(Conducted by Kai Ebel)
Q: Sebastian, isn’t that a fantastic payback after Mexico, winning in front of this outstanding audience. It was an outstanding start too?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, initially I had a very good getaway and then I had a bit of wheelspin, so I thought, “ah, I missed my chance”. But I think Valtteri was struggling even more off the line, so I really had a chance to squeeze down the inside. I think I surprised him a bit, which obviously was crucial. After that, I think we were pushing, after the safety car, for the remaining 65 laps flat out. I was really trying to give everything to pull a little bit of a gap, to control the race from there. Really happy, especially for all the guys in the team back home in Maranello, they have been working so hard. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for us but nice to get it today and have both cars up here.
Q: Seb, I know tonight you’re going back home, but I’m pretty sure it will be a shaky flight during which you’ll make a few caipirinhas disappear. How much will you celebrate in the air?
SV: Well we’ll see. I think for now, it’s a great release. Obviously it’s been a tough day, tough race. I just spoke with Valtteri and I think the pace, we were all more or less the same. It was really difficult, no room for mistakes, really difficult to control the tyres the whole race. I think it will take a while and then I’m sure we’ll have a drink here and then see what’s coming.
Q: Congratulations to Sebastian on your victory, your third victory here in Brazil, fifth with Ferrari this season of 2017. Can we drill down a little bit more into the start, the initial launch, the whole approach into Turn One – because clearly the race was won there – but also just the whole way you had to manage that race with, at the end five seconds separating four cars, showed that it was quite some job.
SV: yeah, it was tight, I think we all had more or less the same pace. It was difficult to leave the pack. I tried very hard. The start, initially I had a very good launch and thought ‘I’ve got this’ then I was maybe a bit too greedy with the throttle, spinning up the wheel a little bit and losing a bit of the momentum on Valtteri but then I looked over and saw that he was still struggling and then I sort of gained a little bit again on the second phase, which was just enough to give me momentum to hang in there into the first corner. Yeah, I knew I had to go for it. There was a little bit of a gap, I went for that and yeah, obviously it turned out to be very important. Safety Car restart was tricky: I think the Safety Car switched off the lights very late and it was very difficult to then open a sufficient gap because it’s a long straight and the Safety Car is not very quick, so difficult to know how much time you need to give the Safety Car before you can go but that worked well because I think overall we had less straight-line speed than Mercedes this weekend and it was tough: always seeing him in the mirrors in the race and seeing that he was closing, especially in the first and last sector. So I really had to nail the middle sector every single time. At the end it was I think at the limit with the tyres. Obviously, I tried to manage the gap but to be honest it was very much flat out all the time and I had to push to stay ahead and try and keep control with one or two or three seconds in the end.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Sebastian, did you see Lewis ever as a threat for the win in the end? I guess you had been informed about his progress and especially at the early stages on the super soft he was catching up almost a second a lap.
SV: Not really. Obviously I saw him pitting just in front of me so he had to make up that pit stop but I think it’s not the first time this year that we’ve seen that the mirror strategy has some advantages. Obviously it’s not very attractive if you’re starting in the front but it can be very attractive when you’re out of position which he was. So you obviously have an advantage. I think the track ramped up in the end and the supersoft was clearly the faster tyre but overall it’s fair to say that Lewis was very quick. I think for us, as I said yesterday, it was nice to see that we were that close in qualifying trim. I feel fair also, we have to be fair to ourselves, we’re losing in the straights. Obviously that was…even enhanced with Valtteri in the tow at some point in the race, I was told that we were half a second faster in the middle sector but obviously losing quite a lot on the straight and more or less we did the same lap times for the whole race. It was very close. Obviously also, when you’re close, in Valtteri’s position, then you lose a little bit in the middle sector and you gain a little bit in the tow so difficult to say. But no, I don’t think he was really a threat. Obviously they told me at some point that he’s catching up with Kimi but I knew that it would be quite difficult to get past.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Valtteri, would it be possible to keep the first place if you had started better? And Sebastian, do you think it would be possible to overtake him if you were second after the first bend?
VB: Yes, I think so, with a good start it would have been possible to keep the lead because also like Sebastian said, I think our pace, our car was pretty similar today, not much pace difference. Being first out of turn one, two would have been quite a different race but if and if… he got a better start and that’s it.
SV: Very difficult, I think. When you have the same pace, when you do the same lap times it’s difficult because you’re not really any faster and also how are you going to get close so I think it would have been difficult and for sure the start was very very crucial. There was maybe a chance at the stop that Valtteri nearly was able to take on me but it would have been very tough.
Q: (Ian Parks – New York Times) Seb, I appreciate there’s still one more race to go but with the titles done and dusted now, I was just wondering how you reflect on this season, one of hope and promise but frustration and bitterness, what happened after Italy going through those Asia rounds? How do you look on it?
SV: Well, I think it’s a good job that we have races now because it helps to sort of get over it because you’re distracted, I guess. I think it’s tough… obviously in the past you didn’t have to deal with this so it’s not to say I was quite fortunate but I think it helps to just have something to do, to be honest. Overall I think it was very positive this year. Nobody expected Ferrari to be that strong, for us to be that strong. We made the biggest step, there was a lot of talk about other people but in the end we were there from the start and also until the end. We are two races to go, we are in a position to fight for victory, we won here, two cars on the podium. I think there’s a lot of positives. Of course if you miss out it sort of sucks, there’s no other way, but you have to be fair as well. We hadn’t been very competitive last year, we hadn’t been very good developing the car and we’ve made massive progress this year so even if you look at the chance that maybe you missed, you have to give credit to all the people, to all the team for the step that we made. I think we can all feel that we’re getting stronger so hopefully we can carry that strength into the next couple of years, not just next year, not just the winter but also the future because I think our objective is to bring Ferrari back properly, get there and dominate. That’s what we want to do.