F1 Indian Grand Prix - Saturday Post-qualifying press conference.
DRIVERS 1 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing) 2 – Mark WEBBER (Red Bull Racing) 3 – Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren)
Sebastian, you’ve had a fantastic weekend so far: fastest in all three practice sessions and now on pole position: it couldn’t be a better start to your championship bid could it? Sebastian VETTEL: Ah, well, first of all it was a tight session. I think especially in the end. My first run, I did a mistake in Turn Four and had to abort the lap, so that was not as per plan. Before that obviously we had, yeah, quite a good qualifying session, so we decided to go obviously for another run and had only one set of tyres left. Fortunately I get the lap together and was very happy with the lap itself. Here and there potentially could have been a bit faster, especially around Turn Four because this time I made sure I’m not locking up the fronts but yeah, all in all, it was a great weekend so far, no problems with the car. I think the boys have been pushing extremely hard. We had lots of feedback from the factory as well which was very helpful from yesterday to today, so thanks as well to those guys there. We have to keep pushing obviously. I think we have a lot of races to go, important races, but the best chance of doing well is to focus on every single step. Today was qualifying. I think we got a very good result and now we look forward to the race.
Obviously pole position last year and you won last year, as I say you’ve had an extraordinary weekend so far and you’re three places ahead of your main championship rival Fernando Alonso. SV: You know the races these days: you know that a lot of things can happen so I don’t think that means a lot. Obviously I’m very happy to be on pole; it’s the best possible position to start and I think if you ask those two [MW and LH] they would like to start in that position, so yeah, I’m very happy with that but there’s a hard race coming up tomorrow. I think we had a bit of a surprise on Friday in terms of long runs; everyone was quite competitive and tyres seemed to last reasonably well so we’ll see what that means for strategy tomorrow.
Mark, fourth time you’ve been second on the grid so far this season. Could you have been on pole? Mark WEBBER: As Seb said, it wasn’t the smoothest session for him and I think also the same for me. The lap itself wasn’t too bad, last corner got onto the Astroturf a bit on the exit, so for sure didn’t have the cleanest run to the start/finish line so that was disappointing. But I’m driving the car. I did my best, it was close, as you say a pretty tight run thing between both Seb and I and then I didn’t get to do my last attempt. Obviously the McLarens doing very slow outlaps to get their tyres ready for the lap which is different to us and I had no grip in the first sector, so the build lap was… I didn’t get to do my second attempt, which would have been nice but anyway I was surprised to end up second, to be honest, but I’ll take that and we can have a good race from there tomorrow.
Obviously a good one-two for Red Bull Racing. MW: Yeah, very good. As Seb touched on, I think the way the factory has helped us this weekend has been incredible. Milton Keynes has really been pushing hard, even though they’re not here they are with us in terms of work ethic and also for the team and the guys on the floor here. Obviously it’s not the easiest environment to work in, not in terms of temperature but in terms of other challenges and everyone’s getting through that pretty well. So far, so good, and today’s job’s done, tomorrow we’ll wake up with a new day.
Lewis, only your second time third on the grid so far this season. Are you happy with that third? Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, absolutely. The team have done a great job this weekend in just trying to dial the setup in the car. To have us on the second row, I mean we’re not quick enough to be ahead of these guys, but we can definitely challenge them in the race. I think our race pace was just as good as theirs through practice, so excited about that.
Sebastian, it was interesting to see the number of mistakes that have been made by all sorts of drivers, admittedly you had your own little error, up until then it seemed to be completely mistake free but it seems to be very difficult on that circuit. SV: First of all we started the weekend much better than last year, the circuit was in much better shape, I think they did a very good job in trying to clean the circuit so I think it was ready from practice one so that was very positive. Still around here there’s a lot of track improvements so in every session it just seems to get faster. Obviously when everyone puts on new tyres in qualifying then it gets even more quicker. Up to the point of Q3 we were very happy with the car and as you said had no mistakes. The first lap in Q3 wasn’t perfect: I locked my front right into Turn Four, I think I was just a bit too greedy under braking and it didn’t come back, so it didn’t stop locking and I went a bit straight, so I had to abort the lap because I’d lost too much time. And yeah, focus on the second attempt, which fortunately was fine. I was very happy, this time braking a bit too early for Turn Four but all in all it was a very good session for us, the car was fantastic. As we touched on earlier, the support we had from the factory, from Milton Keynes, was incredible, so big thank you to the guys there. I think we improved the car from yesterday. We had a couple of new bits, so seemed to be able to make another step forward so yeah, we have to keep pushing. Today is obviously a good result from us, first and second on the grid, one and two, but tomorrow is the main exercise with the race. I think the McLarens are very quick, went very quick in the long run yesterday, as well as the Ferraris. So, I think it will be a close race, also in terms of strategy it could be a surprise. We’ll see what happens.
Pirelli have said there’s a possibility of someone running a one-stop strategy. Can you see that Mark, not necessarily for yourselves? MW: Well I don’t know how accurate they’ve been in the past but we can listen to them but we know come Sundays things can change, so we don’t get too wound-up with what Pirelli might say to be honest, because it’s changing on Sunday, even amongst all the teams. So we’re going to focus on what we think is the best on the day. Of course we take their advice but it’s not a bible. So, let’s see how the strategy goes. I think the car is working pretty well on Sunday conditions as well. Obviously today was a very, very strong performance from the whole team, to get the front row again for both of us was very good.
Do you have a specific role in the championship now, would you say? MW: No. My job is the same as it always has been: push to the limit and get the most out of what I have.
Lewis, you said you weren’t quite on the same pace as the Red Bulls but you must be pleased to be ahead of the Ferraris and third on the grid. LH: Third is a great position to start from so excited for tomorrow’s race, especially as our long-run pace seemed to be relatively good compared to the others. I think Ferrari potentially have slightly faster pace overall. Over all of us maybe but we don’t know what fuel they’re on. Otherwise we’re all very, very similar. Hopefully, if we can get a good start and have a good right with these guys in front, hopefully it’ll be a better race than the last one we did.
The last couple of races have been quite difficult haven’t they? LH: Yes, I’m just looking forward to a race where we don’t have any issues and can just fight for position and try and get some good points.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Question to the Red Bull drivers: how do you explain such domination for the last three races? And how happy are you to have the two McLarens between you and Fernando? SV: I will start with the second question; tomorrow is the race, today was qualifying, no points are scored today. Surely it's better to have him behind than in front. But I think we've seen a lot of different races this year; some races pretty boring, nothing happened; other races, pretty spectacular from the first to the last lap. I think tomorrow is going to be a long race, what sort of race we're going to find out but that's usually the exciting bit and that's why we are looking forward to the race as well. As I said, I'm very happy to be in the position that we are in but that's it. We go from there tomorrow.
Q: And how do you explain the domination? MW: The drivers! SV: Yeah.
Q: (Sudhir Chandran - Chequered Flag, India) Sebastian, can we now safely call this your de facto home Grand Prix? SV: It's a bit far away from my home country but I think I've liked this circuit from the first practice last year. Obviously last year was pretty special, to be the first winner here in India and to do it again this year is obviously the target. Let's see what happens tomorrow, but as I said, I like the circuit, I think it suits our car as well, it's pretty different in its characteristics, quite a slow sector to start with, with a long straight and then nice fast flowing corners towards the end of the lap. I think there are opportunities to overtake - hopefully we don't have to seize them tomorrow. As I said, let's see what happens.
Q: (Shridhar Potdar - Sakal Media) Sebastian, in Japan, when you won the race, we saw you patting the car like a horse. It's like a horse rider, after he finishes riding, he pats the back of the horse. This passion seems to be body and soul to you; is this passion the secret of your success? SV: First of all, the car is not a horse, so sometimes you might lose oil or fuel but I think the smell is nicer than what a horse drops! Obviously, you work together with your car. When we are out in qualifying on the circuit, in particular in qualifying or the race, we are obviously by ourselves. Sure we have contact with the team on the radio but it's between you and your car... There is obviously a special relationship because when you're out on track, you can't come in and make a change whatsoever, it's between you and the car. You're very happy when you cross the line in a very good position after you've done a good race and say thanks to the car but also the car is what connects you to your crew. Obviously I'm working with the car on the track, the crew is working with the car in the garage. We all share a passion and obviously try to achieve a common goal. Maybe it's just a nice gesture to say thanks.
Q: (Marco dell'Innocenti - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Seb, to have two McLarens behind you tomorrow may not be too comfortable for you, but for Fernando, it could be more difficult. Is this an advantage for you, to have this cushion, this pillow? SV: If, could, would, should? We have to focus on the start tomorrow, focus on ourselves. We cannot influence what the others are doing. Fernando could have been a second quicker today than everyone and there's nothing we could have done, apart from trying to mind our own business and trying to get the fastest lap we can, which I guess is everyone's exercise in qualifying. It's a long race tomorrow, a lot of things can happen and sure, if we are ahead, it's better than being behind.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Moto und Sport) Lewis, it seems that corners five and six were the problem today. You had a nice slide there. I think Sebastian went off in the same place; is there anything in particular or special with that corner today? LH: No, not really. I think this track is incredibly challenging for all of us. The more and more we drive it, the more and more we realise that, and that's what makes it a great circuit. Not everyone's able to get the first lap... it takes a lot of focus and it takes a lot to get a whole perfect lap together. That's a corner where you're pulling a lot of yaw, a lot of G and putting a lot of load on the tyres and it's very easy to... if you just touch the kerb or something like that you have an oversteer moment. You're always trying to gain time through there because it's quite an important part of the circuit, where you can gain time.
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