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GP Abu Dhabi
 GP AustraliŽ: Persconferentie post-race
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Lewis Hamilton, winnaar
Nick Heidfeld, tweede
Nico Rosberg, derde

Q. Lewis, from where you were it was probably a relatively straightforward race, but it was a chaotic, dramatically hot Australian Grand Prix. Talk us through Robert Kubica right behind you in the early stages of the race.

Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, we got away to a really good start and I actually had a little bit of wheel spin, so I think we were quite close going into the first corner. But I was able to pull a good gap on the exit of the first corner and just had to keep it cool and look after the tyres from then on. From then on I really just paced myself and didn't overdo it.

I had plenty of time in me so I just used that to my advantage and tried to look after the tyres and there was a point in the second stint when I had to put my foot down due to the safety car. I guess it was a bit like my first win in Montreal last year when we had four safety cars. It was pretty similar to that in that it was difficult to heat the tyres and the brakes up. It was a good challenge but we've all done a great job.

Q. It looked as if the timing of the team was perfect when it came to your pit-stop relative to the safety cars.

LH: They did a fantastic job as always but perhaps a big and huge thank you to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. The car was phenomenal. It really was the complete dream to drive compared to the car we had last year but pulling me in early on both my pit-stops really did help us in terms of safety cars and kept us out of trouble.

Q. It is difficult to anticipate safety cars but talk us through that strategy. Is that something you would have looked at during the race?

LH: Absolutely. The team go into all angles and try to analyse what can go on in the race and they plan for the worst. But we have got a fantastic strategy team and they did a great job pulling me in early. It really was. I was very fortunate and it was unlucky for Heikki (Kovalainen) that he got caught in the safety car.

Q. It was a long, hot race but you look pretty fit. How do you feel and what was it like in the cockpit?

LH: I felt fantastic. I never thought it would have been as physically a breeze as it was. It is great preparation for Malaysia so bring it on, I am really looking forward to it.

Q. Nick, very well done to you to. It looked as if you perfectly weaved your way through the dramas of the afternoon but it was a very close race early on with Nico Rosberg with both of you coming into the pits at the same time for your first fuel stop.

Nick Heidfeld: Yes exactly. After the start I thought it was not going to be a very good race because I knew that Nico was quite long. Actually he came in earlier than expected on the same lap as myself. What we lost at the start we regained on the pit-stop, so our pit-stop crew, again similar to last year, just did a fantastic job to just get me out of Nico. Then I was lucky on the pit-stops in terms of the safety car. But I think we also had a very good pace.

Q. It was quite a chaotic first corner and indeed first couple of laps. What was it like from your point of view?

NH: I had a lot of wheel spin at the start and tried to close to Nico but it was just no chance. He got by and I just saw Felipe (Massa) spinning and that was all the drama I saw.

Q. Nico, fourth in Brazil and now the next race third in the Australian Grand Prix. What an amazing day for you.

Nico Rosberg: I am really really happy. It is amazing to be on the podium in F1. It is just great. It has been a while also, nearly three years or something, so it is just really nice and I am also pleased for the whole team because they have been working so hard over the winter and really done a good job and made good progress, so it's just great.

Q. Nick Heidfeld just said you came in early for that first stop. How do you react to that?

NR: I don't know. I think my qualifying could have been slightly better probably but everything happened as planned really. I was a bit surprised to see him right behind me. I was hoping to get out just in front of him but no chance. It was very close and I had to back off, so that was it. But I had a fantastic start and that's what helped me to have a great race, so thanks to the engineers responsible for that, it was really great.

Q. There was a bit of drama on your out lap onto the grid as well. Did that affect your confidence?

NR: I had new pads on the front because I had a very big vibration in qualifying which was a big problem, so they had to change the front pads, so I had much more grip on the front and that caught me by surprise. I hadn't anticipated how much I had to go rear with the brake balance, so it wasn't ideal to start the race but it turned out alright.

Q. And during the race. The balance, brakes and handling?

NR: It could have been better but I think we have a solid car to start the season with. I am hoping to have a nice development through the season and I think we can have a good year.

Q. Lewis, returning to you. Final thoughts with Malaysia looming as we speak. A great win for you and a great start to the season for the team but nonetheless a lot of pace shown by Kimi Raikkonen early on in the race from a lowly grid position. Your thoughts going into the next couple of races?

LH: It is the perfect way to begin the season. I was just saying to Nico, I think it has been exactly eight years since we were on the podium together back in the days when we were in karting. It is great to be up here with him again, but going into the next few races, we obviously need to try and continue with the momentum that we have. As I said we could have gone quicker, so I am not particularly bothered about the Ferraris' pace. BMW and Williams have done a great job as well, so we need to keep on pushing and the team needs to keep on pushing. As will I and I really hope going into the next race that we will have a great result again.

Press Conference

Q. Lewis, congratulations. It couldn't be a better start, could it?

LH: No, absolutely not. We have done a superb job all weekend and we really just have to keep our cool. We had a great car and I am very happy with a great start to the season.

Q. You mentioned just now that is was a dream to drive compared to last year.

LH: Yeap.

Q. So last year wasn't so easy?

LH: You could see that last year was pretty tough. Not as hot perhaps, but I think coming this year my preparation was much better. I am probably twice as fit this year compared to last year. But also the car was really fantastic to drive and it was quite easy to drive.

Q. In comparison to the competitors you feel confident as well?

LH: Yeah, I mean if I needed to have pushed more I could, but I was quite happy and quite comfortable driving at the pace I was at. I was keeping in touch with the team and they were telling me I had half-a-second compared to everyone else. I just kept it that way.

Q. Was there much difference between the two tyres?

LH: To be honest, there wasn't. Usually in testing and building all the way up to the race it was quite tough on both sets of tyres but predominantly the option was graining quite heavily. But I seemed to be able to manage them quite nicely and they were both pretty similar. If anything, the option was quicker but the track had rubbered in quite well and the graining didn't affect us.

Q. Nick, a great result for you too.

NH: Definitely, especially after our winter which was really difficult. The first time we went out with the car we really struggled but since then we have made consistent progress and I think we are still not on the limit of the car which is very promising.

Q. How hard was Nico pushing?

NH: In the beginning I was pushing him because I did not have the best of starts and then I tried to get by but by doing that running too close to his slip-stream I went wide twice and spoilt my tyres a bit and I thought that was maybe it for the race because we expected him to stop later than myself as in qualifying I was a lot quicker, more than a second ahead. For the fuel level I was carrying I had a good qualifying, so I thought I was done after the start. In the second stint it was going okay and then on the last, on the option tyres, I was just pacing myself a bit trying not to kill the options and get too much graining.

Q. How do you see your pace in comparison to the McLaren? You saw a fair amount of them.

NH: I think we are still slower than them. I think probably I had a bit better tyre heat-up after the last safety car following Lewis. But through the last corner I was getting a bit of understeer and I think on top of that I took it a bit easy but on braking on the outside I got quite close. Then I couldn't keep up with him. But the pace difference to Heikki was not that big but he was still quicker. But looking at where we came from, especially at the end of last year it is fantastic.

Q. Nico. Your first podium. What do you think of it?

NR: It was quite nice up there, really good. It has been a while. I think more than two-and-a-half years or so since GP2, so it is fantastic. I am really happy also for the whole team. They have been working very hard and they have done a better job than teams like Renault and Red Bull over the winter. It is not that clear yet but at least as good a job. That is a big step forward for the whole team. Also I have to say that we have a lot of development coming. There are a lot of things which we have not been able to put on the car yet, so I think we are up for a good year. Let's not get too excited obviously as we need to wait a few races to see where we are exactly but still I think we are in quite a good position.

Q. And that first pit-stop when it was pretty close with Nick.

NR: Yes, it was pretty close. He wasn't very fair coming out because I was there and I had to back off otherwise I was in the wall, so that wasn't great. But anyway on a day like today with everybody going off and everything you have just got to say that third place is fine. It's fantastic and let's just take it.

Q. It did seem a matter of survival out there?

NR: It was. But I mean it is the first race without traction control and without all those electronic aids. We have a lot more rear wheel locking under braking, so you just have to be more careful and I think it is great for F1. It is more pure. The driver has more to do. There are more mistakes. I mean, I think many of the mistakes today were thanks to that. I am going to say that, I am not sure. I think it's good for F1. I was happy to see it. Our pace in the race was not too bad especially compared to the BMWs. I was giving everything I had. So it was pretty good.
[16 maart 2008 - 11:09] Jeroen Winters
VORIG: McLaren: "Dit was bijna perfect"      VOLGEND: GP AustraliŽ: Alle rondetijden, lap chart, pitstops, ...
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