Sebastian coming to you, of course 2011 Australian Grand Prix winner. You had a good chance to win this race last year and the recent testing would suggest you will be in the hunt again on Sunday. Is there a more solid baseline do you feel to this year’s Ferrari attack.
Sebastian Vettel: We’ll see. So far we don’t know anything. For all of us it will be exciting to find out where we are on Saturday/Sunday, to get a first impression. For us a lot of new things last year didn’t really go the way we expected, so I think for this year we have really focused on ourselves. We have tried to do our job back in the factory and in testing… I think testing times, I don’t think they are that crucial, I think it matters much more what you show from here onwards. We’ll see. I think we are a bit in the dark like everyone else, not knowing what other people have done. For ourselves we can be reasonably happy, we did decent mileage, we didn’t have any major issues with the car and hopefully we can carry that momentum into the race.
Well, the car looks pretty competitive but the real question I guess is how it will do in qualifying. Ferrari have only taken five pole positions this decade, since 2010, so how have you addressed that? Have you got a go-faster engine setting for the final part of qualifying?
SV: Not necessarily. I think we worked on all areas, trying to improve. Obviously we all know that qualifying is important to have a good race, so the higher up you qualify the better the chance you have in the race. Statistically it doesn’t look that good, so hopefully we can turn that around.
Daniel, it’s a stat they don’t care for much around these parts, but no Australian has won the Australian Grand Prix since it became a championship round in 1985, so come on Dan, are you going to put that right this weekend?
Daniel Ricciardo: I’ll try. I’ll try to. It would be nice. If anyone could win just one race they’d always say their home, so that’d be cool, it would be good.
SV: Didn’t Alan Jones win here?
Not since it became a world championship round, no.
SV: So what race did he win in 1980?
DR: That was the world championship. He’s here; I’ll ask him.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) I want to say good afternoon to everyone and I want to wish us good press conferences for the rest of the season and a good, robust conversation. This question is for the entire panel. This year we have some new owners, the sport is owned by Liberty Media and they have a big, bold vision for the future of F1. What would be your top three wishes for the new owners of Formula One?
DR: A race in Vegas.
SV: A race in Germany.
DR: That’s it; I’ve said mine.
LH: Miami race…. More ladies in the paddock? More paddock access to some women, there’s too many dudes in the paddock.
LH: V12s, I agree.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 23, 2017
Q: (Andy Benson – BBC) We had Charlie Whiting in here a couple of hours ago and one of the things he was saying was that the so-called ‘Verstappen rule’ has been removed, just leaving the general catch-all regulation about potentially dangerous driving. Are you all happy with that situation?
SV: I don’t know. I’m not…
You’ll be told tomorrow.
DR: We’ll be told tomorrow? You know everything before us! Let’s see. I think we can… the good part of it is it means less decisions to be made on track. If they leave it up to us I guess the positive is that we sort it out on track. Hopefully we can get redemption if we feel like something has not gone our way. We’ll see., I like being able to race. That’s the positive from it.
SV: Will I get my trophy back… it makes sense!
DR: I guess he wants his trophy back from Mexico. It was a pretty small one actually. Right, I’ll shut up.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere Della Sera) To Sebastian. You said it’s too early to have a judgement on your car. But do you feel this car has enough quality to let you fight for the title?
SV: Well, it’s March now! I think if you are in a fight for the title that’s a question for October, November. I think looking at the performance of the cars obviously it was expected to be a big step up and that’s how it felt on the track. I think that’s what we all said when we first got out of the car, that it’s a big step forward. It’s not entirely fair to judge to the previous years because it’s a different formula but I think they will be the fastest cars we have ever driven. Naturally, the day I came into Formula One the cars got a bit faster, a bit faster, then they tended stall a little bit. We distributed straight line speed versus cornering speed and I think for us what really gives us a good feeling is cornering speed and I think we are back to the level we were probably ten years ago, and maybe a bit faster. For us it’s always nice to have the feeling that these are the fastest cars we have ever driven. On competitiveness we are all here to find out, that’s why we go racing I guess.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, last year it was very tight between you and Kimi in qualifying. With this better car do you think it can be even tighter or is it easier for you in qualifying against him?
SV: I think it’s never easy. You try to get the best out of yourself, out of your car for one lap. I think last year has been closer than the year before but it’s always been fairly close. Obviously I want to be in front of him and he wants to be in front of me but I think starting the season priority number one is hopefully we are in front of the others. But as I said its still very, very early. We try to do the best job for ourselves and the team and we go from there.
Q: (Jerome Bourret – L’Equipe) Do you think that the new regulation can stop Mercedes’ domination or do you expect Lewis to still be the man to beat this weekend and this year? And Lewis, do you consider yourself the favourite for the Championship?
SV: Well, I think he must be. Mercedes obviously has been in very, very strong form the last three years and even though we changed the regulations, if a team is strong then they will build a strong car the year after, no matter what you do with the rules. I think it’s very clear who is the favourite. For all of us sitting here, we are trying our best to catch-up. How much we have succeeded, we will see and, as the season goes on, I’m sure the cars will have big progression and all the teams will bring lots of stuff to develop the cars. So, whoever’s in a good place in the beginning and still in a good place at the end will have a chance.
“@MercedesAMGF1 are favourites”
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 23, 2017
Q: (Shane McInnes – Radio 3AW) Just about the length of the season, we know it’s 20 races this year but new owners have suggested they might like to see it get out to 25 races. Is 25 too many, and do you think 20 is the right amount or even less, going forward?
SV: I think 25 is too many. I think 20 is enough. We don’t need more. I think anything between 16 and 20 is the right number. Also, thinking of the efforts going in from the team point of view. For us it’s fairly easy, arriving more or less with hand luggage, doing the job and getting back. I think we’re on the better side. For a lot of the team, for the staff, it’s hard work. So, I think we are having enough races.