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FIA post-race press conference - Canada 10 Jun 2007

(L to R): Second placed Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1; race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and third placed Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2007

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

1st Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1h44m11.292s; 2nd Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), 1h44m15.635s; 3rd Alexander Wurz (Williams), 1h44m16.617s.

Q: Lewis, what a day: four safety cars, obviously that big accident with Robert, who we hear is OK now. What a day for you!
Lewis Hamilton:
It has been a fantastic day. This is history. To come here, my first time in Canada… it’s really been a fantastic season already. We’ve had six podiums and I’ve been ready for the win for quite some time. It was just a matter of when and where. The team gave me the best car. I had no problems during the race at all, a few safety cars which sort of made it a little bit boring at some point but as soon as we got going, it was exciting again. But I did hear about Robert. He’s a good friend of mine. I hope he’s OK, and so best wishes to his family and everything. I have to dedicate this win to my Dad because without him this would not have been possible.

Q: Lewis, now that first win is behind you, talk us through the closing stages; what was going through your mind, what did it feel like to take the chequered flag?
LH:
As I said, we sat behind the pace car for quite some time so it sort of dulled down for a while, and then it was about building it back up. The team did a great job in getting me in before the first pace car, and so I was out in the clean air and I was very fortunate. I had a good pace. Nick wasn’t very close to me, so I was able to keep a good gap and then the last few laps, I was just counting them down. I could see my board; I’m the type of guy who usually pushes right to the end but it’s a tricky circuit and if you make one mistake you get on the marbles and you’re in the wall, so I quietened down towards the end and just enjoyed it and it really was about just enjoying the whole moment.

Q: And you made a great start too, Nick Heidfeld right behind you too going in there, and Fernando on the outside. I say a great start, you came out of the second corner in front, anyway.
LH:
Yes, I made quite a poor getaway to be honest. I don’t know what exactly happened. I’m supposed to have a certain amount of revs and I went over it and then under to try and get it back so I had a pretty poor start and I saw Nick getting close, so I had to close the door, and then I saw Fernando fly past. Obviously I didn’t want him coming past but somehow he got onto marbles I think and went straight on, and I just took the corner as normal and then Fernando came flying past. It was quite exciting, but it was just great to get out in front.

Q: Nick, qualified third, finished second: a fantastic day for you also and for the team.
Nick Heidfeld:
Yeah, it was great and definitely the start was a special moment, as we just spoke about. I had a fantastic start, easily overtook Fernando, I was right behind Lewis in the slipstream, tried to get to the inside but he closed the door. I saw that Alonso was probably just pushing a bit too hard and then went off, and then the safety car. Let’s put it this way, I was not unlucky but I lost a lot of time I pulled on the other guys behind me, but I have to say that the team did a great job today. I was happy to hear that Robert is OK. It was difficult to get some information at some point. You just saw the car on the side with nothing left, and I think he’s fine.

Q: Obviously very, very difficult conditions today for the drivers; talk about that and the marbles off-line.
LH:
Well actually, I don’t think it’s acceptable that we have that many marbles here again. I doubt that it’s just the rubber off the tyres coming loose. We had it yesterday. Fernando probably lost pole due to that. We’ve seen in turn ten that they did something to the circuit. We had it numerous times in the last couple of years and OK, we are the best in the world and we should keep on line but we’re talking about centimetres. You just go off half a meter and you lose a lot or you can even crash, so that was a difficult thing again.

Q: And Alexander Wurz, P3 in the Canadian Grand Prix; 24 hours ago that would have seemed like a dream.
Alexander Wurz:
Yes, it’s still a dream. I had a difficult weekend, never found the rhythm but hey, if you just keep pushing… I’ve showed the whole year that I’m a strong racer. Today I was a bit lucky as well as just keeping the pace all the time on the option tyres, out for very long, very difficult but the car was running fine, no problems and I made no mistakes and I’m very pleased to bring that third place home.

Q: As you say, difficult with the option tyre, the only driver, the only finisher on a one stop strategy. What was it like in that second phase of the race?
AW:
To be honest it was hell, so I thank God for the safety cars, because the tyres just grained to bits. What I did, tactically, was I really scraped the tyres as much as I could, just to get rid of the graining quickly and that was very important because in the end I had Kovalainen behind me on the prime tyre. But then my tyres cleaned up and I could control the pace. I actually got close to Nick but there weren’t enough laps. But anyway, I’m super happy with third, exactly on my tenth year anniversary. It’s a bit kitsch but I’ll take it.

Q: Returning to you, Lewis, finally for your thoughts: leading the championship, going to Indianapolis next weekend, so not too much time to enjoy this win of yours, but nonetheless I guess it will be a great evening for you?
LH:
It will and there is plenty of time to enjoy it. I have to say hallo to all my family back home. I know they are all sitting at home watching me, supporting me, and to all the fans, they have been great, and the team – what a job they’ve done, back in Woking, in Brixworth, in Stuttgart to prepare the car and make it quicker than everyone’s. There’s really a big thank you to them but going into Indy, obviously I go there with great confidence. We have to try and continue with the performance that we have, and I have no doubt we can do that.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Lewis, fantastic. In many ways an incredibly complicated race for us watching, but I don’t know if it simple it was for you, you didn’t seem to have any problems for you in front?
LH:
No, to be honest it was a fairly simple race apart from the restarts, making sure that I pulled a good gap from Nick here but yeah, it was great. I got a reasonably decent start, it wasn’t great to be honest, and Nick was right up the back of me going into turn one, so I covered my position and went through the first corner and saw Fernando just fly down the outside, and I thought ‘no, I’m going to lose it here.’ But he just went straight, so I was able to continue with my line. And then I got a fantastic exit and at the same time, Fernando came flying across the front me and I just had to make sure. And that was it, this is my opportunity to get away into the distance but from there it was fairly smooth.

Q: But four times the whole field was bunched up behind you again.
LH:
I thought it was quite a good challenge, to be honest, because obviously I got such… I think it was an eleven second lead from the start and then we got the first pace car. Fortunately the team did a great job pulling me in a lap before, and I have to say that was just a very good call from them, because I think that was earlier than I was supposed to stop. And I think some other people got caught out with the pace car but I came out just behind Felipe and then it was again, to try and get the gap, and each time I managed to do it. I think Nick was learning and getting better and better towards the end, because I think it was a bit closer right at the end, but still I managed to hold it.

Q: You must have thought ‘somebody doesn’t want me to win this, they keep on closing it all up again.’
LH:
That’s what I was thinking, I was thinking… because each time your tyres get cold, your brakes get cold and it’s so easy to go back out and just put it in the wall. That was the real challenge: warming up your tyres enough and don’t make any mistakes.

Q: And when was the big realisation that this was really coming to you?
LH:
It all started coming to me on the last five laps. I could see four, three, two, one, and I was thinking, OK, and each time I was getting slower and slower and thinking ‘stay off the kerbs.’ I had some problem… I noticed towards the end, after the last pace car, that I was turning into turn five just before turn six and the car was turning really well, and I found out my steering was a little bit off to the left and I didn’t realise that for a while and I thought maybe something was wrong so I just tried to stay off the kerbs, but other than that, the car was superb.

Q: And the emotions on the last lap?
LH:
I was just trying to control myself, to be honest. I wanted to stop the car and jump out and just do, I don’t know, cartwheels or something! I just had to keep it going and it was just… the fans were fantastic, to come to Canada for my first time, they really have been fantastic supporters, so thank-you to them but it was extremely emotional: to get all way into Formula One and to have my first pole, my first win and… who had fastest lap? Don’t know, I don’t know, it would be great to know if I got it or not.

Q: Nick, I guess after those fourth places this is definitely better.
NH:
Yes, definitely. We hoped to get a podium but we were speculating about third, maybe, but definitely didn’t expect second. And more importantly, or even more satisfying actually, is that I think I had a very good chance to finish second, even in normal race conditions, without so many safety cars, without Fernando being penalised, because I was pulling away from him. I had a good gap and after the stop I would have left him and that was definitely unexpected, so great thanks to the team. I think they developed the car very well. Until nearly the beginning of the race we didn’t know how strong we were, just because I had so many problems over the weekend, especially on Saturday, and then seeing the pace I was doing, I was speaking to the team and asked them to confirm if it really looked as good as I thought. And they told me ‘we have a very good chance to finish second’ and I just kept the car on the road. As we said earlier, it was quite complicated. As Lewis said, my restarts were getting better following him, but also at the beginning I was a bit worried about Fernando, so I was not only looking forward but also looking backwards a bit.

Q: Yes, he did have a go at you a couple of times.
NH:
Nothing serious, really, but he’s quite hard on the tyres, he’s aggressive with the tyres, and on the restart, on hard tyres, I did expect him to be strong, so I knew what to expect.

Q: And you got news of your team-mate during the race?
NH:
Yes, I asked the team when the accident happened, because I saw the car upside down. I saw on the big screen that my team was putting their hands above their heads so I knew there was something serious, but they told me they didn’t see anything on the screen, and they didn’t speak to Robert, so there was no information for quite a long time. And then later, in one of the later safety car phases they told me that he seems fine.

Q: Alex closed on you right at the end there; were you in control?
NH:
Yes and no. I think if it would have been a lot longer it could have been difficult, fully depending on how the tyres would have worked. Alex was on the soft tyres for a while so he already got rid of the graining, and I was right in the middle of it. Actually I had already backed off, reduced the rpm but then I just decided to raise my rpm because it was just so difficult to drive and yes, there was a problem at the end but it worked out.

Q: Alex, I got reprimanded for reminding you it was ten years since your debut; now you’re telling everybody!
AW:
Well, it’s nothing to be ashamed of but it’s a bit kitsch, after ten years’ celebration, finishing third here. Of course, I will take that because I might have been a bit unlucky sometimes at the beginning of the season, but if you can’t live with bad luck, you will never get luck, so I’m very happy now.

Q: The tyre strategy was an interesting one but a tough one.
AW:
Yeah, very tough. We said let’s go for this one. The first stint was interrupted with all the safety cars. At one point I was already sixth to fifth and then I was back in 18th but the one stop was quite critical when we put the option tyre on because with the heavy fuel, the car was just sliding all over the place, especially here with off-line, the tyre-graining stuff, whatever it’s called. It is so difficult not to make a mistake. I had to draw on all my experience not to crash it or make a mistake. And in the end it worked out fine. And right at the end, after I got rid of my graining, I actually closed up to Nick. I wasn’t looking at how many laps to go, I was just looking at his rear wing just to get it and eat it up, but there weren’t enough laps left.

Q: Talking of rear wings, I think you had a chunk out of yours.
AW:
I had a collision with one of the Toro Rossos, I don’t know (which). He tried a manoeuvre, touched my rear wing and I saw that part of the endplate was broken. It cost me a lot of top speed, so I was a bit like fish food out there when Kovalainen passed me on the straight just like nothing. I think I lost about six or seven km/h top speed. But the wing structure was intact. They checked it at my one stop so I could just push right to the end.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Jeremy Filosa – Broadcast News Radio) Nick you mentioned earlier the safety issues on this track, a lot of cars not finishing, the safety car coming out, a spectacular accident… Does something need to be done in order to ensure the safety of the pilots on this track?
NH:
Well obviously we are always looking to improve the circuit and this definitely is not the best one but for me the bigger problems are the marbles off line. I don’t know 100% but I doubt that it was just rubber coming off the tyres. I think the circuit was breaking loose especially in turn ten and if that could be rectified for next year that would already be a big step. It doesn’t sound difficult to do that, at least in theory for next year.

Q: (Rob Martier – CJAD Radio) Lewis two quick questions for you. Fernando didn’t have the best of days. At this point do you even care?
LH:
Of course. That’s a bit of a silly question to be honest. He’s my teammate, I’ve got a lot of respect for him and we’re quite good friends. At the end of the day we are a team, we both want to finish at the front. I don’t know what happened in his race but we need to have a look and it’s not good for him obviously.

Q: (Rob Martier – CJAD Radio) You say that you are team-mates and you care about each other, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. What might this do to the relationship from here on?
LH:
When does is not appear to be the case?

Q: (Rob Martier – CJAD Radio) It’s just my perspective.
LH:
Ok, me and Fernando… He’s extremely professional and for me, coming into the team, I’ve got a huge amount of respect for him and I think he’s grown to get on really well with me. At the end of the day he’s the two-time world champion he’ll bounce back without a doubt and I’m sure he’ll be extremely quick in the next race.

Q: (Niki Takeda – Formula PA) You said you were over the moon yesterday. How exactly are you feeling now? Are you on a different planet?
LH:
I am definitely on a different planet. It’s just really hard to grasp everything, it just keeps getting better and better. Firstly getting to Formula One, my first tests, becoming the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes race driver, having six podiums, already having a pole. You know I got that pole position and going into this weekend I really didn’t think it would be my time. I thought Fernando was extremely quick here, perhaps he’ll be quick this weekend and he’ll get the job done. But that wasn’t the case and I think I was fairly consistent, I drove quite well to keep it out of the wall and going into the race today I just had to knuckle down, keep focused and keep my mind clear and that’s what I did. I think with the pace cars it made it even easier to do that. I’m looking forward to the next race that’s for sure.

Q: (Frédéric Ferret – L’Equipe) You dreamt of being an F1 driver, you are. You dreamt of getting pole, you got it. You dreamt of winning a race, you did. What are you dreaming of now?
LH:
The next dream is obviously to win a Formula One world championship but at the moment we have to be realistic again. It’s always good to bear in mind that I’m still a rookie and this is my first season. There are going to be some hard times. I hope that there aren’t but it’s just bound to happen, it’s just the way it goes in this business and there’ll be good days and bad days. But at the moment it’s been consistent and that’s down to the team and all the people around me. I’ve got a very well-grounded family and I think it works perfect.

Q: (Randy Phillips – The Gazette) I read this week that you said pole position was better than sex, where do you rank this? (laughter)
NH:
He’s too young still.
LH: Yesterday it was a joke, it’s a completely different feeling but… (more laughter)
AW: Did something change since yesterday?
(more laughter)
LH: It’s definitely another level of feeling from yesterday, that’s for sure.

Q: (Randy Phillips - The Gazette) And also, what did your father say to you immediately after the race?
LH:
I haven’t seen him but obviously I could see him in the crowd while I was on the podium and it looked like he had a tear in his eye. So it’s obvious that he was extremely proud and you wouldn’t believe the amount of work he’s put into my career. He had nothing when he was younger. He lost his mum at a young age and just to see his family be successful is a real pleasure to him and I dedicate this race to him.

Q: (Bill Beacon – The Canadian Press) Nick I just wonder with Robert… If he has to miss some time will that affect you in any way when you are doing so well?
NH:
No, I don’t think it should have a big effect. First of all I hope he will be fine and returning to the cockpit soon. If not, we have some test drivers but you would have to ask somebody else what would happen.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) The set-up here is quite similar to that of next weekend. How competitive do you think your car will be? Lewis I know you haven’t been there but you’ve obviously been in the simulator and talked about the track with your engineers.
LH:
I actually haven’t been on the simulator but I’ve seen it on computer games. I don’t really know what to expect. I mean I’ve watched the previous races and onboard footage and looked at data. But I’ll be going there with an open mind and having to do the same sort of job as I did here.
NH: First of all I’m stunned about how quick we were here in race conditions. As I said earlier I think I could have finished second anyway, beaten probably one of the McLaren’s and both of the Ferrari’s. It is true that the downforce level in Indy is similar to here, probably a bit more, obviously then there are a lot more corners but this is one of the circuits where I’ve always done well. Apart from last year when I was flying a bit but I hope I will have better luck this year.
AW: You have to know that next week we have different tyre choices, Bridgestone brings the super-soft and soft, it will be soft-medium and obviously that has an influence on the set-up. Temperature, grip level, friction level of the track is higher than here. So I think the stiffness of the car can be different depending on what we did here. The kerbing is more aggressive so you have different set-ups and traction control and differential in the end. I don’t want to show off here but the details count and even if it is a similar set-up, it’s a completely different story.

Q: (Tony Marinaro – The Team 990 Radio) Lewis when you take a look at the qualifying times and you take a look at the podium today you must really be excited at the progress the McLaren is making compared to the Ferrari?
LH:
Absolutely. Without a doubt the team has worked extremely hard as they do every year I think. Also Mercedes-Benz have done a great job too to develop the engine this year and that’s a big step forward. But we’ve been very fortunate, the car has been very reliable and I go to the workshop as much as possible speak to as many of the people as I can and they probably get a much better feel of the car and where they want to improve things. They want to win as much as me and Fernando and that’s the thing we share in common. We were surprised to see that Ferrari weren’t as quick again this weekend but I’m sure they’ll be back. So we need to make sure we keep on stepping forward and I’m sure we’ll do that.

Q: (Dave Stubbs – The Gazette) As you were going past the remains of Robert’s car did you have a look at it and can you talk a little bit about the safety and integrity of these cars. We saw this accident happen. It was with absolutely tremendous force and the fact that he is apparently ok speaks volumes about the safety of the cars. Can you talk a little bit about the safety and how comfortable you feel knowing that something like this can happen at high speed and that you will do ok.
LH:
I feel great in the car, not worried at all. I know that they’ve done a fantastic job to make the safety the number one priority. I’ve not seen the crash but there was a lot of debris and obviously as I came past I wasn’t focusing on the car I was focusing on trying not to run anything over. It is good to hear that he’s well. I know Robert quite well from karting days and I really wish him all the best and his family. I think it’s safe enough as you can see. I think we need to always improve.
NH: It can never be safe enough. I think we have been extremely lucky that we haven’t seen a very bad accident over the last couple of years but you have to remember that if we do more than 300kph wheel to wheel, open wheels, anything could happen. It’s fantastic how much the cars have improved over the last couple of years. Usually each year the regulations make it harder for impact for the whole group and I hope it continues like that. I’m not worried but I hope we keep on the same direction in the circuits. In the last couple of years the circuits have also improved massively. Over the next few years we will go to more street circuits and hopefully it will stay that way. I think there are some exceptional street circuits that are definitely a bit dangerous but I think there is a possibility to make even a street circuit meet the normal FIA standards. I hope that will happen
AW: We all shouldn’t be too comfortable to be honest. It is motor racing. Formula One, with the speed is still extremely dangerous. You have to always be careful. If you are unlucky tragic accidents can still happen. I have to say thanks to so many people for pushing the safety. The FIA, the FIA Foundation and the FIA Institute, the teams, the manufacturers, really a lot of people put a lot of effort in to the safety. It’s stunning that you know that many people care. The only thing I want to say is that, ok we are all pleased that Robert is fine. But at the same time I hope what Formula One achieves in terms of safety standards will be one day translated to the street because we have 1049 people dying in traffic accidents every day around the world and that is too many. So I think an accident like Robert’s today shows how much safer cars can be and what you can get away with. I wish that would be the case for everybody in the world.