(Conducted by Pedro de la Rosa)
Q: Well done man, your 55th grand prix victory in my home town. Seb, do you think you should have pushed a little bit further? Was it enough?
Sebastian VETTEL: I was pushing! I had a really good start, best start maybe at the beginning. I think Lewis and myself we both picked up wheelspin straight away, then I pulled the clutch in again and then I could gain on him so I was really happy with that. Then again the run to Turn One was quite long, but I managed to stay ahead. Then I settled into a nice rhythm, everything was fine. Obviously Lewis stayed out longer, did the opposite, mirrored the strategy so I knew in the end it would be crucial. Then he came out, I was a bit surprised when he came out and it was already so close. I tried to brake as late as possible into Turn One, locked up. I don’t know if we touched but I managed to stay ahead so it was really close. The laps after I was doing everything I can to stay in front and I was a bit luck because there was always a car in front giving me a tow, but as soon as I was alone, he just flew past down the straight, which was a shame. We tried to stay in the race but well done to him, he drove a good race and we did everything we could.
Hey man, you’re still leading the championship, so don’t worry, six points in front.
SV: It was a nice race and a great crowd, so it would have been great to win but…
Q: Tell us about the Plan C. Was that a real option towards the end – change your strategy and try to attack?
SV: Yeah, we had a huge gap to Daniel behind, so we could have done anything really. We weren’t sure. Obviously there was a big conversation, trying to do something. We were hoping Lewis would maybe struggle with his tyres at the end but normally in the end of the race the track picks up a lot of rubber and the tyres last long so he didn’t have any problems. We tried to keep pushing, stay close, but it was never close enough.
Q: Lewis, many congratulations, win number 55 of your career and your second here in Barcelona and I have the feeling from your celebrations that it meant a lot to you. It was one of those races that was getting away from you but you and the team made it happen your way and from your side making the softs work first and final stints critical to turning it round.
LH: Yeah, I really just have to congratulate my team and thank my team for doing such a great job with the strategy and the pit stops and everyone back at the factory with the upgrades enabling us to be as close as we are to Ferrari. It has been a really good weekend, being able to bounce back from Russia is a great thing. But I obviously lost out on the start. I’m not quite sure exactly what it was. The initial phase was good, just got wheelspin later on and saw Sebastian fly by. Then seeing him after that, he was so fast up ahead, it was such a push to try to keep close to him and not let him pull away. I don’t know, I think it was the rawest fight I can remember having for some real time, which I loved. This is what the sport needs to be every single race for sure. This is why I race and this is what got me into racing in the beginning. To have that close battle with him, with a four-time champ, is awesome. The first stint I was able to manage the tyres and stay relatively close. The second stint was a little bit difficult to keep up the pace with him with the medium tyre. At the end came out so close together, very, very close into Turn One. I gave you space, otherwise we would have touched…
SV: I thought I gave you space too…
LH: Not really! Definitely didn’t give me much space! It was close; it was cool…
SV: We’re still here so…
LH: Yeah, just! And then after that was just biding my time, trying to find the right opportunity. There were backmarkers we were coming up against, which made it fun. Trying to get past backmarkers is very, very tough and so clocking the DRS with the use of the battery pack and everything… But as I said, these guys have done a phenomenal job, their car is awesome and the pace that he had… it’s very close between us both. But at the end I was able to manage the soft… wow, I’m talking as long as you normally do when you win!
SV: Go on.
LH: But the last stint: when they told me I had 25 laps I didn’t think… at the end of the stint he would come back, being on the harder tyre, but I was able to manage it.
Q: Well done, it was a fantastic race. Sebastian, I guess you file this one down as the one that got away. You had the lead, you made that early stop when they looked like they were going to make that early stop but they didn’t it. Then they played a tactic where they left Bottas out for an extra eight laps to hold you, you lost four seconds behind him…
SV: Nice, huh!
Q: …It was just one of those days that you were trying to catch something that was like a bar of soap, always getting away from you.
SV: That’s a good way to put it. Well done to him. He won it fair and square, so I can’t take it away from him. Obviously I’m not happy because as you said it was there and… yeah, the start was good. I saw Lewis struggling with wheelspin and so did I, but then I pulled the clutch in immediately and reacted and tried to set off a second launch phase, which worked excellent. Looking in the mirror straight away to see if any of the guys behind got a better start, but I think we probably all overestimated the grip, which wasn’t that good. First stint, I was really in control. Happy with the car, but it wasn’t easy. Just trying to control the gap, the pace was similar. Then we had to obviously go, because otherwise they might go and then you get jumped. I wasn’t sure. I came out right behind Daniel I believe. The second stint I thought was pretty good and then Lewis has the luxury to stay out and then think about what to do, and not being in a rush, gap behind, choosing a different tyre, which might allow him to come back in the end, which unfortunately was the case. Second stint, which you touched on, with Valtteri was… yeah, I was catching him but I knew they wouldn’t pit him. He was all over the place with his tyres so they used him a bit to block me. He still managed to somehow get a decent exit so I didn’t quite make it the first time round so the second time round down the straights I thought “now, I have to find some way, even if it’s over the grass”. He used a bit more of the track. It was really close. I don’t know what is the word, I faked it on the inside, went back on the outside and then on the inside to surprise him, which worked, but I nearly lost the car doing that because I had the DRS open and it was a quite aggressive move on the steering wheel. So I was really happy but then equally I looked down and I’d lost an awful lot of time so I wasn’t that happy becau8se the real fight was with Lewis. Then I don’t know what happened in the last stint because I came out of the pits and I was surprised to see him that close because I thought I had eight seconds in hand. It must have been because you stopped a lap sooner or something. So yeah, obviously that could have bought us a bit of a cushion. Then it was nice he stayed behind and I just managed always the end of the straight, end of the straight, and I thought it would be more difficult for him the longer her tries. But then I had no tow from any car in front and he sailed past. He managed a good exit and he was very quick in the last sector and he went on to win the race. We did everything we could, we tried everything. I think the car was good, nothing to blame there. I think our weekend was a bit scrappy overall. So I think it’s still a very, very good result.
Q: Well, you’re still leading the world championship?
SV: I think I was more focused on the race today. It was very close when we came out. You come out on fresh tyres – I was just guessing. I wanted to stay ahead but I was just guessing on the brake point. It worked, but there was no room for him. He reacted well, because he avoided the contact. I don’t know if we touched? I think we just missed. It was good, because I stayed ahead, so you always take it, but it was really close.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Roksana Cwik – Swiatwyscigow.pl) Sebastian, another situation with Felipe Massa. What can you say about it?
SV: No, I like Felipe. He was given me space so nothing to blame on his side. It’s really slippery and then when you get close to the other car, the car in front, I just locked up both wheels. At some point I wish I had a handbrake to get the rear turned. It was really close; I was lucky to not bump into him and damage my front wing. But it’s difficult for him because he gives the space and he just waits for me to go through. I should look at the lines in Turn Ten. Sometimes you are really at the kerb but most of the time you are 1.5/2 metres off the apex kerb there. It was quite slippery and I obviously underestimated that so if anything it was me to blame – but it a bit of a pity because again it was Felipe. Last race we had a bit of a misunderstanding, this one again but he’s very experienced and he knows how to move in these situations, so nothing to blame for him.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) To Sebastian. First of all I would like to know if it was an option to make the second stint not on the soft but on the medium like Lewis, and after the race, how is the situation between you and Mercedes? Do you believe that the situation is like in the first part of that they’ve got an advantage on Ferrari?
SV: There’s always the option, obviously, to go on the medium tyre rather than the soft. We had a new soft and a new medium but yeah, looking back, I was just thinking about it, we obviously lost… I don’t think the decision is to blame. We lost a lot of time fighting Valtteri, we lost four seconds. Then, I don’t know why, we made eight seconds disappear for the second stop. If you add those two things it’s 12 seconds and it would have been a bit better but that’s how it goes. Yeah. I think it could have been the same if we go on the medium tyre. Then obviously they are the second in the row at that point and easy to react, so they could have gone on the other tyre to put pressure and maybe pass us there – so at that point I think there’s nothing to blame. Later on, obviously he had the tyre advantage and he did a good job. It’s not easy to pass but he still made it, so he got close. You saw the race, that’s what happened. So I think for us, to answer your second question, very happy when we have the chance to race Mercedes. They have been proving over and over in the last few years that they are the team to beat. We are given them, so far, a good run for their money. I think we can be very happy – but today we’re not entirely happy because the win was there, the car was quick enough but the way the race happened, it wasn’t meant to be. But the most important thing is that we were there: once again fighting; hanging in there; not much missing at the end. The car is good, the team is in great form and we know that we need to improve. We don’t want to battle with them close, we want to be ahead of them. The idea obviously is nice, to have close battles – but you want to have them in your favour at the end of the race, which today wasn’t the case but that’s, as I said, how it goes sometimes.
Q: (Iolande Skinner – Motosport Monday) For all three of you: what was going through your head as you stood on the podium today?
SV: Well, honest answer, I was a bit disappointed. I didn’t want him to win, I wanted to win myself so it was great, beautiful weather, beautiful crowd but…
LH: I’m glad you didn’t want me to win!
SV: I don’t know. With the start that I had, the view into turn one was pretty nice. No one ahead, so it was great. There was a clear track and the car felt good but yeah, it was just… just couldn’t grip it, you know? Here and there, always a lost a bit. I knew it would be tight at the end, I thought I would still have a chance to hold him off and during the race I thought this was like 2011. I think I had a long stint at the very end of the race, Lewis was quicker but I managed to keep him behind and I thought yes, it will be the same you know, but unfortunately he turned it around so this year wasn’t so happy. Then there was another incident in turn 12 that is like an area with a lot of fans, orange, Dutch, they’re all barefoot to support Max but when I came round they…
DR: Also for you…
SV: They did to me! They gave me a good wave.
LH: On the last lap, coming round, they didn’t move. The crowd next door were moving but they were sat, like this, I thought oh my God, there’s no love there. But then when I came back round, i thought OK, they were cheering so when…
DR: They had these things, sticks. It’s not love for me then, it’s love for everyone. I can spread it.
Q: (Jacqueline Magnay – The Australian) Lewis and Daniel, the race seemed incredibly physically demanding and Lewis, halfway through the race you sounded exhausted – I don’t know whether you were. I’m just wondering if both of you can comment on the physical demands of this particular track?
DR: Seb doesn’t look tired!? No, the pace was a bit quicker than previous years so you know, you feel a little bit more but I think we’re going to come to races, Singapore, Malaysia, it’s more the hot ones, I would say, the more physical so today was yeah, not too demanding, let’s say. I feel pretty good right now.
LH: I think it’s dependent on what kind of race you have. A lot of the races that we do with the type of racing that we sometimes have to do, where you’re saving fuel, like in the last race for example. I couldn’t push, the car was overheating, whereas today it was.. from turn one to the end it was flat chat and so those races are the most… you’re just using everything you’ve got so for sure, in that first stint, for instance, to keep… to stay on Sebastian was a killer. Also I don’t carry drinks in my car either to save weight so I’m not having a drink through the race. And then at the end, I used everything I had left when I jumped into my team and my heart rate hit the ceiling. I was good when I got out of the car but jumping into… I don’t know if I will do that again. I was a little bit tired after that one.
SV: If I may add, thank you very much for not asking me the question. I take it as a compliment. Maybe we can exchange phone numbers after the press conference and maybe it’s a good match to the car, it doesn’t look so flashy on the outside but it’s really good on the inside. I take it as a compliment, thank you.
Q: (Sef Harding – Xiro Xone News) I just want to get an assessment from you guys, all three of you, of the weekend because there are some new additions to the fan area to enhance the F1 experience for fans. I just wanted to get you guys’ thoughts on these new additions? Do you look forward to more opportunities for fans to engage with you guys? Obviously what we saw after qualifying was something different. I just wanted to get your thoughts on it.
LH: I think this weekend was… what did we do different? We just did the one thing at the end of qualifying, I think it was. What was the other one?
SV: But no alcohol.
LH: I think the interaction with the fans was definitely better. I think there were less fans then I remember being here. I think maybe when Fernando was battling at the front, the place was packed. There was still a lot of seats… I would imagine it was 65-70% full, I would imagine, something like that. So we’ve got to encourage more to come and I’m not quite sure why more don’t come but the ones that were here… when you come through turn seven, it’s completely packed up there. We’ve just got to continue to engage… like what they’ve done with the entry to the paddock, some fans could come and be close in. We’ve just got to keep coming up with ideas to try and bring people in and not seclude them. This is a sport where you just can’t really get very close and the pit lane walkabout was really great but we somehow need to do more.
DR: I think in the paddock, at least they’ve started with the idea of having a bit of a bar area. I thought that was a new addition. I think that’s cool because we all have guests coming to races and whether it’s friends of ours or there are celebrities or whatever they always hang out with the team they’re invited by but if there’s a more social area then you’ll get everyone hanging out in the same place, so I think that’s cool, so it’s a bit more laidback environment which is cool. I question: is it still called a bar if it sells non-alcoholic beer? Does it turn into a cafe?
LH: Is it non-alcoholic?
DR: Yeah, zero percent.
SV: Don’t you ever read the signs on the track? Never alcohol behind the wheel.
LH: Really? I don’t see it.
DR: But they’re heading in the right direction. I definitely feel that, there’s some positives.
SV: Did you see that? There is that Heineken.
LH: I didn’t know that.
SV: Did you notice that they painted the kerbs blue in sector one?
LH: Yes, I noticed that. At turn three.
DR: Only because you were on them when you pushed him there.
SV: And four.