A simple question for you Sebastian: can you and Ferrari find the speed to beat this guy over a whole season this year?
Sebastian VETTEL: We don’t have the answer now. We try. It’s a long season. If it was one race it would be a different story, but it is a lot of races.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
What about you Sebastian, have you looked at it. Is there a performance gain in using four across the season?
SV: I’m sure we looked at it. I don’t think it’s the plan but I’m very confident that we’re not using four engines this weekend, so we don’t need to worry now.
Q: (Ian Gordon – The Mirror) Is it a peak age for a driver? Or do you just carry on learning?
SV: I don’t know. I think it’s fine. Lewis is a little bit older and he’s not peaking yet, so I have got plenty to look forward to.
Q: (Andreas Haupt – Auto Motor und Sport) What is your opinion about the additional DRS zone and is it helpful or not?
DR: I don’t think it hurts. It’s typically been a pretty hard track to overtake. I think, as well, with the cars, we’re going faster and faster and following a car is getting harder and harder at some circuits, so I think they’ve been proactive and tried to help out a cause here. I don’t know if it will necessarily create overtaking into that corner but it may at least put you into the zone to then have a chance somewhere else.
LH: I think Daniel answered it well.
Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) Do you think the next world champion is sitting behind the table now, or standing outside speaking Dutch?
DR: Why are you looking at me?
LH: I don’t have answer for you. [Sebastian] do you have a better answer?
SV: I think we hope the one sits here. I think it’s obvious no?
Let’s put it this way, do you think the one outside speaking Dutch is ready to challenge for a world championship?
SV: Who do you mean?
LH: There are a lot of Dutch people here.
SV: Especially for TV and journalists.
DR: We’ll add a ninth to this table?
DR: We’ll add a ninth to this table. We’ve got eight between us.
And Seb, do you have a master plan?
SV: Yeah, all laid out – but it’s not with me, it’s in my room, so, of course, top secret, so I can’t give you any details.
Q: (Jonathan McEvoy – Daily Mail) Sebastian, do you see any weaknesses in Lewis? How would you describe them, or see them? What are they? If there are any.
SV: Well, there aren’t many, so I think he’s doing a very, very good job for many years now. So, I think it’s always a bit of a weird question to answer when the person is sitting right next to you. But, as I said, there aren’t many. I’m sure we all have our weaknesses. Maybe some are part of our characters, maybe some are part of our driving – but to be honest I don’t think about those too much. I think about mine quite a lot and try to get better at what I need to improve. But yeah, concerning other people, it’s not in my hands. So, I try to finish my plate.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, were you surprised that Kimi started an Instagram – and are you planning to follow the example?
SV: ‘Yes’, and ‘no’ are my answers. Finnish answers. Short.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Sebastian, can I take you back to your first answer, you were asked if you could beat Lewis and you said ‘if it was one race it would be a different story but maybe over the season’ or something like that. Does that mean you’re not confident this weekend that Ferrari are…?
SV: …no but I think the question was whether we… who’s coming out of top, sort of. I think Mercedes is right and I think Lewis is right to be the favourite, to put for this year – but it’s a long season so I think, y’know, obviously, this is one race, Melbourne is particular in many ways. I think we all look forwards to kick off the season, to get ready, get in the car and race. I think, y’know, we have all the reasons to be confident. Our car is great. There’s stuff to come, so plenty to look forward to – but usually at this point you don’t know where the others are. So, that’s why it’s a bit pointless to come here and say that you’ll blow everyone away. Based on testing I think we are in good shape. We could be in better shape but it’s always like that.
Q: (Jonathan McEvoy – Daily Mail) To Sebastian again, how would it mean for you to go level with Fangio?
SV: I think it’s a bit of a similar answer to what Lewis gave earlier. Obviously, I’ve had more time to think about it than Lewis had. More than one winter. But… yeah… I don’t know. I’m not setting these things out and planning or looking forward to what could possibly happen. Certainly, if it will happen it would mean a lot – and then I think you start to realise – but now I don’t see the point of thinking ‘what if’. I have a lot on my plate now and I’m happy also to look forward to what’s right in front of me, not what could be at some point in the future. Ideally, it’s less than 12 months away – but it’s a long way. I think we all know how many things need to come together to be able to fight for the championship towards the end of the season. And then to win it. Yeah. Also, I think nowadays the times are different. I think it’s very different times to when Fangio achieved it, compared to today. So, every era has its own challenges, certainly they were a bit different back then. So yeah, it’s not in my mind now, let’s say.
How about you Seb? You’ve said you’re not getting any closer to getting into social media – but what do you think of the job that’s being done globally?
LH: …I thought you were on social media!
LH: I think I’m following… someone
SV: Well, to whoever it is, congratulations! It’s not me. What did I want to say now? Yeah, from a driving point of view there’s obviously not that much that has changed. The regulations have been set before there was new people taking over. I think it’s great to see and I heard last year continuously around the track people supporting us. There were more things to do, it was a bit more fun, which I think is great. In general, I think I’m a traditionalist and I like to hold on to certain things, so probably there’s a lot of things I’m not a specialist in and I don’t need to understand – so I’m a bit… yeah, confused why the races start later, a bit sad that there are no more grid girls – but other than that, not many changes yet. I think we need to wait.
Q: (Chip Le Grand – The Australian) It’s a rare thing in any sport when you have two enduring champions that are both at the peak of their powers so for you, Lewis and Sebastian, how special is it to share your careers in this way and heading into this season where I guess we’re all looking at it as a bit of a decider, how much additionally special does that make it, knowing that the other guy is so good?
SV: Well, I think if you… I agree with Lewis. Obviously first of all it’s a privilege to be able to get a chance to prove yourself in Formula One, then to be able to race in Formula One. Then I think when you get in it’s all about winning. You want to win, you don’t look at anything else. Probably later on, after you’ve won a little bit, you get a bit more perspective and open your horizons as well and then I think it becomes something special to win against the best. In my case, obviously, I think if I look at the people I raced throughout my career then I think it’s always been sort of the same people which starting from karting age, even if I didn’t race Lewis in karting but you were aware. Then you move on, we met a little bit later in Formula Three where he was a lot better than I was and then in Formula One ultimately but yeah, then you care more about who you race against and what it means to you, it gives you more satisfaction. And now, obviously, I’m searching for the ultimate satisfaction to win with Ferrari which is the greatest team in history, the greatest team in the paddock and that’s my ultimate target now, to win with Ferrari and win against the best which arguably… I’m sure there’s plenty of numbers that you’re all aware of, arguably, and Lewis is one of them.
Q: (Phil Branagan – Auto Action) Lewis and Sebastian, as Daniel sits here today, he doesn’t have a deal for 2019. What would you like to say to encourage him to join your respective teams next season?
SV: I don’t know. I’m sure he’ll find a seat so yeah, I don’t know what he’s up to or what he wants. I don’t know how much he’s asking but as I said… I’m confident he’ll find a seat. We only shared one year together, I knew him before that and we had one year together which wasn’t great for me, it was great for him. But anyways, I think we get along so I wouldn’t mind if we get together again in the future but I don’t know what his plan… I think he has a couple of options and I don’t think he needs to rush.
Q: (Gaetan Vigneron – RTBF) Last year the rules imposed numbers on the car, the name of the driver and so on. And this year, with the halo, it’s even impossible to recognise the helmets of the drivers. Is the drivers’ identification something you care about for the viewers, for the fans, for the TV commentators and do you have any suggestions to improve the situation?
SV: We should be allowed to design the halo.
Q: Is it important to you, was it important to you as a fan when you saw the drivers’ helmets coming out when you were a kid?
SV: Yeah, yeah, definitely and obviously we can’t negotiate the position of the halo, we can’t put it at the back of the car. I don’t know, maybe it should be up to us to design the halo, I don’t know. That could be an idea, just to add an element to what makes it different from the rest.