Japanese Grand Prix 2009: Thursday Press Conference

11 Mins read

Q: Adrian, you have had a certain amount of experience at this circuit.
Adrian SUTIL: Yes, I know the circuit quite well from my time in Formula Three here. A very nice circuit and in general one of my favourites. Very high speed. You need a lot of grip here, but also with the long straights it is good for racing in general. I have had some good races here and I am really happy to be back.

Q: Have you had a look around to see what changes have been made?
Yeah, I had a circuit walk today. It is not too much of a difference. Just the first sector. I think the first two or three corners are different. A new surface and a little bit safer in the run-off areas, but I think everything else looks quite similar.

Q: Some people are saying Force India will be once again suited to this circuit, but I would have thought it is still quite a high downforce circuit, isn't it?
It is high downforce, but also you need a really good engine which is what we have with the Mercedes. There are also two very long straights, so you need some kind of top speed. I would say it is not comparable with Spa, it is more downforce definitely, but I would say a mix of Spa and Silverstone, so it should suit us much better than the last one.

Q: So you are quite optimistic?

Q: Kazuki, tell us about the pressure of racing at home. I think you have had quite a busy lead up already to this grand prix.
Well, actually it is not as busy as last year which was quite nice. I managed to have some time off yesterday and I managed to go back to my home as it was on the way from Tokyo to here. There is a pressure, but this is only the second time for me and the first time to be in Suzuka, so I never know what is going to happen. Last year I really enjoyed the Japanese Grand Prix and I didn't really have too much pressure, so hopefully it is the same for this year. As it is my first time to drive Suzuka with an F1 car I just feel quite excited. Hopefully the weather will be good but it doesn't look like that at the moment.

Q: It doesn't look good at the moment. Is that local knowledge?
I haven't got any special forecast with me. We will see.

Q: How much racing have you done here in other categories?
I have done quite a lot with F3 or like GT but it is the first time since 2005, so it is a long time and I will have to dig into my brain to get it back.

Q: What are your thoughts on your future in terms of F1?
At the moment there is nothing I can say really. I think it is the same for many drivers. I think the situation is really tricky at the moment and we will have to just wait and see. The results have not been there but I think my performance is certainly better than last year. There has been some good races, so I hope that I can do the same job next year.

Q: With Williams or with another team?
No idea. If I could stay with Williams that would be the best but we will see.

Q: Nick, obviously a disappointing end to the grand prix in Singapore but Mario Theissen says there is quite a lot more to come from the car. Would you agree with that?
That is what we hope. We don't have another update here but we had a big package for Singapore. But our feeling is that our car is not the best mechanically and probably it was possible also to see that on the television pictures. We were jumping around quite a bit even though the track was newly resurfaced. Here it should be more of a normal track and we hope our aero package will suit it pretty well, but we will find out.

Q: It is very much a favourite track of yours?
Yes, it has always been my favourite circuit. Last year actually it was Singapore and it is great now having two of my favourites circuits within a week.

Q: What is it about this circuit?
I always find it pretty difficult to explain why you like a circuit and why you don't like a circuit. You just drive it and get a special sensation. What is obvious here is that it is a relatively long circuit. Therefore you have a lot of different corners. The circuit has got a nice flow to it and especially the esses are special. Each lap you arrive there, you are looking forward to that. It is medium speed – definitely more than 200kph – and it is just a great feeling if you get them right.

Q: And if you get one of them wrong it puts you out for the rest presumably?
Well, it is important to get the first one right as it will have a knock-on effect. But that is also part of the fun. It is very difficult to get it perfectly right, so sometimes you mess up the first corner a bit and then you have to get the rest as perfect as possible. Then you look at the split time and know if it worked out or not.

Q: How do you accept the engine penalties now that you have gone over the eight engines?
Well, I am on my ninth engine now which hasn't done a lot of kilometres in Singapore. Most likely I will use it here and in Brazil and then I will be allowed to use one of the older engines for Abu Dhabi, not before that, but that will not have a lot of mileage on as well. I changed engines at the last race and got a penalty but from now on I think I am in pretty good shape.

Q: Jenson, we had a quote from you during the week that you are not pushing to seal the title here. What is the policy?
Jenson BUTTON:
First of all, good afternoon everyone. I am looking forward to the weekend. This is a circuit that I have enjoyed very much in the past. It is a very fast flowing circuit and I think every driver enjoys racing here. But I don't come into this race thinking I am going to seal the title here. There are so many possibilities this weekend. There are still three people who can still challenge for the championship. I am one of them, and the most important thing for me to do is work as hard as I can on Friday and Saturday to get the car ready for qualifying and the race and have a good race, the same as all of these guys. I shouldn't be thinking about anything else.

Q: Do you think you have got the qualifying problems sorted out? You had had a problem with the back end of the car.
No, in Singapore it wasn't that at all. It was my mistake but we tried a few different things to help the balance of the car in Q2 which was probably the wrong thing to do. We didn't do two new tyre runs in Q2 which put quite a bit of pressure on the second run and I hit the brakes into turn seven and at about 280kph the front of the car hit the ground and I locked up. With two massive flat spots I couldn't really do a good lap time. Coming here I am in very good shape. I am looking forward to the weekend. Last weekend was a very interesting race. I still have got a few bruises to show after the bumpiness of the circuit. But it was a good weekend. We came back from a very tough Saturday and had a good Sunday, so I was happy. This weekend the weather is looking interesting. I would rather if it was dry all weekend for sure, but it is what it is and we will make the best out of it. As far as I know it should be wet tomorrow and Saturday, and Sunday more likely dry than wet.

Q: The weather forecast according to Jenson Button.
Yes, 27 degrees, few clouds in the sky and a slight headwind.

Q: Timo, are you optimistic when it comes to your future in F1? Obviously a great result last weekend, but all sorts of stories coming out about your future. Would you tell us the real situation?
I think the stories after the race on Sunday were the funniest I've ever read on the Internet. And to be fired on Saturday after qualifying is just b***t and it's not correct. The point is that we already had a couple of discussions a couple of weeks ago and we are open with Toyota, Toyota is open to me. We have the possibility to look around and that's it really. There is nothing new, there were no discussions over the weekend about any contract situation or whatever. That's the only thing that I can say. There are rumours going around and I think maybe for some it was a bit boring on Saturday and they had to find a story for Sunday or after the race on Sunday.

Q: Obviously a great result on Sunday, can you do it again here? How much pressure have you had from Toyota at their home race?
The pressure is normal. I think you have the pressure at every race. Overall, I think we had a good performance in Singapore. Singapore is completely different to Suzuka, for sure, but the improvements that we had in Singapore were already on the positive side. This circuit should suit our car. Spa didn't look too bad for us, and I think Suzuka should be in the right direction but we will see. The others are strong. I think Brawn and Red Bull will be strong here, McLaren as well and we will see what BMW can do. It will be tight but I hope we can just do a good race. It would be great for me to maybe have wet conditions, I like the wet quite a lot. We will see how it goes and I will just try to fight as hard as possible as I did in Singapore and then we will see the result.

Q: Obviously you were here in 2004 with Jordan; what other experience do you have of this circuit?
I know it. It's positive that I already know it in wet and dry conditions but that's a couple of years ago and it's been resurfaced since then, so we will see how it goes tomorrow. I hope there's not another typhoon like in 2004, otherwise the rest should be fine.


Q: (Marco Degli'Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) For all of you: are you envious of Fernando Alonso at the moment?

Q: (Marco Degli'Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) It was the most kept secret in Formula One but now it's no longer a secret.
I'm pretty happy actually where I'm sat right now. I'm good to go.
TG: There's nothing to say. I think it was clear for everybody a couple of months ago, so now it's just official.

Q: (Marco Degli'Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) But are you envious of Fernando?
AS: I think it's good for him but for me nothing has changed. I don't care.
KN: Same for me.
NH: I think he's one of the few guys who is in a team for next year where he can believe he might have a better chance to fight for the championship than in many other teams. Ferrari has always been one of the strongest teams in the last couple of years, and on top of that, even though I drive for BMW and I'm very happy there, Ferrari has a special name in the sport, so it must be a special thing. It's not only for Italians like you, which is why you asked the question, but I think Ferrari is a great team.

Q: (Marc Surer – Sky Germany) Timo, you once said that you never know why you're quick or why you're slow with this car. You were so much faster than Jarno (Trulli) in the last race; do you know why – apart from your talent, of course?
I was already quick in Singapore last year. I like street circuits. I don't know if the ChampCar series in 2005 was experience for me which just made it easier in Singapore but overall I like the circuit, and I think you can make a difference as a driver in Singapore. Overall, it was a possibility for me, with my driving style, to set up the car very much more in my direction. Jarno took over the set-up on Saturday morning and it didn't work for him, so I just like to drive on circuits like this. You can just go high risk, you can't make any mistakes. That's the reason why I was quick in Singapore. I like the circuit quite a lot, it's good fun, and I think everything came together.

Q: (Jerome Bourret – L'Equipe) Jenson, you're known as a pretty relaxed and cool guy, but how stressful has this season been? How do you deal with all these ups and downs? And was Singapore really a race for you or not?
It has been a pretty hectic season, obviously with a fantastic start. Then there were a few races when the car wasn't as good as we had hoped and then there were a couple of races where I didn't really get the best out of the car. So yeah, the last two races have been good for me. I've been happy with my performance, I've been very happy with the team's performance. It sounds silly but it is a bit of a rollercoaster when you're fighting for a championship, and it's been a long time since I've been fighting for a championship, so you do forget. But if it was easy we'd all be doing it. It's part of the challenge, it's a sport that is very emotional for me. I've always loved motor racing since I was very, very young and being in the position that I'm in, I'm certainly very privileged and very lucky to be fighting for a championship, so I will never forget that. And I also have some great people around me who keep me grounded and focussed. It's obviously tough but it's also very exciting and I wouldn't change it for the world, for sure.

Q: Jenson, I understand that you're not trying too hard to win the Japanese Grand Prix here on Sunday. For you, obviously, winning the championship is more important but remembering what happened in Brazil last year, Lewis Hamilton said finishing fifth was actually more difficult than winning some races. What's your opinion there?
I've never said that I don't want to win this race, for sure. We go to every race to win it. I think you're getting it confused with… for me the most important thing is to win the World Championship. It's not when or where, that's exactly what I said. For sure, I would love to win in Suzuka, it's a circuit that I love. I've got a lot of connections with Japan from the past and from the present. So for sure I'm here to win this weekend and that's my aim. So the second part of the question is irrelevant.

Q: (Marco Degli'Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) I have a question for Adrian: if you can tell us something about your future. Maybe you are going to drive another Mercedes engine somewhere else?
Well, right now I've got a real good offer, driving in a winning team… in GP2! I'm going to try to go there!

Q: (Ralf Bach –  R & B) Question to Nick and Adrian: did you speak about your accident in the last race or not?
Yeah, I think the first time we spoke about it was when I came out of the stewards' room. I asked him what went on. He explained. He said he was sorry and for me that was OK.
JB: That was a big fine!
AS: Yes, big enough.
NH: Just a big verbal fine, but nothing with the hands.
AS: I've explained it several times and I think there's nothing more to say. We saw all the pictures and that's it. We spoke to each other, twenty thousand is enough.
NH: I didn't receive it yet.
AS: It's not for you.

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Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Checkered Flag who grew up visiting race circuits around the UK also a freelance motorsport PR officer. Outside of motorsport a lover of music, photography, NBA and NFL.
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