Pole-sitter Felipe Massa on the start, the possibility of rain, and what it would mean to become the first Brazilian world champion since Senna.
1. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1m12.368s
2. Jarno TRULLI (Toyota), 1m12.737s
3. Kimi RAIKKONEN (Ferrari), 1m12.825s
Q: Felipe, I don’t know who was the more delighted. The Ferrari garage, you or this amazing crowd at Interlagos.
Felipe MASSA: I think it is a good fight between all three but I would say the people around is amazing. It is so nice to be here and making the third pole position in a row in Brazil in front of these fantastic people which have 100 per cent emotion about motor racing and that’s great for us. To come here and see that we have so many people who love what we are doing. I think it is difficult to describe in a single word our feeling especially my feeling being Brazilian in front of my people but also racing for a fantastic team which is very emotional as well and which is working very hard. I have a fantastic family and fantastic friends around me and I think that is really a dream come true.
Q: You need to be on pole and you need to win this grand prix, so what a great start to the race weekend.
Massa: Yeah, for sure we have 71 laps tomorrow which is pretty long but it is always better to start at the front. I think we have a good car and we proved Friday and this morning that our car is very competitive around here and we showed it also in qualifying, especially in Q3, so it is always a good start to be in front. For sure I will try to do my best tomorrow to win the race and that is the important thing.
Q: McLaren looked to be quite quick on low fuel in Q1 and Q2 but you were very fast in Q3 on both your qualifying laps.
Massa: I would say I was very comfortable and I was very quick all around the sessions. But in Q2 I made a small mistake at turn four and went off the kerb and maybe we lost a couple of tenths, so already it would have been a good lap but then I managed to put everything together in Q3 which is even better as it is where it counts, so we showed a great performance.
Q: You did your first lap relatively early on and then there was lots of time for your second lap.
Massa: The first try was good enough to be on pole but the problem was that I started pretty early. I was in front of Lewis and some other drivers as well, so if I backed off in the last try and somebody improved it would have been a bit stupid but anyway I think we have a good strategy.
Q: Jarno, the first front row start for Toyota since Japan 2005. And what a weekend to do it as you were laid low with fever and here you are on the front row.
Jarno TRULLI: I think this time I really have to admit that for the first time I thought I was not going to make it for Friday as on Thursday I was feeling really bad. But after this result I have to thank the whole team for the job from the mechanics, the engineers up to the doctor as they managed to get me everything I needed to be quick. But to be honest, even before coming here I knew that this was one of those tracks, technical and difficult, where I could be very strong and my car could be very competitive, so I have been preparing for this grand prix and have been waiting for it and now here I am. I played my card during the qualifying, saving tyres and getting ready for Q3 and in the end I put in a very good lap. We have been pretty competitive all the way through, Friday’s session, this morning, so I am really, really happy for the Toyota team and for everybody, as it just shows the progress the team has made during this season.
Q: There was a lot of about managing the tyres during the qualifying sessions. Talk us through that.
Trulli: To be honest the tyres were performing pretty well. The main issue is probably for tomorrow. This comes with the set-up of the car and everything else. We need to handle the cars in a very different way compared to the qualifying. For qualifying it was pretty obvious to use the soft but for the race it could be quite a different situation, so let’s wait and see as some people might have problems. Our car in general could be good in these conditions but we needed temperature, we need sun, we need warmer temperatures than what we have had so far, so let’s wait and see for tomorrow.
Q: Kimi, an unusual situation for you playing a support role for Felipe. But you have done a great job starting right behind him on the grid and ahead of both McLarens.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, I think I did more or less what I was supposed to do. I am in a good starting place. Actually I prefer to be third rather than second as here it has been pretty a good place to start. Hopefully we will get a good start and I think we have a car to pull away like we did last year and that would be perfect for the team and that is what we are aiming for and after that it is not up to us anymore. We can just finish where we want and see what happens after that.
Q: The Ferrari looks to have been right on the pace since the start of the weekend.
Raikkonen: I think the car definitely is good. I have not had the easiest weekend but anyhow we are where we should be. I think for the race I am pretty comfortable that my car is going to be quite strong. It wasn’t perfect in the last qualifying, a bit too much understeer, but that is not a bad sign looking at how the tyres are working here and it is going to be hard for the tyres in the race. But I think we should be in a strong position for the race and in the end that’s where we need to be strong. As long as we are in the front in qualifying it is enough and we will see what we can do tomorrow but not a bad team effort from us.
Q: You were in Felipe’s position this time last year. What sort of advice have you been giving your young team-mate?
Raikkonen: Like I said I think our only chance is to be first and second and hoping for a little bit of luck from the outside. It’s not up to us anymore at that point. But that’s our aim and we will see what happens.
Q: Felipe, what has it been like for you – the pressures, the pleasures, the excitement and the anticipation? Sum it up for us.
Massa: I think everything, you know. I grew up in this area on the other side of the wall on the go-kart track and I think the memory we have around here is so huge, so nice to go back and remember everybody I worked with and everybody who knows your career and saw you growing and going to the other categories and they are here now together praying and supporting me. I think that is a fantastic feeling and for sure I know the track very well and I love to race here. I am always very competitive on this track, so that is always a fantastic feeling.
Q: Felipe, looking at those around you what do you think of the grid?
Massa: Positive. I think when you start on pole it is always positive. It was a great qualifying, a great lap.
Q: And your championship rival back in fourth place?
Massa: I am not thinking about that, to be honest. I am thinking about winning the race. After that it does not depend just on myself it depends on other circumstances, so it would be stupid to be thinking about that all the time, otherwise you don’t drive your car. If you are just thinking about that maybe you have more possibilities to make mistakes, so you just need to concentrate on your job, trying to be the quickest on the track and that’s what we did.
Q: And there was a remarkable margin back to the other drivers.
Massa: I was thinking that maybe the first try was enough to be on pole but you don’t see the others. You don’t see if everybody had a clean lap and if people can improve on the second try which is normal and I was in front, so I crossed the line before Lewis and before many other cars. To be honest I didn’t want to risk it because if you back off and you are not on pole it is really stupid, so that’s why. I think we still have a good strategy and we are looking in a good shape for tomorrow.
Q: The car seems to have been good right from the start of the weekend.
Massa: The car is just perfect. Already from the first lap on Friday things worked very well. We started with great pace, great balance and even on the usage of the tyres I think it was the opposite compared to, for example, the last race and many other races, so here for sure you need to take care of the tyres. It is not the opposite with the tyres, you need to push hard otherwise you do not get the grip, so when it is like that, for sure it is always very good for us.
Q: Jarno, you mentioned there were some areas to improve after Friday and obviously there were some areas to improve with you after Thursday, so all in all, it seems to be going in the right direction.
Trulli: Yeah, overall we’ve been improving quite a lot. From 39 degrees, I’m pretty much settled down even if I have had a lot of medicine. On the other hand, I think we’ve also made good progress on the car’s set-up, the whole team has done a very good job for me, so I have to thank them for this great result. It shows the good progress that the Toyota team has made during this season. It’s very nice to be second here. On Thursday I felt really disappointed because I was waiting for this race. I love this track, it’s a very technical, difficult track. I knew that the car could be really strong here but then at one stage I really thought that I couldn’t make it because I was feeling really bad. Eventually things improved and now here I am. It’s nice to be challenging the top drivers and it will be nice tomorrow to have a good race and hopefully to score big points.
Q: How do you tackle this race given there’s a World Championship going on around you?
Trulli: I know that there are people fighting for it, but to be honest, I race for myself and I race for my team. I race for points and racing is all my life. So all I want to do… with all my experience, I know that I don’t have to take too many risks. You can bet on me that if I am wheel-to-wheel into the first corner and I am on the inside line, I won’t give up – this is pretty sure – but for sure if I am behind, I won’t try a crazy attack at the first corner. I will just try to manage and to do my race because in the end it is the final result which is the most important. All I want is to do my race and try to score the best possible result. Felipe will do his race as well, as well as Lewis and then we will see. I don’t think we’re going to have any problems and honestly, the championship and stuff doesn’t do anything to my mind.
Q: You qualified third in 2006, raced to fourth in 2000 – those are your best positions. Can you better that?
Trulli: We will try. I am here to try and I never give up. I love racing so much, I love working with this team and every year, every time, every race we try to do better work as much as possible and I think that during this weekend so far, we have been doing quite a good job. Starting from second is quite a good position, so I just hope to, let’s say, score a similar result as in Magny-Cours. It was an all-Italian podium. It doesn’t matter where I finish, as long as I finish in the top three, it’s good. Obviously it would be amazing to end the season winning a race for Toyota, the first victory, but in racing anything can happen and I will be there to fight tomorrow.
Q: Kimi, third on the grid as last year, when you went on to win and take the championship as well, so your feelings about that?
Raikkonen: It’s OK, not the ideal qualifying but I think I’m in a good position to have a good race, so that’s the main thing. We will see what we can do tomorrow. I think the car should be strong in the race, so that’s really the main thing in the end. As long as you’re in a good position to start… I think we should have a good start and hopefully we are one and two after the first corner and then we can have a race from there but we will see what happens.
Q: It sounds as though the tyres could play more than their usual part in the grand prix. You were talking about tyre wear just now. Was that on hard tyres or soft tyres or both?
Raikkonen: I think the picture is quite similar to what it was last year here. Many people had some issues with tyres. Every time it’s these kinds of conditions and people start to have problems with their tyre wear. We are usually in a strong position, and I think tomorrow, the tyres seem to be a bit on the edge here, so it should be OK for us.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Felipe, after having some problems especially in qualifying in Japan and China, you seem to have been very relaxed all weekend. Your body language has been very relaxed and today you are on pole by a big margin. Are you yourself wondering why everything is going so smoothly this time?
Massa: I don’t know, I’m just trying to feel the moment, without putting any extra pressure on my mind. I think racing is racing; you know what you have to do, your best on the track. Outside, for sure, there’s always big expectation, there’s always big pressure, but I think it’s not because I’m fighting for the championship or it’s my home race that you need to change your approach. Your approach has to be the same. For sure, your energy is much more, it’s huge and the energy I have here gives me extra motivation, so I try to use everything, even positives and negatives around this expectation, to try to turn that into positive energy and give me even more motivation, so that’s what I’ve done during the whole week and will still be trying to do even more for tomorrow.
Q: (Rodrigo Franca – VIP Magazine) Felipe, ten years ago you were here at Interlagos sort of acting as a delivery boy for the Benetton team and now you have a good chance to win here again in Brazil in front of our home crowd. Would the title be the perfect ending for this dream that became true?
Massa: Well, the title is a dream for everybody. It’s not because of being a delivery boy, it’s not because of anything, it’s just because we are drivers and we love to do what we are doing. We race to win, we don’t race to finish second, and if you can win, it’s like a dream come true. My dream was always to become a Formula One driver and then to drive in a competitive car, to win my first race. I’m already a very lucky guy to win many races and having the possibility to win in Brazil again. I still can’t imagine how it would be if I can win the championship at home, I cannot imagine.
Q: (Rodrigo Gini – O Estado de Minas) Felipe, as the rain possibility still remains, have you and the team thought about it in setting up the car? Have you taken it into account or if it rains do you need to race with a car which is not completely suited to the conditions?
Massa: I don’t think we are in the position to say we prefer dry or wet. We prefer the perfect conditions to help us to win the race and maybe to help us with our competitors. We are not in a position to say we prefer this or that. If it’s coming for a good reason, that’s it. If it’s coming for a bad reason, that’s racing.
Q: (Rodrigo Gini – O Estado de Minas) Do you think that the difference between you and Hamilton is only due to fuel strategy or is there something more?
Massa: I think we were pretty strong yesterday, this morning, and I think I would have been surprised if they were a lot heavier than us.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Felipe, in Q2 you saved a set of tyres. How important is that on this type of circuit?
Massa: It’s important. New tyres here are always better, so for sure it’s good to have new tyres for the race but first of all we need to decide which tyres we are going to use and then if we are going to use the softs, for sure it’s very good to have one spare set. If we are going to use the hard, we still have new tyres, so we will see. We need to analyse everything and take the decision.
Q: (Fulvio Solms – Corriere dello Sport) Felipe and Kimi, do you think that this grid creates extra pressure on Hamilton, and how strong is this pressure?
Massa: I think so. I think the pressure is on his shoulders because I have nothing to lose. I am already second in the championship. It doesn’t just depend on ourselves as we’ve said many times, so I think the pressure is on his shoulders for sure and we will see.
Raikkonen: I have nothing to add.
Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) Felipe, could I ask you about events a couple of nights ago with Lewis Hamilton. A couple of Brazilian comedians turned up at a Johnnie Walker function and they threw a black cat for bad luck on stage to him, and then later on threw a Vasco shirt as well, the team that comes second.
Massa: I don’t know about this. Do you follow football? No? Sport is like that. The tifosi try to do everything to help and to support people. I cannot respond for my tifosi, I can only respond for myself. I think that’s part of the sport. I think if somebody went and hurt him I would be very disappointed but I think that’s part of the sport. It’s nothing different compared to other sports. Everybody supports what they want to support. You have some nice people in whatever country, you have some bad people, you have some people who want to joke, some people who really want to support. It’s not different in Brazil.
Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) So if that happened to you at Silverstone you wouldn’t be surprised or dismayed?
Massa: Well, I would keep my own way, so I don’t care.
Q: (Roberto Cattani – ANSA) It looks like the cars are shaking less this year. Is the track better?
Trulli: I think it was already better last year.
Massa: Last year it was already the same asphalt, it was quite good.