FIA Thursday press conference - Canada 09 Jun 2011
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Pastor Maldonado (Williams), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Vitaly Petrov (Renault), Adrian Sutil (Force India).
Q: Adrian, talk about this circuit as you have said it is one of your favourites.
Adrian Sutil: Yeah, this is a very nice circuit. I like it here. I like the atmosphere here and it is a kind of street circuit. We have long straights here, some chicanes and there is always something happening in the race. It is usually good to overtake but also Montreal as a city is a nice place so I really enjoy the whole weekend.
Q: In terms of the car what sort of modifications have the team brought here for you to address the special qualities of this circuit?
AS: We are still trying to improve our upgrade package that we took to Barcelona. It is not easy to make it work, the blown diffuser, at the moment, the way it should be. But we are working on it. In Monaco I think we ran it for the first time in the race. We are not sure if it really was a big advantage but I am sure it was a little. But there is still more to come. We need now just time on the circuit to understand a lot of things and we also have some other updates on the car, not only the diffuser, especially for this race here. It should be good for us. We have a big straight-line speed. It is a very fast car on the straights. This circuit has fast straights and a few slow speed chicanes and hairpins so it is not such an aerodynamic circuit here.
Q: The last couple of years the Force India has always been good on low downforce circuits. Is that still the case?
AS: Yeah, I think so. It suits us better than a circuit like Barcelona for example. Last year was a very good performance here and very strong qualifying with both cars. Hopefully it will be a little bit better here as qualifying is our main issue. The race is always a bit better but still we want to be somewhere else in the field.
Q: Vitaly, the last time we saw you, you were immobile in the car. How are you now?
Vitaly Petrov: I am fine, thank you. It looks now everything is good. When I went to the hospital they prepare for me the bed close to Sergio but at the moment everything is fine.
Q: Were there are any lasting injuries? Anything that lasted for some time?
VP: Not really.
Q: The race was stopped so when you were in the car what was the problem?
VP: The problem first of all was my legs were stuck inside the cockpit. At the same time I tried to move them and I didnt feel them. This is why I decided it is better to wait for someone to help me as I tried to feel my fingers on the leg and I couldnt feel them. This is why I didnt want to do some bullshit. I just wait for the people who can help me to do something. I thought it was broken to be honest but I was lucky it was not.
Q: Coming to this race, how do you think the Renault is going to perform?
VP: I think we bring some good parts here. We hope it will work and I hope it will be much, much better than last year.
Q: You didnt have a good race here last year?
Q: There are a lot of different parts coming for the Renault here.
VP: Yeah, we have a lot of parts here and it should be very helpful for this track. This track we need low downforce but also good brakes and we need very good speed on the straights. We have a good package and tomorrow we will see how it works.
Q: Pastor, you were heading for a good result in Monaco. Was it very frustrating not to have got that good result?
Pastor Maldonado: Yeah, for sure. Finally I was doing a really good race. The car improved and I am getting better and better with the car. I am more confident. In Monaco I think I show our performance and I hope it was so great because of the pace. The pace was so good during the race. The team did a very good job on the strategy, everything was running good, but at the end I think with Lewis it was race contact, nothing more.
Q: You have been so good in Monaco, not just two weeks ago, but in previous races there as well. How can you transfer that sort of form, that sort of performance, to just conventional circuits?
PM: I think it is a very difficult circuit, especially mentally during the race. You must take some risks. I know very well the track. I know where to put the car and for me maybe it is a bit easier than the other circuits. I really enjoy driving there. I enjoy every single corner, every lap in Monaco and the atmosphere is fantastic.
Q: You havent been to Canada in F1 but you have been here before in karting. When you were how old, 12 or 13 or something?
PM: Yeah, something like that.
Q: Do you remember Canada?
PM: Yeah, I remember. For sure it is my first time here. The track seems amazing. Lets see what we can do. For sure at the beginning it will be a bit difficult especially tomorrow for me. I need to learn the track. We have a new aero package so I need to understand the new parts in the car. It is going to be a difficult day but anyway it is my job and I will do my best and lets see what we can do.
Q: Lewis, you have an incredible record here. If you look at your record in qualifying and the race it just goes one, one, one, one, one and then a collision with Kimi Raikkonen. But up until that moment it is a tremendous record so obviously a circuit at which you excel.
Lewis Hamilton: Firstly, it is great to be here. It is a fantastic place. The weather is great here. I really dont have an answer for you exactly why I have been so successful here. I am sure it is a combination of the climate, the atmosphere. I think the fans here are spectacular. I think this is one of the top grands prix of the year when the city is packed full of people. It is a great place to be. The track also has a great history. Gilles Villeneuve was pretty spectacular here and for us it is a bit like a street circuit. I regard it as a street circuit. It is quite bumpy. It is a little bit like a go-kart track. We have to take the kerbs so I particularly enjoy it and I am looking forward to this weekend.
Q: Your win last year meant that McLaren have won 11 times here, as many as Ferrari, so it is obviously a good circuit for the team as well?
LH: Yeah, again not quite sure why we are generally so quick here but I think our car is always quite good over kerbs. We have got reasonable high speeds and end-of-straight speed and I guess you have got to be quite close to the walls here which I particularly like doing. Not too close this weekend. It is great that I was able to contribute to those wins for the team and hopefully we can maybe take a step ahead of Ferrari at some stage.
Q: Looking back at the last race. Was that part of the pressure perhaps of being in the World Championship fight, wanting to be in the World Championship fight. Is that what we say the motivations is? Is that the result of that?
LH: I think it is a combination of many things. All of us drivers here know what it is like, even you guys know, to be under pressure and to put pressure on yourself to succeed. We all have good and bad days in the office. That was definitely one of the worst weekends in the office but thats motor racing, thats life. You learn from those situations. It has been great, I have gone back and I have had a couple of days back home training and refreshing my mind and coming back here I feel completely refreshed and really looking forward to definitely a more positive weekend.
Q: Sergio, nice to see you here. Whats the latest news from the FIA doctor.
Sergio Perez: Thanks, I just went to do an exam and do all the tests with the FIA and everything was fine. We gave them our results from the doctors and everything is fine to race again this weekend.
Q: So you are clear to go, thats good news?
Q: What have you been doing since Monaco to get yourself back fit again?
SP: They released me from hospital on Monday. I stayed in Monaco for two or three days, just working and recovering from the accident. Then I flew to Zurich to do another check-up with a clinic there and after that everything was okay. Then I went back to Mexico, which is very close from here. I was some days at home, which was very positive for me. Then I went to do karting on Monday and Tuesday so I am already okay.
Q: The karting was just to get yourself up to speed again?
SP: Yeah, of course. It always helps after a big crash to at least drive something.
Q: Do you feel this is a little bit of a home race as it is on the same continent?
SP: Yeah, of course. It is the nearest one to my home so I think there are a lot of Mexicans around. I hope it will be a very special grand prix for me.
Q: A new circuit for you. Have you driven it on the simulator or just on the PlayStation?
SP: I have played it on PlayStation but I could not use the simulator as I was planning to do after Monaco but it was not possible to go. I have seen a lot of on-boards. I think it is a very special circuit. You are always very close to the walls and to do a good lap around here you have to really push a lot to get the maximum out of the car and out of the lap.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret - LEquipe) Lewis, you said you were good on the track and McLaren is good also. Is it your best chance at the beginning of the year to beat the Red Bulls as they are not so good in Montreal?
LH: I would like to think so but again they have been fast at every circuit. I think they have been incredibly successful on all the circuits so far, so you have to assume they will be very quick here as well. But perhaps, as in the last race, maybe the gap will be a little bit closer compared to places like Barcelona. I am expecting to see that through a lot of the field. I would definitely say, looking at the next few races, that this is definitely one of the better ones for us.
Q: (Dave Stubbs - Montreal Gazette) Lewis, this race will feature two DRS zones. How is that going to change the complexion of this race as you see it?
LH: We use the DRS in qualifying, so we use it everywhere we can. I think the great thing here is you see quite a lot of overtaking here. You have the great long straight coming out of a hairpin. I definitely think it is not always easy to follow through corners still as you still need downforce. But the DRS, having it in two places, I think will enable people to get even closer. It is a long, long straight. I dont know where they put the DRS zone exactly for those straights. I think it will just make racing even better. Of course the FIA will assess if it is too easy or not too easy. I think we will work together with them to make sure the zones are set in the right place so we dont just whizz past people halfway down the straights. I think so far this year it has been fantastic for racing and enabled people to get close to actually make safe manoeuvres, so I think this weekend you will probably see that as well.
Q: (Dave Stubbs - Montreal Gazette) Still regarding the two DRS zones, do you think it would be maybe a more exciting show to have the second zone at the Wall of Champions, so that whoever gets past in zone one can try to fight back in zone two.
LH: Yeah, I guess it will make it much tougher. When you overtake one person you overtake them but then they are able to use DRS in the next zone. It is going to make it much harder as when you make an overtaking manoeuvre usually you are able to pull a little bit of a gap by the next lap so hopefully they are not right behind you but here you wont have. They will be right on your tail so I guess strategy and depending on where you use the DRS and the way you overtake it is going to be interesting, I would assume everyone would probably wait, just stay behind them and not even bother overtaking on the first DRS zone and wait for the last one so for the rest of the lap they are able to pull away.
Q: (Francois Drabli - Pole Position Magazine) Lewis, yesterday you were driving Ferraris at Mont Tremblant race track in the Laurentians, so do we see a trend there?
LH: No, no, no. I was just at a friends house and they were the only cars that he had, so I had a little bit of a go.
Q: (Francois Drabli - Pole Position Magazine) Did you have fun go-karting at the same time there ?
LH: I didnt do any go-karting. I had planned to go there and just have some fun and he has a lot of cars, so I was going to get to drive a McLaren - the GTR longtail - but I thought it was probably just wise to just drive a road car around a couple of laps, so I only did a couple of laps, but I will definitely be going back at some stage to make sure I can use all the rubber that he has and all the brakes he has and its free, so it should be fun.
Q: (Marco degli Innocenti - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, we have learnt that there has been an exchange of letters between you and President of the FIA about the issues in Monaco. Whats your mood now, dont you think that you are too often a sort of target for a lot of criticism for your behaviour, not necessarily as a driver? Dont you feel a little under permanent judgement?
LH: No. Well, last week, coming back from the Grand Prix, I had some time to reflect on my behaviour and my weekend and again, just a feeling of it just being a bad day, a bad weekend in the office, so I wrote a letter to the FIA to apologise, and I also spoke to the drivers. I just felt it was necessary to do that, I think it was the right thing for me to do and to be able to put everything behind me. This is racing, you know. When youre competitive - and this is the pinnacle of motor sport - and its not easy to overtake in this sport, and so every manoeuvre you make is definitely questionable. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you dont. So its inevitable when I do quite a lot of overtaking quite often, so sometimes its going to be right, sometimes not, but I think the stewards are doing a great job. Since Ive been in Formula One, its been improving, the consistency of the rules, the approach of the stewards with the new racing driver, I think it makes it much better so while I would prefer not to be up at the stewards office so often - and trust me, Im trying my hardest to stay out of there - my whole life I was always in the headmasters office so Im used to it. I would just try to improve and learn from the situations that I get myself into.
Q: (Martin Samuel - The Daily Mail) Question to you all: Rubens Barrichello, speaking as the chairman of your association, said today that the drivers were not opposed in principle to racing in Bahrain. Can I ask you gentlemen if that is true and if so, why is it not a matter of principle to race in Bahrain?
AS: I think that for me, I would say, as long as its safe, I could race there, but Im not in charge of that, so the FIA and the FOTA is doing that and I think they will find a solution. But for me, as long as its safe Im happy to race. Its a good place to go, I always like this circuit so thats all I can say about that.
VP: I think the question is just about the safety. The FIA knows what to do. If they see that it will not be dangerous, we will go. If its still dangerous I think its better not to go.
PM: Ok, lets wait for the FOTA decision. I think we are drivers who enjoy racing. For sure its a difficult time there but I think we need to wait and see what they decide.
LH: I think the drivers mostly commentated on things (already). Hopefully the teams and the FIA and the drivers will collectively make the right decision and us as drivers, we just have to rely on them that the right decision will be made. We want to race, not just for our own benefit but also for the benefit of others as well.
SP: Well, first of all for me it was important to recover after the crash so Im not very aware of the news. I will speak to my team and see what is the latest news. I dont know if everything is clear to race there but for me, if its one race more or if my team agrees and all the drivers and teams agree, then I think theres no problem to go if everything is safe again.
Q: ( Fulvio Solms - Corriere dello Sport ) Lewis, referring to your Monte Carlo issue, do you think its correct to compare your behaviour to the young Schumachers and the young Alonsos?
LH: Well Schumacher is not really young any more - oh, when he was younger. I would hope not. I think Im a passionate driver. I cant emphasise just how passionate I am about racing and about winning and the pressure that I put on myself, with the pressures that go with the job and the admiration for what you do, I think that inevitably sometimes you say the right and the wrong things. Like Gilles Villeneuve and like Ayrton, they were also very, very passionate racing drivers, so I prefer to hopefully one day be referred to someone similar to them.
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) Lewis, Todt said that, had you not written, he was thinking about a six race ban, so was that in your mind when you wrote, and do you think youre lucky not to have had that sort of thing?
LH: It wasnt in mind, no, but just as I said earlier, I just had time to reflect on the weekend and I wrote a sincere apology to Jean and to the FIA and I got a great letter back, so after that I was able to put it behind me and Im very grateful to be here. I do want whats best for the sport and I want to be able to contribute to improving the sport and making things great here.
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) And when you say youve spoken to the drivers, does that include the man behind you, Mr Maldonado and Mr Massa, Mr Massa being the one who said that he thought that a ban would be appropriate because it would teach you a lesson?
LH: I know Felipe really well, Ive known Felipe since Formula Three, maybe GP2 and so have a relatively good relationship with him. I gave him a call and he had calmed down also and he was able to understand the position and Ive seen him Ive known him for many years, actually. Weve known each other for quite a few years, him and his family. You know hes doing a fantastic job, he was very quick that weekend and was obviously not wanting to put anyone out of the Grand Prix. Its one of the toughest Grands Prix to overtake, but I think the drivers understand and its easy, in the heat of the moment, to say the wrong things but afterwards to realise that, OK, you probably were not in the right position to make the manoeuvre, so I felt it important for me to just make that clear to them and apologise for my statement afterwards.
Q: (Dave Stubbs - Montreal Gazette) Sergio, was there every any doubt at any point that you would be fit to race in Montreal and can you tell us a little bit what kind of tests the FIA gives you to determine that youre fit to race this weekend?
SP: After the accident, everything was planned to leave the day after, but I felt a bit dizzy so I stayed there one more day and there was enough time, we were always very positive that there was enough time to recover after the accident. All the doctors were very positive that nothing was damaged, no problem at all, so it was just a matter of time to get back to normal life, and I got back very quickly. They did all their examinations - actually they are very good examinations. They checked all my bones, my reactions, my memory, that everything is fine and that I dont feel sick or have a headache and they saw all the results from the doctors, so thats what they did.
Q: (Peter Windsor - Clarcksport) Lewis, going back to Monaco again, first lap at Monaco, when Michael passed you into the hairpin, can you just talk us through that? Presumably you thought you had a puncture or something, but it looked like I dont know. Can you tell us what happened? The opening lap, going into the hairpin. Michael got you down the inside in a very easy way.
LH: The opening laps? Yeah. He just caught me sleeping really. Yes. I was keeping an eye on the guys in front because everyone was bunched up. Everyone was going particularly slowly and Michael went for a gap that was there. I noticed very late that he was there and I didnt turn in, I gave him enough room to let him past. The race is not won on the first lap. I think that experience also led me to believe that overtaking was possible there so thats why I tried to do a rather opportunistic overtaking manoeuvre, but I wasnt luck enough to have as much space as Michael.
Q: (Peter Windsor - Clarcksport) Adrian, can you just talk us through the incident with Kobayashi?
AS: Yeah, well the only thing that I could feel at this stage was that he hit me a little bit on the rear tyre and then I lost control of my car. I caught my car again but he got past me so the incident was looked at by the stewards. I think he got a reprimand for that. Im OK with this. At this stage I was a little bit slower because of something with my tyres, so he tried it. Its difficult to pass in Monaco and lets say it was on the edge but I have no problem with it.
Q: (Terry Jones - Edmonton Sun ) Adrian, Lewis, earlier you made reference to your thoughts about how much you enjoy this race in Montreal. I wonder if you could both expand on it in terms of the context of the Canadian Grand Prix and Montreal compared to other events on the F1 circuit?
AS: Well this is more like a street circuit, as I said, and its always nice and enjoyable, a little bit different to all the normal circuits where the run-off areas are big and you can probably get away with some mistakes. So here theres a wall and you have to be very careful when youre driving but its also a great circuit just to have a race and to overtake, to make some manoeuvres. Strategy is quite important here and I would say that overall this weekend is special. OK, sometimes you have more like a normal race weekend where its all about the racing. Of course, thats here for us as well but you can feel this atmosphere and all the fans around the circuit. Its close to the city, its in the city which is why I like it here, thats why its always something special and a little bit of a different place than a normal permanent race track.
LH: First and foremost, the city is one of my favourite cities in the world. I think its very cosmopolitan and great restaurants, the weathers generally been fantastic every time weve been here. Ive not been here when the Grand Prix has not been here but every time weve been here with the Grand Prix, it just seems incredibly lively. They put on a great show and great hosts for all the fans that come. And then you come to the circuit which is on a tiny island, with great history, as Adrian was saying. I think street circuits are my preferred circuits, they are the riskiest, the trickiest circuits to race on and its a great place to drive. Its one of those circuits where downforce is not the most important thing. Its a combination of high speed as well, end-of-straight speed, so you can overtake. It has that massively long back straight here which you dont have at a lot of circuits and the fans Ive never been here when the grandstands have not been completely packed. You go to circuits sometimes where there are a couple of thousand people and the atmosphere is just nowhere. But you come here and you immediately feel the huge buzz, as Im sure do the people who are watching, because you can see all these people in the crowd, passionate about motor racing. Its spectacular.
Q: (Andy Benson - BBC Sport) Lewis, you sounded quite downbeat about your chances here just then
LH: Thats a misunderstanding.
Q: (Andy Benson - BBC Sport) Yeah, I was going to say because on the face of it, this has got to be a circuit that favours you almost more than any so far, hasnt it? Dont you go into the weekend as favourite?
LH: I never like to go into the weekend as favourite and I dont like to be too upbeat. Im not Muhammad Ali. Im not going to come here and say this weekends going to be the best weekend ever. Im coming off a very tough weekend where I had good pace. Im racing against some very, very talented drivers who are going to be quick as well and Id rather do my talking on the track, so Im hoping that our car works well here. I feel like Im in a good head space so hopefully that will add to a good result.
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