2014 British Grand Prix Qualifying Press Conference
1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
2 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing)
3 – Jenson BUTTON (McLaren)
Nico, a very dramatic conclusion to that qualifying session. Right at the end you took pole position. Were you surprised by how much the track improved, particularly in the final sector, right at the end, after we'd had that rain?
Nico ROSBERG: Yeah, I mean, a quite crazy qualifying, just changing all the time and that makes it very, very difficult. In the end last qualifying also. On he first lap with the soft tyres it started to rain quite a lot, just in the last three corners, so lost a lot of time there and then everywhere else it was quite wet also on the in-lap, so I was sure, I told the guys already “that’s it”. And then we were sitting in the box and we just came to a general conclusion: “might as well go out and have a look at the track”. At least… because if you don’t have a look, there’s no chance but if you have a look there’s a tiny chance, so at least go out and have a look. It seemed like we should give it a go but even then I still didn’t believe that the track would be better. But what made it was the last sector, because everywhere on the track was just a little bit slower, because it was just damp here and there and a little bit wet. But I knew that I had lost four seconds on the previous lap, so even if I was slower than that lap, I still had the chance of going a lot quicker in those last three corners if it was halfways dry and that’s the way it turned out: I made the time in those last corners because it a lot drier and it just worked out perfectly. Even across the line, in Lewis’ gearbox – because I had to be there because otherwise it went red. I had to be as fast as possible in order to be able to do that last lap. So as I crossed the line it went red, like instantly, it was a very, very close call. I think all in all it was a very good team-mate effort; everybody working together, my engineers, together with me just made all the right calls and it worked out. It’s fantastic to have such a qualifying, where everything goes well in the end and a comfortable pole in the end. It’s awesome.
Very well done. Well, if it was a bonus for Nico, you actually had to do a lap didn’t you Sebastian, because you didn’t have a time on the board when you went out at the end there, so you were down in 10th place. What was going through your mind as you were going round the circuit? Did you think your goose was cooked?
Sebastian VETTEL: Well, to be honest at the start of Q3 we went out, I think one of the last cars. And on my out lap, just preparing the flying lap, it started to rain, so I got that wet last sector to start the lap and obviously then there was no point, we aborted the lap, because at that time it was impossible to set a decent time on slick tyres. Then we were back in the garage waiting and we said “OK, we might as well go out. If we go out on inters it will be difficult to beat the lap times that were set, so we go out on dry tyres.” We were one of the first to go out for one flying lap in the end. It was quite difficult to believe on the out lap that it would be dry enough but it’s a funny place. It was a very weird session. A lot of rain, no rain, drizzling, very fine rain, nearly like spray: I think England is the only country where you can get this sort of rain and conditions and changing so quickly. Incredibly difficult to know what was coming so on the flying lap you approach turn one and turn on is a pretty big balls corner, so it’s difficult to know how much risk you can take. Eventually you have to take some risk because, especially in my case, I wanted to set a lap. So obviously very happy that it turned out. Yeah, very positive and starting from the front row tomorrow.
Very well done. And you Jenson? Changeable conditions as Sebastian was saying and you were there or thereabouts throughout the qualifying session as the lap times went up and down. How happy are you with the result you’ve achieved today?
Jenson BUTTON: Like you cannot believe. I know it’s only a third in qualifying but for us at the moment, and for the last 18 months, this is… well, we had no chance of getting this result. Yeah, it’s nice in front of the home crowd to qualifying well and all the way through qualifying, as you said, the pace was there. No compared to the Mercedes, but with everyone else the pace was there. When I did my lap in Q1 on the option tyre in the dry I was about two seconds quicker than anyone when I did it. Made the mistake of losing the rear in the last corner, so it was disallowed. I thought I was going to be out, so to come through and be third in Q3 is a good result for today and I’m really happy that I could do it here in front of the home crowd.
Coming back to you Nico, obviously you’re on pole with your team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton down in sixth place going into the British Grand Prix tomorrow. Your thoughts on the race?
NR: Yeah, of course, with regards to the championship, it’s good for me that Lewis is down in sixth. It will take him some time I think to fight through, though I expect him to come through quite quickly. And then I think very like we’ll be racing each other again. We seem to very quick here. This track really suits the car, more so than Austria, so I think it’s going to be a good battle again. Of course starting from pole is the best possible place and I’m very confident for the race.
Q: Nico, clearly a day like today it’s very easy to get it wrong and there are plenty of examples of that up and down the field. The track was fluctuating by as much as eight seconds a lap with rain and drying out. What are the most important things to take care of on a day like today?
NR: The way to go about it is to try to minimize the rise, especially with the car that we have y’know? We have such a fast package so really we just need to try to make sure we don’t have any big risks, even if then it doesn’t turn out to be the perfect qualifying and the perfect day. And that, I think, we did very well. Definitely tried to eliminate all the big downfalls and it all worked out well. It wasn’t perfect but it worked out really, really well. Everything came together so it was great to be on pole.
Q: Sebastian, you’ve been on the wrong end of this once or twice in the past so you know how it works but how much does the driver contribute to the decision-making process and how much of it is the strategists, your engineers and even people back at the factory?
SV: You would love that the pitwall was in a better place today, trying to predict the rain. I think it was impossible because it was very local. It could have rained every minute and could have stopped raining as we’ve seen. Difficult to predict and therefore it’s you inside the car obviously trying to get the best out of the tyres and the conditions when you’re on track and obviously together with your team trying to be calm on the radio and going for the right decisions. In the end there’s also the element of looking what the others are doing and trying to make sense of whether or not it makes sense to do the same. But it’s very tricky because, as I said, if you take our Q3, the first run, we went out just probably a minute later than everyone else and we didn’t get a lap at all. That’s how close the lap can be sometimes. You try obviously to go for a clear track but then you get caught out by rain. It’s tricky in these conditions to get everything right – so you need also to be a bit lucky.
Q: Jenson, it’s also a question of risk versus reward isn’t it? You mentioned that you were one of the first to go onto the slick tyres earlier on in the qualifying. It was the right time for that. We saw Ferrari and Williams at the wrong time and they’re starting from the back of the grid but did today, the track limits ruling, make things a little bit more complicated given how slippery it was out there.
JB: It did, yeah, because you could make a massive mistake and lose a second by going off the circuit and still put in a really good lap time to get through Q1, Q2. So, it made it really difficult. And obviously my Q1 lap quick enough by quite a long way but it was disallowed because I drove off the circuit in the last corner – but the whole of the qualifying session I felt that I could read the conditions pretty well. And then it came to Q3 and the last timed lap, which obviously meant everything. I said to the guys on the radio, “I’ve got wheelspin in fifth gear in a straight line.” I said: “this isn’t gonna happen,” and they said: “Just push, we’ve got nothing to lose.” We’re in a very different position to Nico. We have to take the risks to gain the positions at the moment. So, I pushed. Very aggressive lap but it worked. Big thanks to the team for their call. And being third here in front of the home crowd, on this weekend, this year, really means a lot. I’ll go to bed very happy tonight and look forward to the race tomorrow.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Goldschmidt – Richland F1) Jenson, coming back to the discussion between yourself and Lewis on Thursday, you seemed to be the best hope for the British fans but obviously Lewis is going to come charging through the field. Depending on weather conditions, how do you see the outlook for tomorrow?
JB: I’ve made the race easier than previously thought but still we have to be realistic. I want to be upbeat, I want to be positive about fighting for a podium. If it’s like today that’s obviously a possibility with mixed conditions. As long as we make the right calls and the right strategy it’s possible. But in a dry race. A standard dry race, it’s going to be very, very tricky but, believe this, we will give one hundred per cent and get the maximum out of what we have this weekend and hopefully have a great result in front of the British fans.
Q: (Chris Medland – crash.net) Nico, you talk about the psychological edge you’re looking to get over Lewis and he’s starting to make quite a few errors in qualifying sessions which has always been a strong point for him. Do you feel that that’s part of the psychological edge you’re getting now?
NR: I’ve never talked about trying to get a psychological edge over anything, not at all. What I’ve been saying is that at the moment the momentum seems to be on my side and I just need to make the most of it because it comes and goes and I have a period now when it’s going my way and I just need to make sure I get as many points as possible on Lewis and it’s working out at the moment. But anyway, today’s just qualifying, there’s no points for qualifying and with the car that we have, even from sixth place, everything’s still possible, but of course it’s a big advantage to start first.
Q: (Haoran Zhou – Formula One Express) Nico and Sebastian, obviously 26.5s in the last sector for both of you, there’s only four corners in the last sector. When did you realise that there’s a lot of grip there?
NR: Well, it was very wet on the previous run in Q3, where we lost like four seconds in the last sector so as long as it’s a little bit dry patches and a little bit drier already you can gain a lot of time and on the out lap there was a chance, and then once I got round to the fast timed lap, I could brake quite late into there and it was quite dry so it was quite quick through there and that made a massive difference.
SV: Yeah, on the out lap it was quite slippery but then when I started the timed lap I could feel that most of the track was nearly completely dry, so arriving in the last sector after the long straight I just said, yeah, all or nothing and treated it as if it was dry. It wasn’t entirely (dry) in turn 15, I went a little bit wider than I thought but for the rest... for the last three corners it was quite completely fine.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Nico, you said you had to start the lap directly behind Lewis. First, how much time did it cost you in the first two sectors, where did you pass him and what did you think when you saw Lewis pulling into the pits?
NR: Well of course I was disappointed, starting the lap behind Lewis because if I’m in his gearbox, that doesn’t allow me to do my pace so I was disappointed with that, but I didn’t have a choice with the situation, with the way it was and just managed to get over the line before the red light came. I actually saw the red light but it worked out. I wasn’t sure but then it worked out and then Lewis made a mistake in turn four and after that he then pulled over so as not to block me and I just kept on pushing.
Q: (Chris Medland – crash.net) Jenson, you were asked about Ron’s comments on Thursday, asking for a bit more from you. Does that make this perfect timing in response, this sort of result?
JB: He’s watching this, I’m sure! One result doesn’t mean anything. We’ve obviously talked since and yeah, I think there’s mutual respect there but when we all want things to improve quicker than what they are, we maybe say things in the press that maybe we shouldn’t. We have a really good working relationship and I hope that that continues into the future.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) You just said that this result doesn’t mean anything, but anyway, thinking about your father, so far it’s a nice position, and talking about fathers, Nico, your father got pole position in ’85 in similar conditions here in Silverstone, so what are your feelings about that?
JB: For me it was obviously quite an emotional slowing down lap. As I’ve said before – as we always say – qualifying’s qualifying and the race is tomorrow, but when you do a lap that you’re happy with and it’s in front of your home crowd and I knew the Old Boy would have been very happy, it would have meant a lot. I’ve had so much support from the fans, it’s been overwhelming, a lot of guys wearing pink out there in respect to my Old Boy. Yeah, a good day today and he’s definitely smiling down today.
NR: Yeah, of course I’ve also been watching how many supporters, how many people have been wearing pink. Even in my camper van, my driver, he came with a pink shirt and I was like ‘what are you doing?’ He never wears pink and then he explained to me that everybody’s supporting John... in memory of John so that’s how I came across it this weekend. With respect to my Dad, yes, there was one of his great days here in qualifying in Silverstone, something that I’m proud of also. I like to look back at the history and what was happening back then but there’s not really too much to compare to nowadays.