Singapore GP - Sunday - Press Conference
27 SEPTEMBER 2009
1. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren Mercedes), 1h56m06.337s
2. Timo GLOCK (Toyota), 1h56m15.971s
3. Fernando ALONSO (Renault), 1h56m22.961s
Q: Lewis, winning from pole. What an evening for you.
Lewis HAMILTON: It was a very, very tough race. I think I can speak for all of us. The conditions made it very tough, but generally the race was pretty straightforward for me. I got a good start and I just managed to bridge a big enough gap. I knew I was longer than the guys behind me, so I was never really under serious pressure. When (Sebastian) Vettel was behind me I knew that I was five laps longer than him, so all I had to do was keep him behind. I was looking after the tyres. I felt myself that I nicely controlled the race and have to say a big thank to all my team for as always doing a fantastic job and to my family for supporting me. I want to say hi to my brother and everyone back home. It was a great weekend.
Q: We heard on the radio early on that perhaps you had a bit of trouble with the KERS unit. Talk about that and that early phase of the race and Nico Rosberg putting a bit of pressure on you in that early phase.
Hamilton: Yeah, well I don't know what lap it was. I had no problems in the car with the KERS but the team came across the radio and said there was possibly a fault. It was still working at that point and I had to disable it and re-engage it and it worked after that. There were quite a few switch changes. I did have a little bit of pressure from Nico and the cars behind at the beginning. They just seemed to be very quick through the first sector but I was just looking after my tyres and I think it paid dividends in the end.
Q: As you said, a very demanding circuit. Did it feel like a long, physically exhausting race and talk about racing at night.
Hamilton: It is a tough race. It is not easy, that's for sure. It is just the temperatures. But also it is corner after corner after corner. There is never a real break and it is very bumpy. The focus you probably need here is as much as you can possibly get. But the track is fantastic. The fans here are amazing. There was a huge crowd here and they put on a great show here in Singapore again. I came here hoping to have a good result, hoping to kind of redeem myself after the last race and we did it and we are very, very happy.
Q: Timo, a great result for the team. The best result of the year so far. This time you could do it from the right end of the grid after a very strong qualifying performance.
Timo GLOCK: It was a really good race for me. The start was a bit of a mess up in the first corner. I had to attack quite a lot but then I had a good first stint. But I knew I could not go the pace of the first two or three guys, so I just settled down for me and concentrated on it and saw what I can do with my car, keep it on 100 per cent. Before I came to Singapore I knew that last year we were good here. The driver can make a difference here and I just pushed as hard as possible. I had a lot of ups and downs over the weekend. Friday's first free practice I said 'ok, we are not looking really strong' and then suddenly we just picked up and really concentrated with my car crew and did everything right. In qualifying again I thought we would get easily into Q3 and then struggled in Q1, but suddenly we just got better and better in qualifying. A bit of a shame to not use the last set of tyres. But during the race it was really good. I lost a bit with the view where the other guys were, so after that I changed to the option tyres and I pushed quite a lot. My team did not say where I am and then suddenly they said you are safe for P2 and I was really surprised and just brought it home at the weekend.
Q: On that first lap Mark Webber ran wide, there was a bit of an incident with Fernando, but you managed to get inside him. Talk us through that and you should know that Mark was surprised that he had to let you pass again.
Glock: Definitely. I saw that they were battling quite a lot and the chance could be there if they did a mistake. I just took it and I knew from the free practice than Fernando and Renault struggle a bit over the race distance and we were quite okay. I just saw that I have to get in front of him to make the strategy work. That worked out really well and at the end with the safety car coming out I just crossed the safety car line in front of Fernando and that was important. Just a perfect weekend and a podium at the right moment for us.
Q: Fernando, what a fantastic result for Renault after all that has happened in the build-up to this race. That first lap for you was an interesting one, for you with Mark. But let's get your take on Timo coming down inside you. Was that related to the previous corner?
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, it was fantastic obviously and the result is great for us to be in the first podium of the season. The first lap was a little bit stressful arriving to turn seven side-by-side with Mark. We both ran wide and over the kerb and then Timo took the benefit there and overtook me into turn eight. Because of the battle with Webber I think I lost the position with Timo and I think we finished the race behind him, but no real complaints. To be fair it is fantastic for us. We did not have the pace all weekend to be on the podium and we have the podium, so much better than we expected.
Q: There was a lot of mechanical attrition but for Renault another aspect of this great weekend.
Alonso: The team have been fantastic. All season I think we have had a fantastic team. The mechanics, engineers, everybody in the factory, did their maximum. Sometimes we did get some good results, sometimes we have been a little bit unlucky. But finally this podium in this particular moment after what happened from Monza to here with the team. It has been a difficult time for the team. Now we put that behind us and we concentrate on the remaining races. I dedicate this podium to Flavio (Briatore) at home as he is part of the success we had today.
Q: Lewis, going to Suzuka now for the Japanese Grand Prix which a lot of the drivers say is their favourite circuit. You have never raced there but you do so with the team within three points of Ferrari for third place in the Constructors' Championship. It is a weekend no doubt that you are very much looking forward to.
Hamilton: Yeah, I am sure Martin (Whitmarsh) and the rest of the team will be happy to hear that. I am not sure where Heikki (Kovalainen) came but clearly he did a good job today, possibly. I have never been to Suzuka but I have heard that it is, apart from Monaco, the best circuit. Just growing up watching television with Ayrton (Senna) and Alain (Prost) and Fernando and Kimi (Raikkonen) racing there. I always wanted to go there. I am very excited to go. I am sure it will be a very tough weekend and undoubtedly it will be very tough to learn that circuit and master it in one weekend but I will do all I can. Going with the momentum we have from this race hopefully we will have a competitive car there.
Q: Lewis, you said you wanted to win this but what a weekend it has been for you.
Hamilton: It has been an incredible weekend in terms of the whole show, the build-up. It has been the busiest weekend probably of my life. I have had more appearances this week than I can remember. Obviously not a perfect Friday but Saturday was great. I have my Dad and my step-mum, Linda, here. I have my girlfriend here and I have got a friend of mine here. I got to meet Beyonce here, so it has been overall an incredible weekend. A great experience. I am very, very happy and I look forward to the celebration tonight.
Q: You never had a huge gap. Was that because you were managing tyres?
Hamilton: Yeah, through our practice sessions our tyres never really lasted very long. I had to try and do all I could to look after them today. I also knew that the strategy I was on was very strong and I didn't particularly need a huge gap to the people behind me. I kept a two-to-three second gap over Nico and it was good enough. Then with Vettel he was very competitive but he was again five laps shorter than me, so it had to be accepted that he was going to be on my tail, but it was never really a problem, so I just kept cruising and at the end there was a decent gap to Timo. He was putting in some good times but I was able to answer back, so I was able to keep the gap. I was very happy with it.
Q: There were quite a few drivers with brake problems here. How much attention did you pay to the brakes?
Hamilton: I try to treat my car as good as I can. We don't have any problems with the brakes. It has never been a problem for us, so fortunately we did a great job with the cooling and everything, so it was never an issue here.
Q: Timo, what made the difference in qualifying, because that's been important in the races we've had so far?
Glock: I think that for the first time since, I would say, Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain, I could just set the car up more for my driving. The car has slightly changed a bit over the year, it's a bit more aggressive and it didn't suit my driving style a lot for one lap, especially in qualifying. I knew from last year that you can make a difference here as a driver and you can just fight a bit more with the car. We could set the car up much, much better and we did a really good job over the weekend, we just never lost the way. We struggled in first free practice and just made our way up and just went better and better. In Q2 I just got in a really good lap and got through to Q3 and the top ten. When you see the last races when we've had to start out of the top ten and we made it into the top ten, I was really looking forward to the race. I just knew that we couldn't go at the same pace as the top two or three guys, so I just said 'OK, just find your own way, just push as hard as possible with what you have and just get the best out of it', and at the end, we pushed at the right moment, we got into P2. The first lap was really important, when I overtook Fernando as well as under the safety car when he came out of the pits and I just stayed in front of him. That was really important for our strategy and at the end, I lost where I was really and then suddenly my engineer said 'you are safe in P2' and that was really surprising. I was happy with that. I think it's been a perfect weekend for me and for the team, really important for us, a really important podium at just the right moment for us.
Q: What is the significance of this podium; why is it just at the right moment?
Glock: We had goals from the beginning of the year. We started really well and got two or three podiums into the season and just had the pace at the beginning and then we had a couple of difficult weekends where we struggled and the team came down a bit. We pushed as hard as possible and then recovered over the weekend quite quickly, because we knew we had the chance to be in the top five. When you start a season as we did this year and you fall down and you fight back again, it's just really important for the team and for us.
Q: And what are your thoughts about next weekend in Japan?
Glock: It's good to go to Japan with a podium and P2. I don't know how our car will be in Suzuka but I think the high speed corners suit our car, so I'm looking forward to it and hopefully we can be on the podium again in Suzuka. That would be great.
Q: Fernando, I'm sure it's also important timing for you and your team.
Alonso: Yeah, no doubt. It was a very important podium for Renault and they deserve this podium after all the difficulties the team had over the last two weeks, plus they have had some unlucky moments in some races when we've lost the possibility of podiums. I think this weekend everything came to us and we took the benefit of some circumstances like yesterday in qualifying when I think the lap was good and fifth position was better than expected. Today, running fifth, with the two penalties for Rosberg and Vettel we recovered these two positions. We made no mistakes, we kept the concentration to one hundred per cent all through the race and we knew that we were not super fast here in Singapore this weekend but if we didn't make any mistakes we could be on the podium and we did it.
Q: All three of you were in the top four last year here; how important is it to have that experience here?
Alonso: It's very important. I think it's one of those circuits which you either like or don't like. There's no halfway. The people who don't like it never find the right way, they lack confidence in some corners, it's difficult to attack in qualifying and we know how important qualifying is on a street circuit where it's difficult to overtake. I didn't know that all of us were in the top four last year but I'm happy to repeat those positions.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Fernando, the hard times that you've had these last few weeks, did they give you extra motivation for this race and this weekend?
Alonso: Not really. I think we arrive very motivated to every race, so it was no different this time. Obviously now that we have this podium, I would like to dedicate it to Flavio, who watched the race at home, for sure. Part of the success this season is due to him, to the great job that the team did. I think the whole team deserved this podium because it has a been difficult for everybody, for the mechanics, the engineers, stressful weeks for them and now everything is clear, everything is behind us and we look forward with this initial podium.
Q: (Sudhir Chandran - Chequered Flag) Lewis, when my mother was in hospital some years ago, I spoke to the doctor and he said that you get just three chances to revive. This is 61 laps here, demanding clinical precision and you still come out strong, so whom do you give the credit to: your father for keeping a stoic face but then smiling at the end of it? To Nicole (Scherzinger) for being very subdued this year but smiling big time at the end? Or to the team for sweating it out and saying 'hey man, we did this?'
Hamilton: I always think it's a job done by a lot of people. We wouldn't have had the pace here if it wasn't for the guys back at the factory who don't always get the acknowledgement but they're always there for me. But they are the guys that are working non-stop, really trying to get these components out, making sure that we compete for wins. But for me, the one person for me is God. He's the one who has given me the opportunity to be here, he's the one that keeps me healthy, has blessed me with a great family and great people around me. I think that answers it.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, is third place in the Constructors' Championship your goal at the moment?
Hamilton: Definitely, definitely. I think the team would be very happy with that. It doesn't really have too much importance exactly where I finish in the championship. If you're not first, then it doesn't matter where you are really. First is where you want to be, but for the team, after the hard work they've put in, they've had a couple of tough years but they've done a great job this year and they deserve to first make a step forward and hopefully at least get third, that would be great for them.
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Fernando, how do you rate this third place? Is it the maximum opportunity that you took? Or do you think you can get on the podium again before the end of the year?
Alonso: Obviously you never know, but I think here was the best chance for us to get a podium. Knowing that there are some very demanding circuits to come in terms of aerodynamics like Suzuka and we would not have improvements on the car and there are some other teams that keep producing new pieces, so we know that every race is going to be more and more difficult for us. So I think we were quite confident here in Singapore and we take this podium back home to all the guys back at the factory and from now on we will obviously try, starting from Suzuka next weekend but I think it will be more difficult, for sure, than it has been here.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Lewis, according to people who listen to television, you had some conversation with your team in the early stages of the race about KERS. Did you have to switch it off?
Hamilton: No, no. It was working the whole time, as far as I was concerned, but they came across on the radio saying that there was possibly a problem with it, but I wasn't seeing that. I just had to make some switch changes. I believe I had to disengage it and re-engage it or something like that, restart it, reboot it. Like I don't have enough things to think about in the car, pressing all these buttons, but it was good fun!
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, looking at the championship today, Jenson (Button) got the most out of it, even if he started in the worst position. Do you think that at this point it's almost finished for him? I mean, he has 17 points over Rubens with three races to go.
Hamilton: I don't know where he finished today, but if he's done a good job, that's good for him and his team. But let's not forget, I was leading by 17 points with two races to go and I lost it. It's very, very, very tough, right up until the last moment, so I just suggest that they all keep pushing and we will see over the next few races but he's done a fantastic job up until now, so I wish him all the best.
Q: (Don Kennedy - Hawke's Bay Today) Fernando, given that you seem to be the key to the drivers' market for 2010, does this podium help you make the decision as to which team you might drive for next year, including it could possibly be Ferrari?
Alonso: No, this podium doesn't change anything. I took the decision already, so soon we will know.
Q: (Don Kennedy - Hawke's Bay Today) Are you going to tell us?
Alonso: If you pay a good amount.
Hamilton: I'll give you a tenner, ten euros.
Alonso: Not enough. At least twenty!
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Timo, you said you now have the car you had at the beginning of the season. Do you think you could win a race before the end of the year?
Glock: It's difficult to say. Singapore is a completely different race track. As I said, a driver can make a difference here. I think that as the teams are really, really close together, it becomes more and more difficult for us to win a race, but I would say that I will fight as long as possible and I will never give up. There will be a time when we have the chance to win a race and it will come and if we work as we have this weekend and really concentrate with little steps, little improvements on the car, then I think something is possible. When conditions are changing, maybe a wet race or whatever, there is another chance again, but at the moment I think we have to be realistic. The top two teams are still a step ahead of us, so it will be difficult.