Heikki Kovalainen believes that Mclaren will not be as competitive in Turkey compared to last time out in Monaco. Despite showing significant progress around the streets of the Principality, Kovalainen told reporters not to expect a similar level of performance this weekend.
The Finn was joined in Thursday’s Press Conference by Sebastien Buemi, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica
THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE June 4, 2009
SÃ©bastien BUEMI (Toro Rosso),
Heikki KOVALAINEN (McLaren Mercedes),
Robert KUBICA (BMW Sauber),
Nico ROSBERG (Williams)
Q: SÃ©bastien, your feelings so far about Formula One, having gone through a third of the season?
Q: You or SÃ©bastien (Bourdais) have been in the points most races. What is the potential do you feel?
SB: I think we are a little bit out of the points as if you look at it we struggle to go to Q3. We did it once and in Monaco we were really close to it, so we have a good car. But we still need to improve a bit and it is really close, two-tenths can make you stay in Q2 or even go to Q3, so we need to see what we can do to improve it and be as much as possible in the last part of the qualifying. This is the only way to be able to score points at every race.
Q: As a Formula One driver coming in at the start of the season you haven t been here in an F1 car but you have been here in a GP2 car. What difference is there between an F1 car and a GP2 car, especially when you are coming to a circuit for the first time?
SB: I would say from the point of view when you are driving the car it is not such a big difference. Okay, you are faster, you brake later and you carry more speed into the corners. But I think it is more the way you work with the people around you. It s quite a big difference because you work with only one engineer in GP2 but when you arrive in F1 you have got so many people around you and if you want to be competitive you need to be doing a good job with all of them and I think this is the biggest difference and it is what takes a bit of time to be learnt.
Q: Is that confusing in a way? You don t seem to have had a problem with that.
SB: No, but I think you see there is some potential there and there and in the end when you want to do the lap time you just need to use everything. After the race it is always there I could have been better and there as well. I think this is experience, just to be able to take everything together and then to put it in the qualifying as this is where it counts.
Q: Robert, you have the double diffuser here. What are you expecting?
Robert KUBICA: Well, I think how to be better than Monaco. I think this will be easy. Now we have to see how much gain the double diffuser will bring and how our performance will be better than in the last races. In Barcelona it was not so bad. Unfortunately in two very important moments of the weekend we had two problems. But Monaco was quite difficult. I am expecting, of course, better performance but I don t know how much.
Q: How much have you been pushing the team for the double diffuser? Are you using KERS this weekend? You seem to have so many variables to play with.
RK: No, we are not using KERS here. As we have the double diffuser we have to concentrate on it. It can have quite a big influence on the car balance and on the set-up, so we have to work as much as possible on this tomorrow and try to extract the maximum from it. We will have to see.
Q: You are known for being quite demanding of the team.
RK: Me? No, not really. Why?
Q: From various sources last year particularly. Do you push them hard? Do you ask for a lot of things?
RK: I don t think so. I think every driver is asking for as much as he would like to get and that s all. Everybody is pushing very hard. The driver from the driver point of view and the team from the team point of view. I think that is quite normal.
Q: Any particular expectations this weekend? You have twice qualified fifth and finished fourth here.
RK: Yeah, if you look at last year s results it would be good to repeat them in nearly every track of the season. But we have seen already this year that it is very difficult. In the beginning of the season it was a bit easier when McLaren and Ferrari were behind us and we were behind the double diffuser group. But then we have lost the ground in the last races. We struggled quite a lot in Bahrain and in Monaco. We were not so bad in Barcelona. I think this track will fit our car better and I hope the double diffuser will bring the expected results and we will at least be able to qualify in Q3. But it is very difficult to predict, so we will have to wait and see.
Q: Nico, this is going to be your sixtieth Grand Prix; what do you think of that?
Nico ROSBERG: That s pretty cool. I didn t know. I didn t look at how many races I ve done. It s quite amazing, really, to already have sixty Grands Prix. That s nice.
Q: There have been stories since the last Grand Prix that you ve been looking around at the possibilities for next year. Is that the case, and how difficult is it with the current hierarchy in Formula One?
NR: It is very difficult to understand for next year, what is the best team to go to and things like that. It is very, very difficult to understand but anyway, for my situation, yes of course, I m looking around because my contract ends at the end of this year but more than that there s nothing to say and at the moment I m just concentrating fully on this year because we really need to push hard to get points at every race and we re in a good situation to be able to do that. We ve scored now in the past two races, so I really hope that we can continue that form in the next couple of races and then that s it, so I m just following this season for now.
Q: How frustrated are you though, because even though you re in the points, do you not think you should be just a couple of places higher up?
NR: Yeah, but in the last few races there were always a few things that didn t go quite right. In Monaco we should have been one place up for example. It could have been possible. Barcelona, for sure, we also had a few issues, so we could have been one or two places up there but that s just the way it is. Other than that, I still think that we have a good platform and it s important for us just to continue scoring now in the next few races, to always be up there and I m very confident. We have some good updates for this track here and I m confident that we can at least keep our position and maybe even move up a little bit. You have to compare to Barcelona. Monaco is another thing but in Barcelona we were top eight and I think we should be able to repeat that here and I hope it will be a little bit better.
Q: And you ve been so quick in so many free practice sessions as well.
NR: Yeah, well, that doesn t count because we just run less fuel than everybody else, so that s why it s unfair. We look quicker than we are, so it s not important at all.
Q: It looks goodâ€¦
NR: That s not the reason why we do it! We just do it because it s the best way for us to prepare for our weekend.
Q: Heikki, is the McLaren progressing, is there light at the end of the tunnel?
Heikki KOVALAINEN: Yes, absolutely. I think we are making progress all the time and since the beginning of the season I think we made huge progress but there s obviously still work to be done. We ve just got to stay focused and keep on doing that same process that we ve been doing and eventually it will pay off but it s not easy and it won t happen overnight. Some races it might look like we re not making progress but I think we made progress at every race.
Q: What are you expecting here?
HK: I think potentially a more difficult weekend than in Monaco for example, in terms of overall performance. This circuit has more high speed corners and that s the area where we are struggling a bit more but you never know, anything can happen. At some other circuits, Bahrain for example or China, the pace was OK, so it could be an OK weekend but perhaps not like in Monaco.
Q: How much have things changed within the team? From the outside it seems there is a different approach; is there a different approach within the team?
HK: Not so much. I think we re still focussing on the work, the way that the team has already done for many years, working with the engineers and with the whole team back in Woking. That s the way we have always been doing it, so I haven t noticed a big difference.
Q: Can you say when you expect to see a bit of a breakthrough?
HK: I think it s difficult to say, it s impossible to say when it s going to happen but, as I say, it won t happen overnight, it will be a steady progress. I think that at the moment it s important to just analyse and understand where the main problems are and I think we have already figured out a lot of things that we know need to be corrected and need to be done differently and it will take some time but eventually there s no question that the whole McLaren team will be back on top.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Joris Fioriti AFP) Nico, you were talking about your expectations for next season and the team where you would like to drive but are you sure there will be a next season? Are all of you sure that there will be one?
NR: I m very confident that there will be a next season, yes, just because of the past really. F1 has always had some big political things going on and it s always come through, out on the other side, Formula One has always continued. I just have that impression and I m just very confident that things will get sorted out and there will be Formula One.
HK: I think you d better go and ask Martin (Whitmarsh) and Norbert (Haug). I m just here to race.
RK: I think it s best to ask the people who are involved in it.