FIA post-qualifying press conference - Canada 09 Jun 2007
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1m15.707s; 2nd Fernando Alonso (McLaren), 1m16.163s; 3rd Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), 1m16.266s.
Q: Lewis, what a day for you.
Lewis Hamilton: Its been a fantastic day and already a fantastic weekend. The team has done a fantastic job as you can tell. We have got the pace on the rest and it came down to this; we had to pull it out to the last minute and its not easy, especially when you have a two-time World Champion hunting you down but I did it. I stayed strong today and I owe it all to the team, but Im really happy with it.
Q: Youd never been to this track before, never driven on it before Friday. You learned it very quickly. Tell us how long it took you to learn it and tell us about that quick lap?
LH: Well, it took a while to learn yesterday. Even though it looks quite a simple circuit its actually quite demanding physically and mentally and its quite technical. We worked very hard to get the car set-up right. Yesterday was a good day, I stayed out of the barriers which is always good, and when I went home I had time to think about yesterdays practice and what I could do today to improve and for that final lap, you know, going into P3 wed improved the car, and for that final lap the car was sweet. I had a very good gap, the cars were perfect and I really just had to pull it out. The most important thing was that it was consistent. Each sector was I know Fernando was quite quick at the beginning but at the end of the day, I didnt make a mistake and got the time, so Im just thrilled.
Q: You knew you were quick on that lap but that last corner is always very tempting.
LH: It is, especially when you do a very very neat lap and you know its going to be quick and youre coming up to that last corner at 210 or whatever youre doing and you think shoot, just dont mess it up. I came in there and I went quicker than Ive ever been. I nearly brushed the wall on the exit but thats all part of it and honestly, I was just so chuffed when I came across the line and they told me I was P1.
Q: Fernando, you probably dont want to hear it but you were purple, you were quickest for most of that lap and it seemed to go away in the last sector, maybe even the last corner.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, well, it was in the hairpin, in turn ten. I was running a little bit off-line and put some marbles on the tyres and I lost the grip there and I lost three tenths in that corner, so there was no point any more in risking (anything) at the last chicane. I completed the lap, safe enough to bring the car home and the first row will be enough for today, and tomorrow we have another chance to try to win the race.
Q: Many people thought Ferrari would bounce back after Monte Carlo; amazing to see the speed of the McLaren Mercedes team here.
FA: Yeah, I think we have been developing the car and it was fine in Monte Carlo which we know is a special race. It seems that if we can keep up that momentum here as well in Canada, why not in Indy? Definitely the car has improved from the first two or three races, so now we are a much stronger team and we can fight at any circuit now.
Q: Nick, another great performance for BMW Sauber: third in Australia and third again now in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Nick Heidfeld: Yeah, Im very satisfied with that, especially as I lost a lot of time this morning in P3. Actually, I only did one timed lap. We wanted to save some mileage and then in the end I had a hydraulic problem, so it was very difficult to get used to the track conditions as the wind has changed a lot for today.
Q: But lower downforce on the cars here, the car obviously responding to that and keeping the level of competition youve had from the start of the year.
NH: Yeah, we could only hope that we would be strong here again, as the team has been over the last couple of years. Actually both teams have been: BMW has always been strong on high speed circuits and Sauber was as well and it proved that we are strong. As you said, Indy is probably similar in terms of downforce and Im also looking forward to Monza of course.
Q: Lewis, your final thoughts on the race tomorrow; no question its going to be close in any dimension, whether youre thinking about your team-mate or indeed Ferrari and BMW.
LH: Yeah, tomorrow is going to be tough, as always, but Ive not been fortunate enough to yet start on pole, so tomorrow is another new experience for me, but weve got the car, weve got the strategy, weve got the team. I need to just make sure I get a good start, get into the first corner first and just stay consistent, but I feel fantastic, Ive never felt so good, so Im looking forward to it.
Q: So Lewis, you continue to live the dream!
LH: Absolutely, absolutely. As you can tell, Im just delighted. Its been an amazing day. To come to Canada, my first time, its been tough, its not an easy circuit to learn and Fernando has been extremely quick and so have the BMWs and Ferraris. But we dialled in the car in P3 and I had an opportunity to go out and put it on pole and this time I took the opportunity and grabbed it with both hands and did the best job I could with it.
Q: How many laps had you done on McLarens simulator? Had you done a lot of laps before you came here?
LH: No, I did about five laps but we didnt really have time because we got stopped, we had a meeting to go to. But I got here on Wednesday, went out yesterday and it was just like learning a new circuit, like going out on a circuit youve never ever been on before, so even if I was playing a Playstation it wouldnt really have made much difference. I had to learn the curbs are different, the gradient changes, the bumps. It doesnt really help, it just gives you an idea of where the corners are and perhaps what gears you should be taking.
Q: Theres a fraction more space here than Monaco; have you been brushing the walls here?
LH: I havent, no. Actually in that qualifying lap I nearly did touch the wall on the exit of the last corner, just trying to squeeze as much as I could out of the tyres. It was really close but obviously I got the time and improved in that sector.
Q: Fernando, second for the fourth time this year, but it doesnt seem to have done you much harm, has it?
FA: Well, I think its always nice to be on the first row and even nicer to be on pole position but I think I can be extremely happy with the qualifying performance so far this year and I am very happy today as well, with the first row again and good possibilities for tomorrow.
Q: Its an interesting grid because obviously there are advantages of being on both sides of the grid here.
FA: Yeah, I think its quite similar, the grip on both sides, so hopefully I can do a good start from second. I overtook Felipe in Malaysia and nearly in Spain as well, so second is not too bad and I will try again tomorrow.
Q: And the track conditions today?
FA: They were very different compared to yesterday, to be honest. I think the wind direction changed completely, 180 degrees, so corners that were very good yesterday were very bad today and vice versa. I think the corners where you had a head wind today were much much better because you pick up downforce. But its the same for everybody and yes, you needed to get used to the new track conditions this morning in P3.
Q: Nick, considering the day not just this morning but also this afternoon, when you had a time taken away from you, you brushed the wall as well. Tell us about this afternoon, it seems action-packed!
NH: Yes, this afternoon, actually, went quite smoothly. I cut the chicane at the last corner, also because I didnt do a lot of running in the morning, which actually was the biggest problem of the day. I only did one timed lap this morning because I had a hydraulic problem and as Fernando said before, the wind has changed completely, so it was difficult to find the braking point.
Q: How hard did you hit the wall?
NH: It was not much compared to yesterday when I hit the wall as well and I was surprised that the car lasted, so I was quite confident that it wouldnt be a big problem but actually the steering was slightly off-line and it actually got a little bit worse in the last qualifying session, Q3.
Q: Normally, you would be fuelled to drive to Ontario, which makes it an even better accomplishment. Heavy fuel or light fuel?
NH: Well, guess the answer.
Q: But an interesting tactic for tomorrow.
NH: Were very confident. We came here hoping that we would be as strong as in Monaco, could be as good as in the last couple of years and I cannot tell you anything about the strategy but being on P3 is nice whatever fuel I have on board, I have to say.
Q: How frustrated has the team been coming fourth?
NH: Not frustrated at all, because we are the third strongest team and unfortunately so far this year, the top cars seem to finish more regularly than they did in the past, so its simply very difficult to get on the podium. We have maximised our chances most of the time, so we can be quite happy.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Randy Phillips The Gazette) Lewis are you going to be able to sleep tonight?
LH: I think so. I think what is important is to enjoy the moment and then go back. Weve still got a hard job to do tomorrow so I make sure Im fully relaxed tonight. Ill probably just have a nice evening with my dad and my trainer, get a good nights sleep and come back tomorrow and try and do the same again.
Q: (Randy Phillips The Gazette) Fernando, do you have any advice for your team-mate starting for the first time from pole position?
FA: We will see tomorrow, I think today has been a good qualifying for the team again, a good job by everybody first and second. The team should be very happy today.
Q: (Randy Phillips The Gazette) But do you have any particular advice for Lewis?
FA: No advice. Dont be too aggressive in the first corner and let me go through. (Laughter)
NH: The same for me please.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) A question for Alonso: in Monaco you were on pole and Hamilton was second and you said you expect some orientation from the team. What do you say now that you are in second position and Hamilton is on pole?
FA: No, I didnt say that. What is normal in Formula One after the second stop or with ten laps to go fighting with your team-mate normally, you are not as aggressive as if you are fighting with a Ferrari or someone else. Tomorrow, how many laps is the race? 65, 66, 70? If Im not P1 and Im not fighting with the main opponents like Ferrari or BMW, I will not risk anything. I need the eight points. I need to win the championship in Brazil, not here.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret LEquipe) Question for Lewis: is it important for you to get pole?
LH: Its obviously a great feeling, its another step Ive taken in my steep learning curve coming into my first season in Formula One. To be honest, I knew I had it in me but I wasnt sure when I was going to get a pole. Id never really been a driver that sticks it on pole if you look at my past years, apart from in Formula 3, Id always been in the top three and its not my strongest area. But today I was really happy with the job I did and its a great step forward for me and also for the team.
Q: (Mathias Brunner Motorsport Aktuell) For Fernando: you said before that you were off in T10, did you realise immediately that the hunt for pole position was over for you?
FA: The only thing we realise is the time belt that we have on the steering wheel but I was three tenths slower than my previous lap after that corner, so I knew it was impossible to improve the lap that I did before. But I didnt know if someone was improving their time. At that time I was P1 and I didnt know there were guys coming quicker than me, so you realise after you cross the line.
Q: (Carlos Miquel Diario AS) For Fernando: do you have more fuel in your car than Lewis?
FA: We will see tomorrow. Thats the question that everybody wants to know after qualifying. We would like to know how much fuel Nick had the Ferraris everybody. It is something that is unique in Formula One, after Saturday you are always thinking what is going to happen tomorrow? It keeps the expectation up for everybody.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) To both McLaren drivers: are you surprised by Ferraris performance today? Do you expect anything different tomorrow for the race?
LH: For me, I think, we were surprised. Going into P3 we saw that the Ferraris gained some time and we knew that it wasnt going to be the same as it was in Monaco because Monaco is a unique circuit and they were always seen to be quite strong here. I think we were definitely quite surprised at our pace but the improvements we have made on the car have resulted in the time that we have. But I think they are still strong. They are very good on the long runs. They are better than most teams, so we still have work to do to improve.
FA: Same thing. I think tomorrow they will look much better than they looked today.
Q: (Dave Stubbs The Gazette) Lewis, this is the first time officially that you go into a race as the hunted rather than the hunter. Does that change anything about the way you approach the race?
LH: I dont think so. For sure there is a slightly different approach but generally Im used to it. Ive had experiences being at the front but its been good to be hunting throughout the season. But its good to make a change, Ive been qualifying fourth for most races and its good to be a bit further ahead.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret LEquipe) A question to Lewis: who will be your main opponent tomorrow for the race?
LH: Ive not seen the times but Im guessing both of these guys are extremely quick. Obviously being on the front row, Fernando is the closest but I dont think we should take anything for granted. I think Nick here will be extremely quick as well, so I just have to make sure I have both my mirrors covered, Im on the right side of the road and try not to give up any space at the first corner.
Q: (Bill Beacon The Canadian Press) Just one for Nick Heidfeld: has BMW taken a step forward today by out-qualifying the Ferraris?
NH: Im quite sure that weve made a step forward. I hope not just for the weekend, I hope we will continue like that for the rest of the season. As I said earlier, this circuit is a little outstanding in terms of the high speed and also of the amount of kerb here to take. But yeah, so far so good, I would say.