DRIVERS: Lucas di GRASSI (Virgin), Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren), Robert KUBICA (Renault), Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Q: A question to all those of you who have been here before. Your thoughts on coming back to this circuit, to Canada and Lucas your first impressions of Canada as I don't think you've been here before. So if you would like to start.
Lucas di GRASSI: Yeah, it is my first time in Canada driving. I was here in 2008 as a reserve driver for Renault. My view on the track is that it is pretty different to all the other tracks I have been to so far. It is pretty much a street circuit but also with very low downforce and very high speed. I am looking forward to seeing how the car behaves here and see how the weather is going to be at the weekend as I think it is going to play a very important role as the weekend develops.
Nico ROSBERG: For me it is one of the best races of the year to come to Montreal. It is fantastic and I really enjoy the track. It is a great track. Lot of fun. Also the city, the spectators are great, very enthusiastic, so it is definitely a highlight.
Felipe MASSA: Yeah, the thing is, as Nico and Lucas said, it is a great place to be. I love to come here. The people love Formula 1 and enjoy it a lot, also because of good stories from the Villeneuves and also it is nice to be here. The track is a bit different, like a mix between Australia and also very long straights, so it is nice to drive here. I have never had like a great result, never won here, but anyway it is a track I enjoy and hope we can do a good job during the weekend.
Robert KUBICA: It is a good track as all drivers say. Very enjoyable to drive, challenging. It has a bit different characteristics to what we are used to racing this year, so we will have to see how our car will suit this track. A long straight line, so downforce level will be reduced. Heavy braking and low-speed corners, so traction and braking stability I think is the key point of this track and of course top speed.
Lewis HAMILTON: I am as well happy to be back. I love it here. It is one of my favourite grands prix of the year. It is a little bit sad that we haven't had it for the last couple of years. But I am really very, very happy to be here. I hope the weather improves. Every time I have been here I had my first grand prix win here, so great memories. Even of 2008, that was still a great memory and I am really hoping we can continue in that style and have a good, productive weekend. It is great to be in the city. The city is fantastic here. It is one of the best and youngest and most fun cities to be in throughout the grand prix calendar, so I am really happy to be here and looking forward to a good weekend.
Q: Lucas, talk a bit about the progress that the team is making. How is it getting on?
LdiG: The team has started the year in a very difficult way. We had very little time to develop the car and the crew itself but I have seen a lot of improvement, not only in the car but the team as a whole. The mechanics working together, the engineering side. Everyone who was not used to Formula 1 now is much more used to Formula 1. The time frame and everything else. The car itself we haven't developed as fast as we would like, especially because of the reliability problems we had at the beginning of the year. All the focus was to get that problem sorted out and it has been improving a lot recently although we have still to improve. Now I think is the point we need to shift a little bit from the reliability side to the performance side. I strongly think that we can be the best of the new teams. That is our aim, our target and that is what we are going to work for.
Q: I remember a team last year didn't have a lot of downforce and when they came to circuits which didn't need a lot of downforce they performed better. Are you thinking the same thing here for you?
LdiG: I think because everyone else is going to reduce the amount of downforce it is going to be, I'd say, closer but the gap is not going to reduce enough for us to fight with anyone on the midfield. I think there is a possibility here of a lot of safety cars and a lot of strategy gambles around it and because of this reduced gap we expect to have this reduced gap to the midfield grid. It is a good chance for us to have a strong result.
Q: Nico, looking back at the last few races the performance has been very up and down. I know you hoped for better from Turkey. What about here?
NR: It is not going quite to plan recently. We haven't quite managed to close the gap like we were hoping to yet, but we are really making good progress and we had the F-duct in Turkey which gave us a good step. Here is a very different track. I am confident that we can do that little bit better here and really have a good opportunity to score some good points and with a bit of a luck maybe even a podium or something depending on the weather also which could be a bit of a mess. I think it will be an interesting weekend.
Q: Have you got small steps here or big steps in terms of development?
NR: We have a continuous development program through the whole year. We are always going to be bringing smaller or bigger steps all the time.
Q: What about the huge braking here. How does that affect your car? Are you confident about that?
NR: I think in general our braking performance has been pretty good, so that should be one of our assets for this weekend. For me I really enjoy this track, so I think it can be good.
Q: Felipe, you have re-signed until 2012. What sort of effect does that have on a driver knowing that you are settled and safe for another two-and-a-half years?
FM: Well, I think that is a good point. From the driver point of view it is just fantastic to re-sign for Ferrari. It shows that everybody from the team trusts you. I think that is a very good point for me to keep pushing harder and harder all the time and to keep working together with the team to achieve the best. That is everything I want and everything the team wants and so very happy to stay a little bit more time with Ferrari which is a team I always dreamed to race for. This is my fifth championship (season) with Ferrari and to say we stay for another two years is just a fantastic feeling.
Q: We saw at the last grand prix during the race itself that Red Bull and McLaren were very much in a class of their own. Can Ferrari be up there with them at this race?
FM: Well, I hope. That is always our target to be the best. We saw a very strong Red Bull and McLaren in the last race and I am pretty sure they will be strong here as well. We were also behind Mercedes and Renault in the last race, so we are pushing hard to be in front and the potential to fight for the best which is always the most important point. It is not easy but that is what we are working for.
Q: Robert, you won here two years ago and you were saying you love the circuit as well. What is it about the circuit that you particularly like?
RK: It has a bit different characteristic as I have mentioned before than other tracks. It's kind of a mixture between Monaco and Monza with very low speed corners but a very long straight line, so you have to reduce your downforce level but on the other hand you have to have good mechanical grip. A lot of heavy braking which I always liked and I always perform well. I think a mixture of my car and the characteristics of the track which normally suit my driving should be good. It will be the first time we will run lower downforce level wings, so we will have to see how our car will be compared to the others.
Q: If I am not mistaken, you like the lack of run-off here. Why is that?
RK: I don't know. I like it when the walls are close and when there is very small margin for a mistake which is always more challenging and it gives you, at least for myself, more fun to drive. It has always been like this in F3 when I was racing in Macao or in other street circuits. It has been like this for Monaco with the F1 car. The only real track which I don't enjoy so much as a street circuit is Singapore. I don't know for what reason. But it looks like when I come to street circuits or with the low grip level tracks I am performing well.
Q: Lewis, a previous winner here and twice on pole position as well. A circuit that you enjoy as well?
LH: Yeah, absolutely. I have generally done quite well here in the last few years. I don't know why. Again, it is a bit of a street circuit, which I seem to go quite well on. I have just always been able to dial the car in here. It has suited my driving style, so hopefully we will see the same this weekend. I am hoping the car will be quite competitive and we are able to compete with the guys at the front. Really just excited to get back out there as it has been a little while since we have been here.