Hungarian GP - Sunday - Press Conference

Podium, Hungarian GP 2007

Podium, Hungarian GP 2007 

 © The Cahier Archive

5 AUGUST 2007

1. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren Mercedes), 1h35m52.991s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (Ferrari), 1h35m53.706s
3. Nick HEIDFELD (BMW Sauber), 1h36m36.120s

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Lewis, you led every lap from the pole - an amazing day for you with Kimi Raikkonen right behind you giving you pressure all the way.

Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, it's been an eventful weekend and quite emotional for all the team, I think. We made a really good step forward, the team has been working so hard to improve the car and we came here with a great package. We still weren't sure whether we would be ahead of the Ferraris but as you could see in the race, they obviously had great pace. Quite early on in the race - in the second stint - I had a problem with my steering, don't really know what that it was but it made it quite difficult to keep the pace. As you could see, I dropped off a little bit and I was a bit nervous that something was going to break, but thank God it didn't. But I was told by the radio that everything was fine, so I just had to keep on pushing. Kimi was on my tail for quite a long time and so pushing right to the last lap. He drove a fantastic race, really enjoyed it, but it's good that we're back at the top after an eventful race at the last race so it's good.

Q: Can you be a bit more specific about the steering problem, and then talk a little bit about the difference between the two tyres - obviously you had the softer tyre in the last stint. Kimi was very very near you there, a question of the graining perhaps and the tyre cycle.

Hamilton: To be honest, I don't know what was wrong with the steering. It was just steering a bit to the right, so we have to investigate that. With the tyres, the first stint was very good, we had great pace, very consistent and I was able to keep pushing and pushing and improving my time, and then we went to the... after the first pit stop, again, the same tyres, but I struggled at the beginning. I had great rear end traction, but it was pushing into understeer, plus I got a lot of traffic, so Kimi was able to close the gap, and I think he was a bit lighter than me as well, five or six laps, which I knew, so I had to manage my tyres, knowing that in the five extra laps I had, I really had to pull out the gap which I did, I think, and he came out quite a bit further behind than he was. But then the option tyre, the super soft tyre - I was very very impressed (with it), because during the weekend we thought the graining would be too bad, so bad that we would slow right up. I think Kimi was slightly faster there, and with the problem it was tricky, but I just kept pushing, never give up and just kept pushing right to the last lap.

Q: Difficult to remember that you're still a rookie in your first season, with all that pressure, throughout the race, with Kimi behind you. Just talk us through the mental approach you had from the start right through to the end.

Hamilton: Well, you can imagine, all the drama that's gone on over the weekend, it would have been easy to lose focus. It's been a bit of a downer on the team, but the great thing is that the team remains positive and the energy in the team still remains. And it just proves that there's nothing that can stop us. So with that in mind, I'm able to get in the car and do my job and obviously I know how to win races. I've experienced having Kimi up my tail a couple of times this year, especially in Malaysia, so with that experience, today was a slightly easier but still nevertheless it was a hard race.

Q: Kimi, I guess you know every square centimetre of the back of that McLaren now; you spent the whole race behind him. There were moments that you were right there and looked to be slightly quicker on the road.

Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, I think we knew that we were going to be quick at the beginning of the race. I expected them to drop out a little bit more but they didn't really suffer as much as I was hoping, but I would close up and just stay there. The problem here is, especially when two cars are very close, is the other guy in front really has to make a big mistake to give you any chance to get past, so it was a kind of a boring race just driving behind and waiting for something to happen and try to push as hard (as possible) to make him make a mistake but nothing happened so we really finished where we started.

Q: How difficult was it following in his wake and his turbulence in terms of tyre and aerodynamic performance?

Raikkonen: For sure, it makes it a bit trickier, especially in one of the fast corners, maybe not as bad as some other circuits. I think the downforce and the grip here seems to help a bit but for sure, I had a very good car today. If I could have been in the free air, we could have had very good pace but we couldn't really use it, so...

Q: As you've said, an encouraging day in some ways, given that Ferrari were concerned about these high downforce circuits and particularly this track, and you were right there.

Raikkonen: Yeah, but that shows that in qualifying we could not really use our car as we want, we are not quick enough in qualifying in this sort of circuit but in race pace I think we were on the pace. For sure, when we go back to normal circuits like Turkey, our car should be pretty good there, so we try to do the best we can there, get some points back. It's going to be hard but there are many races to go. One bad race and things can change quickly. We've seen that this year already.

Q: Nick, your second successive third place here at the Hungaroring and a three stop strategy, an interesting race, and a very strong race for you.

Nick HEIDFELD: Actually it was quite clear early in the weekend that we would go for a three stop, knowing that the option tyres could be difficult for a longer stint. On top of that, we wanted to start pretty much in the front, for the race, so we qualified a bit lighter in Q3 but as we've seen, it worked out.

Q: And how was the option tyre, as it turned out?

Heidfeld: It was quite good. Actually I would say we expected that, that's why we made the last stint relatively short, it was not such a high fuel load, which helps the tyres. On top of that, the circuit was rubbered in quite well at the end and I also tried not to push them too hard in the first couple of laps, to make sure I didn't get bad graining, especially with Fernando behind. The corner that affected them most was always the last corner and that was the most important for me, to be quick there and keep him behind.

Q: What was the pressure like from your point of view, where did you feel he was quicker?

Heidfeld: I think he was a bit quicker everywhere, at one point. Probably seven laps to the end, I thought he backed off a bit but I know that with Fernando you can never be sure. Actually at this point I tried to pick up the pace again a bit, because there was a backmarker in front of us that was pretty quick and I didn't want to get close into his dirty air with Fernando behind me, and then in the last one, I tried to push very hard again, but as we know, it's not so easy to overtake in Hungary.

Q: Lewis, a certain irony in the weekend. By your own admission you did change things a little bit yesterday in Q3 in terms of the team strategy and you ended up on the pole and you've won the Grand Prix. You didn't get the fastest lap, an ironic day in some respects.

Hamilton: Yeah, I don't know really what to say about that but all I know was I think today, with some of the problems I had, it probably made it one of the hardest races I've ever had to do, so it's even more satisfying that I had to push that bit extra to keep Kimi behind. But just to get the points - it's so important for me and I think for the moral of the team to show that we have the pace and that we can beat everyone.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Lewis, I guess this race was epitomised by the fact that you had a bigger lead at the end of the first lap than you did on the last lap. A fantastic start, too.

Hamilton: Yeah, that was a great race. We had great pace, which I was quite confident we would. In that first stint, we were able to pull out a gap and control the pace, look after the tyres and look after the fuel etc. I had an idea that we might be slightly longer than Kimi and in actual fact we were so considering that we were heavier, it was good pace. So I looked after the tyres. The consistency was very good. Going into the second stint, I had a problem, I started locking up and I had some sort of problem with my steering so my steering was to the right and so it made it extremely tricky to drive. The front end was just a lot different to what it was in the first stint. So that enabled Kimi to catch up. I thought it was best to stay off the kerbs, because I didn't know... it was a similar sort of feeling to Nurburgring, so be careful. But the team came on the radio and said that it wasn't really a problem, the car will be fine, so then I was able to continue to push, but still, it affected me and Kimi had great pace at the end.

Q: Of course with the steering wheel on modern Formula One cars, it's not as though you just move your hands further round is it?

Hamilton: No, exactly, so you can imagine driving the whole race like that. It makes quite a big difference when you're turning left and obviously having to put in more effort to turn right.

Q: And also a longer stint than Kimi.

Hamilton: Yes, we had a good fuel strategy in the first stint which enabled us to... plus we had very good pace... enabled us to go longer, so we knew that in the second stint... and we could see Kimi was very very fast, but he was quite a bit lighter than us, so I had to manage my tyres in the best way possible, knowing that when he pitted, I needed to maximise the gap which I think I did. That was really not the turning point but solidified the race, but then he was catching me at the end, so it was tricky all the way to the last lap.

Q: How much pressure in that last stint?

Hamilton: At the beginning, when I had traffic, he was getting closer and closer. What was important was to get good exits and try and maintain the gap as much as I could without damaging the tyres, because we knew that with the super soft tyre, it would be a problem, but fortunately it wasn't. Once I got a clean gap, I was able just to manage it and not push the engine too hard and keep the gap. I think it was something like one or two seconds, so I just maintained that, instead of pushing extra and coming off. I just kept it the same.

Q: Kimi, good start, you picked up a place there.

Raikkonen: Yeah, we were expecting to have a good start. It's been working pretty well in the last few races, so it was good to get behind Lewis but it wasn't enough, unfortunately. The problem really was that we came in on the same lap on the first pit stop and it's really guessing, guessing what the other team will do and we didn't get it right. We had enough speed with the same fuel load if we had been behind them, to stay there, even with more so. Unfortunately we got it wrong and we couldn't do anything after that, really.

Q: You seemed to be less competitive in that first stint than the other two.

Raikkonen: Yeah, I think our car is maybe not exactly suited to this circuit, so once the circuit picked up some more grip I think we were expecting to have a better car and it went that way. So we definitely we had plenty of speed but we couldn't use it.

Q: Lap 13, you lost 1.5s, do you remember what happened?

Raikkonen: Yeah, I remember. I ran wide in two corners, in the last sector, so I lost some time.

Q: But otherwise pleased with second?

Raikkonen: It's better than where we started but for sure what I needed to do was score more points than the three guys ahead of me and I couldn't, I could only score more points than two guys and not more than Lewis, so in that way it didn't help me, it only hurt me more. But we did everything we could. Hopefully it should be better at the next races when we get to more normal circuits.

Q: Nick, how hard was Fernando pushing in those last stages?

Heidfeld: Well, he was pushing quite hard. Obviously he had better pace than I had, but we all know that it's difficult to overtake here in Hungary. When I came out of my last stop, he was a few seconds behind, so I decided to take it easy on option tyres, not to kill them, in order to keep them alive and keep Fernando behind. He pushed pretty hard for a couple of laps, then backed off and then tried again for the last one or two laps but I managed to stay head.

Q: So pretty pleased with third place.

Heidfeld: Yeah, definitely. It was the maximum we could have today. Of course I would have liked to stay in front of Kimi at the start but we were on the dirty side and there would have been no chance to keep him behind anyway.

Q: Interesting, the way you lined up on the grid...

Heidfeld: Yeah, actually I missed my position a little bit. I tried to spin the tyres quite late and so I missed my position slightly.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, when did you hear that you were starting third and what was your reaction?

Raikkonen: I heard it last night, maybe it was 12 o' clock or something, just before I went to sleep.

Q: (Sal Zanca - Associated Press) Same question, Lewis when did you hear about it, and what did you think of your chances for victory while sitting for 30 seconds yesterday?

Hamilton: I found out again, same as Kimi, quite late last night. In the pit stop, I think it's always important to remain positive here, you've got to stay controlled mentally and so at that point, I just thought OK, time is running out, I'm still fastest at the moment. If I'm on P2, I will push as hard as I can, I've got a good strategy. If you notice I was heavier than Fernando, so being faster and heavier was a bonus and so I was not worried about the race.

Q: (Tony Dodgins - Autosport) Obviously the seeds of the win were sewn yesterday. I wonder if you can clear a couple of things up. First of all, the team said that this was one of the tracks where it wasn't possible to do the same number of burn-off laps but then when you do the maths it seems as if it is. And secondly, the reason why you didn't respect the agreement for Fernando to get out (of the pits) first. I think you said Kimi was close and I think you said you didn't agree with it. Could you just elaborate a little bit please?

Hamilton: Firstly, I finished my Q2 time first, so I came into the pits. They cooled down my car quickest, so I was at the end of the pit lane first, which is always the aim for me. It's what I like to do, I like to be out first. When I was at the end of the pit lane, they reminded me 'Lewis, let Fernando past' and I saw that Fernando was sort of staggered to the right of me and Kimi was very very close behind that. So I immediately thought, OK, we can let Fernando past as long as we don't let Kimi past because that puts me out of sync and could ruin my qualifying run. So I had to take a split (second) decision. I got round the first corner, I thought 'OK, if Fernando keeps with me, we will both make it, we'll both have the pace.' So I pushed, I don't know why he didn't, but he dropped off quite a bit. I was told to let Fernando past later on but he was miles behind so I just kept going.

Q: (Tony Dodgins - Autosport) And the fuel burn?

Hamilton: I think it's only at certain tracks you are able to do it, so they say, and here is one where you definitely can do it and I think if he had stayed right with me, we both would have got an extra lap. I think that would have been right.

Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Germany) Kimi, in the very first laps you lost quite a bit to Lewis and it had, for me, the impression that you would have had graining on the first three or four laps. Can you just confirm if that was the case?

Raikkonen: I didn't really have graining but we knew they were going to be fast with new tyres in the first few laps. It is basically a similar situation to qualifying, so I knew that once the race would go normal I should be ok and hopefully we can gain some time. Actually we did, but I had a small mistake, we lost a bit, we got it back but we were all the time a bit behind and if we would have come on different laps into the pit lane then it would have made it slightly easier. But we were just guessing how much fuel they are going to put in their car and we got it wrong so it didn't work out.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Congratulations Lewis, you are obviously delighted with the win. Do the events of yesterday just taint it a little bit in any respect?

Hamilton: Er, I think going into the race there was a big cloud over my mind and it was difficult to stay focused because obviously you had this feeling in the team. The team weren't getting any points. So you didn't know whether the team hated you, whether they just hated the situation or who they blamed. So it was difficult but I just tried to come here with a smile on my face and tried to remain positive for everyone and do the same procedure as always. So I did go around to the whole team and said, "come on let's do this, good luck." There was only one person that didn't but you know that didn't really affect me. I got in and did my job. Obviously for the team it is not great because we both finished in the points, we could have easily extended our gap to Ferrari considering Felipe didn't finish. But that's the way it is.

Q: (Jerome Bourret - L'Equipe) Lewis, first of all I would like to have your comment about something Fernando said today. He said that since yesterday you don't talk to anyone in the team after what happened. The second question is that on Friday you said that there is a lot of mutual respect between you and Fernando, is that still the case?

Hamilton: Regarding the respect for Fernando, that remains the same. I think when you grow up and you start seeing someone who is as successful as you want to be whether it be Fernando or Michael Schumacher you have to respect them for what they have achieved. And I do. I've watched him for the last few years and really admired what he's done, so that doesn't change. He doesn't seem to have been speaking to me since yesterday, so I don't know if he has a problem. In terms of speaking to the team, I spoke to everyone, I have told everyone the situation, apologised if they feel I have done something against them but this is the way it is. It is higher than them if you know what I mean.

Q: (Kevin Garside - The Daily Telegraph) Lewis, given the frosty nature of relations within the team and the emotion and controversy yesterday, how would you describe the state of affairs, firstly with Ron after the heated exchange yesterday and how do you propose to build bridges going forward.

Hamilton: Well with Ron it's... Obviously yesterday he wasn't very happy, we just had to be professional, we spoke about it. I told him my views, he respected those. He said: "ok I respect that because it is part of your personality and perhaps in your situation maybe that was better for you or whatever." And so we came to a mutual understanding and started on a clean slate today. Still it is not great because of all the problems we are having already with the FIA and with Ferrari. It is just more pressure on the team. The comforting thing is that considering we have all this stuff going on, even this weekend, it just shows how strong the team are because we still came here, still qualified 1-2. We came here and weren't distracted from our job. That's the main thing. I think going on from now we need to analyse the weekend as always. We do need to sit down I guess and talk as a team and re-unite. But I have no worries about it.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, looking that you lost two points to Lewis don't you feel that you should have tried an attack somehow? Now you are twenty points behind and in six races it is getting more and more...

Raikkonen: For sure I would have tried if I would have had any chance because I don't have much to lose. Even if we would have ended up off the circuit it wouldn't have changed much for me. But I didn't have any kind of chance to have even a reasonable chance so there is no point in being stupid. If I would have had a nice try then for sure I would have gone for it but with the race what is was, we were too close to each other speed-wise. On these kinds of circuits you don't really have chances.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Lewis, after qualifying yesterday you sat here and said you needed to go to the team for an explanation of what happened. What did the team explain to you of how that all unfolded?

Hamilton: Yesterday I came back, everything was quiet, we didn't really speak too much. I went back to my engineers, we did the same job as always, a debrief. Then we had a sit-down with Martin Whitmarsh, Fernando and his mechanic and me and my mechanic and we went through what the programme was and they asked me why I didn't do the part that they want me to. And so I explained to them. I said: "I made a mistake, I apologise, it won't happen again. But it has happened, let's forget about it and move on. We are both on the front row so we can still smile." And I thought that because of the argument I had with Ron over the radio, he was obviously angry, I thought that perhaps he was just teaching me a lesson, so I just took it on the chin. That is why when I went to the press conference I said I wouldn't have thought Fernando would do something like that, but I have reasons to believe otherwise.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Lewis, reparation of a relationship is obviously a two-way thing. While you can't obviously speak for Fernando, from your own perspective right now sitting here, do you think there is a chance of you and Fernando becoming close teammates again?

Hamilton: I think it is always difficult. I have had it with every team I have been in. When you have the two most competitive people in the team, possibly the two most competitive people around, both wanting to win. It puts the team under immense pressure. It is just extremely hard for everyone to play fair and to make it easy. That's why sometimes it appears that one driver is favoured over the other. That's why sometimes I feel he is favoured and vice-versa. I think going on from now, I hope he still speaks to me. I am easy to get along with, I don't hold grudges on anyone. I'm still leading the championship, I haven't lost respect for him. If he doesn't want to speak to me than that is for him to decide, but I'm open.

Q: (Peter Farkas - Auto Motor) Kimi and Lewis, after yesterday's qualifying when obviously the gap had been quite big, were you actually quite surprised that the Ferrari has been so close to the McLaren today?

Hamilton: We actually thought that perhaps the Ferraris were going longer than us and so I don't really understand why they didn't have the pace yesterday on that one lap. But we have seen that before with the Ferraris, they struggle to get the first lap. But going into today you can't go in thinking, 'ok the Ferraris are slower than you.' You have to anticipate that they will come out with something - they usually do. But as I said I had a bit of a problem so I was losing a bit of time from second stint onwards. I can't say how much but that definitely affected the pace but I still think that I could have gone quicker at the end.

Raikkonen: Like I said before, we knew that they would be strong here. Especially in qualifying. I expected the good race car that we had but unfortunately not enough. Next year we need to get the car sorted for one lap but then I know from past experience with them [McLaren] that they are fast here. They are going to be fast in some other places. It has been every year the same thing, so it wasn't a surprise for me that they were strong here, so I think the next circuit will be ok for us but I'm pretty happy with the second. For sure I needed to win but unfortunately we were not up for it.

Q: (Sal Zanca - Associated Press) Lewis, what did you learn from this weekend?

Hamilton: I think probably I learned a lot about my team. Just how strong they are to be able to deal with all the issues that are going on right now. I don't believe any other team could cope with it better. Really it is daunting for all of us. We thought that after the first result that everything would be clear. We could move on. And we've gone all the way back into it. So it has been a tough time for all the team but it is not distracting us so that is the great thing. And for me... I learn every time I get into the car. I become more and more comfortable with the car I learn something about pit stops, about pulling the gap, managing the tyres. I am learning all the time that is the great thing. I am still in my first season so... I learned more about the circuit, got faster and faster throughout the weekend and again I learnt how to keep a driver like Kimi behind.

Q: (Tony Dodgins - Autosport) Lewis, is it correct that you personally went and asked the stewards to investigate the qualifying incident yesterday?

Hamilton: No, I was downstairs and one of the stewards was there but we didn't really discuss it.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) One question for Kimi and one for Lewis. Kimi, since this was not a very suitable track for Ferrari, do you think Ferrari is coming out stronger from this race for the last part of the championship?

Raikkonen: I think so we are going to go back to the situation we have been in for the last few races. Turkey is good for us. Or that is what I have heard, I have never been there with the team. I'm pretty sure that looking at the circuit, knowing how it is, that the car will be good there and I think we can have a good strong end of the season. Hopefully we can gain points and get back in the fight.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, do you think that your honeymoon with the team, or with Ron Dennis, is somehow finished? Or it continues?

Hamilton: As you know I have been working with Ron for - it must be nearly ten years now - so ok it is quite a big event and a problem for the team but I think the relationship we have is very very strong and something like this is not going to come between us. We will move on and move on to bigger and better things.

Q: (Marco Degl'Innocenti - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, do you think that the gap that you have now is comfortable enough until the end of the championship? To win the championship?

Hamilton: What is the gap now?

Q: Seven points.

Hamilton: No, it is never comfortable. What is there? Six races left? There is still a long way to go. We can't afford a weekend like Nurburgring but I think that was sort of - all the bad luck and things that could happen in one weekend - although it was positive because we learned a lot. But we can't afford to not score points like that again. I'm going to keep on pushing until the last race for sure.

Q: (Jerome Bourret - L'Equipe) Lewis, you say you are quite open to Fernando but why do you think it is for him to come to you?

Hamilton: Who said that?

Q: Will you go to him to speak?

Hamilton: If I walk in and I see him I will speak to him. But I am not going to go looking for him and... make him feel better.

Q: Among your team you are the man to blame for what happened yesterday.

Hamilton: That is your opinion.