Q: Congratulations, great victory. Sebastian Vettel, congratulations, second place. It’s been a difficult weekend for you, but you have to be happy with that result in the end as you try to find some way to beat these Mercedes guys.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, it was obviously a tough race to manage. You know in Monaco something can always happen and today something happened. I thought we had a good stop but Max had an incredible stop. I saw them touching in the pit lane. I thought there was a good chance for me, obviously we could capitalise on Valtteri’s puncture, which was a shame for him, but from there we tried to stay there, we tried to put the pressure on. Obviously with Max’s penalty after that we tried to always stay in range. I struggled a little bit towards the end of the race. I wanted to put a bit of pressure on myself but I struggled with my rear tyres. I don’t think I had any graining. I think Lewis and Max were in a worse position managing the tyres, but mine were just not getting hot. I don’t know. It was obviously a great result for us and great for the team. But we know we have a lot of work to do, we know that we are not yet quick enough compared to these guys, so plenty of work. Finally, today is obviously about the winner, so congrats to Lewis, but even more so about Niki. He would be happy today. He will always be around. We will definitely miss him. I think he has been an icon in the past and he will be in the future. My thoughts are with his family and with him.
Q: Well done. Sebastian, starting fourth in Monaco and finishing second, is that a satisfactory result today?
SV: Yeah, certainly obviously we didn’t quite expect that, but the way the race went we were able to benefit from mistakes other people made. Obviously Valtteri got squeezed in the pit lane and then had a puncture and we were able to get that position and with the penalty Max had it was just about to stay in range. Two laps to go I had, I think, Antonio Giovinazzi, and I didn’t quite know if he would let me go, and I lost like two and a half seconds. So I was thinking, ‘I’m queuing here the whole race’, because I could see that Lewis was struggling, ‘and all of a sudden you lose three seconds’, and it was obviously the target to stay within these five seconds, but it wasn’t a problem until the end. Good result, but not a good weekend for us. Obviously to lose one car yesterday in Q1 and I’m not sure what happened today with Charles, but it’s always difficult when you start further back. So not the luckiest race for us as a team, but I think the lesson from here is that we are not yet where we want to be, the pace isn’t there. I think today we sort of tumbled into second place. So we did everything we could but certainly we didn’t have the pace to put the pressure on and go for a bit more.
Q: I was going to ask you about that. You have at least ended the Mercedes run of one-two finishes but what are the key lessons that Ferrari takes away from this weekend and the first six races this season?
SV: Well, pretty similar with the last couple of races. We had one race where performance was standing out and we were quite strong. But I think where we are… I saw that Valtteri was faster but there was no way he was going to pass, as our straight line speed is really good. It’s just because overall we are lacking downforce, a weakness that we know. I don’t think the car is as bad as it looks. The results should be better here and there but it’s very difficult for us to get the car in the window where it is happy. Certainly when we get it in there we’re more competitive but still a way from where we want to be. That’s really the key lesson: we need to focus on trying to get the car short-term more in that window. Looking forward for the next three, four, five races, obviously make sure we improve the car, put more grip onto the car so that we can go faster, simple as that. But that guy seems to hide fairly well. I don’t know exactly where he is right now, so if you find him, or if you’ve got his number, that grip guy, but we’ve been looking for him for a while. I don’t think there are any secrets we will be able to unveil. As usual, attention to detail and a lot hard work is the only way to get us up.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – AP) Question for Lewis. Toto was speaking on television after the race and he said he thinks only you can drive like that: a race from a World Champion for a World Champion who’s no longer with us. How highly does this performance rank amongst your wins, given the difficulties that you had. You had that pole position in Singapore last year which was probably your best pole position. In terms of a drive, how high does this rank amongst yours.
LH: I don’t know. How many races have I done? Have I hit 300 yet? 250 or 280 or whatever it is, I don’t remember every single one of them, I’m sure if I was to watch back whatever race it is, I think I can reminisce but often the wet races have always been some of the trickiest to have overcome but out of the 200+ there’s obviously going to be a good five to ten solid races that are up there. I do believe this has to be in the top five of the hardest races. I’ve got a poor memory but I think it’s the hardest race I’ve ever had.
SV: How many races do you remember? If you have a poor memory?
LH: I have the worst memory man! I don’t really remember much past the last race!
SV: Every race is the greatest race then! If you don’t remember the other ones!
LH: Definitely! That’s the great thing. It’s the first time every time. I still can’t believe that I managed to finish where I finished, if I’m honest. I don’t’ know how I did it today. There were just so many opportunities to make mistakes, so many opportunities to give up, so many opportunities to make an excuse. Ultimately the wrong tyre. It just seems to be one of those races where every time I come each year – which I love, like all of us do – something happens. Sometimes it goes OK, nine times out of ten it’s not, something’s thrown at me and it just doesn’t seem to work. It’s almost like I’m destined not to win here too often. I appreciate the couple that I’ve had – and today I was like: ‘I’m not letting go of this thing!’ I was holding on for dear life.
Sebastian were you worried about the road getting blocked or hoping that more would happen in front of you?
SV: I was surprised. Max must have an amazing pit stop first of all, because I think we were all just right behind each other and I came out just behind Valtteri but Max jumped him, so he had a better stop than both of us. But then there was nowhere to go. I was worried actually, because some of the guys further down the pit lane were, not panicking, but they did really well the mechanics of – I don’t know what it’s called now, it’s not Force India… Racing Point! Sorry! Clearing the hoses and giving way to two cars, yeah, not sure Max saw that Valtteri was really side-by-side but it was just getting closer and I could see it coming.
LH: I’m sure he did!
SV: Yeah, but Valtteri had no place to go, but yeah, I thought maybe there’s something I can benefit, which turned out to be the case. Valtteri was lucky, I guess the lead pack had such a big margin to the cars behind that he had eventually another free pit stop – but it’s not ideal, obviously, it could have ended his race there.
Q: (Daniel Horvath – Racing Line) Lewis and Sebastian: Max got a five second penalty for an unsafe release which is obviously not the driver’s mistake. Do you think there should be another type of penalty applied for scenarios like that or is it OK as it is now?
SV: I don’t know. Obviously here is a tricky one to call because you have no space in the pit lane so… I’m not a fan of penalties in general but then you need to find some way of limiting some of the actions, obviously. It was close with some of the hoses if the pit lane is not designed to have two cars fighting each other. Yeah, I don’t know. I’m sure they looked at it again and again and again From behind, it looked like Max should have left more space but as I said, this small decision… I don’t know if Max was ahead, so I don’t know if it was necessary to squeeze Valtteri so much. I don’t know if there was something in front of him. I can’t see that much beyond his car but as I said, in general I’m not a fan of penalties but I’m sure they had to obviously look at it and that’s what they decided, so fair enough.
Q: (Mikko Hyytia – Iltalehti) Valtteri, there’s a hockey game again tonight. Is it a way for you to maybe get rid of this disappointment and if Lewis doesn’t have any plans for tonight, maybe he can join you watching?
LH: I definitely won’t play hockey with him!
VB:… to join because I’ve eight Finnish friends at my apartment. They’ve probably been drinking for three days now.
LH: I’ve heard that they can’t keep up with the Finnish.
SV: I heard the fire brigade before we came in, they showed that your apartment…
LH: I probably wouldn’t make the next race if I go and drink with all the Finnish guys.
VB: For sure it’s going to be a hockey night. Finland is playing for the gold against Canada and yeah, we’re going to be cheering, thank you, and they can save the day, so hopefully they get a win and then we have a bit of a celebration.
SV: I hope Finland wins, because then maybe they don’t let you into Canada!
VB: That’s nice! Maybe I will have less fans in Canada. We’ll see.
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Sebastian, Mattia was saying that for you to win they need to give you a better car. Your last win was Belgium some 14 races (ago).
SV: Who’s counting?
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) He’s said ‘we need to give Sebastian a better car for him to perform to the best of his ability.’ Do you agree with that or do you think you should also perhaps be doing better? Where do you put the share of responsibility, so to speak?
SV: Well, I’m part of the team so I don’t put myself above. I’ve had some difficult moments this year where I’m fighting the car, I’m not really entering yet to the level where I feel a lot more comfortable and I feel comfortable to squeeze out more performance from the car but I think it’s linked to the fact that we struggle to put our car in the right window. Once it is there, it is feeling better and you’re able to build up on that but it doesn’t happen very often but it’s a combination of things. I think first we are lacking overall performance and that overall performance would help us probably to put the tyres more often in the window they would like to be in. I think it’s not a secret, by now, after six races that these tyres this year seem a bit more critical to get exactly into that window…
LH: …phone call.
SV: Hang on. You’ve been giving the longest answers.
LH: I wasn’t saying you’re talkative. I just said we have a phone call. Do you remember that phone call we have to do.
SV: I remember. I was finishing quickly. Umm. Where was I? Anyway, I think it’s not been the easiest and straightforward ride so far but I feel that there’s more potential in this car, there’s more potential in the team and as I said, I’m part of the team so I’m flattered by what he’s trying to say but I think we need to stick together, we need to work hard and even if it would be nice to flip a coin and turn things around, probably for everybody’s sake except those two guys, it’s not going to happen overnight. We need to work hard and pay a lot of attention to small things, to details in order to get closer and once we are matched I think we can put a lot more pressure on them. I will have a lot closer races but currently we are sitting too far away, behind Mercedes and probably a match on average with Red Bull is not where we want to be.