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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Britain 07 Jul 2007

(L to R): pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 7 July 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 7 July 2007 Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 7 July 2007 Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 7 July 2007

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1m19.997s; 2nd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1m20.099s; 3rd Fernando Alonso (McLaren), 1m20.147s.

Q: Lewis, you’ve scored the fiftieth pole for the McLaren Mercedes partnership, your third pole of the season, and the first British driver to be on pole for his home Grand Prix since 1996. A fantastic qualifying session, the last to come in for new tyres, you timed it perfectly.
Lewis Hamilton:
Yeah, I can hear everyone outside… No, it was an extremely intensive qualifying session. Obviously, the Ferraris are extremely quick and so was Fernando and it was all down to the last lap, making sure… The first timed lap on new tyres in Q3 wasn’t very good. I lost a bit of time in turn one, and really I just had to pull it all out. I think I really did quite a sweet job of putting the lap together and I’m very very fortunate to have done it, but I couldn’t have done it without the team changing the tyres quickly and getting me out on time. So thank you to them but I’m very excited about tomorrow now.

Q: You were fourth fastest after that first new set, and as you’ve been saying all weekend, very difficult conditions; talk us through the lap.
LH:
Well, I’ve been struggling in sector one. It’s where I’ve been losing two tenths of a second, especially to Fernando, so this time I came across the line and going up to the first corner flat out, trying to hold it flat. I didn’t do it flat out but I nearly did and so I knew that I had already gained a tenth and a half, nearly two tenths. Then trying to maintain it for the rest of the lap was obviously extremely difficult, but I was able to do it at the last couple of corners. I knew I was up, about three tenths or something. When you’ve got that sort of pressure on you – I could see so many fans out there, it’s been fantastic today and really to see the support that I’ve got, it’s unreal. I pulled out the lap, I was really really happy when I came across the line and saw the reaction of the fans. It’s great to be home and I get an extra buzz.

Q: What was your slow in-lap like with the crowd?
LH:
I nearly lost my voice! I came across the line and I could hear the crowd – I don’t know if they could hear me but I was screaming just as loud as them.

Q: Kimi, it looked as if the pole was in your hands as well. We saw you running just a little bit wide coming out of the last corner but what was the rest of the lap like?
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, it was good, but unfortunately I ran off the circuit exiting the last corner, so we lost a lot of time but that’s not something we can change any more so there was definitely speed enough for pole position.

Q: You’ve been looking very fast since Friday morning, your first front row start since the Australian Grand Prix at the start of the season; you look to be in confident mood.
KR:
Yeah, but a bit disappointed really now, but hopefully we can get a good start and then it’s a long race so we will see how we can do.

Q: And the conditions here at Silverstone? It seems pretty bumpy and also very gusty.
KR:
Yeah, I think the wind has been quite difficult all weekend. It wasn’t as bad today as it was yesterday so for me it’s not too bumpy but it’s the wind which makes it more difficult and tricky.

Q: Fernando, fastest qualifying time of the three sessions but going into Q3, what were your aspirations and how was that last lap for you?
Fernando Alonso:
It was quite good, no big problems with the lap. I’m quite happy with the car, how we performed all today: P3, Q1, Q2 and Q3. Obviously we want to be on pole position but third place is the best we could do today and hopefully tomorrow a good set-up on the car for the race will pay off and hopefully we can overtake people in the race.

Q: And we’ll see, of course, what strategy you’re on tomorrow, but you have looked very quick from the start of practice on Friday.
FA:
Yeah, on Friday we tried to work a little bit with the set-up in terms of race pace and things like that, tried to understand the tyres as well, how they performed. Yesterday I was not completely happy with the car and our pace, maybe, didn’t seem too good but overnight we did some changes to the set-up, the team did a fantastic job, and today I found a completely different car, much quicker and I was able to be quickest in nearly all the sessions so no reason not to be optimistic for tomorrow.

Q: Lewis, I’m sure you’ve felt the pressure here. Tell us what it’s like for you this weekend, and also, just to add to the pressure that every time you’ve won the pole, you’ve also won the race.
LH:
Yeah. I feel quite relaxed coming into this weekend. I don’t know about other drivers but I’ve been someone – I don’t know if it’s part of my personality – but I like to make people happy and when I’m out there and I sign extra autographs, to see the amount of support you have, to see the flags waving, and when I drive round, I do see the Hamilton flags and all that. So I get a big buzz from that and a lot of energy, so I’m finding this weekend quite a positive weekend for me and for sure, there’s pressure but the most pressure comes from myself. So going into tomorrow I’m going to do the best job I can and we’ll see what happens.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Lewis, you should have seen your father in the pit lane, or maybe you did, on the big screen!
LH:
I was too busy celebrating myself in the cockpit. I nearly lost my voice.

Q: Were you digging deeper than ever for that lap?
LH:
Yeah, I was, because unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough in the previous runs and throughout the whole weekend, we’ve been struggling to… well, I’ve been struggling to a certain point to really fine-tune the car and also my driving because each time I’m improving, I’m finding something new and a lot of it’s to do with the experience and experience on this circuit… It’s so quick through the first sector, you really need to slowly build up to the limit and I’ve been building and building and building. So for that lap, I knew that I was fourth or something and it was all down to that lap. I came into the first corner and I tried to do it quicker than ever, and it was the same for the rest of the lap. I just had to maintain the pace that I already had from turn one and really, that’s as deep as I’ve had to dig for a long long time.

Q: You also thought it was a bit tight on time; in actual fact you had thirty seconds.
LH:
I was quite relaxed. I know that the team – they’re very very good at calculating how much time we had and I came in and I knew I had plenty of time. I wasn’t actually asking how much time we had left, I wanted to know the gap, how much quicker I was. But I think the team did a fantastic job to get us out, in and out as quick as possible, for me and Fernando, but just through the whole weekend there’s been a lot of pressure not only on me but also the team.

Q: What do you think the crowd is worth per lap, how many tenths is the support worth?
LH:
I wouldn’t be able to say just how much time you gain but you definitely get a confidence boost and to see the support, it’s just not one group of people in the stands like it often is in certain areas, certain places. But here it’s just the whole grandstand and I can’t believe how many people are here today. It’s been fantastic and I really do appreciate the support.

Q: Kimi, obviously you feel disappointed not to be on pole.
KR:
Yeah, because I made a mistake in the last corner, or exiting the last corner. It’s basically straight already but I was on the grass so it didn’t help. I didn’t lift, but I just lost all the traction. The sand was flying everywhere, so it’s a bit disappointing really.

Q: How difficult do you feel it’s going to be to make up that place?
KR:
First of all, they’re on the good side at the start, and I think that’s the biggest issue. In the race, it depends a lot on how much fuel we have against the others, but I think we have a fast race car, so we wait until tomorrow.

Q: And you’ve been so quick over the last couple of days.
KR:
Yeah, we definitely have good speed in the car, good set-up, so we haven’t lost anything yet, but it makes life much more difficult, starting from the second place than from the first. But it’s still not impossible, definitely not.

Q: Fernando, fastest in Q2 which is the ultimate speed. That must have been very satisfying.
FA:
Yeah, all day in P3, Q1, Q2 being fastest. Also I was quite happy with the car. Regarding yesterday, we had a couple of problems with the balance of the car. I was not totally happy and overnight we made some changes and today I felt much more confident. For the race, it’s looking good, it’s looking quite good for us and hopefully I can make up some places immediately after the start of the race and around the pit stop area.

Q: What areas did you improve on the car?
FA:
The rear end of the car. Yesterday it was a little bit loose and (I was) finding oversteer a little bit everywhere and that was costing us a lot of time. With some changes, with some new ideas from the engineers, they did a fantastic job and today the car felt completely different and I was able to really enjoy the lap.

Q: And just one and a half tenths difference between yourself and Lewis.
FA:
Yes, enough to be third, so at the end of the day, I think in qualifying it doesn’t matter how much time you are in front or behind. The important thing is the positions and I’m third, so hopefully tomorrow I can change this position.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Ian Stafford – The Mail on Sunday) Lewis, every week people keep asking you: ‘Can you believe this?’ And I’m sure you kind of get used to what’s happened to you this season. But you are pole at your first British Grand Prix. Are you still pinching yourself that all this is happening to you?
LH:
Yeah definitely. I don’t believe I have got used to it. It has been eight races and they’ve all been fantastic. But it’s still been very difficult experience to get used to. I think it is a good thing that it is always fresh, always new and always exciting for me and I hope that continues. It’s been really tough. I hoped to come here and win pole position, it wasn’t looking that good at one point in qualifying but it turned out quite good.

Q: (Mike Doodson – Auto Action) Lewis you’ve said you like to make people happy. The last two British champions were Nigel Mansell in 1992 and Damon Hill in 1996. Can you remember being excited by them doing well at Silverstone or would you be supporting other people?
LH:
Back then Aryton Senna was around and he was always my hero. For sure I supported the British drivers and Nigel Mansell… I was only six at the time so I didn’t really understand everything. When Damon won, I won my first British championship and I met him that year. To have been watching him all that year and see him do so well… obviously I got a big boost of confidence when I did meet him. But I was watching Aryton the whole time.

Q: (Sean McGreevy – Motoring and Leisure) Congratulations Lewis.
LH:
Thank you.

Q: (Sean McGreevy – Motoring and Leisure) There is obviously fantastic support for you this weekend. You’ve talked a lot about this but how are you dealing with going from relative anonymity to globally recognised sportsman and how does it feel to receive so many plaudits from people in F1? People like Sir Frank Williams who described you as superhuman.
LH:
Well, it’s overwhelming to hear such good things from people like Sir Frank Williams and a lot of people in the Formula One world. Obviously I came here to do a solid job, there has been a lot of pressure on from day one and there has not been that many negative comments made so I have been able to keep all this positive energy and it’s definitely comforting to hear such nice things. But having my world turned upside-down is… I’m very lucky I have very god balance and sense of awareness so even though it’s turned upside-down I can still get on with my life. But it’s been really tough obviously walking on the streets and people coming up to you. It is strange. Taken from my past experience when I used to go up to Formula One drivers I wanted to be slightly different. I wanted for people to be able to approach me and to try and give them as much time as possible. That’s what some Formula One drivers didn’t do when I was younger.

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Lewis, the feelings you are experiencing right now… How does it compare to your first win in Canada? And secondly you were disappointed with your start in France last week with Kimi behind you there. Are you confident that you are going to nail it tomorrow?
LH:
Yes, I feel confident. We have worked hard this weekend to improve our starts and I think being on the clean side definitely helps. And my feelings? It definitely feels… I think qualifying is always exciting. Even for you to watch but when you are in the car and you know you are on the last lap, the slightest mistake and you lose it… and you put it all together while you are sitting on a knife edge all the way round. You come round and you see that you did the time… it’s a phenomenal feeling, it really is.

Q: (Ian Stafford – The Mail on Sunday) Lewis, I just wanted to ask what were you saying when you were shouting into the radio to almost lose your voice? And what will you do if you win tomorrow celebration wise?
LH:
I wasn’t shouting in the radio. I made sure it was switched off. I was just shouting to myself, you know, “Yes”. But I did that in Canada too, the whole way round and it’s a long, long lap when you are just sitting in top gear and cruising round.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Kimi, can you just describe what happened in the last corner exit? Why did you slip onto the grass?
KR:
I just ran wide on the exit and that’s what happens, you lose time.

Q: (Carlos Miquel – Diario AS) Fernando, you are only a human driver, but in this English party do you think it is possible to fight with your teammate until the end of the race?
FA:
A difficult question. We will see what happens tomorrow. Today I did not have an easy day in P3 but tomorrow I will try to win the race that is for sure.

Q: (Andrew Frankl – Forza) Lewis we were talking about sponsors pulling you from pillar to post. Are you getting any rest? Are you getting any sleep?
LH:
That’s definitely been one of the toughest challenges - trying to manage your time and maximise the time you have off. We haven’t had much time off, at least I haven’t. Obviously the marketing department work extremely hard to make sure we don’t have too many days but especially here, coming after a race in Magny-Cours, we didn’t get many days off and we were straight back into appearances and everything. So to be able to divide out your energy, and it’s mostly mental energy that you are losing, to try not to empty that bottle that you need the whole weekend and keep everyone happy, keep a smile on and make sure you say the right things is really, really tough. It is probably one of the trickiest parts of the job.

Q: (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) I just wanted to ask Kimi and Fernando if you will shout in the radio tomorrow if you win?
KR:
Probably not. (Laughter)
FA: Probably not.

Q: (Ian Stafford – The Mail on Sunday) Lewis, if you can just tell us what happens between now and when the green light comes on tomorrow. What are you going to get up to? Are you going to chill? Watch DVD’s? What’s the plan?
LH:
After this we have to go back and sit in our room and analyse the data and find out where I could have found more time. Always got to improve and try to anticipate how the car is going to be tomorrow. We can’t make too many changes to the car, or any changes. But there are certain changes you can make to the GIF and traction control so we will go and analyse that and try to find some more time. For me this evening it is just about refilling the fuel tank, the energy tank. I’ll just make sure I get back in, relax, spend some time with my family, chill with my brother, play some Playstation, whatever it is to take my mind and my focus off racing. Then I’ll be back here tomorrow morning as fresh as can be.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Fernando on your fastest lap in Q2 I didn’t see the white stripe on your tyres so I suppose you didn’t have soft tyres. So how much confidence does that give you for tomorrow’s race?
FA:
I think I was the opposite to the other drivers. I think I was using the soft in Q1 and the prime in Q2. For me it was very close for tyres in terms of timed laps so it was just a check for which tyres we use in Q3 and I’m not sure about which tyre was best for me. So I’m very confident because with both tyres I can do exactly as quick timed laps. I was quickest in P1 and quickest in P2 so for tomorrow’s race, given that we have to use both sets of tyres at some point, I am very confident that in my case both tyres work exactly the same.