2009 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX
POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE August 30, 2009
1. Kimi RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN (Ferrari), 1h23m50.995s
2. Giancarlo FISICHELLA (Force India), 1h23m51.934s
3. Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull), 1h23m54.870s
Q: Kimi, your fourth victory here in Spa. It has been a difficult season for the team but today you proved a point.
Kimi RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN: Yes, I mean it hasn’t been an easy year for us. We were behind straight away in the first race compared to the top teams and we made a big step in Barcelona but it still has not been enough and for sure we have not brought new parts to the car for a few races as we are really putting an effort into next year. I mean getting the win now, it’s quite a long time since the last one, so it was perfect. My aim was to win at least one race and try to keep third place in the championship, so this is going to help us a lot but I needed a bit of effort today to get the win. We probably were not the fastest in the lap times but overall we were fastest and we managed to keep everybody behind, so that s enough. It is great for the team and hopefully we can get some good results after this race. I always do well here; we will see what we can do in the last part of the season.
Q: Giancarlo, eight points and Force India s best ever result. But do you feel this is a race you could have won?
Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Of course, obviously it is great result for us. The important target was to score even a point and to finish second with eight points is a great result. It s a great day, but actually, you know, I was quicker than Kimi. He could overtake just because of KERS at the beginning of the race, at the restart after the safety car, and I am a little bit sad for that because I was quicker than him. I was keeping his pace, even behind his car. We did exactly the same strategy race, so it is great because I finished second just one second from the leader which is a great result for us but actually we could have won the race.
Q: Sebastian, you set the fastest lap and I guess the same question to you: do you feel this is a missed opportunity or do you feel good for having bitten a bit more out of Jenson Button s points lead?
Sebastian VETTEL: We got more points than all the rest but if you look at the championship it was a very good result. Obviously it was not an easy position to start from, right in the middle, so I think I had a very good start and then unfortunately in the first lap I was bit too conservative when I saw Nick (Heidfeld) going off the track. Usually the cars very easily tend to come back spinning, so I lost a position to Nico (Rosberg) and had to catch up after the restart. I succeeded and after that, because of how things went, we just lost too much ground in the first stint to the guys ahead and then in the second and third stint I think the car was fantastic. I had no single mistake in the race. I was pushing every single lap like qualifying. It was really in the end, after the chequered flag, a pleasure to drive the car. We had very, very strong pace, quicker than the guys at the front, and also throughout the second stint even though we had more fuel on board. We lost the ground in the beginning but, nevertheless, I think, as I said, a very good result. We took points out of the Brawns for the team and, for me, I scored more points than Jenson (Button) and Rubens (Barrichello) and overall a big thank you for the team. Also compliments to Renault. With all the sh** that we have gone through the last couple of races it is good to finish again and good to prove the engine is strong enough to manage a race. I think with the failures we had we were a little bit unlucky, so we have proven that we are back and it is good to have finished the race again after quite a long time now.
Q: Kimi, the key really was that pass on Giancarlo after the restart on lap five. Talk us through how you lined up Giancarlo and passed him.
KR: I knew that we needed to get past him as more or less we were on the same lap coming in and if I hadn t done after the safety car they had too much speed to get it after that. I just made sure I was close enough after the first corner and then went behind him as close as I could through Eau Rouge. I got quite a lot of understeer and ran a bit wide on top of the hill but then once I used the KERS I was able to get next to him and just in front of him, so it was pretty easy in that way to get in front of him. I knew then as long as we don t make silly mistakes, we should be ok for the race.
Q: Giancarlo, you are sitting alongside Kimi now on the podium. Do you think you will be sitting alongside him as team-mate in Monza after this result?
GF: That s just a rumour. As I told you yesterday I was just concentrated on doing this race which has been a fantastic weekend for me and tomorrow I will start concentrating on Monza. Obviously, with the Force India overall. That s all I can say.
Q: Sebastian, tell us about the championship. How do you see it now? What can you do in the remaining races?
SV: Well, I think it is still open. This championship is a bit crazy to be honest. When I was a little boy and followed the championships in Formula One it was always pretty boring. You knew at the first race more or less who was competitive. As we see now Force India were quick this weekend. Most likely they are going to be quick in Monza. It is a low downforce track, so it is up and down and it shows how important it is to be consistent which was not our strength but nevertheless we are still in reach. I think we took six points out of Jenson, the championship leader, which is a good thing. I don t know what happened to him. I just saw his car in turn five, so I think he had an accident. But this is how we have to do it. It would have been nice to finish first today but after the result yesterday I think it was the best we could do. Everything is possible. We are here to fight.
Q: Kimi, sum up this love affair you have with this magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Four times a winner here. What is it about this place and you?
KR: I don t think there has been any special thing. Unfortunately last year we lost it in the last lap more or less. I think many drivers like it. It is a proper circuit. An old style circuit, very flowing and up and down hills, and it is good fun to drive. It is in the forest and it is just everything what you want. Usually I have always been pretty very good here since I was here the first time many, many years ago. It just seems to be good for me somehow. I don t mind. It is a nice place to win. Also we get very good races here. It is good for spectators, for teams, for drivers. It has been a pretty good weekend. Of course yesterday we could have done better to make out life a bit easier but anyhow we managed to win which is the main thing. It is good right now and we try to keep it up for the next races.
Q: Kimi, what does this win mean to you personally after quite a difficult season?
KR: We have been trying to get it. Of course we need to be realistic as we know that our car is not as fast as the teams ahead of us in the championship, but in some places, like the last couple of circuits, it has been pretty okay. In Hungary we were closer to winning that ever before this year. Here we managed to do it. It really depends on the circuit. This is important for the team, they will enjoy it, especially after the hard time this year. But we can t expect to win races after races, so we are going to give 100 per cent every weekend but it really depends if we get it 100 per cent right or not and if something funny happens, like here in qualifying. It gives us a much better chance but it was a good result for the team and we are very happy.
Q: How much pressure did you feel with Giancarlo right up behind you?
KR: I knew that he was faster. Probably we did a little mistake to put on the harder tyres at the first pit stop and they just did not warm up and maybe like three laps before the stop they suddenly started to work much better. I was able to push harder. I knew that if I could keep him behind at the pit stop it is pretty difficult for him to get past. They were very fast in the middle sector, coming back to the last chicane. Sometimes they got very close but I just started to use the KERS in a slightly different way to make sure he was not going to get a run on me and it was not so difficult. I mean it is hard to overtake anyhow, so it was very easy.
Q: At the first corner you were the only driver that went wide. Was that something that you had discussed with the team?
KR: No, first I tried to go the normal way but I think it was Nick or somebody who came a bit too fast inside and pushed Jarno Trulli very wide, so I had nowhere to go. I just needed to turn straight and go all the way around. It worked out but it wasn t the plan in the first place but there was no space.
Q: Were you able to use the KERS perhaps earlier?
KR: No, I mean it is very bumpy there. I ended up there also last year. It doesn t make much difference. It is a much longer way. If I could go on the circuit I would but if it would be fast I d try to do it every lap but that was not the case.
Q: What about your chances at Monza?
KR: It will be difficult. Our car is not as strong as some others over the kerbs and that is really the key to go fast there. To be able to drive the kerbs as much as you want, that is not our strongest point, so it will be difficult I think but we will see how our car will handle there and what we can do.
Q: Giancarlo, you seem to have mixed emotions. One, I could have won it. Two, it is great to be second. Happy and unhappy.
GF: Yes, you know before we came here if you asked all the team and myself to finish eight would have been fantastic. We are second. It is a great weekend for us. Pole position but considering our pace in the race, I was quicker than Kimi, it was possible to win the race. I have been unlucky with the safety car. Just after the start up to turn eight I was two-and-half or three seconds ahead of him and it was perfect. We had the same fuel load. I was a little bit lighter but maybe the consumption was less and I did a very good job behind the safety car. It was about the same strategy and I could win the race easily as I was quicker than him. But anyway, second is fantastic. I am really happy for the team, for myself. The car was really good. It was very consistent all the way through with the soft tyres and with the medium tyres. I am really impressed with our pace and I hope to keep going like that.
Q: Was one tyre better than the other?
GF: I started with the soft, then soft, then medium. For me, the best compound was probably at the end with the medium tyre but I was a little bit lighter than in the middle sector, so it s difficult to say because I was always behind Kimi, quite close and could never be alone to see the real pace but sometimes I lost a bit behind him and I caught him quite quickly again, so I was much quicker than him.
Q: What are the chances at Monza? How do you think the car will perform there?
GF: You know our speed on the straight is usually very good. Monza is a very high-speed circuit. The package here in Spa looks very good. Obviously we will have a proper package for Monza and it looks very promising, it looks very good. I m not saying that we will repeat a result like today s which would be fantastic but obviously getting into the top ten and scoring points would be another fantastic result.
Q: So even though you ve had a good look at a Ferrari for about 90 minutes, you ll stick with the Force India for the next race?
GF: As I told you yesterday, I was concentrating today on the race with Force India. So far, I m just concentrating for the next race with Force India unless they are going to call me, but even if they do call me, there are many things to think about, so we will see.
Q: Sebastian, it all really came together on the middle stint when you jumped Robert Kubica up into third place.
SV: Yeah, but the race started a bit earlier for us than the middle stint. Obviously the first stint was very difficult, starting eighth. I think I had a fantastic start. Then I had nowhere to go, really. Unfortunately, I lost the train in front a little bit up the hill through Eau Rouge. Mark was able to get in my tow, passed me around the outside and then I was probably a bit too cautious when I saw people going off. I think it was Heidfeld running wide. Yeah, I lost a place to Rosberg, because very likely the car could come spinning back, like I experienced in qualifying yesterday. It can happen. So it wasn t easy. But nevertheless, after the restart I was able to pass him, which was important because he was heavier and then, just because of the action, the first couple of laps after the restart again we lost too much ground to the guys in front. You know it s quite different, the cars have their gaps in between. And then onwards it was difficult to catch up. I think we did a very good job. We had an extremely good race after that, very, very good pace. I think we were one of the longest in the second stint and still catching up the leaders as well as Robert, which then brought us to third place, and then catching up again in the last stint. I think the car was behaving very well, I had an awful lot of fun driving. This circuit is fantastic, it s a pleasure, but taking three, four, five tenths per lap out of the guys in front is probably the maximum you can do, so I think pace-wise we definitely had the car to win, but it didn t come together yesterday. I m still very happy with third place, especially after the things we ve gone through at the last two races. I also have to pay compliments to Renault. I know there are obviously a lot of discussions going on in the press about our future and so on, but I can say that they are doing a really good job, the people are really behind us and pushing a lot. Obviously we were in a little bit of a bad situation with the two engine failures, especially in Valencia, for sure it didn t help, but I think we can still manage, we can see that the car is working, the engine is working, so it was a good day for us. Six points, more than all the others in the championship, so a very good day after all.
Q: Which was the best set of tyres for you? You set fastest lap quite early in the last stint.
SV: Yeah, it s true. Obviously the Friday running, especially for me, was limited because of saving mileage also. On Friday, the circuit is not in the same shape that you will find in the race, so it was quite difficult to pick the right tyre. I always struggled a bit on primes to start the stint. I think that s also why we lost out at the beginning of the first stint to the cars in front when they went away from us they were gone very quickly. Then later on, I think the pace was fine, the car was getting better and better on the hard tyres. On the second stint, on the hard tyres, it was quite difficult to restart, so the warm-up wasn t easy. And then in the last stint, I set the time quite early, obviously the new tyre effect, and the circuit was in the proper shape and then in the last couple of laps I was trying to catch up, but the gap was too big, so I was just trying to manage the gap to Robert in which I succeeded, and took a bit of pace outâ€¦ we reduced the revs and drove the car to the finish.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Giancarlo, there has been such an impressive improvement in your car, in today s race. How could it be possible, and how much is this result linked to your driving skill on this particularly circuit?
GF: In the last race in Valencia we introduced the new aero package, which was about 0.6s better than the previous one, so it was already a big step forward. We nearly had the possibility to get into the top ten and the pace in the race was not too bad, not as good as today. Here, we have more or less the same package, but obviously with a wing for Spa and as soon as we put the car on the ground we felt a good feeling, good behaviour. The balance was not good, but in terms of lap time we were quite quick anyway. On Saturday morning, with the right balance, the car was really good. And this is one of my best circuits, one of my favourite circuits, I have a very good feeling here. I m usually able to find the limit of the circuit and I was so comfortable and that s the reason. But sometimes you never know why a car like McLaren was slow at the beginning, then it was winning. Even Trulli said the same thing yesterday. At the last race he was nowhere and yesterday he was second, and today he could even win the race, so you never know. But obviously we made a big step forward, that s very important.
Q: (Alberto Antonini Autosprint) Kimi, well done. You said Ferrari hasn t brought many new parts to the last races but you ve still taken two podium finishes and a win. Could that be you and not the car?
KR: I guess everybody can decide for themselves. We found a bit of a different way for the car. We started going a bit of a different way at the start of the year and then came back in the previous races. For sure, the car is not as quick as we want, as maybe it should be, but it s handling well, and that sometimes gives much more than you can drive when you can drive it as you want, it sometimes gets you in a better position. I m happy with the way it works, but with more downforce I m pretty sure it could be a very fast car, but we know that we re not really getting any new parts, so we are where we are and as long as we get everything working well and the car feels good, I think we can still manage to get good results. It s difficult to expect more wins but hopefully (we can expect) podiums and good points and maybe in some circumstances a win.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Kimi, could you have won without KERS and where was it the most important, when you took the lead or when you were defending?
KR: There s no point in wondering if we could have won (without KERS) or not. We won and we have KERS at every race and that s a fact. It helped at the start. I actually got a very good start, but then there was Barrichello I don t know what happened to him at the start, so it already helped there and then passing Robert, I think, and then of course, it helped to pass Fisichella. It worked well for us, but it s a normal thing for us to use it at every race, so it s not like it s going to disappear suddenly.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi Tuttosport) Kimi, there are a lot of rumours about Giancarlo as your next team-mate, as you know. May I have your opinion about him?
KR: For me, it doesn t matter who is in the second car, it s not my decision. For sure the team will decide on whatever happens for the next race. But if I purely look at this race, they probably had a faster car than us, so it s probably a bit of a difficult decision in that way.
Q: (Juha PÃ¤Ã¤talo Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, you said that you changed the way how you use KERS to defend. Can you explain what you did exactly?
KR: I was using more in the last part than before, just to make sure I got good speed on the back straight. That was the only difference.
Q: (Paulo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, it looks like you are somehow giving Ferrari a hard time, considering all the rumours about next year, because it was said that you might leave Ferrari because you re not performing as well now. Lately, you ve been doing pretty well. Is there something inside of you that is bringing you to this, showing that the real RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen is still there?
KR: No. Nothing has changed, as I said. We found a pretty good way to work with the car. We did well in Monaco. The last race was very similar, Hungary was similar. This place is a bit different than many others. It s purely that where the car has been strong we ve been doing quite well every time. There s nothing that I ve done differently. We ve just achieved a good result now and hopefully we can keep it up. I think there will be races where it s not going to be easy for us but we can always try. There have been rumours almost every year since I ve been in Formula One, so I don t really care about them. I m not worried about next year. I have a contract, so it s nothing that I should be worried about. I don t make the decisions in the end but we will see what happens. Maybe Ferrari have some other plans, but as far as I know nothing has changed.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport) Kimi, according to the fuel weights, you should have been able to go at least two laps longer than Giancarlo. Giancarlo mentioned before that he was saving fuel behind the safety car but I guess you did the same, so why did you come in on the same lap?
KR: I don t know. It s difficult to say. Some engines use a bit more fuel than others. I think our engine probably uses a bit more fuel than the Renaults or McLarens. Maybe that s the one difference. I tried to get my tyres warmed up quite heavily behind the safety car, so I definitely didn t try to save as much as we could. But it paid off, we got first place after the safety car and that counts much more than one lap on a pit stop.
Q: (Joonas Partanen Iltalehti) Kimi, it has been almost a year and a half since you last won, so did the champagne taste better on the podium compared to those times you were second and third, and then another question: some people have suggested that you won t cut your hair until you have won again, so are you going to cut it now?
KR: No, it s nothing to do with that. There s always speculation in Formula One and b****t as we know. It doesn t change anything. It s the same stuff. When you re first or second or third, it makes no difference what is in the bottle, but of course the feeling is nicer overall. It s good for the team and good for me, so in that way it s nice.