FIA Thursday press conference - Hungary 02 Aug 2007
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso), Sakon Yamamoto (Spyker).
Q: Sebastian, when did you know you were actually driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso?
Sebastian Vettel: Well, at the beginning of the week. All our talks and stuff started a bit earlier than that but 100 percent I knew it at the start of the week and then on Tuesday there was the announcement, so it wasnt a long time ago.
Q: There were announcements from both Red Bull and BMW; are you a Red Bull Sauber driver first or Red Bull second? Which way round is it?
SV: I think the most important thing is that I was supported by both of them quite early on. Since 2005 I was supported by BMW as well and earlier than that by Red Bull. I did the race at Indy for BMW as a reserve driver (standing in) for Robert. For sure, as a race driver, you want to race, so I took the possibility to come to Toro Rosso and race.
Q: So what are your aims and goals for the rest of the season?
SV: Its difficult to predict because Ive never been in the car, so tomorrow will be the first time but for sure, the car is not as strong as the top cars in front and there is a lot of work to do, but I think I can bring some motivation to the team and try my best to improve the situation and then finally get some points.
Q: And youve raced here before, or youve driven here before?
SV: Yes, Ive driven here before, only two or three weeks ago in Renault World Series, so the last time I was in a racing car was here, so maybe thats kind of an advantage.
Q: Sakon, nice to see you again as well. Youve been in GP2 this year; how has that been going?
Sakon Yamamoto: Yes, obviously last year, after Id finished the Brazilian Grand Prix, I tried to become second driver for Super Aguri but they decided to use Anthony Davidson, so then we went into GP2. I decided to go into GP2 to try and get back into Formula One because I thought that was the best series in which to graduate to be a Formula One driver.
Q: And the season so far?
SY: Yeah, the season was really tough at the beginning but since the middle of the season we have been getting better with the set-up and so far it was OK and we were looking forward to a really good set-up for Hungary.
Q: How did Spyker drive come about?
SY: On the Sunday morning after we had finished the GP2 race (at Nürburgring) I heard the story from my manager and at that time, I was really surprised because I didnt expect that Spyker would make me an offer.
Q: So when did you last drive a Formula One car?
SY: The last time I drove was the Brazilian Grand Prix last year, but I also drove in the Abu Dhabi Festival.
Q: And you did some testing earlier on this year?
SY: No, I havent had any testing this year, so it means that it will be the first time in a Formula One car this year.
Q: Is that going to be difficult?
SY: Well, yeah. Everything is different, so it shouldnt be so easy, but I know some stuff from driving for Jordan Grand Prix, so it was really easier for me to get familiar with the team. So for tomorrow, I want to use the maximum of three hours to make sure the seat fits and get to know as much as I can about the car.
Q: Robert, this is an anniversary, isnt it?
Robert Kubica: Yeah, a bit, complete apart from Indy.
Q: This was your first Grand Prix last year.
RK: Yeah, it has been, thats right. Last year was a pretty up and down weekend for me here, finishing in the points only to be disqualified. This year I hope for a better weekend. The car is performing much better this year and we are looking pretty strong and of course probably a lot of Polish fans will come so Im really looking forward to it.
Q: When you look back to a year ago, can you believe what has happened in the year since?
RK: Yeah, of course. In the end Im a racing driver, Im trying to get as much as possible out of the car. Of course, there were good moments but also bad moments as in life as a whole and all drivers had good memories and bad feelings. But we are concentrating on the future and this Grand Prix.
Q: Recently you seem to have been out-performing your team-mate. Do you feel that youre still making progress?
RK: I think in ones whole life you make progress. At every Grand Prix, every day you have a new experience which you have to use in the future. Of course, its much harder now to get every I dont say even tenth half a tenth out of the car, out of yourself, from the tyres, but I think every Grand Prix teaches us a new lesson and we have to learn it and gain experience.
Q: So what are your hopes for this weekend?
RK: I think it will be difficult to fight against Ferrari and McLaren but I hope to be there, just behind them or maybe fighting with them, but this will be surprising if possible. And we need to use opportunities. We are coming from a not very successful weekend at Nürburgring, so I hope for good points for the team.
Q: And a lot of fans here?
RK: Yeah, already last year it was short term because I was announced on the Wednesday or Tuesday and there were a lot of people, so I was already surprised. Even last year in China or Japan there were a lot of Polish fans, and its not easy to follow Formula One and Im really surprised how many people were there and probably there will be a lot here.
Q: In fact, Kimi, its the same with you; this is almost the Finnish home race, isnt it?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, its closest, at least. We usually get a lot of Finnish people here. Its easy to come and they have lots of different opportunities to come, and its always nice to see them.
Q: Now, I keep hearing stories in the press room about a gorilla suit
KR: (Laughs) Yeah, but was it really me? You dont know. You hear a lot of stories always from the people there, so
Q: But you won. Are you going to disclaim the win?
KR: Yeah, weve got the trophy already. It was just a boat race and we just went for fun.
Q: Pole here in 2006, and you won in 2005 from fourth on the grid. What are your chances?
KR: I dont know really, its a bit different to many other circuits, probably a bit more like Monaco but I think we have made some progress and we should be stronger than we were in Monaco. If this is closer to that, we could be in a good position, but we will really see tomorrow how the car works here.
Q: What have you been able to change since Monaco, because it was a problem on the twistier circuits.
KR: Yeah, but I think its OK, its closest to Monaco here but this is still a proper circuit. Weve got some new parts from the test last week, so I think they are going to help because its quite bumpy here and we need to go over the kerbs, so hopefully it helps us.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia EFE) A question for Robert. Were you surprised by any of the recent decisions from the doctors concerning who is able to race and who is not?
RK: No, why? I mean I can say only for myself. I understand the decision that I was not allowed to race in Indy and thats all I will say. I was pleased to be back in Magny-Cours.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia EFE) What about Hamilton? [Lewis Hamilton was allowed to race after high-speed crash in Germany]
RK: I have not enough data. I was not in the car of Lewis and I do not know even what the impact was. I really dont care. I believe he was able to race because he was allowed to race. Thats all.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) A question for Kimi. How do you see your chances in the championship? At the moment you are pretty far away and there are not many races to go.
KR: Well, I am not any further away than before the last race. We had a bad result but we didnt get more far away in the points, so You see like in the last race many things happened and suddenly some people gain many points on the leader and some people not. But there are still many races, so we keep pushing and if we can keep the speed that we have had in the last five races I think still we have every chance.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) Sebastian, you are coming from a team that you just tested with [BMW Sauber] who are a front running team, to a team that runs at the back. Was that any consternation for you? Did you worry about that? Or was it just that you wanted to race no matter what team it was?
SV: Everybody can understand that this year the testing regulations are very restrictive. You dont get to drive a lot. So the one that suffers most is the third driver, or even the two test drivers. Therefore, I think it was a very smart decision and a great opportunity for myself to do the step and thats it. For sure the car is not on the same basis as the BMW car for instance. But you know this is the challenge. The car is not up there but you know there is a lot to work on and a lot to improve so I try to do the best on the circuit and also off the circuit to improve the situation. I dont care too much what happened in the past I prefer to focus on what is coming next and I am really looking forward to it.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) Kimi, McLaren withdrew Fernando Alonso from this press conference, I can only assume due to the situation between McLaren and Ferrari. Do you think that Ferrari should have had you not participating in this press conference either?
KR: I dont know what the reason is for this, maybe it is something else, so I was happy to come here. I need to do the same thing either here or out there in the paddock, so for me it doesnt matter.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, are you still worried about reliability problems with Ferrari? Or do you think here you are going to solve them once and for all?
KR: It is racing and you always can have some problems with the car. Thats a part of it, unfortunately. I think so we understand the problem and we have made some improvements already and we are pretty sure it is not going to happen again. But like I said, you never know. I was happy after Saturday at the qualifying but like I say the race is so long that anything can happen and we couldnt finish the race unfortunately. So we know we can be fast but it is too early to say, but technically we are pushing to improve the reliability.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Kimi, can you just tell us your reaction last Thursday when the World Motor Sport Council gave their decision? Were you as angry as the rest of the team seem to have been? And similarly what was your reaction this week when you heard the case will go to the court of appeal?
KR: I havent really followed it too much apart from what I hear from other people and I dont really want to get involved, so it doesnt matter if I like it or not. What I think isnt going to change things, so I just follow what happens and there are people who make decisions. I guess for everything there is a reason, so we will see what happens in the future.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Is there a sense between you and Felipe [Massa] that you want to prove Ferrari on the track rather than everything that is happening off the track?
KR: For sure we are going to push as hard as we can to win races and fight for every victory, every point. Thats the only way of racing. We are not waiting to gain some advantage in any other way. That is a completely different story and we keep racing as before. So hopefully we can catch up.
Q: (Byron Young The Daily Mirror) Kimi, in a letter from Ron Dennis to the Italian Motorsport Authority today he suggested that the Ferrari was illegal for the first race in Australia.
KR: I dont know anything about the letter at all. So I guess we would have been disqualified if we had been not legal, so probably he was not right.
Q: (Heinz Prüller Kronen Zeitung) Gentlemen, what are you planning for the holiday time? Kimi, on the boat probably?
KR: I dont know, I dont have any plans. For sure something fun, so well see.
RK: I have already had a holiday, so I will do the same as Im doing here. So really nothing special.
SY: I am planning to go back to Japan for five days.
SV: I think nothing special. There is a lot for me to catch up. So I try to do some work outs, a bit more than in the past maybe, and just try to get fit for the next race.
Q: (Panos Diamantis Car and Driver) Kimi, you said at the Nürburgring that your car being light on fuel was less good than being heavy on fuel. Do you think that compromises your strategy a bit?
KR: No, my car was good in qualifying. In the race maybe we didnt get the tyres working as we wanted. The first two qualifying sessions dont make much of a difference, the last qualifying is all that counts. We had a perfect car and we had plenty of fuel in the car, so
Q: Kimi, are you satisfied that Ferrari can now manage the super-soft tyres? Because it seemed in Monaco and Canada that there was some kind of problem with those.
KR: I dont think we had any problem with the tyres, we just werent as strong maybe at those races as we have been in some others. We still have been using the soft tyres better than the rest in the last races, so I dont see that we have had any problems at any point.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Kimi, you have said that you are not too concerned about what is going on behind the scenes. But is it a sort of frustration or annoyance that all this is still going on in the background? And also are you a believer that the race should be won on the racetrack rather than in the courtroom?
KR: For sure I think so whatever happens in the coming weeks or months in the championship for sure for everybody it would be nicer to decide it on the circuit. But sometimes there are some other issues that are going to get involved in the whole situation. But I dont know too much about the whole situation and the details, so I cant really say anything about it. You hear things, but you hear many different things on the same story, so I just wait and see what happens and keep doing my own thing.