FIA post-qualifying press conference - Germany 11 Jul 2009
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1. Mark Webber (Red Bull), 1m 32.230s; 2. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP), 1m 32.357s; 3. Jenson Button (Brawn GP), 1m 32.473s
Q: Mark, there is only one question to ask you. A crazy, crazy session but tell us what it means finally to have your first pole position.
Mark Webber: It is a very special day for me to get pole. I have been close a few times in the past and also been on pole fuel corrected a few times but that doesnt count. Today we are here. The team have done a great job. We have been quick all weekend. We got really tested, all the teams and drivers, in that session. It was very, very chaotic but to have still delivered the lap time when it actually counted was important to me, so to do the best time was fantastic.
Q: What made the difference today for you?
MW: I think that obviously the car is working very well here but I was talking to my engineer and I was saying we were doing two time, one time, inters, wets. It was just so hard. The track conditions looked reasonably dry but the slicks just wouldnt take it at all. We learnt a little bit in Q2 with Rubens on that little window he had. He did a very good lap. I was out on the inters at that stage and it was just very chaotic to try and read what we needed for that last 10 minutes, so the key was three clean sectors for me in the end. That is what got me pole.
Q: Rubens, you are second on the grid but you look completely exhilarated. You loved that session, didnt you?
Rubens Barrichello: I did, I did. It was very, very nice and it is nice when you have the right tyres at the right moment. We all went on slicks but all came back as we saw (Felipe) Massa just going out into turn 12 and I think everybody just came back into the pits for the intermediates. I was on my timed lap when I decided that is not the right tyre, lets gamble a little bit more and I came in. I had no reply on the radio. It was really chaotic on the radio. There was a big confusion but then they were ready for me. I put the right tyres on and I was safe with the third place. It was a really nice session.
Q: Jenson, you had to abort a few laps that session. Tell us how hard it was for you?
Jenson Button: Yeah, it is great for everyone who is in the top ten. That Q2 session was madness. It was good fun and we are struggling with tyre warm up anyway but when you chuck a little bit of water in there as well it is quite difficult. It is great to see Rubens and myself up here in the top three. Mark got his first pole position, so congratulations to him. Tomorrow is going to be an interesting one. The weather is looking similar to today, so it is going to be wet dry, wet dry. It is a little bit of luck but also looking at what other people are doing and trying to make the best out of the situation, so I am looking forward to it very much.
Q: Mark, it is a fantastic performance but how do you keep your head in a situation like that and making sure you are making the right decisions at the right time?
MW: Well, obviously you call on your experience. Obviously you have got a great team of people around you as well. They are on the pit wall and making the right calls for you. They have obviously got a lot of experience at looking at what the other cars are going through. These are the best drivers in the world, so we know when people are making mistakes that it is obviously for a reason, the wrong tyre, so we have got to stick with the decisions we make and believe in them and then just go out and try and do the best you can as you know everyone is in a little bit of trouble in those conditions, so you just do the best job you can.
Q: First pole today. First win tomorrow?
MW: I hope so. I hope so. I am in a fantastic position to do it. These guys are in a strong position and there is no question that they will push us. But we are looking forward to the fight. I certainly am and I am up for trying to win my first race tomorrow if I can.
Q: Mark, great stuff in what is Red Bull Racings 80th grand prix. But you have been competitive all weekend. What has made the difference?
MW: Well, as you say we have been quick in every session but we were tested to the limit in that session. It was a very difficult session knowing what the track was going to do in terms of how greasy it was and what tyres to use. We were having trouble a little bit in the warm up anyway in the dry, let alone having some moisture on there, so it was a very difficult session but one that our team executed well which is why we got pole.
Q: Are you looking forward to it being wet tomorrow as perhaps that might get you out of having to run the harder tyre?
MW: I think a nice boring grand prix for me would be fantastic. I am looking forward to a dry day but if it is wet we are ready for all conditions. We know we can compete and fight in all those conditions that will be thrown at us. It becomes a lot more difficult, there is no question about it. We are tested as drivers and we saw that in Shanghai and some other races. This track is giving maybe a little less grip than maybe Shanghai was just because of the temperatures, so if it is raining we have got to deal with it. The same for everyone.
Q: You have never been closer to the victory perhaps. Has there been a little bit of frustration creeping in over the last year or so?
MW: Well, this is a fantastic season for us as a whole team. I had a slightly different winter this year coming back from a few of my other little problems that I had. The extra motivation is to come back to a car that is fast. It is not very enjoyable flogging around in 10th, 12th or 13th position all the time. That test anyones motivation as JB knows. It is a great situation for me to be in. I can fight for podiums most of the time now and obviously to win at this level you need everything going for you. I havent yet done that. I am going very, very close. I have had a few seconds this year and now I have got a pole. I think the day will come hopefully and you never know, hopefully it will be tomorrow.
Q: You might push your cricketers off the front page as well.
MW: The rain has saved the English I think there but if I can take the cricketers off the front page I am sure Ricky (Ponting) will be happy anyway.
Q: Rubens, this is your 280th grand prix. In your 280 qualifying sessions have you ever known a crazier one than this? How does that rate?
RB: I tell you I had some crazy ones in the past but it is always the more recent ones that count. We were just saying that it felt for a moment that I was not breathing for the whole session. We got out of the car now and all of a sudden we are just breathing again. You just wanted to make the right call but you needed some help as well. I called the team to see what they thought and they never came back to me in Q2. I think there was a problem on the radio but they could hear me as when I got to the pits the tyres were ready. It was a really good call at the time. My first lap in Q3 was actually fastest and I was hoping for the better. But I have got to be happy as we were outpaced by the Red Bulls the whole weekend. In fact, Lewis (Hamilton) was actually faster than us as well, it looked like it, so second for me is really good.
Q: This is your best qualifying here as well and you have won here before from lower on the grid, so what are your feelings about tomorrow?
RB: I hope that tomorrow is the experience that counts. You cannot say much. Tomorrow the prediction, they are saying, that the forecast is a bit worse than today. We didnt predict that it was going to rain this morning but then things became a little bit worse as qualifying came. If it is a tricky race like it was a tricky qualifying you just have to be there at the end and make no mistakes and try to win the race. Myself and Mark we are trying to get as many points as possible to discount some of the points that our team-mates have on us and it is all to play.
Q: Again, Jenson it is your best qualifying here. What are your thoughts and how was it managed for you from the pit lane?
JB: Reasonably well. I had Rubenss information and he went to slick tyres in Q2 when we went to wets and I just thought it was too wet out there at that point in time. But Rubens made them work and he got the right window and you saw everybody else piling in to the pits sticking on slick tyres and then it started raining again, so it was pretty tricky. It was a session I did not want, Q2. I think it is great getting through to Q3 and I think being in the top three, whoever is in the top three, should be happy with what they have done. We are in a good position for tomorrow. It is going to be a tough race. So much can happen with the weather here. Twelve degrees in mid July, this is worse than England. Who says English weather is bad. It is not making it easy but I think we have done a good job this weekend. We found it tough on Friday but we improved the car. But it is still going to be a tough race for us.
Q: Is there less of a problem with tyre temperatures here than there was at Silverstone?
JB: Yeah, theres less of an issue. Weve got the super soft tyre here and you dont have all that high speed (track), which for us doesnt put that much heat in the tyre. Youve got braking here which is good for us, were good under braking and its putting heat into the tyres. Its not too bad, its such a difficult weekend because its all to do with if you can get the tyres to work or not. On my timed laps Im weaving on the straight to try to get heat into the tyres. Its a strange situation to be in but its where we are and weve got to make the best of it and I think we have done that today, so Im happy with the result.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret - LEquipe) Mark, do you think that this track suits the Red Bull better than the Brawn?
MW: Well, Brawn are traditionally sometimes not as competitive on Friday as they are on Saturdays and Sundays, so we have to see if its unlikely, but you never know if we have a full dry race tomorrow, thats when I can really answer your question. Jenson was reasonably competitive at Silverstone in the last stint. Rubens had a very good qualifying there. Its very sensitive how these cars are. Clearly we had an advantage in Silverstone, we were stronger as a team and as a package round there and we got the result that of course we deserved. Here, we still look very, very competitive, theres no question about it. Maybe not as big a gap as we had in Silverstone but our car is behaving very well here. Ive always been quick in most sessions on all fuel loads, so theres no reason to suggest that were not quick here.
JB: Yeah, trust me, your qualifying lap was quick.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Mark, with so much at stake and with such tricky conditions, were there a lot of nerves and tension or were you able to just banish that and just get on with job?
MW: I just got on with the job, Dan, really. I think it was a very tense session for everyone but it always is. It doesnt matter where you are in qualifying, Q3, it always comes down to that last lap. Youre never going to be on pole with your first run in Q3. We know that getting into Q3 is generally a formality for us guys at the moment because we have a nice car. Today was a little bit more difficult but once we got into that session, then it was about controlling your emotions and just using your experience to back yourself and know what the car can do. Trust the car, trust the tyres and go out there and hit the lap. You still werent sure if some of the kerbs were a little bit greasy. You had to test them a little bit here and there. Its incredibly easy to look stupid in these conditions. Us guys are pushing on the limit and its a very difficult session for us to push absolutely, at 100 percent. The stakes are high but its the same for everyone and thats the result we got today.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) The hard tyres can be the key to the race tomorrow. How is your car with the hard tyres?
JB: With the hard tyres? Its not just us, I think everyones struggling to get heat into the hard tyres. The biggest problem for us is its fine when youre in clear air, you can work the tyres hard and get a lap time out of them. The problem is when youre in traffic, its very difficult, you lose a lot of downforce and I just cant keep the heat in the tyres. Ive never driven in this situation before, where you just cant get heat into the tyres in traffic. Even weaving on the straight doesnt help. Its a difficult situation. Hopefully well have a clear track tomorrow during the race. Thats going to be difficult to achieve, I think, but well give it a good go.
MW: The hard tyre? As Jenson said, its definitely not the right tyre for these track temperatures but thats the tyre we have. I think Bridgestone has generally done a pretty good job of bringing the tyres in a controlled fashion to the championship this year. Clearly, if the sun comes out here and you have a different type of ambient the tyre could be working quite well. If its 30 or 32 degrees track temperature its a difficult ball game. But no one envisaged lets be honest, who the hell thought it was going to be eleven or twelve degrees? So its a new ballgame and those tyres arent really doing much for any of the teams at the moment. So were going to start on that tyre tomorrow and give it a go!
RB: Well done! Well done! I agree with Mark. I dont think its down to Bridgestone. No one ever expected it to be twelve degrees here and 18 or 16 degrees on the track. But its the first time for me too that in the middle of a qualifying lap Im actually weaving. Thats very much the first time, you know, going from side-to-side on a qualifying lap. You just need the heat in the tyre.
JB: The thing is that the consistency on the tyre is good if you get it into the working range. The problem with the softer tyre is that you can damage that tyre. Its a difficult position for all of us to be in and its who can make the best of it tomorrow. I think its looking good.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Red Bulletin) Rubens, youve driven almost 300 Grands Prix and youve got a smile on your face today like its your first season in Formula One. Whats your secret?
RB: Man, I enjoy it more than I used to. I think in life you learn that a few bad vibes dont count any more, you just count good energy, good flow. Im driving better than ever, Ive always thought that. Im sure Jenson had a fantastic beginning of the season and was driving brilliantly but Im up to the task. I think the challenge is great and I just like that. I had two weeks at home, it was great to have the kids around. I had my wife there but I couldnt wait for the time that I came back here. It was just that. So I have another two or three years for myself.
Q: (Simon Arron - Motorsport News) Mark, can you just talk us through your first inter lap during Q2? On your first flying lap you were a second and a half quicker than your team-mate and three and a half seconds quicker than everybody else. How did you get the instant feel?
MW: Well, I knew it was a crucial lap because you never know if the conditions could get a lot worse, so I was just trying to put some sort of banker in without going totally bananas. Of course you have to push but I had a good feeling for the car and the tyres straight away and when you have that confidence you can obviously do reasonable lap times. I didnt have a clue obviously, what I could I was catching Kimi (Räikkönen) and I think there was a BMW very easily which is always nice to see that when youre in a similar condition on the same tyre, so you drive accordingly. I think I did a 38 or whatever it was and that was competitive for the time but I knew it wasnt really over because I said to the guys that theres still three or four minutes to go. Dont panic yet but we need to get ready to put the slicks on if we need to go again, which we did and I nearly crashed several times. I couldnt believe I was fourth. I felt like I was 18th on those slicks. I thought my God, were not through. Theres no way weve got through because everyone else is on the slicks and it just felt so horrible driving round. I had so many moments. At turn seven I was up with the spectators, in the last corner I was nearly in my hotel room, so I was all over the place and I didnt think I was through but the guys said I was fourth. I couldnt believe it.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Jenson, you just described the downsides of the two tyre choices, so which one is the better one for the race or which has less downsides?
JB: Thats something we need to talk about this evening. Its going to be a tough call but a very crucial call for tomorrow and weve got to keep checking the weather, the temperatures tomorrow and theres a big chance of rain as well. There are so many possibilities for tomorrow that its going to be a very difficult call but so far weve been pretty good at calling the right tyres. The good thing today for us was that even in the wet conditions we could get the slick tyre working. Thats a little bit unexpected. So our pace was good with the slick tyre in the damp conditions and our pace was good on whatever tyre we put on, so thats positive for tomorrow for sure. These guys had a big advantage in Shanghai in the wet but I dont think thats going to be quite the case here if its wet.