Turkish GP - Race - Press conference
With Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Mark Webber
Q: Lewis, first win of the season for you. Great scrap. First with Mark, then Sebastian (Vettel) and then Jenson and finally you emerge as the winner. What a race.
Lewis HAMILTON: It was quite an exciting race. We knew that we had good race pace. We knew that we would be able to stay with the Red Bulls. Unfortunately they were so fast through turn eight that it was very difficult to be able to slipstream Mark, otherwise everywhere else I was pretty much on his tail. Then after the pit stop I think I had a problem with the right rear and lost a bit of time in the pit stop. Came out behind Vettel, so it was double trouble trying to get past both of them. Then at the end I am not really sure what happened with these guys. But me and Jenson had a good little battle. He got me on the outside into turn 13 and then fortunately I was able to get him back into turn one and so that was definitely unexpected. But really fair battle with him and a great result for the team. Our second one-two. I think we truly deserved it and I want to dedicate this win to my dad. It’s his 50th birthday tomorrow. Perfect way for him to celebrate.
Q: I am sure he will welcome the present. You had that great duel with Jenson but towards the end you were told by the team to save fuel. How critical was it? How close did you come to not making it to the chequered flag?
LH: I have no idea. We were pushing very hard behind the Red Bulls. Definitely at the end it is a combination of looking after your brakes and looking after your tyres as turn eight is a killer. And of course looking after fuel. We tried to do the best job in that as it was always difficult to understand what they wanted from you and just how much fuel you had to save. But I think we did a good job and it was great that we were able to come across the line to finish.
Q: Jenson, briefly the lead was yours. You got past Lewis for a few turns. Talk us through that. It was a wonderful battle.
Jenson BUTTON: Yeah, I got the run down to turn 12 down on the outside and I had to have a go really. It was down the outside. We were wheel to wheel for about five corners, so it was good fun and then when Lewis got back past at turn one as before I was into fuel save mode as well as we were a little bit worried as maybe the race was a lot quicker than we thought it would be racing with the Red Bulls, so we had to save a little bit of fuel in the end but that got us to the end which is good.
Q: Is second for you a pleasing result given your starting position?
JB: Yeah, I mean the pace was very good in the race. Us four were up front and very close for pretty much the whole race. I don’t know what happened. I am sure we will hear in a minute what happened between Mark and Sebastian. But it opened the door for us and we were one two. The pace of the car was good. As soon as the Red Bulls were out of the way we picked up a bit of pace and we were a couple of tenths in front. It was a good fun race. Also with Michael (Schumacher) on the first lap he got me at the start but I was able to get him into turn 12 and make the pass there. A fun race and nice to be battling up the front where the car should be. I have to say great job to all the team. They have done a fantastic job improving this car. We are so much closer to the Red Bulls now and three weeks ago you wouldn’t have imagined we’d be battling with them, so all credit goes to the McLaren Mercedes team.
Q: Mark, lap 41. What happened?
Mark WEBBER: Seb had big top speed advantage and went down the inside and we went side-by-side and then it looked like he turned pretty quick right and we made contact. It happened very fast. It is definitely a shame for the team. Not an ideal day, but the McLarens were solid today. It was a good race between all four of us up until then and obviously neither of us wanted to make contact with each other but it can happen sometimes. Unfortunately when we are both at the front it is never ideal but it happened.
Q: Is it hard to take for you given it was your team-mate who you think was responsible and cost you the win today?
MW: There was a long way to go in the race, so it wasn’t a guaranteed victory. I have still got a few points. But it was an interesting few metres on the track between the both of us and in the end it was not the result either of us would have wanted.
Q: Confident that the victory would have been yours given that you had kept the McLarens at bay for 40 of the laps and Sebastian behind you as well?
MW: Yeah. Yeah, I was, yes.
Q: Lewis, you will be looking forward to many more wins this season. What does this do for your momentum now in the championship? Are you back?
LH: I don’t think I was ever gone. I have just been a little unfortunate up until now and I think bit by bit myself and the team have just worked very hard to chip away. Yesterday we qualified second. We knew that was just one step we needed to make. They made it very tough for us, but we put up a good fight. You can see how close it is between the four of us. We are all doing a great job and it is really, really down to the momentum, trying to keep it with the team, myself and Jenson are going to do the best we can to push the team forward to win both those championships.
Q: Lewis, congratulations. It has taken a little while but we were talking on the drivers’ parade about the fascinating balance of power between yourselves and Red Bull, so this must be doubly satisfying because of that.
LH: Absolutely. We have been right on their tails for some time. Obviously they had a big gap in the previous couple of races. But such an achievement for us to really be able to take the battle to them. They had one strength that was particularly good here and we had one strength here. I don’t know how it will pan out for the next races but they have got a great car and we have got a great car. But, fortunately, me and Jenson were able at least to compete with them and push our hardest to be on their tails. To get our second one-two as I said is fantastic. This is my third one-two with the team in four years, so very, very proud and happy I could do that.
Q: Tell us about the start. Sebastian got ahead of you.
LH: I had a terrible start. I don’t really know what happened. I had a very good reaction but the car just didn’t go anywhere. Too much clutch slip I think. I had to dump the second clutch very, very early and I was just wheelspinning from the line and I couldn’t see who was there. I know Jenson got a better start. I know that Vettel got ahead of me, made it very tricky, but fortunately I got him back and that was the key at that point to be able to battle with the one and only guy in front.
Q: And you seemed to be pushing him hard?
LH: Yeah, I had really good pace. I was able to stay with him no problems except for the exit of turn seven and then through turn eight he was just ridiculously quick. But then I would close him up everywhere else. It was really a case of perhaps him making a mistake then I would be able to be close enough. At one point I think he ran a little bit wide but I wasn’t close enough at the time and he drove very, very well.
Q: What allowed Jenson to get on terms with you on that particular lap?
LH: I was comfortable out in front. I was looking after the tyres. There was a little bit of miscommunications really with the team. They asked me to save fuel but it is just difficult to know how much you have got to save. They set a target for me lap time wise and I tried to stick to that. The target was definitely a bit too slow, so I was slowing down to keep that target and all of a sudden Jenson was right up my tail. There was nothing I could do. He had the slipstream on me up into turn 12. He was able to stay on the outside. He took me but fortunately I was able to get the exit and get the slipstream and it was very fair down into turn one. We had a great battle. We both went steaming in as late as we possibly could. I was understeering and fortunately I was able to come out in front.
Q: I believe your girlfriend was here for the first time this season. Is she your good luck charm, do you think?
LH: I wouldn’t say that really. But I wouldn’t say no to it. Every time she seems to come I seem to win. I think it was Monaco 2008 she came, Hungary I won and Singapore, so she is definitely a little bit lucky for me I think.
Q: Jenson, in the early stages you seemed to be content to watch the three ahead of you. A second behind or a bit more perhaps. Was that the case?
JB: Well, first of all I got a good start. Lewis obviously didn’t, so I was up behind Lewis. I didn’t think Michael was going to come past but on braking he got down the outside as on braking I couldn’t brake where I wanted to. I was able to get him back into turn 12 which was good fun. The three in front had a good pace. I knew I could do that pace, so I just sat back a few car lengths trying to conserve tyres to see if it made any difference. A few times I pushed and tried to catch up and then just dropped back. Just before the stops I kicked in a little bit, caught up to Vettel, he pitted and I didn’t and I stayed out for a couple of laps. I thought I was going to jump him but that wasn’t the case. The pace of our car was very good and it is great to be battling with the Red Bulls. So many times this year we have seen them disappear into the distance. It is great to be fighting with them. I had a little battle with Lewis in the end. We were both told to save fuel but it is always difficult to know how much. When Lewis finally got back past me I was told to keep saving. I think it got a bit critical towards the end of the race as we pushed very hard at the start.
Q: You don’t think that was a ruse to stop you battling?
JB: I don’t know. For about four or five laps beforehand they were saying you have to save fuel. They didn’t put a lap time on it. They just said you have got to save a bit of fuel. That was quite early in the race I was told to do that, probably about lap 30. I don’t think they expected the pace to be so fast but it was good pace, so that’s why we were told to save fuel I think.
Q: So you are happy with second knowing you had been in first?
JB: Yeah, starting fourth on the grid. I am very happy in the car. I felt that I did a very good job and it was fun to battle at the end with Lewis. We got a one-two, so I think the team should be very happy with our result this weekend. I think we need to say a big thank you to the team. They have brought these improvements to the car this race. Three weeks ago you wouldn’t say we would be able to challenge the Red Bulls, so very happy with what they have brought here. They have pushed very hard and it is working, so that has put a big smile on my face. Got to say a big thanks to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team.
Q: Mark, tell us about the early stage of the race as you seemed to have a lot of pressure from behind at that stage?
MW: Yes, it was a very interesting first stint. I was pretty much expecting it to be honest. The first lap went to plan. In the first few laps a lot of us were getting an idea how turn eight was going to be. Lewis and I settled into a pretty good rhythm. Everything was going well in the first stint. It was clear that Lewis had a bit of an advantage on me. He was quicker in the first stint but I had track position. Then we made the stop and Seb went first, Lewis and I together. Both Lewis and I didn’t have the greatest of pit stops I don’t think. His was probably a bit worse than mine but mine wasn’t the cleanest. Then Jenson went a bit longer, so we had to protect that as well. Then we all came out with the exception that Seb had jumped Lewis. I wasn’t feeling as comfortable on the prime but comfortable enough to keep pressing along. Then Seb had a big top speed run on me on one of the laps. He was down the inside and we were going straight for turn 12. Then he came right pretty fast. We made contact. Not good for the team at all, but this happens. Over 19 races when you have got two guys fighting, it is always on the edge. Disappointing for us as a team. Obviously lost some points with the one car but I was happy I could continue, to be honest, and get some points. These guys did a good job.
Q: Is there any reason why he had a jump on you on that particular lap?
MW: Hmm. Maybe.
Q: Did you come out of the previous corner a bit slower on that lap?
MW: Hmm. You guys need to dig more, somewhere else.
Q: What do you think the reaction’s going to be back with the team?
MW: Oh, disappointment of course. We don’t come here to have contact with each other but it happened today and I felt reasonably comfortable with my side of things, I did my best today.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) Mark, you might not have seen it because you were busy driving but as Sebastian walked away from the car, on a couple of occasions, he gave the global sign for mental. Do you think you were in any way responsible for what happened?
Q: (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) What do you think about his idea of the mental stuff?
MW: It’s when the adrenalin’s flowing.
Q: (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) Was it entirely his fault then?
MW: Oh, if I wasn’t there, there wouldn’t have been contact obviously, but we were there together and it wasn’t the easiest thing to predict what he would do in that split second. Unfortunately there was contact.
Q: (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) Was he just trying to make room for himself?
MW: Absolutely, yeah.
Q: (Bob McKenzie – The Daily Express) But wrongly.
MW: Aah, pretty quick.
Q: (Tony Dodgins – Tony Dodgins Associates) Mark, you managed to keep the F-duct cars behind you for 40 laps. I know you told us we’ve got to dig a bit more but were you slower on that lap that Seb caught you, or not?
MW: I wasn’t too slow, no.
Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Jenson and Lewis, after your little duel on lap 49/50, was there any comment over the team radio from Martin (Whitmarsh) or the guys to cool it, bearing in mind what they’d just seen a few laps earlier with the Red Bulls?
LH: For me, no, but I’m sure they were biting their nails all the time. But no, Martin didn’t speak to me or my engineer. They just asked me to look after the fuel, but they’d been telling me that for a good ten laps or so before that. I was just asked to keep doing the same thing, but I’m sure it raised a few hairs when we were battling.
Q: (Tom Cary – The Daily Telegraph) Lewis, you said were surprised to see Jenson suddenly up behind you. When you were told to conserve fuel, you both were told to conserve fuel, did you take that as an instruction not to overtake? Did you see that at all…?
LH: We don’t have instructions. We’re racing. For me it was just… the communication wasn’t clear for me. When they suggested ‘save this much fuel’ it was not easy to save that much fuel unless I went particularly slowly. I tried to reach that target and in doing so, Jenson was all of a sudden… he just appeared from nowhere and he was up my tail and then there was nothing I could do. I just had to try and defend the best way I could. He did a great move down the outside. Then I was able to fortunately get back on him and again hopefully a fair move down into turn one.
Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Mark, when you saw Sebastian at your side and a little bit in front of you on the inside, what was your thinking? What did you think would happen?
MW: Umm. I obviously wasn’t totally happy with the situation because obviously he was coming down the inside, and I thought that at that stage I was pretty much not giving the lead up but it was pretty much his corner, well, not his corner but his situation because he was on the inside, but I just stayed on the inside, tight, to make sure that he was still staying on the dirty stuff and then on the run over the crest, obviously after the crest, he started to come back my way and that’s when we touched.
Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport) Mark, given what happened, is there an argument for Red Bull having a policy of not racing after the first corner?
MW: I don’t think that would be great. Obviously for everyone, you guys, people watching, it sounds like the McLarens had a good scrap. When, week-in, week-out, you’ve got guys that are pretty even and there are different parts of the race where people are stronger and weaker, yeah, you can say ‘just hold formation to the end’. That would have probably been something which, in hindsight, with 20-20 vision, we would have both been up there, obviously, but in the end it didn’t turn out. If they wanted to swap the positions or there was a fight continuing and the way it turned out wasn’t great.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Mark, when Sebastian appeared on the left hand side of you, did he first lose the car and then contact you or did you first have contact with the tyres and then you lost the car?
MW: Oh, he lost the car when he hit me.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) So before he hit you, he lost the car?
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) It didn’t come out clearly when Sebastian was there. He said he lost the car because he was on the inside and then he hit you but did you see it?
MW: He was down the inside, I was going towards the corner in the middle of the track and then he came to the right and then obviously when we made contact he obviously had a puncture or something and he lost the car.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) And Lewis, you were sitting in the first row, how did you see it?
LH: It was great to watch, it was like an action movie in HD or 3D; it was fantastic. It was right ahead of me. No, I got the best view of it obviously but it’s the last thing you want to see and fortunately Sebastian is safe but I just saw Sebastian go up the inside and Mark held his line. I don’t think he really had much room to move to the right and I don’t think there was necessarily a reason for Sebastian to try to move to the right. I think it was unfortunate for them but all I can say is that it was fortunate for us because we’ve been working hard all year. I think myself and Jenson have deserved to be on the front row for some time and so it was good today.
Q: (Adam Hay-Nicholls - Metro) Mark, did you know if Seb ignored an order to save fuel?
MW: No, wouldn’t have a clue, mate.
Q: (Emre Guler – Auto Guide Turkey) In previous years, most drivers were complaining about dust problems at Istanbul Park. Was there a problem this year? Also, I want to learn of your opinions of the Istanbul Park this year.
LH: There was a lot of sand, wasn’t there, a lot of dust. When I was behind cars… I’ve gone through two tear-offs and more. There was quite a lot of debris – not debris, mostly stuff from the tyres, but there definitely seemed to be a little bit of dust off-line but I don’t think it caused any problems. You are still able to overtake, it’s not too slippery. And the track is great, clearly it’s one of the best tracks we have because it enables you to overtake. You’ve got two great straights which you really do need in Formula One to capitalise on your gains elsewhere. I personally really like it, I think it’s a nice track to drive, I’ve always enjoyed it here. I think I’ve started second on the grid quite a few times and so it’s fine and nice to finally get a win here.
MW: Just one thing; during the drivers’ parade today, all the drivers were really happy to see quite a few spectators here. We know it’s not easy for the Turkish people to come and attend the race because it’s pretty expensive. It was really good to see the crowd out there trying to enjoy the race. Obviously it wasn’t the best day for myself but I think the race was quite good and I’m really happy that people could come and watch us here in Istanbul.
LH: We want to see more people here now, that’s for sure.
MW: Yeah, cheaper prices, so that they can come and watch.
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Mark, what were your thoughts between getting back on the track and the finishing line? And have you thought of Japan 2007, behind the safety car and Lewis? There was something between Vettel and you behind the safety car in Japan.
MW: Ah, Fuji. Yeah, that was different, obviously. That was well-documented at the time. We crashed into each other. No, I didn’t think of Fuji at all. I was obviously thinking, during the last part of the race, how unfortunate it was that both of us made contact.
Q: (Tony Dodgins – Tony Dodgins Associates) Jenson, the moment that you got past Lewis seemed to coincide with a bit of a shower. Was that a factor?
JB: I don’t know. It didn’t feel like that there was less grip. To me it felt very similar. Lewis got a bad run out of (turn) eight for whatever reason and that’s where the time difference was and I was able to catch him on the back straight into (turn) twelve. But no, I don’t think the weather made any difference really, it wasn’t raining enough. We had a lot of warnings that it was going to rain, but it was never enough really.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Mark, was your strategy to keep Vettel inside, not to make him brake before and you keep your position, even if you brake late, he would go straight?
MW: It wasn’t my plan to get him on the inside but he got there and I thought OK, I would just stay in the middle, as straight as I can, to make his line as tight as possible into the next corner obviously. And once we got to the braking point, he was obviously in a very strong position, but before we got there he came across to the right and I couldn’t react fast enough, because I wasn’t at all expecting that at that point, and that’s why it happened so fast and there was contact. Of course in Seb’s car, it obviously feels very bad for him that I’ve turned left into him, but I’m pretty confident that there was some drift from his way and then it was a fucking disaster. So you have the line.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Lewis, what happened at the pit stop because Sebastian was able to jump you. Was there any problem?
LH: I don’t know, I have to…
MW: We put fuel in, I think, at the pit stop.
LH: It seemed to be quite a…
MW: My guys weren’t quick and I thought ‘Lewis’s guys are also having a bit of a break.’
LH: I was ready to go, the front tyres got on, the rear tyres they seemed to have a problem with, I think, the right rear or something and then seemed to be very slow to get on. I did actually move because I anticipated the rear going down but then I had to pull the clutch back in and I saw Mark pull away and so I lost quite a bit. Considering how close I came in right behind Mark, I came out a long way behind him and unfortunately lost ground to Sebastian. But they obviously did a great job with their strategy and it just made it twice as hard to win the race from that point but that’s the way it goes.