(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Sebastian, 46th victory in Formula One, very measured but looked like you had some issues there with the steering, we heard lots of radio transmissions saying “keep off the kerbs”. First of all, congratulations on your win and tell us about what you had to manage there…
Sebastian VETTEL: I’m over the moon. I mean it was a really difficult race, maybe it didn’t look like but I had my hands full from three or four laps after the safety car. There was something wrong, I don’t know why the steering started to go sideways and it seemed to get worse. Then I stayed off the kerbs, tried to save the car. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t do a favour to Kimi who obviously could go faster. I didn’t have the pace. But then towards the end it did come back a bit. I had a couple of laps where I had a bit of a cushion and I could breathe a bit. But yeah, I really had to stay focused the whole race. I was hoping for a couple of laps to breathe but they didn’t come, so really tough. But great result, great day. Thank you for the support. There was a guy out of the chicane, every single lap he was thumbs up, thumbs up and keeping us going, so it was really great.
Q: So you had one eye on the fans and one eye on the steering?
SV: And one eye on the steering, because it wasn’t straight.
Q: Can you explain that? Can you explain what can give you that?
SV: I don’t know, we’ll have a look, but to be honest it doesn’t matter now, we won the race. It was a weird feeling because basically it was tilted to the left so you go down the straights and the steering isn’t straight and then in right-handers it’s sort of OK, but in left-handers you have to get used to it. After a couple of laps it’s OK but if it’s changing all the time it’s difficult because you have to further than you want and than you think in your head. Not ideal, but as I said, it doesn’t matter. A big thank you to the team, it was a great race.
Q: So, Sebastian, 14-point lead, that’s a nice way to go into the summer break?
SV: I don’t mind; it’s OK. It could be worse!
Q: What are your plans for this break from Formula One. You’re notorious for being a hard worker, are you going to be at the factory simulator or are you really taking time out?
SV: Well we have a test here in a couple of days, but after that to be honest no big plans, I just want to enjoy the time at home. We spend so much time on the road travelling and I know you have a family as well, so you know how it is, so it’s nice just to have a couple of days at home and rest and enjoy that.
Q: Sebastian that’s win number 46, your fourth of the season but it didn’t look like it was one of your easiest. When did the problems with the car first materialise?
SV: Well, it was a tough one. I was hoping for a bit more quiet afternoon. I had a very good pace and I think Kimi had a good pace, so I think he could go a lot faster than me for the majority of the race. I don’t know, I felt already that there was something not right when we dropped the car on the grid. Now, driving the car to the grid was fine but then for the formation lap when we dropped that the steering wheel was not straight and then… well, I did the start and then there was a safety car and then during the opening laps I felt that it wasn’t right but it didn’t impact too much because it was only small. Then it did get worse and towards the end of the stint it started to ramp up and gradually get worse. It was more and more difficult. Simply… I think after this race I am quite certain there is a reason why the steering wheel is straight and not shifted to one side. Because it’s very tricky – left-handers to right-handers and then if it keeps changing to adapt. I did try to adapt and I obviously knew that we can’t change it. Then I tried to save the car, also we spoke a little bit on the radio about it. I was talking through the problem and they told me to avoid the kerbs, which I was doing already, but on a track where you use the kerbs nearly on every corner it’s obviously also compromising your performance. In the second stint then I just wanted to make sure that I’ve got enough tyres with whatever problem I might face, so just towards the end of the race I’d have enough tyres. So of course I was holding it back a little bit. It’s not like I had an awful lot more pace. Also, in the end I was really going flat out and obviously they were all behind me, queuing and it’s good that you can’t overtake that easily around this track but I had no room for error. It was a tricky race, with the lapped cars not the easiest to go through. As I said, there was no room to the cars behind. It was difficult but the mindset that I had half way through the race was “it doesn’t matter. I can’t change it now – I’d love to but can’t. We keep going and just try to hang in there as much as possible.” The race felt very, very long. Every lap I was looking down; it didn’t end. The last couple of laps I was able to find a bit of a rhythm, opened a bit of a gap, which helped me to take the very last bit of the race a bit easier through the traffic and controlled the race to the end. The result is great. How we got there was very tense but very happy, obviously great result for the team.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Question to both Ferrari drivers. Can you tell me how did you deal with the situation, especially from the mental point of view, having such big pressure from Mercedes behind – was it one of the toughest tasks of your career?
SV: Well, I didn’t have a Mercedes behind me so it was quite… I saw obviously that Valtteri was closing in. I didn’t know about the Lewis swap and stuff but yeah, I was very busy driving to be honest and trying to keep it on the track without using the kerbs, which wasn’t easy. I saw that Kimi sometimes got closer, sometimes not. At some point I think they were asking how much faster I can go. I knew that Kimi doesn’t feel comfortable because he was a lot faster. I know that I wasn’t very quick, so not a great position, as he said, to be in the middle for him but for me obviously it was good because I had Kimi and then, let’s say, other people, so it was OK. In the end it’s not so easy to pass here. I still had some pace – I don’t think I was completely off the pace, which obviously helped. But not an easy on, as I touched on before.
Q: (Tomasz Kubiak – ŚwiatWyścigów) Question to Sebastian. You said you wanted to answer the critique which came after the last race. Would you say now that it’s a job done?
SV: I didn’t say that. I don’t remember. Maybe I have a bad memory. What I said I think, what I meant is that there’s always a lot of talk and it’s good to move on and get to the next race and then the talking usually stops. I think it’s normal, based on what you did last race. People say something good or say something bad. I think something that has always worked for me is that you’re never as good as they say, and you’re never as bad as they say, so… yeah, if the Silverstone race was the worst race of the year, then that’s fine, we move on. But it’s a long year, a lot of races, normal to have some ups and downs. It was a nice race here. Really enjoyed it. Obviously yesterday was great, today was a bit more difficult but the result in the end matters and that’s what makes us very happy, obviously, that’s what the team deserves. I think they are working very hard. Again, you mustn’t forget where we were last year, the end of last year, and the step that Ferrari has made is bigger than anyone else. That is easily forgotten when you are fighting, challenging – but there’s a lot of things that the team can be proud about, and they can be proud of themselves, so I’m very, very happy. I think we’re both very happy where we are with the car. The car felt good today and the whole weekend overall. So, yeah, it’s been a good day.
Q: (Péter Vámosi – Vas Népe) Question to both Finnish drivers. Are you interested in a day competing in the Race of Champions as Team Finland? Mostly the question is for Kimi as you had opportunities with testing Peugeot at World Endurance Racing, NASCAR, whatever, so you have really tried out many cars. And Valtteri, what are you interested in more; to compete in Race of Champions or Stars and Cars?
KR: I’ve been asked to be there many times but I always said that once they go back to how it started with rally cars and then the proper circuit with the two lines, with the gravel and asphalt, I’ll be in – but before that, forget it. It’s not… it’s a show, that’s it.
VB: Yeah, I’d be up for it, I like to drive anything with an engine and at least two wheels, so I’m up for it. I don’t really know much about those competitions, I’ve never really looked into it but I’ve always liked driving so…
SV: …but you need a team-mate and you’ve just lost him…
VB: Better change the competition then…
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte) To Sebastian. Sebastian you know Ferrari history of team orders and giving privilege to one driver. Could you comment please on Mercedes having one driver that is your main driver that is your main competitor for the world title asking to him, give this place back to Bottas?
SV: Well, I don’t know. As far as I understood, Lewis was behind you, and he said he wanted to try, and the team’s decided to swap as I understand and then swap back, so it’s pretty straightforward. I don’t think it’s the first time that somebody has done it. Obviously if it works, great, if it doesn’t work, then you have to give the position back – so I think it’s pretty straightforward, otherwise you overtake yourself and you don’t need to give positions back. Not sure I understood the question still…
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) We are in a unique situation in which the three podium finishers don’t have a contract for next year as far as we know. Is this going to be a priority for the next four weeks or are you happy to sort it out later in the season?
SV: I think there’s a bit more time to talk about these things but I’m also quite keen to find out how long Valtteri lasts in the sauna and what type of beer he is drinking, so I’m waiting for an invite.
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Sebastian: you said just now we mustn’t forget where we were last year. Ferrari’s made a bigger step than anybody else; a 14 point lead with nine races left. Could you have ever imagined being in this position at the start of the season or is this beyond what you would have dreamt of?
SV: No, it’s what I dream about to be honest. I want to win so that’s where you want to be. I don’t have very precise dreams in terms of gaps, points and stuff like that. I think I’m more basic on my dreams as long as I remember; most of the time I forget but yeah, I think all in all, the mission has been to get back to the top so obviously we had a great year, I’m only two and a half years in with the team. I think we had a great year in ’15 which helped to get the project going. ’16 was difficult, I think, for many reasons but I think it was a great year to set things up, a lot of change for the team but yeah, over the winter I think we were the team that made the least noise. There was a lot of talk about the new cars and the new regs and how it will favour one team over the other and how it will bring back other teams and so on. I was very happy that we just worked, we just kept to ourselves and did the job. We have a great car. We know, I think, by now with a lot of races done, what the strength of the car is, where the weaknesses are, that’s where we need to work on. For sure you cannot expect it to change overnight but yeah, I’m very confident the group of people… We have a lot of people that you maybe don’t know because from the outside people try to identify a team with one person in terms of who is the driver or obviously it’s easy because there are only two but in terms of who is designing the car, it very often ends up with one… you point the finger at one person. It’s not fair. The team is very big and there’s a lot of people so we have a lot of great people, young people coming up and a great culture, people taking risks and that’s what we need to do. We want to win so very happy where we are going but it’s not yet enough. Today’s great, we got a one-two but that’s what we want every weekend. We haven’t done it so far, I know it’s difficult but it’s not impossible so we keep working.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Kimi and Sebastian, the Mercedes guys seem to think that now it’s clear that the balance of power between the two teams is track-specific so as you were very quick in Monaco and then the Hungaroring, two very twisty tracks and at Silverstone they were quicker; do you agree with that, that’s it’s track specific and if so what do you think will be particularly strong tracks for Ferrari until the end of the season?
SV: I find it’s a bit difficult… I mean you have very little time during the weekend to change things so I think it’s normal that some tracks are more in your favour, also from a driving point of view. You mustn’t forget that we are all different so some things we maybe prefer at some tracks over other tracks and it’s not always the same. It doesn’t mean that (because) you won the year before that you are always great on this track, you know. Maybe over a couple of years you can draw other tendencies but yeah, overall, I know we have a very strong car, we have a car that is competitive everywhere. We have had circuits on which it was less competitive. If you want to point out Silverstone, we weren’t quick enough to win, that’s a fact but we weren’t horrible. It’s not like we were tenth and eleventh on the grid so we still qualified well. We outqualified one of them on Saturday so I think we are at the right track, but it’s normal that some tracks maybe you struggle a bit more, some a bit less, then you can draw conclusions of the car which might not be wrong, so it’s fair to say that we were very competitive here and Monaco; Mercedes was less so but equally if you pick the races out, it wasn’t like we were miles ahead and lapping them so… It also depends how your race goes. I think the most important thing is that we were always there so far, we always had good pace so I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of in the next couple of races.