DRIVERS: Fernando Alonso (Renault), Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes), Nick Heidfeld (BMW-Sauber)

Questions from the floor

Q:
(Mike Doodson) There are going to be tremendous cuts made in the technical budgets of the teams. I wonder if you guys feel you also should suffer in the financial conditions. Are you expecting to take substantial reductions in salary? Would you be willing to do so if you were asked?

Nick Heidfeld:
I think it is always the same. You have two parties and both have to agree. If the team thinks they don't want to pay so much, they say no. If the driver thinks it is not enough, he says no. I think it will be solved by itself personally.

Giancarlo Fisichella:
Well, in the cut in costs for next year the driver salary is not included. And probably they are going to be different for the driver next year, we'll see. We'll see the options.

Fernando Alonso:
The same.

Q:
But do you think you should take a cut?

Lewis Hamilton:
I get paid what I am offered, it's as simple as that.

FA:
As Nick said it is something you need to agree with your team. I think we are all in the same financial crisis in this world, same for you and your newspaper and your boss. All the bosses will ask the employees to reduce salaries and things like that and maybe you agree and maybe not.

GF:
Because the costs are lower, the driver could be paid much more.

Q:
(Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Lewis, it's been a tumultuous few weeks for you and the team; how much of a relief is it that a line has been drawn under it all now and you can concentrate on the car and the season?

LH:
I think what's been impressive is that the team has not been affected by it. They've been pushing since the test we had here and fortunately, through past experiences, they have been very, very strong, all together, and just kept focussed on their primary goal. For sure, it's a weight off the team's shoulders and the guys back at the factory can focus more on getting the car back to the front. So it can only be good for them.

Q:
(Carlos Miquel - Diario AS) A question for all the drivers: last year Jenson Button was at the back of the field and this year he is the big favourite for the title. Does this mean that the championship is only decided by mechanical possibilities; that the driver is not important? What do you think?

FA:
I think the championship is the same as last year or the last ten years. I don't think Jenson was the worst driver last year when he was fighting for the last positions because he'd been quite competitive throughout his career and in 2004 he was always fighting for podium finishes, finishing third in the World Championship, I think, so Jenson has always been competitive. This year, finally, he has the right car and he's proving that he's also able to fight for race wins and championships. I'm happy for him. We all know that Formula One is about the whole package: the team, the car, the driver, the engineers, luck. Many factors can help you win a race or win a championship. We all respect each other here. I think between us, we are all good drivers, we are all competitive people and sometimes we know that some of us have the right car and some of us have problems and you need to work hard to make your car or your team competitive enough to win championships.

GF:
Since I started my career in Formula One in 1996 there has been that problem: the car is much more important than the driver. Last year we had an example: Lewis was the World Champion and this year he's struggling to get into the top ten. Last year Button was struggling on the last few rows with me and now he has won three races and he's the leader of the championship. It's not just this year.

Q:
To Nick and Lewis: should there be more emphasis on the driver and if so how?

LH:
I think Fernando put it pretty well, I couldn't put it better than the way Fernando did but as he said, there's the team, the car and the driver and the way the team works and operate. They are all equally important and if you don't have one of those then you won't be competitive, you won't be at the front and you'll see some cars that have more performance than others and some people perhaps won't do such a good job with them. I think there's quite a lot of emphasis on the driver. I think we have a lot of tools that we need to deal with in the car and no one in this room, in the world, can understand what it's like driving the car and what different pressures we're being subjected to while we're driving the car but that's because you're not driving. There's only twenty of us that have the great privilege of driving them and I still feel it's pretty tough driving these things.

NH:
Nothing to add.

Q:
(Paulo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) For all four of you: in Bahrain, Fernando had some problems at the end of the race, had a problem with water but the fact that most of you had to lose some weight during the off-season could that be a safety concern?

NH:
Not from what I've seen. Obviously Fernando can answer that one better. I also lost about two and a half to three kilos but I felt better after the race than I did last year. I think you just have to find the right balance but it will be interesting to see what Fernando says.

FA:
In Bahrain I had a very specific problem with not enough water in my body because I lost five and a half kilos in the race and this is obviously not normal at all. It was a problem with a radiator of the car and we had some hot gas going into the cockpit, so I burned all my back with the seat and that was losing me even more water from my body, to keep the temperature in the race. So I think it was a very unlucky combination of factors that left me in that condition at the end of the race but as Nick said, I think I was in better condition when I finished the first three races compared to last year. We are also running with less aerodynamics in the cars, so maybe the high speed corners are not so demanding in terms of physical etc., so I don't think that this year is any different compared to last year, even if the drivers lose some weight.

Q:
(Jonathan Legard - BBC) You've sort of answered this but talking to Nico Rosberg on this subject of weight distribution and KERS, he was concerned that there was a safety issue for drivers, particularly those with the KERS in the car, that you were having to lose a lot of weight and he's at his lowest weight ever in Formula One. I just wondered how that affected you, is that a problem?

NH:
I'm on my lowest weight ever in Formula One and it's not a problem, no. The lighter drivers have an advantage now, yes, that's true. I weigh 59 kilos.

LH:
59 kilos! I have a long way to go to get to that weight. I'm at 67 kilos but I've always been 67. I started the season quite a lot heavier but that was just because I was eating really good.

FA:
I don't think it's a problem. I feel, as I said, better than last year, especially when you take the bike. It's better this year. I don't think there are any safety issues.

GF:
I thought they were too fat last year!

Q:
(Ian Parkes - PA) Lewis, in terms of going forward, in terms of repairing the damage done to your reputation over the last few weeks, is there anything that you can feel that you can do personally to aid that cause, in particular when such luminaries as Stirling Moss claim they felt let down by what had happened in Australia and Malaysia?

LH:
Not really. I think I just need to get on with my job and keep being me; remain humble, just try to continue to do a good job and I hope that over the course of some time people will get to know exactly who I am and understand that I am in actual fact a good person. I do what I do because I love it.

Q:
(Jon McEvoy - Daily Mail) In the same spirit, Fernando, you drove for a year with Lewis. I was just wondering if maybe, in order to aid Lewis moving on, you might be able to say some generous words about Lewis the sportsman?

FA:
I've always said the same thing. I was a season at McLaren and I had no real problems with Lewis. We had a good competition which helped each other to find our limits. I can say that maybe I am missing that competition in a way because, as I said, it was quite fun to really push and find new limits from ourselves. The problems I had there were with the big bosses and the philosophy of the team, so I decided to move on from that period of my career but Lewis has always been a great driver, a great champion, fighting for the World Championship in his first season in Formula One, winning in the second season, so I think to really help the reputation or whatever has been damaged, I think will be very easy if he keeps winning. He will make people happy, his supporters and that's a very important thing, doing our job. The maximum we can do is driving the car, winning races, winning championships. This is the best thing you can do.

Q:
(Joris Fioriti - AFP) All the teams will improve, race after race, as you said. Fernando even said that the positions will remain the same, so would you consider that Brawn and Button have already won the championship?

FA:
I think you have to wait because positions may change, but we saw sometimes that it's not only enough to have the fastest car on the grid, it's about finishing the races, it's also about having some luck at some special moments in the championship, so we will see. I don't think the championship has been decided. It's also like in football or soccer; always after four or five matches, one team always plays very well but the championship is very long, so you never know what is going to happen but at the moment they are favourites, for this race also but it doesn't mean that they will win the race.

LH:
We've only had four races. There are 13 races to go, there's a long way.

NH:
I hope the positions will change after the first four races.

GF:
Yeah, me too but it's going to be difficult. So far Brawn has the strongest car. I think they will have another good day here, so it will be interesting to see how they are here compared with the other teams but I think it's still the quickest car.

Q:
(Marco Evangelisti - Corriere dello Sport) Fernando, I don't want you to have any trouble with the fans here but what did you really feel yesterday evening when Iniesta scored?

FA:
Well, in the end I think there is a Spanish team in the final, so this is good news and I'm happy for Barcelona and for the fans. Obviously I'm a Real Madrid fan, so I think it was more painful last weekend when we lost in Madrid but I think in the Champions' League you always want a Spanish team moving forward. I have a lot of friends who are supporters of Barcelona, so I am happy for them as well.

Q:
(Paul Logothetis - Associated Press) Max Mosley said this week that he can imagine F1 without Ferrari in the future. Just wondering if you guys felt the same way.

LH:
I couldn't imagine it.

FA:
No, impossible.

GF:
Yes, without Ferrari I don't think it would be Formula One anymore.

NH:
Yeah, it was a bit strange hearing that from him because I thought that people were looking and listening to the fans worldwide and Ferrari is obviously the biggest name in F1 with many supporters and has been there since the very beginning, so they belong in F1 for sure.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...