Japanese GP - Post-race press conference - Pt.1
7 October 2012
(Conducted by Jean Alesi)
Sebastian, yesterday pole position, today winner but you pushed very hard until the last laps. Did you know Fernando was not racing again?
I saw the safety car at the beginning. I think first of all we had a very good start which was very important because I think right behind me there was a little bit of a crash and I saw a Ferrari was out. I wasn't sure, halfway through the race when I was looking at the tower to see where the others are, I saw the car that was still racing was Felipe, so I was assuming Fernando was not racing any more. First of all I would like to thank everyone. The atmosphere here every weekend is unbelievable, we leave the hotel, we get so much support from all of you, the grandstands are full when we go down the main straight, nearly every single corner is full of people and it really makes our job very, very special. Thanks for all of that, domo arigato, and… unfortunately that's all of my Japanese. I'll try to pick up some words for next year. Thank you very, very much. Thanks to the team, thanks to Renault, all the guys have pushed so hard the last couple of months and I said on the radio, when you're dreaming at night, you dream about being able to race a car like that. The balance was fantastic, and I was enjoying every lap. That's why, I think we were has such a big gap to the guys behind – so I'm very, very happy.
Felipe, we cannot say the race or the podium of your life… but almost. Two years without a podium, now you're back. How do you feel about that?
I think it's fantastic. To come here in Japan, starting tenth, which I was very happy with the car since the practice and then qualifying was not so good. I'm sure I was able to start in the top five so I was tenth. I was able to do a very good start, very clever on the first corner with the accident and everything that happened, and then the pace was very good from the car. Since the beginning of the race the pace was really good. I was behind Jenson and I was quicker than him, when he stopped to do the pitstop I was straight away half a second quicker per lap, so then I was able to push hard and overtake Jenson but also Kamui which was very quick in the front as well. So, for sure the race was much better than I expected. We did a good job, unfortunately Fernando is not here, fighting for the Championship as well, but I am very happy with my race and let's keep pushing hard to be on the podium now, more than two years but every race now.
Kamui, you can also speak in Japanese as well today, congratulations, the first podium of your life on your home racing track. Tell us about that.
English or Japanese? I think first of all, thank you very much for everyone. Everybody know this is my first podium, in Japan this is fantastic and unbelievable you know?
Sebastian, that looked like a near-perfect race – a near perfect weekend in fact.
Yeah, as I just said, it's unbelievable. Since yesterday in qualifying, nothing I think could be better. You come across these kinds of races or weekends very, very rarely. Unbelievable. We had a very good start, obviously it was important as Mark was running into trouble at Turn One and Two, I didn't see what happened behind him. I saw I had a better start than him and Kamui was probably already past Mark before the first corner, I was focusing on my car and to get through the first couple of corners. But, yeah, obviously very quickly saw the safety car boards. Wasn't sure what happened. When we came around the first time, surprisingly there was nothing there, so I think the marshals probably did a very good job cleaning up the track. I don't know how many cars were involved but obviously, yeah, it was crucial to not be in that kind of pack. And after that I had a very, very good race car. It was behaving very well, so yeah, it's very difficult to describe why. We didn't have major upgrades for this race. I think it was just the fact of the car suiting to the track, finding the right setup on Friday and then toward Saturday it was just coming together. The balance was there and it was just working. I think we had a fantastic race and I said to the guys, when you have a dream about how your race car should be, that's exactly what you're wishing for, so I'm very, very happy and very proud of the team. They stayed very calm all the race. The pitstops obviously we had a big gap so we had a bit of luxury to the guys behind to drop some time – but they seemed very focused. Also, inside the car I tried not to drop too much time, because obviously with the sun coming down, the sun was quite low in the end and there's a couple of tricky corners, especially Turn Eight, entrance of 13 where we've seen cars spinning over the weekend. And it's very easy to get carried away and think about the corner after the present corner; you start to think ahead and lose the focus and do a little mistake. I tried to stay in the moment and until the end it was fantastic because I had a car where I could control the race and I could push as hard as I wanted to and take care of the tyres, so – not to make this too long – all in all it was… fantastic.
It seems extraordinary that it's only your third win and yet it brings you right into championship contention.
I'm very careful on this obviously, in terms of championships this race was a big step and it helped us but we see how quickly things can change. Look at the last… I don't know how many races there were since the summer break but four or five; we had a DNF in Monza, if you look last year we had only one race where we didn't finish, so obviously this year is entirely different for everyone. It seems that we are more on the limit, trying to find a step in the right direction, and that's true for everyone, so it's much closer; every weekend can be different and instead of then having a bad weekend and still finishing fourth or fifth, you might then be only tenth, because of guys like Sauber and Kamui, Sergio and other guys – the Lotus is very strong this year – so they all keep scoring consistently but obviously one of us at some point has to park and watch the race from the outside, which is not nice and something you don't hope for. That is why I say I want to be very careful because it's still a long way ahead and there's a lot of things that can happen. I think it was important for us, obviously we did have some pace this weekend and important for us to make use of that.
Felipe, obviously the start was very important for you, you picked up a lot of places there. Tell us what you saw at the start and how you picked up those places?
First of all I think my start was very good, I was able to overtake Lewis and then I get to corner one, I saw that Fernando and Kimi went a little bit outside… not outside of the track but very wide after corner one and then I pull inside both, so I was able to overtake both, and then after I saw Mark spinning around, I think a car push him, which I don't remember very well but I think a car touch him and it push him and he's spinning in front of me. Then I saw a space and I was able to go on the throttle and take this space and even take the KERS as it was another two cars going out of the corner a little bit slower. I was able to overtake these two cars by using the KERS and going before on the throttle. I think the start was a little bit complicated in corner one but I think we did a perfect job with all these things happening. After that, I was behind Jenson and Kamui, and Jenson was not so quick, so anyway, it was very important. It's very difficult to overtake in this track, so as soon as they stop I prefer to stay out just to see. And then I improve half a second straight away and a little bit more in the next lap and I think they were a little bit in traffic, so I managed to pass both and then the pace was very good on the hard as well. So, very consistent, very good. Actually, the pace was very good since the whole weekend – unfortunately I couldn't do a very good qualifying yesterday but y'know I think I was very happy with the car all weekend and very nice to be on the podium again after a little bit of time. Hopefully this is just the beginning of many podiums now in front.
How much of a relief is it to be on the podium?
ah, it's nice! It's like a relief, y'know? It was great, and a great race anyway, able to push hard from the beginning to the end and show that we are here to fight for victory and for pole and not just to fight for a few points.
Kamui, how much did you enjoy being on that podium at home?
Well, it was a fantastic race. We really working hard to get the podium, and you know my team mate has a couple of podiums already but myself, I had a couple of chance in qualifying, I mean I had good position to start, but always I never had luck. I mean we struggle at the start. But this time, maybe it's good to start third, it's no front row but the feeling was good because we had a long run on Friday and that was, I think pretty good pace and we had good confidence for the rest of the week. So, I think, when I gained position to second after the start, I was pretty sure to be on the podium. But then some point I think we really struggle a lot to hold Jenson. Especially the last stint was really tough because I change quite early for hard compound tyres but I think Jenson change, I think, a couple of laps later and I think that's what's really challenging for us. But if we want to hold Jenson we have to do it. And finally we need to manage tyres, I mean in the last couple of laps. It was within one second and really challenging for us – but I think finally we finish in the points, on the podium and that's fantastic. Especially in front of my home grand prix, my first podium, that's… y'know… amazing. Before the race I was joking: a couple of times I have a chance to get podium but I have bad luck and I couldn't get it. But maybe I get this race in podium, maybe it's something in destiny, y'know? So I'm very happy for the fans. There's so many people supporting us. When we look there is so much crowd around the circuit and that's amazing. Really, thanks to all the fans. I think we need to keep going for the future.