FIA post-race press conference - Monaco 25 May 2008
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 2h00m42.742s; 2nd Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), 2h00m45.806s; 3rd Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 2h00m47.553s.
Q: Lewis, an eventful day from start to finish. Lets begin at the beginning. It was a good start into P2 and then a little bit close to the wall at Tabac corner.
Lewis Hamilton: I was able to get a good start and felt comfortable at the beginning. I knew that I had a good car underneath me and I knew that I would be able to challenge Felipe at some point. I could not really see anything, so I just stayed in second because there was so much spray, so you cant see if it is raining more or less. Through turn 12, Tabac, there was a sort of river coming through and as I was catching Felipe I hit this river and just oversteered and just slid across into the barrier. I couldnt believe it and I knew I had only just touched it and I had a rear puncture and fortunately I was able to tell the team quickly and they were able to react as quickly as possible and get out. They did a fantastic job and without them I wouldnt have been able to do it today.
Q: And then two other events took place. The safety car came out shortly afterwards which allowed you to regain some of that time and then you were able to switch strategies and as the weather changed that played into your hands.
LH: It did. When the weather is like this, when it starts to rain and we had an idea it was going to start to dry, the important thing is to keep it on the track but I cant explain how difficult it was for all of us. You were aquaplaning all the time and you were tip-toeing almost. But fortunately the strategy, obviously we had to change it, and it worked into my hands. The pace I had was ridiculous. I had one second on people for the majority of the race and it was quite easy and so I was comfortable setting that pace and I was asking the team do I need to go quicker and they said slower. There was a point when I was 40 seconds ahead and I just said ok, 20 more laps, keep the gap the same. Then the safety car came out.
Q: It was by no means over as you still had a decision to make about whether to go to dries or perhaps to stay on intermediates. Then the Nico Rosberg incident with shards on the track, potential punctures, and then the restart behind the safety car.
LH: I said it was going to be an eventful race. I hope Nico is okay. The team came over the radio and said he should be okay. For sure that looked like a big shunt. But with the safety car coming out near the end I lost that big back, but fortunately with the tyres I was on, the team came across the radio and said you still have 13 laps and I was thinking the track is getting drier and there is a long way to go. But I managed to look after them and I think that is what gave us the win. I could stay on them for as long as I wanted.
Q: And what was it like at the restart with the pressures and temperatures down a bit?
LH: I seemed to do a good job. I am used to it. Remember last year in Canada I had to do the same thing, so it was no sweat. I think everyone probably struggled getting the tyres back up to temperature but I was fortunate enough to build a good gap and I just kept it nice and cool at the end. But I was counting down the laps and it took a long, long time.
Q: Robert, a great drive for you and leading the race for a long time. But basically on that two stop strategy it was difficult I guess to compete with Lewis who effectively switched to the one stopper.
Robert Kubica: I mean we started the race by fighting too low pressures and I was struggling a lot with the first three or four laps. Fortunately then I was much quicker than Kimi Räikkönen but I couldnt overtake. When you are running behind some car you cant see anything. Then Felipe had a little mistake in corner one, so I was leading. In the second stint I got a lot of graining on the rear tyres and Felipe just came out after his one pit-stop in front of me and he was much heavier although he was pulling away and then the graining on the rear tyres got better and I was lapping two to three seconds quicker than him, but couldnt overtake him. Fortunately Timo Glock was in front of us with grooved tyres and when I saw he was much quicker than us I just called the team to change tyres and fortunately we did it quicker than Felipe and I managed to overtake him. I think it is quite a lot of miracles that I finished the race. It was a very hard race for me and I think second place was the maximum with our performance this weekend. I am very happy.
Q: Felipe, you liked turn one in qualifying where it did the job for you but in the race not so lucky.
Felipe Massa: For sure, a lot of us had a little moment there. In a race like that it is so easy to have a small off through concentration or whatever. I just braked over the line and I couldnt stop the car because you have the line going out from the pits. I just braked a little bit over the line and I just couldnt stop the car. From then I had a very difficult race as I lost the radio for 20 laps and I couldnt talk to my team, I was just looking to the board and it was not so easy to know what was going on in the race. In the first stint, even with this moment, I was so quick and able to put down a very good pace compared to Lewis and Robert. I knew that the strategy was working well and the car was perfect. Then suddenly we changed to one stop and put fuel to the end of the race. That was the big mistake because the track was getting drier and drier and we expected some more rain coming which the team told me but it didnt come. Then by the time Robert stopped I wanted to stop again but it was a pretty difficult conversation with the team and me and it just took too long to come back again and change the tyres because I had fuel to the end of the race. It was a shame that we made a little mistake on the strategy but it is good to be on the podium. The championship is long and I am happy with the result even though I expected the victory because we had a great car in the dry and a great strategy as maybe I was the last car to stop. I had a great car yesterday in qualifying and the race itself but unfortunately the strategy did not work.
Q: You were on the softest of the two Bridgestone at the restart. Did that give you a small advantage do you think?
FM: You mean on the dry?
FM: I dont know. By that time the race was finished anyway. I just took the softs because in parts the track was still a little damp. Maybe the tyres were a little bit better to warm up and everything but I dont think there was a big difference between the soft and the hard range.
Q: Lewis, a clean sweep now F3, GP2 and F1. You love this place. What does this victory mean to you?
LH: This has got to be the highlight of my career and I am sure it will continue to be the highlight for the rest of my life. I remember on the last few laps I was just thinking that Ayrton Senna won here a lot of times and to win here would be amazing. But I know anything can happen here and I have to just keep it out of the barriers. But I have to say a big thank you to all of my team back home and over here. You did a fantastic job. And to all my fans I know I have got a lot of fans here and also back home I did it for all of you and especially my family who have been here supporting me all weekend and to my mum, lots of love Mum.
Q: Lewis, whats it like to win the Monaco Grand Prix?
LH: Incredible. An incredible feeling, very emotional. The last 20 laps were very emotional and I was just trying to keep emotions in and keep the car on the track and just believing I can do it, I can do it. No more safety cars and just bring it home and as I have already said time and time again I have got a lot of belief in myself and the team but here you just need to have things going the right way and today it went my way, so I am very, very fortunate.
Q: Does this rank right at the very top of them?
LH: This is the best win ever, for sure. Even if I was to win here again, which I plan on doing, this is the best one. The first one. Just getting to F1 and going to Monaco and winning the grand prix. Even though I didnt get pole position I just stayed optimistic and brought it home. The guys did a good job as you could see and it was the most fun I have had in a race ever.
Q: It was fun in spite of all of the interruptions and the difficult conditions?
LH: Yeah, the wet was tough, it was so tough in the wet. As you could see I hit the wall and I couldnt believe it. I was easily in second and easily good enough to win the race from there and I touched the wall but fortunately the team reacted so quickly, as I told them when I was in turn 12 at the time. I told them straight off and they got everything ready and it was a very smart bunch of guys who reacted. Just incredible.
Q: Were you surprised that you just lost three places?
LH: I was but I sort of had the feeling that because the people were behind us they wouldnt be able to see anything because I couldnt see anything and I was just behind Felipe. But for sure I was surprised as you dont know what is going to happen and I didnt know if I was going to come back in tenth or maybe worse. But I came back in fifth or something like that. I didnt really know the gap at the front and I was also a lot heavier, so I was just doing the best job I could to look after the tyres and keep it on the track.
Q: For the sake of clarity, you obviously took fuel on and what tyres did you come out on?
LH: When I came in for my first stop which was the forced error stop we went to standard wets the same set of tyres and we fuelled obviously very heavy, so we could have gone a lot longer if we needed to. But we took our time at the end. As the track dried out they said there was no need to come in this lap as I have got plenty of life in these cars, so we can continue and thats what we did. We came in, went back out and I had 40 second lead and I just took it easy. It was so easy to get excited and push and push and push but I just had to take it easy. But I was enjoying it.
Q: Robert, you had quite a few battles with Felipe during the whole race.
RK: Yeah, we started from the third row and the car was okay, but nothing fantastic. The first few laps I was struggling a lot as we were not expecting so much rain. I had the pressure as Fernando Alonso was trying to overtake me and I was struggling a lot but then once the tyres started working I managed to close the gap to Kimi and I was around one-and-a-half seconds quicker but I couldnt overtake him and behind him it was impossible to overtake him. Unfortunately for him Kimi got a drive-through penalty, so I had a free track. I was lapping a bit quicker than Felipe and when he did the mistake I was leading the race. It was really, really difficult as the car was sliding everywhere but I think for everybody it was the same, so I was just trying to do as less mistakes as possible. After the first pit stop I was struggling with graining on the rear tyres and Felipe managed to stay ahead of me after his first pit stop. He was much heavier even though he was pulling away, then suddenly the tyres started working again and I closed massively the gap to Felipe, in two laps something like five seconds. I was much quicker but again I couldnt overtake. I was lucky that Glock came out from the pits with grooved tyres and as soon as I saw that he was lapping two seconds quicker I told the team to put grooved tyres which we did and thats why we overtook Felipe in the pit stops.
Q: About the time that everyone changed to dries, there was a weather warning that it was going to rain in seven minutes. How confusing was that?
RK: Yeah, I didnt know this and I was pretty upset with the team. I was nearly shouting because I wanted to stop even earlier because when you see that Glock (was pulling away) by nearly two seconds a lap and I was racing with Felipe, at that time I didnt even know that Lewis was still in front of us, so for me, I was fighting for first place. I was just intending to stop and we did, we stopped earlier than him, I think a couple of laps earlier, thats why we overtook him and then I saw on the board that Lewis was leading, but he was miles in front. At that point, we were happy with second place and it was a great race.
Q: Felipe, you had a couple of battles with Robert, you caught one another two or three times during the race.
FM: Yeah. I think the main thing about the race was that we took a gamble. As you said, we had some warning about the rain in twenty or twenty-five minutes, but by that time the track was drying, before my first stop and then we filled up the tank, so I basically had the strategy for one stop. Because I was very heavy, I was able to stop on lap 30-odd, I was able to fill the tank to go to the end of the race. We put on new fresh rain tyres, waiting for the rain because the weather had been pretty correct before, so we were waiting for the rain, with the right strategy to finish the race, and with a good chance of finishing in front. But then I was pretty heavy, the track was getting drier and drier. I picked up a lot of graining on the tyres. They had very worn tyres already because they stopped earlier than me and then I lost all chances of fighting for victory, seeing that Lewis was pretty light with nice tyres for those conditions, a dry line. I had a lot of graining, so I lost all chances of fighting with him. And then Robert stopped one lap before to put on grooved tyres. I was still in discussion with my team to see if it was going to rain or not, because I wanted to stop as well. But I think it was a little mistake on the strategy today which didnt help us fighting for victory but at the end of the day, it was a good result to finish third and bringing home six points in a very difficult race like that, so Im happy.
Q: But after yesterday you were hoping for better?
FM: Yeah, after yesterday with a very heavy car to get pole position, it was surely one of the best pole positions of my career, and today everything was in the right direction to fight for victory as well. We were fighting, because I was very very quick at the beginning when it was very wet and I was even pulling away. Then I knew that Lewis had a problem but then everything turned when the track started to dry and we had a lot of problems when we stopped and put a lot of fuel in the car.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Two things, Lewis. First of all, you were very hoarse, your voice sounded as if it had gone, so I wondered what had happened on the slow-down lap, were you doing a lot of shouting on the way round, and what were you thinking when you hit the wall? Did you think your chance of victory had gone then?
LH: Yeah, my in-lap or rather from the last corner onwards, I was screaming my head off basically, making sure the radio was off, but just so happy that I was able to pull it off. When I hit the wall, I guess its just basic instinct, you still remain optimistic and I still thought, OK, I can still win. It was just unknown, you know? I just had to come in, didnt lose too much time on the lap, and then I came into the pits and I came out still in fifth or fourth, so I was thinking OK, well, we can still do it, just dont do it again. I dont believe that it was down to luck in the incident that I didnt do any more damage. I wasnt pushing that much and I only just tapped the barrier with the rear tyre and so it was only the rear tyre or the rear rim that had gone but for sure, at this sort of track you need to have a bit of luck, you need to be in the right place at the right time and obviously, exactly that happened. I had to come in, went back out and I was in the right place at the right time, where I was able to utilise that, use my tyres, use the fuel that I had to get out in front.
Q: (Fréderic Ferrett LEquipe) Lewis, on Wednesday when you arrived, you said that you would do everything to win today. What were the other things you did during this weekend to clinch the win?
LH: Well, I do everything to win all the time but as I came into this weekend, I said to you all that this is my favourite circuit, this is the one that I would want to win more than any other race in the world. Thats just because I have been watching it for years and watching the old races and as I said earlier, Ayrton won here so many times and Ive always wanted to if he could win here, that means the best drivers have been able to win here, so I wanted to be able to do the same. The team did an even better job than they always do and I think that even though I touched the barrier, I think I did a better job than I have done in the past.
Q: (Jon McEvoy The Daily Mail) Lewis, you talked about Ayrton and the memories you have. Would this be the one single dream, from the time you were a boy, that you saw yourself living out, when you were a six-year old, seeing yourself going round these streets and winning?
LH: Definitely, definitely. Even when I was younger, this was the favourite track, just because you had the tunnel, you had coming through the swimming pool, I think it just looks spectacular and so automatically it became my favourite race, not knowing that street circuits were the best, and then I got here and then experienced it for the first time in 2005 and I was like wow, this is by far the best track. Obviously I won in 2005 and I knew I could do it then, 2006 and very very close to it last year, but we qualified third and I remained optimistic and I believed that it was possible but with the rain, we didnt know what was going to happen. As we saw last year in China, your tyres go bald and you can go off easily or you can hit the wall as I did today. I guess just everything went right.
Q: (Jason Barlow Top Gear) Lewis, I asked you 24 hours ago if, if it was a wet race, were you going to modify your driving style. Did you do that, and exactly how difficult was it out there?
LH: Yeah, we automatically modify our driving styles for the wet. You cant brake anywhere near as late, you have to adjust the brake balance, you cant downshift at the same point, you have to look for the driest line, youre constantly aquaplaning and youve got spray in your face, so you cant even see where the rivers are. Youre just trying to be as sensitive as possible and pick up every little movement of the car. Usually when its dry, you can rely on the car being stable in most places, but it was very tough. Everyone was in the same boat. Until my shunt, my touch of the barrier, Felipe had probably done a better job up until then, but once I came out of the pits, I think I got my act together and pulled my socks up.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Lewis, you mentioned Ayrton. He effectively owned this track during his time in racing. Do you believe that, with this win now, you can start a similar era here perhaps?
LH: It would be great but I think that this weekend has shown that anything can happen. Im not going to say that next year Im going to win it. Next year Im going to aim to come back and win it, but again, anything can happen. I hope this is the start of something very special, yeah.
Q: (Rodrigo Franca VIP Magazine) Felipe, last year we saw that McLaren was unbeatable here in Monaco and today you said you had a good chance to win the race. Do you think in Canada Ferrari will be stronger than last year?
FM: Yeah, yeah, because today they were not unbeatable. We had a great pace in the rain, in the dry as well, but with all the circumstances, we were not able to fight with him, also because we made a kind of mistake on the strategy and we were waiting for the rain which didnt come. It was a little bit of a gamble. Sometimes a gamble on this track works perfectly, sometimes it doesnt work and the weather forecast had been perfect most of the time, and it didnt work when we really expected that it would rain again. I dont think they were unbeatable here and we have the same feelings for Montreal, so the championship is very open. We have a good car, a good team and its not this race which will change our possibilities to fight.
Q: (Jon McEvoy The Daily Mail) Lewis, will you be DJ-ing tonight, will you be on the decks?
LH: It depends what the conditions are like. I think were going to have some fun. As I said, Ive got my family here, so hopefully we will go to dinner and hopefully with all the team. A funny thing: Ron came on the radio My engineer said drinks are on you tonight and I was just about to reply and say no problem and then Ron said dont worry, Ill pay for the drinks. Even better! So tonight were going to have a good time, but bearing in mind we need to remain focused for the next race, as we want to continue, its always good to continue with the momentum you have.
Q: (Luis Fernando Ramos Racing Magazine) Robert, you have a mathematical chance to be leader of the championship in Canada, but do you see yourself in the title championship and do you think you can keep this gap small until the end of the championship?
RK: Well, Im trying to do my best. We also have to see that if in Australia I had finished, we would have at least six points more and the worst race result would be fourth place, so I dont think thats bad. But to be honest, we are there with such a lot of points because we are the most consistent team and driver in the championship. I have been taking the maximum from the car in every race, I think and maybe some qualifying laps like the second run here was not the best one, but I still managed to stay very close to McLaren and Ferrari, which was not easy. I think our car here was not what we were expecting, at least what I was expecting, looking at last years performance, last years experience. I would even risk saying that we had a better car here last year than this year. But still, the circumstances were good for us. I did a very good race, I think with a lot of miracles to bring the car home and second place is a great result for myself and for the team.
Q: (Fréderic Ferrett LEquipe) Lewis, winning here in the rain and in the circumstances, does it give you more feeling and more happiness than a straightforward win in the sun?
LH: Yeah, I think winning a race here from pole position and just walking away from it, is definitely not as good as starting on P3, with wet conditions with all the dramas that went on throughout the race: probably one of the most exciting races that Ive experienced and especially with the incident that I had, it definitely makes it even more satisfying to win.
Q: (Alan Baldwin Reuters) You said it was the race of your life, Lewis. I wonder if you have any commiserations for your friend Adrian Sutil who also had the race of his life this afternoon but ended up without any points at all.
LH: (Details are explained) Really? Shoot. Really? So they were both out. Jeez. I didnt know that. What I can say? Adrians a really good friend of mine. Hes very well known for having a very strong head on his shoulders, so Im sure he will bounce back from that. He needs good showings like that, and I very much support him and hope that he continues the momentum he has now, and tries to improve.
Q: (Richard Williams The Guardian) Lewis, you got a very good start, but the first five laps, until you brushed the wall, Felipe seemed to be easing away from you. How did you feel at that time? Did you think you had the speed or the strategy to win the race?
LH: I felt that we had the speed. I was right behind him and almost all over him. I thought it was better to ease off and take my time, because I didnt really know what the track was like, so for the first few laps I was quite happy. And then he started putting the hammer down and I realised yeah, we need to pick up the pace, and as I began to do that I started to close the gap and then I touched the wall and that was your dreams all down the drain for a split second but I remained optimistic and came into the pits and I was just shocked that I came out in such a good place. I wasnt disheartened by it. I knew I was able to still compete, at least. I wasnt down in tenth and driving in eighth place for one point. I was up there with the top guys.