Q: Thank you Kimi, good luck this weekend. Sebastian, thanks for waiting, coming to you now. Spa was a dominant performance by you and Ferrari last weekend. Do you think that pace will translate to Monza this weekend, given the high-speed nature of the track?
Sebastian VETTEL: I don’t know. I think in the end it was less dominant than you might think. In the end, we did well, and it’s good to see that we are able to improve our car. We had some bits and a new engine. So we’ll see. Monza in many ways is a bit similar to Spa, but then again obviously if you look at the track and the actual corners, not just the straights, it’s quite a bit different. We see in the past, I remember some good races here with great podiums but for sure we want more than a podium, but I think we will see what we get starting tomorrow and getting into the rhythm for the weekend.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Sebastian winning here at Monza? Of course it’s 10 years since your first ever F1 victory?
SV: Yeah, it depends which colour, or which engine you have in the back. I mean the first win was overwhelming in many regards. I didn’t realise at the time that I was obviously racing for an Italian team and had a Ferrari engine in the back, so I guess it was sort of OK for the crowd and they were happy too. I thought they were happy because it was me and it was a good race. But then two or three years after I won again in a different colour, they weren’t very happy, so I was wondering a bit what’s going on, because I hadn’t done anything wrong, quite the opposite. The story of Monza is in the heart of Italy and where all the tifosi are. I think the last podiums I had, in the right colour, were quite amazing and obviously it’s definitely something I want to achieve, to win here with Ferrari. Others have done it before me and I want to join them.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Seb, do you feel any greater pressure performing in front of the Ferrari fans and how important do you think a win here would be in terms of your championship chances and the momentum that a victory in front of the Ferrari fans would bring?
SV: I don’t know. If you win you score more points than others, that always helps. You don’t have to be a genius to make that out. Obviously here for us it’s a different story, so I think it’s a bit isolated from the rest of the year in terms of how special it is for the whole team. There are a lot of friends, a lot of family from all the guys here. We are in Italy, in the home country of Ferrari and I think everybody, not just us drivers, not only the Ferrari drivers, everybody can feel and sense that there is something special going on and I think we have probably the two most special seats this weekend but there are a lot of seats and there will be a lot of people, so to be honesty, looking forward to it. Yesterday was a great way to start the weekend, with the event we had in the city and there were a lot of people and to see how excited they are is definitely different than any other race where I thought people were already excited, but they’re more excited here. So looking forward to getting out in the car and just to look for the same sort of satisfaction and feeling we had last weekend. The car is performing so we hope it stays that way and to make it even better.
Q: (Fulvio Solms – Corriere dello Sport) A question for Sebastian. Why after your victory in Belgian nobody in your team, neither you nor anybody else, remembers so big a figure like Sergio Marchionne?
SV: I don’t think that’s fair from you to say. One is the comments we give in the press but we are aware just how big he has been, not just for our team, but for the whole group behind and obviously knowing him he was a big supporter of Ferrari, of racing, and he was interested in going ahead and at some point you have to let things rest and look forward and I think that’s probably the way he wanted it to be and it’s probably a sign of respect, that you’re not trying to dig something up and especially in times like now, let things rest.
Q: (Alessandro Sala – Tercer Equipo) Question for the men in red, the first one to Sebastian. If this year you should be World Champion, we should read next year ‘my five titles’ biography? And for Kimi, both Ferraris first row, at the beginning of the first variante, which should be your move if you are side-by-side with Sebastian?
SV: I’m not planning to write a book. I’m not sure I can compete with Kimi. I haven’t read it because it’s in Finnish but… yeah… I mean. If that would be an idea for the headline, obviously that would be great if it happens to be like that but there’s a lot of would and should and could. So, not interested at that point. Yeah, as I said, I don’t think my book is as exciting. Maybe need to wait more years.
Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Sebastian, given the advantage you enjoyed at Spa, is it something you think Mercedes can come back from – or do you think you’re going to hold that power advantage to the end of the season?
SV: Well, first of all, I find it quite nice that we get put in this position. I think people forget that maybe for the last five years, Mercedes has been absolutely dominant, especially in terms of power unit, and obviously, it’s nice from them to put us in that position because it means they believe they are not the strongest any more. So, it’s good to be up there with them and be a match but I don’t think we can take anything for granted. I don’t think we are anywhere near in the place they have been in the last years. So, I think we have to work hard to make things happen, and we are determined to work hard this weekend to put ourselves in the same position again, that we have a great pace in the weekend and especially in the race on Sunday.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globoesporte.com) To Sebastian and Kimi, it’s more or less in the line of your last answer, Maurizio Arrivabene said that it’s very important for Ferrari to push Mercedes, they are not used to it over the last four years at least – but it’s also true that many people believe you have the best car, and many Italians say Ferrari has a great chance of being World Champion this year. If you go outside you hear this from many Italians. You feel this pressure that will exist?
SV: Not really. We know our car best and I think we have a lot of people on board telling us how good our car is on which point of the track, at which point of the year, similar to other teams. I think we know what’s going on. We know we have a great car. I think we have a good car that seems to have worked so far on more or less every track. Some better, some a little but worse but I think we are aware we have a good package but we cannot rest on that. I think we need to make it happen. Kimi and myself in the car, all the engineering crew at the track, everybody back in Maranello to try to put everything together. So, I don’t think you can compare to maybe the position other people have been in years ago. It doesn’t matter, I’m also not keen to compare because we’re looking forwards and we want to do our thing. As I said, looking forward to getting in the car. It’s a great feeling when you step inside the car and you know that you can fight for first position, for the podium, for victory on Sunday. That’s what you want as a driver but for the rest I think it’s healthy not to overthink.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Question for the two Ferrari drivers. Everyone’s talking about the engine improvement this year but it has been a collective growth from the team. Maybe not necessarily from last year but especially if you look back to 2016 when there wasn’t the progression from ’15 to ’16. So if you look at the work from 2016, how much has the team changed? Is it as much down to the way the team has reworked its structure as well as obviously improvements on the engine side.
SV: Well, I think 2016 was a key year for us. Obviously it wasn’t great in terms of performance, especially after ’15, we finished second in the Constructors’, you naturally want to be closer, a lot closer and we were not. We lost a place. But I think in terms of setting ourselves up for the future ’16 was the most important year so far – at least since I’m with the team. Obviously ’17 we had a rule change that helped us to use that restructuring in general that’s been going on. I think we, since then, have been able to improve on all fronts. Whether it’s the car, the development throughout the season to keep the pace up; whether it’s engine power and its components. So, I think things are going in the right direction but I think the opponent that we had years ago was very , very strong, still is very, very strong but y’know it’s good to see we are getting stronger and, in some areas, maybe caught up. In some other areas maybe have a little bit of an edge. In the end that’s where we want to be – and beyond that. I think that’s our ambition: to be up there and to be at least on the level so we can fight for it and to keep that level throughout the year, and if there’s a gap then to increase that gap. I think that things are looking in the right way but saying that, we still have a lot of things that we can improve, and still have potential that can be unleashed, a lot of processes that I think can be improved, so we have to work and focus on those and go step-by-step.
Q: (Jonathan McEvoy – Daily Mail) To Seb. Lewis made some remarks after the last race about that he couldn’t explain how fast your … how fast you were. Would you… I mean presumably you take this opportunity to say that everything in the Ferrari is above board and legal and b) does that give us a glimpse into Lewis’ mindset that he’s not quite sure how to deal with the Ferrari and the strength of it at the moment?
SV: I don’t know. I think you need to ask him but I think he said in the press conference something with tricks – but then I think he said quite many times as well that he doesn’t want it to be interpreted in the wrong way and I think – maybe he did – I’m not so sure but for all us, in terms of is the car legal or not, there’s the FIA responsible for it and I think we have several checks throughout the weekend to prove that. So as long as I don’t hear anything from that front then I believe it’s fine. Same for the others. So, as I said, maybe it’s more a question for him. And for us, it’s to keep out head down. If there’s something like momentum, then to use that momentum to make sure we go forwards.
Q: (Ian Parkes – New York Times) Question to Seb and Kimi. Given the performance in Belgium from Ferrari, and given the comments that emanated from both Mercedes and Lewis post-race, do you think you have Mercedes worried for the first time in five seasons, for the rest of this season. And, if so, how can you play on that and make it to your advantage.
SV: To be very honest with you, I don’t feel anything related to Mercedes. I feel Ferrari, and especially this weekend – and that’s what I want to enjoy. I don’t know in which state or mind they are. I think, y’know, we are obviously up against the best if you fight for the front positions. And Mercedes have proven to be the best over the last years. I think they have been for many reasons. What we want to do, obviously, is to beat them – so we need to be better than them. I think that’s what we need to focus on. In which shape they are, and so on, I think it’s more for them to answer. As I said, this weekend, I don’t feel anything with Mercedes. I feel Ferrari – so looking forwards to that.
Q: (Alessandro Bucci – ItaliaRacing.net) A question for each driver. Which is, or which are, your favourite Italian Grands Prix during your career.
SV: Personal one, obviously 2008. I don’t think that… well, we’ll see, maybe there is a chance that something better comes up but when it comes to my racing here, I think 2008, the first win ever, it always stands out to be something special. The way it happened as well. Then in memory, or what I’ve heard about I think the ’88 Grand Prix will never be beaten in terms of importance for this country, for the tifosi, for racing here. And I remember, was there a race with three cars finishing close to each other? Was it the tightest finish? Five cars? That must have been a great race. I wasn’t there, obviously. By a long way! None of us what – but I think that must have been a great race to watch and follow. And then, as I said, the ’88, what it meant, obviously for Ferrari.