F1 News, Views and Reviews

2008 Press Conferences

Post Race Press Conferences from every single race of the season!  Round 1-18. (Newest first!)

Round 3 – Bahrain

Q. Your second win in a row here starting second this time. Talk us through your race.

Felipe Massa: It didn’t change anything starting second because we had a good a start. I think Robert didn’t have a good start and I passed him. Then the race was pretty difficult in the beginning because there was a lot of oil on the track. We almost went off, me and Robert, and it was pretty difficult. During the race the car was just very good. I didn’t push completely to the limit because I saw the gap increasing and then Kimi was behind but I could manage to keep the gap to him and the strategy was perfect as well

Q. It looked like you were having a bit of a fight there with your teammate Kimi trading fastest laps in the mid-point of the race. But at the end of the day you had a lot in hand, as you say. Can you tell us a little bit about your mind-set coming into this race having had difficult weekends first in Australia and Malaysia, but then coming to Bahrain where you won last year?

FM: For sure I have not had very easy weeks but that’s life. It’s not the first time and won’t be the last one as well. You have some bad days in your life. I had two bad days in the first two races but I know that we are quick. When you make a mistake and you are behind it means that something is wrong but when you make a mistake and you are fighting for the victory that’s better.

For sure the race was pretty difficult because I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I didn’t push as much either, just tried to bring the car home and just controlling the pace as well. But for sure I had a lot of time to think what’s happened in the last race. That’s pretty normal. But I am sure now it’s in the past and what is in the past is one victory and that will help for the next race.

Q. I guess you love this circuit.

FM: Yes, I love this circuit. It is my second victory in a row. I have always gone very strong here. I remember in my first year, in 2006 with Ferrari, I almost made the pole position but was stuck in traffic in qualifying. Then I didn’t have a very lucky race but I was always very strong, so I like the circuit. They are nice people here and we are always welcome, so it is nice to be here and get the second victory.

Q. Kimi, you have taken the lead in the World Championship but an interesting day for you. Playing catch-up virtually from the start, but a nice pass around the outside of Robert in the second lap there.

Kimi Raikkonen: The whole weekend has been pretty difficult, one of those things when we cannot really get the car right. But anyhow it was one of those bad weekends but I still finished second and the next race might be completely different again. We are leading the championship which is the main thing and we know that we have the speed once we get everything right. The race was quite difficult but anyhow I am happy with second.

Q. Putting the handling problems with the car to one side, you had a slight delay in the first pit stop and came in a little bit early at the second stop.

KR: In the second stop we had an easy time because we were one-two and we were not really racing against each other. We knew when we were going to stop, so we took it pretty easy. The first stop I had some difficulties. There was some problem with the light system, so it took a bit longer but it didn’t change much the things in the race. I was second, but like I said, it was a difficult weekend, so second is a good outcome.

Q. There were phases of the race where you were setting fastest laps and putting pressure on Felipe. Even at that point how was the car handling and how did you feel in the car?

KR: I mean it hasn’t been perfect all weekend. The problem is that one lap is good but the next lap is different and we haven’t really found the perfect mid-way if you like but that’s life. I have never been too happy on this circuit but out of these first three races it is really important to get as many points as possible. Usually after that the season really starts, so I am happy to be leading going back to Europe and hopefully we can be really strong in the next races.
Q. Robert, congratulations. Pole position and your second successive podium finish. First of all, what was it like off the line from pole?


Robert Kubica: Well, I think there was no big difference. The difference was there were no cars in front of me. But we had some problems on the formation lap at the start with a lot of wheel spin and in fact also at the race start I had a lot of wheel spin, although it looks like Felipe made a better start than me. Then unfortunately on the second lap I didn’t know about the oil and there was oil from corner four until corner 10 and even 11.

I took some debris in corner one and thought I had punctured the tyre. I didn’t know if I was going to pit soon because I didn’t have information about oil on the track and I lost a place to Kimi. In the second stint we faced some problems with graining and rear degradation and I think we lost quite a lot of gap to Ferrari. But anyway I think it was a good result: third and fourth for the team and leading the Constructors’ Championship, so it was good weekend.

Q. And a close race as it turned out at the end with your teammate Nick Heidfeld, beating him by three-and-a-half seconds.

RK: Yeah, I knew I had to make the difference in the first stint. I couldn’t because I lost with the oil problem and in the second lap Kimi overtook me and I was running behind him. It was not easy because in the windy conditions when you are running behind it is very easy to make mistakes. I knew which gap I had to make before pitting. I just pushed when I needed to and that’s all.

Q. Felipe, we now return to Europe and the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona. A great position for Ferrari with some momentum but it looks like it is going to be a very close season.

FM: Yeah, for sure it will be a very competitive season. We are going on now to Barcelona which is a track we pretty much like going to. Our car behaves very well on these kinds of tracks, so I am looking forward to a very strong pace in the next few races and hopefully when we go to Monaco we will see if our car has really improved in the slow corners or not compared to last year. I think we are going in the right direction for the races coming up.

Press Conference Extra

Q. Felipe, it’s a bit like last year. You must want the championship to start here and not have those two previous races. It seems to have gone much better here than it has in the previous two races.

FM: This is a nice track which I like. I am always very strong here, starting from Friday with a very strong pace all the sessions. That carries on with qualifying and for the race. Even the qualifying was very good, even if it doesn’t look like that because we started second. But looking at the fuel we had on board it was a fantastic lap as well.

I just had very good pace and a very good car in the race. It was a little bit tricky at the beginning when we faced a lot of oil on the track. Turns 5, 6, 8 and 10 were full of oil on the line. I went off line and Robert came behind me, so it was quite difficult. But then as the track cleaned up we had a pretty good race and I was able to save a lot with my car. The car was responding fantastically.

Q. Much has been said about the dirty side and the clean side of the grid but you seemed to make the better start off the dirty side.

FM: I had a very good start and I think Robert didn’t have a very good start. I saw him having a lot of wheel spin in his car, so for sure I got a better start and was able to pass him straight away.

Q. And after that any problems?

FM: No.

Q. So what are you feelings about winning two Bahrain Grands Prix in a row?

FM: Very nice. I like the place, like I said, the track. The people are always very welcoming here. It is very nice to have a second victory in a row and the first points in the championship.

Q. Kimi, you don’t seem to be terribly excited about coming second, but having said that, it’s better than coming third again.

KR: Yeah, of course we want to win races but we’ve been a bit off-pace all weekend, one of those difficult weekends when we just don’t seem to get things as we want but second is still a good place to finish. We are leading the championship now, so if we can score second places I’m not too disappointed, but of course we would rather win than be second.

Q. Tell us about the overtaking manoeuvre on Robert.

KR: I don’t think it was anything special, really. He went to defend the line on the inside and I did my normal braking on the clean side. It’s really quite difficult here when you try to defend when you’re not on the clean braking area, to know when to brake, so I had the advantage there, so I went round the outside.

Q. Were you much affected by the oil on the circuit?

KR: Yes, the same as everyone else. We needed to try and drive around the oil and I really didn’t know when it was a good moment to try to use the proper line because I didn’t really want to go off the circuit, so I took it pretty easily. But it was quite tricky for many laps but anyhow, not too bad.

Q. Robert, obviously a very long middle stint for you. You were the first to pit of the front runners, tell us about it, what the car was like during that middle stint?

RK: I don’t think we made enough of a gap in the first stint. I didn’t have a good start, we already faced a lot of wheel spin on the formation lap. Then at the start Felipe made a great start and he overtook me straight away.

Then I was behind him. I ran over some debris into the first corner and honestly I didn’t have a clue about the oil, I didn’t get any information and I was a hundred percent sure that I punctured a tyre on the debris and I was nearly going to pit when I realised in corners ten and eleven that suddenly the car had grip again. I was trying to push but Kimi was already very close to me and I tried to defend my line on the inside but it was very dirty and he overtook me. In the second stint I faced quite a lot of degradation of the rear tyres. The third one was OK. Yes, that was my race.
Q. So are you happy with third place?

RK: Yeah, it’s very good to be on the podium for a second time in a row but I think that without these problems on the second lap we would maybe be able to fight with Kimi. You never know, but that’s how it went, we made mistakes but we still finished third, so I think it’s a great result. We had the pace, OK, there was quite a big difference of fuel load in qualifying but I still managed to do pole and I had quite a good race.

Questions from the floor

Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, you said that you didn’t have an ideal car all weekend, but Massa says the car was perfect. You tested for six days here in February, can you explain that?


KR: Well, it’s completely different conditions from when we were here, we knew that. It just didn’t work for me this weekend so there’s not much to explain.

Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Was it the set-up?

KR: I said that we couldn’t get it working this weekend, the set-up, that’s all. It’s a small thing but sometimes when you cannot really get it right it makes your life a bit difficult but that’s racing and it’s not the first time. We were still second, so it’s OK.

Q. (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, what did you think when you saw Lewis stall at the start?

KR: I didn’t really know what happened to him, I just knew that I got a better start than him and of course that was good for us. He was leading the championship, so we knew that we should be able to beat them anyhow but if they don’t score points it’s even better for us. I don’t know exactly how the points are but I’m leading and whoever is second it’s good for me. We caught up a lot in the Constructors’ Championship also. I think we are only one point behind now, so one race can make a big difference, so I think overall it’s been a very good weekend for the team.

Q. (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Felipe, last year you did the same in Barcelona as you did here. Is that a circuit that is as good for you as this circuit?

FM: Yeah, I think so. I think Barcelona is a nice circuit. I like the circuit as well, so I think we have very good circuits ahead of us where our car always behaves very well, so I’m really looking forward to being strong again in Barcelona and Turkey, hopefully in Monaco as well.

Q. (Marco Evangelisti – Corriere dello Sport) Robert, you said yesterday that to win the championship is not your target this year. Are you still of the same opinion, looking at your pace?

RK: I think that for the second time in a row we were a bit slower than Ferrari, and of course, if there is the opportunity we will fight for it but our goal in the team is to win races and to make consistent progress. It’s also true that most probably if I had finished the race in Australia I would be right there on the top, so I will do my best and I will try but this is not our goal for this season.

Q. (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Robert, where exactly at the start was the problem, the first few meters or later on in the acceleration process?

RK: As soon as I released the clutch I was just standing still, spinning wheels and I was standing still, the wheels were turning and I couldn’t get traction. That was my main problem.

Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Robert, you seem really disappointed with what happened on the second lap. Why are you so disappointed, and the second question is, I think it was the second race in a row when you had bad wheel spin at the start? Do you have any explanation for that?


RK: I’m not disappointed, I’m just saying that we could manage it better and maybe we would not have lost second place there, but it happens and that’s all. The start in Malaysia was a different problem to here.

Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, when you tried to approach Massa, did you try to put pressure on him? Did you really believe that you could overtake him?

KR: We knew when the other was stopping, so I knew that I was going to stop earlier. Of course, you always try to overtake but when you stop first, there’s a very small chance. I was just pushing as normal and tried to get close to him. Sometimes when I got close he would pull away, so it didn’t really change much overall during the race. So after the last pit stop I just cruised around, so there was nothing I could really do.

Q. (Patos Seitanidis – Drive Magazine) A question for Felipe: you have had two difficult weeks with a lot of criticism but you came here and won, the same thing has happened last year in Bahrain. How can you manage to react so well under extreme pressure?

FM: Well, I’ve had many bad days in my life. It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last one, so I was really in a difficult moment of my career but not in Formula One, maybe when I was fired in Sauber, maybe when I had money to do one race and then if I didn’t win I couldn’t do the second one in Formula Renault. It was much more difficult than my situation now, so I don’t care what’s happened over the last weeks.

I think it is part of the job for the journalists to write. They need to write something, so one day they write about you and one day they write about someone else and that’s life. So it won’t change anything. It won’t change what you think, the team you race for is thinking, and that’s perfect. Our job inside the team is fantastic and that’s important.

The other things are not important, so that’s why for sure if I need to chose I prefer people who say good things about me, not bad things, but even if they say bad things, I prefer to hear what my team thinks about me and not other people, so I’m fine and for sure I have got a lot of energy for this race from Brazil, from my family, my wife and that’s important.

Q. (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) I have one question for Felipe, one for Robert. Robert, is it true that you had some problems with the radio in the last part of the race? And Felipe, we saw Jacques Villeneuve in your pit during these last few days. Could you explain to us how your relationship is with him; in the end he brought you luck?

RK: No, we didn’t have any problem.

FM: I had a good relationship with him, not at the beginning of the season (my career). I remember in my first year in Formula One he was complaining about me all the time.

He doesn’t like young drivers, so he was always complaining about young drivers, all the meetings, everything and I didn’t know why and then suddenly we came to race together and I was never a big fan of his because of that, and then we started working together and then he became very friendly and I was not so friendly and then he apologised for everything he had said about me, and then we started a very nice relationship and he’s a very nice guy and he was here in a very easy-going way and watching the session from the Ferrari pit.

He never raced for Ferrari but he said it was nice to be in the Ferrari garage and see how people worked and see the atmosphere and even the food… I think it was more because of the food!

Q. (Anne Giuntini – L’Equipe) Question to Kimi: yesterday you told us that maybe another strategy could have been better for you. Can you tell us which kind of strategy you would have preferred?

KR: No, I was pretty happy with what we had. We knew after qualifying within the team where we were. Of course we didn’t know about other teams but we had some idea and I think it worked pretty well today. We didn’t really have the speed to win anyhow, so it worked well for second place.

Round 2 Malaysia

TV Conference

Q. Kimi, that was a fantastic win and from the start it looked like a very close race between you and your teammate Felipe Massa.

Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think so. We were pretty similar speed-wise. Once he went into the pits my car got much better because when you are one or two seconds behind it is a massive difference. I was able to go much quicker on my in-lap and I could pass him. After that when you are in free air the car was handling perfectly and I was able to pull away. After a few laps I don’t know what happened to him but it was a pretty easy race after that first pit stop.

Q. You were obviously outqualified by him by a small margin. In retrospect did that reflect the fuel load or was the car a lot better on race day than it had been on Saturday?

KR: I think sometimes that we still have some difficulties to get the qualifying right. It was good in Q2 but then in qualifying two we could not find the grip with the tyres. But we knew we were running one lap longer, so I was not really panicking. The car usually has been much stronger in the race for us than in the qualifying, so as long as we kept close I thought we would have a good chance to pass him and it worked out in the first pit stop already. The car was very good all weekend but sometimes with new tyres it is difficult to get the best out of it. The team did a great job this weekend.

Q. You seemed to make a pretty good start. Talk us through the first corner as it was pretty close there and for a moment it looked as if perhaps you might have a go.

KR: Yeah, I got alongside Felipe. I got a bit better start but in the situation I knew that we would run one lap longer, so we didn’t want to risk it between the teammates in the first corner. Maybe if I had pushed harder I could have made it past, but I decided to stay behind and try my move at the pit stop. I think that was better for everybody and it worked out perfectly.

Q. The Malaysian Grand Prix, traditionally, is a very tough race particularly in terms of the heat. But you jumped out of the car and looked pretty fresh when you got out.

KR: It wasn’t too bad really. Of course it is hotter than any other race. Australia was hot but in here it is so humid but for me it was okay. There was a small issue on the podium.

Q. There was champagne under the eye-lid there.

KR: Yeah, we should put it in the mouth not in the eye. Things go wrong sometimes. Anyway it has been a perfect weekend.

Q. Robert, congratulations to you. Your teammate Nick Heidfeld finished sixth and set fastest race lap. A great day for the BMW Sauber team.

Robert Kubica: I think it is a fantastic result for the team – second time we have second place in a Grand Prix in a row. After an unlucky Australian Grand Prix finally a podium after Monza 2006, so I am very happy for myself and for the team.

Q. Simple words, but of course a very tough race and you did drive beautifully. Talk us through the race in terms of your tyre choice and perhaps the effect of the heat and strategy and what it was like in the closing stages?

RK: I didn’t have a good start. There was some wheel-spin at the start which compromised my acceleration, so it was quite close with (Jarno) Trulli and Nick. I nearly lost the car on the braking into the first corner as I was inside on the dirty side but I think they touched, so I managed to overtake them. I was trying to keep a consistent pace. We know we cannot keep behind Ferrari but I was trying to make up time as I thought McLaren would be a bit stronger.

I saw after the second pit stop that Heikki was around 17 seconds behind me and didn’t close the gap. We did the last pit stop and then just pulled down the revs to keep the engine a bit fresh for the next Grand Prix which is very important. For the heat it was a tough race and I didn’t feel well all weekend. I was a bit sick and especially our new car is very hot inside. The last 10 laps were pretty tough to keep concentration as 20 seconds in front was Kimi and 20 seconds behind was Heikki, so I was just cruising to the end.

Q. The drink in the car. How was that towards the end of the ace?

RK: Our drink is already hot at the beginning of the race – extremely hot as in the cockpit we have massive temperatures, so I didn’t drink a lot as the drink was too hot. Next time I try to use hot tea inside the bottle.

Q. You were behind the Ferraris early on. Where were they quicker and where are you going to be working on improving the car in the upcoming weeks?

RK: First of all I think we have to be happy with our pace already now because at the start of the season it did not look so well. It is very difficult to say where they are quicker.

For sure on the top speed we are lacking a bit and it makes for tough racing because you have to push really hard in the corners knowing that in the straight you will be losing a bit of a gap. Especially on the long distance race it is not easy with tyre degradation and with the new tarmac and the new asphalt here in Sepang we were lacking traction compared to last year, so we will have to work on this.

Q. Heikki, congratulations to you. P3 in qualifying but in fact starting eighth on the grid. But finishing third on the podium – what a fantastic day for you.

Heikki Kovalainen: We have to be pleased with the result. Obviously after yesterday’s penalty it was going to be hard day for us. My strategy worked out very well and I was able to be in the clean air almost all the time.

There was a little trouble in the first stint with a bit of graining but after that the car worked pretty well and then on the last stint I also had a gap to the front and to the back, so we turned the engines down and we just brought it home. For me a pretty good day, although we still would have liked to have been a couple of positions higher but today this was the maximum we could do.

Q. A great strategy stopping as late as lap 20 and in that extended first stint being able to pass for example Jarno Trulli and then consolidating that position with pressure from the Toyota for a while.

HK: It was always going to be the laps at the end of the stint that we felt we would be stronger compared to the others. Like I said, earlier on in the stints there was a bit of graining compromising our pace a little bit. That’s why the team decided to keep me on the track a bit longer. It was absolutely the right thing to do and I was able to jump Jarno. It was in the second stint that I was able to accelerate and bring it home.

Q. A great drive and again difficult conditions in many ways. Perhaps your drive was the hardest of the three here. How was it for you in the cockpit?

HK: It is always tough but I feel fairly good after the race, no big problems. We worked very hard with the team and with my trainer, with my doctor, to make sure that I am in a good shape and in a better shape compared to last year. I think the work has paid off but we will carry on like this and eventually we will arrive in the other position.

Q. Kimi, what a fantastic bounce back for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team after that weekend in Australia?

KR: For sure we had quite a difficult weekend in Australia. We didn’t really expect to have such difficulties and we were 100 per cent sure that it was going to be different here. Speed-wise we knew that we were going to be fine once we were in the right place.

Even in Australia the speed should have been okay in the race. Everything worked perfectly here and we took it quite easy in the race to make sure nothing went wrong. We still have a second race with the same engine, so we saved the engine quite well here. It was a perfect job by the team after a difficult first race to come back like this. Overall we would have been happier if Felipe had been on the second place but things go wrong sometimes. This is a good start now for the season for us and we are in a pretty good position.

Press Conference Extra

Q. Kimi, congratulations. It has really looked good all weekend, hasn’t it?

KR: Yeah, I think so. The car has been good all weekend. Of course we had a small problem in first practice on Friday. The car was not exactly what we wanted in qualifying but we knew that we should have a good race pace and it worked out perfectly.

Q. Who have you felt most threatened by during the weekend?

KR: For sure Felipe has been fast but like I said from last year already that the qualifying has not really been the strongest point. Again we had a good Q2, then the tyres didn’t work as well in the final qualifying. That was a bit disappointing but I mean we knew that the car would be strong in the race and we would stop one lap later. We put a lot of effort on that and it worked out good.

Q. Do you think your pace was comparable to Felipe?

KR: We were very close in the first stint. Once he went into the pit my car was much faster. When you do not have anybody in front of you it improves a lot. After the pit stop we were quite easy to pull away from him in the clear air. It is always difficult to follow people close and you need to be very close to be able to pass them at the pit stops so it makes it more difficult.

Q. And after that quite a lonely race, really.

KR: Yeah. For sure we could have gone much faster if we had pushed but we had already turned the engines down before the first pit stop, after the first laps, so it was quite easy for us.

Q. In fact, talking of lonely races, Robert, you had no one anywhere near you: twenty seconds in each direction.

RK: Yeah, that’s true. Only at the beginning of the race I had a close fight with Jarno and Nick, into the first corner. I didn’t manage a good start but afterwards I was trying to increase the gap to the drivers behind. I was expecting McLaren to come on strong. It didn’t happen, luckily for us, and we had quite good pace for the whole race.

Q. It was the best result of your career and also your major sponsor’s home race, so what does this result mean to you?

RK: After a disappointing race in Australia where I qualified second with a small mistake which cost me pole position, the race pace in Australia was not really fantastic, especially in the first stint. Here we worked mainly on the race pace. I knew with some solutions which we chose in qualifying, we would suffer a bit, but then in the race it paid off, so I’m very happy for myself, for the team and for Petronas.

Q. How do you see your pace in comparison to Ferrari?

RK: I think Ferrari was something special because they were not where we were expecting them to be, and here they are exactly where we think that they are. We are lacking a few tenths per lap and this brings the final twenty seconds in the race of sixty laps.

Q. You had a bit of a battle with Jarno, Heikki. Were you basically looking to overtake during the pit stops?

HK: Yeah, that was always going to be the case. In my race today I suffered a little bit at the beginning of the first and second stints, with a little bit of graining with my front tyres, so the only time for me really to attack was at the end of the stint. The car was getting better towards the end of the stint and I was able to push more.

So I wasn’t too worried when Jarno was behind me, because I knew that I was going very long in the second stint, and I was fairly sure that he wouldn’t be going that long, so I just kept it nice and easy with my tyres, trying to make sure they were in good shape whenever he pitted and I was able to do a few good laps at that point and for the last stint it was relatively easy.

Q. Was there much difference between the tyre performance?

HK: The first stint didn’t feel quite as good with the softer tyre. The second stint felt better with the harder one but then the last stint on the softer tyre felt good again. I think there was a bit of track evolution. So it wasn’t too bad.

Questions From The Floor

Q. (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi and Heikki, this was the greatest ever Grand Prix result for Finnish drivers. How does it feel to be a Finn and when will we see a one-two result?

KR: It hasn’t changed anything, even the results, for me at least. For sure it was a good day for Finns but it’s still early season. Hopefully at some point we will be one and two, but I will be looking for first place all the time and a best possible overall result. It was a good day for us.

HK: Yeah, pretty much the same for me. It’s good to have Finns here on the podium and in Finland they are talking about the Formula One Finnish championship but let’s see if it carries on like this. There are many other good drivers and it’s not always going to be like this, but I wouldn’t complain if it happened a few more times.

Q. (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, were you surprised at the start when Felipe was closing on you a little bit?

KR: Not really. I think I had enough space. He was pushing me a little bit on the right side but that’s racing. It was OK.

Q. (Mark Danby – Auto Magazine China) Kimi, did your tyres behave to your expectations at the end of each stint?

KR: No. The first stint was the most difficult because I was quite close to Felipe so, like I said, once he came into the pits, the car suddenly felt much better. It’s always when you’re one or two seconds behind somebody that there’s still a massive effect on the aerodynamics. Apart from that, it was very good, the tyres felt perfect. I think the soft tyre could have been the faster one in the end, but of course we didn’t push any more in the last two stints.

Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Kimi, after the quite disastrous race in Australia, how much more confidence do you take from this race that the rest of the season will be OK?

KR: We never lost confidence in our team. Of course we had quite a difficult race in Australia, but the whole winter the car has been working well, it’s been quick. Unfortunately we had some problems which we didn’t really expect at the first race and hopefully we can get rid of them like here where we didn’t have any issues but you never know, we’re still not one hundred percent happy with things. We still try to improve them but for sure, we have confidence in the team, in the car, in the people, so we will definitely do the best that we can, and hopefully we can be fast again in the next race.

Q. (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, were you surprised McLaren were so far behind you?

KR:

Q. Kimi, that was a fantastic win and from the start it looked like a very close race between you and your teammate Felipe Massa.

Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think so. We were pretty similar speed-wise. Once he went into the pits my car got much better because when you are one or two seconds behind it is a massive difference. I was able to go much quicker on my in-lap and I could pass him. After that when you are in free air the car was handling perfectly and I was able to pull away. After a few laps I don’t know what happened to him but it was a pretty easy race after that first pit stop.

Q. You were obviously outqualified by him by a small margin. In retrospect did that reflect the fuel load or was the car a lot better on race day than it had been on Saturday?

KR: I think sometimes that we still have some difficulties to get the qualifying right. It was good in Q2 but then in qualifying two we could not find the grip with the tyres. But we knew we were running one lap longer, so I was not really panicking. The car usually has been much stronger in the race for us than in the qualifying, so as long as we kept close I thought we would have a good chance to pass him and it worked out in the first pit stop already. The car was very good all weekend but sometimes with new tyres it is difficult to get the best out of it. The team did a great job this weekend.

Q. You seemed to make a pretty good start. Talk us through the first corner as it was pretty close there and for a moment it looked as if perhaps you might have a go.

KR: Yeah, I got alongside Felipe. I got a bit better start but in the situation I knew that we would run one lap longer, so we didn’t want to risk it between the teammates in the first corner. Maybe if I had pushed harder I could have made it past, but I decided to stay behind and try my move at the pit stop. I think that was better for everybody and it worked out perfectly.

Q. The Malaysian Grand Prix, traditionally, is a very tough race particularly in terms of the heat. But you jumped out of the car and looked pretty fresh when you got out.

KR: It wasn’t too bad really. Of course it is hotter than any other race. Australia was hot but in here it is so humid but for me it was okay. There was a small issue on the podium.

Q. There was champagne under the eye-lid there.

KR: Yeah, we should put it in the mouth not in the eye. Things go wrong sometimes. Anyway it has been a perfect weekend.

Q. Robert, congratulations to you. Your teammate Nick Heidfeld finished sixth and set fastest race lap. A great day for the BMW Sauber team.

Robert Kubica: I think it is a fantastic result for the team – second time we have second place in a Grand Prix in a row. After an unlucky Australian Grand Prix finally a podium after Monza 2006, so I am very happy for myself and for the team.

Q. Simple words, but of course a very tough race and you did drive beautifully. Talk us through the race in terms of your tyre choice and perhaps the effect of the heat and strategy and what it was like in the closing stages?

RK: I didn’t have a good start. There was some wheel-spin at the start which compromised my acceleration, so it was quite close with (Jarno) Trulli and Nick. I nearly lost the car on the braking into the first corner as I was inside on the dirty side but I think they touched, so I managed to overtake them. I was trying to keep a consistent pace. We know we cannot keep behind Ferrari but I was trying to make up time as I thought McLaren would be a bit stronger.

I saw after the second pit stop that Heikki was around 17 seconds behind me and didn’t close the gap. We did the last pit stop and then just pulled down the revs to keep the engine a bit fresh for the next Grand Prix which is very important. For the heat it was a tough race and I didn’t feel well all weekend. I was a bit sick and especially our new car is very hot inside. The last 10 laps were pretty tough to keep concentration as 20 seconds in front was Kimi and 20 seconds behind was Heikki, so I was just cruising to the end.

Q. The drink in the car. How was that towards the end of the ace?

RK: Our drink is already hot at the beginning of the race – extremely hot as in the cockpit we have massive temperatures, so I didn’t drink a lot as the drink was too hot. Next time I try to use hot tea inside the bottle.

Q. You were behind the Ferraris early on. Where were they quicker and where are you going to be working on improving the car in the upcoming weeks?

RK: First of all I think we have to be happy with our pace already now because at the start of the season it did not look so well. It is very difficult to say where they are quicker.

For sure on the top speed we are lacking a bit and it makes for tough racing because you have to push really hard in the corners knowing that in the straight you will be losing a bit of a gap. Especially on the long distance race it is not easy with tyre degradation and with the new tarmac and the new asphalt here in Sepang we were lacking traction compared to last year, so we will have to work on this.

Q. Heikki, congratulations to you. P3 in qualifying but in fact starting eighth on the grid. But finishing third on the podium – what a fantastic day for you.

Heikki Kovalainen: We have to be pleased with the result. Obviously after yesterday’s penalty it was going to be hard day for us. My strategy worked out very well and I was able to be in the clean air almost all the time.

There was a little trouble in the first stint with a bit of graining but after that the car worked pretty well and then on the last stint I also had a gap to the front and to the back, so we turned the engines down and we just brought it home. For me a pretty good day, although we still would have liked to have been a couple of positions higher but today this was the maximum we could do.

Q. A great strategy stopping as late as lap 20 and in that extended first stint being able to pass for example Jarno Trulli and then consolidating that position with pressure from the Toyota for a while.

HK: It was always going to be the laps at the end of the stint that we felt we would be stronger compared to the others. Like I said, earlier on in the stints there was a bit of graining compromising our pace a little bit. That’s why the team decided to keep me on the track a bit longer. It was absolutely the right thing to do and I was able to jump Jarno. It was in the second stint that I was able to accelerate and bring it home.

Q. A great drive and again difficult conditions in many ways. Perhaps your drive was the hardest of the three here. How was it for you in the cockpit?

HK: It is always tough but I feel fairly good after the race, no big problems. We worked very hard with the team and with my trainer, with my doctor, to make sure that I am in a good shape and in a better shape compared to last year. I think the work has paid off but we will carry on like this and eventually we will arrive in the other position.

Q. Kimi, what a fantastic bounce back for the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team after that weekend in Australia?

KR: For sure we had quite a difficult weekend in Australia. We didn’t really expect to have such difficulties and we were 100 per cent sure that it was going to be different here. Speed-wise we knew that we were going to be fine once we were in the right place.

Even in Australia the speed should have been okay in the race. Everything worked perfectly here and we took it quite easy in the race to make sure nothing went wrong. We still have a second race with the same engine, so we saved the engine quite well here. It was a perfect job by the team after a difficult first race to come back like this. Overall we would have been happier if Felipe had been on the second place but things go wrong sometimes. This is a good start now for the season for us and we are in a pretty good position.

Press Conference

Q. Kimi, congratulations. It has really looked good all weekend, hasn’t it?

KR: Yeah, I think so. The car has been good all weekend. Of course we had a small problem in first practice on Friday. The car was not exactly what we wanted in qualifying but we knew that we should have a good race pace and it worked out perfectly.

Q. Who have you felt most threatened by during the weekend?

KR: For sure Felipe has been fast but like I said from last year already that the qualifying has not really been the strongest point. Again we had a good Q2, then the tyres didn’t work as well in the final qualifying. That was a bit disappointing but I mean we knew that the car would be strong in the race and we would stop one lap later. We put a lot of effort on that and it worked out good.

Q. Do you think your pace was comparable to Felipe?

KR: We were very close in the first stint. Once he went into the pit my car was much faster. When you do not have anybody in front of you it improves a lot. After the pit stop we were quite easy to pull away from him in the clear air. It is always difficult to follow people close and you need to be very close to be able to pass them at the pit stops so it makes it more difficult.

Q. And after that quite a lonely race, really.

KR: Yeah. For sure we could have gone much faster if we had pushed but we had already turned the engines down before the first pit stop, after the first laps, so it was quite easy for us.

Q. In fact, talking of lonely races, Robert, you had no one anywhere near you: twenty seconds in each direction.

RK: Yeah, that’s true. Only at the beginning of the race I had a close fight with Jarno and Nick, into the first corner. I didn’t manage a good start but afterwards I was trying to increase the gap to the drivers behind. I was expecting McLaren to come on strong. It didn’t happen, luckily for us, and we had quite good pace for the whole race.

Q. It was the best result of your career and also your major sponsor’s home race, so what does this result mean to you?

RK: After a disappointing race in Australia where I qualified second with a small mistake which cost me pole position, the race pace in Australia was not really fantastic, especially in the first stint. Here we worked mainly on the race pace. I knew with some solutions which we chose in qualifying, we would suffer a bit, but then in the race it paid off, so I’m very happy for myself, for the team and for Petronas.

Q. How do you see your pace in comparison to Ferrari?

RK: I think Ferrari was something special because they were not where we were expecting them to be, and here they are exactly where we think that they are. We are lacking a few tenths per lap and this brings the final twenty seconds in the race of sixty laps.

Q. You had a bit of a battle with Jarno, Heikki. Were you basically looking to overtake during the pit stops?

HK: Yeah, that was always going to be the case. In my race today I suffered a little bit at the beginning of the first and second stints, with a little bit of graining with my front tyres, so the only time for me really to attack was at the end of the stint. The car was getting better towards the end of the stint and I was able to push more.

So I wasn’t too worried when Jarno was behind me, because I knew that I was going very long in the second stint, and I was fairly sure that he wouldn’t be going that long, so I just kept it nice and easy with my tyres, trying to make sure they were in good shape whenever he pitted and I was able to do a few good laps at that point and for the last stint it was relatively easy.

Q. Was there much difference between the tyre performance?

HK: The first stint didn’t feel quite as good with the softer tyre. The second stint felt better with the harder one but then the last stint on the softer tyre felt good again. I think there was a bit of track evolution. So it wasn’t too bad.

Questions From The Floor

Q. (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi and Heikki, this was the greatest ever Grand Prix result for Finnish drivers. How does it feel to be a Finn and when will we see a one-two result?

KR: It hasn’t changed anything, even the results, for me at least. For sure it was a good day for Finns but it’s still early season. Hopefully at some point we will be one and two, but I will be looking for first place all the time and a best possible overall result. It was a good day for us.

HK: Yeah, pretty much the same for me. It’s good to have Finns here on the podium and in Finland they are talking about the Formula One Finnish championship but let’s see if it carries on like this. There are many other good drivers and it’s not always going to be like this, but I wouldn’t complain if it happened a few more times.

Q. (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, were you surprised at the start when Felipe was closing on you a little bit?

KR: Not really. I think I had enough space. He was pushing me a little bit on the right side but that’s racing. It was OK.

Q. (Mark Danby – Auto Magazine China) Kimi, did your tyres behave to your expectations at the end of each stint?

KR: No. The first stint was the most difficult because I was quite close to Felipe so, like I said, once he came into the pits, the car suddenly felt much better. It’s always when you’re one or two seconds behind somebody that there’s still a massive effect on the aerodynamics. Apart from that, it was very good, the tyres felt perfect. I think the soft tyre could have been the faster one in the end, but of course we didn’t push any more in the last two stints.

Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Kimi, after the quite disastrous race in Australia, how much more confidence do you take from this race that the rest of the season will be OK?

KR: We never lost confidence in our team. Of course we had quite a difficult race in Australia, but the whole winter the car has been working well, it’s been quick. Unfortunately we had some problems which we didn’t really expect at the first race and hopefully we can get rid of them like here where we didn’t have any issues but you never know, we’re still not one hundred percent happy with things. We still try to improve them but for sure, we have confidence in the team, in the car, in the people, so we will definitely do the best that we can, and hopefully we can be fast again in the next race.

Q. (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, were you surprised McLaren were so far behind you?

KR: No, I think it’s been the same all weekend. I already said in Australia that our speed should be fine. When you start behind someone, as in Australia, you can never use your own speed. Australia is not exactly a normal circuit, so sometimes you get slightly wrong results there. Last year we were much faster than everybody there, and coming here we were not so happy anymore, so it’s a bit the opposite now. I think the next race can be different again, so we need to wait and see and after a few races we will get a clearer picture where we are exactly.

Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, in the lap that you came in for the first pit stop, you did the best T1 and T2 times of the race at that stage. Could you do that with Massa in front of you or did you expect him to go into the pits to do that?

KR: Like I said already, when he went in my car got much better because I was quite close. It always affects the car. I think it needs to be around six seconds in front of you before you don’t feel anything anymore. I was only less than two seconds, so once he pulled in my car just got much quicker and I was able to go more than half a second faster on the in lap. It was enough, we knew that it was going to be close and it worked out perfectly. Once I was in front of him the car was much better in the second stint and I was able to pull away.

Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Heikki, even in the middle stint, when you couldn’t quite go at the pace of the BMWs, although you said that the tyres were working quite well, do you think you had no chance to beat them today, and how do you see your team in comparison to Ferrari?

HK: I think there was no way we could match Ferrari. BMW also seemed to be very strong on race day, but then again, when you start further down on the grid, it’s always going to be a compromise.

You initially lose quite a lot of time, the first few laps you can lose a couple of seconds a lap if you get stuck in traffic and you’re fighting for position, so by the time I sort of got going in the race, the gap to Robert was seventeen seconds. It’s impossible to say what would have happened had we started where we qualified, but in any case, I think we did the maximum today that was possible and third place for me was more than enough today.

Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, in the lap that you came in for the first pit stop, you did the best T1 and T2 times of the race at that stage. Could you do that with Massa in front of you or did you expect him to go into the pits to do that?

KR: Like I said already, when he went in my car got much better because I was quite close. It always affects the car. I think it needs to be around six seconds in front of you before you don’t feel anything anymore. I was only less than two seconds, so once he pulled in my car just got much quicker and I was able to go more than half a second faster on the in lap. It was enough, we knew that it was going to be close and it worked out perfectly. Once I was in front of him the car was much better in the second stint and I was able to pull away.

Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Heikki, even in the middle stint, when you couldn’t quite go at the pace of the BMWs, although you said that the tyres were working quite well, do you think you had no chance to beat them today, and how do you see your team in comparison to Ferrari?

HK: I think there was no way we could match Ferrari. BMW also seemed to be very strong on race day, but then again, when you start further down on the grid, it’s always going to be a compromise.

You initially lose quite a lot of time, the first few laps you can lose a couple of seconds a lap if you get stuck in traffic and you’re fighting for position, so by the time I sort of got going in the race, the gap to Robert was seventeen seconds. It’s impossible to say what would have happened had we started where we qualified, but in any case, I think we did the maximum today that was possible and third place for me was more than enough today.

Round 1 Australia

TV Press Conference

Q. Lewis, from where you were it was probably a relatively straightforward race, but it was a chaotic, dramatically hot Australian Grand Prix. Talk us through Robert Kubica right behind you in the early stages of the race.

Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, we got away to a really good start and I actually had a little bit of wheel spin, so I think we were quite close going into the first corner. But I was able to pull a good gap on the exit of the first corner and just had to keep it cool and look after the tyres from then on. From then on I really just paced myself and didn’t overdo it.

I had plenty of time in me so I just used that to my advantage and tried to look after the tyres and there was a point in the second stint when I had to put my foot down due to the safety car. I guess it was a bit like my first win in Montreal last year when we had four safety cars. It was pretty similar to that in that it was difficult to heat the tyres and the brakes up. It was a good challenge but we’ve all done a great job.

Q. It looked as if the timing of the team was perfect when it came to your pit-stop relative to the safety cars.

LH: They did a fantastic job as always but perhaps a big and huge thank you to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. The car was phenomenal. It really was the complete dream to drive compared to the car we had last year but pulling me in early on both my pit-stops really did help us in terms of safety cars and kept us out of trouble.

Q. It is difficult to anticipate safety cars but talk us through that strategy. Is that something you would have looked at during the race?

LH: Absolutely. The team go into all angles and try to analyse what can go on in the race and they plan for the worst. But we have got a fantastic strategy team and they did a great job pulling me in early. It really was. I was very fortunate and it was unlucky for Heikki (Kovalainen) that he got caught in the safety car.

Q. It was a long, hot race but you look pretty fit. How do you feel and what was it like in the cockpit?

LH: I felt fantastic. I never thought it would have been as physically a breeze as it was. It is great preparation for Malaysia so bring it on, I am really looking forward to it.

Q. Nick, very well done to you to. It looked as if you perfectly weaved your way through the dramas of the afternoon but it was a very close race early on with Nico Rosberg with both of you coming into the pits at the same time for your first fuel stop.

Nick Heidfeld: Yes exactly. After the start I thought it was not going to be a very good race because I knew that Nico was quite long. Actually he came in earlier than expected on the same lap as myself. What we lost at the start we regained on the pit-stop, so our pit-stop crew, again similar to last year, just did a fantastic job to just get me out of Nico. Then I was lucky on the pit-stops in terms of the safety car. But I think we also had a very good pace.

Q. It was quite a chaotic first corner and indeed first couple of laps. What was it like from your point of view?

NH: I had a lot of wheel spin at the start and tried to close to Nico but it was just no chance. He got by and I just saw Felipe (Massa) spinning and that was all the drama I saw.

Q. Nico, fourth in Brazil and now the next race third in the Australian Grand Prix. What an amazing day for you.

Nico Rosberg: I am really really happy. It is amazing to be on the podium in F1. It is just great. It has been a while also, nearly three years or something, so it is just really nice and I am also pleased for the whole team because they have been working so hard over the winter and really done a good job and made good progress, so it’s just great.

Q. Nick Heidfeld just said you came in early for that first stop. How do you react to that?

NR: I don’t know. I think my qualifying could have been slightly better probably but everything happened as planned really. I was a bit surprised to see him right behind me. I was hoping to get out just in front of him but no chance. It was very close and I had to back off, so that was it. But I had a fantastic start and that’s what helped me to have a great race, so thanks to the engineers responsible for that, it was really great.

Q. There was a bit of drama on your out lap onto the grid as well. Did that affect your confidence?

NR: I had new pads on the front because I had a very big vibration in qualifying which was a big problem, so they had to change the front pads, so I had much more grip on the front and that caught me by surprise. I hadn’t anticipated how much I had to go rear with the brake balance, so it wasn’t ideal to start the race but it turned out alright.

Q. And during the race. The balance, brakes and handling?

NR: It could have been better but I think we have a solid car to start the season with. I am hoping to have a nice development through the season and I think we can have a good year.

Q. Lewis, returning to you. Final thoughts with Malaysia looming as we speak. A great win for you and a great start to the season for the team but nonetheless a lot of pace shown by Kimi Raikkonen early on in the race from a lowly grid position. Your thoughts going into the next couple of races?

LH: It is the perfect way to begin the season. I was just saying to Nico, I think it has been exactly eight years since we were on the podium together back in the days when we were in karting. It is great to be up here with him again, but going into the next few races, we obviously need to try and continue with the momentum that we have. As I said we could have gone quicker, so I am not particularly bothered about the Ferraris’ pace. BMW and Williams have done a great job as well, so we need to keep on pushing and the team needs to keep on pushing. As will I and I really hope going into the next race that we will have a great result again.

Extended Press Conference

Q. Lewis, congratulations. It couldn’t be a better start, could it?

LH: No, absolutely not. We have done a superb job all weekend and we really just have to keep our cool. We had a great car and I am very happy with a great start to the season.

Q. You mentioned just now that is was a dream to drive compared to last year.

LH: Yeap.

Q. So last year wasn’t so easy?

LH: You could see that last year was pretty tough. Not as hot perhaps, but I think coming this year my preparation was much better. I am probably twice as fit this year compared to last year. But also the car was really fantastic to drive and it was quite easy to drive.

Q. In comparison to the competitors you feel confident as well?

LH: Yeah, I mean if I needed to have pushed more I could, but I was quite happy and quite comfortable driving at the pace I was at. I was keeping in touch with the team and they were telling me I had half-a-second compared to everyone else. I just kept it that way.

Q. Was there much difference between the two tyres?

LH: To be honest, there wasn’t. Usually in testing and building all the way up to the race it was quite tough on both sets of tyres but predominantly the option was graining quite heavily. But I seemed to be able to manage them quite nicely and they were both pretty similar. If anything, the option was quicker but the track had rubbered in quite well and the graining didn’t affect us.

Q. Nick, a great result for you too.

NH: Definitely, especially after our winter which was really difficult. The first time we went out with the car we really struggled but since then we have made consistent progress and I think we are still not on the limit of the car which is very promising.

Q. How hard was Nico pushing?

NH: In the beginning I was pushing him because I did not have the best of starts and then I tried to get by but by doing that running too close to his slip-stream I went wide twice and spoilt my tyres a bit and I thought that was maybe it for the race because we expected him to stop later than myself as in qualifying I was a lot quicker, more than a second ahead. For the fuel level I was carrying I had a good qualifying, so I thought I was done after the start. In the second stint it was going okay and then on the last, on the option tyres, I was just pacing myself a bit trying not to kill the options and get too much graining.

Q. How do you see your pace in comparison to the McLaren? You saw a fair amount of them.

NH: I think we are still slower than them. I think probably I had a bit better tyre heat-up after the last safety car following Lewis. But through the last corner I was getting a bit of understeer and I think on top of that I took it a bit easy but on braking on the outside I got quite close. Then I couldn’t keep up with him. But the pace difference to Heikki was not that big but he was still quicker. But looking at where we came from, especially at the end of last year it is fantastic.

Q. Nico. Your first podium. What do you think of it?

NR: It was quite nice up there, really good. It has been a while. I think more than two-and-a-half years or so since GP2, so it is fantastic. I am really happy also for the whole team. They have been working very hard and they have done a better job than teams like Renault and Red Bull over the winter. It is not that clear yet but at least as good a job. That is a big step forward for the whole team. Also I have to say that we have a lot of development coming. There are a lot of things which we have not been able to put on the car yet, so I think we are up for a good year. Let’s not get too excited obviously as we need to wait a few races to see where we are exactly but still I think we are in quite a good position.

Q. And that first pit-stop when it was pretty close with Nick.

NR: Yes, it was pretty close. He wasn’t very fair coming out because I was there and I had to back off otherwise I was in the wall, so that wasn’t great. But anyway on a day like today with everybody going off and everything you have just got to say that third place is fine. It’s fantastic and let’s just take it.

Q. It did seem a matter of survival out there?

NR: It was. But I mean it is the first race without traction control and without all those electronic aids. We have a lot more rear wheel locking under braking, so you just have to be more careful and I think it is great for F1. It is more pure. The driver has more to do. There are more mistakes. I mean, I think many of the mistakes today were thanks to that. I am going to say that, I am not sure. I think it’s good for F1. I was happy to see it. Our pace in the race was not too bad especially compared to the BMWs. I was giving everything I had. So it was pretty good.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q. (James Deakin – F1 Racing) Question to all drivers: could you tell us how this first race was without all the electronics and traction control? Obviously you’ve done a lot of testing, but it’s different at race pace.

NR: Yeah, with the driver aids gone, it makes it more difficult. With the heat out there, it’s always going to make a more difficult race for concentration, it’s a street circuit, bumpy, all the rest of it, so I’m sure it was one of the more difficult races, so I’m even more pleased to be up here. Also, I think technically it was very tough on the cars, so I was just hoping ‘please get me to the end.’

LH: Yeah, Nico’s right, it was more demanding on the drivers but also on the tyres and on the car. We have no engine braking, so it puts a lot more demand on the brakes, so the temperature from the brakes and the whole car is probably quite a lot higher than last year, but in terms of racing, it’s real racing. This is how it should be!

NH: Actually, it was a bit easier than I expected, definitely more difficult than last year, but with some of the problems we had over the winter, we didn’t really find the time to do a lot of long runs. We really pushed hard throughout our programme and the weather wasn’t so great over winter testing, so we hardly did any race simulation, we only did one in wet conditions, so I didn’t really know what to expect and it went better than I thought.

Q. (Georg Nolte – Bild am Sonntag) Nico, when did you realise that it was going to be a good day for you?

NR: After the start, because it was just a great start. The start is nowadays down to the driver and also down to the engineers, how they set up the clutch and all the rest of it, so I think all of us did a good job there. It was very very tight going through Nick and Jarno. I decided to go for that gap and I wasn’t sure but I had no choice. I had to go for it, and it was very tight but it worked out fine.

And then coming out of the first corner, I think I was fourth, I’m not sure, so from there I thought ‘Jeez, this could really be a good race.’ Obviously I had Nick behind me, so I thought he was really going to put the pressure on but I was pretty comfortable in the end with him, I could set a pretty good pace compared to him through the whole race. OK, he got past me in the pit stop, but still, third is fantastic. But the whole race was such a mess, with all the safety cars and everything, you really didn’t know if it was really going to work out until the very end.

Q. (Oliver Holt – The Daily Mirror) Lewis, this is stating the obvious, I guess, but it was clearly an emotional race for Ron, judging by his reaction and also for you. Does it feel finally as though this has drawn a line under what you described as all the baggage of last season?

LH: I wouldn’t say it draws a line under it but for sure coming into a new season, turning over a new leaf, we really wanted to get off on the right foot. Ron’s been through a lot, so has the team but we pulled through and really it shows in the results. I’m glad he’s happy, it is an emotional feeling to win the first Grand Prix of the season, especially with all the winter testing, the whole build-up, not really knowing whether you had the pace of everyone else, whether you would be able to win, whether the cars could be reliable but when you come out on top it’s a real relief and great satisfaction.

Q. (Sheridan – The Age) Lewis, I’m not sure if you’re aware of Timo Glock’s accident but does it worry you that there’s a bump out there on a turn that can almost destroy a car?

LH: I’ve not seen the footage. All I saw was that on the exit of turn 12, I believe, he was a hundred meters down the road, he was in the wall, so it’s obviously not an easy place to crash, so for whatever reason, I don’t know how he got there. I think some drivers did complain that the track is very bumpy.

We’ve seen it in the past, on the exit of the last corner when Michael Schumacher hit the bump and they fixed it, but each year they do a great job in improving it and for sure, if there is a serious bump there, beyond the astro turf then we need to get rid of it but at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be out there.

Q. (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Nick, if you look at the performance gap between BMW and McLaren, is it any different between qualifying and the race?

NH: I can’t tell now. I have to analyse the race later on. I don’t know. Probably you know now better than me.

Q. (Mark Danby – Auto Magazine China) Given the short turnaround to next weekend, how are you going to spend the next few days before you get to Malaysia?

NH: I fly over tomorrow (to Malaysia) and then as we have Petronas as our sponsor in Malaysia we will have quite some work to do, starting on Tuesday I guess, so we will be quite busy until the race.

LH: I’m going out tomorrow as well, so we will probably be on the same flight but tonight, I will obviously celebrate with the team, sit down with my dad and trainer and just my team, might meet up with Nico and celebrate. I go out tomorrow, just will spend a couple of days in a hotel, maybe a couple of days in KL.

NR: I would love to go flat out tonight but it’s a bit difficult because we have the race so close next weekend, so maybe it would be better to take it a bit easier…

LH: That’s never stopped you before, Nico!

NR: Yeah, but… come on, don’t put me in that kind of light. I’m very very serious about my sport. Then afterwards I’m going to Singapore, Singapore for RBS and maybe I’m going to do a quick story about the new track, going to look at that and then off to Malaysia.

Q. (Ed Gorman – The Times) Lewis, this is your fifth career win in Formula One. How do you compare it to the other races that you won last year and how important is this one to your personally?

LH: I would say it’s quite different to my first win in Montreal, just because it was really not expected. Coming into your second season, this is a sort of a target we set, I set myself, and so I guess I’ve put more pressure on myself this year. I think this win perhaps feels better than any because I feel I’m improved in many areas but I wouldn’t say it’s the perfect win, I would say that there’s a lot of areas I can improve. But I think in terms of managing my tyres, controlling my pace, and confidence and being comfortable in the car, it’s probably the best race I’ve had so far.

Q. (Marco Degl’Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for you all; until Friday, it seems Ferrari should have dominated this championship. Today it didn’t happen; are you surprised?

LH: (to the Questioner) You’re looking a bit disappointed!

NR: (to Lewis) Me? You’re the one up against them not me.

LH: I think a lot of hype was put on them but they’ve obviously had a tough weekend but we can’t forget that they are a great team and they have a very good car and two great drivers as well. One bad weekend, I’m sure everyone could have a bad weekend at some point during the season. There are still 17 races to go. But yes, as a team, my team, we have to work hard making sure these problems don’t happen.

Q. (James Deakin – F1 Racing) Nick, BMW came out with a report saying they weren’t going to win races this year, and yet Robert qualified second and you finished second. Some say are you sandbagging?

NH: No, not at all. We said we want to win a race this season, that’s our target. At our first test with the new car we really were in deep trouble and then coming here we thought we would be the third strongest team, that’s what we communicated. Some people preferred to look at our first comments, our first tests.

I think the whole team, including myself didn’t expect to be that strong here, that comes as a bit of a surprise and it’s very difficult to judge ourselves compared to the others, because we made such big progress over the winter season that we really only had the last test in Barcelona or the last day to know where we stand, because we made such huge progress all the time.

Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Nico, you said the last time you were on the podium with Hamilton was when you were go-karting. Can you tell us how it was?

NR: I think it was in 2000. It was a great time, I think it we were 14 or 15 years old at the time. We were both in the MBM team which was Mercedes Benz McLaren, so I think thanks to them for supporting me on my way up in those three years with McLaren Mercedes. It was a great time. We really had fantastic fun, travelling the world and racing in the European championship, the World championship and all the rest of it. We finished first and second in the Europeans that year, with Kubica third, so it was the three of us up there. Good memories.

LH: As we always said, one day we would be in Formula One and winning races and on the podium together. It’s a childhood dream for both of us, so it feels really cool.

Q. (Niki Takeda – Formula PA) Nico, you have been quite sceptical about the true performance of your car, ever since you started driving it. Is it a kind of relief that the performance is really really there?

NR: In general I prefer to go a little bit away from optimism before a season starts. I just try and base myself a bit more on realistic things because it just wasn’t very clear where we were relative to Renault, Red Bull. Toyota came up strong on the last day of the tests, so you could easily find yourself twelfth, behind all these teams, if they were a couple of tenths ahead of you when you come to this track in Melbourne.

We had a disastrous day on Friday, really it was probably the worst start we could imagine, so we started from zero, Saturday morning. More or less put the car that we came in the plane with into qualifying and so as a basis, it just shows that the car is good which is really nice and I think we definitely have some way to go to progress through the year and develop the car, so it’s a good beginning.

3 responses

  1. Pingback: Hamilton Wins The 2008 Australian Grand Prix « The F1Fanatics Blog

  2. Pingback: Raikkonen Wins The 2008 Malaysian Grand Prix « The F1Fanatics Blog

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