FIA post-race press conference - Britain 08 Jul 2007
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1h21m43.074s; 2nd Fernando Alonso (McLaren), 1h21m45.533s; 3rd Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1h22m22.447s.
Q: Kimi, a fantastic win for you, effectively won in the middle phase of the race, those six laps after Fernando had made his pit stop. You seemed to have a relatively free track in terms of traffic and you took the lead.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, we had a little bit of traffic but I think we had a good car all day all weekend, actually. At the beginning of the race I was just trying to save some fuel and look after my tyres and car and then once Lewis pitted I tried to push and gain some time on him and that went well. And then Fernando did a very short stop, so we knew that we were going to run longer in the second stop so I just tried to push as hard as we could once he came in and it was enough. After that, it was pretty easy.
Q: Lets talk about that first phase of the race: Lewis took the lead, you seemed to match him, fastest lap for fastest lap for the first few laps of the race and then it looked as if you could put pressure on Lewis.
KR: Yeah, like I said, we just saved fuel and then once we knew that we had enough I was able to close the gap pretty easily and try to overtake him, but then we were expecting him to stop a bit earlier, so I didnt want to risk too much. I think it worked out pretty well.
Q: Different tyre combinations for all three of you in terms of the Bridgestone hard and soft compound; what was it like from your point of view in terms of the car balance and indeed, any other events in the Grand Prix?
KR: I think it was good. Both tyres seemed to work very well. It didnt make any difference really. The hard one was very good at the end but then we didnt need to push any more. So far everything worked well.
Q: And the British Grand Prix is always a special event for any racing driver; your thoughts on your closing lap and the slow-down lap, the Lewis Hamilton crowd out there but you spoilt the day for them.
KR: Yeah, it was a very nice feeling to win the race of course. Weve been close here a few times, but something has always happened and we havent been able to win. Now, finally, we got the win and its one of the nicest races really so its very nice, a nice feeling and it was a good day.
Q: Fernando, it looked like a great bit of strategy for a while there. You got great track position as you started to hit the traffic in that second stint, but of course it was a short fuel stop that enabled you to do that. What was going through your mind at that point?
Fernando Alonso: Well, I think it was not the plan to do that. We changed the strategy, thinking that we should be able to maintain the lead even at the second stop, so we short-fuelled in the first pit stop and we started the second stint ahead of Kimi but I was not able to open up a gap that was big enough to maintain the lead. I think it was the right thing to do. We took the gamble and you never know what is going to happen, but, as you said, a little bit of traffic, especially when I began my third stint, so after the second stop those six laps for which Kimi had more fuel than me, I was not able to do a normal pace. I think the Ferrari was a little bit too quick today and at the end, I dont think the result would change too much. I think second place was the maximum today.
Q: Where do you think the difference was between McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari today in terms of performance, in terms of speed on the lap?
FA: We would like to know that. I dont know. Maybe we lack two or three tenths a lap in the same conditions with the same fuel loads and I think all weekend its been like that so the race was no surprise. Ferrari were a little bit too quick. To win the race, maybe the only chance was to start on pole position and open up a gap or something like that and it was not the case, so I think it was the maximum.
Q: Can you tell us about that incident with Alexander Wurz and Scott Speed when you were lapping them?
FA: Yeah, I had some difficulties today lapping people and the blue flags were not perfectly OK but sometimes they helped me, when Kimi was behind them and he was not able to overtake them as well. At the end of the race, I think its quite equal and quite balanced, the downsides and the upsides. Im happy with second place, its better to win but today I dont think it was possible.
Q: Lewis, well done on that ninth consecutive podium finish. You led from the pole, looked fantastic for a while and then you take over now!
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, well, we had an interesting race. It started off quite well, we got a good start which was the key. At the beginning I was just trying to pull a gap from Kimi but he was obviously extremely quick and towards the end of my stint, my tyres were falling away and I was struggling to keep up the pace, and Kimi started to be able to put pressure on me. However, when we did the pit stop, I made a mistake in the pit stop. I didnt hesitate but I thought that the lollipop was lifted and I went. I dont know how many seconds I lost through that but it was a mistake of mine which lost me quite a bit of valuable time, and then I just had to try and push but I just struggled with the balance. Throughout the whole weekend, Ive been struggling to perfect the balance and driving around the issues that I had with the car. But obviously qualifying went well and (today) we just lacked, I think, in the race, and I dont know what happened in the last two stints. The last stint was a bit better, I was very consistent but we just didnt really have the pace of the Ferraris.
Q: As we said, there were three different tyre combinations between the three of you, you finishing on the softer of the Bridgestones, the other guys at that point were on the harder of the two. How significant do you think the tyre choice was today?
LH: I think it played quite a big role, especially at the beginning with Kimi being able to keep up with me, the softer tyre being perhaps slightly faster. We wanted to start with the softer tyre but we thought it was too much of a gamble due to the tyres going off too quickly so we started with the prime, but I thought that the last stint was perhaps the best for me, in terms of the stability of the car. We came away with the points, its my ninth podium so Im very, very happy for that and happy for the team to get the points from me and Fernando so it was good.
Q: What was the slow-down lap in front of the crowd like for you?
LH: It was good. I must say thank you to all the fans, theyve been tremendous this weekend. Without their support it would have been a much harder race. I knew they were with me all the way and we have to wait and see. Hopefully next time, next year here we will give it another shot.
Q: Kimi, two great wins in a row now for Ferrari and for you. It looks as if you have the edge, but the championship is not over yet.
KR: Hopefully. You never know. Its going to be a long season still. We seem to have good speed right now but I also think it depends a lot on the circuit conditions and the places where we go. But Im pretty happy now with the car, all weekend being good. I just made a mistake yesterday which made our life much more difficult than it should have been in the race. But in the end, we came out with a win, so thats the main thing. The guys did a great job in the pit stops, being able to stay ahead of the other guys. I think weve had a pretty good weekend and we try to improve the car again and go and try to do the same next week, or the next race.
Q: Kimi, two in a row, two wins, how significant are these two wins?
KR: Of course theyre important. We gained some points on the other guys, also in the team championship. Im not sure we gained today but anyhow, its important, for sure. We seem to have got the car a bit better for me now and everything seems to go a bit more easily. Its definitely nicer now than it was after the first few races but I think its still a long season. Right now its looking good but everything can change again at the next race. We just keep pushing.
Q: Different tyre choices; you were really challenging Lewis in the opening stint on the softer tyre. Very often people complain about graining when theyre very close behind another car. Did you have that?
KR: No, nothing. Not at all, not even on the second set. The tyres worked very well today, also the last set, the hard one, was very good at the end, but I didnt need to push at all so even just driving slowly it seemed to give you a good lap time. I think both sets were very good today.
Q: On lap 14 you got very close to Lewis in the Complex.
KR: Yeah, I know. He was slowing down a bit so we tried to put some pressure on him and then I got very close to him. I had a little chance to overtake but I think it would have been a bit too close. There would have been a little bit of touching so it was better to wait than take the risk. Then we were expecting to stop a little bit later, so we were able to pull out a big enough gap.
Q: And did you just ease off at the end, because the margin was just coming down and down and down?
KR: I dont think we pushed at all for the last ten laps. We just kept the gap to Alonso and then just backed off.
Q: Fernando, you were talking about backmarkers, at half distance you were coming up behind another battle. Was that one of the problems?
FA: I dont think that one was a problem. I think Kimi caught those guys two laps later, so I think at the end of the day, it doesnt change anything. I think maybe the only ones that were probably not a help for sure was after the second stop. When I left the pits, three cars together were passing just in front of me: two Williams and one Toro Rosso and I spent the first two laps after the second stop overtaking them. Kimi had six laps more fuel, two of them I was overtaking people, so I lost a little bit of time but I think the result wouldnt have been changed.
Q: Even so, you must have been pretty pleased coming out in the lead after the first round of stops having been third.
FA: Yes, I think I was able to keep the pace in the first stint. They were two or three seconds in front of me but never more than that. I had four laps more fuel than them and I was struggling a little bit, but I knew that when they started pitting, I was right behind them so I knew that this extra three or four laps was maybe enough to be leading the race after my first stop. And obviously we chose a very short second stint which is even better to be first after the stop. And then in the middle stint, I knew that I had to open a gap, maybe eight, ten second gap, to be able to win the race, and I was only five seconds ahead so when I pitted the second time, I knew already that maybe it was not enough. I think the middle stint, with a lighter car, I was only able to open a gap of three seconds or something like that, and I should be able to open more so we were maybe not quick enough.
Q: Lewis, similarly the middle stint was your problem stint.
LH: Yeah, it was. The first stint was reasonably competitive and I think Kimi was obviously putting a lot of pressure on me. I was trying to build up a gap. I knew I had to have a three to five second gap which I wasnt able to build. In that middle stint, I started to grain my tyres after the first lap due to understeer and it just continued and it got harder and harder to maintain the pace. Just seeing these guys pull away was obviously extremely tough for me but I just had to try to maintain it and keep on working hard and hope that there was an opportunity for me where maybe they would make a mistake or maybe the tyres would clean up and I would catch up but it didnt happen and I just had to come away with some points.
Q: It must be a new experience being 36 seconds down on the guy in front; do you feel yourself lucky to be on the podium?
LH: I wouldnt say its luck. Obviously we worked extremely hard this weekend. I think we made a wrong decision, or I made a wrong decision with the set-up. I chose a different rear end to Fernando and I think it really caused me problems during the race. Even in qualifying we didnt really have the pace that I should have had, but it was too late by then to change the car. Its a good lesson, weve come away with a ninth podium position, most consistent driver here, I think, and I have to be happy with that, and we have to look forward and hope to do better in the next race.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi do you now have a better feeling going into the second part of the season compared with 2005 when you were chasing Fernando?
KR: No, I think it is a different story completely. A different kind of year, different kind of rules and everything. I have a good feeling but like I said every race can be completely different so Im not too much thinking that. If we can repeat our times from today then for sure we have a good chance every weekend as long as we get everything working well.
Q: (Anne Giuntini LEquipe) To Lewis: you said you had a different rear end to Fernando. Do you usually have the same type of set-up?
LH: Yeah, we usually have a very similar car. But it was slightly different this weekend. Normally it is not exactly the same but near enough the same.
Q: (Sal Zanca Associated Press) Kimi and Fernando. Did the better car or the better strategy win the race?
KR: I dont know really. It doesnt make any difference any more. We were first, they were second. We had a good speed but I think to look in qualifying Fernando was a very similar speed so if you put the two cars on the same fuel loads it could have been very close.
FA: A difficult question again. Who knows? As Kimi said, in qualifying we were closer, or maybe I was slightly quicker forgetting the fuel loads that we saw today. And in the race they were slightly quicker. Maybe starting in front of them was just enough to win the race or maybe not.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) As euphoric as you were yesterday after being pole at your home Grand Prix how acute is the disappointment, if any, at not winning it today?
LH: Obviously, it is not the best result for us. Being on pole I felt quite strongly that we could have had a better result. However, to come to your first home Grand Prix and still get a podium after difficulties on your second and last stint I have to look on the bright side you know. We still have nine podiums in a row and I dont know if that has ever been done, but Im very happy with that.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Kimi, did you shout in the radio after all?
KR: Still no. It is not what I do.
Q: (Trevor Huggins Reuters) Question for Lewis. Given the edge that the Ferraris seem to have today and you said yourself that you made a couple of mistakes along the way. Do you think, realistically, if Massa hadnt stalled on the grid you would have finished fourth?
Q: (Trevor Huggins Reuters) So it is down to that that you were able to keep this run of podium finishes going then?
LH: Take it how you want.
Q: (Sean McGreevy Motoring and Leisure) Congratulations on another podium finish Lewis. How are you dealing with being a role-model and the responsibilities that come with that? And who is your role-model?
LH: I dont particularly have a role-model anymore because Im 22 years-old. But my brother inspires me because he has always got a smile on his face no matter what. I think you can learn a lot from that. As I always say, whatever he does he cant play football like the rest of us, he cant play any type of sport like the rest of us he still gives it 110% even though it is that tough. I think you can learn so much from that so he inspires me.
Q: How would you judge the first half of the season?
KR: For sure we would like to be in a better position in the championship but we expected to have a few difficult times and we have so far. But at least it is going in the right direction. So maybe we can have a strong end of the year.
FA: Same comment as Kimi. It can be better than this at the moment. I have had two seventh places at Canada and Magny-Cours and probably that was not in the plan. But the championship is very long, the second half will be better and everything is more or less ok.
LH: I think I have had a wicked season so far. Ive got no complaints to make.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport) Fernando, everybody among the top four had a different tyre strategy today. With hindsight would you say that if you had a different choice of tyres from stint to stint it would have been a different story?
FA: I dont think so. For us the soft tyre works a little bit better for qualifying maybe. We felt it was quite bad for the race. We were quite worried about the graining so we were planning to put the soft tyre in for the shorter stint of the race. At the beginning the last part of the race was planned to be the shorter stint but we changed the strategy to overtake Kimi in the first pit stop. Then we made a very short middle stint so we fitted the soft tyres there because we really believed that with high fuel loads the soft tyre was a problem for us.
Q: (Andrew Benson F1 Racing) Fernando you have obviously had some difficulties adapting to a new team this year, there has been the tyre thing as well. But you looked really competitive this weekend, do you feel you are getting on top of it now?
FA: I think in Canada I was very, very quick all weekend. In Indianapolis I was the quickest in the race. In Magny-Cours I was third quickest after the two Ferraris. So it has been the last four or five races that I was quite happy with the car and quite quick all weekend. This one confirms again that I still learn, I have confidence and I have the speed to be there. Sometimes you can do it sometimes not. Of course we need a little bit more consistency and a better approach to the races from the team, it will be better.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, you are now in front of your teammate in an important period in the championship. How do you analyse it? Is it easy for you?
KR: We want to be ahead of everybody so if a guy I race against is in my team ok, but if not I race against all the rest. I am not looking for him [Felipe Massa] really. Im looking at how we can improve and how we can analyse. If you only race against your teammate it is not probably the right thing to do. Like I said this is a perfect result, this is what we aim for and if we repeat this we will be ahead of everybody.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Kimi, you were quite critical on yourself when mentioning the mistake of yesterday in qualifying. How angry were you after that happened?
KR: I wasnt happy because I know that this can damage our race. I expected that we would be quick in the race. I really thought we should have started in pole position, so after my mistake I was not happy at all. But luckily enough we could recover from it and still win the race. But for sure I made life much more difficult today than it should have been.
Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Lewis, was there a point in the race when it became clear when you thought damn this isnt going to be my day, Im not going to win it. Do you recall thinking that at some point?
LH: No not really. I never give up, I just keep on pushing because you never know what is going to happen. They [the leaders] could have come together, they could have got caught by back-markers. Sometimes I could see people ahead and I didnt know if it was them or whoever. I thought maybe they would be getting close to back-markers and I thought this is my opportunity to keep pushing because you might get close. You never know what is going to happen so I find you never give up, you just keep on pushing. The team are telling you to turn the engine down at some point so you are getting slower but then you try to push to compensate for the engine. But otherwise I kept going.
Q: (Jerome Bourret LEquipe) Lewis, you made your first mistake of the season, was it because you felt more under pressure than usual or not?
LH: No and I dont think it was my first mistake of the season. Ive made other mistakes, just ones you havent seen.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Lewis with these last two third places and a bit of a gap to Kimi what do you think is required now to go on and win the title?
LH: I think I need to step up my game which I intend to do. As a team we need to push as always but try to push even more if we can. You know for me as a driver Im still learning, I still have time to find in myself through experience and I think we are going to a few tracks that I know so it should really make the weekend a bit easier but it doesnt. Ive been here before but Ive struggled in terms of pace. Making sure we get the car set up right, making sure we keep on moving forward with the car and ideally beat the Ferraris.
Q: (Jaime Rodriguez El Mundo) Fernando, did you think that your second stop was going to be later?
FA: No, the team tell me always which lap I will stop so I knew it would be that lap. It was the only way to leave the pits after the first stop in front of Kimi. To short-fuel and to lead the race in the middle part. If we put more fuel in to stop later then maybe I would be second in the middle part of the race and second in the last part so it was the only possibility.
Q: (George Nolte Bild am Sonntag) Lewis could you describe your first pit stop again?
LH: I think the entry to the pit lane was good. I got to my box and the rear of the car dropped down. I selected first gear, I was ready to go - I thought I saw the lollipop move a little bit but I was maybe wrong - and I let the clutch out to early. You try to be as quick as you can when the lollipop goes up, I tried to anticipate it and I was too early.