Q: Sebastian, I’ll bet you’re glad when they told you to switch the engine off in Q1, you questioned it for a minute or two and didn’t switch the engine off? Otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here and you’d be looking at losing your championship lead tomorrow afternoon wouldn’t you.
SV: I don’t know. You never know. Obviously much better that way. But I have to say the team did a phenomenal job. By surprise we had an issue this morning and had to change the engine. Normally that’s close to a three-hour job, if you’re rushing. I don’t know how they managed. They did it in sub-two hours. I was basically, at 10-to-2 or five-to-2, I was ready and we were ready to fire up and go out in Q1. So really a big thank you to them. Kimi’s crew helped out too. It was quite funny at one point: one side of the garage there was one or two mechanics and the other one was completely crowded, like bees hovering around the car. A great effort, so big thanks. I think we could have had pole today, so not the ideal end, but when I consider where we were this morning, then obviously with the change we made it out, as you talked about in Q1, a small issue there, so I think it’s a really good recovery. Yesterday I wasn’t happy with the car balance at all and today it was phenomenal. I felt yesterday that it was in the car but I just couldn’t get to it. And today, as I say, was really a pleasure, especially the first two sectors. Conditions were very tricky, with the wind, never easy, never knowing what to expect. And I think I got caught out a bit in the last sector – my favourite place – which Mark Webber teached me many lessons over the years and I still haven’t got it. I don’t know, I need to go back to school maybe and sit down and have a proper look. I have done so many laps but still the last chicane is a bit tricky so I’m sure with the race and with the rhythm tomorrow it will be fine, but for quali today it could be a bit better.
Q: There was a lot of talk about the upgrades everybody was going to have coming here this weekend. Are you very encouraged to be sitting here now after they turned up with all these Starship Enterprise bits on their car and all the rumours and you’re actually so close and, as you say yourself, you could have been on pole in terms of ho the season goes from here?
SV: Yeah, I think from the outside at least it looks like they had a smooth weekend, at least Lewis, I think Valtteri had a surprise engine change as well this morning. Overall, I think they looked a bit more in the rhythm. As I said yesterday, for us it was a bit more up and down. Then I did a long run on the medium compound, which was quite slippery. So, as I said, today I was a lot happier. The car is good. You mentioned Starship Enterprise: I’m not a Starship Enterprise fan, but I guess you can look at it from the outside and from the inside. I’m happy with the bits we brought here. Maybe they’re not as flashy and bling, but they’re working, so our guys back in the factory are pushing really hard. We brought some stuff in Russia, we brought again a lot of stuff here, so yeah, I’m really happy with how it’s going.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Still on this question of the start tomorrow, this circuit is very difficult to overtake historically, even now more here this year. And Sebastian, you are in the dirty part of the track – and you have a long straight into the first bend and, in this case it’s normally a small advantage to who’s behind, in this case Valtteri. Is there anything that you can defend yourself against the possible attack from your opponent?
SV: Yeah, there’s a lot of things. I need a perfect start, simple as that. There’s a long way but I think the grip will be the same. I don’t think it will be much different. There’s a lot of racing series this weekend: you have the Porsche Cup, GP3, F2. Usually they put a lot of rubber down everywhere so I don’t think that’s a real disadvantage – and then as I said, I just need to do everything right and that’s the best way to attack and defend.
Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Seb, are you happy to see that despite all the new stuff that Mercedes put on the car that Ferrari was able to reply with other stuff and you are at the same level of performance like some races before?
SV: Well, we will see tomorrow but I think so far for us this weekend has been a bit more up and down. Yesterday was a bit wobbly, I wasn’t really feeling the rhythm yet. Today was a lot better. I think in terms of performance it’s really close. We will see in the race. I think looking after the tyres with the conditions will be key. Strategy, there should be some options so we will see. The plan for now it to go back and say thanks to all the guys because thanks to them I made it to qualifying and then we focus on the start, the beginning of the race and I think then we will see. I think it will be close. As I said, maybe they brought more visual stuff but I’m happy with what we brought and it seemed to work well and bring us very close. We could have been ahead today, that’s down to me, but I had lost enough to miss pole, like a tenth or something. But that didn’t happen, now we start P2 and take it from there but I’m confident for tomorrow.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Sebastian, when you were asked to stop the car on the track, was it always clear for you to carry on? These engines are so complicated, you never know, you could have risked the engine as well by continuing.
SV: We had an issue, it turned out to be a programming issue but for sure I’m blind in that moment, I don’t know what to do. I was quite far away from the garage and I was sort of cruising down already so I just wanted to double check that I got the message right. I think I got it but that’s the last thing you want to do. Still, if I had the confirmation I would have stopped in the next convenient place. I just missed the opening on the track so that’s why I also had time to ask are we sure because I had time to go round turn four and then look for another opening.
You (Sebastian) were with him in the press conference on Thursday and joked about seeing him in the final corner – you might!
SV: Yeah, you never know, so that’s why we’re here, we’re here to race. Looks like he had a good session. I think Stoffel went out in Q1 so obviously the track improves a lot. If you look at our times between Q1 and Q3 it’s not fair but it looks like he had a good session. I think the car’s really good. This track’s not so sensitive on power so see what happens tomorrow.
VB: I think he had a good session personally and the team is making progress.