Q. Felipe, what a way to bounce back from the disappointment of Hungary by winning the inaugural European Grand Prix from pole and setting the fastest lap.
Felipe MASSA: I think it is amazing after such a bad result we come here with a new track which was new for everybody and we did just such a fantastic job from preparing the car on Friday and Saturday morning and choosing the right tyres. I think it was really difficult choosing the right tyres, especially in qualifying, but I think we did a perfect job with that and then making the pole position and winning the race and getting fastest lap.
I think there is nothing more we can ask for especially after such a bad result. But we still need to work very hard as today we had another problem with Kimi and another one in the garage but it is nice that our mechanic is fine. We need to look forward, we have time to work and have so many important races in front of us. I am just so glad and happy especially after such a disaster in Hungary.
Q. Can you talk us through the race?
FM: Yeah, the start was just great. I have been doing great starts this season. I was also very happy to start on the pit side even if you have maybe one or two laps less in terms of fuel load in the car. Here I think I was very keen to start on the clean side which is always very difficult to predict from qualifying. But we made it and I did a great start. I braked a little bit too early in the first corner looking how they were fighting behind and I managed to go in front.
The first stint was very good, nothing special but very good so Lewis was just fighting and every lap I was pulling away by a couple of tenths. Then the second stint, I think we won the race there, as the car was just perfect and was improving lap by lap. It was amazing to see the gap increasing very reasonably. Then the last stint, I think with the grip on the track, the temperature, I was on the soft tyre, so I could manage to drive really in a relaxing way which sometimes is a big problem. But I was doing similar lap times, so it is amazing how the car behaved on the last stint. The car was just perfect.
Q. Talk us through the last pit stop and what happened with Adrian Sutil.
FM: Yeah, I think it wasn’t very clever from his side as even if he went out in front of me he needed to let me by. It was a shame to fight with him in the pit lane as we were very close and I needed to back off and I lost a lot of time but fortunately the gap was enough.
Q. How did that situation arise?
FM: Well, because I stopped behind him in the pit stop and we leave together. When he was passing me by I was leaving the garage, so we were side-by-side. But I was the leader and he was lapping. It was quite narrow and the wall was getting narrower and narrower, so I didn’t want to take the risk.
Q. Lewis, a good solid points’ finish. But you have increased your lead in the World Championship.
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, absolutely. I cannot complain with second place. We have had quite a strong weekend. I have had a few problems health-wise but still pulled through and had a great team behind me who helped me. It is a nice new circuit and I’ve come here and got some good points and the team have got some good points this weekend, so just overall it was a solid weekend for us.
Q. You had a close fight with Robert and then tried to hold the pace of the Ferrari.
LH: Yeah, at the start I was on the dirty side. I think I got a reasonably good start. I was nowhere near as quick as Felipe. I just had to try and hold my spot. Robert was pushing quite hard for the first couple of corners but after that I was pretty relaxed. I was able to try and attack and keep up with Felipe. He was in front and it is pretty difficult to overtake here, so I thought ‘keep a certain gap and just try and maintain it.’ But towards the end I think he started to stretch it out a little bit. But it was good to know that we were a couple of laps heavier. That shows we have got the pace.
Q. It was a long hot race. Towards the end of the race what was it like for you physically?
LH: This track is not that physical, it was just that it was hot. You don’t have enough water in the car really. It has just been a very hot weekend and as you can see we are in these big old suits. It is like driving in a sauna. It is quite a hectic one-and-half hour race, so I am pretty happy the way I got through.
Q. Robert, we heard you on the radio early in the race saying something was wrong with the car.
Robert KUBICA: I mean we did start pretty well. In corner one I was on the kerb and Lewis was closing and then we approached the second corner and I was going for it but then I saw Felipe braking quite early and it was too much risk. I think if I overshot the braking point I would crash into him, so I just decided to stay where I was. Then I was constantly a bit slower than Lewis and suddenly I saw a white plastic bag flying across the corner and I could not avoid it.
Suddenly I couldn’t steer any more for two corners and it was extremely dangerous and I have never had it before. Fortunately when I approached a high speed corner it blew away but still my confidence for the next half a lap was not great. Fortunately it was only half a lap but I think I lost around three seconds. It was very important for the pit laps because I didn’t know when the McLaren behind me was coming, so I needed to pull away. We finished third, quite a far way from the top two cars.
I think the key for this podium was yesterday in qualifying. I was just three tenths off pole with three laps more fuel than Felipe. I think it was an amazing performance yesterday. I think today was our reality, our real pace is a bit far away but we will try to do our best.
Q. Felipe, your thoughts on the championship. How do you see the next few races going?
FM: Well, we need first of all to look at what had happened as I have no idea why Kimi blew an engine. We need to work very hard for the next race and we will see when it is important to use or not to use the joker if we really have a problem now. We are working to fix the reliability as it has been an issue for us this year, especially the first race, last race and this race. We need to work very deep and I am sure everybody is concentrating and working very hard to solve every problem that we have.
Q. Felipe, what were those 11 laps like knowing you had had a problem in the last race and your team mate’s engine had just let go as well?
FM: Pretty difficult. I think for sure you always think about it. You need to bring the car home, that’s your feeling lap by lap especially in the last 10 laps. There is nothing to do but just drive and keep the pace especially in the last stint as my car was just fantastic, even better than the second and first stint. It is even easier to control the pace when you see that you know whatever happens you can do a good lap.
Even if I lost time or he is closing the gap you know that you have a great car that you don’t need to do a lot, just push a little bit harder improving the lap time. It was just fantastic. I think after such a bad result we did a fantastic job, not 100 per cent as we still had a problem with Kimi’s engine and we need to work very hard to fix that as it will be the key for the end of the championship. But I think today we had everything perfect to win the race and to do a great job.
Q. Did you know roughly the margin you needed before your pit stop?
FM: We thought that Lewis was a little bit heavier than me, one or two laps, not more than that. In the worst case if it was two laps I think I needed three seconds in front of him and we were more than that.
Q. Are you aware that the pit stop is under investigation?
Q. By the stewards. It might make a difference to what you are saying.
FM: Which pit stop?
Q. The pit stop when you were released.
FM: I didn’t do anything wrong. I just backed off. I think if it is under investigation it is more for Adrian because we went side-by-side. When I saw him I expected him to back off as I was the leader and then he didn’t, so I backed off. If it is under investigation it is nothing to do with me.
Q. You were suggesting just now that there should be a different set of rules in the pit lane.
FM: I don’t see any problem.
Q. So you are not talking about a different set of rules. FM; No, I cannot say anything. I just went away. He was on my side, so I let him go and I passed him after, that’s it.
Q. Lewis, were you worried about Felipe’s strategy after qualifying?
LH: No, we assumed that he would either go in the same lap as us or perhaps maybe longer but it turned out we were actually two laps longer than them. That was a good indication that we have had good pace all weekend and really showed we were strong this weekend. I think throughout the race they seemed to show a little bit more pace on the longer stints. I think we stayed pretty close in the first stint, but I think towards the end he was edging away a little bit. But however I was still really happy with the pace of my car and they fuelled me two laps longer. It was unfortunate as I came out so close to Felipe, so perhaps if we were going the same lap as him maybe we would have come out a bit closer or had the chance to battle. But this is racing and the great thing is we came away with some strong points for myself and for the team. The great thing is we are showing that we have great reliability and that is due to all the team doing a fantastic job.
Q. You mentioned that you have been handicapped by a health problem this weekend. Could you just tell us exactly what the problem has been?
LH: Yeah. I’ve had a pretty miserable weekend, really. I had the ‘flu when I arrived I had pretty hard fevers pretty much every day and low energy. I also had quite a big problem with a spasm in my neck which kind of nearly did lead to me not racing this weekend.
Q. What was the circuit like to race on in the end?
LH: To race on – I really enjoyed it. I think the people here have done a fantastic job preparing it. I think the weather has been great, the atmosphere has been phenomenal. The Spanish people have been great. I think also the marshals have done a fantastic job in clearing cars that have been off the track. I think they’re probably the quickest I have ever seen in my whole racing career. I was very impressed with that. But just racing on the track was generally very good, the track was very safe. It’s difficult to overtake but that’s Formula One, so I was happy.
Q. Robert, you mentioned the incident with the plastic bag. Was that about lap eight because you dropped back into Kovalainen’s clutches on that lap?
RK: Yeah, it was in the middle of the first stint, I think, around lap eight.
Q. You were talking about the pace of the two gentlemen beside, but actually you managed to pull away from Heikki and Kimi as well.
RK: Yeah, but I still finished half a minute behind Hamilton, so it’s quite a big gap. I think the key point of this weekend was just qualifying, managing to put my car in third position, third row. It turned out today that we have even more fuel than the top two cars, so it was quite a good achievement later in qualifying, managing quite good laps and I think it was the key point. Otherwise, if I started behind Kimi and Kovalainen, most probably I would have finished behind them, but I managed a good lap and here we are.
Q. Do you think you can keep that position throughout the rest of the season?
RK: Well, I will try. I’m trying my best. In the last race I also started on the second row but I finished much further behind. I’m giving my maximum and I’m trying my best. I believe everyone is trying their best but we have to be realistic and I think the true pace of our car is more similar to today’s pace than yesterday’s in qualifying. We struggled a bit more than Ferrari and McLaren on the long stints. Most probably with new tyres I managed to pull something more, the car is behaving better but as soon as the tyres get a bit used, then the car starts sliding too much and you cannot do anything.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Lewis, just going back to your neck, when were the spasms at their worst and how did you get over the spasm?
LH: I only had it once. I just woke up very, very early yesterday, before 5 a.m. yesterday, and I had the spasm in my neck. Fortunately I’ve got a great doctor who was with me the whole way through it. It was so bad that I was struggling to basically stand up and so I had to have injections in my neck and take plenty of painkillers. Fortunately, as I said, I have a great trainer who helped. Pedro (de la Rosa) was looking forward to racing!
Q. (Ed Gorman – The Times) Felipe, you have been consistently beating your team mate. Are you starting to feel like the Ferrari number one driver?
FM: No, I feel the same. I always want to beat whichever driver on the track. It doesn’t matter if it’s my team mate or not, so it doesn’t change anything for me. I always wanted to do my best and I did a lot of good results this season, a lot of bad results as well, but the mentality is the same.
Q. (Will Buxton – Australasian Motorsport News) Lewis, going back to the spasm, you said the race today wasn’t incredibly physical for you. Obviously we’re going to Spa in two weeks’ time. Do you know if this spasm is something that will recur and if it is, is the hard physical nature of Spa going to affect it unduly?
LH: No, it won’t be a problem again, I’m pretty sure. It’s still sore! It was probably something to do with my pillow, the way I was sleeping, because it was just when I woke up. I think I’ve done a pretty decent job, considering.
RK: I know a driver who brought his own pillow with him to every race.
LH: Isn’t that you?
LH: I thought you were bringing a teddy actually.
Q. (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Felipe, just going back to the race. If the stewards issue a retrospective penalty or potentially maybe a penalty for Belgium, how will you feel about that?
FM: To be honest, I don’t want to go through these comments. As I said, I answered what happened at that moment. For me it was completely normal. We saw these things happen many times, both cars going side-by-side down the pit lane, so I would be really surprised if we see a penalty or whatever because it’s just racing.
Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Lewis, you won in Silverstone and Hockenheim, fantastic victories and then in Hungary and here Ferrari showed very, very good pace, especially in race conditions. Do you think they are more or less at the same level as you because it looks like you were faster in the two races you won?
LH: I think it looks pretty well balanced. I think if you look at the whole field they all seem to be relatively close through qualifying but I think then the better car really does tend to look after its tyres a little bit better and has better longer stints, so I think we’re both pretty close there, perhaps they’re a little bit better during the race but I think in qualifying we’re quite close.
Q. (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Lewis, was the side of the grid a disadvantage today or would it have been a different story if the side had been as initially planned?
LH: I don’t think it was too much of a disadvantage. I think for sure everyone on the right did seem to get a better start, and I noticed through the race I was actually driving on that side, the pole side of the grid the whole time, so it must have been the cleaner side but it sure looked that way at the start because Felipe and Heikki got better starts. From looking in the mirror, Heikki jumped Kimi, is that right?
Q. (Will Buxton – Australasian Motorsport News) Felipe, if you’re driving down the pit lane and a car pulls out in front of you, would you expect them to be penalised?
FM: No. How many times do you see that? I think a lot. No? If you follow Formula One. Especially when everybody comes into the pit lane together, it’s pretty normal to see two cars driving side-by-side in the pit lane, so you have the line, you need to respect the line, we’re all going the same speed. I don’t think it was dangerous, it was just unexpected from Adrian because I was leading and I was beside him, so in the worst case he needs to let me by in the first or second corner. But it was not dangerous, he just backed off, so if I hadn’t backed off, he was going to back off, otherwise we’re going to crash into the wall. So one had to back off, in this case it was me. I left a margin because I didn’t want to risk anything.
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Lewis, I was wondering whether you really believe that the stewards are going to award you the victory?
LH: Absolutely not.
Q. (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) To both Lewis and Felipe, can I just get your assessment now that we’re two thirds of the way through the season, six races to go in the title race. You’ve both talked about consistency being the key, but is perhaps reliability now even more crucial, particularly for Felipe and Ferrari given the engine situation?
FM: Well, reliability is part of the consistency, so if you have a single problem, you’re not consistent, so the consistency is still the key for the championship, and consistency means the performance, the reliability and also the drivers, so I think all these things are very important to the end of the season.
LH: As you can see, reliability is the key and finishing and scoring points has got to be the goal for everyone. I’m not worried about the reliability of my car, as you can tell. The past year and a half we’ve had phenomenal reliability, and that’s obviously due to the whole package that the whole team has put together and the engine’s great, the car is great. We’ve not really got any problems. We can focus on developing the car rather than worrying about reliability which is a bonus for us.
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Lewis, just going back to your neck again…
LH: No more questions on that really….
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) … when you were driving was it giving you any bother?
LH: Yes. It was pretty tough.
FM: He lost half a second.
LH: No, no. I never lose time
Q. (Ed Gorman – The Times) Felipe, I know you’ve talked about this a little bit before, but in the last two races you’ve gone from agony to ecstasy. Can you just explain what it’s like for a racing driver to go from these incredible low points to these huge highs?
FM: I think it’s just fantastic. You’re back on top, all drivers want to be on top. I was on top when I had the problem, so that is worse, in a way, it’s more frustrating because when you can see victory in your hands and then it suddenly disappears with three laps to go, with the race almost finished, in a way it’s more frustrating because you’re not going to win.
On the other hand, I was on top but to be honest, it didn’t change anything because we came here and I was on top again, so I think the mentality was the same. We didn’t change anything and we were even more motivated after this problem, so now we need to keep motivating the people and working even harder to carry on at the top.