Japanese GP: Thursday Press Conference
Q. Jenson, your thoughts about this circuit?
Jenson BUTTON:This is an interesting circuit, I find. It is very different to most places we go. There are a lot of very late apexes and it is very, very different to most. Last year we went well in the wet conditions. I am not sure if it is going to be the same situation this year. From looking at our weather forecast it is not going to be anywhere near as wet as last year either, so we don't really know how we are going to fare until we drive tomorrow. But it is nice to be back and it is nice to be back in Japan. I have had a good time this week. We had an event on Sunday which was good fun and it has been a nice few days relaxing in Tokyo.
Q. Looking ahead to next year, what are your expectations and hopes?
JB: Every team will say they are going to be quicker next year than this year, they are going to build a good car. There is one thing we can't do and that's make a slow car. I am positive for next year and hopefully I will be with Honda next season and we can build a very competitive car. I know that the team will do a great job in building a new car. It's what other people do, that's what we have got to wait and see.
Q. There will be a lot of changes next year with the new regulations. But you are not confirmed at this stage for next year?
Q. When are you expecting an announcement?
JB: We are not in a rush, it's fine. But as you said there is a lot changing next year which makes it very exciting. Ross is very good at new regulations and I am looking forward to it, driving with slick tires and new aero spec and obviously the KERS. There is a lot to play with there and a lot for us to get right.
Q. Kazuki-san, your first full season of Formula One. Has it been easier or more difficult than you thought?
Kazuki NAKAJIMA: I would say whilst not easy, probably it was similar to what I expected. But I think I could improve myself all the time until the last race. At the beginning of the year I think our car was a bit more competitive and there was a bit more chance to have a good result. We had quite a few good results in the first half of the season and then from half way in some races in the middle of the season we had a lot of difficult races but I had a feeling I was improving all the time and at the last race in Singapore we had a very good result again, so I am quite happy with my first season.
Q. And of course your home race. Has there been more pressure than you expected?
KN: No, at the moment I am very relaxed. I feel excited for the first drive in F1 at this track. It has been quite busy from last Saturday to yesterday, but actually it was very good fun and for me it allowed me to forget about the racing a little bit. Tomorrow will be the first proper job for us and I just feel excited.
Q. And you have been confirmed for next year. Does that take a little bit of pressure off your shoulders?
KN: Yeah, I think so. I feel in a good way and feel relaxed after the announcement. For the last three races I can be a bit more relaxed in a good way and I can push a bit harder and try to get something more. I am really excited to know that I can drive for Williams next year. Next year is going to be very interesting. I am sure everybody is hoping to be good for next year and I believe the team can do a good job for next year.
Q. Are we finally going to see your father this weekend?
KN: I am not sure. He will be here but I don't know if he will come to the paddock or not. Maybe he will stay somewhere behind.
Q. Timo, you don't have any worries about next year as you were confirmed quite some time ago or even when you first signed.
Timo GLOCK: Yeah, for me it was quite clear that next year I am at Toyota again. That put me in a quite nice first year, a quite comfortable position. I am happy. Next year everything will change with the regulations and I think it will be really interesting, nobody knows so far where the teams are. But first testing I am looking forward to it and back to slick tires is another good point for myself.
Q. And another home race in many ways for Toyota and yourself.
TG: Yeah, it will be quite special. It is my first time here in Fuji and first time with Toyota together and so far I have enjoyed the time quite a lot. I have been here since Friday last week and had a couple of events, PR and marketing stuff. It was good fun. I have met a lot of fans already that support us and hopefully they will give us a little bit extra boost here and we can fight back against Renault in the Constructors' Championship.
Q. Looking back on what is your first full year in Formula One, what has been the impression of your and your team's performance?
TG: I mean when I see the start from my side it was quite difficult to adapt myself to the car. When you see the points standing and you see the first five races and every time a zero, zero, zero it was not a perfect start but I think at the end it is exactly what I expected. It would be tough in the first half of the year and then you work yourself up step by step and that is what we did. And since Canada, at Hockenheim we had a good pace but unfortunately we crashed in the race and Budapest that is the highlight of my first Formula One season. Being on the podium was quite a good step and hopefully the last three races we can keep it up like this.
Q. Robert, you have been confirmed as staying with BMW as well. It was probably not news to you. What are your general feelings after that?
Robert KUBICA: I think when you are saying it was not news for me, I think you are wrong. I knew it not a long time ago. The team communicated last Monday that we would stay with Nick as teammates for next year. I am as always looking for a new challenge. A new year, new regulations and a new car and the same team, so we will see.
Q. You are still in championship contention. What are your feelings about the championship?
RK: Well, I think mathematically I am still there as a couple of more drivers are as well, Kimi and Nick, but it is quite hard to be 20 points behind. There are two cars in front of me, two drivers which in normal conditions are quicker and in better shape. Also if you compare the first half of the season where I was closing the gap until after Canada where I was leading the championship, now the situation is completely the opposite. I am losing the gap to the leader. For sure it will be difficult but while there is a chance I will try my best as usual and try to score as many points as possible and try to be more lucky as lately luck is not really there for me.
Q. You qualified ninth here last year and finished seventh in the race. What are your feelings about the circuit? Would you prefer it to be wet on Sunday?
RK: As Jenson said, the track is quite different. For me the corners have quite a different radius with a late apex. Quite a lot of the corners are blind, so you don't see the inside curb. It's quite a good challenge, I would say. It didn't look like it from the outside, when I first came here last year but once I'd done my first laps in a Formula One car here I enjoyed it. We didn't have a lot of dry running last year. It looks like the weather forecast is better this year. For the race, I think a wet race would be quite a big lottery. Last year I was doing a pretty good race but I got a drive-through penalty for contact with Lewis and so I lost quite a lot of places and finished quite far down. We will see. I think a wet race would again mix up the cars. Again, I think Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing may be strong again, as they were last year, so we will see.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Alastair Himmer - Reuters) Robert, your thoughts about the Canadian Grand Prix being dropped from the calendar. It was obviously a special event for you.
RK: This was the latest news that I heard this morning. Well, it's not my decision. Of course, I would like to race again in Canada as I won this year and last year we were also very strong: Nick finished second. That's how it is and we will see.
Q. (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Robert, how important is it for you to have continuity with your teammate?
RK: I think I have quite a lot of experience working with Nick. I think we are doing a good job. Of course a new teammate will give you some new information and maybe there is new stuff you can learn from it but I think Nick is doing a good job, so there is no point from my side not to be happy that he is again with me and we are racing together. I think we are in a good position for next year, we know each other pretty well and we know the team, so the continuity is very important as teamwork together, and that's what we are trying to do.
Q. (Adam Hay-Nicholls – Metro) Robert, how did you get on in your recent bowling tournament?
RK: (Laughs) Pretty OK. I take bowling as a fun thing. Lately I have played some top level tournaments, like the European bowling tour. It was just because my friends were playing there, so I joined them. It was OK. In Vienna I played pretty well. I was a bit sick, so not in the best condition but it was still quite a good challenge and good fun.
Q. (Adam Hay-Nicholls – Metro) Where did you come overall in Vienna?
RK: I don't know the exact position but I qualified for the finals, so the top 64 out of 320 players, I think.
Q. (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Could I ask the other three drivers about Montreal, one of the greatest cities we go to. The track was breaking up, so that was a shame, so what are your thoughts about not going back to Montreal?
JB: I've obviously spent a few years racing in Montreal. I love the city. I think it's a great city and you're right, it's one of the best races to go for, for the nightlife – it's a lot of fun. The circuit itself? As you said, it was breaking up quite a bit over the last couple of years and causing a lot of marbles and difficulties for us. It's always sad seeing a circuit go. We get a holiday now in the summer which is quite nice, but it's sad to see it go, for sure. I don't know the reasons behind it but for sure I will miss the city, Montreal, probably more than the circuit.
KN: I think it's very sad news as well...
JB: The steaks man, the steaks are good.
KN: … I think it's very sad news as well. I raced there only once this year. I think our car has been very competitive every time there, so it's a bit of a downside for our team for next year. Even though the circuit was breaking up and there were a lot of problems, the race itself has always been very exciting. As Jenson said, it's good to have a summer break but at the same time missing Canada is probably not the best thing.
TG: As everybody has said, it's a shame we've lost Canada. For me, I had really good memories every time. I scored two points in my first Formula One race in Canada. I was on the podium in ChampCar and this year again I had a really good result in position four. It was one of the best races on the calendar and it's a shame we will be missing it.
Q. (Yuki Ishihara – Sankei Sports) Kasuki-san, I saw you walking on the race track this morning. Did you find anything interesting during your inspection?
KN: Not really. I knew the track from 2005 and I don't think it's changed much. They've put some artificial grass on the outside of turn three and the entry of the pit lane. These two places are the only places that have been changed, I think. We will see what is going to happen tomorrow. The track walk reminded me how the track was and how to drive it. It's going to be the first time I drive it with an F1 car properly, so we will see.
Q. (MC) Have you done a lot of racing here in other formulae in the past?
KN: Only in 2005. I twice did Formula Three and twice Japanese GT and once with a touring car in an endurance race, so I did quite a lot of races and the results were pretty good sometimes. It will be exciting.
Q. (MC) Timo, you raced in Suzuka, have you raced here before?
TG: No, it's the first time for me here and I'm looking forward to tomorrow for the first laps. There are a couple of quite interesting corners, it will be interesting to see how it goes.
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