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Canadian GP – Alonso: “maximum concentration”

Ile Notre Dame, 6 June – Facing the media for his usual Thursday meeting, Fernando Alonso was very clear on what he and the Scuderia has to do this weekend. “We were hoping for some consistent results, but in Monaco we did not pick up so many points, so now we need four or five races on the podium or at least very near the podium in order to recover some of the points we have lost,” was his assessment of the challenges that lie ahead in the short term for Ferrari. “All the races are different and unique and this weekend will be a tricky one with the weather conditions. Anything can happen especially in the wet and we saw in qualifying in Monaco, that when the rain came it was chaotic: it means that if you are not on track at the end if the track is drying, or if you have a problem with a yellow flag or you make a small mistake, then you are out. So it will be a case of maximum concentration to do well here and also in the coming races, at Silverstone, Germany and Hungary. So every Thursday it will be a case of saying the same thing, ‘we must score good points.’”

Although he clearly has so much natural talent and ability to count on, the Ferrari man still sees luck as playing a part in the championship. “We have had some unlucky situations this year, like when I had a slight touch in Malaysia which put me out of the race, while we have seen for example Hamilton and Vettel touching in Barcelona and they were both able to continue,” he said. “However, in Monaco it was simply a case of not having the pace. At this stage of the season, we have two more points than last year when we were leading the championship, so in a way we are doing a little bit better than last year. What is not so normal is the amount of points Sebastian (Vettel) has scored in the last six races – a lot! We need to try and finish in front of him, because everyone has bad luck at some point and it will come to him as well. Kimi had his bad luck in Monaco with the accident, so that we are now only five points behind him.”

Every once in a while, Fernando is asked to assess his team-mate and today was one of those occasions: “Felipe is a very talented driver; you don’t get to drive for Ferrari for eight seasons if you don’t have the talent to do it,” began the Spaniard. “Then, there’s the commitment and the hard work with the team, as it’s not just a case of driving on Sundays, as Felipe works hard all year with the engineers in the factory. This year, he has returned to a very competitive level and is really strong and we both work together for the team and the fight for the two championships.”

As for the complicated Canadian track, it has not always delivered for the Ferrari man. “It’s true we’ve never had really great results here,” commented Fernando. “Some of the inconsistency was down to strange circumstances, but it’s a circuit that’s a little bit tricky to understand, as it changes all through the weekend: not just the surface but also the wind can change a lot which affects your braking points, plus there is no room for mistakes, just like at a street circuit with the walls so close, but hopefully this year we can do a bit better.”

Canadian GP – Massa: “an important weekend for us”

Ile Notre Dame, 6 June – There are several aspects of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal that remind one of the “good old days” of Formula 1 and holding the FIA press conference in a tent is certainly one of them! Today, Felipe Massa was one of the six drivers on the panel and the first topic for him was his unfortunate Monaco weekend. “I am one hundred percent fine,” he reassured the media about his physical condition. “The two accidents looked very similar from the outside but were completely different in their cause. In the first one, I locked up over the bumps, went straight on and hit the guard rail, whereas the second one was down to suspension failure. I did have a slight pain in the neck, which is normal if you have two accidents in two days with the impact going in the same direction, but it was only muscular pain and it’s gone now. And my confidence has not been affected by these incidents.”

After a poor showing in the Principality, it goes without saying that the Scuderia is hoping to return to more competitive form. “This is an important weekend for us,” agreed Felipe. “I hope that everyone, me, Fernando and the team, can do well and fight for the podium again.” Asked if there was a specific reason why he has never got a podium in Canada, the Ferrari man had no simple answer. “I don’t know, there’s no particular reason. Last year I was quick, but had a spin, but I do know I will be trying a hundred percent to change that situation this time!” Perhaps that’s why the Brazilian also struggled a bit to remember a “favourite memory” of Montreal, when asked by a local reporter. “Maybe my fourth place in 2004 with Sauber when I had a good race.”

As a few drops of rain began to fall while the conference was in progress, the topic of the experimental Medium Pirellis was raised, as each driver will have a couple of additional sets of these to test in free practice this weekend. “Rain is forecast for the next two days, so I am not sure how useful they will be!” said Felipe. “Even in the dry, this is a difficult track to use for tyre evaluation, particularly because the grip level increases a lot as the weekend goes on, so it might be difficult to draw an accurate conclusion.” Still on the subject of testing, there was a final question regarding the pros and cons of using simulation versus testing on track. “A simulator is useful, but it is just a simulator,” was the Brazilian’s view. “But with real testing on a track, you always understand better what the car is doing.”