Q: Well done. Sebastian, you’re still smiling, so that’s good. In the end the Mercedes was just too strong a package on this race track. Did you expect it to be a little bit closer or did you have the signs already in free practice?
Sebastian VETTEL: I don’t know, to be honest. I enjoyed the session. In Q1 I thought it was rally tight, so I thought maybe we would have a word to say. In Q2 I thought Lewis put a really strong lap in on the harder tyres, and I thought ‘whoa, this is going to be difficult’. But then the first run in Q3 I rally had a good lap and it was very close again, but they must have had still some push in for the last run. I did improve, I think the track ramped up, but not enough to be a threat. But for tomorrow I’m quite confident and I think it is going to be a long race, so yeah, it’s going to be a fun race.
Q: It was great when I was talking with Valtteri, I could see you were talking with Lewis, Lewis has just gone and shaken hands with your mechanics – it’s been a tough rivalry but there has been respect throughout?
SV: Yeah, obviously one thing happens on track but off track I don’t see the reason why you can’t talk to each other or joke with each other. I enjoyed it, obviously it didn’t go my way; I guess he enjoyed it a little but more. Looking forward to getting in the car for the last time this year and challenging these guys and yeah, we’ll give it everything we have.
Q: Sebastian, how surprised are you by the pace of the Mercedes around here?
SV: Not surprised. I think they looked very competitive all weekend, so, I don’t know, qualifying, it’s been a bit up and down. Q1 looked very good for us. Q2 then probably was realistic. I think Lewis had a very strong lap on the ultrasoft. So, I think we tried everything, and gave it everything we had. After the first run didn’t look stupid at all. Was very close, half-a-tenth, I thought, was in reach but then the second run, obviously I crossed the line and… yeah… I was quite happy with the lap but it wasn’t enough and obviously dropped back to third. I guess there first run was probably not as strong as ours. The track did improve but it’s a long lap, so there’s a lot of lap-time to be found if everything works out. As I said, I was happy with our session. I think happy that we were able to get a strong lap in in Q2, which is important for tomorrow’s race. Would have liked to have been in the front row. It’s not the case but yeah, I said to the guys after the qualifying that we will fight as hard as we can tomorrow. I think, come race day, anything can happen. We’ve got good speeds in the straights. We are lacking a little bit of downforce in the last sector, I guess, so let’s see what we can do – but surely it’s going to be a long race.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport-Magazin.com) Two questions for you Seb. In Q2, you did the second run on the ultrasoft as well, so did you know you can improve somewhere, was it a big risk for you at that time? And the second one, yesterday, you weren’t that confident for the race pace. Today, you look a bit happier with race pace. Is it just the top speed advantage that makes you more confident for tomorrow?
SV: There’s a lot of questions in there! I think the car felt a bit better today. Probably the track came towards us as well. Usually throughout qualifying the track improves and you start to feel happier with the car. So I think we estimated the right direction and were able to follow the trend. I think yesterday we tried everything and obviously for us the hypersoft didn’t last so long, so we were quite confident that it’s not the race tyre, not the tyre we want to start the race on. Other people obviously had the same opinion and I knew in the second run that I had some lap-time to gain. I was held-up a little bit in traffic on the first lap and I knew it will be tight but I really wanted to start on that tyre. That’s why I was able, or was happy to take that risk.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Couple of questions; first one’s to Lewis: what is it, 52 poles now in a hundred races; you’ve won 50 races out of 99; phenomenal achievement, what do you put that success down to? Where do you think it’s going to stop and question to the other two, how do you stop him? How do you stop Lewis from steamrollering through these statistics?
SV: Well, I think Lewis summed it up fairly well, I think mentioning the word teamwork, I think that’s what it’s about. Obviously what you look at in terms of when you look in qualifying or the race, then obviously we are the ones driving the car and we are alone driving the car and when we cross the line you look at us first but there’s a lot of people behind to make sure that you do cross the line and if they do their job really really well and work together then you have a high chance of finishing higher up. So I think it’s needless to say that Lewis had an incredible run the last five years but I think since the day he joined Formula One until now, to be honest… you mentioned that it’s the fifth consecutive front row lock-out for Mercedes here – did you say that? – so it also proves that they’re doing a really good job as a team. I think for us, it’s not that easy because the challenge to beat such a strong team is difficult but that’s our target. I think we know where we want to go. A lot of work ahead of us, I think a lot of lessons to be learned again this year. Ultimately, I think we have 21 races, with the 21st coming tomorrow and in summary, we haven’t been strong enough this year to take the challenge until the last race, the last lap, so I think we need to look at ourselves. I think we have the people, we have the resources so it’s more getting the maximum out of our package, improving the work inside our team and making sure that we come up with a stronger package, a stronger team for the future.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Sebastian, you talked this year about the benefit that Ferrari has found Friday to Saturday with the work that the guys have done on the simulator, working through things back at base. Obviously for next year, both of those main guys, Kvyat and Giovinazzi, step into F1 race seats so need replacing. How important is it to have the right guys on the simulator and do you think that Ferrari have made more of that sort of benefit this season?
SV: Personally, I’m not a fan of the simulator because it’s just not fun. But you get the point, it is very important, it is an important tool. Based on our findings last night, we changed the car for today, both of us did and it was better and we were happier. It’s not the first time that this has happened so we’re extremely thankful for the guys, taking in the time because it’s not the nicest job on Friday night, especially when you’re young, but it’s important, it all adds up and again, Lewis summed it up fairly well when he mentioned the word teamwork and that’s what it is. Everybody plays his part and in the end we have the honour to have the steering wheel in our hands and drive the machine that we all try to create and reach out with performance. For next year, it’s true, we take a step but I think we will find people that fit in very well and very quickly so I’m confident we will have a strong team on that front as well next year.