FIA post-race press conference - China 19 Oct 2008
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1h31m57.403s; 2nd Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1h32m12.328s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1h32m13.848s.
Q: Lewis, it looked as if everything went perfectly for you in that race?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, all weekend we have had God on our side as always. The team have done a phenomenal job really preparing the car and making steps forward. We came here and the car felt fantastic all weekend and I owe so much to the guys not just at the track but back home. They have done a phenomenal job and the car is really a dream to drive. For the guys here they just make sure the car stays intact, so I can bring it home and thats what we did. It was a fantastic team effort this weekend, so a big thanks to them.
Q: It would be easy to say it was an easy race but there was enormous pressure on you particularly at the start?
LH: Well, it was quite straightforward actually. I managed to get everything right on the formation lap. I was perfectly in my position and it was a great start, it was really probably one of the best weve had. I felt it was one of the best weve had this year which was needed. I got into turn one quite clear, I took it easy the first few corners then I started to bridge the gap. Fortunately we were just very, very consistent and I think every lap was faster and very, very few errors throughout the whole run, therefore I was able to create a gap and from there it was pretty smooth sailing.
Q: Sometimes in that situation it is difficult to keep the concentration level and stop the mind wandering?
LH: After my second pit stop we were pretty much cruising. We were just looking after the tyres and the engine and just trying to bring the car home. I knew that there was an even bigger gap behind me and it was inevitable the Kimi would let Felipe by, so I just had to keep it under control. To be honest it wasnt tough at all. When you are out in front and you have that gap and you know you can push a little bit more if you need to, it is quite comforting, so it is just about keeping your head and keeping the same calm.
Q: Felipe, talk about the early phase of the race for you.
Felipe Massa: Well, we took the decision to start on soft tyres and we knew already that most of the people were starting on the hard as our car works in a little bit different way compared to the other cars, especially the McLaren's. For us the hard had no grip, was difficult to drive, and the soft was the only option for the first and second stints, so we decided to start on the soft and I think it was the right decision for us. On the start I didnt have a good start, I had a little bit of wheel spin, but even though it was not a very, very high grip on the outside and then we just stayed in the same positions. We saw that Lewis was a bit stronger in the beginning of the race. I mean he was stronger during the whole race but in the beginning he just started to pull away, maybe two or three tenths sometimes per lap, and then this made for sure his race much more comfortable. For us we were completely driving on the limit trying to reduce the gap but it was not possible. I was trying to push as Kimi was trying to push to get closer to Lewis but it was not possible. So today unfortunately Lewis had the better car for the whole weekend.
Q: And your pass on Kimi towards the end?
FM: Well, it was the best time for me in the race, I was quite strong and then I caught him and I passed him, so that was the good part of the race. But anyway it was not enough as we are fighting with the McLarens and today at least one was in front but we could manage to finish second or third. I think for the Drivers Championship it was not fantastic but for the Constructors it was very good. It is always very important to fight for the Constructors and today we did a good job thinking of the Constructors Championship. I try on the Drivers but it was not possible today.
Q: Kimi, Lewis has just said it was inevitable that Lewis would finish second. Talk us through the last phase of the race.
Kimi Raikkonen: I mean we know what we want as a team and thats what we did it. It is normal in these situations. Today I had a very good car, all the time no major issue. The car was handling quite nicely but unfortunately it wasnt fast enough in the moments when we needed it. At the start Lewis pulled away a bit and then I started to be able to do the same lap times, a little bit catching, but every time I was faster it was too late and the gap stayed the same. Then in the second stop I was catching him a bit and then I got traffic three times and it cost me a lot of time. I mean even if I had been right behind him we were stopping on the same lap, so without mistakes there was no way to get past. Second and third was the best we could do today, hopefully the next race we can challenge them a bit more. I mean once we came here on Friday, Lewis seemed to be very quick, so it was not easy but we did our best but it didnt work out this time.
Q: With team orders not being allowed it is difficult not to influence the outcome of the race, so how did you handle that?
KR: Like I said, I know what the team expects and I know what we want which are results. It is racing and I have nothing to lose or win in a way. I am driving for the team, so it is a normal situation. I was pretty happy with the way things went in the race apart from we could not challenge the McLaren today but apart from that the car wasnt too bad. But like I said, we just did not have the little bit more speed that we needed.
Q: Lewis, seven points is your lead going into Brazil. What does this win mean for you and how does it set up the Brazilian Grand Prix?
LH: Well, this is another step towards the championship and towards my dream and towards my teams dream. The team deserve it. We have worked very, very hard throughout the season and I think our approach to this race was right. It was not to go out and win everything just in this race. It was to look at both races to try and score as many points collectively and I know going to Brazil will be a much better situation compared to last year and also we know that we will be a lot more competitive than we are here, so that is comforting. We know that we have got to do a good job. It will be tough and these two for sure will be pushing us hard but hopefully as a team we can pull through.
Q: Lewis, just how close do you feel to that World Championship now?
LH: I have not really thought about it, to be honest. In terms of how close I feel I have not really thought about that. As I said, coming into this weekend we were targeting both races and looking at both of them hopefully to do a good job and collectively hopefully we can have good points from both. It is on your mind for sure but the fact that we have done a good job is what we needed to do. It is just that one step closer. We still have a tough race ahead of us in Brazil but I am really looking forward to it.
Q: At the end of the race Ron came on and talked about keeping up the discipline. Has that what it has all been about?
LH: He didnt say anything to me.
Q: Thats what came over on the radio.
LH: I dont remember hearing that, if I am honest. Maybe I was trying to talk to them at the same time.
Q: Tell us about your pace at the start as it must have been pleasing to pull away from the Ferraris.
LH: Yeah, just throughout the weekend we knew we had the pace and from Friday we knew that we had better long run pace than them. With my car I was very happy with the balance and I was able to look after my tyres very well and really extract the most from them but also to make them last. The track conditions were great and the car was great, so I just took my time, pushed where I needed to and really managed the gap. For sure it was great to be able to pull away and pull the gap as we did.
Q: Was there a great deal of difference between the tyres?
LH: No, throughout this weekend on both sets of tyres we were very competitive. When I needed to go quicker on the option I could have. If anything towards the end it seemed to be a bit of a better tyre for me but there was a very small gap between both sets of tyres. Perhaps just a bit more grip on the option but they were both just as consistent for me.
Q: Felipe, what can do you for Brazil? Is it about outright speed, tactics, do you pray for rain? What do you do?
FM: I dont know. For sure we are in a difficult position but we know many things can happen in one race. We just need to keep our head up. It is not finished yet. Until it is finished, we know that in sport many things can happen. We just need to concentrate on our job and try to win the race and then whats happened has happened. Thats our concentration for the last race and thats the way we are going to approach it knowing we are still fighting for the Drivers Championship. Then we are in a reasonably good position for the Constructors Championship. I think those are quite important for us, so we are going to do everything we can to achieve our target and then we will see what will happen.
Q: Is it a matter of hoping that the circuit will be better suited to Ferrari?
FM: Well, I think its both. Hoping is always very important for whatever driver, whatever person. But then for sure you need a good car and I think we can have a much better car in Brazil than we had here because today it was very difficult to follow this guy and fight with him.
Q: And is it a good thing that its your home race?
FM: Ah, for sure. Always when you play at home you usually play better. I have had very good experiences in Brazil for the last two years, so hopefully we can repeat that and have a great experience again.
Q: So youre slightly optimistic for Brazil.
FM: Im very optimistic, for sure, and we need to be, everybody in the team. We need to be together, very optimistic and trying to do our job in the best way we can and trying to win.
Q: Kimi, give us an idea of the start and the pace of Lewis in the opening stint.
KR: I think we had pretty much similar starts. He was pulling away at the beginning of the race. There was nothing I could do. It took a few laps for me to get going and once the car started to work better, he was already I dont know how many seconds away and I could just about maintain a similar gap. He was pulling away a bit. At some point later on I was able to catch him a bit but it was too late and then the gap stayed the same on the second set of tyres, pulling away at the beginning again, and I was then catching up. But then I was stuck behind some traffic and lost quite a bit of time. We just didnt have the speed today. The car felt quite good all the time but we were just missing a few tenths all the time, so I was not able to challenge him really. It was a bit of a shame but there was nothing we could have done.
Q: Do you share Felipes optimism about Brazil?
KR: The car was very good there last year, so its another race, another weekend. It can be very good for us, nothing is over yet, so we go there and try to do the maximum that we can and see where we end up but its too early to say. Once we do the Friday there, I think everybody will have a little bit better idea what the speed difference between the teams is and then it will be easier to go from there.
Q: You had a difference tyre choice in comparison to Felipe; were you happy with that tyre choice?
KR: No, we had the same tyre at the start of the race. I think he was on soft tyres, I was on hard. They wanted to try different to see if we could catch up Lewis. There wasnt really a big difference between the tyres. I thought they were very similar in the end. The difference wasnt there, the amount that we were losing out. So we tried but it didnt work out.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Kimi, as World Champion, how tough is it to have to put in a lap thats two seconds slower, for your team-mate to go past you?
KR: Im not in a position to challenge for the championship. I know what the team expects from me and Im happy to try to achieve the maximum points for the team, what we need. Unfortunately we missed a few points today, overall. But like I said, it doesnt make any difference to my season.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) Lewis, I think you mentioned earlier that your approach to Interlagos this year is going to be quite different to last year. Could you just expand a little bit more on that as you go into it with the same separation in the points and so on?
LH: Well, theres not really much more to say, just that its a similar approach to what I had this weekend, which was a better approach than I had last year coming here, so hopefully with the same approach that we had this year, a bit calmer, a bit more confident in the package and what we have to do its the same as this weekend.
Q: (Jia Chen Soccer News China) Felipe, in most parts of the race, you were often slower than Lewis and Kimi, even when you were using softer tyres while they were using harder ones. However, Kimi was often able to keep up a similar lap speed to Lewis. What was wrong with your car?
FM: I dont think there was anything wrong. Even if some laps I was slower than Kimi, there was not a big difference. Sometimes we had similar laps, we were trying to push each other very hard, thinking only of Lewis, but in terms of balance, for sure it was reasonable, but as Kimi said, we were not quick enough. When youre not quick, youre always trying to drive more than you can and sometimes you dont find a good lap, so thats it. Today it was impossible to win the race and I think we both finished in the best position that we could.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Last week in Fuji Ferrari was very, very strong on race pace. Here, today, it wasnt. Is it because of the tyre compounds you were using here compared to Fuji?
FM: Its so difficult to answer this question. Many things change track to track. I think its a difficult question and I cannot answer it. I dont know why we were missing a little bit of speed on this track.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Lewis, before you got in the car on Friday, youd come in for a considerable amount of criticism following what happened last weekend in Japan. How much were you aware of that, and how much did that spur you on in your performance this weekend?
LH: All week I havent really spoken to many people and I havent been on the Internet or seen the papers, so I was kind of oblivious to it until I arrived here and heard about it but if anything it amused me. I took the positives out of it and for sure, I arrived at the weekend with lots of energy and not distracted by it.
Q: (Marco DeglInnocenti La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, we have learned that Flavio Briatore through the team sent to you his excuses, apologised for what he said on Thursday. Are you comfortable with that?
LH: Again, I have no clue what he said anyway, so it doesnt really matter.
Q: (Marco DeglInnocenti La Gazzetta dello Sport) You have won ten points here today. Last year you practically lost ten points here. Is there quite a psychological difference in the approach to the next Grand Prix?
LH: I would say so, yes. I think the last race of last year was tough. We went to Brazil and I cant remember if we were hit or not but we were on the back foot and knowing that Ferrari would be very competitive in Brazil it was going to be tough. We arrived this year and I think having a good race, we will settle back down tomorrow, back to where we were at the beginning of this week and we will work very, very hard to arrive in Brazil even more competitive, so Im feeling good about it. I know its going to be a tough weekend but again we will try to do the best job we can.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Felipe, in Brazil you will have to win but its not just up to you, it also depends on Lewis. How do you think you can beat him, psychologically also?
FM: First of all, we try to win, thats the most important thing. Secondly, we see what happens. As you just mentioned, winning is not enough but winning is the most important thing you can do, so first of all we try to win and then we see what happens.
Q: (Beniamino Natale ANSA) Of course, you are still fighting for the championship but for the public it was very boring today. Are you ever worried about the future of Formula One?
FM: I think the race today was not very exciting, to be honest, even for a driver. It depends on which track youre on, it depends on how the race develops. For sure it wasnt as exciting as you can see on other tracks, for example, or maybe other opportunities. It depends on how the race develops at the beginning. Anyway, the FIA and everybody is already working quite hard to change the ideas for the future, so I think next year there will be a big, big change in the regulations which can maybe create more battles and more opportunities to overtake and more interesting racing, so I hope we can give you guys more opportunity to enjoy it as well.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Lewis, its been mentioned that last season you held a seven point to Kimi. This season youve got a seven point lead to Felipe. Are you a believer that lightning strikes twice in the same place?
LH: No, I think its a completely different year. I dont really have much to say to that to be honest.
Q: (Jerome Bourret LEquipe) Lewis, whats your opinion of Ferraris tactics to switch position between Kimi and Felipe?
LH: Theres not really much to say about it. Theyre a team and I know if it was in my position, if Heikki was leading, we would probably do the same thing. Its playing together as a team and they obviously did a great job.