FIA post-qualifying press conference - China 18 Oct 2008
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Q: Lewis, quickest in both sessions yesterday and quickest in all three qualifying sessions today and on pole by a margin of 0.3. It is looking very good.
Lewis Hamilton: Absolutely, I think coming from some positives from the previous race we came here very strong, very determined and with a good frame of mind and we have been very competitive all weekend. The practices have gone very well and the qualifying was one of our best. My first Q3 lap wasnt so great but I managed to pull it together on the last lap and it was as close as I could get to a perfect lap.
Q: Talk us through that first lap in Q3. On the radio we heard you were down on that second sector.
LH: I had six tenths in fact and it was all good up until turn eight and just though there I had a big oversteer moment and ran wide and was on the marbles, so that messed me up for turn nine and 10, so I lost around seven tenths, something like that. I had to finish the lap, I couldnt bail out, I still had to get a banker in and I came in and the team told me where the time was lost. I knew where it was lost, so I went out and made sure it worked the next time.
Q: Tell us your mindset going into that last lap given the pressure of the championship?
LH: To be honest I didnt have anything hanging over me or I didnt have anything else on my mind except for just doing a good lap. I was relaxed. I was happy with the balance of the car. I knew that I could have done it, so it was a matter of going out and doing it. It was tough for sure because everyone was very competitive, even Heikki, but I am very happy that I got the lap done.
Q: Kimi, talk us through Ferraris weekend so far.
Kimi Raikkonen: I think it hasnt been the easiest weekend. Anyhow, we tried many different things and played around with the set up and finally today we found a pretty okay set up and it seemed to work pretty well in the last qualifying. It is always difficult to say from the first and second qualifying but as long as you are in the top 10 in the second one it is fine and it can be a completely different story in the last one. The car was good. The McLaren has been very fast here but we will see tomorrow in the race conditions where we are going to be against them but definitely I was pretty happy out there how things went. I mean we are still not the first place but nevertheless we have a very good place as a team to start the race tomorrow and try to win.
Q: You have spoken about various issues with the car. How good was that lap from a driver point of view and from the point of view of the car?
KR: I mean it was pretty good. Of course you can always improve but we had some issues in certain places this weekend and we have not been able to get completely rid of them but fixed them as well as we could. I dont know how much probably the difference is, three tenths or something, which is quite a bit but like I said the fuel loads can make a difference and we will wait and see what we can do tomorrow but definitely we are going in the right direction all the time and hopefully it starts going better from here.
Q: Felipe, a lot of people thought this circuit would suit Ferrari. What has it been like from your point of view - Friday through to now?
Felipe Massa: Well, I think by now, we were struggling a little bit in the weekend and just struggling to make the right lap. It is quite difficult to put everything together and it looks like the McLaren guys have got a little bit easier car to put a lap together. We dont know how it is going to be in the race. We had a similar result in the last race but then quite a very strong pace in the race. I hope to have a strong pace in the race and maybe try to see if we can improve our car a little bit, especially on the long stints.
Q: How was your qualifying lap in terms of getting the best from the car?
FM: It was not very good. Just difficult to find the balance, you know. Sometimes you get into a corner and have oversteer, sometimes you get into the corner and have too much understeer. I had a little bit of inconsistent balance just in Q3. In Q2 I was happy like always, so it was a little bit difficult to find the right balance for Q3.
Q: It is strange how things do change so quickly. Maybe as we saw in Fuji the Bridgestone tyres are a little bit hard relevant to the McLaren in terms of the way you use the tyres?
FM: Maybe but the tyres are the same for everybody, so we need to work in our car to have the best we can have for these tyres. The tyres will not change and for sure in some tracks we saw that we were struggling a little bit and other tracks a bit less. On some other tracks we were very strong. Unfortunately we couldnt put both cars on the front in this race but the race is long and we have chosen to do our best.
Q: Lewis, lots of people have been giving you advice and telling you how to handle this weekend. How are you handling this weekend?
LH: I think you can see from our result that I am dealing with it quite well. It is great, you know. I have got a huge amount of support from back home and across the world. Especially from my team and my family as well. My family are here which is so important to me. I really have to thank the team, they have done a fantastic job coming off not such a great weekend in Fuji. Just thanks to those guys for staying so strong and doing a solid job this weekend. Hopefully we can continue with it tomorrow. We definitely will give it our best shot.
Q: Lewis, what do you think of that margin, 0.3s?
LH: I think we could have probably stuck even more fuel in it!
Q: Is that a major margin? You were talking just now about losing 0.6s on that first run in the middle sector and 0.3s to Kimi in the final sector.
LH: I made a mistake in the middle sector. I had an oversteer moment in turn eight and went wide and I was on the marbles, so I didnt push for the rest of the lap or not that much. I spent the rest of the lap or the next few corners trying to clean the tyres. In the last sector I wasnt particularly quick but it didnt matter as long as I got in a banker lap, that was all that mattered to me. I knew that on the second attempt I would get it right.
Q: Is there more pressure on you here? Drivers always say they put pressure on themselves. Are you putting more pressure on yourself?
LH: No, no. As I said at the beginning of the week I just approach it the same as always. I dont need to do anything spectacular. I just need to be myself and drive the way I drive and thats all I need to do. I think today, generally, as drivers, when you dont get the first lap, the second is always the hard one but for me thats exciting. The first lap didnt work. The second one was hard core!
Q: Kimi, very good improvements from both Ferrari drivers in Q2 but thats when you used the softer tyre over the harder tyre.
KR: Yeah, it depends on what you do. The most important thing is to get through both of those. The last one really counts. As long as you are in the top ten after the second one thats enough. Sometimes you dont get the clear picture really. Only the drivers and the team really know whats going on. For me its not a big deal being first or tenth, as long as you get through. The last qualifying was good, not as good as we wanted but I think 0.3s is a bit for sure, how things went today I could not have managed to do that lap time but Im pretty happy with the car. We definitely made some improvements during the weekend. We tried many things, so it wasnt too bad really.
Q: Whats your principal aim tomorrow? Is it quite clear, just to go out there to win?
KR: Yeah, I will definitely try to win the race, see what we can do in the race. As I say, McLaren have been very fast here and hopefully tomorrow in the race we can challenge them and try to win. It can turn out to be a difficult race with the weather and everything but apart from that, I think we are in pretty good shape.
Q: Felipe, your feelings about starting directly behind Lewis?
FM: Well, for sure I would love to be in the front. Im trying to do my best, trying to make a good start and thats it, not really so many feelings now. The feelings will come tomorrow. Im still thinking about the qualifying lap. Tomorrow we still have a long night to think about it.
Q: You said you were struggling in Q3, having said it was very good in Q2. Was it the circuit or the car?
FM: Again, its always difficult to make a good lap in Q3 which is always the most challenging one because you have fuel in the car and its always a little bit more difficult to put the balance together. Even this morning we were struggling a little bit to get a good balance on the car on new tyres. We had the same in Q3, difficult to explain it, but for sure we had this problem in so many races this season. Sometimes we had a perfect car which was working perfectly, whatever the conditions. Today it was quite difficult to find a lap, especially in Q3.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Daniel - Oriental Auto) Lewis, last year, you went off the road in the pit entry. I see you made a mistake there again in todays practice. Is there any problem for you there?
Q: (Daniel - Oriental Auto) Kimi, if necessary will you let Massa pass you easily?
KR: I know what the team expects. We want to get the best possible results for the team and see what we can do tomorrow.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Felipe, looking at this mornings results you were pretty far away from McLaren. Do you think you have improved?
FM: I hope so. We are still behind, so for the moment we didnt improve.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) But you were still behind on the grid in Fuji but looking at your face, you looked much more relaxed and confident.
FM: Me? Now?
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) No, at Fuji.
FM: You were not there, I think. I dont think Im different. Its the same mentality. When you start behind, you need to do your best to recover the position. It doesnt change anything on my face. Its just the way we work to try to recover. We had a bad qualifying in Fuji, weve had another one here. We need to try to recover again, try to see if we can get some opportunities.
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, is qualifying easier for you now?
KR: Its getting better. Its not probably exactly what we want but Im happier with the car, its easier to get the lap now. As I said, were definitely going in the right direction but its a bit late. But anyhow, were finding different things and its good for next year, at least.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Felipe, would you say that the problems in Q3 are similar to the ones that you had in Fuji?
FM: Maybe, yeah.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Deutschland) Felipe, did those problems go away in the race, and are you confident for the race regarding the car balance?
FM: Yeah, for sure, Im confident. We need to be confident. You never know what happens in the race and we just need to try to do our best. For sure, so many times this season we saw that a competitive car in the race maybe in qualifying we didnt have such a competitive car, so but anyway, Im confident for sure, to fight tomorrow.