Post-qualifying press conference - Britain 10 Jul 2004
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m18.233s; 2nd Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1m18.305s; 3rd Jenson Button (BAR), 1m18.580s.
Q: Kimi, it didnt seem to be too long ago that you were midfield with the MP4-19, now we have the 19B. The car is obviously a quantum leap forward.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, definitely. Since we ran it the first time here in testing it was straight away better and hopefully we start to get results now. I think in the last race we had the potential. This weekend has been very good. The car is good to drive and hopefully we can score a good result.
Q: Well, you were quickest yesterday afternoon, quickest in the two sessions this morning, its looking very, very good for you.
KR: Yeah, the balance has been good all the way through the weekend and what can I say? I am very happy for me and for the team because we had a very difficult start to the season so its good to finally get some results and it is just the first few races now with the new car and Im sure we can improve and made it even quicker, so Im looking forward to the rest of the season.
Q: As it happened, it didnt rain in qualifying. Do you think where you went out for qualifying hurt you? Do you think you could have gone even quicker if you had gone out at the end?
KR: I dont think so. It didnt make any difference.
Q: Rubens, another good performance at Silverstone. You are very good here - youve out-qualified Michael (Schumacher) four out of the five times you have been driving for Ferrari at Silverstone. How has your weekend been so far?
Rubens BARRICHELLO: It has been quite good. The car has been working fantastically well. We were on a very good lap in qualifying. I think sector one was magic, I really enjoyed that. Then the car maybe started to slide a little bit more towards the end of the lap and I lost time into sector three. A little bit more would have been enough, but even so it was a good lap.
Q: Sliding towards the end of the lap, does that have any meaning for the race tomorrow in terms of how the handling is going to go?
RB: In terms of race pace we were quite good this morning and it was on the new tyres we had to make a compromise but on the used set it seems that the car is just getting better so that is quite promising for tomorrow.
Q: Jenson, a dramatic build-up to your qualifying run. First of us all talk us through those last few minutes while you were putting on your helmet, the storm clouds were building up, twenty minutes to go, five cars to run in that last batch.
Jenson BUTTON: Yeah, it was a bit of a close one to call really but I think strategy-wise we did very well with the weather and it is good to be in the top three here. Obviously we wanted to be on pole, but its a good position to start the race tomorrow and I am looking forward to it.
Q: The team seemed to be saying yesterday they werent incredibly happy with the handling of the car at that point. Where are you at now with the chassis and how do you think things are going to go tomorrow?
JB: Well the balance is a lot better than yesterday. We are still not exactly where we would like to be but it has improved over the last two test sessions today so that puts us in good shape for tomorrow.
Q: Talk us through that qualifying lap - how did it go from your point of view?
JB: It was okay. It is very windy; it is the same for all of us and in Becketts I had a very good run through and the car was very good. But when I got to some other high-speed parts of the circuit I found the car was very different there. I could only put it down to the wind really. But it wasnt a bad lap so I am reasonably happy with it. There wasnt much more left in the car.
Q: Kimi, how do you see the race going tomorrow, particularly if the weather is changeable?
KR: A few years ago we had a very difficult race here, it was raining and then clearing up and there were all sorts of different conditions. It will make it more difficult for everyone. Im not sure where we are standing against the Bridgestone runners right now because I dont remember when I used them last time. I think they are definitely stronger or better than last year but it also depends on how much it rains. We need to see how it goes tomorrow. We should have a strong car in the race and we are expecting to have a good result.
Q: Kimi, it has been a tough year so far but you are finally back on pole again. What does this mean to you?
KR: Of course, it is nice to be in first place, especially after the start of the season being so difficult and not really finishing the races and scoring points, so it is very good for me and the team and we are very happy.
Q: Can you win tomorrow?
KR: We try. That is why we are here. I think the car, definitely, is much stronger in the race than the old one and we were quick in the last race.
Q: Have you managed to compare it to Ferrari, to BAR and to Renault?
KR: No, not really, only what we have seen in the last race and, okay, in the practice here but it is always different in the race. So we need to wait and see what happens.
Q: Do you think changeable conditions would help you tomorrow?
KR: No idea. We will do the best that we can in all the conditions and we just need to play it how it comes.
Q: In that qualifying lap it was interesting because you werent quick in the first sector but the sectors got better and better. Do you think you could have actually gone quicker?
KR: I think so. You always can go a little bit quicker when you have a second chance but it was a pretty good lap. In the first sector we have not been as quick as maybe the Ferrari or some others but the middle sector has been good for us and now the last sector was also. You dont need to be, obviously, the quickest in all the sectors.
Q: Rubens, it was an interesting pre-qualifying - what happened there?
RB: Well, we heard that it could well rain in the middle of the session so, I mean, what is the point of not going out and show everyone that we were intending to go a little bit earlier into the session? So we had to go out, we had a plan to slow down but at least I think we have done, in a way, you know, because there was a strategy behind it. I mean, with people starting to brake in the middle of the line and you were getting beat by the others. If that was the strategy you were showing it to people. At least we did it in a good way.
Q: Ross Brawn said he didnt think at one time you would be on pole so was second a bit of a surprise for Ferrari?
RB: Not really. For me I was really feeling good the whole way through. The car started to slide a little bit more towards the end of the lap and I finished on a 20.0 on sector three while Kimi did a 19.6, so that was where I lost, you know.
Q: Do you think you lost out much by going relatively early?
RB: Well, no. Remember, I qualified on pole by being first (out in the session) last year so I dont think it makes a huge difference in this racetrack.
Q: And thoughts about the race itself?
RB: Very good. The car has been going quite well on full tanks and everything so the tyres have been holding on quite well. We need to see the weather, how it will be, and hopefully we can try to have a good race, try to get the maximum out of it and who knows, to win the race would be lovely.
Q: Jenson, third on the grid, you are obviously happy with that but are you in some ways a bit disappointed as well?
JB: Well, it is difficult to know where everyone is before qualifying and we still dont. Because, in testing, McLaren seemed very quick but we werent sure if that was their real pace but obviously they have shown that whatever they are running it is still a very quick lap time. I am reasonably happy, we are still not 100 percent with the balance but the car is working pretty well.
Q: I was going to say, sum up the weekend so far for you.
JB: It has been very relaxed actually. It has been the most relaxed race this year for me, which is a little bit strange. But it has been good for us. We have had a lot of laps. We were a little bit disappointed that Anthony wasnt able to complete his run yesterday and that made the tyre choice a little bit more difficult for us, but even so, third on the grid is good, you know, there is a lot of opportunities from third on the grid so I am very happy.
Q: One little mystery that you can clear up can you tell us about your helmet colours this weekend?
JB: Erm, they forgot to paint the blue on!
Q: You have all had new helmets, havent you?
JB: That was at Magny-Cours, but I originally did this helmet for Magny-Cours to support the England football team but obviously it wasnt I didnt use it there because it would have been a bit embarrassing. But it is a change. We are in England so I have the St Georges Cross. I am English.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bob Bull BBC Three Counties Radio) Jenson, you clearly had a different attitude to the first qualifying to the rest of the teams you went out and went for the lap. Were you confident, then, about the weather holding or were you just gambling on that?
JB: We thought it was going to rain at the start of second qualifying initially and then we heard that it was going to go by us and not actually rain on the circuit, so we thought we would go for it and that was the safest bet really because as soon as you start messing around and go slower other people see it and you end up where you started anyway.
Q: (Bob Bull BBC Three Counties Radio) Were you happy at the end of the first session than you were you beginning of it? Were you beginning to worry at that stage that the weather might change?
JB: No, I mean, there were clouds over but they had been over for about 15 or 20 minutes so if they held off for that long we thought they might do for the end. And it didnt rain, so
Q: (Bob Bull BBC Three Counties Radio) Nobody knows Silverstone better than you?
JB: Theres probably a few. I am not that experienced.
Q: (Matt Bishop F1 Racing) For all the drivers, it would appear that many of the cars were not driven at a fully competitive speed in the first qualifying session for tactical reasons. Do you think such tactics are consistent with the thought by most people that Formula One needs to entertain the paying spectator and might even such tactics contravene article 151c of the FIA sporting code which outrules, and I quote, any act prejudicial to the interests of motorsport generally
Q: (Bob Constanduros) Who would like to start off with that one? (Laughter)
JB: Shall I start? I didnt know about that. Yeah, we did, of course we did, that is why we didnt slow down. But it is difficult for the crowds. It is pre-qualifying, it isnt actually qualifying, but when all the cars are slowing down its not too exciting for them. But then we are in Britain and a Briton did go quickest, so it is a difficult one.
Q: Kimi, do you think it is the right thing to do? Do you think it is good for the spectators?
KR: I think the teams are not too worried about whether it is good for them because we try to do the best that we can and unfortunately sometimes it is not the best for the spectators but that is part of the racing and you are allowed to do what you want. And I dont know about the rules, so
RB: I think it is the end result of the qualifying format. I mean, that is the way it is. Sometimes we are going to come to a point where it is faster going right at the beginning so you have to be selfish and look after your strategy with everyone so I think the public will understand eventually. I mean, it didnt rain so it didnt make such a point but at the end of the day it is part of the strategy to be, whenever it is actually valid, at the right time on the racing track, so I am not against it.
Q: (Will Buxton Metro) Jenson, with the possibility of rain tomorrow and therefore the possibility of lots of random pit stops how confident are you that the team has sorted out the anti-stall problem on your car which held you back
JB: Oh, it shouldnt be an issue any more.
Q: (Bob Constanduros) So you are confident?
Q: (Andrew Benson F1 Racing) Rubens, can I just clarify were you saying that you running wide at Vale was a strategically deliberate move by you to slow yourself down?
Q: (Andrew Benson F1 Racing) And was Michaels spin, the third spin within ten yards, the same?
RB: You ask him!
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson F1 Racing) Kimi, can you just tell us exactly what changes have been made to the car to make you so much more confident in it and where the speed has been found with the 19B?
KR: I was confident in the other car also but it just wasnt quick enough and you cannot make it quicker just by driving. At some point you can, but not all the way. This car overall is much stronger and much better. It has a better rear end and also the aerodynamics are different, the engine is stronger so basically the whole package is much better. So that is the reason.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, can you explain your emotion when you saw Jenson during his lap he was the only one remaining to challenge your pole position and the people in the grandstands were shouting for him?
KR: Yeah, it was normal because we are in England but I knew they might go quicker in the first sector because we hadnt been so quick there, then the middle sector was good for me and the last sector especially, so I knew as long as we are close after the second sector we should be okay and that was the case. Of course, you are always worried and I knew it was going to be close but it turned out to be good for us so I was happy.
Q: (Cedric Voisard Le Figaro) Question to all of you, back on Matts question, do you think the slow cars should be punished today under the article 151c?
KR: I dont know. How can you judge if they were slowing down or had a problem? If I was two seconds off or three seconds off it doesnt mean that I was slow. The rules are not very clear, so you cannot really penalise them anyway.
JB: It is an impossible thing to judge really, isnt it? Its a difficult one.
RB: If I may say, instead of talking about this - because it wont get anywhere - we should look to make the format a little bit better because I thought it was a shame, for example, to see (Olivier) Panis going slow and not knowing (Felipe) Massa was coming. That was something that it did affect one driver, so if you are going to do it better, you are going to do it better for everyone. The question of going slower or not slower, I dont think you are going to know. I mean, even if I braked late and I was actually taking measures for the next session then it didnt work and I was, of course, thinking if I had made a mistake that was okay. But I dont think that is the point.
Q: (Bob Bull BBC Three Counties Radio) We all know that you have different strategies, but having seen the results of qualifying are you all confident your strategies were the right ones for the race?
KR: We will see tomorrow after the race who was right and who was not.
JB: I dont think anyone is going to say they have got a bad strategy for tomorrow!
Q: (Juha Paatalo Financial Times Deutschland) Rubens, obviously you have won here, you have been blisteringly fast all weekend and you have looked like you are really enjoying yourself. Every year we come here there are always questions about the future of the British Grand Prix. How much do you enjoy this circuit and how sad would you be if we didnt come back next year or the year after?
RB: Very sad, in fact. I think that it is a great Grand Prix. A lot of people attend the Grand Prix so we have no problems there, we used to have a lot of problems on the traffic and it does rain here can you do something? I dont think so. I like the track, Becketts for me is one of the best corners in the world and I just enjoy being here. It is going to be a shame if we are not racing here because even though it is difficult to overtake, it is difficult to overtake almost everywhere in this World Championship anyway.
Q: You say it is difficult to overtake but how many overtaking manoeuvres did you do last year at this Grand Prix?
RB: Yeah, but I had a good car and if you have a good car just like I had in Magny-Cours then you end up overtaking people. But I think overtaking here is actually easier than it is in Magny-Cours.
Q: Kimi, regarding the qualifying today, do you think your car is strong enough to win some races this year?
KR: It looks like it is not possible, say, right now. But we will do our best as a team and it is only the second race with the car so it is the start of this car and we are going to get new parts for the next race and we can make it still quicker. So far it looks good but it always depends how well we get the car sorted out for the circuit. I hope that we can win some races. It is going to be difficult but we will see what happens.