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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Hungary 05 Aug 2006

The post qualifying FIA Press Conference (L to R): Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, second; Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren, pole position; Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, 5 August 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes), 1m19.599s; 2nd Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m19.886s; 3rd Rubens Barrichello (Honda), 1m20.085s.

Q: Kimi, obviously a qualifying session with a difference, but one suspects you were pretty confident anyway going into this being right at the front.
Kimi Raikkonen:
I think the car has been very good the whole weekend and for sure this pole is much better because we didn’t have any refuelling problems so it definitely feels better than last weekend. I think we have very good race tyres and car so I’m really looking forward to the race.

Q: Obviously you had problems at the last race for Michelin, less so for you than for other teams, but a lot of work has been done in the period between the German and Hungarian Grands Prix.
KR:
Yeah, but I think it’s up to the teams really, to chose the right tyres for the right circuit, so it’s not really Michelin’s fault in any way. Maybe we took a little bit too risky choices and now, although I think we are still on the risky side, I think it looks like we’ve chosen good tyres still so I think it will be good.

Q: I have to ask you: Michael set 1m18.8s in Q2, do you think you would have still have been on the pole?
KR:
It would have been more difficult but it doesn’t make any difference. There are some rules, and if you don’t respect them you get penalties. Anyhow, we are much happier to be in first place than second so I will still take it.

Q: Felipe, you had an extra supporter on the pit wall there for your final qualifying session, your team mate Michael Schumacher. It looked like a great last fast run for you, maybe slightly over the limit in a couple of corners.
Felipe Massa:
Yes, I just got a little bit of a warm-up problem for the last try because I was going out of the pits and Ralf was just in front of me and I backed off in the pit lane in order not to be too slow on the out lap and my tyres had a little bit of a warm-up problem for the first corner, so perhaps I lost a little bit of time there which could have put me on pole but these kind of things can happen, especially on this kind of track, and we always have some troubles in terms of traffic, but I’m happy to be on the front row anyway, and hopefully tomorrow I can have a very strong race like in Hockenheim.

Q: Where do you think the Ferrari/Bridgestone package is next to McLaren/Michelin?
FM:
I think it will be a very competitive race tomorrow. We are confident in our tyres, that they should work consistently as well so hopefully tomorrow we can attack and have a very strong race.

Q: And obviously your team mate Michael is now starting 12th; does that change in anyway your approach to the Grand Prix?
FM:
I don’t think so. I just need to push as hard as I can to be in the best situation, the best position I can be.

Q: Rubens, congratulations to you, a great revival for Honda at the German Grand Prix and that continues here. Tell us about your qualifying run, and of course, you are starting on the clean side of the grid as well…
Rubens Barrichello:
… which is very important. This is one of the worst places to start on the right side. I’m quite happy. I think there’s a lot of pressure from the outside, but the Honda team - everyone, including engine guys, chassis guys, the aerodynamic guys - they made a hell of an effort to put the car where it is right now and the car is much more driveable, we enjoy much more the driving, so I feel sorry for Jenson that he’s actually had to change the engine, otherwise we would have been third and fourth, so we’ve made an improvement.

Q: Obviously that engine problem must be a worry in some dimension; does it affect the way you approach the race in terms of what you’re going to be able to do with the engine and the package you have?
RB:
Not really. All of a sudden, I had a problem in Hockenheim which was a one-off. I don’t really know what the problem was that Jenson had this morning. We are expecting a great race. I really would like to put the car in a good shape. My thoughts are with my friend Cristiano da Matta in the States and I think it would be nice to give him this one.

Q: Kimi, finally, great to be on pole but a race with a difference of course: Michael starting 12th, Fernando starting 15th. How is that going to make you feel when you wake up on Sunday morning?
KR:
I don’t think that’s going to change anything. That’s how it goes sometimes in racing. For sure, it’s a little bit of help for us so we take it and I think that in any case, if they are closer to us at some point I think that we have a strong race car and I really think that we can win tomorrow so I’m not too worried about it really.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: As you were saying just now, this must feel more like pole position than last week. Given the difficulties of overtaking here, you must fancy your chances tomorrow.
KR:
Yeah, we were expecting that the car might be good here. It was good in Monaco and this is as close to Monaco as you can get, so it has been a good weekend and I think we’ve made an excellent tyre choice and the car was good in the last run, so I think we have a very good race car and an excellent chance to win the race.

Q: So you haven’t really been affected by the fact that it’s a lot cooler this weekend?
KR:
I think so. I think everybody has a little bit but that’s how it is and I still think that the tyres which we brought here will work very well during the race.

Q: And does this feel like the closest you get to a home race?
KR:
Everybody says that, but it isn’t really a home race but there are always a lot of Finnish fans, so it’s always nice to come here.

Q: Felipe, I guess you perhaps thought of this as being your greatest opportunity, at least to be on pole position, perhaps to win as well.
FM:
Yeah, sure, especially when you see that our car was very, very competitive in Q1 and Q2, in practice this morning and everything. For sure, I was expecting to be very strong in qualifying but in the first try I couldn’t set a reasonably good lap time and I was sure that I would be able to improve on the second try in Q3, but going out of the pits, I had Ralf going out as well.
I needed to almost stop the car in the pit lane in order not to get him on the track and the biggest problem is that we need to push hard on the out lap so I cooled down the tyres too much and I had a warm-up problem for the first two corners and for sure I lost very important time in these two corners which maybe could have been pole. Anyway, it’s good to be on the first row and hopefully we can have a very strong race tomorrow, maybe like last race.

Q: The margin was virtually a third of a second between yourself and Kimi. Could you have made that up, do you think?
FM:
Yeah, I almost passed the first corner, so I lost a lot of time there.

Q: Do you feel the car is absolutely perfect or do you feel that you’ve lost a little bit of time over the last couple of day because of the conditions?
FM:
I think the car is very good, the tyres were working very well. We were trying to improve the consistency and we’ve improved it already. Hopefully with the conditions of the track, after two GP2 races, it will be even better for us tomorrow.

Q: Yes, Rubens very kindly mentioned just now for you that second on the grid is the worst place to start, second on the grid.
RB:
Second, fourth, sixth, eighth…
FM: I don’t think so. We proved in the last races that we’ve had a good start so it’s important to make a good start and try to make a good race, but I’ve started second twice and I made a good start, so hopefully I will do the same.

Q: Rubens, best grid position so far this year, I think. Do you feel yourself a potential winner here?
RB:
It’s definitely my best chance. Honda made a huge effort to improve this car. It was not long ago that we were in that messy Magny-Cours race where we had all sorts of problems, so the pressure was really high at that point, but we improved the car very much in Jerez and the car is competitive. I love the car that I have right now. We made a good tyre choice, we are consistently on the race pace, so I just gotta be there. Last race, unfortunately I had a problem but my car was running quite well. So it’s looking good. If we can win or not, it’s up to us tomorrow to have a good start and go for it, but it’s my best chance this year for sure.

Q: When something like what happened to Jenson happens, is that a worry for you, the reliability?
RB:
We’ve done so many miles in the Jerez test and there was a bullet-proof engine and we had a one-off (breakage) in Hockenheim which I was very sorry about because it was definitely a good points-scoring position or maybe a podium there. I don’t know what happened to Jenson now, we need to analyse but that’s what I have right now, that’s what I’m enjoying driving and I look forward to it.

Q: Have the track conditions been a worry for you so far this weekend?
RB:
It’s the fact that I didn’t bring any jeans here that is worrying because I’ve got just shorts. They said it was going to be fifty degrees and I asked for the tyre, that was a different matter as well. Everybody was expecting different weather. All of a sudden, we have cold temperatures. Having said that, it’s the same for everyone. I do think that not just Michelin but Bridgestone were hoping for hot weather, so I don’t think it’s a major thing right now.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, how surprised are you that Michael and Fernando got penalties and are so far behind you?
KR:
I think they know the rules and if you don’t respect them you get penalties so I don’t know exactly what has happened, but think it doesn’t make a difference anyhow and these things happen in racing.

Q: (Marco Degl’Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) For Kimi, how much value does this pole have for you without the two best competitors?
KR:
It is still a pole position. The car has been very good so I don’t think that is going to take anything away and it is going to make the racing tomorrow much easier.

Q: (Andreas Gröbl – Die Presse) A question for all three, we have two drivers outside the top ten who incidentally fight for the championship – would you agree they are out of the equation here for race victory?
KR:
I think you never know what is going to happen in a race so we just need to do our best as a team and hopefully we can win. I have so many different races and sometimes you can qualify close to the last place and you can still win. So anything is possible.
FM: Anything can happen.
RB: Hungary is one of the worst places for overtaking, but having said that it depends very much on the strategy and everything so I think it is all to play for. Hopefully, we are very far ahead when they come fighting, but anything can happen.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Kimi, Michael’s performance was quite good in Q 1 and 2, but you are on the pole – how do you see your car in comparison with the Ferraris here?
KR:
I think so that we would be fighting still for the first place here if they were in the final qualifying. They were quick in the first two runs, but I would have said my car was quick in the last run, so I went faster in those points and with more fuel. So I would still expect to be fighting for the second or first row, so it is always difficult to say in the qualifying where we are and tomorrow we will really see.