FIA post-race press conference - Canada 13 Jun 2010
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1h33m53.456s; 2nd Jenson Button (McLaren), 1h33m55.710s; 3rd Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1h34m02.670s.
Q: Lewis, back to back wins. You are leading the championship and I guess the love affair with Canada continues?
Lewis Hamilton: It has been a tremendous weekend. It has been fantastic. I got here Wednesday and things have just gone so well throughout the weekend. I have had incredible support from the fans. There are so many Brits out here which is great to see and the team did an exceptional job. The race was one of the toughest races so far but thats what you want to have the hardest fight. These guys did an incredible job. Jenson did a great job and another one-two for us, so I am very happy and proud of the team.
Q: Jenson, your race was really about being patient and taking your opportunities when they came including the pass on Fernando.
Jenson Button: It is a very difficult race, this type of race, as the tyres are so important. You are never sure if you are looking after the tyres enough or if you are pushing enough. I had (Sebastian) Vettel pushing me for about 20 laps, so close to me when I was trying to look after the tyres. I hit some traffic and I was able to pull a gap on him and then reel in these two. But a great race, a really enjoyable race. It was not just a race about being flat every lap. You had to really think about every situation. If you watch the race certain people were very quick at certain parts of the race. That made it very exciting and it is great to be back up here again. Another one-two for the team. Another one to this guy. Id rather it was the other way around but I must say the team did a great job this weekend. Lewis put in a phenomenal lap yesterday which I couldnt touch. But it is great to be here.
Q: Fernando, some great battles with both these guys but your face suggests that you think you should have won today.
Fernando Alonso: I think it was a good day for us. The gap was very competitive here in Canada. We really had a good opportunity to win today. First I fight with Lewis. We overtook thanks to a fantastic pit stop from our guys in the pit lane and then we lost the position with some traffic and then we lost the position with traffic again with a Hispania in front in the last laps of the race with Jenson. In both of those cases we lost 10 points from 25 to 15 but we are still there in the championship. It was a great recovery from the team. We were, I think, 50 seconds behind McLaren in Turkey in P8 and we fight for the win here in Canada, so we are moving in the right direction and I think we are back in the fight.
Q: Lewis, it was a very intense race. Tell us about that fight with Fernando. There were two parts to it coming out of the pit lane and also later.
LH: Well, I think I came in quite bit ahead of him but clearly we did not have the best pit stop and he was able to... I saw him being released and as I pulled away he was in my blind spot. I didnt even know he was there but I tried to make sure I had enough space. All of a sudden he was right there with me and we raced all the way down to the first corner and he had the inside and got ahead. But after that he had great pace and put up a really good fight and the traffic was very difficult today. That was really the opportunity for all of us today through traffic to get past the guy in front and I capitalized on that, so fair play to them.
Q: Jenson, can you analyse for us what was going on with the tyres today as you had to stop very early on and it seemed everybody was all over the place?
JB: The first couple of laps I was trying to nurse my tyres. I damaged the rears very quickly. I had a mark on the prime tyres as I was pushing very hard. You do everything. You try and knock the div, you take out front wing but it was still not enough, so on the softer tyre I had to pit very early before these guys. But it actually helped me. It moved me closer to the battle in the front. Then I put on the harder tyre and everything was working really well but still you had to look after that tyre as it was easy to grain. You could see the cars around you when the tyre was working for them and when it wasnt. It was a fun race and the traffic played a big part as Lewis and Fernando have already said. The problem was we were coming up on cars that were fighting for points. One guy makes a mistake in front and the guy behind wants to challenge him even though there was a blue flag for us, so it was a tough race and fighting through the traffic was important.
Q: Fernando, you and Lewis have got quite a history. Tell us about what was going on in your mind when you were coming out side-by-side in the pit lane.
FA: Well, I think it was a very early part of the race, lap nine or something like that so there was still a long way to go. I think it was a better fight on lap 30 or something like that when we were approaching the second stop. We were really close and we had some good fight and l think it is a very good feeling for me to come back now in a position to win the race or be here on the podium after some disappointing races like Turkey.
Q: Lewis, finally to you. A tactical victory also over the Red Bulls. Just sum up where you and the team are right now.
LH: I think we are clearly doing everything we can to close the gap to them. I think perhaps at other circuits where the downforce is a little higher, maybe the gap will be.... maybe they will still be a little bit ahead but we are continuously improving. The guys back at the factory are doing a phenomenal job, so I have no doubts that we can close that gap and again pull ahead. But clearly on the race weekends we are doing a better job, both of us and the team, so hopefully we can continue with that. This is a special day for me as I won my first grand prix and to come back and repeat that after three years is a real pleasure.
Q: Lewis, as you were saying an intense race. Something seemed to be happening to you all the way through. Either you were pushing somebody or somebody was pushing you.
LH: Yeah, it was an interesting race actually. Like Jenson was saying it was difficult to know how much to save your tyres and how much to push, how much longer you had to go and how fast the guy behind you was and whether they were pushing or saving fuel or whatever. It was very, very challenging. It was the ultimate challenge for me at least of the whole year so far and I was really just trying to maintain the correct balance with the different switches that we have. Also again through traffic without losing too much time. Clearly Fernando could see when I was catching traffic and he would close the gap all of a sudden, so it showed he had great pace and it was then trying to get through the traffic without allowing him to pass. It was very, very difficult today. I would say the traffic was almost as bad as Monaco. It was very tricky but we managed to deal with it and it was a tremendous job from myself and Jenson and another one-two. The third one this year I think and the team truly deserved it as I think they have done a great job.
Q: Was the strategy fairly clear right from the start, especially given there wasnt a safety car?
LH: That was a bit of a surprise, no safety car. The first time for a long time with no safety car at this track. But clearly everyone was safe which is a good thing. I think strategy-wise I have no idea whether the team had planned that. I just knuckled down, kept my head down and tried to pull the gap and do the best job I can. Unfortunately I did lose some time in the pit stop. That is another time where we have lost time in the pit stop and lost another position, so it is important that we try to go away and fix that. But the second pit stop was very good. They did a great job there, which enabled us to get ahead of Fernando.
Q: In the closing stages there how much fuel were you having to save? Others were, but the lap times looked good?
LH: No, I had saved a lot of fuel in the mid part of the race and whilst I was behind Fernando, so I was able to push right to the end without any problems.
Q: Jenson, fifth early on and you came through and you were being pushed by Sebastian. What sort of race was it for you?
JB: It was a great race. It was a very enjoyable race. It is pretty tough racing around here anyway. It is very tough on tyres. The start of the race for me I thought I would try and look after the option tyre but it was very difficult with the Red Bulls shoved up behind me on prime tyres. I pitted early as I just thought whats the point of staying on this tyre. I said to the team is there a clear space for me to drop in to and they said yes, so I pitted early. I came out and it was the right call as I had pulled on these guys a little bit. In that stint the car was working well again looking after the tyres and the fuel. I thought the stint was going to be a lot longer than it was. It was basically just hanging onto these guys and waiting for the next pit stop and try to close in on them. It wasnt to be. I got traffic which slowed me down but then the last stint again just looking after the tyres as it was such a long stint. It was longer than I expected. I had Sebastian up behind me pushing me very hard. I didnt want to go any quicker as I knew I would damage the tyres and then when we hit traffic I made some good passes in traffic and pulled a five second gap on him and then I could focus my attention on catching up with Fernando. It was a really fun race. It is very difficult to judge when to push on the tyres. I think I kicked in a little bit early on the last stint but it got me P2, so I am very happy with that. I have got to say a big thank you to the whole team. They have done a fabulous job this weekend. This guy was phenomenal in qualifying yesterday. I couldnt touch him, but it is good to finish close in the race and good to get some points.
Q: I believe you had a different race engineer for various reasons?
JB: Yeah, Jakob (Andreason) is poorly this weekend which is a shame. He did all the set-up work initially, so some of this result is down to him for sure. It is very difficult watching it on television. But today I had Phil Prew, who is the chief engineer who has worked with Lewis over the last few years. It was good and it is always interesting working with new people, new ideas, but I hope Jakob is well and hopefully we will see him very soon back at the circuit.
Q: What about the hotter temperatures? The track temperature was about ten degrees higher than weve seen so far this weekend.
JB: Yeah, the option was a little bit better than on Friday. The prime tyre, again, was a touch better but still you couldnt drive flat out on the prime every lap. You got rear graining as you probably saw with quite a few cars out there. When I lapped Hulkenberg, his rear tyres were shredded to bits. You still have to look after that. So it was an exciting race from that point of view. It was great to be up at the front, and watching the fight between these two was also fun and I think that for the viewers this was a great race. It comes down to the tyres being a little bit more difficult than normal, different pit stop strategies and different tyres to start the race and its made for a hell of a race.
Q: Fernando, good to see you up there on the rostrum. Is this something that we can expect in the future or is this a one-off?
FA: I think we want to be World Champions, so hopefully we can be here more often.
Q: Have you taken a step forward this week?
FA: Definitely. In Turkey we were a little under-competitive there. We were too slow, just Q2 in Turkey and then in the race we were like 50 seconds behind the McLarens, so here we were fighting wheel to wheel, so it was definitely a step forward. The characteristics of the track seem to be OK for us as well, so we just took this opportunity to be on the podium, to be in front of Red Bull and fight for the win. So its definitely been a very positive weekend for us and I am looking forward because I think this result will be a big motivation for the team.
Q: Tell us what happened when you lost second place to Jenson?
FA: I think we had some people in front of us; it was a Virgin I think and a Hispania. We thought the Hispania was letting us go in turn six but he didnt, he was just on a different racing line, so when he went back to the normal one we just had to brake and then he saw us a little bit late and we exited turn six very slowly; I exited turn six very slowly because of that and Jenson took the opportunity.
Q: And how were the tyres?
FA: I think the tyres were difficult for everybody. The soft tyres were difficult at the beginning with a heavy car, just eight or nine laps and then you lose a lot of performance, so we all stopped around that lap and then with the prime, as Jenson said, it was not easy either, you just needed to take care of the rear graining but as it sometimes happens, our car is very gentle on tyres, so for most of the race I was quite comfortable with the pace.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Lewis, I think you are the fifth or sixth different leader of the championship this year. Is that the way you feel its going to go, ebb and flow all the way along to the end of the season?
LH: You can see how tight this championship is; I dont know whether its dependent on the new points scoring system but the field is so close and as I said, all the best drivers are in the top teams and theyre all very, very competitive, so its the ultimate challenge, I think, that Ive experienced in Formula One, perhaps in Formula One history, maybe. There are so many of us up here, pushing right to the wire and I think inevitably that means that the championship will remain close. Im sure there will be lots of ups and downs hopefully not for us during the rest of the season but lets hope that were able to keep on the front line.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, dont you think that you compromised your win when you tried to pass Sebastien Buemi?
FA: I dont think so. Again, I think it was lap nine or lap wherever, I think I did the fastest lap after that lap when Lewis stopped and Buemi stopped as well. And on the following lap I lost two and a half seconds overtaking another car. I exited the pits half a second behind Lewis. Without that traffic again, I was in front, so it was a race decided by small details, so I think we made a perfect race, the team did a perfect race with the strategy, with pit stops, very, very quick pit stop, especially the first one to overtake the McLaren, so overall I think we did our job today, finishing on the podium, something which maybe not too many people were thinking before arriving in Canada, that we would be on the podium at the end of the race. So we proved again that were strong and that there is a lot more to come in the second part of the championship. So were quite optimistic.
Q: (Sudhir Chandran Chequered Flag, India) Lewis and Jenson, do you think this one-two here will have helped appease the English fans out there who were disappointed with your (World Cup) draw with the US yesterday?
LH: I think so. I think its early stages of the World Cup, so I dont think there will be any disappointment. Our country is always in full support. Of course they are optimistic for the next games. Were just trying to do our job over here and theyre doing their job as well.
JB: Yeah. Yesterday was a reasonable day for us, could have been worse, could have been better. Its only the start, Im sure. Were all backing the boys and hopefully the next couple of games are good also. For us, this weekend has been a great result as it was two weeks ago. We hope to continue sort of in the same style as here.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto, Motor und Sport) Was it a key of the race that the harder tyre gave more problems than expected because the Red Bulls came on in laps 13 and 14 which nobody expected?
JB: Yeah, maybe they didnt expect to have any issues at the start of the race. When Webber came past me he was flat out and maybe they just didnt expect to have issues and that played into our hands, I guess, but even on Friday we were struggling with graining on the prime tyre, so I think we had a good understanding of what would happen with it.
Q: (Jeff Pappone The Globe and Mail) Yesterday, after qualifying, most people thought that McLaren had taken a gamble on starting on the option tyre, that you were expecting a safety car; it never came and yet your strategy worked out perfectly. Was that a bit of a surprise or do you really think that that was the right way to go yesterday?
LH: Clearly it was the right way to go. It was a choice for us to use the softer tyre and we felt comfortable with the fact that we might have to stop within the first ten laps. We knew it might even be lap five. Im not sure what lap I stopped on but we anticipated that and we knew that we would be fast again once we got on the prime. We didnt know how long the prime would last but fortunately for us, whilst we did the prime runs, others like the Red Bulls had to do an option stop at some stage. Neither of us really had an advantage at all. It just promoted some good racing, I think.
JB: Our team actually thought that Red Bull took the gamble yesterday, not us. Depends which way you look at it, I suppose.
Q: (Carlos Miquel Diario AS) Fernando, do you think that without the traffic problems you would have had the pace to fight with the McLarens, and secondly, your thoughts on the Valencia Grand Prix in front of your home crowd?
FA: I think everybody saw that we had the pace to win. Weve been competitive all weekend and very competitive in the race definitely. But traffic sometimes helped us a lot in the first races. I remember Australia; I started last after the incident in the first corner. Most of the cars were in traffic throughout the race and I was alone, so the traffic can sometimes help you and sometimes it hurts you. At the end of the championship, I think everything is balanced.
As for Valencia, obviously its the second home race for me after Barcelona, so Im hoping to do well there, hoping to be on the podium. Ive never been on the podium in Valencia, so it will be a nice feeling in front of the crowd.
Q: (Bill Beacon The Canadian Press) Lewis, youve won two out of three times here in Montreal. Is there something about the race or this track that suits you particularly, and also do you feel that momentum has shifted in the championship with you winning two in a row now?
LH: I think inevitably we have gained momentum for both of us, myself and Jenson, and in our performance and also obviously the results and we just need to continue with that. I dont know why I go well here but its a great track, its a fantastic city, great food, great people, amazing support. Its just overall and the weather was great today as well. It was such a great turn-out. I think for me this is one of the best races of the whole season. I dont know why, again. Im able to dial my car in, feel the car a little bit better here than in other places but weve got a long season ahead of us. There will be good races and bad races and I just hope there are more good ones than there are bad.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) To Lewis and Jenson, the Valencia circuit is also a street circuit and there are some similarities with this one here. Do you predict that you can maybe do a similar race there or will it be different?
JB: We hope so. It is a similar type of circuit, the asphalt is more abrasive than it is here, its very smooth here. Its going to work the tyres very differently. There are also some high speed corners in Valencia and there arent here. So Im sure we will be competitive, but I dont think you can forget about Red Bull, Ferrari and maybe Mercedes will have sorted themselves out a little bit by that point. So people are bringing new things to the circuit every race we go to, new parts and if you cant keep up with that, you drop behind. Weve just got to hope that every race we go to we are developing and moving forward as much as if not more than everyone else. Im looking forward Valencia, I love the circuit, I didnt have a very good race there last year but its a circuit I really enjoy driving and I think this car should work pretty well round there.
LH: Valencia is a good track at least for me and the car seems to have gone very well there over the last couple of years, so I think our car should naturally be quite good there. As Jenson says, its about understanding the tyres there, we dont know what to expect but we will be going there with good momentum, hopefully good pace, good headset and hopefully we will be working on another one-two.
Q: (Daniel Bastien FM 103.3) Lewis, considering what you said earlier, are you on the verge of buying an I love Montreal T-shirt?
LH: I think I should get one, maybe I will get one at the airport or something.
JB: I think they should give him one for free.
LH: Yeah. Im sure one of the fans will give me one but I should get one, definitely.