this season; Nick, you?ve had a season way beyond your expectations and Giancarlo, you are definitely coming out of nowhere, so is tomorrow going to be the day when you are going to take your revenge, all three of you?

JT: It?s not a question of revenge, we are out there tomorrow to try to do our best for us and for the team and obviously a podium finish for all three would be a good position, definitely. For me, I think I have another goal, because a podium won?t be enough, especially to make the Japanese happy. They want to win and I want to give them a win and this is all I?m thinking about, so I will try really hard.

NH: The same: it?s nothing to do with revenge. As we all know in Formula One, sometimes, unfortunately, it?s all about the car. You can believe that all three of us here didn?t perform very differently from the beginning of the season, we are the same drivers but the cars just suit the circuit here better, obviously. You always try to do the best, no matter if you?re fighting for tenth or first.

GF: At the beginning of the season, in testing, we were 1.8s/2.0s slower than the leaders and I was quite sad about that, because I was not so confident to have a development like that. Through the season we made a big step forward, they did a fantastic job: today we are on pole. It?s just amazing. As I told you, the car is very important, you need to be lucky, to have a lucky day. Today everything has gone perfectly. In the last race the problem was in the last run and I was 16th but it was possible to get through, even into the top ten. You need to be lucky and focussed.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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3 comments on “Belgian GP qualifying press conference”

  1. cheers keith

    is it me or are the bbc getting a bit slack, did this happen after a race (hungary i think) the red button features (not the pratice etc)seem to have dropped off recently also..

  2. Thanks Keith!!!!

  3. HounslowBusGarage
    29th August 2009, 21:06

    Strange isn’t it? Earlier this season, I think we were all discussing drivers and generally arrived at the conclusion that this trio were approaching their sell-by dates.
    But all of a sudden, here they are at the head of the pack in this fundamentally weird season. Undoubtedly, their success tomorrow (in any order) will increase their attractiveness to the team managers and could keep them all in F1 for another season. and thereby, it could keep up-and-commong drivers out.
    Not saying if that’s a good or bad thing. But if these three are successful tomorrow, there could be three fewer rookies on the grid next year.

Comments are closed.