FIA post-race press conference - Canada 08 Jun 2008
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), 1h36m24.447s; 2nd Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), 1h36m40.942s; 3rd David Coulthard (Red Bull), 1h36m47.799s.
Q: Robert, lets go back to the pit lane after the first pit stop and there you were at the end of the pit lane with Kimi Räikkönen waiting for the red light. I guess you were aware of what happened with Kimi and Lewis Hamilton.
Robert Kubica: Yeah, we were pitting everybody together in the same lap behind the safety car. The red light was still on at the exit of the pit lane, similar to last year when I stopped. Kimi stopped side-by-side to me and I just heard a big shunt and saw Kimis car moving. I realised it was Lewis. I just kept my concentration on waiting for the green light and managed to pull away well. Then I was stuck behind slower cars and couldnt make an overtaking manoeuvre. The last car went into the pits, I think it was Timo Glock, and then I had eight laps to make 16 or 17 second margin to come back after my pit stop in front of Nick. That was my seven laps of qualifying. I never struggled so much and I was pushing very hard as I knew I had to make around a 21 second gap and I managed to do 24, so it was a great race.
Q: What were the track conditions like in the second part of the race when you were pushing so hard and indeed how difficult was it to maintain your patience when you were in that traffic?
RK: Well, it was not easy. It is always hard when the safety car is coming in and I was a bit unlucky as if I missed three seconds I would have come in and the pit lane would still have been open. But when I was approaching the pit lane entry the yellow lights started flashing, so I couldnt go into the pit lane. I was a bit unlucky. Then I struggled with slower cars with Fernando Alonso being behind me and trying to overtake. Also the drivers were fighting, so I was losing a lot of lap time to the leaders. But finally I managed to make a good gap. The last few laps were very, very difficult. I was not pushing and the team were saying stay calm and dont push too much. I was not pushing for 10 or 15 laps already. It was just amazing. As soon as you go off line you have tarmac destroyed and you hit sand, so it was very, very difficult.
Q: Can you describe your emotions and what it feels like to win your first grand prix when you think back to your early days? What does it mean to win here in North America where there are many Poles living?
RK: It is fantastic to win my first race for BMW Sauber which I joined from the beginning. We have grown up together and thanks to the team for providing a good car and we managed to do a first and second. Maybe the pace is still not the best but at this race we were right there. The first stint I couldnt match Lewis pace as we had some pressure problems but afterwards we changed the pressure and the car felt very good. But it was a fantastic race and fantastic for me, for my country and for the fans. Thanks to them for cheering for me in Canada.
Q: Nick, there were almost as many leaders here as in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix. Seven leaders and you were one of them. Obviously you were on a different fuel strategy than Robert and it was difficult for you but a great result at the end of the day.
Nick Heidfeld: Yeah, obviously I am very happy with second position. I am very happy for Robert and for the team - our first-ever one-two. It was a good race for me and a good result in the situation I am in at the moment. I have been struggling a bit lately and I think we have seen over the weekend that it was going better for me. I had a poor start and fell back behind Rubens Barrichello. I overtook him and then I think I had probably the best pace in the field apart from Lewis on hard tyres and that was good. Then I was lucky that I was quite long on my first stint strategy, so I could build a nice gap and even got out ahead of Robert for the second stint. Then at this stage we decided to convert me to a one stopper with soft tyres which I think was the right choice. But on the soft tyres I struggled. I had seen that yesterday in qualifying and that didnt make it easy.
Q: How difficult was it on that Bridgestone option? I think you did 40 odd laps on that tyre?
NH: Yeah, it was definitely difficult but on the other hand it was a lot better than last year. If you remember last year in the last stint Fernando was overtaken by Takuma Sato. I guess everybody remembers that. This year it wasnt blindingly quick for me in a car that wasnt completely full but at least I could keep Alonso behind for example.
Q: And how were the track conditions? How did the track stand up to the temperature?
NH: On one side it was not what an F1 circuit should look like. On the other hand it was a lot better than I expected because yesterday in qualifying it was even worse than what we had today at the end of the race. So the repairs they did to the circuit were good but still it is not worthy.
Q: You are a part of this team as much as anybody else. A one-two with a first win for Robert. Thats the first time thats happened for 10 years since Jordan achieved it. Your thoughts on this great day for the BMW Sauber team?
NH: Yes, I have been with the team since the beginning. I have been with both BMW at Williams and Sauber. It is great to have the first victory with Robert for the team and then straightaway to have a one-two. I think it shows that we are still going in the right direction. It shows that over the last three years now we have managed to achieve our goals which I think we did set quite high for the standards of F1. The goal for this year was winning a race and we have done that. Now for next year our target is to fight for the championship and you can believe we are all working flat out. A big thank you to the team at this point, especially to the guys at Hinwil who built a new chassis for me. After Alonso crashed into me at Monaco it was pretty badly damaged.
Q: David, a great drive. A one-stop strategy took advantage of the dramas in the pit lane. But it was a long, hot race?
David Coulthard: It was, ultimately we were able to out-run the other cars that were on that strategy. I believe I led briefly, for one lap before my stop. Then, obviously, a long stint on the option tyre. The tyre was graining which I guess was the same for everyone. But also the track was breaking up. Thankfully I had a big enough gap to Rubens who was holding up that pack and then ultimately to Timo Glock. He didnt make it too difficult at the end. But it is a hot race and you have to really concentrate even when you are driving slowly, trying to protect the brakes because if you go one inch off the line then you are on that gravel and it just sucks you in. So very difficult and I am delighted as I would never have expected to get a podium here this weekend. I have had a horrible start to the year and all my guys, the team everyone back at the factory have had a lot of repairs because of all the various incidents, so I am delighted for them. It is a real credit to Red Bull and the efforts they are putting in.
Q: You did run a bit wide near the end of the race. Was that the only incident or were there others?
DC: That was the worst one. I braked a bit early for the corner, believe it or not, but I got a bit off the turning point to get the momentum for the car to turn and I just got sucked into the gravel. Once you are there it is incredible, you just cant believe how difficult it is to get out of that situation. But, thankfully, there was something like an 18 seconds gap to Rubens, so it was no big risk. I just had to bring the car home. Funnily enough the car stopped in the pit lane. I dont know what happened there but I am glad it chose to do that after the chequered flag and not on the last lap.
Q: What does this podium mean to you in the context of your long and illustrious career?
DC: Well, I think it is my 62nd podium and I am as delighted to be there as I was in 1994 when I had my first podium. Canada is where I scored my first points in 1994. I am in a reflective mood in my career as obviously 15 seasons is a long time for anyone, especially after such an ugly start to the season. It is great to see the younger guys enjoying their first victories. I am very happy for Robert and for BMW. I think they are deserved winners of this grand prix. As I said I am especially happy for all of the team I work with. This is my fourth year at Red Bull. We started a journey four years ago to take the team forward and like BMW we are on an upward trend. We can take a great deal of pride from that.
Q: Robert, you are now leading the championship. Can I just ask you about one year ago and the accident you had then and now being on the centre of the podium at the Canadian Grand Prix 12 months later. What an incredible year.
RK: Yeah, it has been an incredible year but also a struggling year. Last year I was struggling a lot and I am happy I managed to fix some issues which were not working properly last season. I am doing pretty well this season. I think this shows how much I was struggling last year. I am very happy being in Canada where I had a big shunt last season. It is something amazing now. The goal was to win a grand prix this season and we have done it. We are leading the Drivers championship, so I hope the team will give me 100 per cent support to try and maybe defend it until the last race.
Q: A fairytale return. Canada seems to have adopted you after last year and now winning today.
RK: Yeah, of course it is very nice to score my first win in Canada for BMW and for myself. Everybody knows what happened last year here for me. In 2006 I was extremely quick here and last year I had some major problems and couldnt extract 100 per cent from the car. I was quite back in the field with a competitive car. This year it turned out to be a very strong race and a very strong weekend. We cannot say this was the strongest weekend but I think all the weekends we have done this season we have been strong and here we are.
Q: What were your feelings in those early laps when Lewis was seemingly pulling away by about half-a-second a lap?
RK: Well, everybody knows that here in Canada the right hand side of the grid is dirty. It was very difficult to keep second place. In that first moment I thought Kimi would get me but finally I managed to defend my position. I was keeping good pace for the first five or six laps but unfortunately we faced the same problem as in Australia. With the pressures the car starts sliding and there was a lot of graining. The rear temperature went up very much, so I just called into the pits for the next set to drop down the pressures and the car felt much better in the second stint. Lewis was pulling away. His pace was better but not as big a difference as we have seen in the first stint.
Q: Those final laps must have seemed very long when you were out in the lead.
RK: It has been a very long race, especially the last stint. The crucial point of the race was when Glock went into the pits. I could see a free track and I had just seven or eight laps to make up a 20 second gap which is not easy. I managed to build up 24 seconds and got out in front of Nick. This was a key point. We were a bit unlucky with the safety car because the pit lane lights showed the pit lane was closed and then switched on just when I was approaching, so we were a bit unlucky there. At that point a one stopper was the optimum strategy, but I managed to do in the seven laps a very big gap and managed to come back in front.
Q: Nick, that is your fifth second place. Your team mate wins today, so is there a little frustration there or are you just happy for the team?
NH: A bit of both. I wouldnt call it frustration because as I am also looking to the situation I was in in the last couple of races, struggling a bit. Therefore second place is not the worst you can achieve starting from eighth, especially looking at the pace I had in the first stint. After passing Barrichello I think I was the quickest in the field together with Lewis being on quite a lot more fuel. But then on the option tyre it was very difficult with the car that was full of fuel. We decided to do so because we had the chance to go to the end from this moment. But a great result for the team.
Q: But as you say getting past Barrichello was vital, as David will probably agree.
NH: Yes, it was very important to get past Rubens but unfortunately I made a poor start. As Robert said the right hand side was not that good. He even passed Kovalainen I think who overtook him on the straight but then it wasnt too easy for me. (Inaudible) was a lot quicker but after I got by him I managed to close the gap to Kovalainen pretty quickly. But with the speeds of the McLaren on the straights even if I was side-by-side with him out of turn 10, I had no chance to pass. But then the safety car came out anyway. I saw all the cars in front of me pitting and I was pretty long and saved some fuel and due to that was able to convert to a one stop. I think at this point it was probably the right decision. Actually I suggested it and asked if it was possible but in hindsight I dont think it would have changed too much if we had gone to a two stop because I came out in front of Robert anyway.
Q: And big pressure from Fernando too.
NH: Yeah, I had a lot of pressure from him. I asked the team if I could let him by or not, because I thought that he had to stop anyway. First they told me to defend my position which surprised me a little, but anyway I did so while keeping an eye on him. And later on in the stint, they told me that if hes a lot quicker than you and hes attacking, then let him by but I think I would have lost more time letting him by than not. I just kept an eye on him and then once he dived to the inside of turn ten, I kept the door open and he went straight on and afterwards he crashed, I think.
Q: David, great to see you here but the front left tyre looked as though there wasnt much left by the end?
DC: Yeah, there was a lot of graining. I was actually surprised that we had quite a bit of graining on the prime which we hadnt seen in practice, so in the first stint I was tearing that tyre quite a bit. I was hoping that as the track rubbered in, it might make it a bit easier on the option. I knew I was on a one stop, so I knew I was committed to going long. Obviously the safety car helped because we saved some fuel, went a fuel laps longer, and that meant less laps and less fuel on the option tyre, but nonetheless it is tricky to drive with a tearing tyre on a track thats breaking up. I think, as Robert mentioned in the other press conference, the track conditions werent as bad as we saw in qualifying, or it certainly didnt break up as quickly, but certainly by the end of the race there was a lot of debris off-line. I was actually taking the hairpin with one wheel on the grass, which is definitely not the quickest way in normal conditions but with the gravel the way it was, if you went wider, it just sucked you in.
Q: As I mentioned, Rubens seemed to be holding up a lot of people today?
DC: It was fantastic. Im delighted he was holding up people. It made my race a lot easier, I didnt have that much pressure at the end which was great because to have to push on a track like that, it would have been very easy to make a mistake as you saw. I was a little bit surprised to see that the crashes happened in the pit lane because normally here its out on the track but obviously that helped remove a few cars from the race. From where I qualified and on a one stop strategy, youre always relying on the safety car scenario round here, so our strategy guys made the right choice. As I said before, Im just delighted to have a good points scoring finish after the first few races of the year. It was beginning to look like I was a crasher. In Monaco I managed to do that pretty much myself but all the other ones, I seem to have been assisted by other cars, so its nice to bring the car home in a difficult race.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Daniel Bastien Radio FM 103.3) Question for Robert and Nick, considering the standings in both championships, is BMW Sauber now a top team today?
RK: I think when you are leading the World Championship after seven races as a driver, you have a car that can win races and can fight for top positions, so if a team can build a top car, its a top team. Thats very clear, I think.
NH: Not much to add. Weve been leading the Constructors championship earlier this season, now Robert is leading the World Drivers championship, so we must be a top team by now. I think McLaren and Ferrari have made a couple of mistakes this year, they messed up their race here, but nevertheless it also takes a top team and good drivers not to make those mistakes, so I would say yes.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Moto und Sport) Robert, did you realise what happened on your left side when you were waiting for the lights at the pit lane exit?
RK: Yeah. First of all I heard a big shunt and then I saw Lewis over the rear wing of Kimi. It was a similar situation to last year when we pitted under the safety car and there was still a red light (at the pit lane exit). Last year Fisichella and Massa went by, I stopped as the first car. This time I stopped side by side with Kimi and after a few seconds Lewis came flat out and crashed into him. I have to thank him that he chose Kimi and not me.
Q: (Iker Migoya Grand Prix Magazine, Mexico) Robert, you wrote yourself out of a possible win yesterday and here you are today. Can you tell us about your feelings, about hearing the Polish anthem for the first time and how crazy the fans are for your first victory?
RK: Yesterday I said victory is possible because in racing everything is possible but if there would be no more race, with no mistakes, with poor pace, we are still not ready. We did manage a very good race. I was helped by Hamilton because in the end we were the top three cars: Lewis, me and Kimi, so the two strongest drivers were off the track at that stage. Of course the safety car didnt help my strategy because the one stoppers were in front of me. So when I rejoined the track I was held up by slower cars and at that point I was just waiting for everybody to pit, and I had seven laps to pull out a big margin to Nick, so I had to come out in front of him after my second stop and I did it. Its a great atmosphere here in Canada and there are many Polish fans, there are many fans who are cheering for our team, for me. Its always fantastic to win here, especially after what happened here last year.
Q: (Panos Seitanidis Drive Magazine) David, talking to Mika Häkkinen, your long time team-mate a few months ago, he said that he was pleasantly surprised that you keep finding more motivation, but the biological clock ticks for everyone. Is that the case for you, or does today prove that it doesnt apply to you?
DC: Definitely the clock is ticking and Im delighted about that because Ive had a great journey in my career and through life and the alternative doesnt excite me very much. I appreciate that Mika brought his career to an end relatively quickly and I think on reflection probably too quickly. I dont feel that Ive done that and I guess most of you would agree. Ive enjoyed it to the maximum. Were all different, we all make our choices and Im delighted with the choices that Ive made.
Q: (Marco DeglInnocenti La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for both the BMW Sauber drivers, and then an additional one for Nick. The first, for you both is do you think from now, the BMW Sauber team is able to win a race in normal conditions as well?
RK: We are working on it. The target this season was to win a race. We did it earlier than expected, I think. We did it in a difficult race with not the best pace in the field, I would say. Clearly Hamilton was the quickest driver here this weekend, but he made a mistake. You pay for your mistakes and we did a good race, I think. Everybody has worked very well, the guys in the pit stop, on the pit wall, to switch Nicks strategy as well, to have two cars completely different during the race and it paid off with a first and second. But what it will be in the future we dont know and we have to work, we have to fight, to push. I dont think well be lacking motivation now after such a great result and everybodys already pushing very hard in Munich and Hinwil, so we just have to find a few tenths and maybe we can fight with proper pace in a normal race for the victory as well.
NH: I think we should find a happy medium now and I think the team will be able to do that. First of all, we can all be very proud of this one-two for the team. On the other hand, that doesnt mean that from now on we have to win each race. As Robert said, there were other cars that were quicker on the circuit today, especially Hamilton, but in the end Robert won with the BMW and thats what counts today.
Q: (Marco DeglInnocenti La Gazzetta dello Sport) Nick, you mentioned your personal psychological situation over the past weeks. Do you think this second place is a positive solution or because your team-mate won it is not so nice?
NH: As I said before, its a bit of both. Obviously Im happy for Robert as he did a great job today. He deserves the win but what racing driver would I be, driving in the same team, being so close to my first victory not to be a bit disappointed?
Q: (Mark Danby Auto Magazine) Robert, talk us through some of the struggles from last year and the hard work that followed to get you to where you are today?
RK: It was a few things that were not working properly which I was already pushing last year to get fixed. Unfortunately we couldnt fix them during the season. We fixed them for this season and I think this years results, up to now, have shown how much I was struggling last year, more than I think people were expecting, and more than everybody thought. I knew what I needed. The team supplied me with this for this year and I think the result has been very positive for both sides, for myself and for the team.
Q: (Peter Hesseler Abend Zeitung) Question to Nick and to Robert: Nick, did you let Robert past voluntarily or were you advised by the pit? And Robert, do you think you are being promoted to number one in the team to go for the title?
NH: Well, as there are no team orders allowed, no, but as I was on a one-stop, a lot heavier than Robert, knowing that, its clear within the team that I wouldnt make it too difficult for Robert.
RK: I think you have to ask this question to someone else. I dont think so. In the end, both drivers have to score points for the team, but I would say if you are leading the World Championship as a driver after seven races, with, apart from Australia, our worst place finish was fourth place, after this race I think Im the best qualifier in the field this season, so I think we have to push. Maybe in the future we wont get another chance, so I think we have to use this opportunity which might mean in five races that we dont have any more chance but while we have chances, I think we have to give our maximum and I hope the team will give their maximum. I will give maximum support to fight for it.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Robert, can you explain your situation regarding your contract with BMW?
RK: Im not saying anything about contracts. We are not talking about it.
Q: (Tony Dodgins Tony Dodgins Associates) Nick, you were talking about the decision to let Fernando by or not. At the time I think Fernando started heavier than Robert and he was with Robert, so you are presumably aware that by keeping him behind you were sort of helping him win the race. Were you aware of that?
NH: I was thinking about that but Im happy to help Robert as long as it doesnt spoil my race which wasnt the case. I had Fernando behind me and it wasnt a big problem for me. But at one point I thought Robert was far enough ahead anyway even if Alonso would have passed me, to be any threat to Robert.