Q: Sebastian, it was an incredibly tight battle at the front and a last-minute, do-or-die effort from you seemed to make the difference. Talk us through the session.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I had a good start to the session, to qualifying this afternoon. I was feeling reasonably comfortable. But then I think in Q2 I lost a little bit the rhythm, so, my final run in Q2 which I thought would just give me enough of an idea for Q3 for the final segment, would put me in place, and it went wrong. I locked up, lost a bit the rhythm and then in Q3 the first run was not really tidy so I left it to the end and, yeah, got a good lap it. It proved I think in the last sector, I think I made up some time compared to my lap before. I knew it would be tight and I knew I would be the first one across the line and by going quicker than what I saw on the screen before than Kimi I knew, for now, I’m ahead, but then I immediately and asked about everybody else, “tell me about the others”. My race engineer Ricardo told me “they are closing the lap, they are closing the lap”. I said: “yeah, let me know, let me know, how are the sectors, how are the split times?” The first one I got was Valtteri who didn’t manage to improve and then when I got the message that we got it, I was over the moon. So yeah, a big thank you to the team, I think the car was phenomenal this afternoon. It’s really a pleasure to take a seat and go around with low fuel and just try and push it to the limit. If you have a rhythm here it feels fantastic, so glad I got it back and big thanks to the team. It’s a team effort and it’s a great result to have both cars on the front row. But it’s only part of the job, the main job is obviously tomorrow but for now it’s an important step. We managed to improve a little bit. Maybe the circuit came our way as well but it’s a very good result and I’m sure everybody is very happy and very proud so we’ll enjoy that but in a couple of hours we’ll start focusing on the race
Q: Thanks. Coming back to you Sebastian: is Ferrari back?
SV: From where? I think if you look at the first three races then I think we had a good start to the season. Obviously in qualifying Mercedes has been very, very strong. As I touched on, maybe the track, maybe how we handled the tyres, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter in the end; we are in front which is a good thing. As I said, it’s a great achievement. We managed to improve the car a little bit for this race. It will be very close tomorrow, especially over a long run. Valtteri had good pace yesterday. We’ll see. But as I said, for now we’re full of joy. We’re very happy that we’re back – at least if you talk about the front row for Saturday and obviously we’ll try and take the momentum into the race tomorrow.
Q: Sebastian, how important is it to have your team-mate alongside you on the front row tomorrow?
SV: Well, if I could choose I would put Kimi alongside and I think he would say the same. But I think for the team it’s a great day today. Mercedes has been very, very dominant the last years in qualifying, so it’s good to get there, get closer. It was again very close with Valtteri. I don’t know his last lap but the Q2 lap and his first lap in Q3 was very, very strong. I think it’s been a mega qualifying. The car was really nice to drive and it’s a track when the car comes alive it’s really pleasant.
Q: Are you surprised to be on pole?
SV: Yes and no. I was eyeing… you are always eyeing for pole when you go into qualifying. I think I was eyeing also the last couple of events but I had to learn harshly that in Q3 we weren’t quite ready, so today I don’t think I ever looked at it and said: “OK, today we can do it.” I knew that we can do well, and I knew the car was good, but I didn’t know what they might be able to find for the last part of qualifying, so yeah, to sum it up I knew we were strong, I knew we can do it, but I didn’t know how strong in relation to them.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globoesporte.com) To Sebastian and to Kimi, you already said about that in the Q2, in the first exit you didn’t get the maximum out of the car. From the outside we had the impression that both of you didn’t reach the limit, maybe thinking of the start of the race, using that tyre for the start of the race, not using the limit of the tyre, not going to the limit of the tyre. Is there any meaning in that?
SV: Not really. I think, yeah, obviously we evaluated two different things Q2, we did one run with only one lap and another run with two laps and I wanted to push the limit on the first one and on the second one, as I said, I was feeling quite well up to the point where I locked the front and went straight into Turn 13. So… yeah, the plan was to go full steam ahead and see how fast we can go. Also because Valtteri had put in a very strong lap already in Q2.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) I have a question for Sebastian and Kimi. Sebastian, do you feel that you are in the same condition you were in at Red Bull during their dominant era. Is Ferrari starting a new dominant era like Red Bull when you were there. And for Kimi, if you think this Ferrari seems very close to the Ferrari in that fantastic years 2007-2008.
KR: They’re all different cars. There’s no way that we can compare. It’s ten years ago so different rules, different tyres, different a lot of things. So, maybe we have a good package. Estimating how does it feel comparing to the old cars… doesn’t really matter how that plays out as long as we can be faster against the cars that we are racing now.
SV: I think I’d agree with Kimi. It’s difficult to compare those kinds of things – but I don’t like the word ‘dominant’. I think you work hard, you go fast and then you deserve to do well. I think we’ve been working very hard, last year as well, we didn’t go so fast, this year we go a bit faster but it’s only a couple of races in. I think at the moment it’s more important to enjoy the fact that we are doing well. The spirit is good, that’s what we want to keep up. Then, for the remainder of the year… not really interested at this point.
Q: (Kiril Zaytsev – 66.ru) Question for both Ferrari drivers about team orders. Seb, if tomorrow will be in front of you, will you ask the team to pass, and Kimi, will you let Seb pass you without fighting?
SV: I think it’s simple. If I’m in front then he wants to pass me, if he’s in front I want to pass him. I don’t think it makes any sense to ask for help from outside. We know that we’re free to race and that’s what I believe and I know we’re both here to do. Today obviously was very close, I expect it to be very close tomorrow and we see how the race goes.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) To Sebastian, did you expect to need more time to see the car competitive for the pole position? Or it’s the proper time so you achieve this result at the proper time?
SV: Well, let’s put it this way, coming here I think on paper Mercedes looks very strong. I think they are very strong, they looked very strong yesterday. As Valtteri touched on, maybe they weren’t completely comfortable with the tyre treatment, whatever, getting up to temperature. Makes a big difference around here, whether you have the confidence or not. On our side, we focussed on what we had to do. I think we had a plan, we executed it well, I believe and had a good feeling for the car and obviously it’s a great reward to have both cars in the front row. Now, we’re not here to look at what other people are doing: we’re here to look after ourselves but I’m sure tomorrow it will be tight with Mercedes. But, as I’ve said many times, I’m happy we got the result today and for the team obviously it’s fantastic.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Sebastian, how do you explain the good pace on Saturday? Is it that the car improved since the last race? Does the circuit suit you or did you just understand the tyres better?
SV: I think the track, the corners, the layout, is not not bad for us, for sure. I think last year we were very strong here. If you look at the performance in sector two it was strong here last year, it was very strong. Obviously it’s completely different but still, some stuff you can compare and we were strong last year, strong this year. As I said, I don’t know how much Mercedes were struggling or not but, to be honest, I don’t really care. It’s more important for us that we do what we need to do and we didn’t have any problems. We had smooth sessions so far this weekend and, as I said, the car felt really good. I think it’s a track where it’s important to have the trust in the car, so you can sort of let go and attack. And I think that was the case for both of us. How much Mercedes were struggling or not… I don’t know.
Q: (Anton Tikhiy – The Independent Sports Newspaper) Sebastian, today the weather is rather warm and dry and tomorrow probably it will be the same. If we’re talking about a great battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, how do you think… which side it will be better, this type of weather?
SV: I think it’s a lot better when it’s warm and sunny. I think people in the grandstands enjoy it a lot more so they don’t need to bring their umbrellas which is good. For the rest, I think if it’s tight and a good race then they also like that, so let’s hope for a good one. (To Valtteri) You prefer cold? That’s because we’re in Russia and it’s supposed to be cold! In the end, you have to deal with the conditions that you have. I think it’s about twenty degrees. I don’t know if that’s the warmest it ever gets here but it’s nice. The last couple of years it was a bit cooler, so it’s nice to have it a bit warmer.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, in Bahrain you said after the race you compromised the qualifying a little bit, thinking about the race. Could you tell us if you worked in a different way here?
SV: I don’t remember what I said in Bahrain. I get a lot of questions; I have to come up with a lot of things. You try to improve the car, no matter what. I think the days – maybe when you started and people were talking about qualifying and race set-ups – it’s not like that any more. I think you try to extract maximum performance whenever you can, so for sure there are some things that might help you in the race over qualifying but we also made some changes, to get more out of the car, which worked and which will also help us tomorrow. We didn’t compromise here one way or the other.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) To the two Ferrari drivers: the only negative – if you can say that it’s negative – point of this weekend is that you have to again change the turbocharger and it’s the third element. Do you believe that it will be an issue for the end of the season?
KR: You’re always very good to always find negative things about us.
SV: He’s Italian, he should be over the moon. Everybody in Italy I’m sure is very happy now and you’re the only Italian in the world that finds a reason to be negative. You should be ashamed.
KR: It’s a planned change and I’m sure we’ll be fine with it. Obviously I’ve had one failure that we will not be able to use but the others are still fine and we will run it as we want and they are there to be used and re-used whenever you feel like it.
SV: Maybe I think you will have a great chance to get a German passport because usually Germans always find a reason to complain. If there’s a hard time when you get back to Italy you’re welcome to Germany.