Canadian GP: Thursday Press Conference
Participating: Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso).
Q. Sebastian, a great debut for the new car in Monaco, your thoughts on that?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I think we were a bit lucky with the weather conditions. If you look at the results of Thursday's free practice, we were not very happy about that, but I think it was very important to introduce the new car in Monaco already. To introduce a car on a street circuit is not ideal, for sure, but it was important to get to know the car and therefore we ran it on a circuit as soon as possible. On Sunday, the race was very chaotic, it was all about not making a mistake and staying on the track. I was very pleased with the result and the points.
Q. What's been the atmosphere and the feeling within the team since then?
KR: It's great. Obviously everybody was very happy. With the car we have at the moment, or the car we had in the past, it was not normal to get into the points, so it was a very good extra boost for all of us in the team, good motivation. Yesterday we did some karting just outside Montreal, it was also a lot of fun, everybody was happy. The atmosphere's great.
Q. Coming here, neither of you drivers have raced Formula One cars here. But you have been here?
KR: I was here last year but I didn't drive on the track.
Q. So how difficult is that going to be for the two of you? New car, new circuit?
KR: In Monaco, we had the opportunity to get to know the car in every kind of weather condition, so that should help us here. Obviously neither of us have driven here in a Formula One car. Sebastien knows the track from his ChampCar time but I don't think it should be too much of a problem, I hope.
Q. But maybe a steep learning curve, difficult grip, etc.?
KR: Yeah, in the end it's another street circuit - more or less – so the track will be very green tomorrow. I think that is normal and it's just about getting to know the track tomorrow, laying some rubber down and then steadily improve.
Q. Adrian, a roller-coaster of emotions in Monaco. Summarize your race in Monaco for us.
Adrian Sutil: I think it was a great race for me, also with this accident in the end. We could take this opportunity to show a little bit of good performance. For sure in the rain there are special conditions and that's where we always had some good results, also in the past, so we took this chance, and I'm just really happy about it. And for the team, everything went really, really well. We had a good strategy, we had good race pace, so overall I think we just take the good and positive things about this race.
Q. Your thoughts on coming here?
AS: I like this circuit, it's a very challenging circuit, quite difficult because the track doesn't deliver a huge amount of grip and if you go over the chicanes, the kerbing is quite difficult, the car is always moving. I'm looking forward to driving tomorrow. With the new car, which is a bit better than last year, I hope that we can improve lap time-wise quite a lot and have a good race in the end.
Q. And potentially similar conditions to Monaco?
AS: Yes, maybe we have some rain again here, I don't know what the forecast is but in general I think it's important here to have a good race. It's a kind of street circuit with a few places where you can go off quite easily, so it's important just to finish the race and then you will be more towards the front.
Q. What about the developments within the team, what are your thoughts on that? It's never fast enough for a driver but how are your feelings about it?
AS: Yes, at the moment it's not fast enough but we try our best to develop and we have a few new parts for this race but not huge updates, so it will again be a difficult race for us. It may not be enough to improve our performance here but still, we have to give our best and we have to think positive. The motivation is there, so we just keep on working on it.
Q. Robert, you return here to the circuit where you had a huge accident last year, something you understandably want to put behind you. What are your feelings coming back here to Montreal?
Robert Kubica: Well, Canada is one of my favorite race tracks, although last year, as everybody knows, I had quite a big accident, so I'm very happy to be here. In 2006, when I was a Friday driver and reserve driver, I was performing very well. This year the weather forecast says it might rain or it could be similar to Monaco. We had a good race in Monaco, so I'm looking forward to a good race and good points here.
Q. Are there any people you're going to visit after last year, maybe the marshals, maybe the nurses in the hospital?
RK: I hope not. Of course, they did a great job last year and I thanked them a lot last year already and once again, but these are not really nice places to go and visit, so we are concentrating on racing and let's hope for a good race.
Q. Have you looked at the changes that have been made to the circuit there?
RK: I heard something but I haven't looked at it. I will go round the track later.
Q. And your second place in Monaco surely gives you great impetus coming here?
RK: Well, of course it was a very good race, the conditions were different than normal with quite a lot of water at the beginning of the race, then the track was drying up and finally we fitted grooved tires, so it was quite a tricky race. I think I drove well with no mistakes. Of course you can always go quicker and quicker but it was not easy. Monaco is very special in the dry, in the wet it's especially very difficult to push every lap and not make a mistake.
I think I did a good job there. In dry conditions on Thursday and Saturday we saw the car was not up to finishing second, but the weather helped us, so it was a very good weekend. Being behind the leader of the championship, about six points, I think, is very good after six races, so let's hope we can push and maybe make some upgrades to improve the car and stay closer to the top cars: Ferrari and McLaren.
Q. Kimi, your thoughts looking back at Monaco, now you've had a look at it on TV?
Kimi Raikkonen: I haven't really looked at it on TV but as I said before, it's one of the races that didn't really work out. I got no points from there. It's in the past and hopefully we will have better results here.
Q. Looking at this race with a low downforce car, no engine braking, lack of traction control; what's it going to be like out there?
KR: I guess it's going to be more difficult than in the past years but probably we have a better car than last year. It really depends on how well you get your car working but I don't think it's going to be a lot different as everyone expects, that every circuit this year should be more difficult, but there hasn't been a major issue, nor much difference speed-wise. I guess the first few laps are going to be quite slippery but once we get some rubber down, it should help.
Q. Your record here is very good, you've finished every single race in the points here, even from 20th to sixth in 2003. What are your feelings about the circuit, is it one you like?
KR: Yeah, I like the place but usually something always goes wrong or happens, but still we have been able to finish the races and score points, but hopefully we will have a good weekend and not really have any mistakes or problems. I would expect that we should have a good enough speed to try to win here, so we will see what happens.
Q. Is it quite a vital race for you, looking back at the last few?
KR: Not really. Of course we would rather score maximum points than losing any more points to Lewis but there's still a long way to go and we've been in much worse positions before. It's not vital but for sure we want to have a good result.
Questions From The Floor
Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Robert, it's quite good that you are one of the four that are very much in the championship battle. How good is your car going to be here and do you think you have to be more consistent than the Ferraris and McLarens to stay in the championship battle?
RK: Well, I think the only way now to stay close to them is to be consistent, to score as many points as possible, every single race, and that's what I'm trying to do. Apart from Australia where we know what happened, my worst result was fourth place in Barcelona and Istanbul, so I think consistency is very important as in every championship but we have to see.
The car has to improve if we want to beat Ferrari and McLaren, if you want to achieve the target of winning races this season, which is the target of the team. But as Kimi mentioned, there's a long way and the season is still very long, so we are pushing, we are trying to do the best that we can, and maybe one day we can stay in front of Ferrari and McLaren.
Q. (Randy Phillips – The Gazette) Question for Kimi: looking at the championship and how close it is this year, as defending champion, do you see it as more pressure on your shoulders this year and are you expecting it to go right down to the end? So many teams are close right now. Teams are not likely to go backwards at this point, so how close do you think this race is going to be this year?
KR: More often it always ends up very close between the top drivers, the top teams, but nobody knows. It's close now but I don't know. Hopefully we can come back and be in the front when it counts. But I don't feel any pressure. We won last year, as I said before, we were in a much worse position a year ago. One bad race doesn't really make any difference. OK, we lost the lead, we could have easily taken a few more points but it didn't happen, so we come here and try to do better and try to get back in the lead.
Q. (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, there have been some rumors about you saying that you will stop racing at the end of 2009?
KR: There's been rumors like that for many years. I always say that I still have a contract until the end of next year. I haven't made any decision as to whether I will keep going or not. So far, that's the last contract that I have and we will see during this year and next year what happens.
Q. (Dominic Fugère – Le Journal du Montréal) Kimi, in Turkey you mentioned that Monaco and here would be two of the more important races because you had struggled at these two race tracks for the last few years. You said that there would be a good indication of where the championship would be heading. Now that Monaco hasn't been so hot, where do you think the championship is heading?
KR: I really meant that we can see if we have improved the car and for sure we were much stronger in Monaco, but with all the circumstances that happened for us and all the things didn't really go the way we were planning. For sure we had good speed in the car and definitely a stronger position than a year ago in Monaco. We expect to be stronger here again than last year. Things can easily go wrong or right. If things go right, I don't see any reason why we cannot win here. It's too early say, but that's what we're aiming for and then we will see what happens after this race again.
Q. (Fabritsio Lazakis – Four Wheels Magazine) Kimi, what do you think causes the problems heating the tires? Can Felipe maybe do it better? What happens in your situation?
KR: There can be many reasons: tire pressures, many other things, set-up, the way how you drive. Sometimes you get it working, sometimes not, especially in some conditions, when you don't get them working it's very difficult and you just try to do the best that you can and wait until you get things working as you want them to, but it's not always easy.
Q. (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Robert, last year you had no podium, this year you have a lot. What has changed in your driving style, what has changed in the car that the results are coming this year?
RK: I don't think my driving style has changed at all. The biggest difference is that at the end of last year, as soon as we switched off all the systems which last year were helping drivers, I found the car much better, much easier to drive and as soon as we started working towards this season I was more comfortable in the car and we are doing a better job on the set-up side as well with my new engineer. I just feel more comfortable in the car. The car feels better and I can attack more, I know what the car will do. Last year was a big lottery for me, what the car was doing, before the corner, in the corners, so it was difficult to extract the maximum and to push.
Q. (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) Kimi, David Coulthard is 37, Michael Schumacher went on to 36; do you not see yourself driving in that sort of middle thirties time, and would you miss it if you stopped?
KR: I wouldn't stop if I thought I would miss it. For sure, I would have found something else to do, something maybe at that time I'd enjoy even more. I don't know what's going to happen after next year. I haven't made up my mind and we will see. Maybe we make the decision this year or maybe not and then we will look next year, but until then, I haven't really made any decisions so far. It's hard to say. I think I'm going to race as long as I enjoy it, I think it's the right thing for me, and then when the day comes when it's no longer fun, then for sure I stop. It can be the end of next year, it can be in four years' time. It's too early to say.
Q. (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) What will you do?
KR: I don't know what I will do, something else.
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Kimi, I was wondering what you would base your decision on and why you've got in mind that maybe you're not enjoying it anymore? What's the reasoning about your decision?
KR: Like I said, it's purely if I like it or not. That's the reason if I keep going or not. There are many reasons why you like Formula One or not. For sure, many people only like the driving and the rest can be something that you don't enjoy. When there are more things that you don't like, then it's time to stop.
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) What is it you don't like?
KR: Everybody probably knows. I like the racing and all the other stuff is not always the best thing. I think everybody in Formula One is here because of their love of racing and driving. When there are too many things that you don't enjoy or you think that the whole thing is not what you want anymore, then it's time to go away.
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) What sort of things: the media commitment or...?
KR: It can be anything. When you've found something which is not good for you, what you don't want to do or what you don't enjoy, when there's too many things like that or things that don't work out anymore for some reason, it can be many things apart from racing. Then that's probably the best time to go away.
Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Robert, have you already walked around the circuit here?
Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Are you going to?
RK: Yes, I said so ten minutes ago.
Q. (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) When you pass the place where the accident happened, what are you going to do: are you going to analyze what happened last year or are you just not thinking about it? What kind of feelings do you have?
RK: There is nothing to analyze what happened last year. I think everybody saw it. It's not a corner, so I don't think there will be a problem. The accident didn't happen in the corner, but I don't see any problems there.
Q. (Daniel Bastien – Radio FM 103.3) Question for all of you: What do you see as the biggest trap of Montreal – the wall of champions, the marbles or something else?
KR: The last three years I think some of the corners on the circuit have been breaking down and there are stones on the driving line, so when you end up on that you can almost turn the car. For sure if that happens again it is going to be very difficult on those areas and of course the curbs are not easy. When you hit them wrong you can easily end up in the wall.
RK: I think the last corner and the last chicane are quite challenging and quite difficult, especially in qualifying when you have to pull out the maximum, so it is very easy to go wrong over the curbs and then lose traction. There you can win or lose.
AS: I think also the chicanes are quite challenging. It is very important to hit all the curbs on the maximum. If you miss it a little bit then you have big problems because the outside of the track is very dirty. You just can't do any mistakes there or you will end up in the wall very quickly.
KR: I have never been here unlike the other three drivers. The bridge coming into the paddock looked quite scary, but for the circuit I don't know yet.
Q. (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, due to some mistakes you have been giving some points to McLaren. Does it worry you that it might happen in other races and it might allow McLaren to come back and disturb a championship that could be between you and Felipe?
KR: No, people make mistakes. That is normal in F1 or any part of life. I think we lose together and we win together and we learn from the mistakes. Of course, we always try to improve but sometimes things don't go as planned and then you usually give up points or have bad results. But it doesn't really worry me. If you look at the first race, we had a really difficult first race and the team was completely different in the second race, so for sure we can improve and learn from things, so I don't see that we should have similar problems again.
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Kimi, I was wondering if you have got some aims? What would you like to do before you retire in terms of success? Do you want to win back-to-back world championships, three?
KR: For sure I try to win them but if I don't win I have won one and it is not the end of my life. But for sure I am here only for winning and we are still there, very close to the championship, so that's the aim. But, you know, it is not always easy.
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Would you go to any other team other than Ferrari?
KR: Probably not.
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Definitely not?
KR: I said probably not.
Q. (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Are you in talks with Ferrari about a new extended deal?
KR: Kind of yes, but like I said there is no decision made yet.
Q. (Domini Fugère – Le Journal de Montréal) I would like to know from all four of you: Who would like to have rain and who would rather race in the dry?
KR: Whatever it is, it's the same for everybody, so for me it doesn't really matter.
RK: The same for me. I think in both conditions we can do a good race.
AS: For me I think it is clear that our car is maybe better in the rain. That's where we have better chances, so if it rains it would be quite good.
KR: Weather is something we cannot influence fortunately, so I don't care really. Probably the chances for us have been higher in the rain. But we cannot change it, so we take it as it comes on Sunday.
Q. (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) Now that the Max Mosley situation has been resolved, have you guys any views on the fact that he is staying?
KR: I heard it from you. For me it doesn't really matter. I think it is his personal life and really has nothing to do with F1. I think it was a good decision.
RK: I don't have a personal view on it.
AS: Actually I didn't read anything in the last week, so no comment.
SV: Nothing to add.