Chinese Grand Prix post race Press Conference 

Written by David on October 10th, 2007 at 5:51 pmLast Update: February 16th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Q: Kimi, a fantastic win in difficult conditions. Lewis had the advantage early on but when it started raining at around lap 27 you came into your own? Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, at the start of the race I had some problems with the front tyres graining and it was understeering way too much. I just kept pushing as much as I could. We expected to run quite a bit longer than Lewis and so it worked out well.

After the pit stop I saw that he could not pull away anymore and I was catching him little by little, and with a little rain my car was pretty good. One time I went to pass him but there were too many yellow flags and I backed off, but in the end I could pass him and quite easily pull away. I waited for the right moment to change onto dry tyres and everything worked well and there was no problem.

Q: A great second phase of the race for you on the Bridgestone softer tyre. It looked like the white band had disappeared towards the end of the race. What were the conditions like for you as the track dried out? KR: It was okay. I had basically a similar balance as on wet tyres at the start, too much understeer and I again just waited to get rid of the graining on the front and once the front came back I was able to keep the gap and push hard and open it up a little bit. I just waited long enough and was thinking that the front might not come back, but once it did the car was good. It was a bit tricky to get past people on only one dry line but everything worked well and the team did a good job. I’m very happy.

Q: You were about eight seconds ahead of Fernando, so was he still a pressure there for you? KR: For sure, he was pushing hard and catching me at first when I had some problems with the front tyres, but once everything started to work I could keep the gap the same and knew we should be fine. I kept pushing because, you never know, if it rains again it can change the whole picture and I was happy to have some breathing space. Like I said, it all ended well, we are back in the championship and it will be interesting in the last race.

Q: Fernando, you were not a happy man after qualifying but a very good race and a good team performance as well and a very interesting first lap with Felipe? Fernando Alonso: I think it was good today, the result, and at the end these eight points are a help for sure. The first lap was interesting with Felipe in Turn One, Turn Two and Turn Four, and basically every corner. I didn’t manage to finish the lap in front of him and this cost me a bit of time in the first part of the race because I was behind him and not very comfortable because I had a bit too much downforce in Turns Seven and Eight. At the end I think he did a pit stop and that helped me a little bit.

Q: You rejoined just in front of Felipe and there was pressure there but you managed to pull away from him? FA: It was extremely difficult at the first corner because you put the dry tyres on, go out of the pits and it’s completely wet. You arrive at Turn One not knowing how the situation is there with dry tyres. I was able to keep the inside line very carefully and was lucky that it was the only dry line and Felipe couldn’t pass me on the outside because it was wet. It worked out well — I was on the limit but in front of him.

Q: It was a difficult qualifying session for you. What are your thoughts as you go into Brazil, your championship hopes very much alive? FA: Yes. I think it will be very difficult to win the championship because I know that it will not be easy to take four points off Lewis. The performance, I hope, will be very similar between the two of us, all through the weekend, not only in Q1 and Q2, so hopefully I can do a good race, but for the championship I still need something dramatic if I want to win. With a normal race it will be impossible.

Q: Felipe, you set fastest lap right at the end there but you are P3. A difficult race, in difficult conditions obviously? Felipe Massa: Yes, definitely. And very interesting as well. I’m sure in a way we weren’t very lucky to put the dry tyres on and then have it start to rain again. I was also telling the team that I was not going to stay on the track like that because it was very easy to lose the car. But then the rain stopped and I picked up the pace slowly but it was enough to be in front of Fernando after he pitted. I also had a lot of graining on my tyres maybe because we went out on the soft in very cold conditions and they lost temperature. But then at the end of the race it had a good balance again, but it was too late. But in conditions like that it is good to finish in the top three, even if we wanted to win.

Q: Kimi, a three-way championship fight going to Brazil, the first time that has happened since 1986. All three of you have fresh engines; it’s a winner takes all situation, virtually? KR: Not really, it depends on what happens to the others who will win. But for sure it will be interesting. I’ve no idea how the car will be. If we look at last year, Felipe won and Ferrari was strong, so hopefully the car will be good and it will be an interesting battle the whole weekend. It’s not up to us only what happens but anything can happen as we saw today. We are in a better position than coming here, but it will still be very difficult.


Q: Kimi, a great win, you can now make your mind work at how you can turn this championship around?
For sure we needed that. I always said we needed to win and I can’t control what happens to the others. Today we scored more points than Hamilton and got back in the championship and the last race will be interesting. Things can go right or wrong for people, so we will push at the last race and see what we can do.

Q: What was it like on the worn tyres because at your first stop you just kept the tyres on? KR: It was too dry to put any new sets on, it would have been way too slow, and in the end when it was wet it was quite tricky but I was much faster than Hamilton, so I was able to catch him quite quickly. But the problem was that there were yellow flags and every time I got alongside him I had to back off in case I got a penalty. I finally went past him when he made a mistake. The car felt pretty tricky at that stage and I think the rear tyres were in bad shape, but I was still able to set quite good lap times.

Q: You had one moment, on lap 38, I think? KR: Where was that? I don’t know. I can’t remember.

Q: And otherwise no problems? KR: The balance was quite tricky at the beginning, too much understeer and the front didn’t work too well. While the circuit dried the car came back a bit and I just had to wait for that. I knew that we should have quite a bit more fuel in and so it was just being patient and waiting for the car to come back and start pushing again.

Q: You stayed on worn wets as well when you came in. What was the car like? FA: The beginning was okay but later on when it started raining again, as it happened with Lewis as well, the car was not in good shape because the tyres were completely slick and even with a few drops of rain we were 6-7s slower than we were two laps before. We were losing a lot of pace and Kimi was able to overtake Lewis, and I was able to catch Lewis as well.

Q: Overall you don’t seem to have got a lot of satisfaction out of second place? FA: Yes, I do. I am very happy but I think, you know, from yesterday I am not extremely happy with the qualifying and with things that happened yesterday, so this second place, eight points is good and the championship is a little closer but again, if I want to win the championship it will be extremely difficult. If I want to win I need some strange results and some very lucky moves and, for that, eight points today are very important but it’s not changing too much the chances to win the championship.

Q: Someone is going to ask, so can you go into the details of what you felt happened yesterday? FA: Nothing strange to me, but I was surprised to be six or seven tenths behind pole position because all weekend I had been one or two tenths ahead of the competitors and in Q1 and Q2; I had good performance. Then, in Q3, with very good laps, I was surprisingly slow and I didn’t understand what happened.

Q: Felipe, give us your take on the battle with Fernando at the start? FM: Nice, interesting, but not enough to finish in the front. In the end it was a good race. I had some troubles especially at the end of the stint with my rain tyres. I couldn’t keep the car on the track and just destroyed the rear tyres and had to pit. It wasn’t the right time for grooved tyres but I put them on and then it rained again, so it was not a very lucky decision. Then in the end we managed to pick up the pace again but it was not enough to pass Fernando, especially because as he was coming out of the pits there was only one line. I was then again in trouble with my tyres because of graining, maybe because I was running in the wet conditions on the grooved tyres. I had very strange graining and couldn’t keep the pace but when it was gone I did the fastest lap and had the pace again but it was too late. It was great to finish on the podium and a great result for the team as well.


Q: Kimi, this is the second time going into the last race that you had the possibility to win the championship. When you compare the situation now to 2003, what do you feel? KR: I think I’m in a few points’ better position right now, otherwise I don’t think there’s much difference. Different team but anything can happen, we just need to try to win the race and then see what happens to the others, same as we did here. I’m not really thinking about it too much. I’ll just go there and do the same as here, or at least try to do so. We will see what we can do.

Q: Fernando, you pitted on lap 32, I think, one lap later than Lewis was going to pit and you passed Lewis’s car going into the pits. What went through your mind at that moment? FA: Nothing, nothing really. I stopped at that time, but I didn’t know if he was retiring or not at that moment, because I was concentrating on the pit entry, so I didn’t know if the car was there from the lap before, from another lap or if the engine was running. We also saw on the big screen in Nurburgring he was in the gravel and then he was on the track again thanks to the recovery car, so I didn’t know if that was a definite retirement or not, so I kept doing my race and not taking care too much.

Q: Fernando, some days ago you said you believed in miracles. I would like to ask you if today we have seen a miracle. FA: Well, maybe not a miracle but something similar because not to finish one race these days doesn’t happen very often because the reliability of all the cars is very strong and very good so it’s difficult to see a retirement. You need a wet race, you need a difficult circuit. Here in Shanghai there are a lot of run-off areas as well, so I didn’t expect any crashes or any incidents on the circuit, so yeah, today was something similar and for sure was a help.

Q: Question for Kimi. At the end of the race your left front tyre seemed very worn out. Were you worried at any moment or did you adapt your driving? KR: Not really. Like I said, I had some problems with the graining, like Felipe. It took ages to clean up which is why it was a bit worn out but once it stopped graining and cleaned up it was good, a lot of grip, but of course the balance is not ideal because the tyres shouldn’t be in that condition but it worked well after that, I got the front end working, so that’s the main thing.

Q: Question for Kimi and Fernando. In an interview published by The Guardian, Bernie Ecclestone said that Kimi would not be an ideal world champion because he doesn’t speak too much and Fernando because he didn’t do many things for Formula One in the two years when he was champion. What do you think about this declaration? KR: I think everyone has their own opinions. I don’t really care too much what people say about me.
FA: It’s the same. Everyone has their opinion. I try to be professional. I already answered this question last year I think. Bernie said that after two championships I didn’t do enough for Formula One. I don’t know what I have to do. Normally I have a contract to drive the car and be with the sponsors, so I try to do both things at the same time and that’s all. I think Formula One has grown up very quickly in Spain and I’m very proud of this and I will try to do my best and maybe change his opinion.

Q: Question for Fernando. Yesterday afternoon you spoke to the Spanish press and your words were quite hard against Ron Dennis and McLaren. Do you think that now it will be harder for you to stand the situation until the end of the championship in your team? FA: No, I think there’s one race to go and it’s the same as it was before. Yesterday I didn’t say anything that is not true. The team has been saying many, many things, many bad things about me from Spa onwards especially and the relationship hasn’t changed too much. He was the first one to say that he was not speaking with me and things like that, so from that point I understood that the championship was not easy for me at all.

Q: Kimi, were you really expecting at this point that you could win today, Lewis retiring and you would still be in the championship, or is it something that has surprised you a little bit? KR: Ok, we were hoping to have some bad… not bad luck but a difficult race for the other guys in front of me, but I was very confident that we could win in any conditions. The car has been very strong all weekend, so we knew in qualifying that we had good speed, so in this kind of race people make mistakes. That happened to Hamilton today. He lost many points, so it helped me a lot, helped Fernando a lot, but it’s going to be very difficult to catch him but there’s one race to go. I don’t have anything to lose, so we keep pushing and see what we can do in the last race. Similar things can happen, so there is still hope. We will see.

Q: Fernando, yesterday after the problems in the last qualifying segment you said you would be curious to see when the car is coming back from parc ferme. Did you find anything which would explain your problems? FA: Well, I think they are still investigating. I think the tyre pressures were quite high, more than normal, but I don’t know if it was that or another explanation.

Q: Kimi, were you surprised to see so many Finnish flags here in China – more than in Hungary – and did that big support help you in any way? KR: No, I don’t think it helps a lot, I don’t think about the flags when I’m driving but of course it’s nice to see them, nice to see a lot of fans here. I think here and Japan there’s always been a lot of Finnish fans, so I was a bit surprised that there were so many here, more than anything else, but it’s always nice to see them.

Q: Fernando, in the light of what happened yesterday, do you trust the team to give you the same equipment in Brazil? Do you think that, apart from the four points, you and Lewis have the same equality when you get into the car in Brazil? FA: Yes, I think so.

Q: Despite what happened yesterday? FA: Yeah, but yesterday was maybe just by accident that something went wrong and in Brazil it will be fine.

Q: Can I ask you your feelings when you saw that Lewis was out? FA: I answered (this question) five minutes ago and as I said before, nothing really because at that point I was concentrating on the pit entry. It was extremely difficult and wet, so I didn’t know if the car was still running or would get out of the gravel. I didn’t know what the problem was at that time, so I kept concentrating on the race, because after the pit stop, I had Felipe fighting very close, so for the next three laps, I forgot the incident a little bit and then I realised later on.

Q: Felipe, the two guys on your right are still in the running for the championship together with Lewis. What’s your guess who is going to be the champion? FM: My guess? That’s difficult. Well, I think if Lewis doesn’t make a mistake maybe he has more of a chance but it’s going to be very interesting to see.

Q: Fernando, what did the team tell you on the radio about Lewis’s problem or his reason for retirement?
Nothing. Normally we don’t speak about the retirements, we just keep everything under control and on those laps, as I said before, it was especially difficult with Felipe. I was trying to hold that position, so they were telling me that we were racing with Felipe and no more pit stops for Felipe or me so try to keep the position, just that.

Q: The next race is in Brazil where you won last year; but looking at the championship situation you may not be allowed to race to win. Does it change something? FM: You never know. For sure if Kimi has a chance during the race to win the championship, I think it’s very good for the team and I would also be very happy to help the team. If maybe Lewis or Fernando are in the middle and we have no chance, I will try to win the race.

Q: To all three of you. Just before you pitted a few guys had already changed onto dry tyres and did remarkable laps like Wurz and Button, much faster than you did. Did you ever talk to your pits whether to change a little bit earlier onto dry tyres? KR: No, I think we knew exactly what lap times everybody was doing. Felipe was out and he was faster but there are many reasons to wait. I was in a position where I didn’t really need to come in too early. I was waiting to ensure that there was no more rain coming any more. For sure we knew that slicks were faster but you never know, you only need a little bit of rain again, maybe you have to change to rain tyres again, so I had enough of a gap to the others, so we could wait.
FA: Same thing. We knew that maybe the slicks were a little bit quicker at that time, but we expected some rain in the next few laps before we pitted at the end to put on slicks, so we were waiting for this little rain shower which happened for two laps when everybody had their problems. We were waiting until after that moment to put on slicks.
FM: Well, I pitted a lot earlier than them to put on grooves and to be honest it was maybe better to stay out two or three laps more and then pit after two or three laps, because when I changed the tyres it was raining again, so it was a little bit too risky but that’s the way it is. Sometimes in the race we knew that some people were already on grooved tyres but the people who were on grooves were quite far behind and we knew we were expecting another small shower, so it’s difficult to have the right idea to change the tyres and we were fighting with each other, so we were looking more at us than looking at the others. For sure, if you are expecting some more rain and you change the tyres like I did, I was suffering for three or four laps at a very slow pace, so it was not the right decision at that moment but sometimes you need to take a gamble in these conditions.

Q: The drivers have asked for more chance to decide with the race director how to start the race. We had wet conditions today. Did you interfere in the race director’s decision? FM: It was pretty clear that intermediates were the tyres on which to start the race this time, so everyone was on intermediates.

Q: Knowing Lewis a little, how do you feel he is going to react now? Is he going to begin to feel more pressure after the mistake he made today? FM: I think they’re both going to the disco tonight.
FA: No, I don’t think so. I think he will be very focused in Brazil and this will not affect his capacity to do well in Brazil. As I said before, everything is looking good for him, and Kimi and I will wait for another strange race.

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