F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Post-race press conference transcript
DRIVERS 1 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Lotus) 2 – Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari) 3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing)
PODIUM INTERVIEWS (Conducted by David Coulthard)
Kimi – your first victory since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. Tell us about your emotions at this time.
Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Not much really.
People want to know how amazing it is to win a grand prix. Tell us.
KR: Last time you guys was giving me shit because I didn’t really smile enough, so maybe this time again but I mean I’m very happy for the team – and myself – but mainly for the team. It’s really a hard season for the team and not an easy time. Hopefully this gives them more belief, not just for the guys making all the work but also for the guys who run the team. I hope this can turn around the tables and give us many more good races and wins. If not this year then next year.
Fernando, you never gave up, you were chasing Kimi down in the closing stages of the Grand Prix. You must be surprised to see your world title… well all three of you were technically in the world championship battle until this moment. Tell us about your race and how you felt it was going.
Fernando ALONSO: I’m very happy, I think we were not super competitive this weekend. We started seventh, sixth at the end with Sebastian’s penalty so we have to fight all through the race, the first laps to do some good overtakings and then a very good strategy that gave us the ability to fight at the end for the victory. In the last couple of laps Kimi was a little bit slower, so we attack. But second, I think, was the maximum today, starting sixth, so a perfect Sunday again for us and we kept fighting until the end.
Sebastian, did you honestly believe you could be standing here today, starting from the end of the pitlane?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yes, I did, to be honest with you. After the first couple of laps obviously that target was drifting a little bit away. I had a messy start to the race, which is quite difficult at the back, to get through the cars as quickly as I could, damaged my front wing. And then to the safety car, yeah I had a little bit of a big mistake with Daniel [Ricciardo] I think, who was stopping his car on the straights and I was very surprised. Turned to the right and… if it would have been 50m earlier, 50m later I wouldn’t have done damage to my front wing further but after that, I said to myself ‘yeah, either we go full attack or nothing’. So that’s what we did and I had a fantastic race. I enjoyed it a lot. Obviously the safety cars here and there was helping, the second one, and after that, at the end it was a nice fight with Jenson. He was difficult to pass. I expected to have a little bit easier time because obviously I was passing the slower cars before and with him I was a bit struggling. Then I just squeezed my way past into Turn 11 which was nice, it was very fair but for sure, it was a thrilling grand prix, up and down all the time. Yeah. Obviously it’s very nice to stand here now, pick up a trophy and drink some champagne. It’s not actually champagne, I don’t know what it is but it tastes good.
Your name is up there as a double world champion. Do you now feel that you’ve got your hands on one side of the cup for a third world title?
SV: I think it’s still two races to go so obviously we see how quickly things can change. Yesterday was a surprise for us, I think would we have started from third it would have been a different race. But yeah, it was obviously a chance to fuck it up and we didn’t do that. So I think we can be very proud today: we got the maximum. We lost only a very little bit, I think we have the momentum still, the car is bloody quick, so looking forward to the next two races. We are definitely believing in it and that’s the target.
Kimi, you’ve won before, you’ve won the title before and standing here you sent a message to the team about how you hope this will motivate future success, but when it is moment going to sink in? That you’ve won a grand prix in your comeback year.
KR: I mean like I said, I’m happy, but there’s nothing to jump around about. Really we still have a few races to go, I’ll try to do the same again, and for sure we’re going to have a good party today and hopefully tomorrow, when we are feeling bad after a long night, we will remember how we feel so… I’m just happy for everybody in the team.
Kimi, well done, congratulations. Fantastic win for you, you’ve really been waiting for this win, I think, all season and now it’s happened. What are your feelings?
KR: Like I said before, I’m very happy for the team. We have had hard times lately and hopefully it gives some belief for the people, even more that… I mean they’ve been working very hard the whole year but with the hard times there’s a bit unknown in the whole situation and hopefully for the people who runs the team, who owns the team, the people who works for… for everybody, hopefully it gives a bit more support and hope that things will turn around and be even better than it’s been this year. So, great thing for the team itself, for the guys and, I mean of course I’m happy myself, but if I win it’s great, if I don’t I will try again and it’s not the end of the life. We’ve been close few times but now I said that even the last race I think we had the speed to even win the race but if you don’t start in the front we see what can happen. We knew the start would be a really big key and I got a really good start so I think with the McLaren we didn’t have the speed, at least in the beginning of the race – but then we have to finish the race to win so… I mean after that we were pretty good. Just the safety cars made us a little bit more tricky today.
The start really was… gave you the second place straight away, it was a really excellent start.
KR: Like I said yesterday, this going to be key, to get behind the faster car and not start behind the cars that cannot go as fast as us. And I mean we have a fast car for lap time in the race but if we stuck behind there’s no way we’re going to get past so, that’s what we could do this weekend: put yesterday in a good position and then made a good start and then just go from there.
And how much is the development that has been taking place on the car with the exhaust etc, how much has that been bringing pace to the car?
KR: It brings some pace, helps our straight line speed. So in average we gain some advantage but it’s exactly the same car we have in Korea. So we see how much even this year in all the races some circuits suits better for one team and the next one is not so good for you. We had good speed last race as I’ve already said. We made some mistakes in qualifying and paid the price in the race. So now we put all together like we should have done quite a few times this year but for one reason or another we haven’t. But at least we’ve got one win so we’ll keep try to push still and see what we can do in the next race.
Fernando, tremendous pace at the end there, where did that come from and was it just a little bit too late?
FA: Well, I think we just saw on the board eight laps to go, there was no more concerns about the tyres because obviously doing one stop you never know how the tyres will finish the race, and also after the last safety car we saw Sebastian with the soft and the first three of us, we were with the prime, so we didn’t know how much a threat was Sebastian for fight until the last lap. So after they lost a little bit of time, Jenson and Sebastian, and we didn’t care any more about the tyres, I push 150 per cent for eight laps and I tried to catch Kimi but it was never enough to be within one second for the DRS to be even closer. So at the end we didn’t have the pace to win but fantastic race anyway. We didn’t have the pace this weekend in any practice, in qualifying seventh and ninth and then today we were fighting for a victory – surprising again. This is thanks to a perfect car for the race, a perfect start, perfect strategy, perfect pitstops so everything perfect Sunday for us, maximising what we have in hands.
Do you think the modifications brought to the Ferrari helped during the race today?
FA: I think it helped for sure because when we tested it on Friday, they gave us some performance but we are talking very few hundredths of advantage that for sure when you have a gap to close that is a couple of tenths, when you bring hundredths and your opponents bring also some new parts, I think more or less you are in the same position. So, we need to keep working and in Maranello they work day and night very hard to bring new parts. Here in the track, mechanics work 24 hours and we are doing our maximum and we sure that hopefully it will be enough.
Are you a bit disappointed that you didn’t have more of an advantage over Sebastian, you only pulled out three points?
FA: To be honest we were concentrating on our race. Our simulations we had gave us the possibility to finish fifth or sixth, so we were not very optimistic with today’s race and despite what Sebastian was doing in the race we were taking eight, ten points maximum in our simulations. So we concentrated on our race. He did a very good race and he was able to use the performance in some of the parts of the race when he was in clean air plus the safety cars that I think put the group all together. So at the end I think this is nothing we can do, we just need to concentrate on our race and if we finish in front of Sebastian in the next two races then maybe we have a chance. So that’s our concentration now.
Sebastian a pretty lively race for you one way or another. It’s quite lively back there isn’t it – there’s a lot going on?
SV: Yeah, usually it’s hard enough to fight your way once through the field but we did it twice today so… Yeah, obviously not the first couple of laps we were hoping for. We damaged the front wing early, which didn’t seem to be a big problem but it was probably the worst possible time with the safety car. I think we were already quite high up, close to the top 10, around 13, 14, 15 or something like that. And then I had a moment with the Toro Rosso. I don’t know what he did. He was braking his car down and I was surprised, caught out. Maybe I should have paid more attention, but yeah, I went to the right and I wasn’t very lucky, there was the DRS board, which I took head on and then I thought ‘well, now the front is fucked at least, so we’ve got to change it,’… (sorry). We did it in the worst possible moment, during the safety car, when all the cars were already queued up and yeah we lost everything. We were dead last. At least we had a fresh wing and from then went through the field. It was a lot of fun. Quite difficult with some guys, a little bit easier with other guys, but the most important thing was that the pace was there and we were in a very strong position – already halfway through the race, 20 laps to the end and also on the soft tyres in the last stint. Obviously the safety car helped a little bit. Nevertheless, I think it was a fantastic race: a great fight with Jenson in the end, who was the most difficult to pass, obviously he was the quickest I passed in the whole race. We know that… I think it’s quite difficult for us to get past a Mercedes-engined car. It was very, very close with him. I enjoyed the fight a lot, tried a couple of times and finally made it. He was very, very fair. You can’t do that kind of move with all the drivers on the grid. And after that not enough laps left to catch up with Kimi and Fernando but the pace was there. Obviously we had an interesting race, up and down all the time and a great result in the end. It was a big chance to lose out a lot today, but we didn’t lose anything, so I’m very happy. The guys are pushing 100 per cent. I feel very happy they’re all behind me and I try to do my best for them. I think we have two more races ahead of us, we’re in the best possible position so I think we’re looking forward to the next race – a new grand prix, a new challenge. It’s difficult to know who is going to be quick but I think it was another race today where we see that it’s over as soon as we see the chequered flag and not before.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, was that your best start in a Lotus and after that, which one was the hardest competitor, the second safety car or Fernando?
KR: I think we've had some very good starts before, but compared to the others, today was a pretty normal start on our scale. I managed to pass Mark and Maldonado before I changed into second gear. I'd had a very good start on the warm-up lap so I knew this was going to be good. That was our aim, to try to make a good start and we managed to do it, so it was key for our win today.
For sure, the safety car hurt us much more than the others. We had a good lead and then nothing, and then twice. The first time was when Hamilton was in front of us but it definitely didn't help us today.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov - F1 Live) Kimi Raikkonen, how and with whom and how many days will you celebrate this win?
KR: I have almost two weeks. As long as I manage to get myself to the next race I think the team is happy. I try to get home at some point.
Q: (Kate Walker - Girl Racer) Kimi, one of the highlights of the race was your radio messages, the ones that you were giving to the team. How distracting is it when you're fighting behind the safety car or whatever, to have them reminding you to warm-up your wheels?
KR: It's a normal thing. It's the same with all the teams. For sure, they are just trying to help but if you keep saying the same things two times a minute, I'm not so stupid that I cannot remember what I'm doing. It's a normal thing, they are just trying to help. I know what I'm doing. I will ask for help if I need it. It's not the first time and it won't be the last time. It's been many times with other teams also but they are all there to help you and try to put you in the best position. Different people like different things.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, was it a bit of racing into the unknown at the beginning; you changed the gearbox, the ratios? Were you pretty sure you could do this kind of race or were there some obscure points that you had to sort out during the first laps, to find out what you could do?
SV: No, I don't think it was racing into the unknown. Obviously what we didn't know was how quickly we would get through the field. We knew that we were quite a lot quicker than the first couple of cars that we were approaching; obviously we have a different pace to Marussia, HRT, Caterham, so it was important to get through those. We took the chance to take ratios which helped down the straights, made life a little bit easier but obviously when you're not in the pack, you pay the price as well, so I think it did help us for overtaking but when we were in clean air, it was surely not optimum but it's always a trade. I think from Friday to Saturday we changed the car, not necessarily made a step forwards. We were changing quite a few things and getting closer to what we had on Friday which I think was a faster car so it was as simple as that.
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Fernando and Sebastian, Michael has had 56 races without a win after his comeback; are you surprised that Kimi won his 18th after his comeback?
SV: No, I think it doesn't matter how many races it takes you. The most important thing is that you get the results you can achieve. I think Kimi drove a fantastic race today. For the first time the car was probably able to win and he did it. I don't know how their race was at the front, I was busy myself but I think we've seen this year that generally if you compare this year, the Mercedes was not as competitive as the Lotus, so it's as simple as that, not in every race but in the majority of races. I think Michael showed his talent more than once in the last three years, even though he probably wasn't as successful as he was before, I don't think it makes him any worse.
FA: I agree.
Q: (Khodr Rawi - F1 Arab) Kimi, how special is it to be the first driver to win for Lotus since Ayrton Senna in 1987
KR: It's a long time for them, I guess. I don't think there are any (of the same) people in the team any more. It's a name. It's the same team and it has been since Fernando was there, just a different name. It's a great name for us, good past but you know I race for the team whatever the name is, I don't really care so it's just for the guys who do all the work. Maybe it looks good in somebody's eyes but for me it really makes no difference.
Q: (Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) To each of you: who is going to win the World Championship?
KR: I wouldn't put money on me! They are quite close; I don't know what the points difference is. Ten? One bad race could decide the championship if they keep doing what they've been doing. It's hard for Fernando but we saw yesterday and in races before that anything can happen. If it's a normal situation I don't think much can happen but one small mistake can decide everything.
FA: Yes, I'm confident. We will fight until the end. We are not fast enough, this is true and we are honest with ourselves, we know this. We need to accept this. It's a weak point, the performance that we have at the moment in our package, and we have some strong points which we will try to use.
SV: I think we were not always fast enough this year but for the last couple of races we were, so looking forward to the next two races.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, this has been a pretty troubled weekend for the team. On Friday Mark had the issue with the KERS, you yesterday in the morning, then the problem with the fuel. How much of a relief is it for you to come out of such a weekend and be on the podium losing only three points to Fernando?
SV: Honestly, I would have loved to have got past Jenson quicker and past Fernando as well. I think the speed was there but it turned out to be quite tricky to pass Jenson, and took a lot of time. But yeah, I think we can be very happy with today. I think it's one of those races where it's difficult to predict the outcome. We have simulation tools etc telling you one thing but I was convinced that you have plenty of chances and I said yesterday, obviously it was a big hit for us because if you can chose between starting third and last you don't need to be a genius to make that one out. It was a big hit but I said yesterday that every chance is an opportunity and there were lots of chances today for us. I think we had a very good race, I enjoyed it a lot and I'm very happy with today's result.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Sebastian, you said before that yesterday was a mistake. How angry are you that this mistake happened? You don't have to be Einstein to calculate how much fuel has to go in for three laps, especially after it had already happened to Hamilton in Barcelona. Do you think the team should have been more careful?
SV: There are so many things that could have worked differently. I made a mistake on the last run, I aborted the lap, nobody ever finds out, nobody realises there was a problem. As I said earlier, it was a mistake, there was no intention to go stupidly close to the limit for a gain of nearly nothing. I think it's different to what happened to Lewis in Barcelona at the beginning of the season, obviously they deliberately put less fuel in the car and stopped on the in lap, but for us, we had enough fuel but somehow we had enough fuel on paper but not in the car. Obviously we stopped the car for emergency reasons, not to damage anything and then obviously it was quite a long procedure yesterday and unfortunately we couldn't drain the fuel that we wanted and it was not enough to provide the sample so it was as simple as that. Rules are clear. I think the penalty was very harsh but we had to take it. Rules are clear. If it happens to you in race three and you are in a similar position at the end of the year, nobody is asking and it's not a big fuss but if it happens to you three races from the end, obviously there's more attention etc. We had to live with that.
Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, your last win was at Hockenheim in July, more than three months ago. Do you think you absolutely need to win one or both of the last two races to gain the title and do you think it's possible to do it?
FA: That will help, for sure, but I don't think so.
Q: (Vanessa Ruiz - ESPN Radio) Sebastian, so in the end, after all the difficulties, do you guys consider your result a surprise or not?
SV: I don't think you can talk of a surprise. I think we knew we were quick. I think if you look at the race, there were a lot of things that happened that you couldn't foresee. I don't know what happened to the HRT which caused the first safety car and I don't know what happened to Romain who caused the second safety car, but obviously these things are difficult to predict. I think we knew that we had a chance to get into the top five, even with a normal race. Given the pace was there, as I said earlier, what we did from Friday to Saturday, obviously we tried to improve the car, not necessarily achieved that but we are hungry, we want to try things to make the car faster. I don't blame anyone for that. I was one of the biggest drivers to make the changes, behind that on Friday, and they didn't work, but yeah, obviously we're not talking seconds per lap but small things and today we lost a position on the grid but we got the chance to change the car which we did and we knew that it will be a very competitive car. The speed was there, as I said, and obviously here and there we were a little bit lucky, but I think we created our own luck in that regard.
Q: (Shubha Chandran - Chequered Flag, India) Sebastian, what kind of focus, commitment and mental strength does it really take to start from where you did, and eventually end up where you have, from a purely individual perspective?
SV: The race is long. I said to the guys before the race that I trust them 100 percent and they can trust me. I will try everything. There's no reason to give up. Of course, if you look where we started, it was the worst possible spot but we gave everything we had and I think when you do that, you cannot fail so it was a perfect example of that today. Everyone was focused on the moment and enjoying it as well. Don't forget that, I think we are here, obviously, to fight for wins and stuff like that but we are also here to have a good time, enjoy and have fun and I think all the guys in the team at the moment, they don't want to be anywhere else. Obviously it's tough on Sundays. The tension is there, obviously you're nervous, excited, any race such as this one, especially with the difficulty of starting last but it's also the challenge that you like, to race every single lap. Obviously it's nice to sit here and look back. Some days it will be difficult again, when we sit - not here - and look back and look at the mistakes that we've made, but hopefully we will learn from those as we did in the past to maximise the times that we sit here.
Q: (Heikki Kulta -Turun Sanomat) Kimi, does it take anything from your joy that when you win you kill your last hope of the championship?
KR: No, I think we knew already, a few races ago, that we didn't have the speed to challenge at the front. We always said that we would keep fighting and trying to do the best that we can. We got the win, we might have lost the championship on the same day but I don't really care. We didn't really expect to be fighting with them anyhow. We've always been a bit behind and not really had the speed to challenge them in normal races and now in the last few races we've had very good speed and finally we put all the things together and won. We will try again next year.
Q: (Anne Giuntini - L'Equipe) Sebastian, sorry to come back to yesterday's incident but we didn't really understand why you stopped the car, because a loss of fuel doesn't really damage the engine, normally?
SV: Obviously it was a precaution. We saw some numbers going down and in order to save the engine at last, save the pumps in between etc, we decided to stop the car, convinced that we had enough fuel in the car to provide a sample but, as I said, for some reason we didn't have enough fuel so I don't know what happened. There must have been a mistake somewhere which was a big hit, like I said, but I'm sure we will learn from that and it won't happen again. I think we have done the exercise a lot of times, we know the rules. As I said, we are talking two hundred millilitres that were missing. If you go to the loo before qualifying or something like that it can make the same kind of difference. I think it's very difficult to measure. It was a mistake for which we had to pay a very hard price but c'est la vie.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, in two weeks we're going to Austin, you have the first chance to win the third title and it's going to be your 100th Grand Prix.
SV: Yeah, it sounds a lot. Obviously time goes by quickly. I'm sure when you ask Fernando and Kimi they remember their first couple of races and probably don't feel that it's so long ago. I think that more than anything, if you do something that you love, that you enjoy the time goes by quickly. Now, when I'm talking about 2006, 2007, when I started to drive a Formula One car for the first time, I still know most of the guys and can recall the places I've been. If you then tell me it's six years ago, it sounds like a big number. I'm sure, when someone tells you the first time that you came into a Formula One paddock, it's however many years ago, it might be shocking as well. Time goes by and obviously with age, you get a little bit smarter - hopefully. You learn certain things and you get a little more relaxed probably but also it's important to stay childish, stay hungry and do mistakes, otherwise how can you go forward. All in all, looking forward to going home, get some rest, charge some energy to be full charged in America to attack and obviously try to win.