French Grand Prix FIA winners' press conference transcript with 1. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1h30m54.200s 2. Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1h30m56.614s 3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), 1h31m26.353s Q: Kimi, taking second place at the start was...
French Grand Prix FIA winners' press conference transcript with
Q: Kimi, taking second place at the start was obviously key to your strategy.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, finally the start worked for me and helped a lot. I think the car was good all the time, but not exactly perfect but I was very happy with the car. I just tried to push and keep up with Felipe. I knew that he was going to stop a bit later, so just before the first stop I had quite a bit of traffic but then at the second stop I managed to get in front of him. It was a good day for me and the team.
Q: You had a very good run when Felipe came in for his second stop, very quick on the circuit at that point.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, we needed to be. I was a bit further away from him than I really wanted to be. But that's racing. I couldn't really stay close enough but it worked out perfectly at the end, so I couldn't ask for more. Of course, you would rather start from the front, it makes your life easier, but we knew that we should be OK in the race. It all really depends what happened at the start and we had a pretty good start this time.
Q: Your first win since Melbourne at the start of the season. Talk us through the last couple of months and what this win means to you now
Kimi Raikkonen: It's nice. I think we had a bit of a hard time but I kind of expected to have a bit of a difficult time so OK, people always think that you've lost it when you don't have a good result but we just worked hard and try to get it right and I think we can still improve and we're still not where we want to be. But we are definitely much happier with the car since the last test. In the last races we just couldn't get it together. I think it seems to have good speed now so we must keep it up in the next races.
Q: Felipe, it was obviously very close. It looked like you didn't get the best of the traffic when it mattered most to you today.
Felipe Massa: Yeah, for sure I lost the race today because of the traffic, definitely, because in the first stint I was supposed to be more than four seconds in front of Kimi, and it worked perfectly because the track was free, and I was 4.8s ahead or something. And then I came out in front of him again and then he had three laps more than me in the second stint which is supposed to be the same, you're supposed to have more than four seconds in front. But I was so disappointed with the traffic in the second stint. I lost too much time. Even when you are not very close to the car in front, you lose so much downforce that you cannot follow the car and you just lose speed and that was the biggest problem I had today. Unfortunately, I lost the victory because of that, because the car was great during the whole runs. Whenever I was alone I was doing very very quick laps, so it was a shame. But anyway, it's very good for the team. I'm very happy to do the first one-two in the championship and also looking at McLaren, that they are still quite a bit in front, it is good to have a weekend like that.
Q: Taking you up on that point about the traffic, do you mean specific aspects of other drivers' behaviour, or do you mean in general, just the loss of downforce?
Felipe Massa: Well, the people I had were maybe three or four cars in front of me and they were fighting but I was the leader and sometimes you make the strategy not counting the traffic and the traffic can change everything on your strategy. So the first stint worked perfectly, but the second stint didn't work. As long as I passed the traffic, I was opening a normal gap compared to Kimi that I was supposed to open. In the first stint it worked, in the second stint it was supposed to work but it didn't work.
Q: Lewis, another first for you today: you actually got passed in a race -- off the line, that is. It looks as if you have about the same amount of fuel as Fernando but switching strategy, three stops today.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, I didn't get off to the best start, I don't really know what happened, but all I saw was Kimi come flying past, so he obviously got a good start. I just had to try and stay as close as possible and I think I had good pace at the beginning so I was slightly quicker than Kimi and I thought I had to try my hardest to get past but like Felipe says, you get to a certain distance and you just lose downforce and unless you're much much quicker, seconds quicker, you won't get past. So I stuck in there for as long as I could and then we opted for a three stop strategy which I think still worked out quite well. It was obviously quite close with Robert Kubica on the exit of -- I think -- my last pit stop. I don't know if he was fourth or not, but I heard I was racing him, so I had to make sure I got past him. But overall I'm happy again for the team. I think we still got good points, I've got good points for the championship which is key, and obviously we need to keep on pushing. The Ferraris were very quick this weekend but I still think we can take it to them in the next race.
Lewis Hamilton: I still think that we will be extremely competitive there. I know that the team is working very very hard back at the factory to keep on improving. I know when we go to the next race we will be even quicker. I'm feeling fairly confident. As long as we continue with the reliability that we have, the consistency, then I don't see why we won't be able to fight for the win. I'm looking forward to Silverstone as it's my home race. It will be an extra buzz for me, and I think it will be a good weekend.
Q: Kimi, your feelings going to Silverstone?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think we had a very good test there so hopefully we get the parts that we tried there for the race. We were not able to get all of them here so that should help us. Our car seems to work well there. Testing is always testing but I think we are pretty confident that we're going to have good speed there also. You never know; the weather there can be very tricky but we go there this weekend and we try to do the best and hopefully can try to win.
Q: Kimi, how much of a relief is this victory, because obviously you haven't had a win since the first race of the year, and you've had one or two problems within the team, so is this a bit of a relief to have won here?
Kimi Raikkonen: It helps always, definitely, but I think we knew what our problems were. We try to improve them all the time and I think the work is starting to pay off now. It maybe took longer than we expected but I think in the end that it's good that we got the win and we're kind of back in the right place now. We just need to keep it up and improve.
Q: And you must be really pleased the way the strategy worked as well.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think we expected it to be good, so it wasn't such a big surprise but it helped that we got a good start and we were in second place. Without that, I think it would have been very difficult.
Q: Drivers always practise their starts, but have you been specifically working on it? I seem to remember you did a fair number of starts at Silverstone in the test.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, we did but actually it's nothing to do with me, really. We just improved our start system and I think it worked this time. The last few times it hasn't worked perfectly anyhow, so it's up to the system really, more than anything else.
Q: How hard was Lewis pushing you during those early stages?
Kimi Raikkonen: I didn't even look where he was, really. I knew that we were going to go longer than them so it wasn't anything... even if he was close but he wasn't ever close enough to even try so I just tried to get everything working and try to keep up with Felipe.
Q: Felipe, you appeared to lose time to Kimi during the second stint. You mentioned traffic just now; was there anything specific or was it just general traffic?
Felipe Massa: Well, I think when you stay more than three laps behind a car it's not normal. Sometimes, if you say OK, I was not completely on the rear wing of the car, but enough for the car to see me in the mirrors. With the cars we have now, sometimes when you start to get close, you are starting to lose downforce so you cannot get close enough to pass the car. But we are leading and they are being lapped so they need to let us by. In the first stint the strategy worked perfectly. I was building the gap I was supposed to, to be in the front, and the second stint was supposed to be the same because the car was fantastic. As long as I passed the people, I was very quick again, so it was a shame but in a way it was a good result for the team and also a good result looking at the McLarens.
Q: How was the car on the softer tyres?
Felipe Massa: The car was great on whatever tyres I was using. The only problem was that I was already behind Kimi on the softer tyres and when he came out of the pits, I was having slight graining. And then it was just impossible to get closer so... The rules mean that people at the back stay at the back. The only chance to pass is something in the strategy or maybe at the start.
Q: Lewis, on the podium again, but that margin of 29 seconds to the Ferraris must be worrying?
Lewis Hamilton: I don't think it is worrying. I just think it shows they have made a good step forward and they obviously had a very good strategy which worked slightly better than ours today. At the end, when I came out of my third pit stop I knew that I was 20 seconds already behind so there was no point in wrenching the neck out of the engine. I should have just relaxed and kept that position. I think we need to make another improvement, which I am sure we will make, before Silverstone.
Q: With that strategy, were you thinking of different weather conditions generally?
Lewis Hamilton: Well, I don't know what the strategists were thinking. I don't know if they were thinking it would rain. But we planned to go in with a three-stop strategy.
Q: Your start, were you happy with that?
Lewis Hamilton: No, my start was quite poor and to be honest I don't know really what happened. I need to look over the data. It just didn't seem to go very well and didn't make a good getaway and obviously lost a position to Kimi who had an exceptional start. Still, we weren't quick enough off the grid which meant that going through Turn Three I lost a lot of downforce behind Kimi and then I lost a bit of pace to him, so I wasn't able to slipstream him down the straight. However, at the beginning I think we had very good pace and even throughout the race we were quite consistent, but I think we just needed a little bit more.
Q: What are your feelings going to Silverstone as the World Championship leader?
Lewis Hamilton: It's a great feeling and to be honest today I am not disappointed. I don't like being overtaken, but that's the same for everyone and this is the first race that I've been overtaken. And it was inevitable at some point, but the fact is that we have finished on the podium again and we are the most consistent team and I think we are doing a better job. And, so, I am extending my lead in the championship, so I couldn't be happier.
Q: Kimi, did anything come to your mind in the last laps about what happened in Adelaide corner five years ago?
Kimi Raikkonen: For sure, I remember that, but I wasn't expecting to have the same problem. It was an unfortunate thing that time, but I made sure that nothing like that would happen.
Q: Felipe, ok for the traffic, but was your second pit stop a little bit slower than it should be?
Felipe Massa: I don't know. We need to check the numbers. Maybe. I didn't check on it. I felt it was a bit, but maybe you saw the numbers. If it was slower, it was, so...
Q: Kimi and Felipe, is this the beginning of the expected Ferrari revival?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think so. We didn't expect to have the problems that we had in the last few races, so I think we are back where we expected to be. It wasn't that we lost something. Maybe we just didn't get everything out of the car. Everything works well and we try to keep it up and improve.
Q: Kimi, how tough was it to stay within striking distance of Felipe? Some drivers this year have said it is tough when behind another car to prevent tyres from graining... Did you have that problem?
Kimi Raikkonen: No, I didn't have a graining problem, but it hurts you when you are behind someone. You think they are quite far away, but it still hurts. Once I was in the pit lane, my car improved suddenly, so it was something to do with when you follow people very closely. It is never easy. You try to hang on there and stay close enough. For sure, the traffic did not help anybody today. But it is part of the racing and sometimes you are lucky with it and sometimes you are unlucky.
Q: Lewis, was it a big disadvantage to lose so much time on Friday, seeing how far you were behind Ferrari?
Lewis Hamilton: No, I don't think it had anything to do with it. We just had one of the sensors saying that we were running too cool, that we needed to come in, and the engine just shut off in case, just safety precautions. It made no difference to the race weekend.
Q: Felipe, do you see this race as two points gained on Hamilton or two points lost in the end?
Lewis Hamilton: No, for sure these are two points gained on Hamilton so it was a positive race and also gained compared to Fernando which now means the difference is reduced a lot. I think it was a good result today.
Felipe Massa: I think we improved it well everywhere, so it works every corner and it is just better everywhere.
Q: The question is for Hamilton, you arrived 32 seconds behind the Ferrari car and last week at Silverstone in the test, they were very quick. Do you think it is possible to bounce back for first position?
Lewis Hamilton: Yes, as I said earlier, I think you can't win every race and the most important thing is that you are consistent which I think we are. And I think here as you heard both of these drivers said they made a good improvement, a good step forward at Silverstone, and even we made a step forward, but this weekend when you are behind people it is a lot harder to show true pace. I don't think they were as quick as they looked today, not that much faster; I don't know what times they were doing, but there was obviously a big gap and traffic and strategy had a lot to do with that. I am sure we can bounce back at the next race, without a doubt.
Q: Kimi, how far from perfect was the Ferrari car today, for you?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think the car was good, but it is never perfect. There are always places where you can improve and you can always push forward, so even the car sometimes it is very good and you can still improve some areas. We can still improve and get the car quicker.
Q: Lewis, is it fair to say that any kind of lead, let alone one of 14 points, going into your home Grand Prix would have been unimaginable?
Lewis Hamilton: Absolutely. I think and I keep saying that I didn't even expect to finish on the podium in my first race let alone eight races in the season so I am very happy with the job that I have done and the job that the team have done and I think that going into my first Silverstone Grand Prix in the team that I have always wanted to drive for and leading the world championship is one of the greatest feelings that a driver can have.
Q: Felipe, which was the car that you were trying to lap for three laps?
Felipe Massa: Many cars... It was the two Red Bulls, one Toyota, which was more difficult, and also a Williams as well. It was a big fight from them.
Q: Kimi, how well do you feel in your car now?
Kimi Raikkonen: Like I said, it is not only the car, but a lot of areas like in qualifying and in the race and there is no point to talk about it here. As long as we know what we want and expect to do, that is the main thing. We are working all the time to improve those areas and if we can do that it will help me a lot also.