Q&A: Alonso on emotional Valencian win
Fernando Alonso charged from 11th on the grid to take an unlikely win in front of his home fans in Valencia.
The Ferrari driver shared his feelings with the assembled media after the race.
QUESTION: Fernando, well done. Tell us about the pleasure of winning here at home in Spain.
ALONSO: I don’t know what to say really. It’s an amazing feeling. I still can remember Barcelona in 2006 (only previous win in Spain), now, so years after the win. So probably I will have better and better memories of today with time.
Right now, it’s just too many things on my feelings and too many thanks to give to all the team, all the fans, all the support that I felt all weekend. Especially yesterday after the qualifying, you never think that you can do a good result or that you can fight for the podium or something like that. When you find yourself third in the race after the Safety Car, I said: ‘hopefully there is the chequered flag now and I enjoy this podium celebration.’ Two laps later I overtake (Romain) Grosjean on the restart and you think again ‘hopefully the race finishes now’. Then (Sebastian) Vettel stopped and it was a very long race until the end and, yeah, I enjoyed so much this moment. But as I said, difficult to out in words what I’m feeling.
QUESTION: Were you worried that the tyres were going to drop off at the end just as they did in Canada?
ALONSO: No, they did. I was not worried. They did. They did, about eight laps from the end. I said to the team ‘the tyres are finished, we need to do something’. They said: ‘wait one more sector because they are not quicker than you at this moment’. The next sector they were the same as me. So they said: ‘wait one more lap to see how much quicker they are’ and the next lap they were the same time as us. Wait another lap and wait another and then it was three laps from the end and they were in the same lap times and we went until the end. But the tyres were as finished as in Canada but it was for everybody this time.
QUESTION: You mentioned a problem with the car at the end (that resulting in stopping on the slowdown lap). Was that something that was also affecting the closing laps?
ALONSO: No, I don’t think so. The car felt OK and then on the in-lap I had an emergency call to stop the car. So it was feeling OK.
QUESTION: So do you not know what was wrong with the car?
ALONSO: No, I had too many things to enjoy in that moment to ask what happened in the car.
QUESTION: Fernando, the last time that we saw you cry was in Abu Dhabi 2010. Now you have been crying again. Can you explain the atmosphere and the team’s hard work over the past month?
ALONSO: No, it was more for my own feelings and the people in the grandstands. I know it’s not the best time in Spain at the moment, with the crisis and all the problems that people have. To come to a Grand Prix you have to make something extra to come here, so there are families who have made long trips to come here, they sleep in the car or in a caravan or whatever, they try to enjoy the race and yesterday… it’s not that you feel sad, we didn’t deliver what they were probably expecting, so today I think we paid back a little bit – only a little bit – the support that they gave us and all the problems that they are facing, all the worries that the Spanish people are facing at this time, together with the football team – yesterday we saw all the flags in the windows and on the street etc so there is some kind of pride in being Spanish right now with the sport: with (tennis player Rafael) Nadal, with the Spanish football team etc and I felt that I needed to do something and today is a very emotional day.
QUESTION: Fernando, now you obviously believe in this title because of two impressive victories and some luck this year which you haven’t had in other years. Do you believe in this title?
ALONSO: I think we always need to be cautious and we always need to be honest with ourselves first and with our supporters, saying that we will fight, will work day and night to be competitive and to fight for the title which is the ultimate goal for Ferrari. Any championship in which we participate, the championship should be the target, regarding the history and the level of the team. But yesterday we were P11 and P13 so we need to work.
It’s true that we believe and we will never give up, we will have confidence in ourselves and we will arrive with optimism at every Grand Prix we go to, but at the same time, apart from winning today or finishing sixth today, we know that we are not in the position that we want to be and there are a few cars quicker than us and we cannot be blind to that. We need to work.
QUESTION: It was a complicated race, also for you coming from P11 to P1. When you look back at it, was there one key moment, was there one point where you can say ‘if I hadn’t done that, I would not have won this Grand Prix’?
ALONSO: I think there are four or five moments in that race which changed our result. Probably the start and the first lap were very aggressive, nearly touched in the first corner, Turn 4 I think I overtook two cars braking on the outside. That, for sure, maybe changed because we had (Jenson) Button… we were fighting in Turn 1, and then Button was like P14 or something like that. If you finish in his position, maybe the race is more difficult so we were lucky at that moment.
We were lucky in some of the overtaking, I think, with (Pastor) Maldonado and with (Mark) Webber and Michael as well, at the moment we went out of the pits. For sure, Grosjean overtaking me was very risky at the restart. We touched in the first two corners. After we touched each other I felt that the car was not very good. When you have a little contact with someone, for whatever reason you feel that the car is wrong for the next two corners, because you are so worried that something happened and that maybe you convince yourself that something has happened. But then one lap later the times were OK and the car was good. Those were the key moments of the race, plus the last stint, as I said, the tyres were finished so we had to control the tyre wear plus the pressure from Grosjean, the pressure from (Lewis) Hamilton, with Kimi (Raikkonen) at the end – not a single lap to relax, in a way.
QUESTION: Given the roller-coaster of emotions, the fact that you’ve re-taken the World Championship lead, the tyres having gone off, the Spanish situation – how do you rate this victory in your 29 races that you’ve won to date?
ALONSO: I think from the emotional side this is the best one. The emotions that I felt on the in-lap, or during the podium ceremony or right now, I think doesn’t compare to anything before. I confirm that this is the best feeling of victory by far, because the whole situation in Spain, as I said, and the grandstands, the weekend in general, how they support us. In terms of the race itself, or driving, probably they were a little better. We pushed, but as we said, these days races are decided by little factors and today we had retirements from Grosjean then from Vettel. We had the tyres, the Safety Car when we took the opportunity to stop as probably everybody did but we did a stop. I think there are maybe races like this year in Malaysia that I feel more proud of the driving itself.