FIA post-race press conference - Hungary 03 Aug 2008
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren), 1h37m27.067s; 2nd Timo Glock (Toyota), 1h37m38.128s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1h37m43.923s.
Q: Heikki, it has been a long road but your first win in Formula One. Describe your feelings as you crossed the line.
Heikki Kovalainen: Yeah, of course I was very happy. Like you mentioned there have been various incidents this year and we have been in the position after Saturday quite a few times to fight for the victory, but always something has gone wrong and it hasnt functioned perfectly. Today obviously I knew Massa and Lewis were both very fast at the beginning of the race but half way through the race I felt it was starting to work for me a little bit better and then at the end I just tried to put pressure on Massa and hoped something would happen and obviously it looked like he had a mechanical failure, so it all worked fine for me today and I am very, very happy about it. All the hard work that the whole team has put in the last few months, through difficult times, we just kept pushing and it is very respectable and I am very, very glad to score my first victory.
Q: The car looked particularly good in the last stint on the softer tyres. How quick was the car relative to Felipe do you think?
HK: It is difficult to say what he was doing. I was catching him quite a big chunk every lap and the target was to try and put pressure on him and take all the power from his engine and everything I could do to put pressure on him. Like you said, my car felt particularly good on the last stint. The first two stints I was a little bit cautious. Earlier this year I have had some troubles with the tyre degradation and I was worried if I crossed that edge again I might start to struggle. I just kept my own pace and then in the last stint it all worked fine for me.
Q: In the last few laps you knew you were leading and the Finnish anthem was played for you this time on the podium.
HK: It is fantastic. It is a great moment. Of course it is a moment I have been targeting for many, many years now since I started to get an idea about the possibility of becoming an F1 driver. I started to work hard and improve my fitness. I have spent a lot of time to achieve this goal, so to finally achieve it, is very pleasing. Hopefully this is the first of many. At the moment we just need to keep the concentration, have a little break and try to maximise this break and then go to the next round and try to repeat it.
Q: Timo, two weeks ago you were leaving the circuit on a stretcher and here you are celebrating your first ever podium finish in Formula One.
Timo Glock: It is just unbelievable. I couldnt believe it when I saw Felipes engine going and I knew that I was P2. I got the pressure from Kimi and with the soft tyres at the end I was struggling quite a lot but we knew that on Friday that the soft tyres would be difficult. But in the end it is just unbelievable. After the race in Hockenheim, where we had a good race pace and the big crash, now we have come to Budapest and just kept the speed there and just had a really good car from Friday onwards. We never really made a big change on the car and it was just perfect until the last stint with soft tyres which was a bit tricky but its unbelievable. I am in my first year with just half of the season over and I am on the podium. It is just a perfect weekend.
Q: And a great start to get past Robert Kubica. Talk us through that.
TG: I mean I had to improve myself a little bit in terms of the start as my reaction time was not perfect in the first couple of races. I just improved myself on it. I think the start time was really, really good and I could out-accelerate Robert and I had a good first corner. The last stint when I saw I was nine seconds in front of Kimi I had a reasonable pace but they told me he was five-tenths quicker per lap. I just tried to push more and more and I just destroyed the tyre every time, so I had to really focus on the tyres and just keep it easy, keep it cool and not be under too much pressure from Kimi.
Q: Kimi did back off quite a bit in the last couple of laps. Did you think he was going to catch you and if so, would he have been able to pass you?
TG: I knew from last year in GP2 when I was stuck in the middle of the field here, I had a really fast car but I couldnt get past anybody, and in F1 it is just more difficult. When he was close to me I could see in the mirror that for two laps he couldnt catch up more, so I thought okay, no mistakes and keep it on the track and thats it.
Q: Kimi, for most of the race you were trapped behind Alonso. But it all came alive for you in the last stint.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think we could have managed to do the race a little bit better but we were stuck behind Alonso all the way to the second stop. Then on the in-lap I was eight-tenths faster on my own but it was a bit late at that point. But at least we had a good car and we got in front of him and I was able to catch Timo but we needed to back off in the end. We were a bit lucky with all of the other people going all over the place and ended up with most points of the first three guys in the championship. I mean we have the speed in the race but if I cant get the qualifying right we are going to end up every race in the same situation like here and in the last race, so we need to sort it out. If we can be in the front, then we can fight for wins but in this position when we are just following people, then we cannot use the speed. The guys did a good job but we just need to fix a few problems and for sure we can be back in the hunt for wins.
Q: Did you think there would be a possibility to pass Timo?
KR: I was ready to try anything. I dont really care if I had lost a win but unfortunately we needed to back off. We were much faster like we were with Alonso but it is so difficult if the guy in front does not make a mistake, it is really, really difficult to get past. You need to get something very special in one corner to get close enough. But at least we got him behind but unfortunately I could not try to pass him. But third place in the end after what was a very difficult week for me was a good result.
Q: Heikki, where do you think the balance of power now lies?
KR: I think it is still very, very close and it is very difficult to draw any conclusions who is ahead. It just depends whoever nails it on the day. It is so sensitive at the moment that if you dont get the set-up perfect and if you dont get the tyres feeling perfect and if you dont get your driving perfect there are going to be three or four guys ahead of you straight away. I think it is quite interesting. I think it is really spectacular for all the fans. For us it puts a lot of pressure on everybody to maximise everything but it should be a very interesting end of the season with all the teams pushing very hard to see who comes out on top at the end.
Q: Heikki, whats it like winning your first grand prix?
HK: It feels pretty good. I could do it again. It is not so bad. Of course I feel a little bit sorry for Felipe and for Lewis. They both drove a great race but I know how it feels what happened to them today. I had similar moments this year quite a few times. But I tried to put pressure, especially in the last stint, on Felipe, trying to push him and maybe something would happen, you never know. When I saw the car on fire in the main straight with big smoke I thought it must be Felipe but it is hard to believe. After that of course there was no big rush anymore. With three laps to go it was just a case of bringing it home. In the end it is a great moment for myself and I am very happy. It is a very happy moment for our team and I am looking forward to the rest of the season. We are heading in the right direction and it is just a case now of keep pushing even through this brake a little bit and then try again next time.
Q: What were your emotions during the race? They must have been extraordinary.
HK: Yeah, but obviously for myself it wasnt quite like that. I just tried to keep it tidy and not make any mistakes and also the first two stints especially with the hard tyre I just tried to look after those tyres. Earlier this year there were quite a few times when I thought the tyres were dropping off as I was a little bit too hard on them, so I tried not to go too much. I just tried to go with the pace that I felt was available at that moment and just tried to increase it when I could. Then with the soft tyre at the end it felt particularly good and I felt confident to push and the tyre wasnt dropping off. Then when I tried to put pressure on Felipe I was catching him and in the end it was over.
Q: What about the start?
HK: Yeah, I felt that it was a little bit slippery on my side and straight away I saw that Lewis got a little jump on me and was a bit more ahead and then I saw Felipe coming and there was nothing I could do. I just sat back and saw that the guys behind me had also not got such a good start, so I was on my own already after just 200 metres. I was just trying to follow them into the first corner as it was quite possible something was going to happen as they were quite close to each other and they were locking wheels and everything. But they drove fine and after that it was quite a long lonely race for myself. I had a little problem with traffic in the middle of the race. There were quite a few lapped cars and it is very difficult to get close enough here to indicate to them that we are behind and I had a little chat on the radio to get the blue flags out and those guys had to back off from quite a long distance. But it is a problem with this circuit to get close enough and I lost quite a few seconds there but in the end it didnt matter too much.
Q: Timo, could you ever have imagined this result?
TG: No, definitely not. In this part of my first Formula One season it is just unbelievable and I still cant believe it that we finished P2. After the crash in Hockenheim it is just a perfect answer. We had a good race pace in Hockenheim and we knew that the car would be good here. From the beginning the car was just like I needed it and the result shows whats possible when the car is right for me. In the race itself I had a really good start. I improved my reaction time quite a lot in the last couple of races and that was the key for the start today. I had a mega start and I could go a good race pace, especially on prime tyres. We knew at the end with the soft tyres we would be struggling, especially for myself the soft tyre was just really difficult to get a feeling for it. When I saw nine seconds to Kimi I thought okay, I can keep a little bit better pace like 21.8 and 21.9 and maybe I could hold him off but I couldnt do 21, I was doing 22.2 or 22-middle and it was just too slow for Kimi and he caught me up big time. But I knew it would be really difficult to overtake here, so I just tried to make no mistakes and stay in front of him and in the end P2 is just perfect for the team and really important for the Constructors Championship and it is really good.
Q: In fact, you were catching Heikki in the middle stint. Was that with traffic?
TG: The middle stint was pretty good. I mean with the prime tyres the whole weekend we had a really good pace. When Heikki catched up the traffic, I think a couple of laps later, I had the same problem. And like Heikki said, it is just really difficult to come close enough that they see the blue flags and move over. That is a characteristic of the track and that made it a bit more difficult.
Q: What do you think has changed for you?
TG: In Hockenheim we had a pretty good car in terms of race pace. I dont like an understeering car and that was the problem sometimes this season with the car a bit too much on the understeer side. In Hockenheim and here it just went more and more in my way, my direction. I can just put the car in the corner where I want and I think it just suits my driving style more. Thats what I showed here in qualifying and in the race as well.
Q: Kimi, I think a lot of people might have said that Ferrari didnt seem to be potential winners today, but Felipe was leading, youre on the podium. Did you have confidence throughout the weekend?
KR: We had a pretty fast car all the time. Felipe was very unlucky today. For myself, its been quite a disappointing weekend but in the end we got a pretty good result. We have the speed in the race but if we cannot qualify, we cannot use it and we saw that again today. Most of the race I was stuck behind Alonso and once I got on my own, I could go almost a second faster on my in-lap. We need to get something sorted and get in the front and then we can fight for wins, for sure. The car seems to be working well, we just need to find a good set-up again. Its been a bit difficult for me in the last few races but we are still in the championship, so its not too bad.
Q: What were the messages you were getting before that final, crucial pit stop?
KR: Yeah, I think we could have managed to do it slightly better at the beginning of the race but in the end we thought its going to be close and we were probably going to stop on the same lap and I went off a little bit just before the pit stop. Luckily he (Alonso) came in one lap earlier and I could go very fast on the in-lap but the problem was that when I made a mistake I dropped off a little bit but I was fast enough to get in front of him. We had a very good pit stop, that was the big key point and then I was fast enough to catch up with Timo but then I needed to slow down.
Q: And on the softer tyres?
KR: It was good all the time but its difficult to say with the harder tyres only. The in-lap was very good but I was like a second all the time behind Alonso, so you get the wrong idea from the car and you cannot use the speed. When I was on my own, the car was fast, so we just need to get in the front in the first place to use the speed.
Q: And what sort of message did you get after Felipe had stopped?
KR: I saw him stop, unfortunately, on the main straight. I didnt know what had happened but they told me that probably it was something do with the engine, so they just said to take it a little bit easier.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Heikki, they say that the first victory makes a driver stronger. Do you think that will happen to you also?
HK: It certainly wont make me any weaker! It certainly doesnt do any harm. Of course, this is something that weve been trying to do earlier this year. It could have happened in many other races, there was always an opportunity but it didnt happen. We havent lost concentration, weve kept the full motivation all the time and trying to improve and little by little get closer and today we had a little bit of luck on our side but certainly it wont do any harm for anyone in our team and not for myself either.
Q: (Peter Farkas Auto Motor) Timo, I think your stop took some thirteen seconds or so. Did you plan to take so long or was it a problem?
TG: I asked what the problem was, I felt that the fuel rig was not on perfectly but I didnt get an answer. I was told we will discuss it after the race. Maybe I stopped a bit too far and they couldnt plug in the fuel rig. We have to discuss it and analyse it but it cost us three or four seconds.
Q: (Istvan Simon Auto Magazine) To all three of you, did this extreme heat disturb your performance on the track today?
HK: For myself, it didnt disturb, but its a challenge all the time. Its a tough race, for sure, but I dont feel it was limiting or slowing me down at all. I felt I was well-prepared for this one, no problem.
TG: The heat for me was no problem either. I felt again a bit the problem I had in Jerez with my stomach, where I think I had some wrong food at the test and when I had drunk quite a lot throughout the race, I had problems again with my stomach. I was not feeling perfect after the race but the heat wasnt the biggest problem.
KR: It was OK. Its harder for the cars, for everybody, but it was no problem.
Q: (Istvan Simon Auto Magazine) Timo, this is really an unexpected result for everyone. Could you just talk us through your weekend in a couple of sentences?
TG: As I mentioned, the car was very good in the first practice on Friday and when we keep it in that window, through the weekend, we should be well in the points. I didnt expect a podium and I think the circumstances with Felipe helped out a bit, but then with Lewis as well. But you have to be there at that moment and you have to have the speed as well. Qualifying in Q2 showed that we had a really, really good car, with the prime tyres and where I struggled a bit in Q3 was to get the tyres up to temperature. All the other cars had to go around really slowly on the out-lap and I had to push quite a lot with the prime tyre to bring the tyres up to temperature. In Q3, unfortunately, I did my quickest time with used tyres and with the new set I just couldnt get them up to temperature because Robert Kubica took an easy out-lap and I had to back off. But I think in qualifying we could have been one or two places further up the grid, but in the end, we finished on the podium and its just a perfect weekend, completely unexpected from my side. I didnt expect that in the first half of my first Formula One season.
Q: (Anne Giuntini LEquipe) Kimi, was there some warning of some specific risk on your cars from something working wrong, or did you decide to lift off as a precaution?
KR: Lets say that I just slowed down.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Deutschland) Heikki, can you just describe your emotions and thoughts in the last three laps of the race? First realising you are P1, then bringing the victory home and then talking to the team on the radio?
HK: Well, of course in the last three laps there are not too many emotions, just to bring it home. Obviously at that point I had no need any more - that was the lap that I saw Felipe blow up, that was the last time I pushed, and then after that I just started to save the engine and save everything and just bring it home. Of course, Im very, very happy. I know how hard weve worked and how hard the team has worked to bring forward upgrades for our car and we made some significant improvements in the last few months. The last few races have been very strong, not necessarily the results on my side but Lewis has been strong and the car has been performing strongly. Talking to the team was a happy moment, mainly because everyone has worked really hard. I feel satisfied, of course, for myself to have achieved this result and regardless of circumstances in Formula One you dont have any style points; its ten points, end of story. Its just a very happy moment and now Im going to go for a little break and try to become better through this little break.
Q: (Andrew Frankl Forza) Timo, were you feeling 100 percent fit after your little thing two weeks ago, or were you still having aches and pains as well as trying to finish second?
TG: No, no. The crash, from the press side of it, was maybe too dramatic. Weve had other crashes like Heikkis crash in Barcelona or Roberts last year there was a reason to discuss some things but my crash looked more spectacular than it was because on Sunday night I was already happy to go back home again, but they wouldnt let me go, so I had to stay in hospital for one night. I did my test at Jerez for 78 laps without any problems and just caught the food poisoning or whatever it was at the test which I think cost me more energy than the crash in Hockenheim.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, how do you feel now, because until 20 laps to go to the end, it was a bad weekend and now you are the only one of the two guys to score more points than the other two?
KR: For sure, it was not the weekend that I was looking for. We had good speed in the race but I made a mistake in qualifying, and without it we should have been in a different position in the first place, but the issue seems to be the qualifying. The speed is there once we get in the front but if we are not there, we cannot use it. Straightaway when I was on my own it was good but of course looking at all the problems staying behind the other cars all race long, finishing in third, so scoring more points than the guys in front of me (in the championship) is not too bad a result. I take it any way I can get it. We will see how we can sort things out for the next race and see if we can be stronger and fight for victory. There are still many races to go, were there in the championship, so Im not too worried about things. It will be nice to go on holiday.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) And the mechanical problem that you had at the end of the race; could it affect the next race?
KR: We can fix the problem.
Q: (Erkki Mustakari STT) Heikki, the next race will be in three weeks. That gives you two and a half weeks to celebrate. How are you going to celebrate your first Formula One win?
HK: Any ideas, Kimi?
KR: I will take him out.
HK: I havent seen my family I havent actually been in my real home in north Finland for a long time. I will go there at the end of next week, I think. I will celebrate the day with my people in Suomussalmi village where Im from. I have a little karting race organised on Saturday. Its a tradition. It has already taken place for the last five or six years and I think now it will be a very special event, having won this race. Its nice to go and see my people there. Perhaps we celebrate there a little bit with the Suomussalmi people and with my family but then its back to business and even trying to get something out of the break. I think we are going to do some fitness programme to push the fitness level up, to get strong, to get better, and also spend a bit of time in Woking, talking to the engineers and preparing for the next race. It doesnt change my world completely upside down, even if there was a two month break now. Im happy about it but this is just part of the goal. Now the next goal is to repeat this and then after that to do it again, so just need to keep up the concentration all the time.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, how crucial do you think is this qualifying problem for the championship?
KR: It didnt really affect me too much today. For sure we could have been fighting for victory but at least we got some good points today. Its mainly to get the car as we want. You can easily see that in the race its not the problem but with new tyres, its a bit the same issue as last year, that it seems to be difficult to get one lap out of them and stay on the circuit, so its probably more up to getting things right. I think there will be races that will suit me better and some not. We will see what happens in the next race.
Q: (Jérome Bourret LEquipe) Heikki, what are the improvements you have made since last year and which helped you to win today?
HK: I think the biggest improvement is that I have more grip in my car now compared to last year, and the whole package is just more competitive. I think as a driver Im certainly a better driver compared to last year. I have improved my driving technique. I have improved the whole package. The engineers are giving me feedback and Im fitter compared to last year as well. I think there is a lot more to come. I think there is still a lot of work to be done and the next target has to be to do all these results consistently and without anyone blowing away. We just go step by step. Theres no particular area that I want to improve, we just try to work on every area, little-by-little, not to overshoot any area, not to get any backfires.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, you seemed to have quite a good start but got very much on the right side, pushed by Kubica. Can you describe what happened there and was it very dirty on that side?
KR: Yeah, the first initial part was good but I decided to go on the inside and he pushed me a bit on the inside and I lost a place, so it wasnt a very good start in the end. Unfortunately, I was stuck behind Alonso but thats life.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, where are you going now for holiday and which sport will you be watching at the Olympic Games?
KR: It will be nice to see all of them. I think the BMX biking will be interesting. I think I will go to Switzerland now and then somewhere, but I dont have plans. I will do what I want, see what happens.