FIA post-race press conference - Bahrain 15 Apr 2007
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1h33m27.515s; 2nd Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), 1h33m29.875s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1h33m38.354s.
Q: Felipe, what a fantastic day for you after Malaysia. A perfect afternoon for you?
Felipe Massa: Yeah, definitely. For sure now we have a good break, so it will be a good time to think about things and enjoy this nice result. The results in the first two races were not like I expected. I think something was missing, especially in the first race when we had a problem and then what happened in the second race, with mistakes and also something missing. This time we put everything together and Im really pleased for the whole team. The job they made here, the strategy, the set-up, everything, Im really pleased. But now we need to push even harder because McLaren is quite close.
Q: Lets talk about the start a lot of pressure, a lot of talk, what was it like from your point of view?
FM: The best way is to make a good start straight after youve had all these problems in the media during the week fortunately only for one week! Then to do a good race and to finish at the front. Im sure now they are going to talk in a different way.
Q: You looked to be in control but Lewis started to come very close to you towards the end of the race. What was it like at that point?
FM: In the first stint my car was not really well balanced and I was suffering from a lot of oversteer. Lewis was quite close for the whole stint but then the second stint was fantastic for me. The car was behaving very, very well on scrubbed tyres and I took away a bit of front wing and it was really much easier to drive and I could build a nice gap. Then in the last stint I had hard tyres and I saw also that the gap was reasonable and I started to look after my car and maintain my pace and go through the traffic to the finish.
Q: Lewis, congratulations, lets hear about that first lap first of all, it was very close?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, unfortunately I didnt get as good a start as Felipe, he did very well down to the first corner. He managed to keep his place and I had to make sure I stayed as close behind as possible to maybe have a chance on the first lap, but I think we were fairly well matched. I tried to stay as close as possible until we came in to pit and I knew that he was going a lap more than me. I struggled a little bit in the second stint but Kimi was very strong at the end.
Q: Can you talk a little about that second stint. Why was that, you were still on the soft tyres at that point?
LH: Yeah, I was still on the softs but the car was quite a bit different with the scrubbed tyres and I had quite a bit more understeer. I guess that was really where I was losing, the balance wasnt very good and I was unable to brake as late and carry as much speed through certain corners and therefore I was losing a lot of time to Felipe. But then we got back onto the hard tyre and I was able to keep up the pace.
Q: It looked as if you saw quite a lot of Anthony Davidsons oil as well towards the end?
LH: Yeah, I dont know if that was oil, or what, but it looked as if something was damaged on his car. But I think the marshals did a great job today and the stewards, getting the blue flags out. I think it was a lot better here than it has been in the past and so fair dos to them.
Q: You have made history today three successive rookie podiums. Your thoughts on that?
LH: Sweet! Im happy with it. I think this weekend we have definitely closed the gap to Ferrari and to have another second in only my third race, I couldnt ask for more. Theres only one more step for me and well be pushing and making sure that in Barcelona well be just as quick.
Q: Kimi, stuck behind Fernando Alonso in the early stage of the race. How much did that define the day for you?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think it did. After that it was too difficult to come back and challenge at the front. I got past him but we needed to go a little bit shorter in the middle stint to make sure we got in front of him but then it was too short to challenge Lewis. I came very close at the second stop but it wasnt enough. I think there was also a bit of a mistake by me also on the start button but we got third place and we know where we are losing time, so hopefully in the next test we can find something which is a bit better for me.
Q: You made a very aggressive start down the outside there but I guess from the second row it was always going to be difficult?
KR: Yeah but then I was also getting very close to Lewis and at the left-hander after the first corner I needed to back off because I got understeer and so Alonso got a very good run at me into the next corner. I was on the inside but he could brake later and took the place from me.
Q: When you were very close to Fernando you seemed to have a lot of moments running wide under braking. Was that just losing downforce being so close to him?
KR: Yeah, its not easy to be very close to people and also the wind was making it even more difficult and so at places where it was hard even on your own it was even worse behind someone, but thats normal. I think this year its even more difficult following people than previously.
Q: Felipe, a bit of a break now before the Spanish GP, three drivers tied for the lead of the world championship, youre just behind them, youve come away with a win, it looks like an amazingly close season?
FM: Yeah, for sure the season is really close and looking at how the championship is, its very exciting. Ferrari and McLaren are very close together and its a very important break for us to work really hard to try to improve our car a little bit more and to try to work on every detail because for sure the championship is important now but also right through to the end. It will be important not to lose any opportunity. But it is also a nice break to be thinking about a good result and not to have so many people talking badly about you. Thats also good!
Q: Felipe, third different winner in three races, is there a certain relief in winning this Grand Prix?
FM: For sure, its really great. Unfortunately the first two races were not as I expected in terms of result at the end. The speed was there, everything was there but something was missing, so hopefully we just put everything together and we keep working like that. I think theres no better way to finish after three races, for me, especially, and hopefully we are now back to fight and looking at the championship, its very very close, so its good to get some points back which are really really important points.
Q: Apart from the handling problem you mentioned just now, did you have any other problems at all?
FM: No, I just had some oversteer at the beginning of the stint as I said before, and then I just managed to change the front wing a little bit and the car became very good. The second stint was crucial, so it was just very very good, pushing every single lap to open up the gap and then with the gap at ten seconds, it was easier to keep a slower pace on harder tyres and to save the car a little bit for the next race.
Q: How was the car on hard tyres, because it was almost as though the McLarens were quicker on hard tyres than the Ferraris?
FM: Maybe they were but I didnt push as I was supposed to push. I think I maybe had three or four tenths margin just to improve the gap, but it wasnt necessary, looking at how things were going. It was not necessary.
Q: You lost a second to Lewis on one lap in the final stint
FM: Yeah, I just braked a little bit too late and just locked the front wheels and went onto the dirty part of the track, thats why. Hopefully it was not more than one second.
Q: Lewis, fantastic again; still no mistakes?
LH: I dont think I made many mistakes, not that cost me that much. A couple on my out laps of the second stint, I struggled a little bit on the used tyres. The balance wasnt very good, I dont know why but we will have to look into it. I locked up a couple of times but that was about it. It was pretty smooth.
Q: It was an attacking drive as well; what was it like in those early stages with Felipe ahead of you and Fernando behind you?
LH: Well, it was definitely a much better experience not having to defend my position and to have the pace to put pressure on Felipe. I think it was great that we had the pace, especially in the first stint, that we were able to keep with them. I think if we were in front we would have pulled away. I think my balance was perhaps better than Felipes and we were slightly faster.
Q: You were talking about Anthony Davidsons oil; that didnt get on your visor or anything?
LH: No, it didnt get onto my visor. I dont know if it was oil. I do believe there was some on turn 14 at some point but I dont know if it was Anthonys. It didnt cause me any trouble, he pulled out of the way which was good.
Q: And there was some debris on the circuit at one point.
LH: There was some debris when the safety car came out at turn four
Q: It was much later than that
LH: Oh really? Not that I noticed. It didnt cause me any problems.
Q: Kimi, how frustrated were you behind Fernando?
KR: A little bit. I was expecting to stop later, so I knew that if I didnt get past I would try to get past during a pit stop and it worked out. Of course, I had more speed, so I could have kept behind the two leaders, but theres nothing that I could have done after I lost the place. We could have challenged for the top two places, but it didnt work out.
Q: So are you a bit disappointed with third?
KR: Yeah, I think the whole weekend has been quite difficult, not the easiest one really. I think were missing a bit on the handling, so hopefully we will find something. We have some new parts which hopefully will improve the situation for me, so we can start to try to be in front again.
Q: And how did you feel the car was on hard tyres at the end?
KR: Not too bad really. I think it was OK but I knew, following Fernando at the start of the race, that you cannot get past if the guy doesnt make a mistake, so there was no point to push any more after I couldnt get past Lewis after my last pit stop, so I took it easy after that. It wasnt too bad, the car was not too bad in the race, it (the problem) is just more in qualifying.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alberto Antonini Autosprint) Kimi, I think you mentioned in the unilateral that this year it has become increasingly difficult to follow another car. Is it down to less grip in the car which makes the aerodynamics more critical?
KR: Maybe, because once you lose the tyres grip youre much more affected when youre behind someone so youre going to lose more if you dont have as much grip from the tyres themselves in comparison to last year, so its going to be more difficult, at least, it feels like it now. OK, here it was very windy, so it made it even worse. We will just see what happens in the other races.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Felipe, is there anyone to whom you wish to dedicate this victory?
FM: To my girlfriend. This week was not so easy but she had a lot of patience with me.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi Tuttosport) To both the Ferrari drivers: Lewis said that they (McLaren) have closed the gap with you; do you agree, and if so, what do you need to improve?
KR: I think we are going to get more parts for the next test and Im pretty positive that its going to change things quite a lot. I think maybe they are a little bit closer than in the first race, but then Australia is always a bit special. I think we still have a little edge on them but we just need to keep working and push hard.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret LEquipe) Lewis, for the first time in history you (as a debutant) are on the podium (three times) and you are leading the championship. How do you feel now?
LH: Im still third, right? Im still effectively third. But its fantastic, obviously, to be equal on points with Fernando and Kimi. I think the teams done a fantastic job. I think we had a very good pace this weekend, possibly the pace to be on pole but I think Felipe did a fantastic job in qualifying and in the race. Usually the Ferraris start to pull away during the stint but we generally had similar pace, if not quicker in both first and last stints, so I think weve made a fantastic step forward and Im really happy for the team. I know this break coming up is going to be really good, we are going to be working extremely hard to make sure we make some more steps forward, to make sure that we go to Barcelona even quicker.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) Felipe, how important is this result for your bid to become the Ferrari number one driver this season?
FM: Every result is very important for me, for Kimi, for the team. I think we will not see any decision until we see that the championship is almost done, so I think the team has to work very very hard like we are doing now with both drivers, trying to put both cars in front of McLaren which is quite difficult, looking at how tight the championship is, so I think we both need to keep pushing very hard, working inside the team, trying to improve everything that it takes, every day, the car, trying to get better. For sure, at the end of the championship, its the best thing for the team if we are fighting between us, with no other people in the middle. I think thats the way we need to work. It will be very tough, for sure they are working as well, very hard, so hopefully we can keep going like that.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, 22 points from three races; are you satisfied with that?
KR: I think its a bit better than previous years but of course we wanted to have all thirty but I think we are in a good position after three races and we just need to improve our situation - or mine - a little bit and we can have a good season, but its going to be hard this year. Everybody is very close to one another every race so its going to be a difficult season.
Q: (Beniamino Casadei Lucchi Il Giornale) Lewis, do you think at this point that you have the same chance to fight for the World Championship as Fernando?
LH: Yeah, absolutely, I dont see why not. I have the same car and I seem to be as competitive as him, so as long as I can keep up this consistency I know and feel a lot more comfortable now that a win is going to be possible. We just have to make no mistakes, as Ive said, and try to take advantage of these three or four weeks that we have until the next race, and try to keep on beating the Ferraris.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport) I think your first flying lap on the hard tyres was the fastest one. Were these tyres, after all, the better tyre for the race?
FM: No, for sure the hard tyres give good grip leaving the pits for one or maybe two laps but then they start to lose grip and then you start to struggle a little bit with traction. For sure, the softs were much more consistent, especially in the second stint. The soft tyres were behaving very very well.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Felipe, looking at you on the podium, this victory must have meant a lot to you. Would you describe it as the most important in your career until now?
FM: I think every victory is very important, every single victory is a victory so for sure, in terms of how important it was, I think Brazil was the most important one in terms of how important the race was for me. But Brazil was not the most difficult race for me. For sure, here and especially Turkey in terms of driving was much more difficult, having people behind all the time and trying to improve on every single lap and building up the gap as in Turkey and here. So I would say that Turkey, in terms of driving, was the most difficult one, but in terms of how important it was, Brazil was the best for sure.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret LEquipe) Question to all three drivers: youre fighting for the championship, who is going to be your main rival for the title?
FM: We will know that after the last race, so its impossible to answer the question. Looking at how tight and how close both cars are, Ferrari and McLaren, its quite difficult to put money on any of us.
LH: I agree with Felipe.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) Question for Lewis: throughout the first three races of the season weve been looking at your debut and theres been debate about the impact youve made on the sport, whether this is the greatest debut ever in Formula One and we now know that it is. Youve torn up the record books. How do you feel and what do you imagine the reception is going to be like in England where youve got probably millions of new fans?
LH: I think its a fantastic achievement, another to add to my career. Im extremely proud. I think weve worked extremely hard to get where we are today and when I say we, I mean me and my family, but also the team in terms of how competitive we are. Im looking forward to going to home. Ive not been home for about nine weeks now and I still have to fly to Shanghai tonight but still, Ill be back next week. I think the support is growing and Im looking forward to getting to Silverstone and seeing how many fans will be there, but its great. Ive not experienced it yet so it will be new to me, and I just hope that Im still able to walk on the streets.