Q: Sebastian, you needed this front row, man, didn’t you, to take this championship fight, to keep the pressure on him, to keep the heat on him. How much did you have to draw out of yourself for that lap, because it was a brilliant lap?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I was very happy in the end, but I was lacking a bit the rhythm, especially the transition of the first to second sector, it was quite tricky with the wind, so I struggled a bit there. But finally I got it right, in the last run, when it mattered. As you said, important obviously to get front row, because I believe our race pace is really good. I quali all year we’ve been just a little bit behind, so well done to Lewis, obviously, he did two great laps and yeah, looking forward to tomorrow now.
Q: All the talk this week has been about what Lewis needs to do to win the title this weekend. What you need to do is win this race, do you think you can?
SV: Not just here, it would be good to win also the others. But we go day by day. We were lacking a bit of running yesterday. Today was a lot better. I was getting up to speed and it was there when it mattered, but the race is tomorrow. It’s a great track, a great place, a lot of people, so it should be a good day tomorrow.
Q: Very well done, great job. Sebastian from your point of view it’s a story of recovery really. We saw your old chassis being wheeled out yesterday, a new chassis being built up overnight. Tell us about that process, how you got back into it, and how you feel to be able to split the Mercedes?
SV: I think we are very happy with the result. It was obviously crucial to get that final run. Bit of a slow start. We had a couple of problems, I didn’t feel comfortable yesterday with the car, and we did hardly any laps. Obviously I lost the car very early in FP2, which didn’t help and I thought that there’s something not right. Obviously a big job overnight. The team was fantastic, the mechanics now had a couple of weekends in a row with a lot of work, with last-minute engine changes, now a chassis change overnight and they didn’t break the curfew. You know you’re allowed to use a certain time before everybody has to leave the garages and if you do that big job there is always a threat but I think they did another re3cord time to change. Obviously it’s not what we want, but obviously today was a lot better, I was much happier with the car. I’m glad it worked out. And not finding the rhythm straight away in quali, I struggled a bit in a couple of corners but I knew if I get them right I should be able to make a big step in the final run, so I was very happy. I think in the end we were closer than probably we even expected so for today, but for tomorrow I think if the car behaves like today it should be good.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport-Magazin.com) Question for Sebastian. Would you compare the situation you had today in Q3 in the last lap with the one you had in Japan where you saw the gap was quite to the front runners? Or was it completely the opposite – because you knew he had to be a bit more on the safe side to get these two corners right. And which two corners was it?
SV: Well, I struggled a bit into Turn Eight, so Eight-Nine then it’s a succession up the hill. Obviously, the wind was quite tricky all day really. In the morning, I thought it was fine. In the afternoon, I just started on the wrong foot. It wasn’t really a question of stepping down, or calming down. It was more a question of getting it right. The shots that I had before, I obviously tried. Maybe I did take a little bit more risk but it never really worked – and then yeah, I knew what I had to get right, so I got it right. That was the most important but obviously in Japan I was fairly comfortable, let’s say, front row, no matter what Valtteri was going to do, so I decided to take a bit more risk but it was very different here, obviously. My lap was very poor in Q3 and I knew that I had to deliver otherwise I would have been, I don’t know, not even top six maybe. Therefor the timing was just right.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) A question to Sebastian. You obviously didn’t do many laps yesterday. How much could you recover in P3, in terms of race preparation?
SV: Not much. Obviously, we had a touch of a small long run, I think two timed laps, so we’re missing a bit. As the season progresses everybody gets better in terms of reading the sessions, understanding the tyres so I don’t think we’re in any weaker position. Would have been nice to do more laps but the little laps that I had this morning were fine. I think we know what we need to do. Now we see what the conditions are like. It’s supposed to be a bit cooler, we’ll see what the wind does. We have to react to those. That’s far more important that maybe what we’ve missed, because that has an impact on how your balance is in the first stint and then how you are able to feel the car push or not and then put pressure on whoever’s in front or disappear if you’re ahead, or whatever.
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Questions to Valtteri and Sebastian. For Valtteri, three-quarters of the time you’re losing to Lewis is all in the last sector, he was three-tenths quicker than you. Is there something not to your liking in the car in that kind of corner. And for Sebastian, even though it’s not as bad as in the first two years, there’s still a difference in grip on the two sides of the grid. Does that worry you for the start tomorrow?
VB: Yes, definitely the last sector in the qualifying I did struggle more. It felt more tricky for some reason than, for example, in some of the practice sessions. There’s been things I’ve been struggling with, with this car, with the brake modulation and front-locking and transferring the weight between the four wheels. It’s fine details but just struggled to get it together. Many times 13 and 15, lost a bit of time. Sometimes I got it right but still I couldn’t match Lewis in terms of cornering speeds, etcetera – but yeah, those are the longest corners, slow speed corners and normally the bigger differences are there.
And Sebastian, the grip differential.
SV: I don’t know. We see tomorrow. I saw Formula 4 race but they start on the other side, so the polesitter starts left. Anyway, the guy who started left turned in first into the first corner, so I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a big difference. We just need to make sure the cheerleaders tomorrow stay away from that side and they can get all excited on Lewis’ side.
Q: (Peter Habicht – The Auto Channel) Question to each of the drivers: Formula One has often been described as a space race in motorsports in comparison to other forms of motorsport. Who or what about the hundreds of people that support your cars, your efforts, impresses you the most or strikes you the strongest?
SV: Well, if you open the bonnet and you’re allowed to have a good look, which normally people unfortunately are not, they don’t get too close to the cars, then you’ll be impressed by how much stuff there is going on, especially with the new engines that we have, how complex they are. But still, we manage to get (them to be) more and more robust, run for longer with more power so obviously in the last couple of years that has been very crucial and there has been a big step in all areas on the power unit side. But I think really the most impressive bit is how everything comes together. You know you talk about the car in the end but it’s so much more. I know we’ve got the basic stuff: four tyres and yeah, for some people the cars look similar to how they looked ten, twenty, thirty years ago but how much has changed. And seeing all that coming together, the planning of the project and how much work is going into the project and every year build a new car which is crazy but a completely new car. You try to improve, you try to come up with new ideas, solutions, better packaging, design, materials. You want to save weight. And then to see winter time, in that regard, is very very exciting to see it coming together and then firing up for the first time, driving out on the track for the first time. It’s really the work and brains of more than a thousand people. In the end, two drivers per team who have the chance to describe the feeling to drive the car so I think that’s really one of the most exciting bits. In my opinion, that also makes it a team sport because I can’t do it on my own, I’m not even close. You need every single one and you need to… I don’t know if you can compare it to an orchestra, you need to play in sync, perfect timing and then only then are you able to come up with a competitive package because the other teams that you’re up against are so good as well.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) To Sebastian and Lewis: at this race we can have the world title decided and we haven’t mentioned it in this press conference. Does it come to your mind at any moment? When will you take it into consideration?
LH: Well, I mean it’s a bit like a game of chess. Obviously right now it’s check but there’s still a long long way to go. There’s still a hundred points available. Sebastian and his team are going to be working as hard as they can as are we. Who knows? It’s going to go to the wire I still think. In the next four races, I think they are going to give it a great shot and I’m going to do my utmost to try and defend and not only defend but really maximise and win these races. I want to win these races, that’s what I’m working towards and naturally, in winning races, points come and championships are won so that’s what I’m here to do.
SV: Well, it’s pretty straightforward. I think we have to win and then we see what happens. Obviously we are not in the position that we would like to be but still we have a chance so we go for that and it’s pretty straightforward. We have the car, we had the car to win the last three races, didn’t happen, so I don’t see why the next four races we shouldn’t have the package to win so we start tomorrow.
LH: Buddy, do you have a question for us? Do you have a question for us? You sure?
Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport Magazin.com) Question for all three of you: it was pretty hot today, how much did you have to look at tyre temperatures, especially with ultrasoft in the fast flowing sector one or is the straight afterwards long enough to cool it down? How much was tyre temperature a concern for one lap today?
SV: Well first of all I don’t like the imagination of living tissue; that just sounds a bit… Yeah, I think we would like to push more but you obviously have to look after the tyres and manage them which to some degree is fine because it’s part of our skill set but still I prefer to be able to push more.