Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m27.329s; 2nd Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1m27.373s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1m27.546s.
Q: Felipe, an intense, dramatic last few minutes in Q3, everybody out there right at the end, what a brilliant lap from you.
Felipe Massa: Yeah, it was tough. Qualifying was very tight. You could see that every single Q1, Q2, Q3 was always a big fight between all four drivers, and in the last one, I managed to put together a great lap and Im very proud, especially after a very bad result in Hungary. I think we deserve it. Im very proud about the lap, about the teams job and its very good to start on pole position here, especially as the race tomorrow will be very tough, so its always a good start.
Q: Especially a year after your first pole, also here, in Turkey; a fantastic lap here, talk a little bit about turn eight and getting that lap perfect as you did.
FM: Well, turn eight is fantastic. I just managed to do it very well in qualifying. Actually, I love the corner. All weekend Ive been doing very good speeds through turn eight with a good balance to the car as well so I really love the corner. I think the whole track is really nice, its very technical to drive, difficult to find the right balance for every single part.
Q: Lewis, you were on pole again for a milli-second there but Felipe just got you at the end. Nice looking qualifying session for you; not a brilliant first run but very quick on that second run.
Lewis Hamilton: No, it was good for me. I was quite pleased with that. In testing weve been quick but then going into qualifying Q1 and Q2 I didnt really seem to have the pace and just wasnt able to put a good lap together. The first timed lap in Q3 was OK but again, I was fourth and just wasnt really sure if I was going to be able to do it but I just hung it out and kept on pushing. I lost a little bit of time out of the last corner but me and Felipe were just saying, its a very tricky corner and you know youre up on your time and you dont want to lose any and you dont want to try again too much, but still, its been good for us, good for the team in the top four.
Q: When you say youve had a little bit of a difficult time, how does the car feel here relative to recent races, in terms of its competitiveness tomorrow?
LH: The car feels very good. I think, again, weve had two and a half weeks or three weeks to improve the car and the team has been working extremely hard. Not everyones had holidays and I know that the team doesnt rest. Theyve been pushing quite a lot to come here again with another step. I think we have a very strong package. I think for tomorrow we stand in good stead for a competitive race with the Ferraris.
Q: No dramas in qualifying; it looked as if you reverted back to the McLaren practice of having independent pit crews there for this session.
LH: Yeah, that was a decision the team took before qualifying. Once again, we made sure that if we have any problems, the decision has to be made before qualifying, not during qualifying and they decided it was easier to have two pit crews and it worked out quite well.
Q: Kimi, you also looked like a pole man for quite a while there. What was qualifying like for you?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think the first qualifying (sessions) were good. I made a mistake in the second one in corner nine but the car felt good and just in the last qualifying, the last lap, I had a bit of oversteer in the last two corners, but nevertheless, I think third is OK. For sure, I would rather be in first place but I think we have a good race car here. Its going to be a long race so hopefully we can fight back.
Q: We talk a lot about the dramatic fast corners here particularly turn eight but then its interesting to hear you and other drivers talking about the last few corners of the lap, which are relatively slow and appear to be quite easy corners.
KR: Yeah, theyre slow but you lose much more time in slow corners than in fast corners. Theyre very important corners and its very tricky to get them right. They seem to be very slippery. You can easily destroy the lap there so thats what happened, but I think we are still in a good position for tomorrow and we will see what we can do in the race.
Q: Felipe, your thoughts on the Ferrari - McLaren Mercedes battle tomorrow.
FM: Yeah, it will be very tough. I think we have a good race car tomorrow, as we also showed in practice, but they are going to be very competitive as well. I think its going to be a difficult race for us, a nice race for the spectators.
Q: Felipe, youre becoming a little bit of a Turkish specialist, I think.
FM: I miss this place, to be in the middle of the people, you know. It was a great lap, Im very happy about that. It was very tight during the whole qualifying with all four drivers but I knew I had a good car and I just knew that if I put everything together I can be very very quick. I didnt have a very very good lap in Q1 and Q2, I just couldnt put the lap together but I was paying attention to where I was making mistakes to get it right when it counts. I was able to put everything together in the last run, both tries in Q3. It was a good lap, so Im very happy to be here especially after a very bad result in Hungary.
Q: How important is it to know that you can win here, that you have won here?
FM: First of all, if you know you have a good car, if you know the balance is right, and if you know that if youre maybe having a problem in one corner but you were already able to do the corner right during the weekend, you know that you are competitive. I was pretty competitive during the weekend, even if maybe I was not first but I was competitive, the balance was right and I just managed to put it together at the time that it counted. I think thats the most important thing. For sure, to be concentrated, to do everything perfect is very difficult but I managed to do that.
Q: And weve seen a lot of drivers making mistakes over the last couple of days, how do you feel about your own performance?
FM: I think its pretty normal to make mistakes. I made some as well. When you need to try to find the limit, its normal to make small mistakes and thats what happens with most people. Fortunately it didnt happen at the crucial time, so thats good.
Q: Lewis, happy with second on the grid?
LH: Yeah, absolutely, especially knowing that the gap was so close. Going into qualifying, I knew that we had the pace, obviously throughout testing we seemed to be perhaps either with Ferrari or slightly faster, so I was quite confident going into it. Q1 and Q2 were a bit of a surprise to me. The car didnt feel great and I couldnt really get a clean, smooth lap, and I was fourth, I think, for both of them. Going into the two qualifying laps that I had in Q3, the first one was not too bad, I knew where I lost time and I knew that I could improve on it but I didnt think it would be half a second, six tenths. But going into the last lap, I really put everything together and I knew it was a good lap. I lost a bit of time at the last corner, but I think its the same for everyone. Its a very very tricky corner, but Im very very happy: second, I cant complain.
FM: He hasnt been to the toilet today, thats why hes second.
LH: Yeah, but you have, so If I did, maybe it would be a bit closer.
Q: Obviously last year you had a phenomenal GP2 race here; how does that affect you looking towards the race tomorrow?
LH: Well, obviously having the experience in GP2 and knowing that you can overtake here definitely eases your mind, just showing that there are opportunities. On some tracks you just cant get close enough but here, its still tricky, I think, but its definitely possible so we just have to see. I think its going to be a good race, weve got a good car, good strategy and Im looking forward to having a race with these guys.
Q: Are you surprised to see Ferrari as competitive again as they were on these sort of circuits rather than the tighter ones like Hungary?
LH: No, not really. I think I would have thought it would be the other way round. I actually thought that through the slower, tighter sort of circuits, we thought that they were perhaps slower than us and in the longer circuits, with longer straights, they seemed to be a little bit quicker. So we sort of anticipated that they would be quick here this weekend, but it doesnt mean they have a better car, it just means they are with us!
Q: Kimi, a bit disappointed to be third after yesterday for instance?
KR: Yeah, for sure we want to be in first place but the first two qualifying runs were OK, the car was good. I made small mistakes in the second qualifying but I just had maybe not as a good car as I was expecting in the last run, but a small mistake in the last two corners was enough to put me third. But I think we have a very good car in the race, so we should be able to fight and its a long race. We will see what we can do.
Q: You seem to be talking a lot about the third sector. Is it a case of you can lose a lot of time there but you cant gain a lot?
KR: I think you can win as much as you can lose if you get it right but the fact is that you can lose more time in the slow corners because you spend more time in them. Its just a tricky place with very tight corners and you try to be quick in a straight line, so you dont want too much downforce but it is also slippery.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Spyros Pettas - Auto Motor und Sport Greece) The World Motor Sport Council decided that McLaren had Ferrari technical information and broke Article 151c, but were not penalized. Then came Hungary where McLaren and Fernando Alonso were severely penalized because he just stood in the pits for 30 seconds for whatever reason. Is this type of justice flattering to the sport and the F1 fans?
FM: I am not going to comment on that.
LH: And neither am I.
KR: The same.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, yesterday you said you would prefer P3 to P2 if you were not on pole. Do you still agree?
KR: I think so, if you look at past years the clean side of the circuit seems to be the better place to start. I think it might make a difference here but we will see what happens tomorrow.
Q: (Ian Stafford - The Mail on Sunday) A question for both Kimi and Felipe: There are 50 points still to play for, so both of you could still be world champion, but realistically what have you got to do now to stop Lewis and Fernando? I think that you need to be beating Lewis by three and a half points per race between now and the end of the season, so what do you have to do?
FM: We will try to do exactly that!
Q: Can you elaborate on that?
FM: We will try to put both Ferraris ahead of both McLarens in every race. The championship is not easy, 21 points is not comfortable but is it possible? We are going to try.
KR: We will do our best and hopefully win races and you never know what is going to happen in the last six races. We will keep pushing for as long as we still think we have a chance. The next three races are important but we need to wait and see.
Q: (Frederic Ferret LEquipe) For Lewis, how disturbing was it to not be at the circuit on Thursday to prepare for the weekend?
LH: As you can see we are still second in the qualifying session, so it has not really had any effect on our preparation. We were still able to prepare and I met up with my engineers earlier in the week, so it made no difference to me.
Q: (Steve Cooper - Autosport) Felipe, there was a report in the German media earlier this week that you had received information about the McLaren Hungary penalty before it had been officially released. Is that true?
FM: That is crazy.
Q: (Ian Stafford - The Mail on Sunday) Lewis, obviously you have to keep an eye on the Ferrari boys but Fernando is your nearest challenger in the world championship so, with that in mind, how happy are you about qualifying second when Fernando is fourth?
LH: It is obviously a positive. Going into qualifying I knew that Fernando had been improving all the way through to qualifying and I seemed to lack the pace initially, but I am very relieved that I was able to pull out the time on my last lap and qualify ahead of him. Obviously tomorrow is another day and I will just have to try to get as many points as possible and finish ahead of him. But it will be good for both of us to finish ahead of the Ferraris.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) For Massa, you did a fantastic T3 and Kimi said it is easy to make a mistake there, so can you explain how that was so good?
FM: It was very difficult especially since from the morning practice to qualifying the wind direction changed a little bit and affected these corners. I didnt have the same grip again in the last corner compared to before but I was able to do a good T3, not pushing as hard in the corner as before. I just tried not to be too aggressive and managed to do a good T3.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) You said you didnt have as good a car in Q3 as in Q1 and Q2, so can you just describe what happened with the balance of the car?
KR: It was nothing specific, I just think that when you put more fuel in the car it is always going to be different. You are always guessing a bit how it is going to be and although it was still good I could not quite put a lap together as well as I was hoping. But I think for long runs in the race the car should be good. I am not too disappointed although for sure it makes it easier if you start in first place, so we will just have to see what happens.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Felipe, which one was more difficult to get, pole this year or last year?
FM: I think both. Pole position is always difficult. Last year was tight and this year we have also had many tight qualifying sessions. I was able to do a good lap here and in Malaysia as well it was very good. Even Bahrain was tight. It is always difficult.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, can you describe how it felt when you made a mistake, I think between T12 and T13? Did you analyse in that moment that you had lost pole position?
KR: I didnt know. I knew that I lost time because I was a bit off the line. I dont know how much I lost but for sure it would have been a lot closer. It just sometimes happens when you push to gain time and you overdo it. It is part of the game.