Turkish GP 2007 Post Race Press Conference
With thanks to FIA
Q. Felipe, from the pole you have won your second Turkish Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa: It’s amazing. The third time here in Istanbul but the second race in a row winning from pole. I love the track, I love the place and here is where my career made a switch and I started to win races and fight with the front runners. It is a very special place for me and to have a second consecutive win here, it’s difficult to find the right words…
Q. It looked like a dominating win from the outside. Talk about it from your perspective. We saw a little drama with your helmet at one point and of course a big surprise for everybody in the pit lane to see both Ferraris on the softer of the two Bridgestone tyres for the first two stints.
FM: The helmet had a crack on the cooling system and I had big turbulence. My head started to go up and I was losing a lot of concentration, so I just took it away and it made a bit of strange behaviour on the straight but then it was better. With the tyres, on Friday we made a long run on both tyres and it was pretty similar, with maybe just one or two tenths between them. We knew that Friday to Sunday the track changes a lot and the soft tyre should improve even more, so we took a bit of a gamble although it was a pretty safe risk. Especially for the start, we knew that the soft would be better and we had fantastic starts; Kimi overtook Lewis and we had a very good race on the soft.
Q. A great day for you to have your family at the race, your Dad had a lot of TV time!
FM: Yes! He is very emotional, like me, and on the podium for sure the TV likes to take this kind of experience from people. But I am really proud to win in front of him, and my mother as well.
Q. Kimi, it looked like a frustrating day for you. As Felipe said, you got into second place from the start but that’s where you stayed. You pushed Felipe pretty hard going into the second pit stop.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, we had a pretty good car but unfortunately these days in Formula One it’s pretty difficult to get past, so the race was really decided yesterday already. If nothing else I pushed hard and got as close as I could and tried to do something at the pit stops, but when two teammates are fighting it is usually that whoever is first is going to stay there. The car was really good but there was nothing I could have done.
Q. Again you chose the softer of the two Bridgestone tyres. Was that a big decision going into the race, how it was going to perform?
KR: I think as Felipe said we were pretty confident that both tyres would work pretty well. It was not a big difference and we decided to take the soft one for the start for many reasons and it worked well. It was still difficult to say which one would have been better. They were very equal.
Q. Fernando, you were beaten off the line and into the first corner by the two BMWs so, I guess, to be here in P3 is a nice reward for you?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, for sure. The start did not go to plan and to be overtaken by two cars and find yourself sixth at the first corner was not great. My race was a little bit over from that time. I was following Nick for 17 laps and as Kimi said, these days in Formula One it is very, very difficult to overtake.
You need to wait for a mistake from the car in front of you and Nick was very consistent and driving very well, so I waited for the pit stop and I was lucky to overtake him. Then my race started but I was half a minute behind everybody at that point and I just took my pace and concentrated on being consistent, not making a mistake and waiting for the miracle, which only happened with Hamilton. But third, for sure, is not the best result from the weekend.
Q. Ferrari was pulling away from you and Lewis pretty comprehensively in the closing stages of the race. How much of that was tyre choice perhaps, taking the race as a whole, and how much of it was the difference between the two cars on this circuit?
FA: I think that it was the car to be honest. I think with the tyres we found the prime very similar compared with the option but slightly better, more consistent and I still think the prime was the right choice for the race, to be sure.
The last stint I did with the option I found the car to be a little bit worse, so that confirms that the prime tyre was better for our car. It was very windy today and we know when it is windy we have more difficulty and found that again today.
Q. Well Felipe, we now go to the Italian Grand Prix with Ferrari having another 1-2 behind them, so what’s that race going to be like for you and the team?
FM: It is a very special race for us so hopefully we can repeat the result here. It would be fantastic for the team, for the people, for the tifosi, so I’m looking forward to the race.
Q. As I said yesterday, Felipe, you’re a bit of a Turkish specialist now.
FM: Maybe after three races and two wins here it can be a special track for me. It is fantastic to win for the second time in a row here in Turkey, starting from the pole, having a good car. A difficult race but I managed to keep my concentration.
Q. What was happening when Kimi was catching you at the end of the second stint?
FM: The gap was pretty similar throughout the stint but then Kimi started to run two tenths quicker and I started to push again. Then I just made a small mistake going into Turn 7 and Kimi was just able to close the gap completely. But the gap was okay to control, the balance was okay and the car was easy to drive, so it was not so difficult but the small mistake made my life a little bit more difficult.
Q. Just explain again what the problem was with your helmet, the visor?
FM: We have a cooling system just on the top and the plastic part cracked and started to go up and so I had huge turbulence and my head started to move a lot – going up and under braking going completely down. That was disturbing me a lot and so I just broke the cooling flap completely and managed to take it away.
Q. How many laps did you suffer that for?
FM: Five or six laps before I broke it. It was still a bit difficult in terms of turbulence but a lot better.
Q. Kimi, tell us about the start.
KR: I got a good start as we were hoping for but that’s about it – I was following Felipe all race long and there was nothing I could have done.
Q. How did you see the end of that first stint?
KR: It was good. I had a little bit too much understeer at the start and I couldn’t push as hard as I wanted. The car got better and better and in the end was very good and very easy to drive. But I had big difficulties with the handling at the start of the second stint. At the end I could go very fast but when you have two guys behind each other in the same team, usually the second guy has to pit first and there is nothing more I could have done.
Q. But a little bit of a statement two laps from the end?
KR: Yeah, but it’s so boring behind other cars. Unfortunately in Formula One these days the races are pretty much decided after qualifying, so it’s a shame.
Q. Fastest lap, two laps from the end, similar to Hungary…
KR: Yeah, it’s something to do.
Q. Fernando, close behind Heidfeld but you weren’t catching Lewis. That gap remained pretty much the same between the two of you, about 14 seconds in the second stint.
FA: Yes. The start was quite bad and after I found myself sixth on the first lap, I thought the race was over because if you overtake them quite quickly in the first five laps, you still have a possibility but if not, it becomes very difficult. It was exactly like that. Lap 18, when I pitted, I managed to get in front of Nick and start my race but I was 14 seconds behind the third guy and I pushed, as hard as I could, but the gap always remained the same. I was just cruising a little bit to the end, from lap 30.
Q. But as Peter said, to be on the rostrum having been sixth must be something of a relief.
FA: Yeah, for sure. If someone told me on lap two that I would be on the podium it would not have been easy to believe and I would be very happy and I would sign anywhere if someone told me that. At the end, the final result is the best thing of the weekend for sure, but there are some other moments that were not so good: like yesterday in qualifying, today the start, the pace of the Ferraris compared to us in the race, many things that we need to improve for the next Grand Prix.
Q. Is the pace of the Ferraris quite worrying?
FA: Well, we more or less knew that, because we are coming from some races where we saw their potential: in Magny-Cours they were very very quick, in Silverstone they were very quick again. The only race where we were back on the pace was maybe Hungary and that was not a surprise because it’s a very slow circuit and something like Monaco. We know that that type of circuit is quite good for us, but coming to a normal circuit like Turkey, they are on top again. We know that we need to improve but next race will be better.
Questions From The Floor
Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Kimi, you already said that this is your second race in a row where you are following the leading car and you said it’s a little bit boring being there, but having said that, you did the fastest lap in both races. Is that just to keep you awake or is it more to try and see how much you can get out of the car?
KR: I think we can get more out of the car if we really push but there’s no point in really wasting your second position to push like crazy and maybe go off so… It was just that I wanted to try and see how good the car was and maybe we can learn something. As I said, it’s a bit boring because you quite often know, especially after the pit stop, where the other cars will stop and that’s it. You know that you cannot really do anything if you don’t get past the guys and it’s very difficult to get past.
Q. (Sal Zanca – Associated Press) Fernando, do miracles happen and what did you say to yourself when Hamilton’s tyre shredded?
FA: Nothing, to be honest, because the race was still going on, and I had 20 or 18 laps to go or whatever. The team told me on the radio ‘be careful because it seems that you may have the same problem that happened on Lewis’s car because at the pit stop we are seeing that your tyres are not in perfect shape either, so take care of the car in these last 15 or 18 laps, in order not to have the same problem.’ So I wasn’t thinking anything special, I was just taking care of my car.
Q. (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) For all three of you: how much has Lewis’s puncture helped your title chances?
FA: Nothing changes, to be honest. The gap for me is only two points difference, so at the end of the day it’s just a second and third place, or a first and second. I’m still losing points from the last two races.
If you take Hungary and here, I recovered two points here, I lost five in Hungary, so I’m three worse than what I was in Nurburgring so it’s still the same. As long as all four top cars finish all the races, the gaps don’t increase or decrease too much, so it’s still very open for the last final three races that will probably be the last chance for everybody.
FM: It helped me six points.
KR: Yeah, it was definitely better for us. We know that anything can happen in a race, we gained more than if we had finished third, so it’s helping but there are still many races to go, so we just need to keep pushing and try to win and see what happens.
Q. (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) A question for the two Ferrari drivers: did the positions on the grid decide who will stop earlier than the other in the two different stints?
FM: It was decided yesterday in qualifying. I had one lap more fuel than him (Kimi).
Q. (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, your Grand Prix was not very good from the beginning; is it because you don’t like this circuit or was there something else that disturbed you during this weekend?
FA: No, no, nothing special. It’s true that from Friday it was not an easy weekend, but we found the pace yesterday in qualifying – especially in Q1 and Q2 the car felt good again. Q3 was looking good until the last new tyre run, so we found the pace there.
Today, starting fourth, if I was fourth in turn one I would probably follow everybody, overtaking would maybe be impossible but maybe I was fourth following everybody with no problems. It’s true that it hasn’t been an easy weekend but nothing was disturbing me.
Q. (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, is starting from pole the only way to win at Monza also?
KR: Not really. It depends how much fuel you have against the others but racing with teammates, you know exactly much fuel the other guy has, so when you are in that situation, you pretty much know what will happen in the race. If it’s someone else it’s a different story but for sure, pole position makes your life easier, you have better chances but it doesn’t really decide the race completely.
Q. (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia Efe) Fernando, how are your feelings after this one hundredth GP? Are you happy, could you be happier? And of the last five races, which ones do you think will be best for you and how confident do you feel in winning your third title?
FA: I can’t remember the first question any more! The hundredth Grand Prix. I felt good and I’m feeling good now. I feel happy, as I said before, especially because of the result; that was the best news of the weekend. To be on the podium is always a nice feeling and given the start of the race, it was a nice finish to the weekend, to be on the podium.
I won’t remember this Grand Prix for the rest of my life but it has been quite good at the end. And the chances for the title? They are still there for everybody, still all four drivers – two McLaren and two Ferrari drivers – with possibilities to win the title. You see ups and downs for everybody. It depends on how the weekend goes, how lucky you are in that particular weekend, so five races to go and the better one and the lucky one will win in the end.
Q. (Peter Hesseler – Auto Bild) Fernando and the Ferrari drivers as well. Is it the wrong impression that you have generally started worse this year or has it changed since the beginning of the year when Ferrari lost some places?
FA: It’s true that our start is probably not the best. We know that the BMWs start really really well, every weekend. For us, it’s true that at the beginning of the championship we were having good starts, sometimes overtaking the Ferraris. I remember Malaysia, I remember Australia or I don’t know where. Obviously we haven’t made our starts worse, we keep improving but for sure the Ferraris did a bigger step forward than us.