FIA post-qualifying press conference - Canada 07 Jun 2008
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1m 17.886s, 2. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), 1m 18.498s, 3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1m 18.735s
Q: Lewis, you were quickest in all three sessions in qualifying. It has been a great Saturday for you.
Lewis Hamilton: It has been a fantastic Saturday for me. I have felt comfortable since yesterday in the car. I think this morning was tricky for everyone as the track was very slippery but I remained positive and just said the car is fine, so we will leave it the same. I got to qualifying and I felt at home. The team did a great job to get me out in the early stages of each qualifying session and at the end I had two laps to really pull out a lap. The first one was a shocker. I lost time and nearly went wide into turn one, so I had to make sure the last lap was good and similar to last year. It felt just as good as last years.
Q: You have your friend Robert Kubica alongside you on the front row as in Australia. Did you know going into that last lap that he was in fact on pole at that moment?
LH: I didnt. When I had just begun the lap the guys told me that I was still P1 but I had the feeling that Kimi was hunting me down and I had a feeling that he would have perhaps beaten my time, so I knew I had to stick it out there and make sure I got a really good lap and I think I found six or seventh tenths on that lap, so I was quite happy with it.
Q: It was difficult conditions with the track starting to break up and a difficult choice between the two Bridgestone tyres.
LH: For me the choice was not very difficult. I made the choice before I even went into qualifying. I said this is going to be the tyre and we will try and get it right now. The track is breaking up at a couple of corners, turn two, the exit of turn seven where you saw Mark Webber go off and also the apex and exit of turn 10. There is loads of debris there, the road is just coming up, and I had to try and get around that and try and stick it out there as that is where everybody was losing their time. I think on the last lap I found a solution to it perhaps and managed to find a bit of time.
Q: Was that as good a lap as you could have done around here even if the track was perfect?
LH: No, definitely not. For me I thought it was quite a clean lap but I definitely lost time in turn 10 as I said but I think everyone was in the same boat. I wasnt able to carry as much speed through there and get on the power as early but I think I did the best job I could with it but for sure we were losing maybe two or three tenths through the exit of that corner perhaps.
Q: Robert, a phenomenal lap time from you as well and on the harder of the two Bridgestones. You were very quick at the end of Q3 there.
Robert Kubica: Yes, as you could see it has been a very difficult qualifying with a track which is breaking down at a couple of corners. It is very easy to make mistakes and not carry so much speed. It has not been easy and we are very happy for second place, but it will be a difficult race as the track already in qualifying is breaking down. It will be very difficult and as soon as you miss the apex by 10 or 20cms you go on the marbles and then you just dont turn. It is very slippery and it is very easy to make a mistake, so we will have to watch out.
Q: Canada requires a very different aerodynamic configuration compared with the circuits you have been on recently. But BMW Sauber is consolidating their position right up there in the top three.
RK: Yeah, I mean is it a very good season for us. I think, unfortunately, that the gap is a bit bigger than the first three races of this season. Here, in Monaco and in Turkey we were a bit off the McLaren and Ferrari pace but we have to see what will be the strategy tomorrow and also in Q1 and Q2 we were just right behind the Ferrari and McLaren cars, so it will be, as I said, a difficult race but we will try our best.
Q: Kimi, quicker of the two Ferrari drivers. You are always in the points here in Canada but it looked like sector three is always a difficult one for Ferrari. The top speed is not quite there relative to McLaren Mercedes.
Kimi Raikkonen: The car has been good all weekend. Even this morning it was very good and then going into qualifying it is quite a joke with the circuit. It is always the same thing, the circuit breaks down and you miss the corner because there is so much sand. I lost so much time in corner 10 as I couldnt get around as the car just went straight and didnt give any traction. I am a bit disappointed on that because we had a car that could fight for pole position and we will see tomorrow how it is going to be in the race and whether it is going to be a nightmare when we do 70 laps and it breaks up after two laps. It is going to be quite interesting.
Q: it is not the first time we have had problems like this in Canada. And yesterday was a difficult day to make any sort of judgement because of the weather. Can you just talk us through this morning about any signs that were there and precisely how is the track breaking up. Is it on the apex? Is the biggest problem on the edge of the racing line?
KR: I have had a very good car all weekend like I said and this morning also. Then suddenly because the weather heated up a little bit and the circuit didnt last. The problem is the black patches. They have redone it every year and every year at the same places it breaks down and people go off because of that. Like I say, it is going to be quite an interesting race, difficult, so I will just try to stay on the circuit.
Q: Lewis, it is going to be a dramatic race by any consideration whether it is the weather we are talking about or the track surface. A difficult race, therefore, to prepare for.
LH: It is and as you see the last few races have been quite difficult but I think with the experience of leading the race here last year and having the four safety cars last year we can expect it is going to be pretty similar especially as Kimi just commented on the track surface which is not great. It is going to make it very tricky. I am sure these two guys are going to be pushing me very hard. We have just got to do the best job we can and try to score as many points as we can. But as you know the safety car could cause a lot of trouble for everyone, so we have just got to make sure that I am on point and so is the team.
Q: Lewis, surprisingly of course this is only your second pole this year. Whats made the difference here?
LH: Thats a good question. I think everything came together. We had good gaps, the car feels good and I think we are really on top of our game this weekend. For whatever reason we seem to have better pace than the others and so I am comfortable where we are.
Q: Does it give you extra impetus knowing that you won from pole here last year as well?
LH: Yes, certainly. This is a circuit where you can overtake. It is for sure not easy to follow but it is always best to be out in front on any circuit. Last year I had a great race and being able to control the pace and being able to control people under the safety cars was the key. Tomorrow is going to be very, very tough and I think that with all the safety cars I just hope and pray I dont get caught out by any of the safety cars.
Q: You were just talking about the track breaking up. There was shadow as well as the sun went in during the final part of the qualifying. There is a bit of wind at the moment and they are even talking about rain tomorrow. They could be chucking everything at you.
LH: Yeah, it was a real challenge and in the session the track was even worse. I think that is why everyone went out a bit early or at least why we did. I am sure that is why Ferrari went out early. You just really tried to get the best out of the track while it was still in one piece. It is quite poor to be honest. We had the same problem last year. I am pretty sure I have seen it in all the years I watched it, they have always had problems here. Even though they have patched up the corners they are still coming up, so thats something they need to improve as it is dangerous with so many marbles. But I really hope that the safety car doesnt cause us any problems.
Q: And of course youve always enjoyed some family support. But I believe there is a little bit extra this weekend.
LH: In terms of what?
Q: Your mother.
LH: Oh yeah. My mum is here for the first time this year. She was meant to come to Monaco but she missed it and also Turkey. But she is happy to be here with all her friends. I invited her out and she seems to be having a great time. I have got all my family here. As always they are giving me 100 per cent confidence and support. I speak to my brother every day before I got out in qualifying and before the race and he always gives me a boost in confidence.
Q: And it certainly paid off.
Q: Robert, a tremendous duel with Lewis. Obviously BMW Sauber are very much established as firm contenders for the championship now. Would you say that?
RK: Well, I think our position in the championship in some way gives this idea and also the pace of the car. To be honest it is still not the car to win I think but we are for seven races now in the middle of the pack of the top four cars, some races in front and some races behind. We are four points behind the championship leader, so I think we should consider it. I hope the team will do the maximum to allow me to fight. I am trying to do my best in every single race and we will see. If with three races to go we still have this gap, then it will be good.
Q: There was quite a margin between yourself and Lewis.
RK: Lewis was the fastest in all three qualifying sessions, so it looks like he has much better pace than us. Also in qualifying I think there was a six or seven tenths gap which is quite a lot. it is more or less what we have seen also in Monaco and Turkey, so this could be better but we are working on it and we hope we will get closer to them.
Q: I mentioned the sun going in, did that affect you more than those on the softer tyres?
RK: I dont think so. The biggest problem is the race track, its quite a big joke, to have these conditions. We are in qualifying and after three or four laps, the track starts breaking up and its quite a big lottery. As soon as you miss the apex by ten centimetres you go on the marbles and you lose a second, half a second. It will be a tough race, for sure. I even had two corners where there were some drops of rain but it didnt disturb me at all.
Q: Kimi, you backed off at the end of that last lap; where do you think you could have ended up?
KR: No, I was slower than the lap before, so there was no point in pushing any more. I lost all the time in turn ten with these circuit conditions. I think that we have had a very good car all weekend, so its a bit disappointing to suddenly have it more dependent on the circuit which is breaking up than it being up to the cars and drivers. Im not really surprised that there is a big difference between the drivers and lap times. If you get it right, you can easily gain half a second or you lose a second. Its a bit of a shame but at least we are in third place and we will see what we can do tomorrow.
Q: Is there anything the drivers or teams can do about the track conditions?
KR: Yes, you are always trying to find the cleanest line and sometimes you find it, sometimes you dont. It keeps changing all the time. For sure, if you get it perfectly right and you dont hit the marbles its not too bad, but unfortunately I never found that line in corner ten and its not going to be easy tomorrow. We will see what happens.
Q: As what sort of threat do you see BMW Sauber now?
KR: Weve seen it before. In the last races theyve been fast, so for sure I dont see why they shouldnt also be fast tomorrow. Hopefully we have a good race car. I think we have had very good speed until qualifying, so we will see. We will do the best we can and hopefully we can beat them.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Lewis, you were one second faster than Kimi. Do you think this is the difference between McLaren and Ferrari at this circuit?
LH: No, I dont think so. As you could see in testing, were very close. I think that its obvious that, as Kimi was just saying, the track conditions also make a difference. Normally its just how good a job a driver does and how good the car is but I think today a lot of it was down to getting a clean lap. I am only assuming that they didnt get a clear lap.
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, are you happier in third place than in second because of the dirtier side of the track?
KR: Last year it was quite a disaster to be on the right hand side. We got a very bad start from there and usually I think its been a similar story in the past, but hopefully it will help us tomorrow. You also need to make a good start yourself. I think overall Im a bit happier to be on that side.
Q: (Randy Phillips - The Gazette) Lewis, given the conditions of the track, the fact that there are places you can overtake here, does this race become more Monaco-like with the importance of being on pole position because of the deterioration of the track?
LH: I dont think its as important as it is in Monaco, because you can overtake, but the problem is when you go off-line there are loads of marbles, so for sure there is a good advantage in being on pole, being able to be out front. Were on a low downforce circuit, so the maximum downforce you can get, the better. Weve got to make sure we get a good start tomorrow, cover my own ground and try to control it from there.
Q: (Panos Seitanidis - Drive Magazine) Question for Lewis: given the fact that we are expecting a strange race tomorrow due to the weather and the conditions of the track, being in front, does it give you an advantage in terms of strategy, etc.?
LH: Im not sure it gives you an advantage in terms of strategy because at the end of the day were all in the same boat, we could probably all be caught out by the weather or especially by the safety car. I think that can really be a disaster. But Im quite surprised by the pace that we had and Im quite surprised that it wasnt closer, because were quite comfortable with the strategy that were on. I dont see tomorrow being a problem but its going to be hard. I think its going to be a good battle between us three.
Q: (Mark Danby - Auto Magazine) Lewis, on your last run did you get any raindrops on your visor?
LH: I did actually. At the beginning of the lap, coming through the chicane, I had a couple of big drops but I couldnt really see whether it was a drop. I saw the clouds, it was getting a bit darker and I thought it was going to rain, so I was just hoping that I was going to get my last lap because I had not really had a good lap before and then also braking into the last corner, again for the chicane, I had another couple of drops but I just kept going for it and it didnt seem to give us any problems, so I think we just missed it.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Robert, tomorrow, for you is it going to be more a race where you are going to try to attack for the win or to defend yourself for second position from Ferrari?
RK: It will depend on the situation and on our pace. Looking through practice and qualifying, I think McLaren clearly has better pace as has also Ferrari, so it will be a tough race, starting from the front row, unfortunately on the wrong side of the track, but still I will try my best and try to score as many points as possible.
Q: (Guillaume Lavallée AFP) Do you think the track conditions here in Montreal are worse than ever and if it could be dangerous? Some drivers say it might be dangerous tomorrow.
KR: I think its the same as it has been for maybe the last three or four years. It always seems to break up and they always promise to fix it and the same happens again. I dont know. Maybe they should find some other people from somewhere else to fix the circuit.
LH: I agree.
RK: I agree.
Q: (Philippe Joubin - LEquipe) Robert, would you prefer rain tomorrow for the race?
RK: Im not sure. In some ways maybe yes, but still I think we are ready for both conditions. The Monaco race has shown that we can be strong in the wet, so I think we are prepared for both conditions.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, do you feel that the gap you have to McLaren is just because of the problems that you had at the hairpin or is McLaren a little bit further from you? And what are your chances of trying to win tomorrow or is going to be a race where you are simply going to look for a good position?
KR: No, we will definitely to try to win tomorrow, but it depends on many different things. I dont see that the difference is one second in normal conditions. Weve been very fast, we were faster than this morning and coming to qualifying the circuit breaks up straight away. I think we have had a very good car all weekend and its a bit of a shame that we couldnt really use it as we wanted but obviously in the race I think we should have good speed.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado do Sao Paulo) Kimi, you and your team-mate were very fast in T1 but in T3 you and Massa lost a lot of time in comparison to Lewis. Is there any reason for that?
KR: Where? In the last sector? For sure maybe they are a bit faster in a straight line but Lewis has been very fast all weekend in the last sector. But we lost more time there than before because I didnt get corner ten right at all because you end up on the marbles and just try to wait until the car wants to turn because its like on ice and theres nothing that you can do. For sure that had a big effect.
Q: (Jeff Papone - Globe and Mail) We keep talking about the track conditions and how it keeps breaking up. How bad does it have to get before the drivers dont want to come back here?
LH: Me, I always want to come back here. I love it here, as you can tell. I think the tracks fantastic. Its nothing major, they just need to fix it somehow. As Kimi said, get some people to come and do it properly. They keep putting small patches on the track and every year it gets eaten up and brought up and so they need to come up with another solution. The tracks fantastic, the crowd is always amazing and the city is fantastic, so I think it would be a real shame to lose this as one of the Grands Prix in the season. I would be very disappointed.
RK: I think its quite disappointing to see these problems again, especially in qualifying already. In previous years we have seen in the races that its starting to break up, but here already in Q1 we had problems. After every single qualifying the track was cleaned but after one lap it was again in the same condition. Its a nice track, everything is nice but it shouldnt happen in my opinion.
KR: I enjoy it here and its nice to come here every year but unfortunately the circumstances with the circuit always seem to be the same. Hopefully they can find a solution for next year and then we will have much better racing and more fun for everybody.
Q: Robert, after last year, could this become your favourite track to have your first win?
RK: Canada is one of my favourite tracks, from 2006 already, but I dont think we have the pace to win here.