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FIA post-race press conference - Bahrain

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Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1h31m06.970s; 2nd Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 1h31m10.309s; 3rd Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), 1h31m11.968s

Q: Your second win in a row here starting second this time. Talk us through your race.
Felipe Massa: It didnt change anything starting second because we had a good a start. I think Robert didnt have a good start and I passed him. Then the race was pretty difficult in the beginning because there was a lot of oil on the track. We almost went off, me and Robert, and it was pretty difficult. During the race the car was just very good. I didnt push completely to the limit because I saw the gap increasing and then Kimi was behind but I could manage to keep the gap to him and the strategy was perfect as well

Q: It looked like you were having a bit of a fight there with your team-mate Kimi trading fastest laps in the mid-point of the race. But at the end of the day you had a lot in hand, as you say. Can you tell us a little bit about your mind-set coming into this race having had difficult weekends first in Australia and Malaysia, but then coming to Bahrain where you won last year?
FM: For sure I have not had very easy weeks but thats life. Its not the first time and wont be the last one as well. You have some bad days in your life. I had two bad days in the first two races but I know that we are quick. When you make a mistake and you are behind it means that something is wrong but when you make a mistake and you are fighting for the victory thats better. For sure the race was pretty difficult because I didnt want to make any mistakes. I didnt push as much either, just tried to bring the car home and just controlling the pace as well. But for sure I had a lot of time to think whats happened in the last race. Thats pretty normal. But I am sure now its in the past and what is in the past is one victory and that will help for the next race.

Q: I guess you love this circuit.
FM: Yes, I love this circuit. It is my second victory in a row. I have always gone very strong here. I remember in my first year, in 2006 with Ferrari, I almost made the pole position but was stuck in traffic in qualifying. Then I didnt have a very lucky race but I was always very strong, so I like the circuit. They are nice people here and we are always welcome, so it is nice to be here and get the second victory.

Q: Kimi, you have taken the lead in the World Championship but an interesting day for you. Playing catch-up virtually from the start, but a nice pass around the outside of Robert in the second lap there.
Kimi Raikkonen: The whole weekend has been pretty difficult, one of those things when we cannot really get the car right. But anyhow it was one of those bad weekends but I still finished second and the next race might be completely different again. We are leading the championship which is the main thing and we know that we have the speed once we get everything right. The race was quite difficult but anyhow I am happy with second.

Q: Putting the handling problems with the car to one side, you had a slight delay in the first pit stop and came in a little bit early at the second stop.
KR: In the second stop we had an easy time because we were one-two and we were not really racing against each other. We knew when we were going to stop, so we took it pretty easy. The first stop I had some difficulties. There was some problem with the light system, so it took a bit longer but it didnt change much the things in the race. I was second, but like I said, it was a difficult weekend, so second is a good outcome.

Q: There were phases of the race where you were setting fastest laps and putting pressure on Felipe. Even at that point how was the car handling and how did you feel in the car?
KR: I mean it hasnt been perfect all weekend. The problem is that one lap is good but the next lap is different and we havent really found the perfect mid-way if you like but thats life. I have never been too happy on this circuit but out of these first three races it is really important to get as many points as possible. Usually after that the season really starts, so I am happy to be leading going back to Europe and hopefully we can be really strong in the next races.

Q: Robert, congratulations. Pole position and your second successive podium finish. First of all, what was it like off the line from pole?
Robert Kubica: Well, I think there was no big difference. The difference was there were no cars in front of me. But we had some problems on the formation lap at the start with a lot of wheel spin and in fact also at the race start I had a lot of wheel spin, although it looks like Felipe made a better start than me. Then unfortunately on the second lap I didnt know about the oil and there was oil from corner four until corner 10 and even 11. I took some debris in corner one and thought I had punctured the tyre. I didnt know if I was going to pit soon because I didnt have information about oil on the track and I lost a place to Kimi. In the second stint we faced some problems with graining and rear degradation and I think we lost quite a lot of gap to Ferrari. But anyway I think it was a good result: third and fourth for the team and leading the Constructors championship, so it was good weekend.

Q: And a close race as it turned out at the end with your team-mate Nick Heidfeld, beating him by three-and-a-half seconds.
RK: Yeah, I knew I had to make the difference in the first stint. I couldnt because I lost with the oil problem and in the second lap Kimi overtook me and I was running behind him. It was not easy because in the windy conditions when you are running behind it is very easy to make mistakes. I knew which gap I had to make before pitting. I just pushed when I needed to and thats all.

Q: Felipe, we now return to Europe and the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona. A great position for Ferrari with some momentum but it looks like it is going to be a very close season.
FM: Yeah, for sure it will be a very competitive season. We are going on now to Barcelona which is a track we pretty much like going to. Our car behaves very well on these kinds of tracks, so I am looking forward to a very strong pace in the next few races and hopefully when we go to Monaco we will see if our car has really improved in the slow corners or not compared to last year. I think we are going in the right direction for the races coming up.


Q: Felipe, its a bit like last year. You must want the championship to start here and not have those two previous races. It seems to have gone much better here than it has in the previous two races.
FM: This is a nice track which I like. I am always very strong here, starting from Friday with a very strong pace all the sessions. That carries on with qualifying and for the race. Even the qualifying was very good, even if it doesnt look like that because we started second. But looking at the fuel we had on board it was a fantastic lap as well. I just had very good pace and a very good car in the race. It was a little bit tricky at the beginning when we faced a lot of oil on the track. Turns 5, 6, 8 and 10 were full of oil on the line. I went off line and Robert came behind me, so it was quite difficult. But then as the track cleaned up we had a pretty good race and I was able to save a lot with my car. The car was responding fantastically.

Q: Much has been said about the dirty side and the clean side of the grid but you seemed to make the better start off the dirty side.
FM: I had a very good start and I think Robert didnt have a very good start. I saw him having a lot of wheel spin in his car, so for sure I got a better start and was able to pass him straight away.

Q: And after that any problems?
FM: No.

Q: So what are you feelings about winning two Bahrain Grands Prix in a row?
FM: Very nice. I like the place, like I said, the track. The people are always very welcoming here. It is very nice to have a second victory in a row and the first points in the championship.

Q: Kimi, you dont seem to be terribly excited about coming second, but having said that, its better than coming third again.
KR: Yeah, of course we want to win races but weve been a bit off-pace all weekend, one of those difficult weekends when we just dont seem to get things as we want but second is still a good place to finish. We are leading the championship now, so if we can score second places Im not too disappointed, but of course we would rather win than be second.

Q: Tell us about the overtaking manoeuvre on Robert.
KR: I dont think it was anything special, really. He went to defend the line on the inside and I did my normal braking on the clean side. Its really quite difficult here when you try to defend when youre not on the clean braking area, to know when to brake, so I had the advantage there, so I went round the outside.

Q: Were you much affected by the oil on the circuit?
KR: Yes, the same as everyone else. We needed to try and drive around the oil and I really didnt know when it was a good moment to try to use the proper line because I didnt really want to go off the circuit, so I took it pretty easily. But it was quite tricky for many laps but anyhow, not too bad.

Q: Robert, obviously a very long middle stint for you. You were the first to pit of the front runners, tell us about it, what the car was like during that middle stint?
RK: I dont think we made enough of a gap in the first stint. I didnt have a good start, we already faced a lot of wheel spin on the formation lap. Then at the start Felipe made a great start and he overtook me straight away. Then I was behind him. I ran over some debris into the first corner and honestly I didnt have a clue about the oil, I didnt get any information and I was a hundred percent sure that I punctured a tyre on the debris and I was nearly going to pit when I realised in corners ten and eleven that suddenly the car had grip again. I was trying to push but Kimi was already very close to me and I tried to defend my line on the inside but it was very dirty and he overtook me. In the second stint I faced quite a lot of degradation of the rear tyres. The third one was OK. Yes, that was my race.

Q: So are you happy with third place?
RK: Yeah, its very good to be on the podium for a second time in a row but I think that without these problems on the second lap we would maybe be able to fight with Kimi. You never know, but thats how it went, we made mistakes but we still finished third, so I think its a great result. We had the pace, OK, there was quite a big difference of fuel load in qualifying but I still managed to do pole and I had quite a good race.


Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, you said that you didnt have an ideal car all weekend, but Massa says the car was perfect. You tested for six days here in February, can you explain that?
KR: Well, its completely different conditions from when we were here, we knew that. It just didnt work for me this weekend so theres not much to explain.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Was it the set-up?
KR: I said that we couldnt get it working this weekend, the set-up, thats all. Its a small thing but sometimes when you cannot really get it right it makes your life a bit difficult but thats racing and its not the first time. We were still second, so its OK.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, what did you think when you saw Lewis stall at the start?
KR: I didnt really know what happened to him, I just knew that I got a better start than him and of course that was good for us. He was leading the championship, so we knew that we should be able to beat them anyhow but if they dont score points its even better for us. I dont know exactly how the points are but Im leading and whoever is second its good for me. We caught up a lot in the Constructors championship also. I think we are only one point behind now, so one race can make a big difference, so I think overall its been a very good weekend for the team.

Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Felipe, last year you did the same in Barcelona as you did here. Is that a circuit that is as good for you as this circuit?
FM: Yeah, I think so. I think Barcelona is a nice circuit. I like the circuit as well, so I think we have very good circuits ahead of us where our car always behaves very well, so Im really looking forward to being strong again in Barcelona and Turkey, hopefully in Monaco as well.

Q: (Marco Evangelisti – Corriere dello Sport) Robert, you said yesterday that to win the championship is not your target this year. Are you still of the same opinion, looking at your pace?
RK: I think that for the second time in a row we were a bit slower than Ferrari, and of course, if there is the opportunity we will fight for it but our goal in the team is to win races and to make consistent progress. Its also true that most probably if I had finished the race in Australia I would be right there on the top, so I will do my best and I will try but this is not our goal for this season.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Robert, where exactly at the start was the problem, the first few meters or later on in the acceleration process?
RK: As soon as I released the clutch I was just standing still, spinning wheels and I was standing still, the wheels were turning and I couldnt get traction. That was my main problem.

Q: (Juha P??talo – Financial Times Germany) Robert, you seem really disappointed with what happened on the second lap. Why are you so disappointed, and the second question is, I think it was the second race in a row when you had bad wheel spin at the start? Do you have any explanation for that?
RK: Im not disappointed, Im just saying that we could manage it better and maybe we would not have lost second place there, but it happens and thats all. The start in Malaysia was a different problem to here.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, when you tried to approach Massa, did you try to put pressure on him? Did you really believe that you could overtake him?
KR: We knew when the other was stopping, so I knew that I was going to stop earlier. Of course, you always try to overtake but when you stop first, theres a very small chance. I was just pushing as normal and tried to get close to him. Sometimes when I got close he would pull away, so it didnt really change much overall during the race. So after the last pit stop I just cruised around, so there was nothing I could really do.

Q: (Patos Seitanidis - Drive Magazine) A question for Felipe: you have had two difficult weeks with a lot of criticism but you came here and won, the same thing has happened last year in Bahrain. How can you manage to react so well under extreme pressure?
FM: Well, Ive had many bad days in my life. Its not the first one and it wont be the last one, so I was really in a difficult moment of my career but not in Formula One, maybe when I was fired in Sauber, maybe when I had money to do one race and then if I didnt win I couldnt do the second one in Formula Renault. It was much more difficult than my situation now, so I dont care whats happened over the last weeks. I think it is part of the job for the journalists to write. They need to write something, so one day they write about you and one day they write about someone else and thats life. So it wont change anything. It wont change what you think, the team you race for is thinking, and thats perfect. Our job inside the team is fantastic and thats important. The other things are not important, so thats why for sure if I need to chose I prefer people who say good things about me, not bad things, but even if they say bad things, I prefer to hear what my team thinks about me and not other people, so Im fine and for sure I have got a lot of energy for this race from Brazil, from my family, my wife and thats important.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) I have one question for Felipe, one for Robert. Robert, is it true that you had some problems with the radio in the last part of the race? And Felipe, we saw Jacques Villeneuve in your pit during these last few days. Could you explain to us how your relationship is with him; in the end he brought you luck?
RK: No, we didnt have any problem.
FM: I had a good relationship with him, not at the beginning of the season (my career). I remember in my first year in Formula One he was complaining about me all the time. He doesnt like young drivers, so he was always complaining about young drivers, all the meetings, everything and I didnt know why and then suddenly we came to race together and I was never a big fan of his because of that, and then we started working together and then he became very friendly and I was not so friendly and then he apologised for everything he had said about me, and then we started a very nice relationship and hes a very nice guy and he was here in a very easy-going way and watching the session from the Ferrari pit. He never raced for Ferrari but he said it was nice to be in the Ferrari garage and see how people worked and see the atmosphere and even the food… I think it was more because of the food!

Q:(Anne Giuntini – LEquipe) Question to Kimi: yesterday you told us that maybe another strategy could have been better for you. Can you tell us which kind of strategy you would have preferred?
KR: No, I was pretty happy with what we had. We knew after qualifying within the team where we were. Of course we didnt know about other teams but we had some idea and I think it worked pretty well today. We didnt really have the speed to win anyhow, so it worked well for second place.


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