Q: Sebastian, congratulations, how was your quali? It was tough just at the end. You had such a big improvement on the last lap but maybe you missed just something?
Sebastian VETTEL: No maybe. I was happy with the lap. The first run in Q3 was not so good. I locked a little bit into the first corner. The last lap I was happy. It was feeling good until the end. Then I looked. You know you have the tower there, and I looked up and I saw my name didn’t go to the top, so not entirely happy, but we expected Mercedes to be very strong, so I think tomorrow should be an interesting race.
Q: Well done. Sebastian, three consecutive pole positions coming into this race, but not this weekend. Just talk us through your session. Interesting to see you on the soft tyre?
SV: Yeah, overall I think it was a smooth session. Q1 was pretty good. The car was fine. We didn’t have to do that much. Obviously we were quite OK this morning and we were trying to find the right direction. But it was straightforward in quali and in Q3 in the first run I locked up a little bit into Turn 1, so the first sector was already slow. I tried to get it back and recover but to really fight for pole I knew it was not enough. I didn’t get a great feeling on that tyre, on that set. I asked to go back and I think it was the right call, we were very quick. I think the tyres this weekend are different because obviously we had the change, it’s for everyone, but I think they are a bit harder. For me it was pretty straightforward as I said, because I was happier with the car with that tyre. If it’s within one tenth, a tenth and a half you always think that maybe, but to be honest I was very happy with the lap until the end. So I think we expected Mercedes to be very strong and so they were. So hat’s off to them and tomorrow I think it will be a close race. Anything can happen really, just like the last couple of races.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Pilar Celebrovsky– Paddock Magazine) My question is for Sebastian. How crucial is it to do a good start to take the lead – considering this circuit is not really easy to overtake?
SV: Well, good memories of last year but I was in the first row. I think it’s the same as always. You need to have a good start to keep your position; you need to have a great start to make positions up. Obviously here’s a long run to Turn One so P3 is not a bad place to be it. It’s not Russia, is it, Valtteri? No. But yeah, it’s still a pretty long run. We’ll see. First focus on the start and then we’ll see. It’s a long race after that. I think the tyres will be a challenge so even if the start doesn’t go in our favour I think we have a strong car after that to keep fighting. So, we’ll see.
I still have nightmares from Russia.
Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport-Magazin.com) Question for all three of you. It looks pretty strange for us because usually Mercedes has some problems to extract the maximum out of the softest compound tyre, today you were pretty strong on that. Ferrari was quite the opposite. Do you have an explaining for that? Seb mentioned thinner tyres this weekend. Is it related to this or is it special track surface we have here, track layout or…?
SV: Yeah, I think it’s pretty straightforward. The tyres are different. They are different for everyone so everyone needs to cope with that. I think it was exceptional that Mercedes were struggling in the last events as much as they were – but thinner tread, basically the tyre is harder, so, we still have the same tyres, if you look at the colours, but they are harder than they used to be. Yeah, as I said, it’s the same for all of us.
Valtteri, do you think the cooler track temperatures today, compared to yesterday, helped Mercedes?
VB: I don’t think so. We were pretty strong yesterday also with the warmer track so I don’t think that helped. It changes always the approach, like Lewis mentioned, the operating window of the tyres is so small you just need to try and hit it, even though the track temp is 10°C less. It’s extremely difficult but I think this weekend so far we’ve done a good job and also finding out how to work the supersoft today. Hopefully we can master them tomorrow as well. We’ll see.
Sebastian, anything you want to add?
SV: No. I like your question but I don’t want to answer!
LH: They have the secret.
Sebastian, would you have preferred a hotter track temperature today?
SV: I don’t know. I think, to be honest, if you think of how much effort goes into the car, performance, engineering, to get everything out of your package, and then, like Lewis said, there’s the element of ‘who knows?’ yeah, I don’t think up to today Mercedes understood in China exactly what went wrong. For us it was working, and then one event to the other, one day to the other it can be a different picture. That’s nothing new, I think we had it for a long time now. That’s how it goes. It’s good if you are on the side that it’s working and not so good if you are on the side that it doesn’t work. Hard to find a true explanation every time. So irrelevant, I think, today the temperatures.
Q: (Roksana Cwik – Swiatwyscigow.pl) This year we have a new tarmac, can you tell us if it’s easier for you to drive on the track or harder, compared to last year?
SV: Well, I think for us it was not necessary. It is a bit faster but I think it’s not us that asked for it, I think it’s the MotoGP. For us, I think they could have saved the money and put it somewhere else.
Q: (Joe van Burik – Autocar NL) Considering Lewis’s pole time is three seconds quicker than last year, how bad is it in 2019 that the car will be an estimated 1.5s a lap slower?
SV: Is that a fact?
LH: That’s what they said, yeah, something like that.
LH: I don’t think it’s particularly… I think in the sport and in technology we’re developing and moving forwards all the time to pull us back. I don’t think if that’s a particularly… it’s not going to make any difference if you make it… if you make us three seconds slower or a second and a half slower, it’s not going to make the racing any better and we just want to go faster, we want to improve technology, we want to push the boundaries and the limits. One of the exciting things this year has been that we are breaking records. Sebastian was just saying about the… what year was it?
SV: Well, before they introduced the chicane, I think they were doing high fifteens.
LH: It’s incredible the technology we have and what we’re doing with it. We should be at least as fast as we are this year but just making racing better. In my personal opinion.
SV: Yeah, I agree, I think… I find it a bit comical: why, in 2009 we went, let’s go less aerodynamics and better racing and so on? In fact I think it didn’t change too much. Then we said the cars are too slow, let’s put more aerodynamics and make them wider, more spectacular. All the drivers’ feedback was thank you very much, spectacular, that’s what we would like, more challenging, you see us more exhausted after the race, and now we want to make them slower again. It’s a bit like cruising to America and changing direction 100 times.
LH: Is it the same people making the decisions every time, the same group, making the decision every time the rules go… not necessarily the best?
Q: It’s with the intention of improving overtaking next year.
SV: I think you should ask us what we need to overtake.
LH: We should make the decisions.
SV: I mean we are drivers, not to say that we know everything, we don’t anything about engineering the car but we know how the cars feel, how to drive the cars. And their limitations to overtake. But we’re not really asked.