1. Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari), 1h38m19.051s2. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1h38m22.279s3. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren Mercedes), 1h38m23.238s
Q: Kimi, pole position, fastest lap and it looked like you were in control from minute one of the race. A perfect day at the races for you?Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Yes, but I didn’t get the perfect start. But anyhow it was good enough to stay in front. If we had wanted we could have gone a bit faster but there is no point to push it when you don’t need to. I think it was closer than we expected but saying that there were many safety cars, so without them maybe it would have been looking a little bit different. It was a good day – everything was brilliant. I am happy that Heikki (Kovalainen) seems to be okay after his accident. I cannot ask anything more as the guys did perfect work apart from the second pit stop when I had two cars in traffic, so it took a little bit too long to get out and I had to wait a bit for them to pass me. Apart from that it was okay.
Q: It appears it was your great pole lap which allowed you to get the lead in the race.KR: This circuit is very difficult to overtake. The start is the best place and when you have a lot of things going with the safety car you might be lucky or very unlucky, so the best place to try to win is always from the front. It was good yesterday and it really helped us today. We had good speed all weekend.
Q: What were the track conditions like today?KR: Not too bad. I had one incident in corner three when I was coming in for my first pit stop. There was massive understeer and then the front bites, so I always got sideways. Of course sometimes when you get those unexpected things and it happens in one lap it is more luck than anything else you do not get off. But apart from that the conditions were pretty good today.
Q: Felipe. It was a great Ferrari one-two. And a good start from you to take second place into the first corner.Felipe MASSA: Yes, it was a good start. For sure as you mention before the qualifying was very important for this race. I had one lap less fuel than Kimi and I just couldn’t put together my lap on the last try when it counts. I started third but I did a very good start and could manage to pass Fernando and that’s it. I had a little moment with the safety car and I saw that he was going a little bit longer than me. That maybe was a little bit of a scare for us but then I managed to build the gap in the second stint in a very good way and it was not a problem to stop one lap before and get in front. We did our homework and brought two Ferrari’s in the front – first and second - which is very important for the championship.
Q: It’s a wonderful position in which you find yourself. It appears you have a great spot for the car now and reliability. Ferrari are in a great place.FM: We are in the first race of our engine and everything but looking at what we did in the test the car looks more in the right direction. But let’s keep working and improving because we saw that our competitors were very close. If you look in qualifying they were very close and in the race as well, so we need to pay attention race by race and we need to keep working like crazy in the factory to improve the car in every area.
Q: Lewis, I guess from your point of view with Ferraris on the front row to finish third in the Spanish Grand Prix is a great relief.Lewis HAMILTON: Absolutely, it is good to be back. Obviously when we qualified fifth we knew that it would be very difficult to beat the Ferraris. But the key was to get a good start and make as many places as possible and fortunately I was able to do that. We sort of had a feeling that Fernando would be a bit lighter and that didn’t cause us any problems. Especially towards the middle stint and towards the end I had to try and keep up with Felipe as I knew he was a lap shorter than me, but they seem to look after their rear tyres a little bit better than us still. In the last stint I was able to keep quite close and pushing and pushing right to the last lap. It is amazing how close all the cars are. Even Robert Kubica was extremely close to me and I kept looking in the mirrors at a certain point and he was always in the exact same spot. It is very impressive that all the teams are so close. It is good for the team. Unfortunately it was not a great day for Heikki and I am glad he is okay but we will keep pushing.
Q: Into the first corner with Robert really defined the race for you. It was a close battle going into turn one but you won that.LH: I know from past experiences in F3 that Robert is one of the hardest to overtake. He is very aggressive on the first lap but I was able to get up the inside of him. I was pretty much passed him and I just had to make sure that I covered my ground. It was pretty smooth sailing from there. It was a good start from us. Again we have had two bad races, so to get back on the podium is fantastic.
Q: What were you hearing on the radio and seeing on the big screen of Heikki’s accident?LH: I came past and saw there was a car in the wall. It just looked red, so I didn’t know if it was one of us or one of the Ferraris. I did see a glimpse of the footage on the television and it looked very reminiscent of my incident last year at the Nürburgring. I was a bit terrified for whoever it was as I saw the impact was quite heavy. The team told me it was Heikki but they didn’t know how he was immediately. But Ron Dennis came onto the radio half-way through and said he was okay but slightly concussed. I am sure he will bounce back
Q: Afterwards did it cross your mind that it was a mechanical problem which may have affected your car as well?LH: No. If you let those things get to your mind then you are in trouble. You begin making mistakes or put yourself in the wrong position. It never crossed my mind once. I was quite confident we had done a great job and that the car was reliable. That enabled me to keep pushing.
Q: Kimi, focussing on Turkey now and Ferrari are obviously very strong there as well.KR: I think so. If you look what happened here last year it was quite similar. Last year was a different race. Our car should be quite strong in Turkey. It is a great circuit and I am looking forward to going there and trying to do the best job we can. As a team we had a great weekend here and we will try to repeat it in Turkey and hopefully we can do it. Whatever it brings we need points and whatever we get is always a bonus.
Q: Kimi, it looked like a pretty perfect day, was the car perfect? KR: Yeah, it was pretty good. We could still improve it. We always try to improve it but it was very nice, very good balance all the time, so it wasn’t too bad.
Q: It looked as if you lost a little bit of time on the harder tyres in comparison to the McLaren. Both of you were lapping at the same pace, roughly speaking, but the McLaren was lapping quite a lot quicker on the harder tyres for the first two or three laps. KR: We didn’t need to push. If we wanted to push, we could go much faster, for sure, but there’s no point in risking anything or using the engine more than you needed to. The first thing was that they were trying to catch us and the second thing was that they would try to overtake, but if they don’t even catch us, it’s fine. In the last part of the race, you don’t see the true speed of most of the people, they slow down if they can.
Q: You also lost a little bit of time to Felipe for about two or three laps round about lap 40. KR: No, I lost some time in the traffic with the same car. I think it was Sato twice. He wasn’t too helpful but apart from that, I don’t know if something happened. There was no problem with the car. Maybe I made a mistake or had traffic. I don’t remember.
Q: Felipe, Fernando seemed to come over on you at the start. Was that acceptable, anything more than usual? FM: No. I did a good start and even if he came over, he saw that I was on his side, so there was nothing he could do. It’s not like it was in the braking point, there you can defend your position. If you have a better start on acceleration, you cannot do anything. I also got into Kimi’s slipstream and I also got alongside him on the outside of the first corner, so I made a very good start. For sure it helps a lot to pass Fernando at the start, to build a gap, to be a little bit safer.
Q: And after that, did you pretty much settle for second place? FM: Yes, the race here looks very similar to the last race. I was one lap earlier on the fuel and the chance to win was very small. For sure, I was pushing for the first stint, second stint, ready to build the gap to Lewis but it was pretty much that unless something happened, it would be very difficult to win the race. I cannot win every race. It was very important to bring home eight points and make another step forward in the championship which we know is quite long.
Q: Same question on hard tyres, you weren’t happy on the hard tyres, presumably? FM: For sure the softs were much better for us, but as Kimi said, even if Lewis was quite close, if we didn’t make a mistake for sure he wouldn’t pass us. I was doing similar lap times to Kimi and was just looking at the gap behind and it was not such a big problem.
Q: How important was it to get past Robert at the start, Lewis? LH: Yes, absolutely. Obviously qualifying fifth didn’t really put us in a great spot to win the race. We knew we had quite a good strategy and obviously at the beginning I just had to try and make up as many places as possible. It was great to get past Robert otherwise we would probably have finished behind him. As you could see, through the race, he was right up my tail throughout, but the whole race we were doing almost exactly the same times. I’m very very happy that I got past him at the beginning and I think it was a solid job by us.
Q: Is it a surprise to have been as close to the Ferraris as you were? LH: Yeah, for sure you could say it was a surprise because they were extremely quick, but it was all very very close in qualifying. We had a feeling they were a little bit lighter than us, maybe it was one or two laps, whatever. We all seemed to be very close. They just seem to have a slight edge at the moment but it was impressive. I was really happy with the balance of the car and the tyres came and went, and came and went. I was able to maintain quite a good balance and pace and keep up with them. It was quite close in the middle stint. When you get to within a couple of seconds of someone, you’re damaging your tyres more and it’s harder to stay behind them but I was happy with where we came.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Kimi, first of all, when you saw Heikki’s car in the tyre wall, what did you think? KR: First of all, we didn’t know which McLaren it was. I asked the team and they said it was Heikki. It probably looked worse than it was in the end. Luckily he seems to be OK, so that’s the main thing.
Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) You now have a nine point lead in the championship. How much easier does it make your life? KR: It doesn’t change anything, so far. It’s a good advantage but there are 14 races to go. You have one bad race and it’s all gone. There’s a little safety in it, in that if you don’t finish one race it’s not totally disastrous afterwards, but so far it’s been good. We just need to keep on going and try to improve the car.
Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Lewis, after what happened to you in Bahrain, did you perhaps come into this race with a point to prove, to yourself perhaps? LH: Not really. Mistakes happen, it was just one of those character-building… it was a learning curve I guess. But I didn’t feel that I had to come here and do anything extra or do anything different. You know what I can do. I don’t feel I need to improve it. I just wanted to come here and do a solid job for the team and get points for both of us. I’m really happy with where we’ve come, especially after not the best qualifying but to see the reliability of the car, how much we could push at the end and to see the pace of the car improving throughout the race. It was quite encouraging.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Was there any point, Lewis, after the accident to Heikki, that the team was discussing that you might retire, just for safety or was that never taken into consideration? LH: For me, at least, it never crossed my mind, and the team never came onto the radio and said you might need to. I think the reliability of our car is very very good and so obviously we will go back and try and look at and understand what happened to Heikki’s car. But mine was perfect, I was quite happy with it.
Q: Lorenzo Garmendia – Berria) Lewis, Heikki’s having some hard times, not just because of today’s accident but in the championship. Do you feel you have to take over the responsibility to push the team, even if you are only in your second year?LH: No, I don’t. I get on very well with Heikki and I think an important thing, which showed last year, whether or not you saw it, myself and Fernando worked very very closely in terms of developing the car and pushing the team forward and I think it’s important to have both drivers doing that and so I feel that I share equal responsibility with Heikki. Today was unfortunate but there’s no doubt that we will go to the next race, we will keep pushing together. It’s not a one man team, there’s a huge amount of us but especially me and Heikki need to keep pushing and try and bring the points in for everyone.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Felipe, Bahrain seemed to be your circuit, in a way, compared to Kimi. Do you think that Turkey will be the same for you? FM: To be honest, it doesn’t mean that because you won last year, you are stronger on the track. I feel strong on whatever track we go to and I feel that I can win any time. You need to find the opportunities, you need to pull everything together to win. For sure, here Kimi did a great job, especially in qualifying with a good strategy and the picture was exactly the opposite to Bahrain, so I think it’s important to bring the points home, as I said, and start to build a gap in comparison to our competitors. Whatever opportunity we get to win, we need to take it and today was not possible, but I’m happy with second and I’m sure it’s very important points for the team and for both of us.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, were you afraid at the second pit stop when you were two seconds slower than Felipe? Did you think you could lose your lead? KR: You’re always thinking about it because you’re going slower and the other guys are going full speed on the circuit but it was only because there was traffic coming when my car was being refuelled and I needed to wait, because there were two cars, Lewis and a BMW at the same time, so I just needed to wait. Once they went, I could leave my pit. You cannot see but the team always tries to tell me (what’s going on) and I had a reasonable gap, so I didn’t really worry about it too much, but you would rather go when you can and not have to wait.
Q: (Rodrigo Franca – VIP Magazine) Question for Kimi and Felipe: Michael Schumacher was here all weekend. How much did he help you and Felipe to win this race, and during the tests and during the briefings etc? KR: I saw him yesterday for the first time, so I think he’s helpful for the team overall. During the season he did some tests but I do my work with the engineers and he’s not involved. He’s a part of the team and he’s always been there, so if we wanted some help from him, he would help, for sure. FM: I think he did a good job, for sure, last week, working for next year on the slick tyres and so many things on the car. I think he was very useful there. I didn’t see him so much this weekend but as Kimi said, I’m sure he works very closely with our engineers and Michael will not come one day and start to tell us to do a lot of things that we have to do. That’s not how we work. As I said, he’s very important in the team but we work together in many areas, not just coming here and saying that we need to stop.
Q: (Richard Williams – The Guardian) Lewis, you started on the clean side. Could you talk a little bit more detail about the start? You came across behind Robert. Did he hesitate to give you the chance to go on the inside of him, and was there any possibility that Heikki touched you?LH: No, the start was quite straightforward. I got good traction, I just immediately moved to the right. I noticed that I seemed to have good traction and seemed to be moving at a similar pace to Robert. I moved to the right, I think Heikki was quite a bit away from me. I didn’t see him at all and I didn’t feel any problems with my car and I think Robert was focusing on going to the left perhaps, to slipstream one of these guys, but I was carrying so much speed that there was no time for him to react and go back to the right. I don’t think he hesitated but I don’t think he was expecting it.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, in 2005 you won the race almost in a similar fashion and you said after the race that it was very boring. How was the feeling now? Was it as boring as it was then? KR: I think my race was much easier that race. OK, we had a safety car then also, but it was on the first lap, so it was a pretty clear race. Now, during the race when you get the safety car, you have got to get back together, you never know if they have even more fuel or less fuel and you need to push again. For sure, I needed to push all the time, so it wasn’t the easiest.