TV unilaterals:

Q:
Lewis, it's difficult to know where to start - what a race. We had diabolical weather conditions, started behind the safety car, pressure initially from your team-mate Fernando Alonso, and then an incident with Robert Kubica.

Lewis Hamilton:
Yes, a very eventful race. I think there were so many times during the race where it went through all of the drivers' heads that we should stop the race. It was sometimes very tricky, and then there were some times when it was easier to drive. We obviously had the safety car at the beginning, and I was so eager to get going. After the safety car at the beginning I got off to a decent start and wasn't particularly feeling pressure from Fernando. I was saving fuel and easily driving away, and I could have, if I needed to, pushed more if he was on my tail. And then we came to do the pit stops, and I came out and heard that he had been off but came back on, and then he was five places behind me or something like that. So that was a plus, and I had to just try to keep it on the track. Obviously I collided with Robert. It was just so tricky out there - I couldn't see in my mirrors, and my visor was all fogged up and it was very foggy, so I couldn't see that he was inside of me. I'm very fortunate that I still finished.

Q:
It sounds like you're taking the blame for that one; perhaps you could add to that and tell us if the car was damaged after that, because you were a little bit slow after that incident for a few laps.

LH:
I didn't say I was taking the blame for it - I think when you're behind someone you have to adjust to the conditions. I couldn't see him, and maybe he was a little bit too far behind to come up the inside to make the move. I couldn't see him, I couldn't hear him, and he touched me. For him, it wasn't really a risk that he needed to take as he could have passed me down the straight or somewhere else. Then I felt a vibration and I thought 'shoot, there's something wrong with my car' - maybe the rear tyre was going down or there was something wobbling, and I had it through the rest of the race. I was very fortunate - the team said the car seemed to be OK, so just keep it on the track.

Q:
How did the race feel - now that it's finished, did it feel unbelievably long? What were the closing laps like, and what was the re-start like behind the second safety car?

LH:
It was the longest race of my life - it seemed to go on and on and on. When we were behind the second safety car, I was constantly on the radio to my engineers to tell the Red Bull team to get Mark [Webber] to make a little more of a gap because I couldn't go any faster because the pace car was in front of me, so I was trying to keep the distance with him and then I'd move over because I couldn't see Mark and then he'd just appear alongside me, so he kept out-braking himself. I felt something was going to happen, and I guess my instincts told me right. And then we did the re-start and I had Heikki [Kovalainen] behind me and I was a bit nervous that we might collide, but he did a good job. The last few laps, the team was telling me to slow down, that I was a second faster than anyone, and I was saying that I was going as slow as I feel comfortable doing. In the last couple of laps I took it easy because it was so wet and my tyres were getting old, and we were aquaplaning. But I'm thrilled to take it home, and it's great for the team.

Q:
Heikki, the first-ever podium with two Finns on it, and you beat the other one, the illustrious Kimi R?ikk?nen. What a race that was in the closing stages.

Heikki Kovalainen:
Yeah, tell me about it. What a rollercoaster year it's been for us, especially myself. This weekend again we made a little bit of a gamble with the car yesterday hoping it would be dry today, and then this morning it was raining probably more than yesterday. So things didn't look fantastic at the start of the race, but you always keep going - you never know what can happen. Our strategy worked out really well today, and so I think the team deserves one podium at least through this year. Today the pace was good. At the end of the race I had a good fight with Kimi [R?ikk?nen]. I couldn't see him - my mirrors were steamed up - but I saw my pit board, and every lap he was a second closer to me. So I knew that at some point, he was going to attack. I managed to keep him behind, so it's fantastic.

Q:
What was it like in terms of having that pressure from Kimi in terms of your concentration level, and where did you think you were perhaps slower than him, or where did you have an advantage?

HK:
At the end he was probably a little bit quicker everywhere - the gap was coming down so fast. All I could do was to stay on the tracks that Lewis' car was leaving on the track. I was aquaplaning in many places. I really wanted to take the second place, so I was willing to take a risk, so I kept flat-out through those aquaplaning moments and hoped that I don't lose the car. I managed to keep it on the track, so that was the key.

Q:
Kimi, a brilliant drive from you too from the back of the field, sadly - tell us about that decision off the line to be on the Bridgestone wet instead of the extreme wet and having to come in so early in the race?

Kimi Raikkonen:
We made a decision to start on intermediates. It started to rain a little bit actually behind the safety car. That wasn't really the issue - it was more for me to be able to see anything - on the straight I couldn't see the car in front even if it was 50 metres in front of me. After the race, I heard there were some rules or they forced everybody to start on full wets but the FIA or the race control forgot to tell our team, and we had to pit again under the safety car. So it cost us a lot but there was nothing we could do at that point. All race I couldn't do much because I couldn't really see anything. I tried to get past people in the lowest part of the circuit because you could see more. I actually got past Heikki on the last lap but went a bit too fast, and he got me on the exit again. So the biggest problem for me was to see all of the other cars. It was quite a difficult race but at least we got something out of it.

Q:
You did - a podium finish, and you're still alive in the world championship. What was the car like in terms of the downforce level you had - it appeared you were pretty quick in a straight line but therefore had not a lot of grip in the corners? On that, you seemed to go off quite a lot but not lose a lot of time when you did go off?

KR:
I aquaplaned off many times but just kept coming back. The car was set up for the dry, so it wasn't perfect for the wet. I thought that we had a good car but for sure if you are in front and you can see something, it makes it a lot easier. The whole race I tried to get past people. We lost points from Lewis again but we couldn't do much after the pit stop where we were forced to change the tyres.

Q:
Returning to you Lewis for some final thoughts. There's been plenty of firsts this year for you - your first win in the wet has to be a very special moment for any racing driver?

LH:
Definitely, and there were lots of thoughts going through my mind - driving in the wet and leading and doing the last lap and thinking of some of the races that Senna was in, and Prost, sort of made me feel that I'm on my way to achieving something similar to them. But I'm just really thankful for the team - they've done a fantastic job and are really pushing hard, and also my family - it's been a long, hard year and I know you're all watching, so thank you for all of the support. And also to the fans - especially here this weekend, the Japanese fans have been superb. They're crazy, just to sit in the rain. They've been phenomenal, so thanks to them as well.

Press conference:

Q:
Well done, Lewis, congratulations. Give us some idea of the concentration for two hours - it actually went to the time limit.

LH:
For me, it was one of the most if not the most difficult race I've ever had to do, just because the conditions were changing non-stop and you really couldn't see that much. I had two tear-offs on my visor - I took one off at the pit stop and it didn't make a difference, and I took the other one off and I noticed that the water was on the inside. You can't open it while you're driving and clean it or anything, so I was struggling to see. My mirrors - it was impossible to see through the spray behind me. With all of the safety cars I was getting a bit nervous with all of the drivers getting so close. The safety car was on the limit but we were way too fast for the safety car. Especially the last stint - we were on heavy fuel and we grained the tyres, then I started to get overtaken by a few people, and I asked the team if they were going to have to pit again and if I should just let them past to make it easier and safer for me. There was the crash with Robert... it was such an eventful race, and especially at the end when it started to rain more and I still managed to keep it on - I was having to lift - as Heikki was saying, the aquaplaning was unreal. So I'm just very pleased that I brought it home.

Q:
With the re-starts you seemed to be rehearsing it every single lap, especially in the first safety car period?

LH:
That wasn't really the case - we just needed to keep the heat in the brakes. I was running quite a hard compound of brakes, so if I did light braking, I would have glazed the brakes. So I was making sure there was a little bit of a gap, maximising the gap that you're allowed, and use it to my benefit. It was tough because Mark behind me was just too close, and all of a sudden he braked really hard and I don't know what happened - someone ran into him. I'm just glad that it's over - I was so relieved when I came across the line. It was just too long.

Q:
What are your feelings about the championship now - two races to go and you have a twelve-point lead over your team-mate, and you have a 17-point lead over Kimi.

LH:
Obviously it's a big boost in terms of confidence in my drive to be world champion. But we still have two races left, and anything can happen. The key is just to try to keep it on the track. I hope Fernando's okay - I saw that it was him. I looked on the screen and he looked like he was okay. It's good for me that I've managed to pull that sort of gap. At the N?rburgring I had that similar sort of incident and lost 10 points there, so I'm very fortunate that I've been able to gain those back. We're still pretty close, so we've got two races, so we need to knuckle down. I won't be going partying tonight.

Q:
Heikki, you seemed to be having a battle with someone all the way through the race: one with Kubica, Massa and then Kimi at the end.

HK:
Yeah, that's correct. For me, there were battles all the way through the race. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as you are attacking, not being attacked. At the end, I saw Massa was getting a bit closer and then they told me that Kimi is behind me and I saw the gap was coming down very fast but I couldn't see anything in my mirrors, they were completely steamed up. I had no idea where he was, and then going into the last lap, I saw the gap was only 0.7secs or something like that and I knew he was going to be somewhere around, but I thought I would just keep on the racing line. It was tricky going off the line because of aquaplaning, so I just tried to follow the track that Lewis was leaving in front of me. I managed to stay ahead of Kimi. He made a move into turn six but I got him back on the exit. I really wanted to take second place rather than just third, so I went for it, as much as I could. It was a long race but I'm happy I brought it home, a very good result for all the team.

Q:
What will this mean for you and the team after a long year?

HK:
Yeah, for me, I always believed it was going to happen one day and I'm working harder and making sure that whenever I get an opportunity to fight for the podiums regularly I've got to be able to take it, physically and mentally. Obviously this year has been a bit of a rollercoaster for our team, a disappointing year after the last two years, but the team definitely deserves this podium. I think we've really worked hard, all the team, no one has given up. The factory has been pushing to bring new parts for our car, even if we've been struggling and that shows that everybody is very committed, like myself. I'm also very committed. We have a lot of potential in our team. I'm sure we can come back to winning ways and hopefully I will stay with them next year, because I believe they're going to be strong again.

Q:
What were your feelings when you saw Webber and Vettel collide?

HK:
I was a little bit surprised, but honestly, behind the safety car, it was always a little bit tricky as Lewis said. When you go on the straight and you can't see anything, you slow down a little bit. You're just worried that someone might hit you. They can't see anything either. It's like a chain reaction. When the guy in front slows down, the other guys have less time to react and then I think at some point Liuzzi was in front of me and I was just a little bit worried. I kept a little distance just to make sure that nothing happened. I knew he was going to do another pit stop. It was good for me to get behind Lewis but if Lewis says he had bad visibility, he should have been where I started the race, then he will know something about bad visibility.

Q:
Kimi probably knows a fair amount about bad visibility as well, don't you?

KR:
Yeah, I didn't have any visibility really during the race but that's part of coming from behind.

Q:
It must have been really action-packed, coming all the way through from the back.

KR:
Yeah, but as I said, the most difficult part is to try to see where the people are on the straight. If somebody slows down, there is no way to know. You're going full throttle, full speed on the straight and hoping nobody is slowing down because, for sure, you would hit him. When you get in low speed corners, it's much easier when you can see other cars. But it was pretty tricky.

Q:
What are your feelings now about the championship?

KR:
It doesn't look too good right now but there's nothing else that we could have done today, really, we did the best that we could. We lost points but there are still two races to go and we're still trying, we're still pushing and we'll see what happens.

 

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