This afternoon's post-qualifying press conference with the top three drivers. 1: Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1:32.652. 2: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:32.935. 3: Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari), 1:33.131.
Q: Felipe, you've been in the spotlight since Malaysia. I guess this must be a fantastic feeling for you to bounce back with your second consecutive pole?
Felipe Massa: For sure. We showed good speed last weekend, but things didn't go so well in the race – especially for me, unfortunately. Hopefully we can show more tomorrow. It's very good to be here again and scoring the 100th pole position for Bridgestone is definitely very nice for me. There's nothing more to say, you know. I'm just happy to be here and I'll do my best tomorrow because I really need a good result.
Q: Let's talk about prospects for tomorrow's race. There are lots of changeable conditions, with wind, sand and so on. Talk us through the race from your point of view.
FM: The car is competitive. Today we have shown we have a very quick car, even in qualifying when we know everybody has the same fuel. Yesterday we showed very strong pace on long runs, too. For sure the track is not very easy because it is always a little bit dirty, especially at the beginning of the race, but I think we have shown we have a competitive car. Hopefully, we can put things together.
Q: What have things been like for you, personally, since Malaysia, with the public spotlight shining on you after a difficult race?
FM: For sure I was disappointed, because I started at the front and knew that the car was good – even if the McLaren was very, very quick. They had strong pace in the race, but we were stronger than we showed and for me it was very disappointing to lose positions like that at the start, and to make some mistakes in the middle of the race... It was very disappointing and hopefully this time we can obtain a better result.
Q: Lewis, you're on the front row for the first time in your very young Formula One career...
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, we've had two extremely good races and we're extremely competitive here, with things very close at the front. To go into my third F1 race and get a front row is an amazing feeling.
Q: We heard you on the radio, asking what the difference was between you and Felipe, and talking a little about Sector One. Talk us through that last quick lap of yours...
LH: To be honest it wasn't that great – I definitely had better laps earlier in the session. It was tough. Qualifying is extremely intense and you need to pull out absolutely everything on that last lap. I think I lost a little bit of time in Turn One, but the rest of the lap seemed to go quite well. Turn 13 was little bit hectic and I think the wind here is always changing and coming across in different ways, so you always have a tail wind or a cross wind. It's quite tough to put the car on the limit and anticipate what's going to happen, but still I'm very happy to get second for the team and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow.
Q: How do you feel about the race and the spotlight that you, too, have been under?
LH: I feel quite relaxed about it. It feels natural. I'm extremely happy to be where I am. I've worked for 13 years to be where I am and finally to be here, and to be performing quite well, I'm really happy with myself and I think the team has made some good steps forward. Going into tomorrow's race, it will be tough. The first corner here is always tricky, because it's so tight, but we'll see what happens.
Q: Kimi, we'll see tomorrow what fuel loads everybody is on, but it looked as though you had a bit of a moment with Giancarlo Fisichella early on in Q3.
Kimi Räikkönen: Yeah, on my first try in third qualifying he was in front of me through Turn One, and then I had big traffic on my second run, so it wasn't the best. But looking back I think it's OK because I wasn't certain I'd be in the top three. We'll see how the race goes. We have a good race car but need to improve a little bit in qualifying. We'll see what happens.
Q: You were quickest yesterday, when you too spoke about how difficult conditions are here in Bahrain.
KR: Yeah, yesterday was more difficult. Conditions today have been quite similar all day. It hasn't been so bad but the wind here can always make a big difference. We know a little bit about the wind from testing, so I think we came here knowing what to do about race set-ups.
Q: You and Felipe both spent a bit of time behind the McLarens in Malaysia. How do you feel the battle will go tomorrow?
KR: I think it will be close, but it depends on a lot of things – including how things work out at the first corner.
Q: Felipe, how similar is this weekend to last weekend?
FM: I hope it's different!
Q: But so far?
FM: The same, it's good to be here on pole, especially after what happened the last weekend when I was quite disappointed with the result at the end of the race. So hopefully this time it's a different outcome and I'm just thinking a lot about the race and bringing more points home. I'm quite happy with my performance in qualifying, not counting Australia when I had a problem with the car. I'm happy about getting everything out of the car; the set-up, how it's working and also the race set-up. But up to now I haven't been able to show 100% what I can do in the race. I'm just very happy to be here on pole again.
Q: To what extent have you run through what happened last Sunday and how you are going to cure it tomorrow?
FM: Well for sure last Sunday was not a very easy day for us. And McLaren showed incredible pace in the race. We didn't show that but we were also blocked behind some other cars and our pace in Malaysia was better than we showed. Today and yesterday at least we were very competitive on old tyres also and I hope we can show much better pace tomorrow and have a much different race to Malaysia.
Q: And have you thought through going down into the first corner and how you can change that?
FM: Be more aggressive...
Q: Lewis, your first front row. You were very, very close to Kimi this morning, is the car absolutely perfect?
LH: The car is never perfect but we have definitely made some steps forward in the last race and coming here we seem to be stronger than we were in the test here and have closed the gap to Ferrari. The practice seemed to go well, we seemed to have the pace, I've been here before and am a bit more familiar with the circuit and actually feel a bit more comfortable. We did a great job and were extremely quick but Felipe was a little bit quicker. Still we can have a strong race tomorrow and it's going to be interesting what happens in the first corner. We need to make sure we get around it, nice and clean.
Q: Just remind us what happened when you came here in Formula 3?
LH: I won!
Q: And from where on the grid?
LH: I think I was 23rd, but we had two races and I started 11th in the second race.
Q: And came right the way through the field... It shouldn't be quite so difficult tomorrow?
LH: It is going to be difficult. That was a different circumstance. I came round on the first lap from 11th and I think I was fourth. I was a bit lucky on that lap but this is a completely different kettle of fish and I will have to make sure we get a good start and for sure try to lead into the first corner. Assuming we can do that we can then think about the tactical approach to the race.
Q: Kimi, fastest in yesterday's two sessions and very quick this morning as well. Are you happy with third?
KR: Not really but it was the best I could do. I had traffic on both my new tyre runs.
Q: How much did the track evolve over the last couple of days?
KR: I think today has been okay but yesterday it was changing quite a lot. With the wind it was quite difficult but today was pretty much okay.
Q: Did you feel the lap was good or where did you lose out?
KR: I was a bit surprised actually not to lose more and it was close with Fernando. I am still in a good position for the race which is the main thing.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport): Felipe, you are on the front row with this guy who has made two fantastic starts in his first season of Grand Prix racing. Are you especially worried about that?
FM: No, I think he did good starts but we also gave him space, but this time we know what he can do, so we won't give him the space any more.
Q (Vijay Mruthunjaya – Gulf Daily News): This question is to Lewis; a lot of people are comparing you with great sports personalities, with Tiger Woods for instance. What do you think of these comparisons? They're saying you're the Tiger on wheels...
LH: I don't really take much notice of that sort of thing. I'm not Tiger Woods, I'm Lewis Hamilton, I'm completely different. I do think he's a sensational athlete and it's an honour to be compared to someone of such great calibre. But I'm here in Formula One, I'm here to do a job. I hope I can have a similar impact on Formula One as he has had in golf.
Q (Mathias Brunner – Motorsport Aktuell): Felipe and Lewis, how much of a difference is it here in Bahrain, starting on the left or right, in comparison to Malaysia?
FM: I think you already asked me, no? In the press conference. I think it's worse here than Malaysia. I think Malaysia is more similar (to other places), here I think is the worst.
LH: I agree. I think in Australia as well it was cleaner on the left side as it's the line that we drive, so the inside line is always going to be dirtier, so I think we've done quite a good job to get off the line (well) in Australia and it's going to be tough here again. There's a long haul down to the first corner. It is going to be dirty on the inside, especially with the sand here, so we just have to do the best job we can.
Q (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen): Kimi, in Malaysia, you said after the race in the press conference, I think the quote was 'we as a team had to make some compromises.' Obviously, the temperature conditions were very hot as they could be here tomorrow. Have you had to make any compromises here this weekend, as a team?
KR: No, I think we are now in the position where we want to be and everything is working fine. It was a different story in the last race.
Q (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany): Kimi, you already had some gap to the front in Q2. Was the balance of the car not quite right, or how would you describe the balance?
KR: Not too bad actually but it's just not really quick enough, so we need to do some more work and try to improve it on the first lap.
Q (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat): Felipe, how much did this pole help you mentally after last Sunday?
FM: It's always a help, it's always good to start in the front, it's always good to finish qualifying which is the time when you need to get everything out of the car and it's always good to finish and see your name at the top. That's really motivating, so it's quite nice.
Q (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport): This is a question for both of the Ferrari drivers. Today it seems that Alonso slightly struggled; what's your opinion?
FM: I think we can all have a bad day, we can all have different strategies, we don't know, but for sure Lewis did a fantastic job compared to Fernando here, and also in practice and qualifying. I think we just need to try and do everything we can to put both red cars in the front. That's the best we can do to score some points and hopefully Lewis is also putting some pressure on Fernando which can also be good for us. For sure maybe it's not the best for Fernando but we know what he's like, we know that he's a very strong driver and he can be very strong tomorrow, so we just need to be looking at them as well.