F1 2019 · Japanese GP

FIA Sunday Press Conference – Japan (SV Quotes Only)

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Q: Well done Valtteri. Enjoy the evening. Sebastian, congratulations, I know after qualifying you put it on pole position, but I have to talk about the start – what happened? You moved and had to stop. Was that a mistake on your behalf?

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I mean the lights were on a long time, but it was my mistake, so I lost the momentum them. So I ended up worse than just having a poor start, it was a really poor start. Then it was difficult because Mercedes was quite quick in the race, especially at the back of the stint, they had more pace than us. Yeah, Valtteri was flying, literally, at the end of the first stint. Obviously Lewis tried to do one stop and I guess it didn’t work and in the end I knew that he would come out behind and I just paced myself around all the bits in the track where I could and just tried to get good exits in the places where he could be a threat. So that worked but, yeah, it was obviously a tough afternoon to then maintain second.

Q: Do you think if you hadn’t made that mistake at the start the win was possible?

SV: I don’t know, because then they can obviously play a lot more the tactics, so obviously that way they had one car comfortably in the lead and Valtteri was out… we weren’t a threat to him. But yeah I think with the lack of pace today, probably second was probably the maximum, but surely I’m not happy with the very first start of the race but after that it was fine, but as I said we just lacked a little bit of pace. But overall it’s been a positive day, everything packed in one day and to get pole and second today is reasonable. It’s a bit of a shame. I don’t know what happened to Charles, otherwise we could have maybe had both cars to challenge them a bit more.


Q: Very well done. Sebastian can we start at the start? What happened from your point of view?

SV: Well obviously I had a poor start so I lost quite a lot of momentum when the lights go off. A mistake on my side. I had it in my hands, literally, to perform a good start – normally starts are really strong – but obviously today we didn’t get it right. I don’t know what happened to Charles but we both missed out on the start maybe for different reasons. After that we knew it was going to be a difficult race. Overtaking isn’t straightforward here and obviously in terms of pace it was very difficult. We could see in the first stint that Valtteri was just quicker, especially towards the end, and then Lewis was catching. He was basically very close to me when we pitted, so I think overall we got the strategy right to stay ahead. I don’t know if… maybe they didn’t get it entirely right. But not the day we wanted if you start first and second. I don’t know where Charles finished. Sixth? Did he? So second and sixth.

Q: Were you concerned about getting a penalty for the start?

SV: I don’t know. Not really. Obviously I had a very poor start in general…

[Valtteri and Lewis laughter]

LH: You’re lying! Come on!

SV: No I didn’t. If you jump the start then obviously you get caught, so I think it was just fine.

Q: And Sebastian, we saw a thrilling battle between you and Lewis at the end of the race. How much did you enjoy that?

SV: I was surprised when they pitted to be honest. I expected him to stay out and try the one stop. Once I knew that.. also before, Valtteri was so far away and we were not fast and it was not possible to catch him, so when he came out I was not rushing to open the gap, I was just trying to keep my tyres somehow fresh to make sure that if he arrives then everything is still in good shape and I have the chance to have good corner exits and play the advantage we have down the straights, which worked. It got a bit close once with traffic but other than that I think it was quite good. I was quite quite happy when I saw the chequered flag. I didn’t want to do another five laps like that. But I knew obviously in the places where you can’t pass I can take it easy to try to maintain the tyres a little bit.


Q: (Jens Nagler – Bild) Two questions for Seb: how did you enjoy the battle against Lewis and secondly, if I’m correct, there’s not chance whatsoever now to clinch the title for you so is Mexico the first step of the next attempt?

SV: Well, obviously not happy with the fact that we didn’t have the year that we were looking for but it’s not today that made the difference, not yesterday, not last week or… Obviously it’s been a long year and it’s still going so… I don’t think we’re lacking anything. I think we just need to work better. I think we are very committed, working very hard but it’s not yet on the level that can be achieved. Obviously Mercedes have shown that in the last years that you can do better and they’ve been able to maintain that. I think we are not in that position, but I’ve loved to be honest and I’m sure that we would be more enthusiastic by nature but that’s not the case so we need to work better. As I said, I think we don’t need to work harder but I think we need to work better. The first one: yeah, I enjoyed it but obviously I knew that I was a bit of a sitting duck because I was quite slow in the corners and very fast on the straights, so I just tried to play my advantage and that worked. I’m sure that Lewis didn’t enjoy that as much but in the end it was key to… or we tried as hard as we could to stay ahead despite being slower at the end so that’s good but overall we had a great chance today, starting first and second. Obviously after the first couple of meters that advantage was gone but after that we knew that it would be difficult from where we were to turn it around and we saw in the first stint that we just couldn’t go with them, especially at the end they were a lot stronger. So as I said, there’s still room for improvement. It doesn’t start in Mexico – next year;  next year starts next year so whatever we can learn this year, I think we’ve learned a lot about our car, the weaknesses, we’ve improved it but we’re still not there so… We’ve had a strong couple of races but overall I think we’re still a little bit behind.

Q: Sebastian, you say you’ve learned a lot about yourselves; what have you learned about Mercedes this year?

SV: It’s very difficult, obviously you can’t see what they are doing but I think from the outside they are very close to perfection every time they go out on track so very consistent, very little mistakes. That’s certainly also part of what makes them  so strong but yeah, if you clinch the Constructors title with four races to go there’s a lot of things you do better than all the others. If you go into detail then you can argue what their car is maybe doing better than ours but I don’t think that’s the point overall, it’s a team effort and as I said, I think we do have the ingredients, we do have the commitment, we do have the intelligence but we just need to do it better. It’s a lot of small things; it’s not one thing that we need to improve, it’s a lot of small things that we need to do better, every single one of us and that’s the only way that we can try and step up. Hopefully they get a bit bored, we will see what happens.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, are you kicking yourself now that you did make that stop or are you thinking maybe I could have got to the end of the race on those tyres? Question to the other two drivers: if you were in that same situation, you’re leading the race, you’ve got 22 laps to go, would you have risked it and stayed out? Final question: Sebastian, who’s going to win the title out of these two guys here?

SV: Yeah, I think Valtteri has said pretty much it. It depends a lot on how you feel with the tyres so I don’t know whether Lewis was talking with the team and asking to stay out or what were the options, but if you get the call out then you trust the team and you come in. And the second one is that Lewis will win it. Doesn’t matter which race. I don’t think it matters for him, does it? It wouldn’t matter to me. 


Source: FIA 

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