FIA post-qualifying press conference - Britain 07 Jul 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, youve 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 wasnt 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 Im very very fortunate to have done it, but I couldnt have done it without the team changing the tyres quickly and getting me out on time. So thank you to them but Im very excited about tomorrow now.
Q: You were fourth fastest after that first new set, and as youve been saying all weekend, very difficult conditions; talk us through the lap.
LH: Well, Ive been struggling in sector one. Its where Ive 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 didnt 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 youve got that sort of pressure on you I could see so many fans out there, its been fantastic today and really to see the support that Ive got, its unreal. I pulled out the lap, I was really really happy when I came across the line and saw the reaction of the fans. Its 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 dont 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 thats not something we can change any more so there was definitely speed enough for pole position.
Q: Youve 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 its 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 wasnt as bad today as it was yesterday so for me its not too bumpy but its 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. Im 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 well see, of course, what strategy youre 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, didnt 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, Im sure youve felt the pressure here. Tell us what its like for you this weekend, and also, just to add to the pressure that every time youve won the pole, youve also won the race.
LH: Yeah. I feel quite relaxed coming into this weekend. I dont know about other drivers but Ive been someone I dont know if its part of my personality but I like to make people happy and when Im 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 Im finding this weekend quite a positive weekend for me and for sure, theres pressure but the most pressure comes from myself. So going into tomorrow Im going to do the best job I can and well see what happens.
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 wasnt quick enough in the previous runs and throughout the whole weekend, weve been struggling to well, Ive been struggling to a certain point to really fine-tune the car and also my driving because each time Im improving, Im finding something new and a lot of its to do with the experience and experience on this circuit Its so quick through the first sector, you really need to slowly build up to the limit and Ive 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, thats as deep as Ive 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 theyre very very good at calculating how much time we had and I came in and I knew I had plenty of time. I wasnt 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 theres 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 wouldnt be able to say just how much time you gain but you definitely get a confidence boost and to see the support, its just not one group of people in the stands like it often is in certain areas, certain places. But here its just the whole grandstand and I cant believe how many people are here today. Its 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. Its basically straight already but I was on the grass so it didnt help. I didnt lift, but I just lost all the traction. The sand was flying everywhere, so its a bit disappointing really.
Q: How difficult do you feel its going to be to make up that place?
KR: First of all, theyre on the good side at the start, and I think thats 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 youve been so quick over the last couple of days.
KR: Yeah, we definitely have good speed in the car, good set-up, so we havent lost anything yet, but it makes life much more difficult, starting from the second place than from the first. But its 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, its looking good, its 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 doesnt matter how much time you are in front or behind. The important thing is the positions and Im 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 Im sure you kind of get used to whats 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 dont believe I have got used to it. It has been eight races and theyve all been fantastic. But its 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. Its been really tough. I hoped to come here and win pole position, it wasnt looking that good at one point in qualifying but it turned out quite good.
Q: (Mike Doodson Auto Action) Lewis youve 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 didnt 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. Youve 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, its 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 its definitely comforting to hear such nice things. But having my world turned upside-down is Im very lucky I have very god balance and sense of awareness so even though its turned upside-down I can still get on with my life. But its 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. Thats what some Formula One drivers didnt 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 its 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 wasnt 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 its 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 thats 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: Thats definitely been one of the toughest challenges - trying to manage your time and maximise the time you have off. We havent had much time off, at least I havent. Obviously the marketing department work extremely hard to make sure we dont have too many days but especially here, coming after a race in Magny-Cours, we didnt get many days off and we were straight back into appearances and everything. So to be able to divide out your energy, and its 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 LEquipe) 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 DVDs? Whats 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 cant 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. Ill 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 Ill be back here tomorrow morning as fresh as can be.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Fernando on your fastest lap in Q2 I didnt see the white stripe on your tyres so I suppose you didnt have soft tyres. So how much confidence does that give you for tomorrows 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 Im not sure about which tyre was best for me. So Im 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 tomorrows 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.