French GP: Post race press conference 

Written by David on July 01st, 2007 at 9:14 pmLast Update: February 16th, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Kimi RaikkonenQ. 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.

KR: 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

KR: 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?

FM: 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.

Q. How do you think the car will go at the next race, at Silverstone. How quick will the McLaren be versus the Ferrari?

LH: 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?

KR: 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?

KR: 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.

KR: 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.

KR: 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?

KR: 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?

FM: 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?

FM: 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?

LH: 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?

LH: 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?

LH: 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?

LH: 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.

source: autosport

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