Malaysian GP: Winners' press conference

1. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h32m22.195s 2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h33m01.481s (+ 39.286s) 3. Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), 1h33m26.202s (+ 64.007s) Q: Kimi, Ron Dennis calls you the iceman, the floor's yours, how hot was it? What was that...


1. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h32m22.195s
2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h33m01.481s (+ 39.286s)
3. Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), 1h33m26.202s (+ 64.007s)

Q: Kimi, Ron Dennis calls you the iceman, the floor's yours, how hot was it? What was that race like, what are your emotions?

Kimi Raikkonen: It's difficult to say right now really. I think it will be tomorrow when I really notice that I won my first race. The race was quite hot, but actually I didn't need to push so hard in the last 20 laps. I was just driving around and coming home.

Q: You started from seventh on the grid, what are your thoughts about not being on the front row and winning a Grand Prix from that position?

KR: I think that now they have changed the qualifying system you never know what other teams are doing and you have a chance. Of course at the start there was a little bit of ...I don't know what happened, but some people last a bit of time. It was a good race for us.

Q: When you were chasing Fernando in that first stint, were you trying to picture, with the team, what sort of strategy he was on?

KR: No, I just pushed as hard as I could. I was catching him all the time a little bit but then there was slower cars and it was not so easy to catch him and luckily we ran much longer the first stint and we came in first.

Q: Was it a trouble free race after that?

KR: Yeah, pretty much. The tyres worked very well, Michelin brought really good tyres for this and also for the first race and the team - the guys made a good job on the pit stop and the engine, everything, the whole package was great. We put in so much effort over the winter and it's paying off now and it's good for all of us.

Q: Rubens, what did you see of the first corner accident?

Rubens Barrichello: (This is repeated later, first part inaudible). ... and all of a sudden I saw his car coming towards mine so I had to take avoiding action. I didn't know if there was anyone by my side so I had to move to the offside and come back to the inside. I was a bit unlucky that there were so many bits on the track. But in spite of that my tyres were still OK. But we lost a lot of time so it was kind of catching up the whole time.

Q: Did you ever feel you could match Kimi's race pace when you had a clear road?

RB: Well, he opened up a big gap while I was chasing the others but when there was nobody ahead; I think he was a little bit faster. The story would have been different if we were ahead, but behind was a different situation.

Q: Fernando, you made good use of your pole. Talk us through that early phase of the race.

Fernando Alonso: Yeah, everything was OK. Our strategy worked pretty much as we expected. We had enough fuel to do a normal two stop strategy, and you know, in the first stint, it was a really good feeling to be in front of the race. But then I was fighting with Rubens in the second stint, and in the third one, I had a little problem with the car, with the gear change, so I changed manually in the last laps and I was very lucky to finish the race. I have to say thank you to the team because this weekend was fantastic for me.

Q: We hear that your fever came back again on race morning.

FA: Yes, yes. At the start of the race, my temperature was 38.5 more or less and now it's quite high. I feel quite sick at the moment.

Q: Kimi, is this the beginning of a McLaren-Mercedes reign in Formula One?

KR: Hopefully. We don't know but so far it's looking really good. We're leading both championships and we will do our best. There are still 15/14 races to go. It's a long way but we are in quite good shape now because we are still using the old car of course, like Ferrari, but hopefully, when we get our new car we will be even quicker.

Q: Kimi, how did it feel on the podium, hearing the Finnish national anthem, leading the championship, what were your feelings?

KR: Very good but I think there is still a bit to go to notice that I've done it. I think tomorrow will be a different story but, no, biggest thanks to the team, to the Mercedes people, to the team people, the engineers, everyone. Michelin have been putting in lots of effort also and everything that we did during the winter has now paid off and it's looking very good so far but of course, there are still many races to go but nonetheless, this is a good show for us.

Q: What did you see of the chaos at the first corner?

KR: Two cars hit one another in corner two and then one of them spun off. First, I was deciding to go outside and then I noticed that a car was going backwards to the outside of the circuit and I just turned the car at the last minute to go on the inside. It was a good decision because I was a bit slow but I didn't lose any places.

Q: You had Nick Heidfeld ahead of you; how easy was he to pass?

KR: Not too difficult actually. We had very good straight-line speed and the traction and braking has been good all weekend and it was quite easy to pass him.

Q: Did you think you could win from seventh on the grid?

KR: I think so, now, that it's very difficult to say, after qualifying, what teams are doing. You've noticed that Michelin has been very strong the whole weekend. Of course, I wasn't expecting a win but nevertheless it was very nice to win it. My qualifying wasn't so good and that's why we were further away from the first place than we should have been. On the warm-up lap, the car felt good and I was quite confident but of course, I wasn't expecting to win, but it was very good.

Q: Otherwise, was everything pretty much perfect?

KR: Yeah, the car was running really nicely and on the last twenty laps I was driving pretty easily, just bringing the car home and didn't have any difficulties. The handling was just perfect. I lost a little bit of time lapping people but it's the same for everyone. Otherwise everything worked well.

Q: Rubens, early on, you had a bit of a battle with Heidfeld as well. How difficult was that?

RB: We had quite good straight line speed as well. The set-up of the car was fantastic. It was just that we fell back during the first lap so I had to catch up. When you follow another car, you lose quite a bit of time. But I had a trouble free race. I could overtake them with no problem. When I was running by myself I could almost do the same times but I could see that Kimi was pulling away a little bit but I was still trying. The strategy was good; it was just unfortunate that on the first lap we were not in a good position because I think our strategy was fantastic.

Q: So how did it work out that you found yourself in that position after the first/second corner incident?

RB: I was running with no trouble. I saw that Coulthard had a good start, was running quite well. I don't know if he had a run on Trulli or what. But I was running almost alongside Michael and all of a sudden, when I started turning into the corner, there was a car spinning and he was coming closer to myself, so I had to take avoiding action. Then I saw Trulli going really wide. I had to brake to come back in and by that time, a lot of cars had gone by. I was lucky that I didn't touch anyone but there were a lot of flying bits from other cars. I saw Montoya was running with no rear wing. So it was pretty tough on the first lap.

Q: How exhausting did you find the race?

RB: I feel quite prepared. It's something that I've been training for quite a lot although I had my back pain problem and I had to rest for 20 days before Melbourne, I feel that I'm up to it. I was pushing the whole time. After the second pit stop, when I was in front of Alonso, I developed a small misfire and it was three or four laps talking to the team and they came back to me saying that if I could push and get close to Kimi it would be good. Otherwise just hold the position.

Q: Now you were allowed not to use the HANS device by the FIA; on what grounds?

RB: In fact I must thank the stewards very much for not having to use it. I developed a little problem on the nerve on my back and Sid Watkins approved me, he checked me and approved that. Because I cannot get tight enough inside the car, my bottom is moving inside of the car because of the HANS and I have a little hernia which is quite painful so they allowed me not to... Because it wasn't something that I hadn't tried from the start, I've been trying very hard since Friday and Saturday and because it was painful, they allowed me to run without it. Next week, hopefully, we're going to have these two seat belts which is probably going to give me the fitting that I need in the seat. It will probably solve my problem, hopefully.

Q: What do you mean, two seat belts?

RB: It's the same system that David has on the car. He has one that, as far as I know, pulls you in, very tight to the car. And one on the top of the HANS that allows you to run both.

Q: Fernando, obviously very pleased to be on the podium, but you were on pole position: a little bit disappointed?

FA: No, no (laughter). I'm really happy to be on the podium. We proved that qualifying was very good strategy for us. We were not too light on fuel because we did the stops more or less when the others did the stops. So we proved that we were competitive again, we proved our reliability which is quite good at the moment. The team did a fantastic job all weekend and for me, it's the best weekend in my life probably.

Q: What was the problem with the car at the end?

FA: Yeah, it was something in the gearbox probably, because I had to change all the shifts manually. I was very lucky at that point to finish the race and now I feel very good, because I had my fingers crossed for the last ten laps.

Q: Did you still have all the gears; there was a rumour that you didn't have fifth?

FA: No, no, I had all the gears, no problem whatever, but I changed at very low revs to keep running and save third place.

Q: Was that the only problem during the race?

FA: Yes, yes, that was the only problem. At the beginning the car was very good, second stint it wasn't that good, a little problem with understeer with the second set of tyres. I fought a little bit with Rubens, and then on the third stint I had that particular problem but the race was perfect, apart from the first corner when I was little bit unhappy when I saw the accident, because Jarno was so very competitive all weekend and I was a little bit down for the team, but for me, personally, it was a fantastic race.

It was an amazing feeling for me to be leading 14 laps, keeping the gap to Kimi more or less constant. It was really a good fight and a very special feeling.

Q: Kimi, congratulations. Do you believe in your heart that you will be world champion this season?

KR: (laughter) I really don't know. This is a long season still, and so far everything has been correct for us and hopefully it's going to be the same thing for the rest of the season. We're in quite a good position because we will have our new car hopefully when we start the European season and we can improve our speed even more

Q: Fernando, how much did you notice your fever during the race itself or were you concentrating so hard that you didn't notice it?

FA: I notice! Unfortunately, the last part of the race, the last 20 or 25 laps, I felt quite bad and quite sick but you keep concentrated and you are pushing like crazy. I did 46 laps of qualifying. In the beginning, I fight with Kimi to keep a constant gap, the second stint with Rubens to give a little advantage for the second place, and then the third stint I was fighting with car a little bit, with the gearbox, so, you know, even if I felt a little bit ... I kept on pushing.

Q: Fernando, after qualifying there was lot of speculation about not only the difference between your car and the others but also between yours and Jarno's. Because Jarno was out on the first lap we don't know what the strategy was. Can you tell us what you were planning to do and what the difference was between the fuel weight of your car and Jarno's?

FA: I don't know (laughter! I think there was two or three laps' difference, that's normal, because both drivers cannot stop on the same lap. But we proved we had enough fuel to do our normal strategy of two stops and all the people that talked yesterday that we were very light on fuel and we would come in lap six or seven we of course proved wrong. We were competitive and I think Brazil will be very goods for us and for our car.

Q: Kimi, first congratulations. It took Mika 96 tries, you 36. Are you proud of breaking his record?

KR: Of course it's nice to get it earlier in an earlier race, still I feel that I have been a little bit unlucky not win last you or win the last race. Nevertheless, this came now and I'm very happy. I haven't been counting how many races I have done or how much everyone else has done before they have won their first race. I just have been trying to do my best and trying to win the race. Now it's come and, for sure, it should be much easier now because people are not asking me all the time 'when are you going to win your first race. It's easier now.

Q: A little question to Rubens. Rubens, next race, obviously at home. From what you've seen so far, what can you do there?

RB: We knew that Michelin would be quite competitive here. We felt we had a good package. The car was running quite nicely. I have no complaints. I think the team did a superb job with the strategy. The Bridgestone tyre was running fantastically well. It could have been different if it was not for the first lap, but there was now way, so I'm quite happy with the situation. Brazil is going to be quite a hot race as well, but I'm feeling quite optimistic for my home race.

Q: Fernando, when did you become aware of the fact that you were the youngest ever pole position winner?

FA: For me, it doesn't matter if you're the youngest or not. I'm pretty happy to be the youngest man because I started in go-karts so early. I raced in Formula Nissan at 17, in Formula 3000 at 18 and Minardi at 18, so I was always the youngest driver in all of the categories. To be the youngest also to have the pole position is a good thing, and I hope to be youngest driver to win a race. I don't know how much time I've got. It's not possible? Maybe the youngest man to win the world championship (laughter).

Q: Kimi, I believe you started using the twin-belt system from this race. Is that correct?

KR: Yes

Q: Is it more effective?

KR: Yes. The first race I did with the normal HANS system and I didn't have any problems but because it was available I tried it once in a test and the belts weren't the right length there were some problems anyhow and I wasn't able to use it in the first race but now we've got a new set of belts and it wad good for me and I decided to use it because even though I had some problems before I think always that it was better like this.

Q: Rubens, were you surprised when you had your own race under the same conditions as McLaren and you saw that he was a little faster than you in a Ferrari car?

RB: Yes, you're always surprised because we showed such domination last year we feel that we could always win a race but it was the same story last year. I was winning the race from Ralf and I couldn't really be quicker than they were here in Malaysia. So I guess they do a good job here but as I said with the package and the circumstances of the first lap I'm quite happy. I think we've done a good job.

Q: First of all, Fernando, you could still become the youngest winner because Bruce McLaren was 22 when he won. But this question is to Kimi. How will you celebrate tonight?

KR: (smiles) Actually, I'm flying back to home to Switzerland this evening and I don't think there's much partying today, but we'll see.

Q: This is for Rubens Barrichello. Are you happy that there are no more team orders, Rubens?

RB: I was hoping for that question (laughter)! I'm just happy that we have the three youngest guys here on the podium (more laughter). I feel very happy about it.

Q: Kimi, congratulations. Did you fully trust you pit lane speed limiter during the pit stops (laughter)?

KR: Yes. We had a problem with the software in the first race and I was maybe a little bit slower into the limit zone than in the first race but we fixed the problems in testing and it was fine all weekend and I didn't worry about it too much. I had a feeling; hopefully, it was going to work now because I was in the situation in the last race. No, the team worked very well.

Q: Kimi, you do well today so perhaps you have some good advice for the Finnish soccer team who are going to play Italy in the World Cup qualifying match?

KR: (laughter) Hopefully, we will win against Italy but it's difficult. Italy is still one of the best countries in football. I guess the guys will fight and we will see (laughter).

Q: Well done, Kimi. What about the heat today? Have you lost much fluid in the car? Did you find the heat a problem out there?

KR: Of course, it's a little bit hotter than usual, but it wasn't too bad, actually. I was expecting it to be more difficult. Maybe it was because I did not have to push so hard for the last 20 laps. I was just driving along and I it was just like any other race.

Q: This is for Raikkonen. A hypothetical situation. If you had to choose between two drivers to be your partner, who would you choose: that's between Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve (much laughter)?

KR: I really don't know where you're aiming with that question, but David is a great team-mate and he was unlucky today not to finish the race and this is completely fine now what we have.

Q: Rubens. What is your opinion about Fernando (laughter)?

RB: The bastard beat me to the youngest, so ... I'm very happy. I think both are future world champions. I just hope I can win the world championship before them!

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Bruce McLaren
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Minardi