1. David Coulthard (McLaren), 1:34:42.124 2. Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), 1:34:50.799 (+ 8.675) 3. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1:34:51.316 (+ 9.192) Question: A chaotic race, but a fairly straightforward one for you David. Can you talk us...
Question: A chaotic race, but a fairly straightforward one for you David. Can you talk us through your strategy?
David Coulthard: Well, I felt from the installation lap to the grid that it was too wet around the back to start in slicks but it was apparent when we did the warm-up lap that it was going to be touch and go, so I informed the team I would be coming in early to make a stop. Obviously without safety cars that would have put us in a very difficult position but the way the race played out today we were able to pick a good strategy between our stops and we were fortunate enough to keep away from penalties and keep it on the island.
Q: A difficult qualifying session for you, but won the race nonetheless and a great result from McLaren, first in the podium like this. What is your feeling about the performance of the car this weekend?
DC: I think qualifying positions aside, we certainly believe ourselves to be as competitive as the Williams, if not the Ferrari at this time, but we're obviously placing some hope in the new car when it comes out for probably about the fifth or sixth race of the season, that that will be able to bridge the gap to Ferrari. We know through our normal racing season that it isn't always going to work for them and maybe the Michelin will give us an advantage in Malaysia.
Q: Juan Pablo, great tyre choice on the grid on to dry tyres and then two incidents with the safety car. Talk us through all that?
Juan Pablo Montoya: I think it was a pretty disastrous race. We took the right tyres, I had a 16-second lead, and everything was going my way. Then the safety car, then we went again, I had like 10 or something like that second lead and safety car again, so I pretty much got screwed twice. Even like that, after the second pit stop I had the lead and, I don't know, I went into turn one and picked up the throttle, the car turned ends on me, so just my fault.
Q: In that second pit stop, you didn't change tyres, it looked as if you hit the lollipop as you left as well. Was the not changing of tyres in any way a factor in the spin?
JPM: Probably yes and no, because the previous run on new tyres the pattern was a disaster and on old tyres I had a much better balance, I was more competitive, so I decided not to change tyres and I thought it was the right thing to do. And I still think it was the right thing to do; I would have been even less competitive if I would have changed tyres. So it was just, basically shit happens.
Q: And a lot of pressure right at the end there from Kimi and Michael.
JPM: Yes: with David I thought I've got two and a half seconds, he’s a bit quicker than me but nearly impossible to pass so as long as I keep a decent pace I should be all right. And I went into turn one, picked up the throttle and I just got sideways when I picked up the throttle, and that was it really; there's nothing to it.
Q: Kimi, you decided even earlier to switch to dry tyres. Talk us through that decision?
Kimi Raikkonen: We weren’t really sure on the warm-up lap that it was dry enough for dry tyres but then before we came on the starting grid I decided, with the team we decided, to come in and change to dry tyres and put enough fuel for one stop and it was a good decision. But, unfortunately, it didn't really work out so well. I got tried for a penalty on speeding on a pit lane but that cost quite many places.
Q: But you had a brilliant race with Michael Schumacher. Let's talk about that. That incident at the end of the straight as well, he was alongside you there and he was on the grass as he came out.
KR: Yeah, I think so, the first corner is a bit too tight for two cars and someone needs to give up and it was this time him. It was a good race against him. Maybe he was a little bit quicker than us but not much.
Q: Did you know at that point when you were racing with Michael there that you were under investigation for that speeding infringement?
KR: No, it came quite late because I did the exact same thing with the pit lane speed as the time before when I had this drive through penalty and I didn't even notice that I was speeding but I guess there is some guys who noticed.
Q: How was it racing with Michael, would you describe it as clean racing?
KR: Yeah. It was quite difficult: the first part of the lap was quite easy to keep him behind but then always in the first corner he seems to always get quite good exit in the last corner and I had some difficulties a couple of times but it was quite good.
Q: Great viewing on television. Back to you, David. So many changes this weekend and so many variables in this race. Quite difficult to draw conclusions, I would think, for the season and the immediate races?
DC: Yes, I think, from a team point of view, we should just enjoy our first and third place. The circumstances enable us to get that on this day in history so we can be satisfied. But certainly there is still work to be done to be as competitive as Ferrari and we're fully focused on trying to understand the new rules and make sure we get our qualifying right next time.
Q: Well done, congratulations. Great stuff. No better way to start the championship is there?
DC: Absolutely not. In stark contrast to how we felt yesterday afternoon. It’s a great result and obviously I am extremely happy for the team knowing that maybe we are not quite as competitive on outright speed as Ferrari, but in races like that, where there is an element of good fortune, and also where there are decisions to be made on strategy, then we can feel quite satisfied.
Q: And from 11th on the grid that was amazing stuff ?
DC: Well I didn’t actually overtake many people out on the track but we can gloss over that It was tricky conditions and I thought I had made the wrong decision initially well I did with the wet tyre at the start so I pitted quite early for my slicks the way the safety car was brought out which you have to expect here based on the last four years that you are getting one safety car here. It was a surprise to get two, but not to get one. We were able to make good decisions thereafter and as you saw a lot of people got caught thereafter and so I was trying to drive within myself and having made a difficult job of qualifying I didn’t want to do the same to the race.
Q: So was your basic strategy one stop, then?
DC: I ended up pitting twice and took on some fuel at both stops.
Q: But otherwise no major moments or dramas?
DC: It’s difficult to complain when you win the race. It’s never going to be easy in those conditions otherwise people wouldn’t be caught out so you’ve got to be satisfied to come here and pick up ten points. I am extremely happy of course.
Q: Juan Pablo what was it like on dry tyres during the first couple of laps?
JPM: It was pretty interesting. The car was going all over the place. Actually it was quite difficult to stay on the track. I was quite disappointed that the only time I went off the track was with ten laps to go. But that’s racing, you know, and you can’t do anything about it. But my car was really good. It was good yesterday in qualifying and it was good today in the race and I had a good balance all the way through. Probably between the end of sector one and the beginning of sector two was the worst bit underneath the trees. You know, on full wets, your feel yourself sliding from one place to the other….and, on the first lap, actually, I nearly put it in the wall.
Q: And quite a lot of pressure at the end?
JPM: From Kimi, it was quite a lot….You know, on every lap before, you know, I was able to carry my speed and I wasn’t even sideways or anything, but when I picked up the throttle, the TC (traction control) never got it.
Q: So the traction control didn’t work at all?
JPM: No. It worked, but by then it was too far over and I couldn’t do anything with it by then. I picked up the throttle maybe too early so I am blaming the car not myself and I am happy with that.
Q: There must have been a certain amount of frustration, having been so far in the lead at times?
JPM: Yeah. It’s a bit frustrating, but it’s the same for Kimi you know. He could have won the race as well. You know, when it is your race, you can try as hard as you want to make mistakes, and they won’t happen, but that’s the way racing is. One day you think you’re not very competitive. Look at DC. He came in on lap two and you know in any race you come in on lap two, you are completely out of business. Before the first Safety Car, I had a pretty good lead. If the race had stayed the same, it would have been a completely different story, but a ‘but’ doesn’t count in racing. It’s whatever happens when you cross the line.
Q: A certain amount of frustration for you as well, Kimi?
KR: Yes. It seemed to be quite difficult in those last 20 laps to stay in the first place after making a mistake, speeding in the pit lane. I didn’t get why it was speeding because I used the pit limiter much earlier than the line.
Q: But third place from 15th on the grid?
KR: Actually, I started from the pit lane. I came in before the start to change to slick tyres and enough fuel for a one-stop and then picked up the places with a little bit of overtaking…
Q: What was it like in those early laps?
KR: Not too bad actually. Some corners, it was slippery, like five and six, where there had been no sun under the trees. But the rest of the circuit was quite good.
Q: And the pressure from Michael?
KR: Yeah, a little bit. But he never got in front of me. Unfortunately, I didn’t win the race, but at least our team won and that is a good thing.
Q: First time that Michelin had scored a complete podium today. Was that due to specific circumstances of the race, or a trend?
JPM: Hopefully a trend but I don’t know.
DC: I think the circumstances obviously played into Michelin’s favor but in changing conditions that’s what you need to be able to have but I don’t think any of us are going to presume that Ferrari are suddenly not competitive. Clearly they are but on this day in history they didn’t have the right strategy and the three of us combined were quicker.
Q: David, is this a total fluke or is there a clear sign there that you can take the battle for the championship all the way through?
DC: Well today is clearly very unusual circumstances because you don’t normally see cars achieve podium from pit lane and from so far down, but I think, pace-wise we generally believe that we’re competitive with Williams but still have a little bit of a gap to Ferrari. That’s going to change when we go to different tracks. None of us know what the future’s going to hold and, as I mentioned before, we expect a lot from our new car when it comes out. You’ve been around long enough as well to be able to take a read on performance but ultimately winning a Grand Prix is about how you perform on that given weekend and no one can take the result from us today.
Q: Is it encouraging that Ferrari seemed to make a bit of a mess of things? Last year there were no flaws; is this a little Achilles heel?
DC: Yeah, you’ve got to say it is encouraging because clearly they have a quick car, but as I know from when I’ve driven cars that have been the class of the field before they’re not always the easiest ones to drive and occasionally they are dropping the ball. I don’t what exactly happened to Rubens, but clearly he went off. Again, I haven’t had the chance to have Michael’s strategy explained, but did he pit three times? Yeah. As I’ve mentioned before, under pressure they can make mistakes and the conditions were a little bit unusual today.
Q: Juan, it seemed in pre-season testing for a lot of the time you were struggling with this new car, but suddenly it seems a lot better. Was it just circumstances or did finally some breakthrough come about?
JPM: No, if you look at the lap time we did in Jerez, look at the lap time we did in Valencia, the only place we kind of struggle a little bit at the moment is Barcelona and everywhere else we have been competitive. I think it’s just the press, because day one the car wasn’t quick and everybody will tell us day one is going to break the lap record around Barcelona, everybody said the Williams sucks but it doesn’t. It’s true. It needs a lot of work the car, the car’s got a lot more potential, I think there’s a lot more things coming through aerodynamically to make the car more competitive during the race. As you saw today, our lap time yesterday wasn’t on low fuel. I think a lot of people thought we had quite low fuel and I didn’t and the pace was there so it’s quick.
Q: Juan Pablo, why didn’t you take any more tyres in your last stop. Did you not have any scrubbed Michelin’s available or was it the same problem as last year?
JPM: I didn’t press for the tyres once. I did my best lap of the race a lap before I came into the pits. The in lap was as fast as that. I didn’t have any problems with the balance of the car, why should I change the tyres. The previous time I changed tyres, my first ten laps, they were a disaster. I was up in the 29.7s and 30s and it took at least ten laps to get down into the low 29s and then into the 28s. You look at my out laps and the first few laps the car was a lot quicker than I could have done before, so I made the right call.
Q: David, we had a very exciting race today. Do you think the new rules contributed to that or it’s only due to exceptional circumstances?
DC: I think we will only be able to judge that on reflection of the season but I would have thought today was more about the changing conditions which we’ve seen in previous races, throws up some unusual results. Throw in the fact that it’s the first Grand Prix of the season as well and normally there’s been safety cars at the first corner – although obviously there wasn’t this year – but it came out later in the race.
Q: Are the characteristics of the Michelins and Bridgestones similar enough that we can expect to see Michelin perhaps to the fore in KL?
DC: I think that Michelin have made a big step forward in winter testing in graining control which is something you tend to see with these grooved tyres more than a slick tyre, so we feel quite optimistic going to Malaysia and again, only time will tell because Bridgestone have the same amount of time in winter testing to make improvements but I certainly didn’t think that this track showed the best of Michelin tyres so I have confidence that we can put in stronger performances on other tracks during the year.
Q: David and Kimi, could you describe when and where you made your different decisions about tyres before the start?
KR: I clearly did it on the warm-up lap because if we stayed on intermediates we would need to be in after ten laps and we would lose more time than if we go straight in with the slicks and one stop strategy and I think it was good. We were just unlucky in the race but that was our decision.
DC: I was on the radio on the parade lap saying that I felt that the track had dried around the back much quicker than I had expected and that we should be ready for an early pit stop and I was in two minds to pit even before the start of the race and I think ultimately that was the right decision. I think I lost time by doing a couple of laps starting on the wets. You are committed to a strategy and I wanted to see at least on the first lap how other people were performing and also I was looking at the sky to try and judge whether they were going to get some more rain, so in hindsight that was the wrong decision, but the way the safety cars worked it gave us the chance to stick some more fuel in and go longer which obviously helped us late in the race.
Q: Did you know about each other decisions?
DC: As soon as I saw Kimi passing me down the inside of the pit lane I knew he was going for a pit stop.
Q: Juan Pablo, apart from the results of the race, do you think the gap between Williams and Ferrari is smaller than last year or not?
JPM: I don’t know. Probably around the same, or maybe a bit smaller. We seem to be very competitive with McLaren again and very close. I think they’ve made big steps over the winter. It’s hard to wait and see. I think the tyres have played quite well into our hands and this is probably not the best track to show the full performance of our tyres but we will see. Time will tell.
Q: Kimi, your decision not to let Michael past, do you think you scored an important little psychological victory there?
KR: No not really, I just tried to keep him behind and he got on the brakes, he got on the outside of me but as I was on the inside of the corner, it was quite easy to keep him behind and then the corner was too tight for two cars and he ran wide.
Q: Did you enjoy that?
KR: Yeah, of course it was nice. (Laughter)
Q: Can I ask each of you to look ahead to Malaysia not that we’ve got some form on the board and some idea of what’s happening?
JPM: I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t have a clue. The last two years that we’ve been there, we’ve been really quick. This year we might be really good or we might be tenth. I don’t know. We haven’t been there. I can’t really say anything. It’s very difficult to know. The track is very smooth, Barcelona is the only place fast for us to test and we’ve been always really bad in Barcelona but we’ve been really quick in Malaysia so…
DC: I need to try to make some sense of what strategy people were on. We know for sure that we were out of position in qualifying so we should have… we had a pace quick enough to be on the second row, so from that we will try and work out if there’s going to be a trend of what people have done in the qualifying, which I don’t see being significantly different in Malaysia. Probably a bit more of the same but hopefully not with us being so far out of sequence.
KR: I think it’s quite difficult to say what’s going to happen but hopefully we will have a much better weekend than this weekend because, as David said, we had the speed all weekend but I guess we made quite a big mess in qualifying and that didn’t really help us but maybe we were a little bit lucky but also in the race we had the speed and we scored a good finish and I think that’s a good thing. But like they said, it’s going to be really difficult what’s going to happen in the next race. It’s a completely different place and also the weather will be much warmer and hopefully it will suit our tyres better.