TV unilaterals

Q:
Lewis, you started the season with a win, you won the Monaco Grand Prix, but now the moment's yours. Let's savour the moment, describe your emotions on that slow-down lap, having won the British Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton:
It is by far the best victory I've ever had. It was one of the toughest races I've ever done and as I was driving I was thinking if I win this, this will definitely go down as the best race I've ever won, not only because of its history but it's on my home ground, but also I think I drove one of the best races I ever did. But I was coming to the last lap and I could see the crowd beginning to stand up and I was just praying, praying and praying: keep it on the track, just finish and you could not imagine that we're going inside. I wanted to push, I just wanted to get it round and we did. The team did a fantastic job really. I want to dedicate this one to my family because, as you could see, I've had some troubles over the last couple of weeks and it's been really tough, but as always family is always there for you, always give me support. They're all here. I remember before the race my brother said 'don't worry about it, you will be fine in the wet,' so a big thank you to them.

Q:
A stunning win by over a minute, great moments, but lots of difficult moments too. Let's talk about some of those, the pressure from Kimi R?ikk?nen early in the race, the decision about whether to switch to maybe extreme Bridgestone wets when the rain really started to fall, and generally the conditions out there on the track, lapping slower cars and actually being passed by Rubens Barrichello when it got really wet.

LH:
Yeah, it was so extreme out there. It was probably as extreme in some cases as Fuji last year. Obviously there wasn't as much rain but such tricky conditions: the first sector maybe dry or not so bad, and then in the second sector you could see big drops of rain on your visor. I was having big problems with my visor, I couldn't see a thing, especially the right side was fogging up, so always between turn one and two I would have to put the visor up and clean it on the inside and then put it down, and then I would have to do it again before Stowe. I had to do that nearly every lap, just to be able to see, especially when it started to rain. When Rubens was catching me, I didn't even know. I couldn't see in my wing mirrors, I could barely see out of my visor. All I could hear was the tone of two engines: my engine and someone else's, and for a second, I thought 'oh God, just let him past.' So I stayed on inside and braked early and he came flying down the outside. But it was so slippery, it was so tough, it was a real mental challenge.

Q:
And when it did start to rain, what was the thought process on staying on the Bridgestone wets rather than perhaps changing to the extreme wets?

LH:
Obviously we started on new wets, new intermediates or new standard wets and then we had a scrubbed set available which we were looking to use, and obviously it got pretty tricky out there, but fortunately the team took the decision... I just focused on making sure I didn't make any mess-ups and mistakes and they were doing such a great job in analysing the weather forecast and making sure that we were on the right path. As I said, a big thank you to them.

Q:
Nick, congratulations to you, your third podium of the season; what a recovery for you personally and equally for the BMW Sauber team after what looked to be a relatively difficult build-up to the race.

Nick Heidfeld:
Yeah, I don't think you can say recovery because two races ago we had a one-two. I hope Magny-Cours, the previous race, was a one-off. Here we did look a lot stronger. I seemed to get over my qualifying problems and then just had a good race today.

Q:
Very, very quick in the middle phase of the race, putting pressure on Lewis to some extend in terms of stopwatch times. Tell us about the conditions then and how the car felt for you?

NH:
I think you could see during the whole race that there were different drivers quick at different times. In the beginning, I couldn't hold Alonso. I think there you could quite clearly see which drivers are harder on the tyres and heat them up better. So a bit later he struggled when it got drier because his tyres were destroyed. Mine were still alive and that was why in certain phases I was pretty quick.

Q:
Very difficult to manage the pit stops and the tyres for those changing conditions.

NH:
Yeah, it was very difficult. Before the stop we were discussing it on the radio. They said it should only be a short shower but I was going down Hangar Straight and I thought how could that become just a small shower, it was so dark and the rain was getting stronger, so I told them I think we should go on new inters and don't keep these ones on. But I said this is your decision, you have the better overview and then luckily we chose new inters which I think was the most important thing today.

Q:
Rubens, first podium finish for Honda in 2008, your first podium since 2005, unbelievably, and it happened with Ross Brawn again in difficult conditions here at Silverstone. A bit of the old magic again.

Rubens Barrichello:
Well, it's fantastic. I've never lost the belief that I have in me, this speed and everything. Obviously it was a lucky day with the weather and so on. It seems to always happen to me in a way, because I love wet weather conditions. But it was a perfect race. We had a minor problem on the pit stop, that for some reason I stayed there - I think I had the fuel already - but they just didn't let me go for some reason, but that was a minor problem, because I think it was the very right decision for us to take the extreme wet weather and I could see, I was passing people on the inside, the outside and it was just magic. I thought that was a good decision because I ran off the track at Club and I almost hit the wall. Club and Abbey were the most difficult ones, so for me, I took the decision... I was already there. I said I'm coming in and I'm coming for the extreme.

Q:
In terms of where you've been for the last 18 months, what does this podium finish feel like for you?

RB:
The team knows - maybe those outside don't - but I have this great feeling. It's like I'm young, it's like I'm smiling at problems, it's like I'm working more. I feel that. I just love the sport, I just love the speed, I cannot live without that. It's not that I want to prove to Ross that I'm physically capable. He knows that I have the speed and I want to keep on racing. I want to take the chance to thank very much - to dedicate this race to my kiddo, to Eduardo, because he, yesterday, he saw how tough it was to be 16th and he said 'oh Dad, I'm going to pray for wet for you to get on the podium tomorrow,' so how magic this is!

Q:
Lewis, big smile on your face still. Now technically leading the World Championship, it's a great thing to say, but beyond that, just tell us your emotions when you drew the curtains this morning and you saw what the weather was like and you prepared for this Santander British Grand Prix.

LH:
To be honest, I wasn't feeling great this morning but it wasn't until I got to the track and I spoke to my family and then I was feeling great. I saw some kids, I got time to see some of the fans at the gate and all this was giving me energy, and all of a sudden I had so much energy. I went to the Paddock Club, I went to the Mercedes Benz Club and I got to get so much energy, so much support, so I really have to say a huge thank you to all the fans here, because they have been incredible all weekend throughout, and really without their support we wouldn't have done this. I can hear them outside and I'm looking forward to seeing them. It's the best weekend ever.

Press conference:

Q:
Lewis, fantastic drive today. What did it take of you personally - physically, mentally today?

LH:
Today it took an incredible amount of energy to stay focused. I needed to be one hundred percent, no more and no less. I had a lot of pressure on me, obviously. I had done a terrible job, really, in qualifying, at least by my standards, but today I just kept saying 'I'm not going out there to... the plan is not to big myself up and say 'I'm going to go out and win and try and do everything on the first lap.' I just wanted to get a point. I would have been happy with eighth today, I would have been happy just getting a point and so with that approach, I just remained relaxed, I remained calm. It was really important that I had three Cs: cool, calm and collected. That's really what helped me keep everything together. It was such a mental challenge out there. You could see the fans, they were getting all excited. The track conditions were changing non-stop and I couldn't see a thing through my damn visor unfortunately, so I had to keep on putting it up and cleaning it, and then shutting it, same and same again every lap. That made it really tricky because at one part of the track, the first sector would be dry, the second sector would be beginning to rain, before Abbey or going into Abbey there was so much water and you could see everyone was going off there, so it really took a lot. I'm just pleased it's over.

Q:
I think we saw you have one moment - or were there moments every lap?

LH:
No, I only had one moment. Actually, I think I had two moments. I had one going into Brooklands. I just hit the brake too hard and locked up the wheels and I was stuck, I thought I was going straight onto the gravel and that gravel trap is horrible, there is no way you can get through that one. But fortunately I kept it together. And then I think it was into Abbey, it was when it just began to rain, I couldn't see, I honestly couldn't see, especially the right side of my visor, there was no way I could even see what line I was on. I had already gone wide through turns nine and ten. I couldn't see the white line, the car was just skidding everywhere but luckily I just kept it cool, I was already forty or fifty seconds ahead, so I didn't have to get out there and start pushing, I just took it easy from then on.

Q:
How much was the car set up for these conditions?

LH:
It wasn't. The car was set up for qualifying and then obviously, when you go into the race, even if it's wet, you're not allowed to make any changes, so we bailed out a bit of wing as we knew it was wet and that was it really. The car was great, a little bit over-steery at times but the team did an awesome job in choosing the right tyres and I think I did a better job than I've ever done in managing them and making sure I didn't take too much out of them. You could see, at the beginning of the race, it was pretty tough. I couldn't see where Kimi was and he was closing the gap. I just had to keep my cool and remain calm.

Q:
But an amazing first few laps when you were trying to get past Heikki.

LH:
Yeah, that was some close racing. I got a great start at the beginning, but to be honest, I lifted too early into turn one. Heikki had the outside line, so he had the grip but unfortunately I was on the inside and I was just sliding, sliding across. There was nothing I could do to avoid him, I think we tapped or we touched and I think it was no problem for him. Then I had another opportunity on the exit of the last corner but that's not a place to overtake really. We were almost side-by-side and I had an oversteer moment and the last thing I wanted to do was take my team-mate out, so I just tried to keep it on the track.

Q:
Nick, I'm sure you are pleased with second place today, in spite of all the second places you have already.

NH:
Yeah, I think second is a good result for today. Obviously Lewis was quite a bit quicker and from a certain point on in the race I was looking backwards rather than forwards. I think the important choice today for the teams and guys who got it right was the tyre choice, obviously. We were thinking about keeping the old inters on or switching to new ones. Luckily we took the decision to go on new inters and that was a good move.

Q:
Really, qualifying changed things for you. The fact that you've now sorted your problems there, is that going to carry through to the next race and future races?

NH:
I believe so. Obviously it's impossible to look into the future, but at least since we've been working hard on it, have tested a couple of things and first introduced those at Magny-Cours, qualifying was OK. Here was OK, Magny-Cours was OK, still not perfect, there is some more potential to be extracted but at least I'm at a reasonable level now.

Q:
Many dramas out there?

NH:
The biggest moment I actually had was when Bourdais and Barrichello passed me. I also didn't try to fight them too hard because they were just so much quicker but as Lewis said earlier, you could not see them. You heard them, I saw a little bit in the spray and I just hoped that we would not crash because the difference in speed was so big but you can also not pull off line because there was so much standing water. Once before Abbey, they both got by and I just backed off because I saw nothing and I knew there were some puddles somewhere and then I nearly spun because I didn't see and there was a lot of standing water, so that was the biggest moment for me and I nearly lost it there.

Q:
Rubens Barrichello and a wet Silverstone seem to go well together!

RB:
Well, 2003 was actually dry but I think the wet and myself... there's no specific reason. To be honest, I wasn't good in the wet in my very first race. I wasn't at all good in go-kart and I remember the strategy was that the next time it was wet at Interlagos with a go-kart, to take slicks and go learn in the wet. That's what I did for half a day and then when I put on the wets, I was a master, it was unbelievable.

LH:
What year was that?

RB:
Oh man, don't ask me the year because you were definitely not born. It was '82! You see, I'm still young. I love the wet and I think it's just the spirit. When some people look at situations where they don't like it - it doesn't matter what - it's already bad, it's already a negative influence. You have to take it as it comes. Today it was obviously very difficult at the beginning with the visibility, coming from behind. There was a moment I touched the white line and I spun. My team-mate went by at Club. But then from there on, there was a minor problem at the pit stop and I still don't know what happened, because I was there for more than twenty seconds. And that obviously cost me one position on the podium. That was minor. I still have to understand what it was. But the decisions to take the tyres at the right moment were fantastic, and the decision to come in... the radio was working fine. I had everything under control. Once I almost hit the wall at Club when I decided to go for the extreme wet tyres. They told me you've got to stop for some other tyres even though it might be five laps or so, in those five laps you can conquer ten seconds a lap and that's what happened, didn't it? I was going so much faster than people and I could overtake. I had to be patient because as Nick said, I was so much faster than people that you could overdo it. I had to take my lines carefully and it worked fantastically well.

Q:
And a great reception as well.

RB:
Yeah. Since I joined the team... I've joined them for a purpose. I always thought they had a fantastic 2004 season. They didn't do very well in 2005, so I thought that it was just going to come back in 2006 because they have fantastic engineers, fantastic mechanics, the organisation, the whole policy of the team is good, but they need a technical leader, so it took a long time until Ross came. Everything calmed down a bit and now we have a lot of respect between ourselves and I think the work is nice, very nice. I think the podium comes at a good time. I have no intention of stopping. I will only stop if I have nowhere else to go, but my intention is to stay with Honda. I have no contracts just yet, but I feel young. I love racing more than I ever did. The day that I find that I'm actually slower than in that first race at Kyalami is the day I will stop. Right now I'm just feeling that I'm faster than that day.

 

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