Bridgestone press conference - Massa, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Kovalainen 09 Oct 2008
In attendance: Hiroshi Yasukawa (Bridgestone Director), Hirohide Hamashima (Director of Bridgestone Motorsport tyre development), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren).
Q: Kimi, how do you look back at this season so far?
Kimi Raikkonen: It definitely wasn't the season that I was expecting after the last season. I think we started pretty well, but after that it has been quite difficult, especially the last four races, five races, it wasn't good for me. But, we are still in the championship for the team, and we'll try to get that one this year again. For myself it's more or less over, but we'll do the best job we can for the team, and look for next year again.
Q: Felipe, you're in second place. How do you look back on the season so far?
Felipe Massa: Well I think the season is very competitive, for sure some ups and downs sometimes, which make it even more difficult, the competition. But I think we showed many good performances in so many races. We showed sometimes a slight issue when we couldn't bring the car to the end of the race. And for sure our main competitors here at our side showed great performance as well. We are still seven points behind, but we still have 30 points in front of us. We're going to do the best we can to fight until the last lap in the last race. I think we still have a big possibility in front of us, and we will not give up, that's for sure.
Q: Heikki, you won your first victory in Hungary. Looking back at the 2008 season, how do you feel?
Heikki Kovalainen: Well of course the highlight for myself this season was the Hungarian GP. Winning my first Grand Prix was a very special moment for me. Now I think the target for the rest of the season is to try to repeat that again. Otherwise, echoing pretty much what Kimi said earlier, it's been a difficult season for me, with some very difficult moments in the season, not being able to score enough points. But likewise we're trying to do everything we can for the team to maximise the result. And that's all I can say at the moment.
Q: Lewis, you are leading the world championship at the moment, how do you look back on the season?
Lewis Hamilton: Firstly, konichiwa! I don't know too much Japanese, sorry. My season is perhaps not as a strong and as competitive and as consistent as last year, but still a very competitive year for me. I think the team have performed fantastically through the season, and showed that we have a great pace, a great package, and the reliability has been fantastic. Especially at this point of the year I feel a lot stronger than I was last year at this point. Obviously we have three races left. I think there's going to be a big battle until hopefully the last race, and we're going to make sure we do everything we can as a team to make sure we come out on top.
Q: We have the four top drivers. Mr Hamashima, what can you tell us from the tyre perspective?
Hirohide Hamashima: The way they use the tyres, the Ferrari and McLaren machines are different in their characteristics. There are some strengths and weaknesses of course. The Ferrari machine is very good with longer runs, but the McLaren is very fast in qualifying, and they're also very strong. Both teams are doing excellently in terms of performance because of this strength.
Q: Mr Yasukawa, the two McLaren drivers have experience of using Bridgestone tyres from the days of the GP2 Series, and they have come up to Formula One.
Hiroshi Yasukawa: That's right. Just over eight years ago in 2000 they were in Motegi, for the World Cup kart race. Then they have very rapidly stepped up to become F1 drivers. They were in the GP2 Series, and GP2 has become the gateway to move up to the F1 stage, and it's a pleasure for Bridgestone to be able to provide tyres for the young drivers in GP2.
Q: Kimi, last year you were third in the Japanese Grand Prix. How about this year?
KR: Definitely we'll try to improve on last year. We don't know how the weather is going to be. I heard it's going to be a little bit tricky on Saturday, and it should be better on Sunday again. Last year was very difficult with the weather and the conditions. It's a nice circuit, but unfortunately, like I said, last year was tricky with the rain conditions and the visibility. We'll see how we do. We should have a strong car, and like I said it's a fun circuit, so we'll do the best that we can, and try to be on top.
Q: Felipe, what are your aspirations for the Japanese Grand Prix?
FM: I think it's a nice track. Last year as Kimi said it was a very strange race: very wet, very difficult to keep the car on the track. And it was very difficult for the visibility. Looks like this year it will be a more consistent race, and then for sure you can maybe show 100 percent of the performance of your car, how the car works with the tyres and everything, so I'm looking forward to having a strong weekend. And to really try to win the race will be definitely our target, and we're looking forward to that.
Q: Heikki, you were second last season in the Japanese Grand Prix. How about this year?
HK: Of course, last year brings back very good memories for me. It was very difficult conditions like Felipe said - a very unusual and inconsistent race. That gave me last year an opportunity to bring the car home on the podium. Of course this year it's a little bit of a different situation, we are fighting for the championship, both in the drivers' and the constructors'. So I think it's very important to try to maximize the points, so if we can repeat what we did last year, and even go one better, it would be fantastic.
Q: The winner of last year's Japanese Grand Prix. Lewis, can you give us a few words?
LH: I had a fantastic trip here last year. This is my third time now to Japan, my first time was in 2000 when I went to Motegi and I won the World Cup championship there in karting with Bridgestone. And last year we came here for the first time in Fuji. It was a very eventful race. I thoroughly enjoyed the weather. I think staying in the mountains was a fantastic experience, next to Mount Fuji. I had the best times here in Tokyo, mainly because of the teppanyaki. It's my favourite! So I've been looking forward to coming back this year. I hope perhaps the weather will be better, and I hope that we all have just as competitive a weekend as we did last year. I'm sure we'll be strong, but it will be a tough weekend for all of us. We'll just have to keep on pushing.
MAKE CARS GREEN Campaign Q&A:
Q: The teams and drivers have endorsed the Make Cars Green campaign. In your daily lives, is there anything that you do to promote environmentally friendly driving? Felipe first.
FM: For sure there are so many things to do in your normal day. One of the things is always to check your tyre pressure before you leave. Especially sometimes you're travelling around and you never go back home, and when you go back maybe your car is one month in the garage. So you always need to check your tyre pressure and make sure everything is right, and to have a safe trip for you and the car.
Q: Now Kimi, how about you?
KR: I think an easy way is you don't load up the car too much, you don't put too many heavy things in the car, otherwise it's not as effective anymore and not as friendly for us or the environment. I think also you use less fuel and it's more effective that way.
Q: Lewis, how about you?
LH: I generally try to reduce the amount that I actually drive on the road, so I like to use some public transport where I live, because getting stuck in traffic and sitting there for hours doesn't particularly make me happy. But always when I do drive I use GPS, so I try to plan my route. And of course as Felipe said we're often away for so long that you have to check the tyre pressures, just for safety as well. I do a lot of cycling around my town, so reducing all that kind of helps, so you feel that you're doing a good job for the environment.
Q: And finally Heikki, how about you?
HK: I think the other drivers have already mentioned many things that you can do to help the environment. But I think another thing I can add, especially when I come from Finland - a very cold country - many people in the morning leave the car running for a long period to warm up the car. For myself I try not to leave the car running too long before I go out driving. I guess that's one way to protect the environment, and the way that I'm doing it at the moment.