Q: Sebastian, P3 on the grid. It was looking so good this weekend for you and Charles. An interrupted session. These guys just stole it at the end?
Sebastian VETTEL: I don’t know if they stole it. I think they were a bit quicker than us today. For me it started a bit slow. Towards the end it was getting better, but it was quite tricky. The session was very long, the sun is going down, the track cooled down, so it was difficult to get the right balance of pushing on the out lap and playing with tow, trying to get something. I had a good lap but I had no tow to close the lap, so that cost a bit. But happy that we sort of got the maximum out, but I’m not happy that overall from a team point of view we were expecting to have a better session, with Charles and myself closer to the front.
Q: Just give us an insight: how much can the tow be worth? You were obviously at the front of the queue but that gives you the best preparation but they obviously maximized it by gaining that [tow]?
SV: Well, it depends, but up to half a second. Then it’s always a compromise, as if you are too close in the middle sector you lose out, but I would say going with the other people, probably around three tenths. So yeah, it could have been a bit closer with somebody in front, but yeah, as I said, the track was getting cooler, the car was more difficult to drive and I prioritized to push on the out lap to have the tyres in the window when I started the lap. Now I sort of regret that I maybe didn’t take the gamble on, but I still think it was probably the right call.
Q: Sebastian, moving on to you, a similar sort of question. Were your chances affected at all by the fact there was only one Ferrari in Q3?
SV: Well, we would have loved to have two Ferraris in Q3 but I don’t think it makes a difference obviously. You try to find a sweet spot in the track, which is always tricky and you can see everybody is just waiting in the pitlane and doesn’t want to be the first one out. In the end I didn’t have a tow on my final lap, which cost some time in the last sector but it was quite tricky; the conditions were changing; because of the long qualifying session temperatures were dropping and yeah, I think it was even more important for me to feel the tyres and make sure they are there from the first corner. So, yeah, it was a difficult session but I think having one or two cars doesn’t necessarily make a difference. It’s trying to find that sweet spot. It’s a bit of a gamble always.
Q: You mentioned on the grid that you were happy with the lap that you produced in the circumstances – but after the final practice session, did you really expect Mercedes to be able to overturn the gap that yourselves had?
SV: Yeah, I think it’s been a trend that we are a bit faster in free practice compared to them, so I think it’s just down to doing things a bit differently but… yeah… certainly I struggled a bit in qualifying. It wasn’t straightforward this evening. So, mostly I think with the track changing, going with the conditions was quite difficult. Only in the end I think it started to come back. The last two runs, and especially the last run, seemed to be a bit more straightforward in Q3. Before that obviously it was key to make it through which, with the interuptions that we had, and the cleaning going on on the track, wasn’t the most straightforward thing. Certainly not happy from a team point of view because the pace looked really, really good in the practice sessions so far – yet we find ourselves behind those two again! But, tomorrow is a long race and I believe we have a better car with continuous laps.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport-total.com) Sebastian, you’ve had quite a moment in the same corner where Charles crashed a couple of moments before he did. Can you elaborate on just how close it felt from inside the cockpit?
SV: Well, you obviously try to go as close as you can here because it’s faster as close as you can to the wall. So, I don’t think you can seriously calculate the difference of a centimetre or two more or less. So, in the end, I think we all find ourselves in the same boat with some moments across the weekend where we think yeah, it could have gone wrong as well. I was surprised when I clipped a little bit the wall with the rear axle. Not much, but enough to upset the car – but I caught it, which was obviously crucial to carry on. But yeah, we had two incidences in the same corner now in qualifying – but there’s a lot of corners here where things can go wrong.
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Question to all three. Sebastian mentioned that it was a difficult and a long qualifying session. Qualifying has its own rhythm and you’re all used to it and prepared for it. How difficult was it keep the concentration and then have the rhythm with the two long interruptions we had today?
VB: Obviously sometimes it can be tricky but today it didn’t really seem to matter. When I was in the car and focussing on the lap it didn’t feel like we had a break. So, it’s all about trying to be on the moment. Don’t care if there was a 15 minute break or a two minute break.
Lewis, your thoughts on trying to keep the rhythm through a qualifying session that was so disjointed?
LH: I didn’t have a problem with the rhythm.
Seb, anything to add?
SV: Yeah, I think well done to those two for keeping the rhythm. Especially with doing a practice start in Q3 – that’s usually quite a rhythm-breaker – they did well.
SV: Just on about your fake starts in Q3. Did you do a start or did you just stop?
LH: We just dummied you basically!
SV: Well, did you do a start or did you just stop?
VB: Kind of. Clutch calibration…
LH: Definitely clutch calibration.
Q: (Zsolt Godina – F1vilag.hu) Sebastian, you said a few times that your car was working better in the winter testing. Do you think that something is missing, and if so, what do you think was the problem?
SV: Well, I think we are getting better at understanding where I think we are weak compared to Mercedes, so obviously the first couple of races have been difficult for us — the tracks have been varying, the conditions have been varying, but I think there’s a sort of pattern emerging. I think we were in a much better place here, considering that the corners here are fairly low speed. I think we are much more competitive but not yet there, otherwise the picture today would have been a bit different.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport): Seb, you mentioned the difficulty of the track temperature dropping when the session ran on. Yesterday — I know obviously we only had FP2 really — you were particularly strong in the middle sector, but maybe that fell away today. Do you think that was just down to track temperature? Is that where you felt you lost car performance today, just not adjusting to the lower track temperatures as well as the others maybe?
SV: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know how it felt for the others, but I think it was tricky for us with the track conditions, with the temperatures dropping. Obviously in sector two you have more so the corners, so it’s quite normal when you struggle with the car and don’t have the confidence around here, the place you lose most is sector two. I think it goes hand in hand. Other than that, I think the car was quite good today when we were in the right place, but it was difficult to get it in the right window.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport): Question to Sebastian. You started in Q2, like Charles, on the medium tyre, you gave it even another go then. Was it too much risk, were you forced into too much risk in order to make it in Q3 on that tyre?
SV: No, I don’t think so. I mean, we tried, it was clear to see, but obviously by then the track has dropped already and that didn’t make it easier, so it was quite tricky the first lap but I was quite confident that the second lap will be better, so yeah. Obviously I only started it and then I was right behind Charles when it happened, so yeah. I think it’s just a tricky place, I don’t think it’s down to tyres at that point. Obviously a shame that we lost one car, that we couldn’t go through. Especially he was very quick this weekend, so. Now we look forward to the race and I’m sure we can recover.
Q: Well Seb, you had a Finn as a teammate previously — have you seen a change with Charles as your teammate?
SV: Well, I think it’s normal — if you do a mistake, you’re not happy about it. Being critical I think is also the reason why he’s here, why we’re here. I don’t think anybody of us enjoys that part of our racing life, but every now and then it’s part of it, so. The weekend isn’t over yet, I think we have a good car, and I’m sure we can recover as a team tomorrow.