PART TWO: Drivers – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes), Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari), Felipe MASSA (Williams)
Q: Valtteri, you’re the top scorer in the last six grands prix on 106 points. Eight more than Vettel, 16 more than Hamilton and the only man to finish on the podium on the last five in succession – the best streak of your career: how much more confidently do you start the second half of the season, compared to the first?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Definitely it is nicer, the start of the second half than the first half because I started this season with a new team, new environment, there was so many things for me to get used to and to learn, so now I can just get on with it. So, I’m looking forwards to the second half and nice to be back here in Spa.
Q: We’re seeing a lot of renewal announcements coming through for Stoffel, we just had him here, Kimi obviously. When can we expect yours?
VB: Well yeah. First of all, congrats to Kimi and Stoffel for that. For me, there’s no news yet, and we will tell you the news when there is some.
Q: Kimi, congratulations on your new Ferrari deal. Why is it the right thing for you and your career?
Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Well, I wouldn’t do it if I wouldn’t want to, and be happy with it and obviously the team feels the same way so, y’know…
Q: You’ve qualified third or higher on the grid at the last four races and you’re tied three-all with Vettel in the last six qualifying sessions and obviously we all saw you had the pace to win in Hungary. Are we seeing the highest level of challenge from your since your return to Ferrari, do you think?
KR: I don’t know. It’s so difficult to… everybody has their own view of things and obviously we want to do well, we want to improve and I guess you always find things to do better and, that way, find more speed. Lately it’s been a bit better, we’ve been feeling a bit more comfortable and been able to drive as want and obviously the result suddenly looks a bit better. I’m confident we are doing the right things and getting where we want to be.
Q: Felipe, how are you feeling, what was the diagnosis that kept you out of the car in Hungary and are you confident it’s all over now?
FM: Yeah, I feel good, I feel ready to get back in the car. I had a… I was feeling a little bit dizzy on that weekend. Vertigo is the name of what I had and unfortunately it’s the first time I had this. It was a little bit of a strange feeling and unfortunately it happens in a race weekend and keeps me out of the car but I feel good now, ready to get back to the second part of the season and really hopeful we can do good races.
Q: It’s been a bonus year in your career in some ways. It was around this time last year that you announced your decision to retire. Has this season given you a second wind. Do you think you’ll be staying on again for 2018.
FM: Well, I was quite happy to be honest, in the way I was driving the car. The first part of the season, unfortunately I was a little bit unlucky with the result but I was quite happy with the way I am driving the car. And when I see that, I don’t see the point not to carry on. So if I have an opportunity to stay in the position I believe is correct for me to stay, yes I believe maybe I can stay for another season. Otherwise not. I’m quite relaxed about my future in one way or the other, to be honest. So I think maybe just thinking about the races and we’ll see what happens.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) To Kimi, do you think the Ferrari looks more at the experience you can grant, or that you are able to bring harmony inside the team?
KR: You’ll have to ask them. Honestly, the only thing is I was interested to be here next year. I didn’t really care what the rest is thinking. Obviously the team feels the same way. What is the reasons… you’ll have to go and ask them. I don’t know what else I could say.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Valtteri, everybody says that the circuit seems to be more adapted to your car than the Ferrari but on the other hand, Pirelli surprised everybody by using the ultrasoft tyres here. In this competition, what do you project for your weekend here?
VB: I think we are more confident coming to this race than, for example, a track like Budapest. I think we have seen that on the very high downforce tracks Ferrari is very strong. They’ve been not bad at any circuit so we don’t feel that we are favourites or anything but we feel we can be reasonably strong here and I’m sure it’s going to be another tight battle and with the tyre compounds, luckily it’s not quite as hot as last year so the soft compounds can actually be very good but it’s (inaudible) to predict really so we will see once we have started practice and see how the tyres work. But I personally always rather go softer than too hard with the tyres so I’m happy for the decision.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) To Valtteri and Kimi: two Finns on the podium in two successive races for the first time ever. Would it mean anything to you to make a new kind of history with a hat trick?
KR: Obviously we must try to win races. If you don’t get that then you get the next positions and would it really make us happier? I don’t think I know. I think you’re happy if you win but less if you come second or third but obviously it’s been great for Finns, for us, but I don’t think it’s something that you aim to purposely do or you get more satisfaction from that I think is purely if you do better than worse.
VB: Yeah, I think definitely to finish one-two would be better than two-three so but yeah, we are always there to try and win the race and not really focus on who is third or second. Of course, it would be nice.
Q: (Marco Privitera – LiveGP.it) Kimi, in Austria Sebastian said that Kimi is my favourite teammate for the next season. Do you have the same opinion? Do you think that Sebastian is your favourite teammate for the future?
KR: Yeah, I’m sure he is. I think we work very well together, as the whole team, a good way of working, but obviously I’m not the guy who decides who does what and obviously I have no idea what will happen in his case but hopefully all that stays how it is now and it would be perfect.
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday, Motorsport Weekly) Kimi and Valtteri, one of you has been confirmed for next year, one of you is still waiting to be confirmed. You are both at the sharp end of the grid. Do you think, Kimi, the fact that you’ve got next year out of the way and we won’t be asking you these questions any more eases the pressure on you? And Valtteri, do you think that because you haven’t been confirmed and you don’t know what is actually happening next year this puts added pressure on you in addition to winning races?
VB: No, for me it doesn’t make a difference. Coming to this weekend, not thinking about it. Like I’ve said before, I’m used to these situations over the last few years, always the same thing that there’s no confirmation about next year so now that we start the race weekend with a practice tomorrow, it’s not going to be in my mind, for sure, so I’m just going to focus on the driving and the weekend, getting the most out of the weekend so no pressure from there.
KR: I don’t think it’s serious, you know. Maybe this weekend again you guys will not ask at the next race but start again, so that wouldn’t be a big surprise for me. Obviously it’s more easy to deal with that side of the stuff and we can put all our effort into pure racing. It just doesn’t change the end result, it doesn’t guarantee better results or worse results. It doesn’t work like that but it’s a good thing to be done.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action, Speedsport) Felipe, where are the key areas the car needs to be improved to be a regular challenger for the podium?
FM: Well, I think we need to improve the car, especially from the downforce point of view so if you see that when you go to tracks like Budapest or maybe like city tracks, we are struggling a lot. And we saw that some of the teams, like maybe Renault… depends on the track, developing the car a little bit better than us, so definitely developing is very important from the first race until the last race so I think maybe developing is very important so we are pushing hard to make the car better, race by race. It hasn’t been perfect, to be honest but we’re just pushing harder to see if we can improve and make the right results that we need to do also on tracks where the car should be better like here maybe or maybe Monza. So yeah, we have so many things where we’re fighting for one or two tenths. I know that it’s really important not to lose any opportunity in terms of improving the car.
Q: (Grabriel Lima – Motorsport.com) Felipe Massa, I would like to know what you had, your illness exactly and how it was when you found out you could not race and how was it for you to watch the race on TV?
FM: Well, actually I had… it was like vertigo so I was feeling dizzy, not only in the car but also when I was laying down on the bed. For sure it happened in the race weekend, so I was also feeling it in the car, especially with so many G-forces. So then I stopped and I said exactly how I was feeling and it was not a good feeling to race so for sure I just decided… me together with some other… the doctors there, I decided that I was not feeling good to race. Then I went to Monaco on the Saturday evening and I watched the race there, at home. It was a bit strange to be honest but yeah, it was interesting also to watch the race there, just to see when I decided to stop, how it was going to be. I think I definitely preferred to be in the car, it’s where you enjoy yourself. I feel good, I feel ready to get back in the car, that’s the most important thing.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, fitness-wise, which is more demanding: a duathlon or a Formula One race?
VB: It’s completely different so you just can’t compare. Driving, how you feel it physically, it’s way different to running or cycling. Obviously both sports are demanding but in so different ways that it’s difficult to compare.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) To all drivers: how do you imagine will be your flying lap on Saturday with cars that have a minimum 30 percent more downforce, tyres 25 percent wider and ultrasoft tyres?
KR: We’ve driven these cars all year so far; some circuits you feel that for sure you will go faster everywhere and obviously it’s quite a high speed circuit so we expect to be feeling a bit faster but I think it’s good for this place to have the grip and the speed through the corners and it makes it more exciting so I would guess that it’s quite a nice feeling.
Q: Felipe, any corners that you’re particularly looking forward to in these cars, any sequences?
FM: Well, I think it will feel similar to Silverstone. Silverstone is a track that is not different to how it is going to be in Spa so a lot of high speed corners, a lot of quick changes of direction so you will feel maybe similar to Silverstone. I think Eau Rouge will not be a corner that is very interesting because it will be too easy for all of the drivers, all of the cars, more or less like a straight but then, when you get to the second sector it will be quite interesting, a lot of high speed corners, quick changes of direction. Then it will be quite interesting and a good feeling for the drivers as well, like it was at Silverstone.
VB: I don’t think there’s much to add. It’s definitely going to be fun like it always is here in Spa and like we saw at Silverstone with just more downforce, more grip, it is even more fun basically.
Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, what is making you carry on racing, considering that you said that you would retire at the end of your contract with Ferrari 2015? It’s because you have the same excitement as you had at the beginning or just because you have the right car to compete?
KR: It’s purely the racing. The rest not but I enjoy racing and obviously I want to do well. If I did not feel that I can go fast I wouldn’t be happy in myself. If I wasn’t driving, I wouldn’t be here. I have zero interest to waste my time or the team’s time to be a part of it, it’s not the most nicest place to just hang around. So the racing is the main thing. Yes, there’s a lot of other sides of F1 but as long as the racing is the biggest part, then that’s it and as long as I feel myself that I can win races and fight for championships then that’s fine. When I don’t feel like that I will be the first guy to do something else.
eom/FIA press release