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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Brazil 20 Oct 2007

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari in the FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Preparations, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, 18 October 2007

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m11.931s; 2nd Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1m12.082s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1m12.322s.

Q: Felipe, it looked like a brilliant qualifying session for you: quickest on both your last two runs and the only man under 1m 12s in qualifying.
Felipe Massa:
Yes, it’s a fantastic feeling. Being back in Brazil, with pole position is always fantastic. In qualifying I had a very good first attempt and in the second I made a small mistake. I improved my lap time a lot but I made a small mistake and afterwards I was a bit afraid that Lewis could beat me but it was a good lap and I was quite happy to come back here in front of my people. It was big emotion.

Q: Pole last year and you won the Grand Prix, but a different Interlagos this year, a different track surface, much smoother but I guess the same atmosphere.
FM:
Yes, the atmosphere is always the same. Yes, they are very nice people, they enjoy being here at Interlagos a lot, being here with the Brazilian flag and that’s amazing. I think last year we had a fantastic weekend. This year it was a good start, so hopefully we can finish in a similar situation as we finished last year. It would for sure be another dream.

Q: A new track surface, but very very close between you and McLaren Mercedes.
FM:
Yes, it was very close between me and Lewis in the end. I was also slightly expecting my engineer to maybe say P2 but in the end one tenth was close but it was enough to be in front. The asphalt is pretty nice, I have to say. We don’t have the bumps like we used to have in the past. It’s very smooth and it was a great job by the Brazilian people.

Q: Well done to you, Lewis. I’m pretty sure you’re where you want to be; do you want to know that you were actually fastest as you went into that last corner and it was very close between you and Felipe. You almost had the pole.
Lewis Hamilton:
Yeah, very close. I really enjoyed the qualifying session actually. We seemed to have very good pace here, the car was great to drive and the team did a good job as always in getting us out in good space. Yeah, it was a really good lap. I think I just lost a little bit of time in the last corner. It wasn’t a mistake. I just didn’t want to lose what I had up until then, so I lost half a tenth or something like that. Apart from that, it was a close to perfect lap and I’m very very happy, a good place for us to start.

Q: It looked like an interesting fuel-burning period as well, you leading the pack and everybody seemed to be going for an extra lap if it was out there. It was pretty quick and of course you and Fernando had a stacked pit stop as well with Fernando right behind you.
LH:
Yeah, it was good to get out first. The team as always did a really great job and I like to be at the front of the pit lane, I think it’s a good place to be, get out there with a clean head and no one messing around in front of you. Yeah, we came in, obviously I was ahead of Fernando but I just had to – as soon as I got my tyres on – leave as soon as possible which worked perfectly actually. I just came out each time close to Kimi and just had to let him past but otherwise it was perfect.

Q: Well, speaking of a clear head, a slight glitch yesterday with a very small infringement on the tyre regulation. How are you faring up to the pressure: Brazilian Grand Prix and a big day for you tomorrow?
LH:
It’s nothing to do with pressure. It wasn’t me, you know. I sit in the car and I do what I’m told and but that was just… we made a slight mistake there but that’s the way it goes. But we got a fine, fortunately I didn’t have to pay for it but we’ve come in today, we’ve got the pace. I feel very confident for tomorrow and I really hope the weather’s good and we can continue and have a good weekend.

Q: And what’s it like from Lewis Hamilton’s point of view going into what could be the biggest day of your life?
LH:
I’ve not reached that point yet, and I’m just buzzing, I’m really buzzing. I’m really excited, I feel very relaxed, the car feels great underneath me, I love the circuit and the food here in Brazil is great and the fans are extremely enthusiastic. I’ve seen quite a few British flags out there, so I’m very very happy to see that we’ve got some support.

Q: Kimi, quickest in Q2, not quite there in Q3. How do you feel about your lap? It looks as if you ran a little bit wide coming out of turn four?
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, I got sideways in turn four, lost some time, but for sure it could have been a better lap but I think the car was not too bad itself. The first try I didn’t really get the tyres working as I wanted, but the second attempt was good until that point, and even after that point, but it was a bit late at that point already. I think we still have a good race car tomorrow, we’re still in a good position to start, so I need a gap and we just need to go for it and see what happens.

Q: I suppose you don’t need Lewis Hamilton ahead of you on the grid; how do you see the Ferrari v. McLaren Mercedes battle tomorrow?
KR:
Probably as close as it’s always been. It’s going to be a long race, a hard race. I think the tyres will be a bit on the limit, so I think whoever can use the tyres in the best way probably will make a bigger difference. Hopefully we get everything working and we can achieve what we want.

Q: Felipe, returning to you for final thoughts: in a grandstand position tomorrow with the World Championship to be decided around you and you’re on the pole.
FM:
It is important to do a good start and I’m sure the fight behind me – hopefully behind me – will be a big fight and I’m sure it will be very nice for the spectators to watch a nice race, a nice fight between these three guys. Hopefully I can drive to victory.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Felipe, obviously, what does this fantastic pole here in Brazil mean to you?
FM:
It means a lot, it means, it is my country and if you see how enthusiastic the Brazilian people are here and especially when you have a Brazilian guy fighting for the pole position and I think coming back after one year ago when I made a pole, before I won, it is a fantastic feeling for me. It is another fantastic day of my life, which is difficult to forget. Hopefully tomorrow I can have another fantastic cay and another one that it is difficult to forget. But it is a great feeling for me, a very big emotion, when you cross the line and you see that you have pole position and you can see all the Brazilian people in the grandstands are jumping... It is a very unique feeling.

Q: And you are good at converting poles into wins?
FM:
Well, these things are never good to say before the race but let us try to do another one.

Q: From a Ferrari point of view, is this job done – and is this what they wanted out of you?
FM:
Well, for the team, what they expect of the driver is to be in front and I am in front, so the team is happy with me.

Q: Lewis, second on the grid, but on the front row – that is the important thing. Are you happy with that?
LH:
Yes, absolutely. It’s a good qualifying session for me and I had a good battle with Felipe with the times and he did a fantastic job to get pole, but it was quite straightforward and the car was very good. I was very happy with it, so turning to tomorrow, we sit in a good position.

Q: And on the left hand side of the grid in theory, is that still the dirty side? Or is it not so dirty here?
LH:
I haven’t really thought about it actually, it’s my first time here, so I don’t really know, but I am guessing it is dirty because the track is new and I don’t know about you, but I’ve not seen many cars come across to this side of the track, so I assume it is going to be quite dirty, but we will do the best job we can.

Q: What about the tyres? Kimi said they are on the limit – are they on the limit for you as well?
LH:
Yes, I think it is pretty much the same across the whole paddock. We were all on soft tyres and I think the track is getting better and better in terms of grip level but graining is the problem for everyone.

Q: And you said you were very relaxed a few days ago. Are you the same now?
LH:
Yes, it must be the food I have been having...
FM: Keep on eating it...
LH: Yeah, I am fully relaxed and I feel very comfortable in the car and it has gone very well. Front row is what we needed.

Q: Kimi, I think two times you had to overtake Lewis as he was on a slow lap or coming out of the pits – was it a distraction?
KR:
For sure, it didn’t help, so anyhow I ran wide and it cost a bit of lap time, but still I am in third place, so I think it is an ok place to start the race and we should have a good car and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.

Q: Starting behind your team-mate is that also encouraging?
KR:
Yes, for sure we wanted to be one and two, but it didn’t happen. But like I said we should have a good car tomorrow and it is difficult to say how we will do here with the new surface. But I am still looking forward to the race and I think we have a good chance.

Q: You are not too disheartened by third on the grid?
KR:
Like I said, I would rather be in the front, but it is where we are now and we cannot change it right now and so tomorrow we can try to do different things and we’ll see what can happen.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Lewis, bearing in mind all the criticising and whingeing that Fernando has done of late, which has led to a scrutineer in the McLaren garage today, I wonder how it feels to beat him fair and square?
LH:
It is always good to beat your team-mate in any circumstances and you know we approached this weekend with both of us challenging for the world championship and I don’t know for what reason he is P4, but I think we are both doing a good job. For sure, it is nice to be ahead of your team-mate and that is always your goal and for the team we want to be right at the front, so we still have some work to do.

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) For Lewis. For everybody it is evident that twice you disturbed Kimi. Is everything good to become a world champion?
LH:
To be honest there is no reason for me to do anything to Kimi because if anything he can win… (inaudible from the audience)
LH: Well, I came out of the pits and the guys said that, obviously, because Fernando was behind me and I could not hold him up in the pits… So I came out of the pit lane and they said you will come out close to Kimi and I came out and when you are at that sort of speed your mirrors are vibrating and so you cannot see too much and then I realised that he was very, very close and so I slowed down and I noticed I can’t attack the corner like he was, so I backed out and he went past me.
Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) ...You never showed him clearly that you would give him the track free?
LH:
What do you want me to do? Put the indicator on?
Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) You know exactly...
LH:
I did the best job I could to get out of the way. And I did apologise to him if I did get in his way.
Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) Is that what you call the best job?
LH:
Yes.
Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) As a sportsman?
LH:
Yes, how are you at your job? Are you the best at your job? You have never made mistakes… No?
Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) Sometimes…
LH:
Oh really.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Again for Lewis. You have been a part of the McLaren family for about ten years but now for the last 10 months you have been part of the F1 team. Please describe how your relationship has grown and changed now that you are actually inside the team?
LH:
I think like with any relationship it has been growing throughout the year and I think through rough times that I had in life how they stuck by me and through all the sun we had this year we have worked extremely hard to improve the car and challenge for the world championship and we have gone through some hard times and we have all stuck together. So, for sure the bond has grown and we get on as good as ever, so I am going to continue to try and do a good job for them and stay in their good books for sure.

Q: Felipe, you have done an extra lap at the end of qualifying. Why did you do that and were you afraid of some kind of punishment?
FM:
No, because my car finished while the traffic light was still green, so I can do another lap and get the chequered flag.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, could you count the time that you lost with Lewis and did you feel in that moment that he did something wrong to you?
KR:
I don’t know. I haven’t seen any data to see what happened. I don’t know for sure, I don’t know. I think other people can judge what has been done and make decisions. For sure, there could have been a slightly easier way to let me pass, but it is the way it is now and it doesn’t interest me anymore.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Kimi, on your last attempt after you passed Lewis there was some smoke from your car – do you know what that was?
KR:
No idea.

Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Lewis, while we have been here, there has been a racism row back home following comments made by the head of the Spanish motorsport federation. I wondered what your feelings were about that?
LH:
I haven’t heard anything.
Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Basically, he said that Britain is a racist country and it is ironic that we should now be, that is nine million people, in front of our TVs tomorrow to support you winning your final race.
LH:
Quite surprised by it, but you know they have their right to their own opinion and we just have to rise above it.

Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Do you see yourself as a role model for the whole of the youngsters in Britain if you are crowned champion, not just one particular part?
LH:
Yes, of course. I am not just going into this thinking I am going to be a role model only for black people. I hope it opens doors for everyone. Just me being in F1 I hope it opens doors for all cultures and all ethnic groups.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Massa, you were so much faster in Q3 than Q2 – how do you explain it?
FM:
No explanation. I did the best I could and I don’t know.

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Lewis, just to clarify after the ridiculous exchange that you just had, do you feel that you did an absolutely honest job today and if you win the world title do you feel that you will do so honestly?
LH:
Yes, I do. For sure I am going to be accused of something, but honestly I am here this weekend and I need to do a completely clean job and that means just getting up and doing a good job and not making mistakes and not being investigated for some things and that is what we are trying to do as a team and myself and if anything Kimi can win this and that would be good for us and obviously it would be good to beat him but I have most of all got to beat Fernando. But I honestly came in afterwards and he mentioned that and I said I apologised if I got in your way but you know I honestly did not think he was that close behind me, so I was going to take the corner but I really would have screwed his lap, so I moved over and I stayed where I was and braked and I don’t feel I have hindered his lap as I did get out of the way.

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) Let us continue the ridiculous exchange… Do you think you can do everything you want and then you just apologise – is that the way it works in Formula One?
LH:
I’m not going to answer that.
Q: (inaudible)
LH:
Not really, I just don’t want to talk to you to be honest.