Brazilian GP: Thursday Press Conference
Participating: Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
Q: Felipe, winner from pole position here last year, how do you come to this race this year?
Felipe MASSA: With the same mentality as last year, trying to have a good weekend. I think if we can repeat what happened one year ago it will be fantastic.
Q: And your contract has been extended as well; what does that mean to a driver?
FM: I think it's good for stability. I've been with Ferrari for two years and then I was already stable because my contract was actually already until the end of next year. But then we've extended that, so I think it shows the work we've been doing together with the team.
I think (it shows) the confidence the team has in me as well, so I'm very pleased about that and I think it's very nice to carry on doing the job with the team and especially as it's a team that has trusted me since the beginning of my career, so it's very nice to carry on with Ferrari.
Q: How do you see your role this weekend, given the championship battle going on around you?
FM: Well, for sure I would be happy to see my team winning the championship but it's not a very easy race and I think it also depends on what happens in the race. It also depends on Kimi's chances of winning the championship, it also depends how these two guys in front are going to do in the race as well, so it depends on many things but for sure, I'm going to start the weekend and my aim is to try to win the race.
Q: Kimi, I believe it was a bit of a big day yesterday, your birthday.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, but when you get older, it's not the same any more. When you're young you're more excited but it was a normal day really.
FM: Yes, he is, he's very old.
Q: Was there a bit of a celebration?
Q: Sunday evening, perhaps?
KR: I think we will celebrate something else. I never really remember when it happened last time, usually we're too busy.
Q: In a situation like this, does Kimi Raikkonen get nervous?
KR: I think you are always a little bit nervous every race, but I try to do the same as in any other race, I try to do the best I can, I try to win the race, be one and two and then it's not really up to us anymore, so that's really all we can do and hopefully we can achieve that.
Q: You've finished second three times here, obviously you'd like to improve on that, but how do you feel about this circuit as a whole?
KR: It's a nice circuit, it's quite challenging. I have quite a difficult race history here over the years. I enjoy it now, but it's going to be a little different with the new surface and nobody knows how good it will be, so we will see tomorrow, but it's always nice to come back to this circuit.
Q: Lewis, a brand new circuit for you. Have you walked around it and principally have you tried it on the simulator?
Lewis HAMILTON: It's my first... I literally got here to the track an hour ago and I've not yet had the time to walk it, but I will do after this and no, I've not been on the simulator.
Q: Would the simulator help?
LH: If it did I would have done it.
Q: So you don't really feel it's that much of a help.
LH: I think the first computer game that I played, the first race was Brazil, so I have an idea where it goes and it's always one of my favorites, most of the time the end of season race and so I have a really good idea of where the corners are and I'm looking forward to getting out there.
Q: What was the recovery process after China and how have you built yourself up for this race?
LH: Pretty much the same as always: I went home and just had a little bit of time at home. My family had planned a little trip, so they went away, so I didn't really have much time with them but I had time to just relax at my real home, my parents' house, did some good training, made sure I was physically fit for this weekend as this is an anti-clockwise circuit, so it's a little bit harder on the other side of your neck and just feeling fresh. If anything, I just feel a bit more relaxed this weekend, quite a bit more relaxed than I did at the last race.
Q: What do you do extra for an anti-clockwise circuit?
LH: It's only for your neck, so you can only just do a little bit more work than for the other side. Usually it's the right side you're working on. You don't start lifting the heaviest weights ever for your neck or anything, you just need to do a little more work to keep it fresh, so you don't go out on Friday and the next day feel it.
Q: Finally, whose job is harder: Lewis Hamilton's or the English rugby team's?
LH: I think it must be equal, very similar. They've done a fantastic job. It's good.
Q: Fernando, you've been in this position for the last two years here in Brazil. How different is it this year?
Fernando ALONSO: Well, for the last two years I was in front, now I'm behind. That's the main difference. Sometimes you just need to be conservative, just to do your job and finish in a certain place and this year I need much more than that. I need to win the race, to be at the front and another combination of results from the other contenders. So it's more difficult.
Q: Pole position last year, and finishes in the top four for the last four years; what's your feelings about this circuit? Is it a lucky circuit, a good circuit for you?
FA: Well, it's definitely a lucky circuit for me because the two championships that I won were won here, so it's impossible to say that this is not a circuit that I like. For sure I love the place, I love the circuit, I have great memories when I come here, when I arrive in the paddock, the hotel - everything is a nice memory for me, so hopefully this year it can get even better.
Q: Any changes in preparations for this race?
FA: No, just prepare as usual.
Q: You talked about a certain approach about four or five races ago. Have you managed to maintain that approach, the way you've approached each weekend?
FA: Well, now it's more a championship thought when you approach the weekend. For sure, five or six races ago you just concentrated on doing your job, take the weekend like the final race of the championship. Now it's more a championship thought, so when you are in the car you don't care too much about the race result, you just concentrate on how many points you will get. I think especially in this last race it's about all the combinations we know that we need to be champion. You try to do your maximum, you try to do your best. Sure it's not only up to you.
Q: All those combinations are all in your head?
Q: Lewis? Same?
KR: I don't think about it so much. As I said, we try to win and see what happens.
Questions from the floor
Q: (Jon McEvoy - The Daily Mail) Lewis, I was wondering if you could tell us your memories four years ago and where you were when England won the rugby World Cup?
LH: I don't know. Four years ago. I think I was in Formula Renault. Yeah, I think I was competing in the British Formula Renault championship and I think we were racing at Silverstone, if I remember correctly. I may be wrong.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) For Lewis and Fernando; you guys have had your ups and downs this year. Coming to the season finale, how would you describe your relationship?
LH: I think it's as good as ever. I think we have got on quite well all year, despite what the media says. They always try to make a big gap between us and they haven't really succeeded. We just get on quite well and got on with our jobs and we continue to do that.
FA: As Lewis said, the media has been saying many many things about us that weren't true. We never had problems with each other. We are obviously fighting on the track but off the track we have had a very good relationship from day one and it's still the same.
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) Fernando, the FIA has appointed an observer in the McLaren team this weekend to ensure equality. Is this something that pleases you? Do you feel comforted by this?
FA: Not really, not really. I probably don't agree with that decision but you know it's not up to us. I think if they decide to do that, it's OK, but we don't need anything like that in the garage.
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) So you trust the team?
FA: Yes. As I said in China, I think I was disappointed with the qualifying performance and I felt it was a very strange result after Q1 and Q2, being a little bit closer to fight for pole position, not in Q3 anymore, but we realized that the tire pressures were a little bit too high and this can happen in any of the qualifying sessions, so I just want to think that it was coincidence and a little bad luck, so this race should be OK.
Q: (Heather Alexander - BBC Radio 1) Lewis, did what happened in China make you more nervous and what will it mean to you if you can finally come through and win on this, the last race in your first season?
LH: It definitely didn't make me more nervous. If anything, it took the pressure off my shoulders and I think I came out of it even stronger. I thought it would knock my confidence and put me back on my back foot but I went away and I thought about the weekend and I feel I'm even stronger than I was, for whatever reason. It was a good learning experience.
Coming here, I feel a lot different compared to the last race. The last race was always... all the pressure was building up and everything was going on, on the Thursday and Friday, and it wasn't a great weekend, but I feel totally relaxed now and fully confident in the team and our ability to challenge for the title.
Q: (Heather Alexander - BBC Radio 1) Are you already imagining yourself standing on the podium, winning, with the champagne going and everything?
LH: No. I think if you do that you get too ahead of yourself and that's when you can make mistakes.
Q: (James Allen - ITV) It's for Lewis and Fernando. Both of you have spoken in the past about Ayrton Senna being a great inspiration for you, probably in both of your cases, part of the reason why you're driving in McLaren today. Could both of you just talk about when you come to this track and we're in Senna's heartland, do you have any spiritual connection to him at all?
LH: I won't say I have a spiritual connection with him but for me, it's just an unusual experience because all the years I've been watching Formula One and literally from the beginning of my karting career I've had books on Senna, I've had videos and Racing's in My Blood and all the other videos, and to watch them and seeing him in his home country and seeing how people see him over here, and how he is over here, and finally to come into this country, the first time in Brazil to realize that I'm on his home turf and where his final resting place is - it's quite touching. Knowing that my hotel is only a couple of miles from where he is; that's the closest I've ever been to him. It's quite an unusual experience for me.
FA: Yeah, as Lewis says, when I was in go-karts I had pictures of him in my room and I've always been following Senna's races on TV when I could and he was my favorite driver of that time and for sure, when I started in Formula One, I had him as a prototype. It's good to come here, because there's a lot of Formula One passion here in Brazil, in the people, in the hotels, on the street, everyone loves Formula One, so I think when you come here you realize it's a very important race, a very important place.
Q: (Jon McEvoy - The Daily Mail) Lewis, you said that after this event you may go to Senna's grave maybe on Monday. Is that still your plan or have you already been there?
LH: I haven't been there and it hasn't crossed my mind to be honest. I doubt it very much I will go because I will be followed.... So I'll have to leave that for another trip.
Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) How do you prepare for a race like this psychologically? It must be a very big moment to approach in your career. Have you used a psychologist?
LH: No. I've never used a psychologist. I don't really know the answer to that because I have never been in this position before, trying to win the world championship... I think you just have to treat it as you usually do. I want to win, but as Fernando says, sometimes you have to be conservative and the only thing I can do is look at what he has done for the last few years and what Michael did in previous years and try to learn something from their strengths or weaknesses and I am going to do the same job as always and try to stay on the track this time!
Q: (Flavio Gomes - Warm Up) You are two young guys, very talented and you could be the best friends in the world, in an ideal world, but you are almost enemies and from a human point of view do you think Formula One, because of this, is a waste of time?
FA: I didn't understand the question. (laughter)
Q: (Flavio Gomes - Warm Up) You are two young guys, drivers, talented, everything else, but you are almost enemies...
FM: No, you can see they are best friends...
Q: (Flavio Gomes - Warm Up) From this human point of view, would you say that this is a waste of time?
FA: I still don't understand...(aside to Lewis, aloud) I hear your answer and then I... (laughter)
LH: I don't think it is a waste of time otherwise I wouldn't be here.
FM: Brazilian people are very difficult to understand. (laughter)
LH: Maybe Felipe should answer it...
FM: No, I'm fine.
Q: (MC) I think one part of the question was, is it taking away your youth in a way that at this early age of your lives that you are having this battle, this conflict?
FA: I don't think so. Maybe I understand now. We are in a competition, so we love competition and if we were not Formula One drivers then maybe we would be in a different sport or somewhere else competing against someone. It is our life and it is our... We love competition and we love cars and so we are now in Formula One and we enjoy it, you know, this conflict, you know...
Outside the track, I think everyone has a different character and a different way to live, but here in the paddock in the weekend we do so much and sometimes we win and enjoy it more and sometimes we lose and we have days of disappointments, but after that it is clear competition and we like that.
LH: We are competitive people, you know, and that is where we get our energy. It doesn't make us immediately become... look at these guys, they are a little bit older than me and Fernando has started to grow his hair a little bit - because he is worried about losing it! You know, we enjoy it and we want to continue to do it for as long as we can.
Q: (Marc Surer - Premiere Television) I have noticed that McLaren has more problems with graining with the softer compounds. What do you think?
FA: I think with the softest compounds that we have here it is difficult to say what is going to happen in the race or this weekend especially because the circuit has a new surface all around. Nobody knows what is going to happen with these tires. We will see what happens. If we have a graining problem I think it will be the same for everybody to be honest. And races where we used these super-soft tires, like Monaco, Canada, somewhere else, Hungary, I think, we won all those races, the team, so I think we should not be too worried by that.
Q: (MC) Are Ferrari worried either way? What are your feelings?
FM: It is difficult to say anything before we start running. We don't know if we have to worry or not. We don't know what the situation is, to be worried or not.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) To Fernando. What was your reaction after hearing what Ron Dennis said in China? He said our competitor is not Kimi but Alonso...
FA: I was surprised. It is difficult to say what is true or what are just normal words that you say after the race and that you can take in a different way. You can put some problems asking me these questions and not him. So I don't see anything strange, just surprise, but not really worried.
Q: (Jaime Rodriguez - El Mundo) Fernando, when you win the championship would you say it has been the hardest victory of your life?
FA: I don't know. I really don't know because it is too difficult to say or get back in time and remember what my feelings were here last year when I had a very tough final part of the championship with Michael taking points every race and losing the advantage that I had, so that was a very difficult fight and when I won here last year I had a very special feeling. As you say, if this weekend everything goes well and again I have the possibility to feel that who knows if it is bigger or smaller than last year's feelings.
Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Fernando and Lewis, just looking at you here you look more at ease than we have seen you for some time, is that true?
FA: I think it is the same as always. I think when you see us together it is only on the Saturday afternoon and at the Meet the Team press conference and then it is just after qualifying and we are very focused on the race, the strategy, the result of the qualifying, so it is maybe not a very relaxed moment. And here on this Thursday I don't see any change from the last 10 months.
LH: I agree with that. I think like any relationship just through time spent together, and I have known Fernando since Turkey of last year, I think it is and just since then the relationship has grown and we have more respect for each other automatically. We are not here now in competition, trying to answer more questions than each other, but on Saturday, it is a little different because we are in competition.
Q: (Charlie Wyett - The Sun) Lewis, will it make extra special for you if you can win the title and England win the Rugby World Cup on Saturday? What impact will it have on the country? And what will it mean to you if England can do it?
LH: It is one of the best times for our country and I am proud and pleased to be in that sort of position where I can do something. I really want them to win. I watched the last game and I had a great time with a few friends and one said France are going to win and I said 'no way!' and it was just amazing to see the spirits of the guys and how they came back. And I was also interested to see they are going to watch Cool Runnings for inspiration before their last game. I watched it recently as well. We are all going to try the best we can and it is going to be something special to have the honor to do it on a similar day.
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) In China I asked you if you wanted a storm to come and for the race to be cancelled. Looking back would you have hoped for it to have come and how much more difficult is it now?
LH: This is the second question you have asked me this year! (laughter)... As I said before, I really enjoy racing and whether you finish or you don't finish as long as you do all your preparation, you just want to complete the race. Whether you finish first or last. And this weekend I hope the weather is good. I know the weather has not always been brilliant for previous races here in Brazil, but I heard it hadn't rained here for about two months or something and then as soon as I arrived it rained. I obviously brought it with me from the UK. We want to have a good race this weekend.
Q: (Niki Takeda - Formula PA) To you all, has it seemed a longer season than normal?
LH: It is my first season in Formula One, so it has seemed a very long season to me and different to anything I have experienced before, but I am enjoying it. I am looking forward to more races in the future.
FA: Quite long for me...
KR: ... (inaudible) the races go quickly and it has been the same for me this season.
FM: Very quick.
Q: (James Allen - ITV) Lewis, looking back to the Belgian Grand Prix, this is a pretty difficult first corner here and obviously Kimi would love it if you took each other off and is that a scenario you have thought of or is it something you have to discuss to make sure it doesn't?
LH: We are professional racing drivers and I think obviously we don't want to crash with any of the drivers not just us. Neither of us wants to crash on Sunday. For me, going into that first corner you go in there ideally wanting to take the lead or to gain a place but without taking too many risks. In our own experience we know what too much of a risk is and what too little is... I don't feel we are going to have any problems.
FA: I have to finish the race and I have to risk for sure to take places if I have an opportunity but as I said my principle aim is to finish the race.
Q: (Marco Degl'Innocenti - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Does it happen that you think that you cannot win the title?