FIA post-race press conference - Brazil 18 Oct 2009
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Mark Webber (Red Bull), 1h32m23.081s; 2nd Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), 1h32m30.707s; 3rd Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1h32m42.025s.
Q: Mark, you took the lead after that first pit stop, set fastest lap, it looked like a walk in the park for you.
Mark Webber: You never know in the first stint. I knew Rubens (Barrichello) was a bit shorter, I knew Robert was a bit shorter. I was impressed with Roberts pace to start with and then when they pitted, I knew I had a nice clear run to get a good gap starting the second stint. I just cleared JB on the out lap which is always nice as well. And then also just making sure the tyres were nice and comfortable for the whole stint, doing enough. A little bit panicky with Robert in the second stint because he started closing and I thought my pace is not too bad, but hes closing but the guys said he was quite short in that middle stint, so that sort of confirmed that for me. And then I was just asking a few questions: who was option, if anyone was on the option in the middle stint, how did it look, what do I need to do maybe for the first part of the last stint, because the option wasnt too great for us on Friday, to be honest. And then starting the last start it was nice to have a bit of a buffer, so just controlled that to start with. Obviously the tyres are very good straightaway but you cant go bananas on them. And just control the gap to Robert at about five-odd seconds and then it looks like it was going to be a stalemate and then backed off a bit earlier towards the end. So that gave me a nice run home. Its been a fantastic day for the team, to win again. Weve had quite a few victories this year off the back of some tough seasons at Red Bull, totally confirming second for us in the Constructors. Obviously we werent good enough over the whole season to win any championships but weve done ourselves very proud as a team, as a unit. I would like to thank Renault as well, the engines have been very good. Its not an easy environment for them, so yeah, very, very good. Its a special weekend for Australians because Jason Crump won the World Speedway Championship last night, a very close friend of mine, under very difficult conditions, very badly injured, and Casey (Stoner) won the motorbikes yesterday, so its a good weekend for the Australians.
Q: Mark, a tumultuous first lap, a lot going on. Can you talk about the conditions there? Obviously it was wet yesterday going onto a dry track surface, and what the debris was like later on. We saw a lot of debris on the back straight.
MW: Yeah, always coming off the back of a green track overnight you had to get a bit of a feel for it early on. Fuel is back in the car and last time I drove like that was obviously Friday. The track wasnt too bad, to be honest. It could have been a lot worse, the balance was not too bad as well, but as you say, a bit of debris, safety car early on, making sure we werent picking up any punctures or anything stupid like that, because there was some carbon around, and then also towards the end of the race it looked like maybe Heidfeld had a moment down to turn four and put a lot of mud on the track. I was happy they didnt put the safety car out because it would have undone all my hard work and I dont think it needed a safety car for a bit of dirt anyway. Yeah, the track cleaned up and then I was just hoping it didnt rain, which it didnt, so He looked after me upstairs again today.
Q: And what was the run like on the back straight on the opening lap? It was pretty crowded, a lot of people going for that first corner.
MW: The thing that really surprised me its always the same with the KERS cars, the speed difference is absolutely enormous. Come out of three, to start with, and then I saw Kimi (Räikkönen) massively late. He had a massive speed advantage. I was firm, Kimi would have done the same to me, so it had to be done.
Q: Robert, what a day for you too: first podium for the team since Malaysia, way back at the start of the season. Its been a difficult year for the team, but for you personally a great drive from eighth place.
Robert Kubica: Difficult season, as you say, for our team, but I think yesterday we did a big part of the job. We knew it might be a dry race today so we decided to keep our low downforce configuration car like we were running on Friday. It was extremely difficult when there was a lot of water. Nick was out in Q1, I managed to put in a good lap in difficult conditions, it wasnt an easy car to drive in the wet. I managed to qualify eighth. I think some people were disappointed in this qualifying, I dont know why because maybe they wondered if miracles could happen every session, like in Q1, but when the track was drying, I had no chance against the quicker cars. And then today I had good pace, consistent. I think I was a bit surprised about the slow pace from Rubens and Mark initially. I was able to keep up with them. We had a problem with the water temperature straightaway. I already had to reduce rpm on lap ten of the race, so for most of the race I drove with lower rpm because our engine was overheating. Yeah, I had to pull out of slipstream every time on the straight. I was just trying to cool down the temperature and bring the car home.
Q: Mark just mentioned the second stint of the race when he was a bit worried about you. How did you feel at that point in terms of what you could do?
RK: I was very unlucky after the first pit stop. I just got behind four cars which I think were Kobayashi, Nakajima, Jenson and Sebastian. They were overtaking, I was heavy, they were light and I had no chance to overtake them. I had to take care about the temperature, about the engine, so I was not pulling and Mark pulled out a nice gap there. I was assuming I was shorter but not as short We discussed our strategy but not as short as we were, so I had to pit with 28 laps to go and put on option tyres, I was a bit worried because after five laps on Friday, the tyres were finished. I just tried not to over-drive them, to keep them nice and steady but also to look at the gap to Rubens and it paid off. I had some problems with tyre degradation in the last ten laps, but the gaps were quite easy and I brought the car home.
Q: Lewis, on the day that you passed the title of World Champion to your compatriot, Jenson Button, you were on the podium in the Brazilian Grand Prix: a heavy fuel load, a very early stop to get the soft option tyre out of the way and a great run to third place.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, todays been an extremely tough day, tough weekend, and today was a huge surprise to me. I had no idea that we would even be able to get into the points. The team did a great job with the strategy but I was on a knife edge the whole way. I feel great, the car felt great. I think there are still some improvements we need to make but to fight all the way up to third from 18th I think is a great job from all the team, so hugely thankful to them for the hard work, the good job they did. I had an incredible battle with Rubens. I must say congratulations to Jenson: a great job from him, a great season.
Q: In the early pit stop there was a drama in your pit crew with Heikki Kovalainen, your team-mate. I guess you were not aware of that and it didnt play any part in your race?
LH: No, I thought I saw a Ferrari behind me as I was pulling out and I thought it would be close but I didnt really see that Heikki was actually behind. I didnt see any dramas that he had but I hope everyone in the pit crew is OK and we will probably have to work on that to find out what went wrong.
Q: And third place in the Constructors Championship is still very much alive for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
LH: Yeah, Ive got the bosses breathing down my neck to get the job done, so today would have definitely made them happy and we really needed it, considering we were both right at the back and werent really looking to get points, so this would go very well. Im sure the lads in the team are very happy and bosses are too.
Q: Mark, returning to you for some closing thoughts: its been a year of domination by one team and then another, Brawn Mercedes and Red Bull particularly. Your second win now, Jenson is the World Champion though. Your thoughts on how the seasons gone and some comments about Jenson.
MW: Well, its been a very interesting season in many ways. We started off with double diffusers, some teams with KERS. Then we, as Red Bull, were phenomenal in the middle of the year, the first part of the European races. Then off to the street circuits, back in July and early August and we had a bit of a tough time. The McLaren came back, especially Lewis, and Kimi also had a good run. So there have been many, many teams six different winners this year, I think, and quite a few different people on the podium. So its been a mixed season in terms of performance for people. Jenson, I think, deserves the championship, no question about it. He drove very, very well in the early part. Its not easy to have error-free weekends, with the exception of Spa, when he had problems at the top of Les Combes when its easy to happen when you start in the middle of the pack. Hes driven pretty well, particularly in first stints, when hes been on the back foot and coming through, doing a pretty good job here and there. Every car has its strengths and weaknesses and Brawn, obviously, have some strengths and a few weaknesses here and there. JBs done a good job, so Id like to congratulate him and Brawn as well. I think he will sleep better now, because hes been incredibly nervous, theres no question about that. Hes been absolutely bricking himself the last few weeks, so he can sleep better now, and all of us can go to Abu Dhabi and just enjoy the new race there. I dont think its going to be like Suzuka but anyway, its another street track.
Q: Mark, you probably dont want to be reminded of this, but your two previous best results here were two ninth places.
MW: I didnt know it was that, but I had a reasonable idea that Ive had a pretty rough run here. There have been lots of firsts this year and this is another one, in terms of getting a good result. It was an interesting first lap as usual. There was quite a bit at stake, all the guys know that. KERS cars always liven it up and once we got through all that, we then settled down, and I knew that Rubens and Robert were quite a bit shorter than me in the first stint, so I just managed all that as best as I could. They pitted and then I got a big gap after that first stop. The stop went well, the guys did a good job there. Then I had a long stint on the prime, same for everyone because we knew everyone was probably going to do a little bit of protection against the option. So we just controlled that second stint to a limit. It wasnt absolutely bananas but it was pushing reasonably hard. Robert was obviously a bit quicker because he was pretty short and then in the last stint I looked after the tyres, got it home and its nice when its like that. I hoped that it was going to be very boring and it was. Its good.
Q: How unexpected was the win?
MW: After Friday, I was quite confident that we could go for a victory. Our pace was pretty good, I was a little bit worried about this guy here (Hamilton) because the McLaren, we knew, would do pretty well here with the KERS and hes also a pretty good driver. We knew he would be a force. Fortunately it was mixed up yesterday and thats where the foundations were laid, particularly for me and Robert, delivering in those difficult conditions. Again, some cars were different to others, it was not easy to get through, but thats where the foundations were laid for that type of day today. It didnt come as a surprise that I had a chance to go for the victory, but its always nice with five laps to go that you realise it.
Q: How dry was your car in terms of settings?
MW: Hundred percent. We struggled in Q1, I think, because we all knew that we shouldnt have run in those conditions. I was lucky to get a lap in which put me through. That was one of the toughest qualifying laps for a long time to get through that session, because I couldnt believe the pace on my pit board that other people were doing. I thought Im risking so much here to get through. Thankfully I did, but then when the aquaplaning got lower in Q2, it was a different ballgame and then the car came alive on intermediates in Q3.
Q: Robert, same question: how dry was your car?
RK: Well, we kept 99 percent of Fridays set-up. Actually we were not really running proper downforce. We were lacking downforce, we didnt have the proper wings here, so we were already lacking downforce in the dry and especially when it rained, we took a gamble. We hoped for a dry race, we hoped some people would adjust their set-up to the wet conditions, so yesterday I think it was a very good job, especially when Q1 was full of water, I was extremely quick, surprisingly quick. Unfortunately, when the track dried, our pace was not as good. Some people in our team were disappointed about row four, because they thought miracles might happen in every qualifying, like in Q1 when I was third and running very quickly but in changing conditions drivers adapt their driving, the tyres, the pressures, so all in all fourth row was good for me. Today I had a good race.
Q: I understand this result was pretty unexpected, so what will it mean for the team?
RK: I dont know. I hope they will be on the grid next year. Of course its a good result after such a difficult season, which is still not finished. Here we were surprised about which downforce level we should use. We didnt have it. We had a mixed car: Singapore upgrade with an old front wing. It was very, very tricky and we were just really covering the problems, so Im very surprised with second place. I was very surprised by the quite slow pace of the top guys in the first stint and yeah, additionally we had water temperature problems after lap eight of the race, so we had to reduce engine revs and it was not easy. I ran most of the race with low revs and tried to keep the car as cool as possible, pulling out of the tow, so all in all I was surprised to be able to keep to Mark and Rubenss pace.
Q: Lewis, how important was KERS here, particularly for overtaking?
LH: That was probably one of the toughest races Ive had, not as tough as last year, clearly, but it was good. I think we qualified 18th. We were quite unlucky in qualifying and very fortunate with it being dry today. We had a very good pace, we just stayed out of trouble. KERS definitely helped at the start. If we had the fastest car or as fast a car as maybe Mark here and we had KERS on top we would be light years ahead but KERS, for us, just recovers what we lose in a straight-line because the efficiency of our car is not good at all. But generally today we did a great job, weve done a tremendous job to catch up throughout the year and were stuck with the car we have. We know it wasnt the best car, we stuck with it and just kept pushing and pushing and pushing, and were doing the best we can and I tell you, theres not much more if any more we can get out of this car. Its been a really good learning experience and today was great. I just have to say a big congratulations to Jenson and the Brawn team, great job by them for the whole season. I definitely look forward to having a better car to challenge them next year.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Tom Clarkson Tom Clarkson & Associates) Mark, how does this win compare to the Nürburgring?
MW: I think the first one was pretty nice, theres no question about it. Its nice to get another one, but probably Nürburgring was a little bit better, because it was a big relief more than anything. This one was more of a controlled fashion, I suppose, and although not too dissimilar to the Nürburgring, but I suppose I could only lose this one. I put myself in a very, very good position after yesterday in the first stint to win the race and then I had about 45 laps of getting it home. I went a little bit on the kerbs in a few places here and there and just had to give myself a bit of an uppercut and say mate, just bring it together and remind myself that Im not in tenth, Im in the lead, so you just control it. It was a pretty good day. Also I just want to add to all the press guys who havent come in here but it was a good weekend for a good friend of mine, Jason Crump who won the World Speedway Championship. Hes very, very injured and Im very happy for him that hes won the World title and Casey (Stoner) won the motorbikes, so it was a good day for us guys.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Lewis, its the first time in 40 years that Britain has had back-to-back World Champions. I wonder if you could offer your thoughts on what this means over the past two years for British motor sport.
LH: I dont think I have a clue if Im honest. I think its fantastic for our country to have I think in the last couple of years such great athletes coming through. Its been a good couple of years for us, with the Olympics and some seriously good talent coming through. Its been great for the sport, great for all the fans. Im sure the fans back home are extremely happy to have two World Champions two years in a row. I can only assume that they are very, very proud, thats all I can say.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Lewis, would it be fair to suggest to Jenson that hes only got it on loan for a year?
LH: I dont know. Thats the plan, for sure. Im not going to take anything away from his championship. He did an incredible job this year. He kept up the pressure, the pressure was extremely immense for him these last few races and I saw him today and whilst he was trying to keep a cool exterior, I know exactly what hes going through. I just said to him you dont have to do it in this race but just keep your cool and clearly he did, so Im very, very happy for him and his family. But I definitely plan on taking it back from him at some stage.