Drivers: Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (McLaren)

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Q:
Felipe, you said yesterday that it would very much come down to the first corner and the start, and that defined the race for you.

Felipe Massa:
Well, it was a little bit tight for both of us but I was just inside and I went for it so it was quite a risk for both of us, but looking at the competition and everything, the first corner is important. I just didn't want to lose out like I lost out in Malaysia. I was inside, so I just tried to stay there.

Q:
I have to ask if there was any contact between you and Fernando in that first corner?

FM:
Yeah, we touched. We were both very close going into the first corner. Fernando was trying to push me inside and we just touched each other. It was a very small contact but I was also a bit afraid for my car afterwards but fortunately nothing happened.

Q:
And it was a relatively straightforward race but we did see a small fuel fire in your first pit stop.

FM:
Ah. I didn't know that. It's not important any more. We finished with no problems, so if we had a little problem, I'm sure the problem was solved.

Q:
Let's talk about the later stages of the race: you made a relatively early second pit stop but a trouble-free afternoon for you after that?

FM:
Yeah, for sure I think the most difficult part of the race was the start. It was pretty tough but afterwards I saw that nothing had happened to my car, that the car was responding quite well and I was managing to build a gap, quite a good gap, straightaway, so after that, I had the race in my hands. I was just concerned about the car, it was the second race for the engine but looking at the gap I was building, I think I had the race in my hands there.

Q:
And perhaps some concern with your team-mate Kimi, having what is suspected to be an electronic problem?

FM:
I really don't know what happened with Kimi. I just heard my engineer tell me that Kimi was in trouble. It's a shame for the Constructors' championship because we could have finished in a good position, even first and second, so let's try to do that next time.

Q:
Lewis, you take over the mantle of youngest driver to lead the World Championship from Bruce McLaren, the man who founded the team for which you drive. A great first corner, I guess, from your point of view.

Lewis Hamilton:
Yeah, absolutely. Going into the race, we knew we had a very good strategy. At this track you can't really overtake, so the key is to try and get the best position in the first corner and so the aim was to get as many places at the first corner and fortunately I got past Kimi but Fernando and Felipe touched and I was able to get past Fernando. It was very close, I think when he came back on, he nearly hit me but nevertheless, we managed to pull it off. We didn't particularly have the pace of Felipe but I think we took another step closer and, as I said to him just now, we'll get him soon.

Q:
It turns out you had a little bit more fuel on board than Felipe at that point. Was that a critical issue at that point of the race?

LH:
I think so. He did already pull out quite a good gap. So when he pitted in front of me, a few laps before me, I knew I would be quick, but I would only get him back maybe four seconds, so I just had to keep pushing and try to do the best job I could, but the middle stint again wasn't great. But at the end, I think we had a very good pace and very similar times to Felipe.

Q:
Different tyre choice to your team-mate Fernando. You were on the harder tyre at the end of the race.

LH:
Yes, we were trying to decide whether to run two primes or an option or a prime in the second and third stints and we weren't really quite sure and five laps before the pit stop we made the decision and stuck with it and I think it went quite well. But as I said, we struggled in the middle stint with a bit of oversteer but still the team has done a fantastic job over the last four weeks, really really pushed hard, so thank you to all the guys back home. You've really done a great job and I'm just pleased for the team. We're leading the constructors' titles and now leading the [drivers'] championship.

Q:
Well, your thoughts on leading the World Championship?

LH:
I keep saying that I'm living my dream, and it's really true, you know. I've been working so hard for this and to come to only my fourth Grand Prix to come out of it leading the World Championship when I'm driving with the top drivers in the world is just incredible.

Q:
Fernando, a fantastic start on the outside of Felipe going into turn one, and you nearly made it.

Fernando Alonso:
Yes. Unfortunately, it was not enough and I lost three places after that touch and from there on... I think that if you are fourth in the first corner with a little bit less fuel than your opponents I think the race becomes very very complicated.

Q:
Describe that first corner incident from your point of view?

FA:
Well, it was very tight. I think the start was very similar between the two cars but then obviously I put myself behind Felipe and thanks to the slipstream I was a little bit quicker. I went on the outside, I braked later and I think I was much in front of him in the first corner, but unfortunately he didn't think so and we touched each other. We were lucky to both finish the race because in 99 percent of these type of incidents, both cars will finish [their race] at the first corner. Sometimes I think this type of thing is very dangerous.

Q:
And your car was damaged too, a bargeboard was flapping around towards the end of the race.

FA:
Yeah, of course, I think the car was damaged all through the race and unfortunately it was a little bit more difficult to drive. We also took the gamble when we took the prime tyre in the first stop, just to see if there was some advantage there because we needed a miracle after being third, a little bit too far behind the first two people on lap 15 or lap 16, so we took the gamble and it was not fantastic. So we went back to the option tyre at the end, and the car became a little bit quicker. After the first corner, you need to risk too many things and it's difficult that everything goes well after that.

Q:
And in your home grand prix today, obviously a feeling of disappointment for you.

FA:
Yeah, of course, no doubt there is disappointment with the race itself. After the first corner, you can try as hard as you can, you can put on different sets of tyres compared to your rivals, you can put on whatever you want. But being fourth, as I said, thanks to Kim's retirement - otherwise I probably wouldn't be on the podium - after starting second, that was not the aim of the race.

Press conference:

Q:
Felipe, during those early stages, were you surprised at the gap you were managing to pull out?

FM:
A little bit, yes, especially in the beginning when in three or four laps, I managed to pull away three seconds or something. Then I was getting half a second quicker per lap, so that was a little bit of a surprise. I knew that Lewis was a little bit heavier, looking at the times he did in qualifying but it was a little bit of a surprise. But anyway, I just took the advantage of that to pull away and make the biggest gap I could to be a little bit more relaxed in the second part of the race.

Q:
And even in the second stint, it went from something like 8.9secs out to nearly 19secs...

FM:
Yeah, which was even better. I just heard now, from them, that they took the decision to go on the hard tyres in the second stint, which for me was even better, because I had good grip, good stability on the soft tyres, so it was even better for me to pull away even more. And then in the last stint, I went to the hard tyres and the car was a little bit more difficult but I was also more relaxed as well.

Q:
Monaco next, always a bit of a lottery there...

FM:
Yeah, it's a lottery and hopefully we can have a bit of luck in this lottery.

Q:
Lewis, well done but to see Felipe disappearing like that must be a little bit of a worry.

LH:
I'm not particularly worried. They obviously had very good pace. We were slightly heavier in the first stint and also in the second stint but we just struggled at the beginning to warm the tyres up, a bit of oversteer, and that enabled him to pull away. Then the car's balance came quite good and I was able to produce the same sort of times as him, but by then he had already got quite a big gap but I kept pushing. It got to the second stint and again, we just struggled a bit in traffic. I was a bit unfortunate coming down the pit straight and one of the Spyker cars came out and I literally came across it in the corner and got stuck behind it, but that's racing. I'm really happy with it still. We're leading the championship and I couldn't be happier.

Q:
That must be an amazing feeling for you.

LH:
It is. It is. I was just saying in the press conference that I've been working so many years for this, me and my family, and to finally be in this position is really a dream and it really is now just getting bigger, it's quite amazing to be leading after only my fourth grand prix but it's good and I'm enjoying it and I need to keep on enjoying it and really just keep on building on the points that I have.

Q:
How do you prepare for Monaco. We were saying it's a bit of a lottery...

LH:
I don't see it as a lottery. Monaco has always been a very strong race for me and I was saying to Felipe that one day we will get you and you never know whether it's that one or...

FM:
You're right in my front.

LH:
But I think we'll be very strong in Monaco, so I'm looking forward to it. Again, that's one where we're going to be pushing hard to get as many points as we can but for sure, I'm going to be going in for a win.

Q:
Fernando, you seemed to find grip off the line on the dirty side of the track, where, in GP2, both of the people who started on that side didn't make very good starts.

FA:
I don't think the start itself was very good. It was very similar to Felipe, even a little bit worse but then the straight is very long here up to the first corner and I was able to take a tow from him in the slipstream and to catch him a little bit into the braking point.

Q:
What has it been like here with 140,000 people, most of them cheering for you?

FA:
Yeah, it's been fantastic but obviously I think I enjoyed the parade lap more on the truck because you can hear the people and you can see all the little messages they put there. When you are in the car, it's very difficult to hear anything with engine noise.

Q:
But a little bit of a disappointment at the end.

FA:
No doubt. I think I started in second, three hundredths of a second from pole position. I was leading the race in the first corner and I was off the track in the second corner, so... Being fourth in the second corner with two or three laps less fuel than the people in front of you, I think your race is a little bit over and I think I also had a little damage to the car, so it's difficult, after 500 meters of the race, when to reach your goal is a little bit over.

Q:
Does that change your approach in future races?

FA:
No, no, it will be exactly the same. I think my approach will always be to try to win the race, try to beat the others and for sure, try to catch Ferrari that seems a little bit quicker than us: qualifying and in the race especially. I think Felipe was 30 seconds in front of me in the middle of the race, and I think that's a little bit too much.

 

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