DRIVERS: Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren), Kamui KOBAYASHI (Sauber), Michael SCHUMACHER (Mercedes), Adrian SUTIL (Force India), Sakon YAMAMOTO (HRT)
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Q. Kamui, this is your home race but I don't think you have raced here for a long, long time. Since you were 17, I think?
Kamui KOBAYASHI: Yes, I think the last race at Suzuka was seven years ago. Quite a long time. I am very excited to drive at Suzuka again.
Q. Last year you did the Friday practice.
KK: It was only testing in wet conditions. This time I think I have more opportunity to know the car and track, so I think I have more opportunity to have a good result here. I think my experience in Suzuka is too poor. I only have experience with Formula 1 in the wet, but this is... (becomes inaudible).
Q. You made your debut just over a year ago. How have things changed for you and how have you changed in the last year?
KK: I think 2009 was really the turning point for me. In one year it really changed a lot. I had really a lot of things happening and still here, so I am very happy and it is thanks to many people, the fans and the supporters.
Q. In fact, you have already been confirmed to drive for Sauber next year. How do you feel about that?
KK: For me it is a really great thing, to be proud for myself. Normally it is really difficult at the start and beginning of this year but finally in last couple of races I scored points quite consistently. The team is happy and we have to make sure we can show all the performance for the rest of the season.
Q. Sakon, are you well today? Are you feeling OK?
Sakon YAMAMOTO: Yes, I feel very good. First of all I would like to mention one thing. At the beginning of this week we got bad news, our colleague he was motor journalist and, unfortunately, he couldn't come. He was supposed to come to Suzuka but he couldn't, so Rest in Peace for him. It is always special for me to be back in Suzuka as I saw Formula 1 in Suzuka and I started go-kart racing here as well, so it is always special to be back as a Formula 1 driver. I am really proud to be here and also really looking forward to racing in front of big supporters in Japan.
Q. How do you feel about your future with HRT? For the coming races and next year?
SY: Still we don't know how I am going to do with HRT next year. But we try to do our best and I am looking forward to working with them again.
Q. Coming back to this circuit. What are the challenges of this particular circuit from your point of view?
SY: Well, my point of view regarding this circuit, sector one is one of the most challenging parts as from Turn 1 to I think Turn 10 you don't have enough time or enough chance to drive straight. You are always going right or left, so it is going to be very challenging. Also that's one of my favorite parts of this circuit, so in our limited situation it is going to be very tough to drive on that part but we try to do our best.
Q. Adrian, you qualified fourth last year. Admittedly, you didn't start there but what are the chances of a similar performance this year?
Adrian SUTIL: Hopefully good chances. I think it is a circuit that suits our car a bit better than the last ones. I am looking for a top 10 finish again, score some points. It is very important at the moment to do a consistent job and just bring it home. We need every single point if it is possible. I am looking forward to the race this weekend in general. It is a nice circuit and I have good memories here.
Q. Your future has been mentioned in connection with Renault. What is your take on that?
AS: No comment at the moment really. We will see. Very soon hopefully. I don't want to wait too long until I make my decision but I will probably make it very soon.
Q. In two weeks time we are going to be in Korea. What sort of preparations have you been able to make for that race? What are you expecting from it?
AS: Well, there is some footage out there, of course, from the first lap ever done on the circuit. I had a look at that but after this race we have our simulator sessions and then you get used to it a little bit. At least where the corners are and how the circuit is. But it is probably not the best simulation you can have. We all need a little bit of experience out there on the real circuit. Hopefully it will take place. It is still not looking so good when you see the pictures. But in general I am really looking forward to a new circuit, new in the calendar. I think it is a challenge to go somewhere else as well. Korea is a little bit outside of everything but pure racing.
Q. You haven't been there before? Did you do the F3 races?
AS: No, for me it is the first time in Korea.
Q. Lewis, have you been to Korea before?
Lewis HAMILTON: I have, yes.
Q. What were your memories of racing there?
LH: I remember going there in Formula 3. I think it was a follow-on race from Macau. I cannot really remember the circuit too well but there was a very tight chicane there. I qualified pole. It was my first pole position in I think one of my first races in Formula 3 and I remember being taken out by a certain driver but other than that it was a good weekend.
Q. Looking at this circuit, how do you see the challenges of this circuit?
LH: Well, firstly I am very happy to be here. I love being here in Japan. It is great to be back out here. Last year was quite a good race for us and I think generally just coming here it has always been a track that I enjoyed watching while I was growing up. Watching Michael race, watching Ayrton (Senna) race down here and (Alain) Prost. It seemed, at least while watching growing up, one of the very tough circuits but very much a driver's circuit. Coming here for the first time last year was a great experience and I'm looking forward to getting back out there. We did not have enough laps last year. There are never enough laps. It is a very challenging circuit. The first sector is incredible. You just never seem to stop, corner after corner after corner, and it is such a beautiful flow through there and I think the whole track is like that, so I am looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. Martin Whitmarsh made a point that only one McLaren has finished the last four races. Obviously he is looking for more finishes than that and the drivers would like to finish as well. You have got to stay out of trouble, but what can a driver do about it?
LH: As drivers we are always on the ragged edge. We are always trying to gain position while staying safe. Some of us are more aggressive than others in those positions. Some people do a lot less overtaking than others. You just try to keep out of trouble. It is not easy. Racing is racing and there are racing incidents every now and then, so that is to be expected. I think I have had a pretty good string of races in my Formula 1 career. I have scored a lot of points in only four years, so it is not all so bad.
Q. Michael, a remarkable record here. Six wins and half of your starts from pole position as well. What are your feelings about this circuit?
Michael SCHUMACHER: Well, from a driver's point of view it is probably the highlight of the year. Mentioning the first sector as before that's the one. That's what you look forward to. From a driver's point of view that is the ultimate challenge and I really look forward to this one. It has been through all the years very exceptional.
Q. What about your preparations for Korea? What have you been able to do?
MS: There is not much that can be done from that point of view in terms of simulator. Yes, we have a simulator but nobody has been able to drive the track so, at least for me, it is not anything that I make use of. I will go, as I did in Singapore, arrive there and see the nature of the track and get used to it as I normally do.
Q. You have been asked this many times, but we are getting toward the end of this comeback year for you. Just summarize how you have seen it so far this year.
MS: Well, it has been a much tougher year than we expected. If you think of the performance that the team was able to do last year, expectations were high. We have not been able to fulfill those expectations. At the same time, it has been a long-term project and if I look back at how long it took with Benetton and with Ferrari to build up a team and then finally to take success it has never been possible to do that in the short term. The nature of the fact that the team used to be a big team, such as the top three teams, then was reduced to a much smaller team during last year due to circumstances that everybody knows, we are now a rather small team compared to the top running teams. That, in the situation that we are right now, makes it, naturally, a little bit more difficult. But then we have made decisions and steps to get back to the winning route although naturally it will take time.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. Question for Lewis, Adrian and Michael: considering the past and Singapore as another example, we can say that Mark Webber is a fighter on the track and is very difficult to overtake. Do you believe that after the kind of experience in Singapore that this can give more confidence to Mark on the track and can you explain if it's easy to find the limit up to where you can attack or defend your position?
LH: That's about overtaking, yeah? I think Singapore is a very tough circuit because it's clearly a very high-downforce circuit, but - I don't know if there was some overtaking there, I didn't get to see the race after I was done - but then you come here which generally requires quite a bit of downforce but you have long straights, probably a little bit more opportunity here to overtake and watching over the years, it looks like quite a spectacular race circuit and there is quite a bit of overtaking especially when it's wet, and I suppose it's going to be wet this weekend, so I'm sure we will see some overtaking this weekend.
I don't think it gives him more authority. Every driver is very, very...we make it as hard as possible to let the other guy behind you overtake. Of course, you want to race sensibly and avoid incidents and I think that's what we all try to do, but of course, when you're racing wheel to wheel at those high speeds, it's very easy to have incidents. I don't think the situation that we had in Singapore makes any difference really. It's just racing.
MS: Principally, you always follow the same path. In Formula 1, overtaking is very difficult. The nature of tracks, such as Singapore, don't make it any easier. The straights are rather short and it needs special circumstances such as probably Robert (Kubica) had in the race, having fresher tires, having the car with the most top speed. Only with those kinds of circumstances may you get into a position to overtake. But under normal circumstances it's tough. Probably in Brazil and on some exceptional tracks it is possible and on others it is simply impossible, so that's the nature of our business. Naturally, if you have an opportunity you will go for it and having two cars close to each other then, occasionally, certain contact will happen, that's unavoidable.
Q. But it doesn't reflect on any particular person?
MS: No, not at all. I think that's the general situation and I don't think in Singapore we saw anything that changes the general trend.