June 10th, 2012 (F1plus Team / FIA).- Q&A session and press conference text as published by the FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE L'AUTOMOBILE (FIA).
1 - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren); 2 - Romain Grosjean (Lotus); 3 - Sergio Perez (Sauber).
Q: Lewis, one word: wow. What a race. That must feel incredible?
Lewis Hamilton: It does, it does. Firstly, I want to say congratulations to these two guys [Grosjean and Perez], who have done an incredible job, but also just to the team, who never seem to give up. Also, the race, I want to dedicate this one to all the fans out there, who are constantly sending letters and messages and always being so positive and supportive throughout the year. What a great feeling this is where I won my first grand prix. I knew today would be a tough, tough race but I loved every single minute of it and I’m really grateful.
Q: You say you loved every single minute of it but two delays on your pit stops and then you get out and the team tell you, ‘actually the guys ahead are one-stopping’. Did you ever think for a moment that it wasn’t going to happen today?
LH: I never had a doubt in my mind that there wasn’t a possibility to win but I was thinking that these guys are falling quite far behind so I assumed they are doing a one-stop but I don’t think I’m going to be able to do a one-stop so I’m going to keep on pushing, increase the gap… Yeah, I had a couple of problems pulling away. It might have been my fault, I don’t know. But otherwise the pit stops were great and finally we’ve got some good pit stops and of course we can keep on improving in every area.
Q: Romain, an amazing result for you and the team. Was the plan always to go for a one-stopper or was that something that developed as the race went on?
Romain Grosjean: Well, we thought about going for a one-stop and see what was going on later on. The question mark was can we go with the option tyres at the beginning especially that they are already two runs [old] from Q1 and Q3 , that was the one I set my fastest lap time with. But then the car felt pretty good. When I put on the prime tyre, I didn’t know what Nico Rosberg was doing in front of me or Mark Webber so it was difficult. I was fighting with them, pushing quite hard but I knew that I was trying to go for one stop and finally when I saw Mark coming in my tyres were quite fresh and then I didn’t realise I was third and I then I saw Fernando slowing down and I was second. It was a crazy end to the race because I was thinking P5 or P4 but the pace stayed there and the team did a fantastic job with the car, which was good on tyres. We knew with the heat we would be better today, so hopefully the sun came and it was good for us and it is fantastic to be on my second podium this season.
Q: Sergio, again an incredible drive, an incredible race. At what point did you know that a podium was on the cards?
Sergio Perez: Well, to be honest, until I passed Fernando, because starting 15th the last thing you would think about is ending up on the podium. We went quite aggressive, the first stint was quite good. Then the stop was very good. The second stint was really, really good. I managed to overtake some cars in difficult manoeuvres. I saw that degradation was not so high for me. I could manage my pace well. Then I managed to get some other drivers. It’s a great result for the team after such a bad day we had yesterday. We had a lot of trouble with the brakes. Today, it’s just great to finish here on the podium. It’s a great boost for the team. After Malaysia it’s our second time to get in the [major] points and the second podium, so hopefully we can keep this way. Obviously we have been very unlucky: what happened in Monaco for example. We were very quick there and in Barcelona as well. It’s great to come back and do a podium for the whole team and with this here being so close to home with a lot of Mexicans around, it’s great.
Q: Lewis, back to you. As you said, this is the place you won your first grand prix five years ago and we can see how much this meant to you today. Can you just sum up your emotions at the end of an incredible race and a wonderful weekend?
LH: It’s still sinking in. It’s been five years since I won here for the first time but it feels just as good. Again, just massively proud of the team for continuing to push and it feels great to finally be here on the top step. Definitely, as always, we’ll never take it for granted and this for me feels like one of the best races that I’ve had for a very, very long time, so thank you to everyone.
Q: Lewis, obviously you really enjoyed that. As you said, a huge amount of satisfaction from that.
LH: Absolutely. Absolutely. One of the most enjoyable races that I’ve had ‘til now. I was just thinking today to finish at the front, as I did in my first win here in 2007, would be very, very special for me - which it has been. I couldn’t believe it when I was coming across the line. That feeling inside, it’s like an explosion. It’s really just incredible. And that’s what I love about racing and if I continue to have this feeling for many, many years, then hopefully I’ll be here for a long, long time.
Q: The tactics on the pit wall worked absolutely perfectly. You must have thought, ‘perfect’, every time you overtook somebody ‘yes, that’s the way it was meant to work out.’
LH: I think the team did a really great job with the pit stops and the strategy. I was very, very surprised that I was able to look after my tyres and then push at the times that I needed to push. I was very, very surprised in the first stint, that I was able to close up on Sebastian. I never thought they would have such degradation. And so to catch them, and see them go in, and then still be able to push, was a real pleasure to see, because it’s very, very rare. But I knew that Fernando was going to be the one to beat. When he was behind me I thought he was going to be the one to beat today, as he generally has great pace on long runs. But we did it. I wasn’t able to do a one-stop. I don’t think I would have been able to do it - I think I would have fallen back as they did: perhaps even further. I think a two-stop was just right.
Q: Was that a result of knowing that you had trouble with the hotter temperatures?
LH: No… well… of course we were aware of that. Of course we went into the race knowing that we’d be doing a two-stop. And when the guys were behind me I kind of had a feeling that Fernando would be doing a one-stop, so I knew I had to make a gap while looking after the tyres. I was able to make a gap and then hold it, even though Fernando started to pick his pace up. It was one of the best stints that I’ve had for a long, long time. And then at the end I had a serious gap to catch up but I was able to be 1.5-1.7 seconds faster than Fernando each lap, which was fantastic. And the greatest thing here is that at this circuit you can overtake. Even if it’s not the back straight, you still have opportunities to overtake, which always gives us good races.
Q: Romain, you were in traffic early on. That must have been very interesting. What did you think?
RG: It wasn’t easy at the start because basically I was fighting in the traffic and I didn’t know whether the guys were going to do one-stop, two-stops. And then I tried to jump Rosberg on a pit stop but it didn’t work, so I was behind him again. And when you follow a car it’s not easy to save your tyres and protect a little bit. I know that we were trying to go for one-stop and I didn’t really know what to think about. And then I saw Nico coming to the pit and thought ‘good news.’ And then I caught Mark. Mark was quite the same pace as I was, so it wasn’t easy, and then he went to the pit as well. Then I was more safe and I couldn’t realize from P9 - I think - on my pit board to P2 in a few laps. I didn’t really understand what was going on but I knew that we had to carry good pace. Again, the team did an incredible job to give me a good car in the race. We knew with the sun it would be better today. I really want to dedicate this result to them, to friends and to, today, Guillaume Moreau, which was on my helmet, who had a crash at the Le Mans test day last week. I wish him a good recovery. And I’m very happy that he was on my helmet for this race.
Q: You’ve been a rookie here and obviously learnt the circuit. You’ve enjoyed taking on the Montreal accent - you’re feelings about your podium here.
RG: It’s good. I’m feeling more at home. People speak French, the city is quite nice and the people are really welcoming, so it’s good to be here. The track is interesting; not an easy one to learn but as we say most of the time: if you have a good result then you like the track - so I think now I like Canada and I’m looking forward to coming back next year. But before that we have 13 more races until the end of the season and I hope we can keep our pace, our results and keep up the team.
Q: Sergio, you were almost a rookie, apart from three laps, and from 15th on the grid, one-stop, once again showing that you can keep the tyres alive.
SP: Yeah. It was a great race for the whole team because after such a disappointing qualifying that we had yesterday, with so little pace as well - we didn’t have the pace we wanted to - so we had to fight in a different way with the strategy and try to make it work and make it happen with the strategy. We didn’t have any reference on the long runs. The long runs we did with the tyres, it was 10-15 degrees C less track temperature. So, it was a lottery, basically, but I think the team has done a great job with the stop and the strategy, myself too, keeping the tyres alive and being so consistent. It’s been a great result for the whole team. We have been so unlucky since Malaysia. We had the pace but for some reason or another we don’t manage to get the result in the end. I think it’s great to come back into the points with another podium.
Q: You mentioned you had brake problems yesterday, was there any trace of that today?
SP: No, when I mentioned we had a brake problem it was nothing like a failure. It was just that the balance was really bad for me and I could not manage to stop the car, I flat-spot my tyres, so I have a lot of vibration in qualifying. In the race it was different. We worked a lot during the night - yesterday - to fix the problems and today we did a great job.
Q: And after these two podiums that you’ve had, as you say a little bit of frustration that since Malaysia you haven’t had better luck. What do you feel you can do in the rest of the Championship?
SP: The thing is we long to fight for a podium every race. Today was a very crazy race, as we have had many of this year. But I think we have the potential to do it. This has to be the target, to get the first win this season for our team.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR (INTERNATIONAL PRESS)
Q: (Kate Walker - Girl Racer) Romain, earlier this weekend, you said that this was your favourite circuit because you learned it on Playstation. Do you think Playstation was a contributing factor to your strong performance today?
RG: I think I should say X-Box or Microsoft. It’s true that on a video game it’s my favourite track and looking at it, it’s quite interesting. It’s more bumpy than on X-Box sitting on a sofa, but it’s pretty interesting and when you have a good result in a race, normally you quite like it and so I’m pretty happy about today.
Q: (Julien Febreau - L’Equipe) Romain, what does this podium mean to you compared to Bahrain, because the start of the weekend wasn’t easy for you, so what does it mean?
RG: It means quite a lot. It means that we’re in good shape for working with the team who are improving every time. We had a bad Friday with quite different conditions compared to today and having to learn the track and the set-up of the car wasn’t easy and I’m sure we could have achieved better but we know it for the rest of the season. We are working quite well, so I’m pretty pleased with this podium. It means that we are still here after seven races and it was not one shot that we could get in Bahrain. We are still fighting at the front with good performance and the team is doing well with the Lotus E20.
Q: (Adrian Huber - Agencia EFE) Checo (Sergio), how do you feel now compared to the podium in Malaysia, and now you’ve got a second and a third place, there’s just one spot still missing on the podium; when do you think you might get that?
SP: Well, I think every podium is special, especially when it’s only your second podium in Formula One, it’s a very special feeling. In the position that I am with my team, we are still fighting to get to the top, to be a top driver one day. It’s great, every opportunity I have to show my potential, because you don’t know how many opportunities you will have. I have been very unlucky in the last races so I think it feels great but I think the first podium feels a bit better.
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L’Equipe) Lewis, when did you think about victory: when you passed Vettel, when you passed Alonso or when you crossed the line? Were you afraid of these two guys?
LH: When I crossed the line. Of course when I saw them, and I saw that I was catching them and there was a possibility, and I knew how many laps that I would have to get past so I was not desperate to get past them in a real rush. I had a lot left in me, in the tyres so I was generally driving a little bit off the pace. There was no need to push because the guys had fallen behind and when I heard that these guys were catching a little bit, I knew that I had plenty in me if I needed to match the same times, and there were only a couple of laps left, but perhaps if circumstances were different and they were much quicker, then we would have had even more of a race.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri -La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, were you surprised when you saw that neither Fernando nor Sebastian stopped immediately after you? And now you’re also leading the championship, so is that a big bonus in this season which is completely crazy?
LH: No, it definitely is… as I said going into the race, if I was to finish where I started, I would be very very happy with it, but anything above that would be a bonus, so it’s definitely a bonus for us today. I knew, when I had done the stop where Fernando came out in front and I had to overtake him and I was pulling the gap, I had a feeling that they were dropping back so quickly that they would definitely be doing a one stop and I did mention that to my team and they said they thought so, so I had to make sure that I got the gap that I had and tried to maintain it. I did think in my mind that at some stage Fernando would start putting in some very very quick times but then again he didn’t as he was doing such a long stint. I think I got absolutely everything out of the car today. I wouldn’t have been able to do a one stop, I don’t think. Again, the team did a great job in the strategy department.
Q: (Bill Beacon - Canadian Press) Lewis, you’re only the third driver to win this race three times after Michael and Piquet. I just wonder, is there something particular about this track that suits you?
LH: It’s like a go-kart track, isn’t it? It’s great fun, you’re bumping over the kerbs, with the low grip it’s very much mechanical grip like a go-kart. It’s the weather, it’s the city, the fans here are incredible, absolutely incredible, and there’s very few places that we go to throughout the year like this. I always say that Monaco is real special because of the amount of people there. I think this race here is perhaps even more special for me. Obviously my home Grand Prix, Silverstone, is very special. Today, with so many British flags and Grenadian flags, which was fantastic to see, and so many people wearing the caps and shirts, support has been phenomenal this weekend, so that’s why I wanted to dedicate this win to them.
Q: (Julien Febreau - L’Equipe) Romain, how close to your first victory do you think you are, and do you think that the gap is still big or not?
RG: The gap is not that big. We need to qualify better, that is not our strength this season but we are working on it. I think Friday and Saturday were quite difficult for us but we have been learning a lot about the car so it’s good that we now have that in our pocket for the next races. Then you never know. Lewis was maybe cruising a little bit at the end. We were not cruising that much but not trying to make any mistakes either. To be honest, when I was P5 or P4 I thought that would be a good result, having started in P7 but then Fernando was struggling and I could catch him up and then tried a little bit to catch Lewis but you never know what’s going on. It’s not an easy race, we were asking a lot of the car and the tyres and so on. When you pit on lap twenty-something and you know there are seventy laps and you have to stay on one set of tyres, you never know when they’re going to drop so you are a bit cautious about that.
Q: (Randy Phillips - Montreal Gazzette) Lewis, when you passed Alonso in the DRS, you looked like you made a couple of tenths before that; can you just give us an indication as to how bad his tyres were at that particular point?
LH: Those guys, Fernando and Sebastian, they looked like they were having oversteer moments and definitely struggling. I had so much traction with fresh tyres that there was almost a two second difference in pace between us. He must have been close to the limit already, the end of the tyres.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) What changed from yesterday, Lewis, because yesterday after qualifying you were worried, you were happy to be second but looking at Sebastian and probably also Fernando, you were not so sure you could have such a race? And this is also a track where McLaren is doing very well: five victories in the last seven years.
LH: Yeah, I think I was just very cautious. I think the Red Bull and the Ferraris seemed to… you know, we’ve not come here with any upgrades, we didn’t in the last race whereas Red Bull and particularly Ferrari have been upgrading their car consistently. They were just as quick as us in qualifying but then in the race, generally, they can look after their tyres a little bit better than us and maybe that was a little bit the case today. Obviously they were able to do a one-stop. I would have fallen even further behind maybe if I had done a one stop, so that’s just an area I know that we need to get stronger and we need to improve on as the season is probably going to be a lot like this, where you are having one or two stops throughout the season. If we can improve on that, then I think we are in a really good strong position but then again, when I was out there, when I was able to keep up with Sebastian and maintain the gap to me and Fernando, then I started to think, OK, we’re in a good fight here, we’re in with a good chance for winning.
Q: (Vanessa Ruiz - ESPN Radio) Lewis, yesterday you were sitting here with Alonso and Vettel and you guys were asked about normality in Formula One, because, well, we had a McLaren, a Ferrari and a Red Bull driver, but now the race is finished, we have a Lotus and a Sauber driver on the podium. To all three of you, will there be a point when Formula One will reach this so-called normality this year, and what is normal for you and Formula One 2012?
LH: I think this mix-up is normal, this is what is going to be normal for the season. It’s just my feeling, but then again my guess is as a good as yours. I think it will continue to be like this throughout the year. We’re still trying to fully understand these tyres. Sometimes you’re overheating them, sometimes you’re not heating them up enough. We don’t understand why sometimes a Lotus is quicker than us, or a Mercedes is quicker than us and then we’re quicker than them another time. But I think it’s great for Formula One, it’s great for the fans to see. I’m guessing there was a lot of overtaking today and a real mix-up and as I said, seven different winners in seven races - I can’t remember hearing of anything like that. I hope there’s no more, I hope there’s not eight winners in….
SP: I hope so.
LH: I hope not! I hope we’re able to keep it at seven and no more!
RG: I think it’s pretty interesting for everybody. Who will complain about seeing different drivers and different cars fighting throughout the races?
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Lewis, the Drivers’ championship is very close now. There are seven points between you and Mark Webber in fourth. Does it mean that you plan your next victories now that you are leading. Do you think: maybe if I finish second or third… is it better in a season like this to be more consistent than to take a risk? Are you going to change your approach to the races now that you’re leading the championship?
LH: I’m definitely not going to change my approach, but I think it’s working reasonably well so far. I probably definitely had to be more on the limit today to catch the two guys ahead, perhaps a little bit more risky than in the past but it is about consistency this year. I think it will be about consistency. It’s unbelievable to see just how close it is. We got a win and 25 points and I only have a two point lead, so it’s incredible how close it is and I think it will stay that close throughout the year. Again, it just highlights how important consistency is