FIA post-qualifying press conference - Singapore 27 Sep 2008
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m44.801s; 2nd Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1m45.465s; 3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1m45.617s.
Q: Felipe, Monaco, Valencia and now here the inaugural night race at Singapore. What an achievement for you.
Felipe Massa: I think first of all the car was just perfect, you know, so nice to drive smoothly and then I managed to do a perfect lap and that always helps when you have a good car and you dont make any single mistakes in whatever corner you go. That is always a great achievement.
Q: What does it feel like to put in a perfect lap at a venue like this, the first ever night race in the history of Formula One?
FM: It was just a great feeling. When you come into the last corner you say I cannot make any mistake. You are not trying to go on the limit at the last corner as you know everything could be worse than it actually is, so I just made it corner by corner, perfect, not making any single mistake and then when I came to the last corner I said maybe I will take it a little bit easier but I couldnt. I did the last corner quickly anyway but the feeling is so fantastic. When you get the best from the car it is one of the most incredible feelings you can have as a racing driver, so when you achieve what you want it is always a great achievement.
Q: Your thoughts on driving on this track at night?
FM: It is pretty tough. It is a very difficult track. To get every corner right is really difficult. The lights, I mean the visibility, I dont think is a big problem to be honest. We have visibility, so you dont care, you just want to take the best out of the car, so you dont really think whether you are during the night or during the day, you just think about what you have to do. It will be a very difficult race for sure. Concentration will be 10 times more important than a normal circuit, even maybe a little bit more difficult than Monaco as there are more corners, so it wont be easy.
Q: And how has the rhythm of the weekend worked out for you and the team?
FM: Yeah, for sure I think the work of the team in a way is exactly similar to other races but in completely different times. I got here on Tuesday and tried to go to bed very late but already Wednesday, at three oclock in the morning, I was walking the track with my family, with Rubens Barrichello and his wife and everybody. We were having fun but also learning the track. Every day I was trying to do similar things, I think everybody in the team as well, trying to use more the European time than the time from here. It is a little bit strange but fun in a way.
Q: Lewis, after what happened in Monza we were all a bit worried but you just made it into Q3.
Lewis Hamilton: You were not the only ones who were worried. It was a little bit nerve-wracking for sure but fortunately we got through. I managed to secure a good spot on the front row but obviously not as smooth sailing as some other people. But nevertheless weve been very competitive all weekend, so I think I am in a good position for the race tomorrow.
Q: We heard on the radio transmission the team saying great sector three, but sectors one and two were where you had to try and find the speed on that last run.
LH: Yes, I remember that the first lap I did wasnt particularly fantastic. The last sector was good but in the first two I was a little bit cautious. The next time I came through I think I improved the first couple of corners but then I lost a bit of time I think through turn five and then the rest of the lap was pretty much the same pace as my best time. I think I may have improved it slightly but it wasnt enough.
Q: We saw the hard Bridgestone tyre looking good in Q3. What was the thinking going into qualifying from a tyre point of view?
LH: It was actually quite a tricky decision to make simply because normally there is a relatively big difference between the two compounds, or noticeable difference, but today generally both tyres were very similar but the option tyre doesnt seem to be lasting the whole lap. Fortunately, I think everyone pretty much went for the harder and it seemed to do the job.
Q: And your thoughts on night racing? How have you liked it so far?
LH: Yeah, tonight it is kind of crazy. It is 11.15 hrs at night right now and Ive never been driving at this time before but for us its the afternoon. As Felipe said we have been walking the track at 3 a.m. in the morning, going to bed at five or six, and waking up late in the day, so it quite unique but driving the circuit is fantastic. I think they have done an amazing job in building the circuit and the facilities. It is really a great place to be.
Q: Kimi, a troublesome morning for you which would not have helped going into qualifying.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, it was a bit unfortunate. We had some issue with the steering wheel and then I ran wide and tried to turn round but we could not find any gears anymore. That is unfortunate but the car has been pretty good. We have been losing a bit of time here and there but it was not too bad.
Q: A good Q1 for you, but how did you feel in Q2 and Q3?
KR: I thought it was better with the softer tyres but we were not so sure, so we stayed with the harder ones and it was a bit trickier than the first qualifying. Maybe we should have gone the other way but I dont know, it would probably not have a made a lot of difference but anyhow I am reasonably happy. It could have been better but it is not too bad.
Q: The drivers have been talking in general about how physical the circuit is. Talk a little bit about it being an anti-clockwise circuit. It seems quite bumpy, very hot.
KR: I think it is just hot and humid and that is the only difference. It is not very physical, there are quite slow corners and not any quick corners but it is quite bumpy in some places. That is probably the only negative thing here and hopefully for next year they can fix it. Apart from that it is a very nice place and a nice circuit to drive, so it is a nice feeling.
Q: Felipe, on pole for this historic race. Your thoughts again going into the race in front of a huge crowd and a massive television audience.
FM: I am sure it will be a very important race for Formula One. I think the people at home knowing it is the first Formula One night race are already very interested wherever they are. If they are in Brazil to wake up to the race, if they are in Europe to make sure after lunch to go home to see the race, if they are here to go to the track. I think it is a very interesting thing and it will be a very important race in the calendar, so I am looking forward to doing a good job tomorrow. If we can win the race it will be an even more fantastic feeling than winning the qualifying.
Q: Felipe, an extraordinary margin of 0.6s over the rest. How do you explain that?
FM: Thats impressive. For sure that was one of the best qualifying for us this season. It was a huge margin. Always when you see the margin, you want to have slightly more fuel in the car. I think we already have a good strategy but when you see the margin you just think about that. Anyway, I think it was a great lap, a perfect lap. It always puts you in a good position when you can do everything perfectly, especially when you have a good car. The car was so good here during these two days and I think we went into qualifying at the right moment to take the maximum out of the car. I think I did a good job. The team did a great job as well preparing the weekend, so thats it. I think everything went perfectly tonight.
Q: How was the difference on the different types of tyre?
FM: Already yesterday I was happy on the hard tyres. I was pretty keen to do Q3 on the hard tyres because I had exactly the same feeling in Monaco. I had the same feeling in Hungary on the track as well. The tyres are not very different in terms of grip from the soft to the hard but the hard is more consistent through the whole lap to the end of the lap, so thats why I was already quite comfortable and happy with the hard yesterday and this morning and didnt even think about trying the prime.
Q: You talked about concentration during the race itself. How do you feel about it physically as well, the bumps, the heat, etc?
FM: Its part of the concentration, its part of the way you drive a race. We have a lot of bumps here from turn five to turn seven which is always difficult. I think to do 61 laps at a consistent pace is very tough, so lets try to make sure that tomorrow we can have a great pace, a good start and try to have similar pace to that which we had in qualifying.
Q: Lewis, you nearly missed Q3. How aware were you of that, what was the problem in fact?
LH: I just missed my first lap. The car didnt stop into turn one, so I missed out on that lap and then I had to come in. Unfortunately I didnt have enough fuel to do an extra lap, so I had to come in and then I went into the weighing scales. Then I had to come back in, get everything cooled down and everything changed and back out. And then when I went back out I got stuck in traffic. It was just one of those things. It was very, very fortunate that I got through and Im happy with the result as a result of that.
Q: What about overtaking on this circuit. How easy is that going to be?
LH: No, you wont be able to overtake here. I dont think so, not if youre as quick as the guy in front. For the quicker cars, if theres not really much time difference I was behind David Coulthard, DCs car. I was quite a bit quicker but I couldnt get close enough.
Q: Are you going to be relying on the mistakes of other drivers or can you not rely on that?
LH: No, youve just got to play it by ear and just do the best job that we can tomorrow.
Q: Kimi, very good times in Q1 and Q2, so are you a bit disappointed with Q3?
KR: The result is OK if I look at what happened in the last few races. For sure in the first qualifying the car felt best and then it was a bit more difficult with the harder tyres. It was difficult to really chose which tyres to take in the end. I think the hard ones were the safer option. We missed the morning, so we couldnt really test them against each other, so that was a little bit difficult for us. It was OK. Third place is fine.
Q: Does the car feel good? You mentioned a modification that you tested at Mugello.
KR: No, we went back yesterday for today and it feels OK. There are small things that we can still improve for sure, but Im pretty happy with it, and I think once everything is fine as we had in the first qualifying, then it seems to be quite good but if it goes a little bit off that, then its not as quick anymore and for sure you need to have a good car if youre going to be in this kind of place, exactly where you want. Im still happy and for sure I think we are usually a little bit stronger in the race, so Im not too worried about it.
Q: Which is the most crucial part of the circuit as far as youre concerned?
KR: I think its everywhere. There are a lot of slow corners and you can easily lose a lot of time in those, so you need to get everything right to be fast here. There are many areas which are tricky, so its not easy.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Fréderic Ferret LEquipe) Lewis, with Felipe on pole and you on the dusty side, do you think it could be a remake of Valencia?
LH: Most likely. Its the dirtier side, so its always the slower side.
Q: Fréderic Ferret LEquipe) So after the start do you think it will be Felipe in front and then you?
LH: It depends who gets to the first corner first. As I said, its unlikely to be able to overtake, so we might see another Valencia.
Q: (Sudhir Chandran Chequered Flag) Question to you all, does it matter at all to have a background of dark sky against the lights? What kind of emotion does this cause: depressing, demotivating? What difference is it compared to a nicely lit background?
FM: I think I just answered this question. I think when youre driving and you have the visibility, you dont really care if it is during the day or during the night, you just want to get the maximum out of the car. I dont know about these guys but thats the way I think.
LH: I barely notice it to be honest. For sure its a unique feeling but it doesnt make a difference in terms of driving your lap because youre looking at the ground in front of you, you dont particularly look up. But sometimes, after turn 13, you look at the straight, you open your eyes and you see everything and its dark but you cant see anything there apart from a building maybe. Its cool but it doesnt do anything to your emotions or anything.
KR: You dont look at the sky, so it doesnt make any difference.
FM: I hope we dont look at the sky.
KR: The lights are almost as good as daytime, so its really normal.
Q: (James Allen ITV) Lewis, you only did one lap in Q1 whereas everyone else did two. Looking back, did that have any part to play in the problems that you had at the start of Q2? Had the others got their eye in more than you?
LH: No. I did my first lap at the same time as everyone else and it was half a second faster, so there was no need to do any more laps.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Deutschland) Lewis, are you worried about the gap to Felipe and what do you think that it shows about the performance of the cars here?
LH: No, I cant be worried but for sure I dont think that my lap was anywhere near perfect by any means. As Felipe said, he did a perfect lap and his car was great. We know that they are very competitive, plus we dont know what their strategy is. Were not worried, were in a very strong position tomorrow with the strategy were on. Im quite happy with where I am. I think its going to be a tough race tomorrow, but as I said, in the position were in, were looking quite good.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, how happy are you with your last lap and what do you think is possible for you in the race?
KR: We will try the best that we can tomorrow. I think the car should be pretty good in the race. The lap was OK but for sure you could go faster but third place is not too bad.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, could you describe what happened in practice three? You were quite nervous with the marshals, and did the engine suffer in that situation?
KR: I dont know. It got a little bit hot but it looks like its fine. I just tried to show them to push me backwards because I couldnt select reverse but then once they pushed me, they helped me because I couldnt get a gear. We had an electronic problem with the steering wheel. That was the only issue.