French GP: Sunday Press Conference
1. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1h31m50.245s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (Ferrari), 1h32m08.229s
3. Jarno TRULLI (Toyota), 1h32m18.495s
Q: Congratulations Felipe with a win from the front row. Kimi led early on until his problem but you were a conclusive winner by the end.
Felipe MASSA: It was fantastic, I did not expect that. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck and today I had a little bit of luck with what happened to Kimi and his exhaust. Fortunately he could finish the race, but it was, for sure, a good present. I was already quite comfortable in the second position as he had a very quick pace and I am sure it would have been very difficult for me to pass him. It was a great race and we showed our performance here. For sure, we don't know the performance from our competitors because they were a little bit behind. But I think we are in the right direction. The team did a fantastic job - all the suppliers, Shell especially, because all the time we need to bring good fuel and good lubricants as well, so it was a great job from everybody. I am very happy because now we are a lot more in the championship. We still need to work a lot but we are in the right direction.
Q: It did start to rain towards the end. Tell us about the track conditions.
Massa: It was very difficult over there because sometimes there were some drops and you could feel straight away that the track was not the same anymore, so I was always slowing even more than I needed because I had a very good gap, so I was not risking anything. At the end of the race it was not raining very heavily, so anyway it was a good drive and a fantastic job from the team.
Q: You said Kimi had fantastic pace but from the outside looking in, it looked like you had a couple of laps in hands in terms of fuel. How do you think it might have gone?
Massa: I mean I had two laps difference in terms of fuel but in two laps you cannot be three-tenths slower. I was always kind of three-tenths slower, so I saw that it was going to be difficult to beat him as you need to be a similar pace or maybe one-tenth slower. That was not the case. I saw he had a great pace and a bit better balanced car and I didn't want to risk. Even second was a great result, but first is even better.
Q: Kimi, I guess you are delighted to score points in a race where you had a relatively serious mechanical failure on the car.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, it is disappointing in the end having a good car all weekend, being on pole, leading it quite easily and then having a problem with the car. But, unfortunately, that happens sometimes. In one way we are still lucky to finish the race and get eight points as in the last couple of laps the car almost stopped a few times. I mean even though it is disappointing not to win when we should still have, I still take the eight points and it looks much better now in the championship. I am in a more confident position and it was a great result for the team, just an unlucky situation.
Q: We could see problems with the exhaust just from the half distance. What was it like from your point of view driving the car in terms of what you felt?
Raikkonen: We just lost massive power. That was the biggest problem. Sometimes you just lost all the power and then it came back. It was slow in a straight line and especially out of low speed corners it was difficult. But luckily we went fast enough in the beginning to go away from the others and we had enough of a gap in the end but I expect a few more laps and we would not have finished second. Like I said before it is disappointing not to win but eight points is good for the championship. It is a good result for the team and everybody did their best but unfortunately things didn't go right but that happens as we have seen in races before. We still had a one-two which is great.
Q: How bad was the problem when the rain started towards the end of the race? What was the response from the car?
Raikkonen: It was like bad traction control with no power out of the corners. It got a little bit slippery in some places but it did quite a lot of damage to the car, so it is good that we finished the race.
Q: Jarno, Toyota's first podium since Australia 2006. You were under pressure right from the first corner to the end and the wheel banging incident with Heikki Kovalainen in the closing laps.
Jarno TRULLI: It was a difficult race but it was a great result and a great weekend for the whole team. We were pushing really hard because we wanted to dedicate the podium to Ove Anderson (former Toyota team principal) who did a lot for the Toyota Motorsport team and it came at the right time to be here with all the Italian flags because tonight Italy is going to play. It was a great race, hard and tough. We had quite a good pace but obviously some other cars were still quicker than us but we managed to do a very good weekend from Friday and Saturday qualifying. We had a very good start and my pace was obviously reasonable but I had to fight really hard which is anyway what we expect.
Q: It looked like you were in difficulty when the rain started and Heikki closed the gap. Talk us through that battle with Heikki.
Trulli: It is obviously difficult to judge how bad the rain is when you are in front. It is easier to be behind someone else. I was taking a bit of care as normally our car struggles a bit on the colder conditions but I managed then to get back into the right condition and after the rain stopped I did my job.
Q: And that wheel banging incident with Heikki?
Trulli: I don't think we touched at all. It was wheel-to-wheel like in go-kart, so it was a dream come true as obviously it is many years since I did such a nice fight. I would love to fight every race to fight like that. We know the problem with our car and we need to get more pace and that is what I am asking of the team. But we are doing a great job compared to last year and the car is much more competitive, everybody is much more together and everybody is more motivated. Things are moving on.
Q: Felipe, you are the first Brazilian to be leading the World Championship since the late, great Ayrton Senna. And a great run for you here - third, second and now first in three races. And the fourth leader of the championship in four races. We go to the British Grand Prix now, things could not be tighter.
Massa: We are still in the middle of the championship and we still have a lot of races to go. We cannot think differently than what we always think until now. We need to do our job and we need to think about scoring points race by race, even if it is not possible to win. As I have said I was happy with second, first is even better, so we need to take all the opportunities we can to be at the front all the time if it's possible. But it is always nice to lead the championship, so hopefully we can stay in that position.
Q: Felipe, tell us about the start and about the opening laps when you were behind Kimi.
Massa: Well, it was a little bit tough to be honest to follow him as he was very quick at that moment. I was like two or three tenths slower than him but I had two more laps of fuel which is understandable but I think I would have liked to have been one-tenth slower per lap and then it would have been possible to fight for the position in the pits. But when I saw that the gap was already six seconds I said 'okay maybe it is better to concentrate on the driving and finish second' as that already was a great result for the championship. But then I saw that he was slowing down and I heard that he had a problem with the exhaust but sometimes you need the luck. I am just happy for Kimi to finish the race because usually when you have this kind of problem you cannot finish the race, so I think he was not too unlucky to finish second.
Q: Now you are leading the championship as well. How important is that?
Massa: It is always nice, for sure, to lead the championship. It is always a great pleasure but at the moment we have won nothing, just some races. The championship is still 100 per cent open and we still have many races to go. We need to do our job race by race, thinking about the points, thinking if the win is good, otherwise second place is also good or maybe third. We need to think like that about the championship until the last race and then we are sure if we did the right job or if we had the right luck or did everything right to win the championship or not. But it is always nice to be leading the championship.
Q: You were suggesting that the track conditions were different with the rain showers.
Massa: You could see the drops and sometimes they were very small drops and you don't feel the track changing. But sometimes it is coming a little bit stronger and the grip is a little bit lower than you expect. When I saw some big drops I said 'okay it is better to slow down more and lose time instead of risk and maybe go off in the corner', so sometimes I was even slowing down more than I needed to but I think if was the right decision looking at the gap we had and also looking at the conditions as we were suffering with these small drops.
Q: Tell us about the start and those early stages as your car was phenomenal?
Raikkonen: It was good. It has been good all weekend, so it is a bit disappointing not to win, but that's racing. Things go wrong sometimes and luckily enough we still got second place, so it is better than nothing.
Q: Was there anything you could do with the car? Was there anything you could change with a setting like that?
Raikkonen: Not really, no. The exhaust broke and it changes all the setting and you burn a big hole on the side of the car. In the last few laps it almost stopped a few times so I think a few more laps and we would not have finished the race. Luckily the car was strong enough and it lasted, so even with the broken exhaust we were still fast enough and we had enough gap to the third place, so we were able to keep the second place.
Q: Even after you lost the lead to Felipe you managed to match him on times.
Raikkonen: Yeah, I don't know if he was full speed or not. For sure we could have gone much, much faster without the problem. But like I said, luckily enough we were fast enough in the first place, so that even with the problems we could still match the other people's speed and get a good second place. It is a bit disappointing but a good result for the team. We were a bit unlucky but still a good place to finish.
Q: You needed the points?
Raikkonen: Yeah, it is not ideal but for the team it is good. It is a long championship and we have been in worse positions, so we will see what we can do.
Q: Jarno, how important is this podium to you and the team?
Trulli: It's important for many reasons. It's important for the team, for the motivation, for the fact that we wanted to pay tribute to Ove Andersson who did great things for Toyota Motorsport in general. It's a shame that we lost him right now, he couldn't see us, cheering us up on the podium but anyway, it was great for the team, for me as well, because I think every year I'm driving better and better and now I'm driving better than ever, thanks to the fact that the team is moving on with the car which seems more balanced, quicker than last year, more competitive. We still have a lot of things to improve but in general, every race we can fight and we can take some chance to score points. This time I can say we did a perfect weekend, from me and from the team, the engineers, my mechanics in the pit stop, it was just fantastic. This gives everybody a great boost for the rest of the season.
Q: And a great start too...
Trulli: You know, in Formula One nowadays unfortunately you have to get everything extremely right, every single detail, it's so important in order to finish as high as possible, especially in our position because we're fighting in mid-field. We know that Ferrari, McLaren, BMW are sometimes... are often quicker than us. Sometimes we can close the gap. Our main rivals are normally Renault, Red Bull and Williams. This time I think we had nothing to do with them and I was just fighting for the top and it was great to fight, wheel-to-wheel with the car because I've wanted to do that for a long time and I wish I could do it every race. At the moment, I just keep pushing with the team and eventually one day we will get there.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Felipe, it was mentioned earlier that you are the first Brazilian to lead the World Championship since Ayrton, we believe since Monaco in '93. Does that mean anything to you, is that significant?
Massa: As I said, it's nice but my dream is not just to lead the championship, my dream is to win the championship and I'm going to do the best I can to try to achieve that. That's my dream and hopefully one day we can celebrate that. But for sure it's a nice feeling.
Q: (Tomas Richtr - TV Nova) Jarno, your fight for the last podium place was very nice with Heikki and Robert Kubica. What was the reason behind your success because even Timo Glock fell out of the top ten?
Trulli: I think the results come from a perfect weekend from everybody: the team, from my driving, from everyone in the team, our suppliers, our supporters as well, because as I say, today you need to get everything completely right in order to get on the podium, especially for us. I think we've done a great job. What can I say more than that? I drove very well. I fought very hard and this is what I'm supposed to do. I'm born to fight and I enjoy fighting. Sometimes I get it wrong, we can get it wrong because it did happen here for a few years. I've been criticized but I just learned from my mistakes and carried on pushing again.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Germany) Kimi, what did you feel in the car at the moment when the exhaust broke and what did the team tell you? Did you think the race would be over already?
Raikkonen: Basically I just lost power. Then I told them that I had lost power and basically then I told them what was wrong because I saw in the mirror that the exhaust pipe was hanging on one of the cables at the back of the car. Usually when that happens it doesn't take too long before something else goes wrong but luckily the car was strong enough, the engine was strong enough. Even with a big problem like that we could still do pretty good lap times and finish second.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Jarno, tell us about that last battle you had with Heikki when you got alongside each other. I think you even banged wheels, just run us through that part.
Trulli: I think we were very close but we didn't bang at all. I did my job, I kept the inside line as I was supposed to do and obviously I was quite slow on the straight, it was so obvious, but all I had to do was to fight. I could see the podium there but I didn't want to lose the position. Everybody knows me, I'm hard to pass. I fight until the end. Sometimes I can also get it wrong but this time I got it right and I did a perfect job, but nevertheless, it's not only my driving, it's also down to the team who have done a good job with the pit stop, perfect pit stop, perfect strategy, all weekend was perfect. Obviously, the fact that we had a very good qualifying position and then a good start has given us the chance to fight those ahead. It's quite clear that we don't yet have the pace to fight Ferrari and to fight McLaren and BMW but obviously today we could take our chances and we did it.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Moto und Sport) Kimi, when the problem started, you had lap times of high 1m19s and 1m20s and then you dropped down later on to 1m18s. What did you change in your driving style to drive that fast with your problem?
Raikkonen: Basically the problem kept changing. Sometimes it was a little bit worse, sometimes a bit better. It really depended on how the engine behaved. Luckily enough, after a few laps it started to work a little bit better and then in the end it got really worse again and it almost stopped, but we made it to the finish and that was the main thing.
Q: (Alexandre Avril - Radio NRJ Nevers) Felipe, it's probably the last Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. You won the race, do you have a special feeling?
Massa: It's special, for sure. Magny-Cours was a nice traditional race. For sure, if you see the town it's not very exciting but I think the track is alright, the track is better than many tracks we race on. I don't have any problems coming here to race. I like the track which is the most important thing for the driver. The hotel is nearby, so that's not a problem. It's nice to win, to be the last winner of the French Grand Prix. Maybe we're going to have a French Grand Prix again. I don't know if it will be here or somewhere else but it's nice to be part of this story. Also, my manager is French, so maybe he will be even happier than me because it's special for him, because we worked together and it's important for him to win his home Grand Prix.
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Jarno, is this podium more important than the first one you got for the team in 2005?
Trulli: I think so, because in 2005 we had a very competitive car, especially at the beginning of the season and also it was easier to fight for the podium. This one came from an extremely good weekend from every single person, from the engineers, from the suppliers, from myself, from the mechanics at the pit stop. We know that today we cannot realistically fight for the podium but after yesterday's qualifying, inside my mind, I had the feeling that I had a little chance and I had to play it. With the experience I had, and with the hard head that I have, I just went for it. I really wanted to give the best and I want to show that people are wrong when they say that I'm not so strong in the race. I've been doing so many good races in the past but unfortunately we don't have the pace in the car. Sometimes I've been very unlucky, but nevertheless I'm focused in front of me to achieve the target I wanted. I believe now I'm driving very well with a lot of experience, so I can get things together much easier and much better and I think the team today has a very good atmosphere. Timo is extremely quick and is pushing me harder and harder. He's closer to me every race. We have a very good relationship and we especially have extremely similar comments which make the team improve. So in general, this result is a team result, coming from every single person, even from the factory.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti - Corriere dello Sport) Jarno, what were you shouting at the end during your parade lap, and that gesture was like Luca Toni? Was it good wishes for today?
Trulli: Well, first of all I called for a tricolore flag, the Italian flag, because I kept it for a long, long time, since 2005, in my bag and unfortunately I couldn't get it out. Today was the time to get it out and it was a perfect day because we are all Italian here, I think, because Ferrari and me are Italian and so I wanted to celebrate. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to get it. And then I made a couple of gestures. The first one I was doing in the car was an old gesture that me and Fernando were doing a few years ago when we were at Renault together and similar to the one that Luca Toni makes. So I hope that today's result, all from Italy, will help the Italian football team to get into the semi-final.
Q: (Asen Stoyanov - Monitor) A question for everybody: what do you think about the idea of having a French Grand Prix on the streets of Paris, in 2010 maybe?
Massa: The hotels will be much better, that's for sure! The track I'm not sure. I think they need to do a great job on the track because this is a nice track. To do a nice track in Paris is not so easy. We need to wait and see if it's going to be the case or not.
Raikkonen: There is always a lot of speculation where the races are going to be in a few years but there's no point in really talking about it before we get the green light and it's going to happen. It's just wasting time really.
Trulli: As Kimi said, there's been a lot of speculation and it's not down to us to judge. Personally I like coming to France, I have a lot of supporters, I get on very well with French people. I like this track but as a driver, I will drive wherever Formula One will go.
Q: (Thierry Wilmotte - Le Soir) Jarno, when you were battling with Heikki, did you remember the podium you lost in the last corner a few years ago, were you thinking about that?
Trulli: Yes, it was my revenge. It was my revenge because I was probably even slower but as I say, I'm a big fighter and I'm hard-headed and I didn't want to give up. I would have been really disappointed.
Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) To Kimi and Felipe: Lewis has failed to score in the last two races now. Do you still see him as a main rival for the title or do you feel that as a team you're too strong or you will be too strong over the second half of the season for him and McLaren?
Massa: Well, I didn't score in the first two races and I'm leading. Kimi didn't score in the last two races as well and he's completely fighting for the championship, so we cannot take anybody away from the fight at the moment. It's only the middle of the championship and it's a long way to the last race.
Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to our forums to discuss this article