Q: Gentlemen, if we could by getting your thoughts on the Halo cockpit protection that is going to be introduced from the start of 2018. Sebastian, if we could begin with you, what are your thoughts about the Halo and how do you feel it compares to the Shield you tested at Silverstone two weeks ago?
Sebastian VETTEL: Well, I wasn’t a big fan of the Shield, mostly for the reason that it was impacting visibility. The Halo test I did, I think it was last year in Abu Dhabi, and for sure you need to get used to it but at least it didn’t impact on the vision, so I think that was the biggest difference. Obviously there has been a lot of talk, as I got it, but I think overall you need to understand that it is a decision that helps us in the car in case something goes very wrong. For sure, if you look at Formula One, the way Formula One cars look and so on, I can understand if people say it doesn’t belong on a Formula One car but on the other hand I think times are changing, you are moving forward and I think if you put it very clear, then it also should be very clear for everyone and there shouldn’t be a doubt in your mind whether to introduce it or not. I think if you offer the system as it stands, with the power that it has to give us additional protection, offer that to Justin Wilson some time ago, I think he would take it and we would all be happy to take it to save his life. Now we can’t turn back the clock but I think knowing that something is there that helps us in scenarios it would be ignorant and stupid to ignore. Regarding the looks: as I said, I like Formula One cars of the past and so on, but there are also elements that I like nowadays. I mean, racing cars with wings that Formula One cars didn’t have until I think late-‘60s or [early] ‘70s, so now that’s part of it. There are plenty of other examples – we had V12 engines, which I would like to go back to, and we don’t have anymore. But overall, it’s supposed to help us and I think that’s what we need to remember.
Q: Sebastian, this is your 50th start for Ferrari, a milestone reached by only 13 other drivers. How do you reflect on your two-and-a-half years with the team and what does the future hold?
SV: I think time is moving quickly. Obviously, I have been very busy. I think the whole team has been very, very busy trying to get back. I think this year has been very, very god for most of the year so far. Overall, very positive. I’m really enjoying it. I think it’s great to be part of the Ferrari family and as I said we are all focused and determined to get Ferrari back to where it belongs, so that’s our mission let’s say, our target, our goal and yeah, that’s what we’re working on.
Q: And beyond the end of the year?
SV: Well, it’s true that I haven’t got a contract yet but I think the primary objective at the moment is not to look at papers and worry about those, I think it’s to make sure that we get some good results. Obviously we have another race and another opportunity here before the summer break and then there is a bit more time.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Sebastian, it’s said that this is a very tough race for Ferrari, because you need to react from Silverstone otherwise Mercedes could get a bigger advantage. Do you agree or not? Do you still believe that the season is long and that you have chances in the future?
SV: I think I had a lot of tough races in my past already. I think it’s normal that there is always talk about this race or the next race coming up based on the race you had. I’m no stressing too much. I think on paper this should be a good race for us. Let’s see how we get going. Certainly, looking back, Silverstone wasn’t a great weekend for us. At the same time I think things were going quite good for Mercedes, so I think it has been the other way round as well this year. I’m not stressing too much. I like the track, I’m just going to enjoy. Everyone here, we know what we have to do and that’s what we plan to do, so the fact that it’s the last race before the summer break or the race after Silverstone, that maybe wasn’t good for us, doesn’t change anything. You can score as many points here as anywhere else. But, as I said, it’s a nice race, so I think we need to make sure we enjoy.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte) Sebastian, after the Monaco Grand Prix you had a 25-point advantage over Lewis and also Ferrari was first in the Constructors’ Championship. Four races later Ferrari is behind and you have just one point in the difference. It looks like Mercedes did a better a job in developing the car. Fernando, in the case of the accident you had in Australia, the Halo, what would be the influence of it?
SV: I can’t disagree with what you said because it’s based on the points that we have today but I think you need to look at the races. Obviously, you know, we didn’t get the best races in the last couple. Saying that I think we were very close to winning in Austria. I don’t think we were lacking any speed there and that’s only two races ago. Now, as I said, Silverstone for sure was not the best race for us, but sometimes s**t hits the fan and then it’s not so pleasant. In many ways it was not such a good weekend for us. Obviously the last two laps didn’t help, but these things happen. Sometimes you suffer a puncture. It will not be the last one, unfortunately, in my life, and it has happened to all of us. You have a lot of races, some will be better, some will be worse. Now, the last couple were maybe not fantastic but I’m very positive. We come here and we know the car is strong, we know we have a chance to fight for victory and that’s good news, so I think we should look at the positives rather than looking at one race where maybe things didn’t go well for us and it turned out to go well for them. I think if you look at the week after Monaco, we were quite happy, maybe Mercedes wasn’t. In the end., you shouldn’t get distracted from short-term results. Rest assured, we were not happy with the result in Silverstone. There were some weaknesses. It was a very good weekend for us in terms of what we learned about the car to go forwards and in fact I think we have some bits here that should help us and the plan is to keep pushing. So, as I said, the determination, the commitment is very high to make sure we stay at the front.
Q: (Roksana Cwik – SwiatWyscigow) Sebastian, after the Silverstone tyre failures, what has been done at Ferrari to ensure it won’t happen again?
SV: Obviously we looked into it with care. It impacted on my race, on Kimi’s race, and obviously we are trying to find the reasons for it, together with Pirelli, to find and understand. In my case it was a slow puncture that started already some corners before. Unfortunately, if you want to say, a little bit too late, so we couldn’t react and get into the pits straight away. We spent a lot of time on the tyre. Obviously it wasn’t fresh anymore. I could feel the degradation. At the time we thought it was fine. It’s one of those things that with hindsight it could have been easy for us to get a new set and to come back. But at the time you have the track position, you don’t know other people are doing, you don’t know how much they are struggling with their tyres at the end of the race and so on. I think we took a lot of action trying to understand first of all what happened and then a lot of action trying to understand what we could have done better and what we will change in the future when we are in a similar position.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Sebastian, you said that you have made your analysis about what happened with the tyre in Silverstone – but what was the conclusion? Could you have done anything to avoid them or was it just a freak incident that both of the cars had either a puncture or delamination and you could have done nothing about it.
SV: Excuse me for being sarcastic, we could have pitted. So then… for sure it doesn’t happen. Yeah, as I said, there’s plenty of things that we learnt. We’ll probably take action next time and try to avoid. As I said, from my point of view, I got the explanation and then you move on, you can’t go back and change it. I obviously was inside the car, we talked about the tyres before it happened and, as I said, they didn’t feel fresh, I reported – but I was also sure they would make it. Then, two laps, you could argue, two laps more, two laps less, so with hindsight now it’s easy but it has happened. It has impacted our race. We can’t change that, what we can change is next time we face maybe a similar situation.
Q: (Kate Walker – Motorsport . com) Question for Sebastian. I know you opened the conference by talking positively about the Halo from your own personal opinion. I believe that last year you, as a GPDA director, along with the other directors, wrote to the FIA talking about having canvassed the other drivers, both current and reserve and found widespread support. Have you spoken to your fellow drivers now that the Halo has been implemented? Are you finding the same level of support? What’s the GPDA stance, rather than your personal one, please?
SV: Well, our GPDA stance is very simple. Obviously the GPDA is there to support and try to look from a drivers’ voice into things that can be improved in terms of safety. That’s our main interest and has been in the past. So, I think it’s very clear. More or less one year ago we got a presentation here. Shortly after, or right after the drivers’ briefing about the Halo, about its consequences, about the outcome in various accidents, whether it was better, worse or neutral, and the result was very clear, it was better to neutral depending on the accident obviously. So, right after that, as far as I remember – it’s a year ago – we sent a letter that we appreciate the fact that FIA is continuously trying to push and trying to find new solutions to give us more support on track to help push safety. We asked them, as much as we can, to keep doing exactly that. So, look further into it and so on. As I understand, I think it was agreed about a year ago anyways, that we will have addition head protection for ’18. Now it has been just confirmed. Bit surprised to see the surprise about the decision but, as I said, not just from my personal point of view, I think the majority of the drivers appreciate the fact that we go forward now. As I said for aesthetics, it’s always difficult to please everybody opinion but I think the Halo system that we saw last year will probably not be the one that we see next year and the year after and the year after. It’s one of those things that maybe they start off not so good looking and then they’re actually not so bad.
Q: (Jon McEvoy – Daily Mail) To Sebastian, what is it that’s delaying you about signing the new Ferrari deal and when do you expect there will be news on who you’re going to sign for? Re-signing or moving somewhere else.
SV: As far delaying, I think the fact we are working hard, both from the team’s point, my point, I think we have other things to do right now, so, as I said, in the summer there’s a bit more time. There’s a couple of weeks’ stretch where there is no race but for now I think the focus is extremely high on working on the car. So, for me I’m obviously not designing the bits but trying to give as much feedback as I can, trying to spend time in the simulator, generally talking to the team. That, at the moment, has priority. As I said, a piece of paper can be signed fairly quickly so that’s not a problem.
Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) To follow up on that, Sebastian, Ferrari have said they’re ready to renew your contract whenever you are. Do you want to stay with the team?
SV: I don’t see why not. I think… I’m certainly not ready this weekend, and last weekend, so, as I said, I’m not in a rush, I don’t think the team is in a rush, as far as I understood, I think I have a good contact to the team, I think they would tell me otherwise so, as I said, there’s no problem, nothing wrong.