With Raikkonen, Alonso and Massa
Better late than never? A dramatic Chinese Grand Prix saw Kimi Raikkonen
secure his fifth win of the season as title rival Lewis Hamilton ran off-track and did not finish the rain effected 56-lap Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso
finished in second
position to make it a three-way fight heading to Brazil, while Felipe Massa was third in the second Ferrari. The Sunday press conference transcript from the FIA is rather late, but here's what the top three had to say after the race on Sunday.
Q: Kimi, a fantastic win in difficult conditions. Lewis had the advantage early on but when it started raining at around lap 27 you came into your own?
Kimi RńIKK÷NEN: Yeah, at the start of the race I had some problems with the front tyres graining and it was understeering way too much. I just kept pushing as much as I could. We expected to run quite a bit longer than Lewis and so it worked out well. After the pit stop I saw that he could not pull away anymore and I was catching him little by little, and with a little rain my car was pretty good. One time I went to pass him but there were too many yellow flags and I backed off, but in the end I could pass him and quite easily pull away. I waited for the right moment to change onto dry tyres and everything worked well and there was no problem.
Q: A great second phase of the race for you on the Bridgestone softer tyre. It looked like the white band had disappeared towards the end of the race.
What were the conditions like for you as the track dried out?
KR: It was okay. I had basically a similar balance as on wet tyres at the start, too much understeer and I again just waited to get rid of the graining on the front and once the front came back I was able to keep the gap and push hard and open it up a little bit. I just waited long enough and was thinking that the front might not come back, but once it did the car was good. It was a bit tricky to get past people on only one dry line but everything worked well and the team did a good job. Iím very happy.
Q: You were about 8s ahead of Fernando, so was he still a pressure there for you?
KR: For sure, he was pushing hard and catching me at first when I had some problems with the front tyres, but once everything started to work I could keep the gap the same and knew we should be fine. I kept pushing because, you never know, if it rains again it can change the whole picture and I was happy to have some breathing space. Like I said, it all ended well, we are back in the championship and it will be interesting in the last race.
Q: Fernando, you were not a happy man after qualifying but a very good race and a good team performance as well and a very interesting first lap with Felipe?
Fernando ALONSO: I think it was good today, the result, and at the end these eight points are a help for sure. The first lap was interesting with Felipe in Turn One, Turn Two and Turn Four, and basically every corner. I didnít manage to finish the lap in front of him and this cost me a bit of time in the first part of the race because I was behind him and not very comfortable because I had a bit too much downforce in Turns Seven and Eight. At the end I think he did a pit stop and that helped me a little bit.
Q: You rejoined just in front of Felipe and there was pressure there but you managed to pull away from him?
FA: It was extremely difficult at the first corner because you put the dry tyres on, go out of the pits and itís completely wet. You arrive at Turn One not knowing how the situation is there with dry tyres. I was able to keep the inside line very carefully and was lucky that it was the only dry line and Felipe couldnít pass me on the outside because it was wet. It worked out well -- I was on the limit but in front of him.
Q: It was a difficult qualifying session for you. What are your thoughts as you go into Brazil, your championship hopes very much alive?
FA: Yes. I think it will be very difficult to win the championship because I know that it will not be easy to take four points off Lewis. The performance, I hope, will be very similar between the two of us, all through the weekend, not only in Q1 and Q2, so hopefully I can do a good race, but for the championship I still need something dramatic if I want to win. With a normal race it will be impossible.
Q: Felipe, you set fastest lap right at the end there but you are P3. A difficult race, in difficult conditions obviously?
Felipe MASSA: Yes, definitely. And very interesting as well. Iím sure in a way we werenít very lucky to put the dry tyres on and then have it start to rain again. I was also telling the team that I was not going to stay on the track like that because it was very easy to lose the car. But then the rain stopped and I picked up the pace slowly but it was enough to be in front of Fernando after he pitted. I also had a lot of graining on my tyres maybe because we went out on the soft in very cold conditions and they lost temperature. But then at the end of the race it had a good balance again, but it was too late. But in conditions like that it is good to finish in the top three, even if we wanted to win.
Q: Kimi, a three way championship fight going to Brazil, the first time that has happened since 1986. All three of you have fresh engines; itís a winner takes all situation, virtually?
KR: Not really, it depends on what happens to the others who will win. But for sure it will be interesting. Iíve no idea how the car will be. If we look at last year, Felipe won and Ferrari was strong, so hopefully the car will be good and it will be an interesting battle the whole weekend. Itís not up to us only what happens but anything can happen as we saw today. We are in a better position than coming here, but it will still be very difficult.
Q: Kimi, a great win, you can now make your mind work at how you can turn this championship around?
KR: For sure we needed that. I always said we needed to win and I canít control what happens to the others. Today we scored more points than Hamilton and got back in the championship and the last race will be interesting. Things can go right or wrong for people, so we will push at the last race and see what we can do.
Q: What was it like on the worn tyres because at your first stop you just kept the tyres on?
KR: It was too dry to put any new sets on, it would have been way too slow, and in the end when it was wet it was quite tricky but I was much faster than Hamilton, so I was able to catch him quite quickly. But the problem was that there were yellow flags and every time I got alongside him I had to back off in case I got a penalty. I finally went past him when he made a mistake. The car felt pretty tricky at that stage and I think the rear tyres were in bad shape, but I was still able to set quite good lap times.
Q: You had one moment, on lap 38, I think?
KR: Where was that? I donít know. I canít remember.
Q: And otherwise no problems?
KR: The balance was quite tricky at the beginning, too much understeer and the front didnít work too well. While the circuit dried the car came back a bit and I just had to wait for that. I knew that we should have quite a bit more fuel in and so it was just being patient and waiting for the car to come back and start pushing again.
Q: You stayed on worn wets as well when you came in. What was the car like?
FA: The beginning was okay but later on when it started raining again, as it happened with Lewis as well, the car was not in good shape because the tyres were completely slick and even with a few drops of rain we were 6-7s slower than we were two laps before. We were losing a lot of pace and Kimi was able to overtake Lewis, and I was able to catch Lewis as well.
Q: Overall you donít seem to have got a lot of satisfaction out of second place?
FA: Yes, I do. I am very happy but I think, you know, from yesterday I am not extremely happy with the qualifying and with things that happened yesterday, so this second place, eight points is good and the championship is a little closer but again, if I want to win the championship it will be extremely difficult. If I want to win I need some strange results and some very lucky moves and, for that, eight points today are very important but itís not changing too much the chances to win the championship.
Q: Someone is going to ask, so can you go into the details of what you felt happened yesterday?
FA: Nothing strange to me, but I was surprised to be six or seven tenths behind pole position because all weekend I had been one or two tenths ahead of the competitors and in Q1 and Q2; I had good performance. Then, in Q3, with very good laps, I was surprisingly slow and I didnít understand what happened.
Q: Felipe, give us your take on the battle with Fernando at the start?
FM: Nice, interesting, but not enough to finish in the front. In the end it was a good race. I had some troubles especially at the end of the stint with my rain tyres. I couldnít keep the car on the track and just destroyed the rear tyres and had to pit. It wasnít the right time for grooved tyres but I put them on and then it rained again, so it was not a very lucky decision. Then in the end we managed to pick up the pace again but it was not enough to pass Fernando, especially because as he was coming out of the pits there was only one line. I was then again in trouble with my tyres because of graining, maybe because I was running in the wet conditions on the grooved tyres. I had very strange graining and couldnít keep the pace but when it was gone I did the fastest lap and had the pace again but it was too late. It was great to finish on the podium and a great result for the team as well.