Bahrain GP: Thursday Press Conference.

Nelson Piquet is confident of a change in fortunes starting with this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The Brazilian, whose future with Renault looks ever uncertain, believes that the introduction of the team’s ‘Trick Diffuser’ may be the spring board he needs to kick start his floundering season.

Piquet was joined in the press conference by both Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica. Two drivers who have also had a very disappointing start to the 2009 campaign.

This is in stark contrast to Toyota’s Timo Glock who was also present at this afternoon’s Press Conference. As a current resident of Bahrain, the German will be hoping to impress once again this weekend infront of his adopted homeland.

DRIVERS:
Timo GLOCK (Toyota),
Robert KUBICA (BMW Sauber),
Nelson PIQUET (Renault),
Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Different fortunes for many of you. For three of you not a very good start to the season. For one of you a slightly extraordinary start. Timo, let s start with the good news. Three points scores, two of them from the pit lane. What are your feelings about the start to the season?
Timo GLOCK:
Yeah, it was not a bad start, I would say. Like you say two times from the pit lane. I didn t really expect the points but we had a strong race in Melbourne and Malaysia as well with the right tyre choice. We did everything right in the race and again in Shanghai in wet conditions we had quite a good pace and two times from the back of the field after the start behind the safety car and after I damaged the front wing I had to go in the pit. I think I was again behind the whole field and to come into the points again was good and we have to be satisfied with it.

Q: Kimi, you qualify in the top 10 but then it all seems to go away from you. A best of 10th so far. What are your feelings about it so far?
Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN:
I mean definitely not what we wanted or what I wanted either but we don t have the speed right now in the car unfortunately. We are going to get some new parts at the next race but this race probably can be a bit difficult again. Hopefully the testing here helps a bit and it will be slightly better for us but I don t know yet. We need to wait and see.

Q: Robert, a similarly disappointing start. Is it reliability or performance?
Robert KUBICA:
I think both of them. A bit of bad luck as well, I would say, in the first three races of the season. Not an ideal start of the year but that is how it is and we hope to get better soon. Bahrain will be difficult but for sure we hope for some points.

Q: Nelson, the same thing with you. You have qualified each time 17th but still hoping to get into the points.
Nelson PIQUET:
Yeah, for sure. I think this weekend should be a big weekend for both of us and the team because we have the new diffusers and obviously it is going to be a dry weekend, so we are not going to have any problems. We are really going to be able to show our new pace of the car. I think hopefully both cars can score points and we can start from zero here again.

Q: Are you worried about your future or do you think that is going to be the magic ingredient?
NP:
I think it has been a crazy start to the year. Two races in the wet and in Australia, unfortunately, we were going to finish quite well and I had a little brake failure. Qualifying is not very good and I am struggling a little bit to get the performance out of the first lap. But I think obviously we had a tough car fighting between from 10th to 15th over there was very tight. Now with the new diffuser it should be much easier to be running closer to the top 10. It is a different story when you are running there, you get into less problems and this track should suit us quite well.

Q: And they always seem to give you a lot of fuel as well just to make things a little bit more difficult.
NP:
Yeah, but that s what happens when you don t have a very good position at the beginning of the race. That s always a risk you have to take to try to get lucky with the safety car or get lucky because of the weather or the cars around you are going to be lighter and overtake them when they go into the pits. But the important thing is to qualify closer to the front and then you can have a better strategy for the race.

Q: Robert, you qualified on pole here last year and finished third. And you have tested here as well. Does that make for anything?
RK:
Well, as you mention we have a good memory from here. Although we finished third it couldn t be better but we were right behind two Ferraris which were very strong here last year. Today s situation is a bit different for both of the teams, for us and for Ferrari. We are not as strong as we were. This situation makes it more difficult for the coming weekend. We have been testing here. I only drove one day because on two days I stopped because of the sand storm.  It can be quite an advantage, a small advantage, but I am not expecting miracles because we were strong here last year and we have been testing, we will be mega.

Q: What about KERS? You tried that in China. Are you going to try that again? Did you feel it was an advantage?
RK:
Yeah, I will use KERS tomorrow.

Q: And then see what happens for the rest of the weekend?
RK:
Yeah, the plan is to run it through all the weekend.

Q: And how did you feel? You felt it was an advantage obviously?
RK:
Well, if I felt it was an advantage in China I would have used it the whole weekend. As you know I removed it but the result in China on Saturday was not what I was expecting. It is quite difficult for myself to use it but I hope in Bahrain I will face less problems with the balance and weight distribution issues.

Q: Kimi, same thing. When are you likely to be using it again?
KR:
I don t use it tomorrow. The other car will run it and then we will make the decision which way we go. We either take it and use it if we don t have any issues with it and we will put it also in my car but really we want to look a little bit and compare the two cars with and without and see a little difference. That s our main thing tomorrow.

Q: You have never seemed to be a massive fan of KERS.
KR:
It is probably faster in quite a few places but the car was not too bad the last race in qualifying. I think we could have been faster even there but we had an issue with it. It is not much different driving with or without it for us.

Q: The diffuser modifications. When would you expect to get that?
KR:
Hopefully we will have the new parts for the next race in Barcelona.

Q: You have been second and third here in the past and you tested here as well, so are you feeling a little bit more confident about this?
KR:
Like I said, hopefully the testing at the beginning of this year will help us this week. It has usually been okay for us. Of course we are not in the position we were the last few years right now but I still think we should have a better chance here than maybe at some previous races.

Q: Timo, Toyota tested here. Your feelings about here?
TG:
Yeah, we have to wait and see. The test we did here was quite different to the conditions we have now. It is much warmer. This will be one point for tomorrow to see where the car is. We are still missing a little bit with the car we had in the winter tests. The winter tests were pretty consistent. Every time we went out in the car it didn t really have any problems with the set-up and now over a race weekend when we start on a Friday on a green track it is a bit tricky with the car and we have to try and find a way to get it more consistent over the weekend and have a stronger start. A good qualifying is important to start more in the top 10, top five, to be able to fight for the podium.

Q: In terms of the development race are you happy with the pace of that and are you now looking to use KERS as well?
TG:
No, so far at the moment we are not planning to use KERS but we have to be careful in terms of development. We have to be stronger now I think even than in the winter time to keep that advantage against the other teams. Everybody will come up with a new aero package in Barcelona and  we have to fight for that position where we are at the moment. For me Red Bull made quite a big step in China. They were really quick and we have to fight that we can stay in that position where we are at the moment.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Joris Fioriti AFP) You were just talking about the Red Bull performance in China. Were you surprised by it?
TG:
For me they were quite strong already at the tests and at the end they developed from race to race. The race in Australia showed already the pace. Sebastian (Vettel) was in P2 in the race and in Malaysia as well they were quick, so for me it is not a big surprise but I think they made a little step or they were maybe just a little bit better sorted out. The temperatures in Shanghai were quite cold compared to the other races and maybe that is part of the difference but for me they looked strong in testing.
Q: Kimi?
KR:
Yeah, I mean they have been looking fast every race. Like Timo said they were a bit stronger in the last race. I don t know if they got some new parts or not but they have definitely been strong all year.
Q: Robert?
RK:
Same.
Q: Nelson?
NP:
Hopefully they won t be too quick when they get the new parts. Otherwise that is going to make our life a lot more difficult.

Q: (Lukasz Ceglinski Gazeta Wyborscza) Robert, Renault, McLaren and even Force India have had some significant updates on their package. You will basically drive the same car as in Australia. Do you feel frustrated about that?
RK:
Not really. This is the reality, that we didn t get any big upgrades until now and we will not get any here as well, just a few really small ones. Somehow we have seen this last year, I m pretty sure, so it s not really frustration, this is the situation. We are waiting for the Barcelona package which will probably be a big step forward, we hope so, but as you know, everybody else is working as well. Everybody is expecting to move forward in Barcelona with their new aero packages, everyone is working, so we have to see how we will be compared to them in Barcelona.

Q: (Bill Johnson The National) Principally to you, Kimi: are you surprised at those who are making the early running in this season s drivers championship and if so do you welcome the so-called new kids on the block getting onto the podium that you used to regard as your own territory?
KR:
It s normal for them to be there. I don t think that they are new in Formula One. It s not a big surprise. Those teams were fast in the winter testing. We are missing speed right now. Hopefully we can turn it around pretty quickly, I expect at the next race. They are welcome. For sure we would rather be there but right now we are not in a position to fight for those positions, so we just need to make the best (performance) as we can here and then hopefully get back to where we should be in the next race.

Q: (Dan  Knutson National Speed Sport News) For all of you: we ve had four races in five weeks. In the past you would all be going testing next week. Are you looking forward to the time off or would you prefer to be going off and trying lots of news parts?
KR:
When you have a situation like the one we are in, it would probably be nice to try the new parts before the race but that s how it is, we re having some time off, so we go to the next race and sort it out there.
TG: In the end, we have to wait for Barcelona as Kimi said, to test the new parts on Friday in free practice but it s not an easy situation because when you get new parts for the race weekend and you have to try them while the track is evolving it s quite tricky to sort that out but at the end we all have to deal with it, it s all the same. The time off after the first four races is not too bad. I think everybody has travelled quite a lot. The mechanics have had a hard life as well and I think everybody is happy to have a couple of days off.
RK: In our situation it would be good to have days of testing, although you have to have something new to test otherwise it doesn t make sense. I think that it would be good, in our situation, to have a couple of days running at some track.
NP: I ve had four weekends of races and one weekend of roadshow, so I ve had five busy weeks but obviously if I could test it would be good, the same for everybody, no testing, so one week s rest a little bit.

Q: Robert, Kimi, does it mean you will probably go to the factory and go through everything and maybe some simulation?
RK:
We go to the factory, of course, but I think the problem for everybody is known, so you don t need additional input from the driver. We don t have simulators, so there will be no simulation but of course we try to help the team as much as we can from the driver point of view but as I said, I think the problem is known by everybody and there is no need for additional meetings or things like that.
KR: Similar story, all the people are working one hundred percent, they know what they re doing. It s more the time that s against us than anything else. I have some other work to do anyhow. I don t know if I will go to the factory or not. If they need me, yes, but people know what they re doing. We usually plan the meetings if we need something but we are here and we always discuss all those things, so it probably won t be necessary to go there.

Q: (Sarah Holt) Kimi, do you feel under extra pressure, personally or from within Ferrari, to score points for the team or for yourself this weekend?
KR:
For sure I want to score points but I don t feel any pressure. We try to do our best every time and unfortunately we haven t managed to score any points so far. We are all one team and we all don t feel so good when we have bad races but that s how it is right now unfortunately. We do the best that we can here and hopefully we get some points.

Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Kimi, can you believe you are in this position after three races without a point compared to 18 months ago when you were World Champion?
KR:
Things change quickly in Formula One, we know that. There are new rules. Of course we had pretty good winter testing. We probably saw in the last test that we were not where we wanted to be, exactly, but it hasn t been the start of the season that we were looking for as a team but we just need to work harder and improve the situation and get back to where we want to be. We know that we can do it but it takes a while. That s unfortunately the situation where we are.

Q: (Joris Fioriti AFP) Do you think you are far away from Red Bull and Brawn GP?
TG:
For me, it looks like it s a bit track dependent. We were quite strong in Malaysia and in Shanghai we struggled a bit, so for me, behind Brawn and maybe the gap to Brawn is slightly bigger, slightly lower depending on the track, but for me they look quite strong in Q3 in China as well with a lot of fuel on board. After Brawn, I think it s always track dependent who is quicker.
KR: We are probably one second behind them, so I think it depends a bit from circuit to circuit  but that s more or less where we are and we know that, so we are aiming to catch them up and of course, when you re once behind, it s not easy because everybody is also going forward, so it s hard to catch up completely but for sure we are going to get much closer next race.
RK: I think the gap is similar to Ferrari as we have seen in the last three races, we ve been close together, sometimes in front, sometimes behind them, so I think the gap is very similar as Kimi mentioned.
NP: Hopefully with the new aero package that we have here we can fight them. Maybe this track is a bit different compared to China but I think we re going to be much closer than we were but we should be with them.

Q: (Alan Baldwin Reuters) Can I ask Robert a similar question to the one that Kimi was asked regarding your position here because this time last year you had a reasonable chance of winning, you were on pole. You come here with three races gone and you re yet to score points. Would you have believed that this time last year, that you would be four races into the championship and still looking for that?
RK:
Of course it s difficult to predict what will happen in Formula One but we have seen today s situation is completely different to last year. There are new teams which are very strong. There are big teams in the past which are now struggling. This is the reality. There is nothing to panic about. We have to keep working, keep improving and stay calm and everybody will be going in the same direction to get back on the track where we would like to be with our goals, with our targets, as a team, as a driver. The situation is not the best, it s not ideal but we have to take it step by step, move forward and try to catch the front runners.

Chinese GP: Thursday Press Conference

Jarno Trulli remains adamant that this week’s Diffuser hearing has not distracted his Toyota team from closing the gap to Brawn GP.

Alongside the Italian, Heikki Kovalainen, Rubens Barrichello, Kazuki Nakajima and Mark Webber reflected upon the season so far and gave a brief summary of their expectations ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Drivers Participating:
Rubens BARRICHELLO (Brawn GP),
Heikki KOVALAINEN (McLaren Mercedes),
Kazuki NAKAJIMA (Williams),
Jarno TRULLI (Toyota),
Mark WEBBER (Red Bull)

Press Conference

Q: Heikki, what are your feelings about the start of the season? It would be nice to do a lap, I suspect. How are you going to overcome that? What are your feelings about it?

Heikki KOVALAINEN: Well, I think there are many positives from these races apart from the actual race day. It has been pretty poor both race days. Like you said, I have not been able to complete a race lap yet. But otherwise I feel I am getting more out of the team. I work better throughout the whole weekend with the team and, in fact, the base has been pretty promising. I am over those disappointments now and I just move on and try to complete the weekend with a good Sunday as well.

Q: The team as a whole has also had a hard time. What is the mood within the team now?

HK: It is very positive. If you look at the circumstances it could be a kind of time to bring the team down but I think everyone has kept the focus, kept digging deep, kept working hard. We have got another upgrade for the car this weekend, so I think this is the attitude that we need at this difficult time, just keep our heads up. That is what the whole team has done including myself. I am just trying to put as much effort in as I can. We just try to power through these difficult times.

Q: With those upgrades will you expect an improvement in terms of position?

HK: Hopefully, yes. Obviously, that is why we are pushing very hard to move up the grid. We are not trying to stay around 10th place or so. We are always aiming to eventually arrive in pole position and be winning races again. Clearly this is our target. I think for this weekend it would be unrealistic to say we will be fighting for pole position but I think can have another good step forward and hopefully we can start the challenge to get into the top 10 in qualifying, into Q3. That is the next step and then obviously always trying to fight for the victory if possible but just keep improving throughout these weekends. That is the main key at the moment.

Q: Mark, so far there seems to have been a lot of promise if not the result. What are your feelings about the first couple of races?

Mark WEBBER: I agree with that. We had a pretty good run in Melbourne until the first corner. I think Heikki hit Rubens. I haven t spoken to Heikki about that yet but Rubens and I said we are going to bash him up later on. Yeah, that happens.

HK: You guys brake so early for the first corner. Next time I will run over you even more.

MW: Then Malaysia was obviously an exceptional race with the weather in the end and that could have gone either way for many people obviously with people who were pitting or weren t pitting for different tyres. We are in a reasonable situation pace wise. We re not right at the front but not going too bad, so we are coming here very optimistic again to try and fight for a podium if we can. It is not easy. Jarno has done a good job so far and Nico (Rosberg) as well with the Williams. So it is tough out there as usual and we will do our best.

Q: Obviously Sebastian (Vettel) was running fairly light in qualifying in Malaysia. That must have been quite a promising and encouraging position on the grid for him though?

MW: Yeah, it was a reasonable job as you say with the fuel load. And Kubica s pace, he also could have been third. Jarno did a very good job. Q3 is a very important session, we know that, and the fuel load is quite powerful for lap time, always has been. Like I said we will try and do the same here and get up at the front if we can.

Q: Heikki was talking about upgrades. When are you expecting new bits and pieces? When are you expecting the magic diffuser?

MW: Early in Europe we will get the diffuser and we have a pretty good upgrade for Barcelona, so not a lot going on for the next two races but I think for Barcelona we will be in better shape and then a few races after that we might see the introduction of a different rear to the car.

Q: Kazuki, I hear you were at Suzuka the other day. Can you tell us about the day and also about the modifications to the circuit?

Kazuki NAKAJIMA: I have been to the Suzuka circuit for the opening event and it was really impressive as the whole circuit, apart from the track lay out, has been renewed completely. All the pit buildings, garages, grandstands. It was pretty impressive if you know what it was before. It is completely different, so it was quite nice.

Q: Did you do any laps? I hear your father was there as well.

KN: Yeah, he was there. I think he did a lap with an old F1 car but I didn t manage to do any laps. It was a shame. I was there but I didn t manage to drive anything. I am sure that the layout of the track has not been changed but they have resurfaced the track.

Q: How was the reaction to you as a grand prix driver as obviously you are gaining in status?

KN: It has been since, I think 2005, that I have been to Suzuka and the reaction of the fans was massive and I struggled to walk though the paddock. It was maybe a bit too much for me but it is always nice to come back, especially as a grand prix driver and I am really looking forward to going back in October.

Q: And your feelings about the season so far as the car looks very competitive?

KN: Yeah, there are a lot of positives. The car is quite competitive and Nico (Rosberg) had a great start in Malaysia and he was leading the race. It is quite clear that we have a very competitive car and I didn t make the most of it for some reason. At the moment we have a good car and we just need to keep it good. From now I think it is going to be a massive development race, so we just need to keep up with this.

Q: Jarno, a massive development race. First of all your feelings about the car. Is it better or worse than you expected?

Jarno TRULLI: I think that the car has been developed pretty well over the winter time, so the first race went pretty well scoring lots of points. But there is still a lot of work to do. Our car is competitive but we still have to catch up with Brawn GP as at the moment they are more competitive than us. There is work to do and we are focussed on that job.

Q: When are you expecting upgrades?

JT: We have got some upgrades here, front wing and rear end of the car as well. We are consistently working on it. The team so far has done a good job. Obviously after so much noise about the rear diffuser we are a little bit undecided about what is going on but on the other hand we were quite confident that we would win the race and in the end I am pleased with it.

Q: This circuit has not been good for you.

JT: No matter. I will just get on with my job and with my team to do the best for this weekend. Hopefully it will be a good weekend as I have an important reason to get a good result. As you can see on my overall I am wearing a message for my new charity campaign, Abruzzo in the Heart. You all probably have heard about the dramatic situation in the region after the earthquake. I want to support the people and to do that I gave up one of my sponsors to give visibility and raise money. I am going to ask GPDA drivers, teams, everyone, to join me. This is not just asking about the money. I am raising money but I want to ask people to donate not just money but items.

Q: Rubens, this is a really circuit for you. You have finished all five races and you won in 2004. Do you know who was second in 2004?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: Jenson (Button).

Q: So it is looking pretty good, isn t it?

RB: Yeah, I like the track very much. It is a track on which I ve always gone quite well. The weather is going to be dodgy, maybe just because we changed the date of the race. It could play into good hands. I think the first two races have been quite good for the spectators to see the racing plus the wet has brought more of a show, so I think this one will be no different.

Q: Two months ago, you probably didn t have a Grand Prix seat. Tell us about your emotions regarding the start of this season?

RB: As I ve mentioned before, I ve always been very, very positive about myself racing. But in all honesty, I think only myself and probably my two kids knew that I was going to race. It was fun to watch them, in the way that they look at it: he s having a longer holiday but he s going to go sometime soon. Not even my wife knew if I was going to race, or the whole of Brazil. So it was nice to see that. I knew the car was going to be good, I didn t know how good. We knew the engine was very, very strong, as it is, so it was just a dream when they phoned me and said I was going to drive. After four laps in the car, I could see it was very competitive.

Q: What are you feelings about the tyre choices for this race? Different temperatures here too; it seems to be all over the place.

RB: It is. Myself, I still need to understand what is the reason why we bring such different tyres, if it s for the show itself or… I think we have a very good tyre for here and a softer tyre which all the teams might struggle with. That may make the race itself very nice because someone might be struggling, you have overtaking and that s quite nice, but I m sure we re capable of bringing out of the four types of tyre that we have we can bring different tyres that can be better for us drivers. In Australia, the tyres were already graining after five laps and it will be the same here, possibly even more because the track itself is more abrasive, and if it s cold the tyres are going to be a bad effect. If this is for the show itself, I don t think it s dangerous for us danger in the way that you could be driving five seconds slower and another car is catching up quite quickly, but it s lovely for the show itself.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Beniamino Natale ANSA) I would like to ask Jarno if he has anything more to say about his help for Abruzzo, his home region where there was this dramatic earthquake?

JT: We have probably all seen what happened there and being part of Abruzzo I wanted to do something special. It took a few days before really realising what was going on, because honestly it is a dramatic situation there. Nearly three hundred people died which is not so many compared to what really happened. We don t have a city or villages anymore; everything has gone, blown away. More than one hundred thousand people have been left with nothing: no houses, no jobs, families. It must be really hard. I didn t go back yet because I haven t had time because of the travelling and work. I will go back just after these two flyaway races. At the same time, I was trying to think what to do and I believe that as I am from Abruzzo and this is an Italian business but everyone around the world knows about the earthquake and because I work around the world, I just wanted to show to everyone or let everyone know what s going on there. There isn t much difference between the tsunami and the earthquake in Abruzzo, it s a dramatic situation and I want to make my contribution. Eventually, the final target will be to raise money first of all and then at the end of the season see how much we have and try to go there and rebuild schools everything basically has to be rebuilt. I just want to try really hard. For once in my life, I will probably go and knock on everyone s door to raise some money.

Q: (Luis Fernando Ramos Racing Magazine) Mark, we saw you working amongst the drivers in Malaysia during the interruption, discussing the conditions. I want to hear how the GPDA is now and how do you see yourself in the role as GPDA leader?

MW: The GPDA is very strong at the moment. We have a full grid of active members within the association with the exception of Kimi. So we have come quite a good way. It s always been very, very important that the GPDA is constantly counselling each other on different issues that come across our sport. My role was not that difficult in Malaysia. All the drivers were concerned about the conditions and I was just really asking the guys what they thought, because there could have been a situation where the race might have been turned round quite quickly, i.e. they could have started the race quite fast again, in their eyes, but in our eyes obviously it was totally different. So I thought it was worth asking a few guys towards the front and guys with experience, and I also asked Lewis being the World Champion and all the responses were the same. So when we communicate a lot better off the track it makes it easier for the guys to have more respect for each other when we are under off-course pressure from the teams or under pressure from ourselves to get the results. The organisation is going fine.

Q: Jarno, in Sepang you managed to qualify second and the team got on the podium, so are you confident that Toyota is able to catch Brawn GP?

JT: We cannot take the Malaysian result as all the other races because first of all it has been cut short. A lot of events affected the race, so it would be unfair but the first two races definitely showed that looking at the performance, Toyota is not far away from Brawn and for sure it s in the top three teams. On the other hand, there is some work to do in order to beat Brawn GP but I m confident because my engineers worked really hard, they have a good idea of what to do in the future and it s better to start being second in the championship rather than being fourth or fifth as we were in the past. I think we have a pretty good car, a good base and now it s just a matter of developing it.

Q: (Carole Capitaine L Equipe) Can you tell us about the decision of the court of appeal?

HK: I think we have a clear direction now. Everyone can go and develop things accordingly. For me as a driver it doesn t make any difference. I drive the car and hopefully there is more grip now.

MW: (Thumbs up)

KN: Well, it doesn t affect me. I m pleased and as a team we are pleased that it s clearly allowed now. As I said, it s just going to be a development race from now. It doesn t make a big difference to us.

JT: Well, obviously no difference. I m just happy about it.

RB: I like the decision a lot!

Q: (Adam Hay-Nicholls Metro) Question for all of you: have you stayed out in Asia and what have you been up to if you have?

HK: I went back to England after the last race, spent four days in Woking working with the engineers with a bit of simulation as well and then got back on Saturday, went to Singapore for a few days, found a nice golf course. Then when I lost all the balls I turned up here!

MW: Yeah, I went back to the UK as well and I got here as late as possible and I leave as quickly as possible.

KN: I was in Japan and I had a full week off in Japan well, not a full week off but then I went to Suzuka for one day.

JT: Just after the last race I flew back to Europe. I went to the factory, did some work and then spent some days at home with the kids and obviously Easter with the family. I just managed to lose my voice on the flight coming here to China. I m here since Tuesday morning; I haven t done much, to be honest because there isn t much to do, and I will fly out on Sunday night.

RB: I ve been back to Brazil, so I ve been flying for four days already.

Q: I have a question for Rubens: Lewis Hamilton said yesterday that this is only the start after the decision. Brawn GP is leading (the Constructors) at the moment but usually in the middle of the season more competitive drivers emerge and Brawn GP won t have as much advantage as they have now. What do you think about this opinion?

RB: I hope he s wrong.

Post-Qualifying Press Conference

DRIVERS:
1. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren Mercedes), 1m47.338s
2. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1m47.678s
3. Heikki KOVALAINEN (McLaren Mercedes), 1m47.815s

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Lewis, I guess the smile on your face says it all with the pleasure and the perfection of your pole lap.

Lewis HAMILTON: Today has been a great day for me. I was so happy with all three laps I did throughout qualifying. It is always satisfying when you can go out, do one lap and come back in and watch everyone else going around trying to get their laps done. Today the team made no mistakes and I made no mistakes. I had four great laps but especially at the end. In my first Q3 lap I had a bit of a lock up at turn one and I had the same for my second Q3 lap but somehow managed to keep it together but the rest of the lap I was very happy with.

Q: And not an easy weekend so far with changing conditions. In Q2 we saw you running with the harder of the Bridgestone tyres compared to your team mate, so a lot of indecision going into qualifying.

LH: Not on our side. I decided to stay with the harder tyre for Q2 and surprisingly the option tyre, the softer tyre, is quite a bit better. I think everyone else was on the option tyre but I was on the prime and I was very, very comfortable with the pace that I had, considering I was on that tyre.

Q: You mentioned the lock up. That is not the first time we have seen you locking up. Is that something we should be talking about?

LH: Not really. It is one of the characteristics of my car and that’s why we are quick, maybe, I don’t know. But even with those lock ups we still managed to pull it out of the bag. I feel great. The team and the atmosphere in the team feels great, back at the factory but also here and really the solid job that they are doing is coming out in the results that we have, so I am absolutely thrilled to be here.

Q: Felipe, it will be a very tight first corner going into the Belgium Grand Prix.

Felipe MASSA: To be honest, I did a great lap, I did almost a perfect lap but it was not enough. Sometimes you do a great lap and you are still missing something. On the qualifying these guys showed definitely a better performance than us and we need to understand why. I think yesterday we had a great car. I did a great job in qualifying but it was not enough.

Q: You are implying that going into qualifying you felt that the Ferrari was right there with the McLaren, although we don’t know what the fuel loads were at this stage.

FM: Yeah, for sure we don’t know their fuel loads. But I think they were quicker in all three qualifying sessions, so that is a sign they are pretty strong here. But the race is long and starting on the front row is always very important, so let’s try to have a good race tomorrow.

Q: How does the car feel through Spa’s fast open corners?

FM: It feels okay. The balance is good. For sure in terms of car balance we have a good car. We just need to pick up a little bit more speed to improve that couple of tenths to be in front of them. But it was not possible today, hopefully tomorrow we will see a different picture but it will depend on the track and the conditions, so we need to do everything we can tomorrow to have a strong pace.

Q: Heikki, P3 confirmed the speed McLaren have this weekend. Talk us through qualifying from your point of view.

Heikki KOVALAINEN: Well, it has been a pretty good weekend all the way through. We have not had any big problems with the car and we have been modifying it little by little trying to increase the pace at the same time. The three sessions in qualifying were fairly straightforward for me, no big problems, but not quite enough to be higher up on the grid. But anyway we have the race tomorrow and we will see if we can be a little bit better.

Q: How did your lap feel in the cockpit?

HK: It felt okay, no big problems. Obviously, we lost a little bit in the middle sector, I don’t know exactly where in terms of corners but somewhere in the middle of the lap I think I lost a little bit. But that’s life. Sometimes that’s the way it goes.

Q: Lewis, this could not be more different coming here from Valencia. And your physical condition comparing two weeks ago to how you look to be driving now.

LH: Absolutely, I think coming from Valencia we knew we had some work to do. I have come here feeling better than ever and more and more comfortable in the car. The preparation has been fantastic. As you can see I am stoked and I am struggling not to smile. Tomorrow is going to be a challenging day for all of us but with the pace and the package we have we are going to be hard to beat.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Lewis, to what extent do you feel you’ve been on top all weekend? Has everything been going perfectly? I know we saw you having a change of brake set-up yesterday.

LH: Yeah, otherwise it’s been going pretty smoothly. We’ve not had any problems, the car’s reliable. I think yesterday we just made sensible choices and good steps forward with the limiting running that we had and also this morning. But I felt pretty sure, coming here compared to last year, that the car that I have, the set-up that I’ve worked on with my engineers would be suitable for here, so I’ve felt pretty much on it all weekend.

Q: How much is a driver unsettled by the weather conditions here, by the showers coming and going, and the damp circuit?

LH: It’s no problem for me. There’s times when you have to go out and do what you do. For example, if we had the conditions that we had in P3 in qualifying then we would have been forced to go out and then obviously you are taking a certain risk. But there was no need this morning, it was undecided whether you went out on wet tyres or on slicks – there was a bit of a mix – and I just didn’t want to go out and waste my time. This is going to be a very hard circuit in the wet if it does rain and without traction control, it would be a real challenge, especially with all the slippery white lines but I guess we will just have to do the best job that we can if it does.

Q: When you do a lap on this circuit, a long one with a fantastic range of corners, tell us about the satisfaction of doing that?

LH: I would say this is different to Monaco, Monaco being my favourite track. If you get a perfect lap at Monaco, that also feels incredible. When you just breeze past the barriers, it feels amazing, but here, being probably the most incredible circuit for me on the Grand Prix calendar, when you put a lap together, when it’s clean, smooth, flowing, and you hit every apex that you plan on doing and you really extract everything out of the tyres, everything out of the car, it really feels incredible. It is very difficult to do so. You have to make sure that you have the right car and the right set-up and it’s easy to push too much in one corner and struggle on the way out of another. I can’t explain to you just how great it is.

Q: Felipe, obviously good yesterday, did things go off a bit today or did you feel you were still on top of it this morning and this afternoon?

FM: No. Difficult to explain, for sure. We saw that the McLaren pace in qualifying was pretty strong, but anyway, I did a great job, a great lap. I couldn’t manage to get everything out of the car like Lewis just mentioned. I did a perfect lap but it was not enough. We missed a little bit of speed which would have put us in front of them. For sure, we need to look at the strategy first to have a clear picture but if you look at all three qualifying sessions they were pretty strong, so I guess they have a very strong pace here at this track. But you never know, the race is long, I think we can have a very good race pace to fight with these guys. It was very difficult to be in front of both McLarens but at least I was in front of one and we will see tomorrow how it’s going to be.

Q: And the start here, is it certainly better to be on the inside or are you not worried about being on the outside?

FM: For sure, the pole position line is always better. We will see how it’s going to be. We also need to see how the race is going to be in terms of weather. For sure, if it’s damp and you have a dry line on the right hand side that can be a disaster for us but we need to wait and see. If it’s a consistent track we can even do a good start I think.

Q: Do you see the championship becoming a bit of a duel between yourself and Lewis?

FM: Well, for the moment, in the last race we were fighting very close to each other, so… I hope so.

Q: Heikki, fastest in Q2 with a fantastic lap, what are your feelings about being third on the grid?

HK: Of course it’s the wrong direction from Q2 to Q3. I would rather go from third to being on pole but couldn’t find any more today. It was the maximum that I could achieve today and tomorrow I will try to do better, try to improve the position.

Q: Was the car perfect today?

HK: It’s never perfect but it’s pretty good. All weekend we haven’t had any big problems and we have been just fine-tuning the set-up little by little and no big issues with the car. To be honest, it’s working really well and I think the whole team has managed to improve the car during the last few weeks, so this is very encouraging for the rest of the championship.

Q: Tell us how the track has evolved over the last couple of days because the rain washes away the grip, it comes back and then it goes away again.

HK: To be honest it wasn’t too bad, even to start with on Friday. It was in much better condition than any other circuits, particularly, I think, because people drive around here quite a lot in different kinds of cars and the rain hasn’t taken that much of the grip away because the grip really hasn’t been so different at any point. It’s just when the water arrives, it makes it slippery and like Lewis said, the painting and all the white lines are very, very slippery, so that’s the tricky bit. Yesterday, Kimi lost the car touching the white line a little bit, and a few other drivers as well, so it’s very difficult when the circuit gets wet but in the dry the grip level has been fairly consistent.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Mark Danby – Auto Magazine) Lewis, you mentioned before about the white lines in wet conditions. Is there any particular part of the track which concerns you more than other areas if it was to be wet tomorrow?

LH: I think if I was concerned, which I’m not, it would probably be with the higher speed corners: Eau Rouge. If you clip the outside and the inside of the kerb it could be quite unpleasant but also the outside kerb of turn ten through Pouhon. It’s such high speed and you’re relying on the grip level you have and if you just touch that white line, I’m sure it’s going to send you flying, so it’s very, very important that we try to avoid those.

Q: (Ingo Rörsch – Sport Bild) Lewis, how important is it for the rest of the season that the team has been decided for 2009, so there aren’t any rumours who could be in the team next year, so you can concentrate on just driving?

LH: I don’t think it was a particular problem because we knew the situation and what would be the team’s plan. I think it’s great for Heikki to know that he’s here, he’s got a comfortable place here next year and we can continue to work together. For me it’s pleasing because Heikki and I get on so well and we do such a great job in testing and everything that we participate in with the team and that’s really the reason why we are so strong this year. It’s not down to one individual, it’s down to all of us really, putting in a hundred percent, so Heikki’s brought a lot to the team, and I’m looking forward to continue working with him for hopefully a lot longer than just next year.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Heikki, you said in the unilaterals that you lost a little bit of time in the middle of sector, but actually in your last attempt you were slower in the first sector than on the first attempt. Was there a certain problem there?

HK: Yeah, there was a little problem in turn one and perhaps I lost a little bit of time there. I just locked up all the wheels for a moment. I got a bit out of shape but that happens sometimes when you’re trying to push a bit more.

Q: (Fréderic Ferret – L’Equipe) Lewis, in Budapest, Felipe made a great start and you were on pole. Is it something that worries you for tomorrow? And can you work on your start as a driver, and have you practised some starts since Budapest?

LH: Yeah, he’s obviously been very quick in the last couple of races, his starts have been going better and better. In Hungary I think we had a very good start. I don’t know in the last race that we had the best but we were on the dirtier side. I don’t know whether we’re on the clean side here, I don’t particularly think there is a real clean side. The team has been working very hard… there’s not really much more that I can do. If the grip’s there, if the settings are right, then I will be able to extract the most from it but 1) if you don’t have the grip you struggle, and 2) there are some areas that we can improve on but I think we will be strong tomorrow.

Q: (Thomas Richtr – TV Nova) Heikki, you actually start from a very interesting position considering the circumstances. Will your aim be to beat these two gentlemen or to keep Kimi at bay?

HK: Both, to be honest. Trying to keep Kimi behind and overtake both of these two. That would be the ideal plan.

Q: (James Allen – ITV) Heikki, I’m not much of a student of body language but in the unilaterals and here now, you looked pretty disappointed. Obviously with a car advantage throughout the session, not locking out the front row, how big a problem is that for you and McLaren?

HK: I don’t think it’s a big problem, it was the maximum that we could achieve today. The race is tomorrow and we are in a good position, so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Moto und Sport) Lewis, there’s quite a short run into the first corner. Does it make the start easier or more difficult versus a circuit where you have half a kilometre before the first corner?

LH: I think for the start it perhaps makes it a little bit easier. I think the longer the straight from the startline the more effect a good start will have. But I think it’s tricky here. There’s turn one and then you’ve got the longest straight in the world after turn one, so it’s going to be an interesting start tomorrow but I plan on staying ahead.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Felipe, you are chasing Lewis in the championship, so how crucial is it to get a good start and maybe get in front of him, and are we going to see another Hungary?

FM: Well, the start doesn’t work before, it works when you do the start and then you think what you have to do, so I think the most important thing is the initial part of the start, because in the initial part you see the possibilities you have to go side-by-side or whatever and under braking you always try to brake late and see how it’s going to be. Then you can also have another possibility on the back straight which is a very long straight but it all depends on how you manage your start at the beginning, so we will see tomorrow. For sure we will fight each other but we also want to finish the race, which is the important key, so let’s try to do our best in whatever conditions.

Valencia GP: Thursday Press Conference

Particpating: Rubens BARRICHELLO (Honda), Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren), Felipe MASSA (Ferrari) and Jarno TRULLI (Toyota).

Press conference

Q: A question to you all. Can you give us your impressions of the circuit and Valencia?

Jarno TRULLI: So far it is nice, warm and sunny. The circuit looks good but obviously we need to wait until we get into the rhythm of the weekend to understand what kind or what type of circuit it is as we don’t know much about it. But it looks pretty good, very well organised and obviously the atmosphere seems great because we are in Spain and for sure we will have a lot of Spanish supporters.

Rubens BARRICHELLO: I love it. I think the facility and the track, the surface, the asphalt, is all fantastic. I mean, well prepared, very, very nice. The only thing I don’t like is that the policemen keep on telling me to turn right. My hotel is a five minute walk from here and it takes me half an hour as they tell me to go to Barcelona and come back so that s the only thing I don t think they are very well prepared. Apart from that the whole situation inside of the track is pretty nice.

Q: You are hoping to cut your lap time between hotel and circuit?

RB: I hope by Sunday it will take me only 20 minutes.

Q: Felipe, your feelings on what you have seen so far?

Felipe MASSA: I think it is pretty impressive, interesting. I think it is a pretty different track than we are used to having on the calendar. You can have maybe some corners which seem to be like Monaco but some very different corners, very long straights which even can be similar to Bahrain for example. I think it is very nice. It will be very, very dirty tomorrow because you can see that the asphalt is very, very slippery and dirty but I think it will be ok. I think it will be nice. I like the city, very nice, so hopefully we can have a nice race for us but also for the people.

Q: Lewis, your first impressions?

Lewis HAMILTON: First of all it is great to be here in Valencia. I had a race here in GP2 in 2006 but this is really the first time, apart from the launch last year for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, into the city for me and it is a beautiful place. I think they have done a fantastic job in building the place up. It has got a great hotel and the track looks incredible. I think it looks pretty awesome, so I am looking forward to getting out on it tomorrow.

Q: Jarno, two podiums for Toyota over the last few races. What are your feelings for the rest of the season? Are there developments still coming, what s happening with Toyota?

JT: I think the team is doing a very good job this year. We start pretty well and we have always improved the car. The team is keeping on pushing the development work, so I am confident that before the end of the season we can do some good results.

There are some circumstances and some circuits where we are extremely competitive like it was in Hungary and Magny-Cours and some others maybe we suffer a bit more but nevertheless I think we will always fight for top 10 in qualifying and our aim is always to score points at every race obviously. Our target will be finishing fourth in the Constructors championship.

Q: Are there developments still coming?

JT: Yeah, even here. We always have some new bits. They are already concentrating on next year’s car development but they are still pushing on this year s car as obviously the fight for fourth in the Constructors championship is very tight. We would like to finish fourth.

Q: What is your own situation with the team for next year?

JT: We have a contract in place, so we believe we can stay together for next year.

Q: Rubens, you had developments in Budapest but what about the rest of the season?

RB: I think in terms of pure developments, aerodynamic and mechanical, that s it. But we have to optimise everything that we brought to Hungary and before. We have new, little things in place.

We had a new rear suspension for Hungary but unfortunately we couldn t rig test it before because of lack of time and in these two weeks we could see that there was a big margin for improvement. We are expecting that to work better here. And the spirit is good because although the preparation for next year is already in place, people are working very, very hard with the tools that we have in hand to improve the car. I am definitely looking forward to the end of the season with the tracks that are coming on as we can score points.

Q: There were articles in the press after Hungary that Fernando Alonso would be joining Honda next year. Where does that leave you?

RB: I think the team is definitely talking to Fernando but that s the question mark. I have never been so enthusiastic about my whole situation with the team. I left Ferrari because I didn t have the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I have that at Honda but I still have not had the car to perform and I am waiting for that chance.

What can I say, but honestly the day that I feel that I am slower than my first race is the day I will call it off and stop. The conversations are there and I am talking to the team, I am talking to all the teams. I want to be racing.

Q: Felipe, have you got over the disappointment of the last race?

FM: Yeah, for sure. We need to look forward and we need to look to the next seven races. We know we still have 70 points in front of us and we need to do our best to recover. For sure if you look back it would have been a great moment to win the last race but sometimes this sport is like that and we need to look forward.

The most important thing is that we are very competitive. As I mentioned before even with the qualifying I would have been able to fight for the pole because the car was great. I didn t do a good lap which is why I was not able to fight for the pole. But in the race we showed our performance. We showed great performance, good speed, good pace. We showed that we are there which is the most important thing. It can be very important for the next races.

Q: Is the first lap performance of the Ferrari a thing of the past? Is that now optimised and as good as it could be?

FM: Yeah, I think so. If you look at Q2 I did a great lap. I was a little bit in traffic and I didn t do a great lap in Q3 and you know that if you don t do everything right, with the big competition that we have with McLaren, maybe you cannot start on pole. I lost the possibility to start on pole because I didn t do a great lap but I was quite happy to start third instead of second as it gave me the chance to fight.

Q: Lewis, you ve been quoted as saying consistency is the key to the rest of the championship. Why do you think there has been less consistency this year amongst all the championship contenders, in comparison to last year?

LH: I can t remember saying that but my guess is as good as yours. I think we are all pushing very, very hard, it s a closer season than it was last year. I think all the teams are perhaps pushing even more to the edge and that s where you really see mistakes starting to happen. This year there are lots of opportunities to make mistakes and there are lots of unknowns: we come to new circuits, lots of different things with the car. It s nothing new but last year, for sure last year we had… I was looking at my results from last year; for the first nine or 12 races it was quite unreal. Who knows? We might have that another year but I think this year everyone has pretty much the same sort of run, especially us guys at the front.

Q: In Hungary, you had a long stint on the super-soft tyre. Were you particularly pleased with the way that worked out because there have been problems with tyre wear? Have you changed anything?

LH: Not really. I think the tyres were very similar. Obviously I had to change (tyres) at that time, so I think I did something like 30 laps or so on the softer tyre but it held together quite well for me and if anything, I was even more comfortable on that tyre than I was on the prime.

Questions from the Floor

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Lewis and the other guys: I ve just been with Fernando Alonso at his personal press conference. He s just mentioned that in the light of what happened yesterday, the Spanish plane disaster, that he s hoping to get you guys together to hopefully observe a minute s silence as a mark of respect before practice. Presumably that is something you would be more than happy to go along with providing the FIA also agreed?

LH: Yes. For me, I would definitely be looking forward to doing that. I just want to send out my heartfelt thoughts and best wishes to all the families and to all the people in Spain. I think it s a tragedy, I was really sad to hear it had happened. We re in a beautiful country, in a beautiful city. I just hope that doesn t stall our weekend. I hope we are able to move on and do the country proud.

FM: I think last year we had a similar accident in Brazil, and it was a disaster, it was so sad. As Lewis said, I give 100 percent support to the people because we are here for sport and there are so many important things apart from sport which are the lives of these people, and it s a very sad moment. I think all of us need to do everything we can to help these people.

JT: I share the same feelings.

Q: (Peter Windsor – Speed Channel) Lewis, I m just wondering what the verdict was on the puncture in Hungary, now that Bridgestone and your engineers have presumably had time to look at it? There was talk about possibly the serrated edge of the apex kerb on some of the corners being the cause. Equally, it may have been debris. Any information on that?

LH: For me, I ve not spoken to my engineers about it. That was the last race. You might want to ask them if you do a press conference with them, but for me it was a tyre failure, it was just one of those things, a little bit unfortunate, but I don t think they really found the exact cause of it.

Q: (Peter Windsor – Speed Channel) Felipe, Ferrari s engine reliability, touch wood, has been brilliant. We saw Kimi with the exhaust failure still finishing second in France. What was the verdict on your engine failure? Could it have been managed any differently by the engineers? What is the thinking on that?

FM: No, definitely not. We had a completely different problem, which maybe you can have once every ten years. It was a manufacturing problem of the piece and you cannot do anything. We have never had this problem except at that particular moment, so there s nothing that can be done about that.

Q: (Livio Orrichio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) To all the drivers: are you satisfied with the run-off areas of the track?

JT: Well, I did have a look and it s difficult to comment at the moment because we don t know exactly the speed in certain corners but I must say it s a safe circuit anyway, and so far I can see that they have done a pretty good job, but it s probably still a bit too early to judge.

RB: It s very similar to Melbourne, in a way, because you have limited space on a road circuit. I think it s nicely done. Obviously if you have problems in turns nine and ten which is the bridge – if a car parked there – I think you would have to stop the race because it s not even a safety car issue. You would have to take the car away and bring trucks onto the bridge. It might be a bit of an issue but I think, so far, as Jarno said, we have to really understand what is the speed of the cars, and the only corner that we were concerned about, as a team, was turn one, because you don t have a lot of run-off in that turn but apart from that it looks OK to me.

FM: It looks OK. We just need to run and see exactly how it is when you are in the car. I think, especially if you have good grip from the asphalt, it should be OK. If you don t have really good grip, the run-off areas are smaller than you think, so we need to run and see.

LH: I think they ve done a good job.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L Equipe) Lewis, does your driving style lead to you having problems on some tyre compounds?

LH: No, why would you say that?

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L Equipe) Because of the puncture in Hungary and the one in Turkey last year.

LH: I think in Turkey it was more about my driving style but I don t think it was the case in Hungary.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L Equipe) Have you changed your driving style since last year?

LH: No.

Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Lewis and Felipe, can we just get your thoughts on the title fight at this stage; what is going to be the key now towards winning the title?

FM: Whether or not you are losing points which was already the key since the first race. It seems to be that all of us have lost important points this year. I think the key will be to be consistent which was already the key since the beginning of the first race which everybody was saying. It doesn t change anything.

LH: I agree.

British Grand Prix: Post Race Press Conference

The following is the complete transcript of the post-race press conference from the British Grand Prix. The press conference was attended by the top three drivers from the race, a race which saw Briton’s Lewis Hamilton win his home Grand Prix at a sold out and very soggy Silverstone.

Drivers attending:

1. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren Mercedes), 1h39m09.440s
2. Nick HEIDFELD (BMW Sauber), 1h40m18.017s
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (Honda), 1h40m31.713s

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Lewis, you started the season with a win, you won the Monaco Grand Prix, but now the moment s yours. Let s savour the moment, describe your emotions on that slow-down lap, having won the British Grand Prix.
Lewis HAMILTON: It is by far the best victory I ve ever had. It was one of the toughest races I ve ever done and as I was driving I was thinking if I win this, this will definitely go down as the best race I ve ever won, not only because of its history but it s on my home ground, but also I think I drove one of the best races I ever did. But I was coming to the last lap and I could see the crowd beginning to stand up and I was just praying, praying and praying: keep it on the track, just finish and you could not imagine that we re going inside. I wanted to push, I just wanted to get it round and we did. The team did a fantastic job really. I want to dedicate this one to my family because, as you could see, I ve had some troubles over the last couple of weeks and it s been really tough, but as always family is always there for you, always give me support. They re all here. I remember before the race my brother said don t worry about it, you will be fine in the wet, so a big thank you to them.

Q: A stunning win by over a minute, great moments, but lots of difficult moments too. Let s talk about some of those, the pressure from Kimi Räikkönen early in the race, the decision about whether to switch to maybe extreme Bridgestone wets when the rain really started to fall, and generally the conditions out there on the track, lapping slower cars and actually being passed by Rubens Barrichello when it got really wet.
LH: Yeah, it was so extreme out there. It was probably as extreme in some cases as Fuji last year. Obviously there wasn t as much rain but such tricky conditions: the first sector maybe dry or not so bad, and then in the second sector you could see big drops of rain on your visor. I was having big problems with my visor, I couldn t see a thing, especially the right side was fogging up, so always between turn one and two I would have to put the visor up and clean it on the inside and then put it down, and then I would have to do it again before Stowe. I had to do that nearly every lap, just to be able to see, especially when it started to rain. When Rubens was catching me, I didn t even know. I couldn t see in my wing mirrors, I could barely see out of my visor. All I could hear was the tone of two engines: my engine and someone else s, and for a second, I thought oh God, just let him past. So I stayed on inside and braked early and he came flying down the outside. But it was so slippery, it was so tough, it was a real mental challenge.

Q: And when it did start to rain, what was the thought process on staying on the Bridgestone wets rather than perhaps changing to the extreme wets?
LH: Obviously we started on new wets, new intermediates or new standard wets and then we had a scrubbed set available which we were looking to use, and obviously it got pretty tricky out there, but fortunately the team took the decision… I just focused on making sure I didn t make any mess-ups and mistakes and they were doing such a great job in analysing the weather forecast and making sure that we were on the right path. As I said, a big thank you to them.

Q: Nick, congratulations to you, your third podium of the season; what a recovery for you personally and equally for the BMW Sauber team after what looked to be a relatively difficult build-up to the race.
Nick HEIDFELD: Yeah, I don t think you can say recovery because two races ago we had a one-two. I hope Magny-Cours, the previous race, was a one-off. Here we did look a lot stronger. I seemed to get over my qualifying problems and then just had a good race today.

Q: Very, very quick in the middle phase of the race, putting pressure on Lewis to some extend in terms of stopwatch times. Tell us about the conditions then and how the car felt for you?
NH: I think you could see during the whole race that there were different drivers quick at different times. In the beginning, I couldn t hold Alonso. I think there you could quite clearly see which drivers are harder on the tyres and heat them up better. So a bit later he struggled when it got drier because his tyres were destroyed. Mine were still alive and that was why in certain phases I was pretty quick.

Q: Very difficult to manage the pit stops and the tyres for those changing conditions.
NH: Yeah, it was very difficult. Before the stop we were discussing it on the radio. They said it should only be a short shower but I was going down Hangar Straight and I thought how could that become just a small shower, it was so dark and the rain was getting stronger, so I told them I think we should go on new inters and don t keep these ones on. But I said this is your decision, you have the better overview and then luckily we chose new inters which I think was the most important thing today.

Q: Rubens, first podium finish for Honda in 2008, your first podium since 2005, unbelievably, and it happened with Ross Brawn again in difficult conditions here at Silverstone. A bit of the old magic again.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Well, it s fantastic. I ve never lost the belief that I have in me, this speed and everything. Obviously it was a lucky day with the weather and so on. It seems to always happen to me in a way, because I love wet weather conditions. But it was a perfect race. We had a minor problem on the pit stop, that for some reason I stayed there I think I had the fuel already but they just didn t let me go for some reason, but that was a minor problem, because I think it was the very right decision for us to take the extreme wet weather and I could see, I was passing people on the inside, the outside and it was just magic. I thought that was a good decision because I ran off the track at Club and I almost hit the wall. Club and Abbey were the most difficult ones, so for me, I took the decision… I was already there. I said I m coming in and I m coming for the extreme.

Q: In terms of where you ve been for the last 18 months, what does this podium finish feel like for you?
RB: The team knows maybe those outside don t but I have this great feeling. It s like I m young, it s like I m smiling at problems, it s like I m working more. I feel that. I just love the sport, I just love the speed, I cannot live without that. It s not that I want to prove to Ross that I m physically capable. He knows that I have the speed and I want to keep on racing. I want to take the chance to thank very much to dedicate this race to my kiddo, to Eduardo, because he, yesterday, he saw how tough it was to be 16th and he said oh Dad, I m going to pray for wet for you to get on the podium tomorrow, so how magic this is!

Q: Lewis, big smile on your face still. Now technically leading the World Championship, it s a great thing to say, but beyond that, just tell us your emotions when you drew the curtains this morning and you saw what the weather was like and you prepared for this Santander British Grand Prix.
LH: To be honest, I wasn t feeling great this morning but it wasn t until I got to the track and I spoke to my family and then I was feeling great. I saw some kids, I got time to see some of the fans at the gate and all this was giving me energy, and all of a sudden I had so much energy. I went to the Paddock Club, I went to the Mercedes Benz Club and I got to get so much energy, so much support, so I really have to say a huge thank you to all the fans here, because they have been incredible all weekend throughout, and really without their support we wouldn t have done this. I can hear them outside and I m looking forward to seeing them. It s the best weekend ever.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Lewis, fantastic drive today. What did it take of you personally – physically, mentally today?
LH: Today it took an incredible amount of energy to stay focused. I needed to be one hundred percent, no more and no less. I had a lot of pressure on me, obviously. I had done a terrible job, really, in qualifying, at least by my standards, but today I just kept saying I m not going out there to… the plan is not to big myself up and say I m going to go out and win and try and do everything on the first lap. I just wanted to get a point. I would have been happy with eighth today, I would have been happy just getting a point and so with that approach, I just remained relaxed, I remained calm. It was really important that I had three Cs: cool, calm and collected. That s really what helped me keep everything together. It was such a mental challenge out there. You could see the fans, they were getting all excited. The track conditions were changing non-stop and I couldn t see a thing through my damn visor unfortunately, so I had to keep on putting it up and cleaning it, and then shutting it, same and same again every lap. That made it really tricky because at one part of the track, the first sector would be dry, the second sector would be beginning to rain, before Abbey or going into Abbey there was so much water and you could see everyone was going off there, so it really took a lot. I m just pleased it s over.

Q: I think we saw you have one moment or were there moments every lap?
LH: No, I only had one moment. Actually, I think I had two moments. I had one going into Brooklands. I just hit the brake too hard and locked up the wheels and I was stuck, I thought I was going straight onto the gravel and that gravel trap is horrible, there is no way you can get through that one. But fortunately I kept it together. And then I think it was into Abbey, it was when it just began to rain, I couldn t see, I honestly couldn t see, especially the right side of my visor, there was no way I could even see what line I was on. I had already gone wide through turns nine and ten. I couldn t see the white line, the car was just skidding everywhere but luckily I just kept it cool, I was already forty or fifty seconds ahead, so I didn t have to get out there and start pushing, I just took it easy from then on.

Q: How much was the car set up for these conditions?
LH: It wasn t. The car was set up for qualifying and then obviously, when you go into the race, even if it s wet, you re not allowed to make any changes, so we bailed out a bit of wing as we knew it was wet and that was it really. The car was great, a little bit over-steery at times but the team did an awesome job in choosing the right tyres and I think I did a better job than I ve ever done in managing them and making sure I didn t take too much out of them. You could see, at the beginning of the race, it was pretty tough. I couldn t see where Kimi was and he was closing the gap. I just had to keep my cool and remain calm.

Q: But an amazing first few laps when you were trying to get past Heikki.
LH: Yeah, that was some close racing. I got a great start at the beginning, but to be honest, I lifted too early into turn one. Heikki had the outside line, so he had the grip but unfortunately I was on the inside and I was just sliding, sliding across. There was nothing I could do to avoid him, I think we tapped or we touched and I think it was no problem for him. Then I had another opportunity on the exit of the last corner but that s not a place to overtake really. We were almost side-by-side and I had an oversteer moment and the last thing I wanted to do was take my team-mate out, so I just tried to keep it on the track.

Q: Nick, I m sure you are pleased with second place today, in spite of all the second places you have already.
NH: Yeah, I think second is a good result for today. Obviously Lewis was quite a bit quicker and from a certain point on in the race I was looking backwards rather than forwards. I think the important choice today for the teams and guys who got it right was the tyre choice, obviously. We were thinking about keeping the old inters on or switching to new ones. Luckily we took the decision to go on new inters and that was a good move.

Q: Really, qualifying changed things for you. The fact that you ve now sorted your problems there, is that going to carry through to the next race and future races?
NH: I believe so. Obviously it s impossible to look into the future, but at least since we ve been working hard on it, have tested a couple of things and first introduced those at Magny-Cours, qualifying was OK. Here was OK, Magny-Cours was OK, still not perfect, there is some more potential to be extracted but at least I m at a reasonable level now.

Q: Many dramas out there?
NH: The biggest moment I actually had was when Bourdais and Barrichello passed me. I also didn t try to fight them too hard because they were just so much quicker but as Lewis said earlier, you could not see them. You heard them, I saw a little bit in the spray and I just hoped that we would not crash because the difference in speed was so big but you can also not pull off line because there was so much standing water. Once before Abbey, they both got by and I just backed off because I saw nothing and I knew there were some puddles somewhere and then I nearly spun because I didn t see and there was a lot of standing water, so that was the biggest moment for me and I nearly lost it there.

Q: Rubens Barrichello and a wet Silverstone seem to go well together!
RB: Well, 2003 was actually dry but I think the wet and myself… there s no specific reason. To be honest, I wasn t good in the wet in my very first race. I wasn t at all good in go-kart and I remember the strategy was that the next time it was wet at Interlagos with a go-kart, to take slicks and go learn in the wet. That s what I did for half a day and then when I put on the wets, I was a master, it was unbelievable.
LH: What year was that?
RB: Oh man, don t ask me the year because you were definitely not born. It was 82! You see, I m still young. I love the wet and I think it s just the spirit. When some people look at situations where they don t like it – it doesn t matter what it s already bad, it s already a negative influence. You have to take it as it comes. Today it was obviously very difficult at the beginning with the visibility, coming from behind. There was a moment I touched the white line and I spun. My team-mate went by at Club. But then from there on, there was a minor problem at the pit stop and I still don t know what happened, because I was there for more than twenty seconds. And that obviously cost me one position on the podium. That was minor. I still have to understand what it was. But the decisions to take the tyres at the right moment were fantastic, and the decision to come in… the radio was working fine. I had everything under control. Once I almost hit the wall at Club when I decided to go for the extreme wet tyres. They told me you ve got to stop for some other tyres even though it might be five laps or so, in those five laps you can conquer ten seconds a lap and that s what happened, didn t it? I was going so much faster than people and I could overtake. I had to be patient because as Nick said, I was so much faster than people that you could overdo it. I had to take my lines carefully and it worked fantastically well.

Q: And a great reception as well.
RB: Yeah. Since I joined the team… I ve joined them for a purpose. I always thought they had a fantastic 2004 season. They didn t do very well in 2005, so I thought that it was just going to come back in 2006 because they have fantastic engineers, fantastic mechanics, the organisation, the whole policy of the team is good, but they need a technical leader, so it took a long time until Ross came. Everything calmed down a bit and now we have a lot of respect between ourselves and I think the work is nice, very nice. I think the podium comes at a good time. I have no intention of stopping. I will only stop if I have nowhere else to go, but my intention is to stay with Honda. I have no contracts just yet, but I feel young. I love racing more than I ever did. The day that I find that I m actually slower than in that first race at Kyalami is the day I will stop. Right now I m just feeling that I m faster than that day.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Lewis, you mentioned that the last couple of weeks you ve had troubles. Has that been tough and how much has today justified what you ve been saying?
LH: Yeah, it s just the last couple of weeks I ve been flat out, working very hard and just a lot of travelling and many different things, and different emotions going on in my life. We d obviously had a couple of bad Grands Prix and coming to my home Grand Prix it would have just been nice to start with a clean slate and then get some points or even a win. I know the country deserves it and the crowd deserves it, and the team does as well. I thought that we would be coming here and that a one-two was possible. I haven t seen the results as yet, I don t know what happened, but it s just been a great weekend for all of us. It s all been in the right direction, there s been no negativity, for me it s just been very, very positive and I get a lot from that and I m very much thankful. Things happen for a reason. I stay true to my faith, things do happen for a reason and I m here for a reason, so I m very thankful.

Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Lewis, many congratulations. Your great hero Ayrton (Senna) was a master in the wet. Did you learn anything from him when you studied all those video tapes or is it just your natural ability to drive in the wet?
LH: There was not really a lot that I could take from Ayrton. All I knew was that he was spectacular in the wet, and growing up, it was something that I wanted to master as well. I think there was a time he said, or just from the way he drove. He just showed that if you can drive in the wet you can do anything and really the top drivers rise to the top and so along my career, I just worked very, very hard to be sitting here where I am. But it does comer very naturally, I m very sensitive. I feel very comfortable in the wet, knowing where to push, where not to push, and I think that s the result today.

Q: (Jon McEvoy The Daily Mail) Lewis, you said that the last few weeks have been hard and that your family have been with you every bit of the way. I was just wondering today what maybe your father or Nick or whoever it was said to you and how they managed to get your mind right for the race?
LH: I think my mind s always been right. I just have had a lot on my plate really. It s some of personal life… it s nothing too serious but it s just life in general. I want to win, so working very, very hard, making sure there were never any doubts of my abilities. It was just biding my time and keep working hard, keep chopping away and you eventually get there. Just before the race I spoke to my brother, he came to my room and he sat there and I said I just hope I keep it on the track. And he said don t you even worry about that. He said you re the master in the wet. I just said thank you for that. He s always there, my whole family, my dad s always on the grid. He would never miss a race, and he s been there since day one. We still do the same handshake as we always did from the first race I ever did, and that means a lot to me. Just like family, even for you, I m sure. Your family is there through thick and thin, and there s nothing that they won t stand next to you for.

Q: (Paul Turner South Wales Evening Post) Lewis, you seem to be able to keep your head in those conditions when at least half of the grid are losing theirs. What s your secret?
LH: No particular secret, it s just the way I am. As I said before the race, I managed to get a lot of energy and I was able to control that in the right way and use it when needed. But today was not a physical challenge, it was just mental, just mental. I don t know how I ve done it but I did it and that s the most important thing.

Q: (Takeharu Kusuda Lapita Magazine) Rubens, could you tell us about your feeling in the car when you passed the finishing line?
RB: It s obviously been a long time without that but up to now I ve had a great career. I know the feeling on the lap just before you conquer something. It s just a great feeling. You could hear on the radio my engineer Jock Clear saying you don t need to take those risks in keeping the lap (time) down. I wasn t taking any risks at all, so if you re certain of that, because it s so funny that people outside are so scared. Oh man, he s going to put a wheel wrong or something, so it s very nice to be in that situation. When I crossed the line, I wanted to shake every hand of the Honda personnel, and I almost stopped the car to put my hand up to them because they deserve it. They work flat out and the lack of results is not just bad for myself but it s bad for the whole team. So for them to get that – the factory is literally two minutes away – and in such a good way, it means a lot to me and to them.

Q: (Jon McEvoy The Daily Mail) Lewis, we wondered if you were a bit busy over the last few weeks. You were going to see Nelson Mandela almost every other night last week. Were you ever worried with the sailing that you did, the schedule that you had? Were you worried that maybe you would lose a bit of energy and should we have been worried?
LH: No, I don t think you should have been worried, and that wasn t what it was about. Meeting Nelson Mandela was the most overwhelming experience. It took a lot out of me to really understand what was going on. Then I had a job to do, which I always want to perform at my best, not only in the car but away from the car. But to be honest, I think the biggest emotional build-up was just not wanting to let down the fans. I know how much support I have, I know how much my team believes in me and I ve got a fantastic team-mate who s pushing me all the time. That whole build-up… you try to contain it but there s so much excitement and that emotion is just overflowing all the time. Just trying to balance that out… Then I had this big cut on my face, nearly knocked myself out earlier on in the week. Then you re worried that you ve got this fat lip and everyone s taking pictures of you all the time. It was just dealing with everything. I think I ve done a good job, I m very, very happy in the end.

Q: (Mike Doodson) Lewis, before you were born, 24 years ago, Nigel Mansell was racing at Monaco in very wet horrible conditions. I know you ve studied a bit of history. I wondered if you knew about that. He was going too fast and he spun off. At one time in this race you were going six, seven, ten seconds faster than everybody else. Did you slow down because of your own decision or were you getting advice from the pit?
LH: I had to slow down because the team were telling me that it was forty seconds, 48 seconds, you re five or eight seconds or whatever it was faster than the guy behind and I m thinking, hold on a second, what s going on? I m not even pushing. I m driving to a comfortable pace. I didn t want to slow down because the moment you slow down, you perhaps lose concentration, so I just said I m comfortable at the pace I m going and even then I was a silly amount quicker than everyone. So I really had to be very, very sensible. Imagine I was a minute, sixty seconds ahead and I came off, and I didn t win. There would be no way you could come from that. That would be the most embarrassing thing. You would have to retire. I was comfortable with the pace I was doing but I asked the team how much slower can I go? They gave me a margin which I was comfortable with, yet I still did a 1m36s and that was quicker than I d been in my last stint. But I was comfortable there. The car felt good, I felt comfortable where I was. I think I lapped quite a few people. It was easy enough for me to back off but by the time I got past Heikki it was too late to take the risk of backing off and coming together with him, so I just had to keep on going forward and so it was just about managing it.

Q: (Will Buxton Australasian Motorsport News) Rubens, 1993, your third race ever, I believe, Donington Park in conditions not too dissimilar to this. Just your memories of that and the fact that the British Grand Prix is going to return there in 2010 and whether you hope to be there?
RB: Well, conditions were actually very similar. The visibility in both was very difficult and so on. Obviously, we were in different cars in different eras. But when it comes to this question, it s like I have a wall and I m on top of the wall. One side is Silverstone, the other side is Donington because I have great memories from my Formula 3 times and from Formula One at Donington and so on. But I love Silverstone. I think that Becketts is one of my top three corners in the world. Obviously, when it comes, I think I will just open my arms and just take it. I think Donington is a great circuit if they make it safe for Formula One. It s going to be a lovely event. But I cannot just say that I will forget Silverstone. Silverstone has been quite important for me.

Q: (Ian Parkes The Press Association) Lewis, it s said that many people learn more about themselves in times of adversity. You ve touched on the fact that you ve had a really tough few weeks. Just how much will these past few weeks help you in going forward, and just exactly what have you perhaps learned about yourself?
LH: Yeah, I think that s true. There s a quote that Martin Luther King made and I can t remember it word by word, but he was saying something like: it is not the times where we triumph and are successful that make us who we are but it is the times where we are at our lows and we are going through our troubles that really build us and create you and make you who you are. That s a long way off the actual quote he gave but I remember reading it and that is a very important thing. Today, and this whole week has been tough but when you take all that in, you learn more and I think even when you re racing, when you lose, you learn a lot more because you learn how to improve.

Q: (Alan Baldwin Reuters) Lewis, you ve led the championship twice this season now and each time you ve lost the lead. Is this now third time lucky? Can you hold it to the end of the year?
LH: It s difficult to say. I don t believe it s going to be third time lucky. I think it s a work in progress. We re doing a good job and I ve just got to keep on building on it. As I said, I would have been happy with a point from this race, which would have just put us in good stead for the next race, but we re in a good spot now but you can tell that there s a lot of competition and we ve just got to keep on scoring points.

Q: (Ian Stringer BBC Radio Leicester) Lewis, your thoughts on the Grand Prix moving from Silverstone to Donington?
LH: You ve been asking me this question all weekend and I ve not given you an answer! I totally agree with Rubens: this is a phenomenal circuit. For sure, I will be sad not to have a race here in a year because just as drivers in general, you re very comfortable when you got to circuits. You have some that you prefer more than others and this is one of my favourite circuits. But times change and Donington is a fantastic circuit. I ve had some great memories there in the lower categories, so I m sure that as Rubens said, if they can make it safe enough for us, I m sure it will be a great event. But I hope one day we can still come back here and re-live the Silverstone experience.