FIA Bahrain Qualifying Conference

1. Robert KUBICA (BMW Sauber), 1m33.096s2. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1m33.123s3. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren Mercedes), 1m33.292s

Q: Congratulations, a fantastic day for you and quick too in Q2, third fastest without fuel on board, so a great day for you. Robert KUBICA: Yeah, I think after yesterday’s good work in free practice two we have developed quite a lot. Qualifying went pretty well: Q1 and Q2 but Q3 I managed to do quite a good lap and got on pole position for the first time.

Q: I’m sure it was more than quite a good lap. Let’s talk about that lap and also your emotions as you heard it was your first pole. RK: Well, I started the lap pretty well, then in corner nine I locked the front wheels and unfortunately I flat-spotted the tyres, so it was not easy. I had a very big vibration and in the last three corners which are right-handers, it was very difficult but I managed not to make a mistake. The car was pulling to one side under braking but still it was enough for pole and I’m very happy.

Q: It’s as if you now have to patent your Robert Kubica weight-loss diet. You lost six kilos before the season started, how much of a factor is that in your performance this year? RK: I don’t know. It’s difficult to say but we have seen that with lighter drivers, if I was lighter, I would go a bit quicker, so I decided with my engineer to make a maximum effort to reduce weight from the car and from myself and I worked hard and this is the kind of result we can get from it. It was maximum effort, very hard for myself, but still I managed it.

Q: Felipe, on the front row of the grid, you’ve been sensationally quick all weekend, very very fast in Q2, it looks as if you lost a little bit of time towards the end of sector two on your final qualifying run. Felipe MASSA: Yeah, I definitely lost… I did incredible laps during the whole weekend and the car was just perfect all the time, and just in Q3 was the only time that I was behind cars all the time. The first attempt, when I still set a good lap time, I was behind Nico the whole lap which was a shame because I managed to pull out a good gap and even braking for him to pass me, and then I did the whole lap behind him and it was already enough to maybe be close to pole, and the second try I was also held up by traffic. Fernando made a small mistake and let me by but it wasn’t a perfect lap. It’s a shame but in a way I think we have a great car, we’ve shown great performance and I think we can be very strong tomorrow.

Q: Lewis, a spectacular accident yesterday, we all saw that, but a great recovery today to be third but I guess the Ferrari speed this morning and in Q2 was very impressive from your point of view. Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, definitely, they seem to have outstanding pace at the moment, but going into qualifying I was quite happy with the balance that I had and I knew that we would be able to challenge at least for the front row. We’re third, very very happy with that. I think it was a reasonably decent lap. For sure, as always, there’s time to gain and I think inevitably if it was a perfect lap, we probably could have had pole but I’ll go back and I’ll study it and look forward to the race but I think we have a good strategy and I think tomorrow will be quite interesting.

Q: Talk us through the effects of an accident like that. You said you’re fine and probably there are no effects from your point of view, but what is the impact in terms of actual qualifying performance and indeed the race? LH: For me, it makes absolutely no difference. I get back in the car and I go faster. I think today I actually went quicker through that corner than I did yesterday, the first lap I did. I think that’s important to really knock down that barrier and bounce back. I never have problems with that. I’ve had plenty of experiences in my career.


Q: Robert, congratulations, it was interesting to see you being congratulated by all the other drivers when you were weighing in downstairs. What does it mean to you to be on pole for the first time? RK: Well, of course, after missing the opportunity in Australia I’m very happy not to have to wait too long for another one and we’ve got it here. I think a very important job was done yesterday in free practice developing the set-up. Q1 and Q2 were so-so but Q3 runs were already good. Already the first run in Q3 was very good but I made a mistake in the last corner and the second run was much better but I had a small flat spot in corner nine, braking into corner ten and there was quite a lot of vibration from the tyre, the car was pulling to one side, and I was not expecting to be on pole after this mistake but of course I’m very happy.

Q: How much have you expected this kind of performance this year? RK: We were all expecting to be strong. Looking at the numbers in the wind tunnel during the winter and simulations of the new car, I was expecting it to be a very strong car but at the beginning of the winter testing we faced some problems but the guys worked very hard and I think this is an example of never giving up, even if there are problems, pushing as hard as possible and we managed to be ready in Australia with what was nearly the full potential of the car but of course there is still work to do. We will try to do our best and improve the car even more.

Q: Last year’s pole man, Felipe Massa, sitting alongside. You’ve been so quick all weekend, you were fastest this morning by over 0.7s, were you a bit disappointed to be second on the grid? FM: Well, in a way I’m happy with second, looking at how we look in the race, but for sure, I think even in Q3, looking at what we did in Q2, it was really possible to be in front. I was a little bit unlucky with traffic in Q3, I was always behind cars and I couldn’t do very clean laps but it’s good to be second, good to start in the front and I think we can be very strong tomorrow as we have shown all weekend.

Q: What was the tyre choice like? It was interesting in qualifying that most drivers seemed to go out on mediums and then on softs at the end? FM: Well, for sure soft in qualifying is always the best and for the race we need to analyse tonight the best situation, how the track is going to be, how the grid is going to be, even taking the data from today but I don’t think we have a lot of problems with the tyres here. Both seem pretty reasonable.

Q: Lewis, disappointed to be third after second last year? LH: No, I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing but for sure we would prefer to be on pole, but I still think we… The team have done a great job to recover from the accident I had yesterday, the team stayed up all night, so a big thank you to them for preparing the car. It was great today. As Robert was saying, we all knew we were going to be very close this weekend. Felipe was extremely quick, but we knew that we would be competing for a top three place for sure and I think these guys both did a great job. I was quite happy with my lap but there are always improvements that you can make but we’re in a good position for the start tomorrow, so I am quite happy.

Q: Both of the Finns including your team-mate behind you, of course. LH: Yes. What can I say really? It’s good for me and I just need to make sure we get off to a good start tomorrow and we can try and pace ourselves from there.


Q: (Panos Seitanidis – Drive Magazine) Question for Robert. First of all, do you think there’s going to be a big party back home in Poland, and secondly, do you think that BMW has the race pace to have the same position tomorrow? RK: I think that after the second place in Malaysia there were high expectations in Poland and I’m confident about the race as well. Yesterday we did some long runs and they went pretty OK and I think Ferrari was clearly the fastest but in the race anything can happen and we will now try to analyse the data and prepare for tomorrow’s race as much as possible.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Felipe, you had been the fastest all the time in the first sector but it seemed that you lost time in Q3 in the second sector in both outings. Any problem there? FM: No, no problem. I think on the first attempt I was pretty slow in the second and third sector because I was behind Rosberg during the whole lap, and on the last attempt I passed Fernando just before turn nine, but I don’t think he held me up. I don’t think there was any problem.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi – Tuttosport) Robert, you undertook a slimming programme before the start of the season. Why did you decide to go on a diet and what kind of diet did you do? LH: Stop having KFC and everything. RK: We decided for some technical reasons to reduce the weight as much as possible and I tried to do my best in February and March and it was not easy because in the end, now I think I am weighing much less than normal, even for the average of 1.85m driver but still, it produces quite a good gain in the performance and I think this was in some way also the key to be so strong at the beginning of the season.

Q: (Jerome Bourret – L’Equipe) Question for all of you: is it a big advantage to start on the clean side of the track here?RK: This year it’s more difficult to get a perfect start because without all the electronic systems there is more benefit to do everything perfectly than from side to side. Even if you are on the clean side, if something goes wrong, you lose much more than someone who is on the dirty side and makes a good start. FM: Well, it depends what sort of start you can make. For sure, if I need to chose, I always prefer the clean side but if you look at last year, I think you can see a good start as well. He (Lewis) almost passed me in turn one but I think you can also be strong on the dirty side, so let’s wait and see tomorrow. LH: For me I think last year starting second I got a slightly worse start than Felipe but I think it’s going to be quite equal but I’m happy with being on the clean side, that’s for sure.