2009 HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX
POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE July 26, 2009
1. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren Mercedes), 1h38m23.876s
2. Kimi RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN (Ferrari), 1h38m35.405s
3. Mark WEBBER (Red Bull), 1h38m40.762s
Q: Lewis, from the desperation of the first races of this season, tell us what it means to be a winner again.
Lewis HAMILTON: It s an incredible feeling to be back here after what feels such a long time away and with such a struggle with me and my team. But as I said on the in lap I am just so proud of the guys, as I go into the factory and I see how hard everyone is pushing. Everyone wants to win just as much as I do and they never gave up. They have never given up which is something very rare to see in such a large group of people. I am very, very proud of them. We didn t expect to win this weekend. Undoubtedly we have caught up quite a bit but we never felt we had the pace to win. But the car felt fantastic and it is incredibly special to get back up here, not only on the podium, but to get a win. It is amazing.
Q: Kimi, it s been a long time since we had a McLaren versus Ferrari at the front. Tell us about your race.
Kimi RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN: We got a very good start. That definitely helped. We knew before the race we needed to gain some places at the start to be able to fight for the podium. I was only fourth after the first few corners behind Lewis and then he overtook Mark and I could follow Mark and we went at the same time for the first pit stop. Then I don t know if he had some issues or not and I got past him at the pit stop. After that really I was just driving my own race, trying to catch Lewis. I thought I had the speed for that at one point but then suddenly he started to go the same speed and then a little bit faster. The gap more or less stayed the same the whole time. Then I had some issues on the last pit stop and that didn t help either but we had a good race. We knew that it would be difficult to challenge for the win right now. We were probably closer than we expected, so even with not such an easy weekend for the team, but we have got some good results, so hopefully that is something we can keep going like this and it is something positive at least this weekend for the team.
Q: Mark, how big a surprise is this result for you today?
Mark WEBBER: A little bit of a surprise. I think we expected to be a little bit quicker after our running on Friday but to be honest we knew these guys would be around us. It was a pretty difficult venue for us and we knew that we didn t have the advantage maybe that we had in the last few events. All in all for me I am still pretty happy to get the result we did. I think we had a better chance to fight Kimi if maybe we did a slightly different pit stop and maybe chose a different tyre but that was my call. I was worried about how long the length of the stint was and it was quite difficult to know which tyre to put on but overall we still have a lot of positives. We are still up here. We haven t been blown away by any means. We are in the hunt and we can take our car to a lot of venues and be competitive, so our guys and Renault have a lot to be proud of. We are still very much a force, so it is still a positive day for us.
Q: Lewis, it is the first win for a KERS car. You obviously had a terrific start but really the key to your day was the way your car handled its tyres once you hit the front.
LH: Yeah, I was able to manage them quite well but something I want to say is that yesterday was, I think, and maybe I can speak for all of us drivers, quite a sad day to see Felipe not with us here today. Hopefully I speak on behalf of all of us when I say we miss him and wish him well and wish him a speedy recovery. But back to the car, it was just fantastic. The team asked me to look after the tyres in which through all the great experiences I have had – good or bad – I was able to apply that today, so really a big thank you to all the guys and all the fans that have always given me support and never gave me up and to all my family.
Q: Kimi, tell us about the moves you made at the start which came up on the board that will be investigated after the race. How did you see it?
KR: I don t know about the whole thing, so if you can tell me what it s about that would be nice.
Q: Off the start line into the first corner and the incident with Vettel?
KR: I haven t even noticed if I touched somebody. I was in-between, I think, Mark and somebody else but I don t know what is going on. That is the first time when you told me but I didn t feel any touching or anything, so I cannot comment on that.
Q: Mark, you are now second in the championship. You have taken some points off Jenson Button. Will you be asking the team now to back you for the championship?
MW: No, I think it is still a bit early. I think we can still fight the Brawns with Sebastian (Vettel) and I. We know there was a bit of a blip for them in the last three races and we hope that continues and we can continue to take points out of them together. We have got these guys up here as well. It is mixing things up a bit more. Sebastian had a bit of a tough weekend this weekend. Qualifying went well but obviously the race I don t know what happened. But obviously he has lost some points which is the first time in a long time but he will be back and after the break we can recharge and take the fight again.
Q: Lewis, you have made all this progress. What next for you and McLaren for the rest of the season?
LH: We need to definitely take as much as we can from this weekend and continue to push. This means by no means we can start slowing down but that is not the way my team work anyway. We just have got to keep pushing. We have got some improvements to make for sure and some work to do to be able to beat these guys on a more regular basis. But this is one huge leap for us and hopefully we are now on the right track, so let s keep going.
Q: Lewis it is just like the old days, Ferrari and McLaren. The normal thing really.
LH: It is. It is great to see you guys. It has been a long time. What can I say. We are not challenging for a championship but it has been a fantastic weekend for us and I am very proud to be back up here.
Q: You felt you could be on the podium but maybe not the top step. Do you think regular podiums now?
LH: Clearly we have got a good car. Well, we have made some serious improvements to the car and now it is a much better balanced car. Even though we had fantastic pace today it could have gone either way. The wind direction maybe could have changed and perhaps it would have suited the Ferrari or the Red Bull better than us. But everything just sort of fell into place today. I had quite a good start and had a good little dice with Mark. He is very fair and fortunately I didn t get a puncture this time which is great. But for sure we hope that we can compete for more podiums but we still have work to do. We have just got to keep pushing.
Q: I don t suppose you really want to take a break? You d rather have a grand prix next weekend?
LH: I could race every day. I never miss it.
Q: In the break what are you planning to do? I mean you have got some nice time to think about this victory and how you can build on it?
LH: I think for us it is important that we just continue to push. We want to come back next year with the best possible chance of winning championships, so we need to continue to work on this year and understand everything to help us and hopefully make a good foundation for us to work on next year. But over the break I will relax a little bit, spend some time with the missis and with the family and hopefully come back to Valencia with another step forward and another opportunity to get onto the podium.
Q: But the emphasis is really on building for next year?
LH: Yeah, we just want to keep winning. I think we definitely deserved it after such a tough stretch of time. It s been hard on everyone: our new team principal and all the members of our team, but I couldn t have done it without them. They ve done a fantastic job and like I said, I m just very, very proud to be associated with them because they ve never given up and they ve kept pushing. We re going to continue to push and see how far we can get up in the championship but we will keep a keen eye on next year.
Q: Obviously the start was important today, tell us about that.
LH: It was very close. I generally didn t really get a fantastic start initially, being on the dirty side, which is normal. Kimi seemed to get an incredible start and was up alongside me and I seemed to level off with him once I was on the KERS we were both on KERS, I think. I don t think he saw me but he was behind Mark and he moved to the right to go past him and we nearly touched. I went to the right and fortunately Sebastian gave me enough space, so no collision there. (I went) a little bit wide at turn one but back on KERS you know KERS is working very well and just the whole package was fantastic but for once I was able to really use KERS to my advantage today, so that was good.
Q: Does it work better on a twisty circuit like this?
LH: No, not really, you re always traction-limited and so it s better with lots of long straights. I think here you could always see that my sector one has been the strongest all weekend but that s largely due to KERS really, on the main straight. And with this kind of start there s such a long stretch down to turn one, a bit like in Germany, it gives us a great opportunity to take a few places.
Q: Kimi, first of all you were nearly hit by Mark Webber at the first pit stop; did you see him coming out?
KR: Yeah, I saw when he came out. I took a little bit more space on the left hand side, so I was pretty sure that they would tell him that I was coming. I don t know how close it was but I saw him and I gave him all the space that I could.
Q: What about your own second stop, you seemed to lose time there?
KR: Yeah, we probably had some problem, and we needed to do a manual pull-away and then it went on to anti-stall, so it was a bit confusing but I just took it easy because I knew that we had enough time from behind, we were not in a hurry, so it took much longer than it should. It s always a bit difficult if you cannot make a normal proper pit stop with a proper start. When you try to make a manual pull away it can easily go to anti-stall, so that was the issue today.
Q: And generally speaking, how was the car?
KR: It was OK, nothing special. We had some issues in a few places, we knew that before. They had been there almost the whole weekend. We were a bit limited by what we could do this weekend. Overall, we still had good speed but I think we could have had better speed. It s nice to be second, for the team and for all the people who have put in a lot of effort and it hasn t been an easy year or an easy weekend with Felipe s accident yesterday but we need to be happy. We knew that our car was probably not the fastest one but we still got a good result, good points. It was good but not exactly what we wanted. You are never going to be happy unless you re in first place, Hopefully we can keep up this kind of speed and try to get good podium finishes and hopefully get at least one win this year.
Q: Mark, you re getting quite a taste for these podiums, aren t you?
MW: Yes, I am. It was a good day for us. We knew we were going to have a slightly different fight on our hands this weekend and particularly after qualifying, with these guys sitting in behind us. The KERS is a big part of the first lap and the first stint, to be honest, and I was very, very happy to survive the first lap in second place. I expected to go further back. It looked like there was a lot of elbowing well, there was in the first corner as we expect these days and then in the first stint I wasn t really worried about Fernando (Alonso) because we knew how short he was. I was very, very concerned about my tyres. It started off well, and then in the middle of the stint I was trying to nurse them, making sure that I didn t lose too much time to the guys you know, just getting down the road in terms of general race pace, because I was worried about Fernando and Lewis got a good run out of the last corner. Also, with the head wind and KERS the slipstream was working very well. We could have fought a lot harder and risked a bit more but there was no real point. I thought of not letting him go but Lewis was also pretty quick. I thought that he wasn t going to hold me up at all, so that was, in a way, a bit of a relief. And Lewis thoroughly deserved to win. McLaren did a great job today. We could have had a slightly different fight with Kimi but in the end it didn t work out, so they got second and we got third.
Q: Are you slightly worried about McLaren and Ferrari s fightback in terms of your championship chances, now you re second?
MW: If we win and make it very, very boring, it s great for us, but in the end, to be honest, I think it was a good day for the sport. Lewis is back and Ferrari are back and that s what Red Bull likes. We love racing these guys and fighting hard against them. We knew they would come back. KERS is going to play a bit of a role in the closing part of the championship but thankfully we capitalised in the early part of the championship when these guys were struggling, in terms of points, so that was a big benefit to us. We re going to continue to be in the hunt. Our guys have got a lot of positive things to look forward to. Both drivers are trying to get the most out of the car and it was a good day for us. Renault did a great job on the engine again, we saw that with qualifying, the top three were Renault engines. My engine was quite long in the tooth today but we got it home which we re very happy with.
Q: Was that your release out of the pits when you nearly collided with the Ferrari?
MW: It was, yeah. We had a little bit of confusion in the stop. To be honest, I was thinking about the guys and the fuel rig. You re so focused on making sure that everything is safe, releasing yourself and then when I did get released, I knew I had to give Kimi room and he got me. And then we did the ice skating in the first few corners on the tyres. Thank God tyre blankets are in next year because it would be a joke if they weren t.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Tony Dodgins) Lewis, key moment when you passed Mark in the first stint. We re not used to seeing people go round the outside there, was that the KERS button?
LH: I d actually used all my KERS down the straight because actually I thought that I d be able to get him in turn one but he blocked, so I went to the outside. I think I may have used a little bit at the beginning but I ran out. Mark was in my blind spot eventually, so I couldn t really see him, so I gave him plenty of room and eventually I saw him fade into the back. It was quite a straightforward move but clearly Mark was very smart, he s got to score points and there s no real point in him to taking silly risks. As for me, I needed to get past him. I was absolutely surprised to see that I was even able to keep up with him but I was able to go past him and still pull away whilst looking after my tyres, so it was good.
Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) This is to all three of you: I was just wondering how much the day has been overshadowed in some respects, given what has happened to Felipe and his current condition at the moment?
MW: What happened was very unfortunate. We have phenomenal safety in Formula One and yesterday was just incredibly freakish that that type of material could have been bouncing around and then bouncing at head height and then Felipe was coming, so very freakish that it should happen. This is the job we do but also we re very relieved, of course, that he s OK. Surgery went OK and I m sure he will be a million bucks in a few months, so that s the main thing. He s got good people around him, the FIA did a good job at the scene. We don t want to get too carried away with it but he will be fine and we re fully behind him, of course. We missed him on the grid today but the show goes on.
LH: I think I would just say that for me, I ve had a great relationship with Felipe for quite a few years now and some great battles with him and for sure to not see him with us today was definitely sad to see but I m glad that the surgery went well and we re just going to keep him in our thoughts and prayers. He s got a child coming, he needs to get back to top shape, so when he s finally a Dad he can do the job well.
KR: It s the same story. It was really a very, very unlucky situation where he ended up. As long as we race with open cockpits our heads are always the worst place and the first place that s going to be hit if there s something flying around. What happened was really unfortunate but luckily enough he s more or less OK. He s probably going to be a hundred percent fine in a little time. We in the team all hope that he s going to be fine and come back soon. This is a part of racing and we all know that. It s just a sad thing to happen.