FIA post-race press conference - Italy 13 Sep 2009
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP), 1h16m21.706s; 2nd Jenson Button (Brawn GP), 1h16m24.572s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1h16m52.370s.
Q: Rubens, you have won here for Ferrari and now you have won here for Brawn. What a feeling for you.
Rubens Barrichello: It feels great. Like I said on the lap after I got the chequered flag I have no words. I mean I had a tough night. We did not know the gearbox. This or that. We did have an overtorque in Spa and there are some concerns but the gearbox is great. I think it is going to do the whole four races. I really hope. It was great to have a great start. Obviously (Heikki) Kovalainen was coming quite fast with that power button and I had to defend myself and I went wide, so it was a bit tough. But it was a great first lap and it made my race. My pace was there. My brakes were. It was pretty much like Valencia. The car was there all the time. It felt great and I have no big words for that. I just feel really good to see all this public. Obviously they are more in red than white but it still feels great.
Q: Jock Clear, your race engineer, was saying on your in-lap that great decisions were taken this weekend. Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen were on the two-stop strategy, but you two Brawn drivers were on the one-stop strategy.
RB: Yeah, it was a great decision yesterday. The guys with the KERS they had 20 metres on us at the start and we had to have that in mind. There will be times when we dont have to think that, but the straight line after the start here was so big that we had to think of that. Luckily we had a good start and I could run my pace. The pace was good enough to be in front of them by the last pit stop.
Q: Jenson, leading the championship by 14 points. But a hectic first lap as it always is. Talk us through that.
Jenson Button: It was a messy lap but I made up a position which was fantastic. You are always wary at the start here because of the KERS cars. (Fernando) Alonso didnt get the jump which was quite good. Rubens and myself were pretty good down into turn one and Kovalainen was struggling a little bit. He braked late. Then I was sat behind Kovalainen through the second chicane and then through Lesmo One I just put a nose up the inside and he ran a touch wide. I was able to get him through Lesmo Two. It was a much needed move. If I hadnt made that move I probably would have finished third or fourth. I had to make it stick and I did and it is nice to be back up here back in second position. Obviously I would rather be where Rubens is sat but he did a better job this weekend, so congratulations to you, man. But second is good. I lost two points to Rubens, but gained seven points on (Sebastian) Vettel. This guy here is my closest rival. And it is good. I think we have got a good relationship. But we are very competitive people, so I am sure we are going to take down to the wire.
Q: It was a close race with Lewis Hamilton towards the end as well. He started to put some pressure on you. What was going through your mind?
JB: My lap times were reasonably good. I was doing 25s and I was happy with the pace. Towards the end of the stint I had better pace compared to Rubens but Lewis started pushing on the last three laps. My team was getting a bit excited, saying you have got to use mix two, you need the extra boost. But I think I had him pretty much covered anyway. I think it is difficult to pass here even with KERS. I don't know what happened, if he made a mistake or ran a bit wide or if he had a failure or something, but obviously a big shunt for him. But for me a great result.
Q: Kimi, it was a bit of a repeat for you of the Belgian Grand Prix in many ways with the Force India in your mirrors just about throughout the whole race.
Kimi Raikkonen: I got a very good start but them something happened with Lewis. He slowed down but I had nowhere to go and I had to go around the left half on the grass, but I needed to back off before then. If I had had some space to go around him I would have got him at the start. Anyhow, it didn't really change the end of the race. In the end he went off. We got third place a little bit on a gift but it doesnt matter. It all counts. Good points for us. It is a bit disappointing to drive as well as you can every lap, not really making any mistakes, and still finish quite far away from the first two. It is not the perfect position for me or for the team, but at least we scored some points which we needed. I think we got the most out of the car this weekend. It is good for the fans to be on the podium. It is much better than finishing fourth. We are going to keep pushing as hard as we can. We know that there are cars quicker than us, but maybe some races we can still challenge them for the win and that is what we try to do. It was a great thing for the team and everything worked well for us and the guys put in good hard work.
Q: It looked like a small glitch at the second pit stop and you just caught the leg of the refuelling guy. Then you had to brake before you left the pit lane.
KR: I was in a hurry to get out as I knew it was going to be very close. The lollipop guy just moved a little bit and I was ready to go and he put it back down and I stopped. But luckily enough the fuel rig was out and I could go. We lost a little bit of time but not too much. It would not have been enough anyhow for beating McLaren at the pit stops, but we could keep the Force India behind and in the end it did not make much difference.
Q: Rubens, you are the oldest man in Formula One, 37 years of age. What a rebirth of your career. What an amazing achievement.
RB: It feels great. I think it is a winning year whatever happens. We have got to remember that it is not long ago we had no jobs. We did not know what is going to happen, so we are finally driving a fantastic car with a fantastic engine. The team are doing a fantastic job. I must thank them for all of their efforts. The strategy was great. It was really good. The work that we put in on Friday was fantastic to achieve this car. You can see that we both had different tyres, different strategies on tyres. But at the end of the day the car was good on both of them. So it just feels great, I am going to give my very best. It is going to be a good and a healthy fight and I am looking forward to that.
Q: Rubens, two wins in three races. That is pretty good going, isnt it?
RB: It is very good going. It is not as good as the six races that Jenson had, but it is good enough. I am really happy with all the achievement since the beginning of the year. I struggled a little bit at the beginning with the brakes but since we have changed it at Silverstone I am a lot happier with it. We had developments on the car since then and the car has become better and better. I need to put it down to the braking that my performance has become a little bit better. I am feeling good. Monza is a great track for me. We knew since before coming here that I had a good chance. It feels great. I finish the race and I have now words as I had a tough night. You are thinking all through. I didnt know about the gearbox and this and that. I am not even thinking we are going to have to change it for the future. It is doing very well. I had no troubles whatsoever and it is just a great feeling.
Q: What was the worry about the gearbox?
RB: In Spa. It has nothing to do with the fire. It is the fact that I hit anti-stall the next time when it got going and it had a little bit of an overtorque. An overtorque might mean something for the long term but I think the will to win was bigger than the problem really. It felt good all the way through. I had a great first lap. Thats what made my day and my weekend.
Q: Looking at the races coming up, do you think the Brawns are going to be competitive at those as well?
RB: I think so. I think Singapore can be quite good. It is warm weather and part of the race is at eight oclock. It was eight pm last year, I think. It was still quite hot. The sun is not there, I think we can expect to perform quite well there. We have Suzuka that might be cold and Abu Dhabi, strangely enough, they told us it could be cold. I cannot imagine going to Abu Dhabi with the cold weather but it might happen. I think Brazil can be quite good for us as well. I think the package is good. We have been the team winning the most, but the most consistent team as well. Where we didnt do very well we still did okay, so thanks to everyone at the factory and everyone here that we have a great car.
Q: Looking back when you saw the weights, was the feeling then that we are looking good?
RB: I think I can say for myself and for Jenson that we both did a very good lap yesterday. With the amount of fuel that we had in the car I think it was a great achievement. When you talk about the hundredths or thousands it is down to a little bit of luck. There is nothing between us. I was just lucky that I had a touch more and I could stop a lap later. Even Friday, some people come and say they have problems and this and that but Friday was different to the beginning of the year. Some people are taking some fuel out and putting some good laps in while we have been conservative and good and looking after everything as we have to. Saturday we were fast and I think we could have achieved pole position if we had the same load as the other people but we had the best strategy and the 10 points is at the end of the race. That is when it counts.
Q: Jenson, is it a bit of a relief to be on the podium again?
JB: All weekend the car has been working well for me. It is a competitive car around here with this downforce level. It is good to know that the car works on all sorts of different downforce levels which bodes well for the next four races. But as Rubens said, you get asked lots of questions on a Friday, where is the performance. I was 19th on Friday because we were doing work. We did race work. As you can see from our race performance we did it very well. Every stage of the weekend we have planned very well. I am happy with my performance. I am happy with the teams performance and this guy just went one better, so well done to Rubens. But all weekend, as I said, we have been very close together and it is great to get eight points on the board. Rubens has closed me down by two, but I have pulled my lead on the Red Bulls which is positive.
Q: You were on soft tyres in the first stint; was there much difference between the two types of tyre?
JB: Well, I didnt have any new primes, so I basically had to go for the option, because off the startline I was worried that I would get jumped by Alonso if I was on a four- or five- lap old prime. So we went for the option and on Friday the balance felt pretty good on the option. So for me, it was neither here nor there. Its difficult to know which was the better tyre, but the balance of the car was good throughout the race, a little bit snappy towards the end when I had Lewis behind me, but around here, it sounds silly but it is very difficult to overtake, even though theyve got KERS. If I didnt make a mistake, I dont think he was going to get past me, but my engineer was getting quite excited on the radio, but I was pretty much in control. He obviously ended his race half a lap early.
Q: Well, the gap came down to about 1.6s and then it went up again and then down again right at the end.
JB: Well, 1.2s/1.5s is the gap. You get to that point and its very difficult to get any closer and I dont think their KERS is that good, and weve obviously got the same motor in the back. As a team, weve done a great job this weekend and the strategy that we chose for the race was a perfect strategy for us. If we had KERS maybe we would go for another strategy, but knowing that the KERS runners were going to go light, or thinking they were going to go light for a two-stop, a one-stop was the best option for us. Our main competitor, we felt, was Kovalainen but he had a very tough first lap and we both got past him which was very, very important.
Q: Kimi, how much pressure was Adrian (Sutil) putting on you, or were you just able to push the button and get yourself a safety margin?
KR: I think it was very similar to the last race with (Giancarlo) Fisichella. OK, sometimes it looks as if it gets very close in the middle of a chicane, but then once you get to the corner exit and you start accelerating and hes still in the chicane it opens up again, so it never really got very close, so that I would need to defend or anything like that. They seem to be fast in a straight line, fast through the corners, so for sure I needed to make sure that I didnt make a mistake and I got a good run in the few places on the circuit where I knew that his only chance was going to be. So as long as I didnt make a mistake in those two places it was OK.
Q: Do you regret the strategy that you chose, the two-stop?
KR: No. I think we still did the right thing. We got the best out of the car. We know that were where the top cars are, were not as fast. The car feels more or less OK, were just missing grip, were sliding more than the others and thats the penalty that we have to pay. Were not going to have any more new parts for the car, so it is what it is right now. Third place for us is very good, were still keeping position in the championship which is what were aiming for. I think we got the maximum out of the car.
Q: Much difference between the tyres?
KR: I think the soft one was easier for us. It is normally. Its hard to get the hard one working. Probably we dont have as much downforce as the others, so you cannot put load on the tyres, you cannot get them working. In the end they started to work a little bit better again and it helped but for sure, the soft one is the better one.
Q: Will Singapore suit you better?
KR: It should be a bit more than Valencia, Monaco. Hopefully there we will have a bit more of a chance to challenge for first place but I dont know. We will wait and see. Hopefully we can be stronger there.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Jenson and Rubens, it looks like its between you two now, the Red Bulls are so far back. Is it possible to continue to be friends and close team-mates, exchanging information when youve got four races to go and you need every point possible?
JB: I dont know. Ive put on a brave face lately but I absolutely hate this guy! He doesnt know his a*** from his elbow when it comes to racing cars! Is this more fun or ? No, weve got a good relationship and weve been team-mates for many years now. Were working together, weve had to pull our car to the front, we will see how it goes from here, but I think were still going to be sharing information because theres always the possibility that the Red Bulls will be strong, you never know, and we might have some bad luck. But when we go on the circuit were obviously fierce rivals. Were not going to give up until the end. Ive obviously got the advantage of 14 points; its got smaller at the last couple of races but Rubens is going to be a very tough rival for sure. Hes skilled behind the wheel, as weve seen for many years and hes been able to show his talent. Yeah, its going to be a tough few races, but its an exciting challenge and as I said, its nice to get this result today. I think weve shown that the Brawn car is good. A few people were questioning us a couple of races ago, but weve put a lot of effort into improving this car and it works at this downforce level which is great and I think when we go to Singapore we should have a strong car there as well. I would say that its more than likely between us two but you can never count the Red Bulls out.
RB: If it is between us two, theres that old saying that you can only win in Formula One if youre tough. Were both nice guys, so this is the end of it! I think the best thing in life is respect. Obviously, when were finding that the softer spring or the harder spring is the better thing for the car, you go to the other side of the garage and tell them thats what you have found. But its an open book there. We have our meetings and we both go through the check list at the same time, live, so we both can hear. At the end of the day, the cars get very similar but thats fine, thats how it is.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Jenson, Rubens, youve both been on the one-stop strategy today; can we put that down to the tactical genius that is Ross Brawn?
JB: You cant put a race win down to one individual, I dont think. Its down to a group of individuals. Weve got a lot of very talented people within our team that come up with the strategies. Ross Brawn is not the strategist in our team. We have certain people within the team that go through all the different scenarios throughout a race. They came up with the idea. A two-stop was still a possibility but we went for a one-stop because we just thought we had to get off the line first and lead into turn one otherwise it wouldnt have worked. The strategists talk to the engineers and talk to Ross and talk to the drivers and we decide whatever strategy to go for. Some of us disagree sometimes but we normally come up with the right option. Ross is a great individual, but he would say its not down to one person, any race victory and one-two.
Q: (Ed Gorman The Times) Rubens, after all the frustrating years at Ferrari when you couldnt race your team-mate and we know what happened to you there, how much do you relish this opportunity to go head-to-head with your team-mate with the championship fully within your grasp and four races to go? What does that mean to you?
RB: It means a lot. It means that I can show my true me. For many years people may ask why didnt he leave Ferrari before, because the car was the best available and I had to overcome all the problems and I had to overcome some World Champion called Michael (Schumacher) and he was great, he was great behind the wheel. Like I said before, I think that Michael might have had more skill than I had, but if you threw both of us into a goal with a tiger I might get out alive and Im not so sure about him. Thats life. You learn, you learn by your mistakes, you learn by everything. I didnt say this to criticise because I had fun, I really had fun at Ferrari. It made me a better driver as well, so everything thats happening now is because of all the times that I had in Formula One. The only thing that is more important than anything else is that you have to believe in yourself and thats the main thing, the whole thing in life itself. Its you waking up, thanking for the chance that you have and going for it. Its as good as that and as I said before, for me its already a winning year. I went through the first of January, I went through the first of February, not knowing if I was going to be racing. I remember like it was yesterday. Jenson did the first four laps in the car and I went to ask him (about the car) and he said its a great car. And I will never forget that. And I said get the hell out of there, I want to drive! It was a great feeling and its a winning year already. It feels good to be challenging and fighting your team-mate.
Q: (Paulo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Rubens, what do you have to do to try to catch him: its four races, fourteen points which is quite a lot? What do you have to do and what kind of pressure do you think you can put on him?
RB: Nothing more than Im doing right now: pushing to the limit, taking everything you can, feeling good, feeling happy with the challenge and just going for it. Experience does help with all those years but as Ive already said, if you have experience and no speed it means nothing. If you have speed, experience comes and it feels good. I dont think I have to do anything else. We are very competitive, both of us, and we just have to go for it.
Q: (Paulo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) And you Jenson, looking at the results from today, is it a big relief for you, just that you have to concentrate more on Rubens?
JB: For sure I dont know if easier is the right word, but concentrating on one person is it has to be a little bit easier than three. You never know where the Red Bulls are going to be quick and where they are going to be uncompetitive. I thought they would be a lot more competitive here. But with Rubens were driving the same car and today he was a little bit quicker, he won the race by about three seconds. Ive got to stay as close to Rubens as possible, thats the way you should look at it but also I want to win races. I dont want to come here and just try and finish behind Rubens. So I will go to the next race hoping for a great result. I think that we have got some more improvements with the car and it should help us in Singapore. Its a circuit that I really enjoy driving. I had a good race there last year and I look for the same result as Rubens had this race.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, you have had four successive podiums. Are you surprised by this consistent record?
KR: A little bit, yes. But weve been chasing the car a bit since the last five races and its been working well for us, weve been getting the best out of it and other people have got the most out of their cars and their package, so it has worked out very well for us. Its a big surprise to finish on the podium, but OK, here we were a bit lucky to finish on the podium. No matter how it comes you need to finish the race, so we will try again in the next races and try to keep third place in the Constructors championship.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport) Rubens, I guess you started the race on the harder tyre. Normally the Brawn was not the best car warming up the tyres, but you were the only one on the first lap who really did a good lap on the hard, all the others really suffered, so what is different now?
RB: Well, I think the team made a great effort on the set-up to find where the problem was in that couple of races including Hungary where we struggled. It was a great effort from the mechanical and aerodynamic side and the car is better. Secondly, it was a good (tyre) choice because I had a great feeling with the tyres yesterday. I was surprised that we could qualify so well on the harder tyre. We were quite heavy at the start and I wanted the more consistent tyre. Having said that, I opened up a gap it looked like I had the soft and Jenson had the hard because I opened up a gap and then he started to catch me up slightly. I lost a little bit of rear stability on the harder tyre towards the end of the run which was not something I was expecting. When I put on the softer tyre, the car felt good, felt really good, a bit of movement into Parabolica but the tyre felt very good, so I was keeping good pace and the car felt good.
Q: (Tom Cary The Daily Telegraph) Jenson, you came into the weekend bombarded with questions about your mental strength and under a lot of pressure. Do you feel that your performance here shows that you can cope with it and youve put those stories to bed now?
JB: Thats between you guys. The talk of pressure never came out of my mouth. I know Im in a very good situation, Ive driving the best car on the grid at the moment, and Ive probably got one of the most competitive team-mates on the grid at the moment. So there are lots of positives and a couple of negatives there but why shouldnt I be positive? Ive got a fourteen-point lead with four races to go. Thats it really. Im sure youre right that I have controlled the pressure that Ive had for the last two or three races but those are your words, not mine.
Q: (Adam Hay-Nicholls Metro) Rubens, when you were up on the podium, it looked like you were firing arrows into the crowd. What was that about?
RB: I invent all the time.
JB: Hes got two kids and watches a lot of weird films.
RB: Thats very much like it. Fernando was four yesterday, so that was for him.