FIA post-race press conference - Spain 09 May 2010
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1st Mark Webber (Red Bull), 1h35m44.101s; 2nd Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1h36m08.166s; 3rd Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), 1h36m35.439s.
Q: Mark, Fernando described you and the team on Friday as unbeatable and you proved it today. You must be very happy?
Mark Webber: Yeah, absolutely rapped. After qualifying yesterday it was certainly a great position for us to start the Grand Prix in. We knew it was a long run to the first corner here and we had some pretty quick cars behind us in terms of top speed, so that was the very important part of the race to unlock that and get out of turn one still in the lead. It was quite tight into turn one. We had a good battle going into there and then I just settled into a rhythm really into the first stint, looking after tyres, making sure we got the option through as everyone is still learning, venue to venue, about how the tyres might operate. We had a pretty good idea they would behave themselves but you never know. We just made sure they were in pretty good nick and finishing the stint in a good fashion which they did. Clean pit-stop. I had Seb with me at that stage and then after the pit stop I had Lewis (Hamilton) behind me and we just controlled the gap really. Looking after the car, engine, tyres as still the grands prix are pretty long and the cars are built for a distance and you need to get the cars home. The team have been incredible this week, getting the cars ready, long, long nights for the guys, an incredible amount of effort at the factory. Working on holidays, so collectively Renault and Red Bull have put a huge effort in. The driver did his little bit of work and in the end it was a fantastic result and I am absolutely thrilled.
Q: Fernando, it looked like it might have been fourth place at one point but it ended up being second. I guess that proves it is never over until it is over. How do you feel about your performance this weekend and the teams?
Fernando Alonso: Well, now I feel extremely happy after the result today. When you gain two positions in the last part of the race and unexpected positions as well it feels great and you have a fantastic feeling right now. Overall the weekend has been so-so for us. I think in terms of results fantastic weekend for us. Fourth in qualifying with a good performance I think and second in the race is fantastic for the team but as I said we need to improve. We know that. I think we saw this weekend we need to improve especially in some areas of the car to be close to Red Bull especially in qualifying. I think we learn some things this weekend. We work again to maximise out potential. Sometimes we know we will be first, sometimes fifth, sometimes we will be first hopefully, so as much as we do our 100 per cent every weekend we are happy with the job, so we need to be satisfied with todays race.
Q: Sebastian, is there anything that didnt happen to you today? Unscheduled pit stop, brake problems and what about that incident with Lewis?
Sebastian Vettel: Well, a lot of things went wrong today. The start was okay. There was no chance to get past Mark. It was not worth taking the risk as it was quite slippery down the inside where he was, so I didnt want to take a run on the outside. I was not quick enough. I struggled a lot with the balance of the car. We see the car is quick. Mark was in his own league today but for some reason I struggled. Then a lot of problems. I think we came in too early. Probably expected Lewis to come in the same lap and it turned out not to be. The primes, the hard tyres, were a bit difficult to switch on, so we couldnt do the undercut and get him on the strategy side. Also we were a bit unlucky as we had to wait in the pit box a long time for the Ferrari to drive past and Jenson (Button) was coming in, so it was probably nine seconds. It felt like a nine second pit stop, so we lost a lot of ground and lost the position. It was very close where Lewis came out but there was no way, so to avoid contact I went wide. After that impossible to pass. I felt the car was getting a bit better but as soon as you get closer no chance to pass as you lose the grip. Then 15 laps from the end I lost the front left brakes and the last 10 laps I was lucky as there was so much gap to the back, to Michael. I was able to bring the car home. I dont know how to feel. Third is not a bad position and I think we had a horrible, quite bad race, with a lot of things happening we didnt want to. It is good to take some points but we need to work and keep pushing. The car is fast but you have to be able to use that every single time. It is 50-50 per cent chance of getting through. Mark had a race without any problems but for me it was the other way around, so difficult.
Q: Mark, a reliable Red Bull and an unreliable Red Bull. Tell us how you see the championship evolving from what we have seen today?
MW: Well, it is still very early days. We know there are some very competitive cars, in particular Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren and there are some pretty decent drivers as well, so there is a long, long way to go. We need to see how the car performs at different venues. The cars are pretty sensitive to different tracks, so there is a lot of water to go under the bridge yet in terms of how this will shake out in the next five or six months. As Sebastian touched on, you need a quick car but you need to have one that is always there for you. It showed with McLaren with the failure there that everyone is pushing things to the limit. Ferrari have had some engine problems. We can build tractors, but they are slow. You need to build Formula One cars that are on the edge and this is the balance everyone is chasing.
Q: Mark, this victory seemed to mean a great deal to you today?
MW: It was a special victory. The first one is good but this one is right up there with it. I had to work very hard yesterday not that you dont ever when you are at the front in Formula One. But it was a crucial pole. I felt very good in the car. The car wasnt easy at the start but it was always nice to see the gap going away and that helps. It gave me good confidence from there and off we went. I was just getting ready for a clean pit stop and making sure the tyres were getting to the back part that first stop as well. You are always learning about these tyres and how they will go, particularly at a venue like this. It is a very heavy car in the first 10 to 15 laps and you want to be careful you dont bite off more than you can chew. We had the stop and I saw that Lewis and Seb changed positions at the stop. I then controlled the gap a little bit with Lewis at the start of the next stint, just picking my way through the traffic as there was quite a bit of that going on. Most of them were pretty good. Some guys. I then knew Lewis might be hitting the traffic and I did a few reasonably quick laps just to open it up a bit more. Then we could pace the car to the end. Sensational effort from the whole team this weekend. We had a faultless grand prix weekend in terms of yesterdays qualifying and the race today was a very well executed grand prix. In a way we know that Seb could have been in second if he had a smooth race, so we have missed a few points for the Constructors, but in the end very special day for me. It was a good one. Unfortunately I cant get too drunk tonight as we are at the track again on Wednesday but we will see how we go.
Q: Were you surprised just how you were pulling away from Seb in those early stages?
MW: Yes, I was. Some laps I wasnt particularly happy with the laps I was doing. You always think you can get a bit more there but it was still stretching as I thought Seb was having similar problems, so bit of a surprise but a pleasant one. It makes life a bit easier for yourself.
Q: Your thoughts on Monaco. Will the car be good around there?
MW: It should be. We know it is a special venue. It is a one off on the calendar. It is a sensational challenge for the drivers. We all like going there. You certainly couldnt have a track like it now if you wanted to design and build one. It is a little bit on the edge. We know that but we will go there and give is our best shot. It is a different type of weekend with running on Thursday and a bit of a break on Friday. The whole atmosphere is good and it is a special grand prix. We all know that front row will be king there as well.
Q: There will probably be a few Aussies on yachts.
MW: Lots of Australians are working on the boat. There were a few Aussie flags here today. There were a few Spanish ones unfortunately. It was good to have Fernando on the podium with us in his home race but in the end a lot of Aussie flags there too which is nice to see.
Q: Fernando, you seemed to be pushing really hard on that first stint. Did you think you could get Lewis?
FA: Not really. Maybe it was too optimistic at that time. I was trying. First part of the second stint I took it a bit easy and as I knew I needed to do 50 laps with that set of tyres, so the first 10 laps I just controlled the balance of the car a bit and I didnt want t push the tyres too hard. Then I did maximum attack for 10 or 15 laps just to close the gap to Sebastian. Sometimes I closed to 10, sometimes I lose one, sometimes I close to three, so I was catching him like half-a-second every 20 laps. That was not enough to get to him and then to overtake the car in front, so I knew it was pretty difficult to get there. I just controlled and I backed off a bit the revs and brought the car back home.
Q: It must be nice to get the points for second place?
FA: Yeah, absolutely. When you recover some positions in the last laps unexpectedly it feels great. It tastes better than even an overtaking manoeuvre I think. The one with Sebastian I saw some problems with his car in the lap he pitted and then I was expecting him to come back very quickly on the track in the last part with the soft tyres but the team informed me he had some problems and he was running slow, so the third place was more or less in the pocket but then sure three or four laps before the end when I saw the problem with the McLaren it was another position just for free, so it was very welcome.
Q: Sebastian, during those early stages, was this lack of balance completely unexpected, that you couldnt push harder?
SV: I think it was a surprise all afternoon. The circuit was not in very good shape. In general, I think the lap times were very slow. It was a bit unknown why I lost out so much in the beginning. Everyone is all over the place during the first two laps and I was able to stay close, but then I continuously lost at some point it was even difficult to get away from Lewis. In the end I was able to open up the gap a bit but it was very difficult, very little grip all around, so I dont know why the car was quite different to the rest of the weekend. And then we lost a position in the pit stop unfortunately. We had to wait. We probably came in too early and then had to wait for Fernando to drive past, I think, and Jenson approaching his box just in front of ours. So coming back out, Lewis obviously pitted a lap later and he was able to pass us. It was close in turn one but he obviously had the inside line. It was a bit critical because there was a lapped car there as well, so three cars into one corner. And after that, it was pretty boring to follow Lewis. I was still struggling with the balance. It was getting a bit better when the track got quicker. And then surprisingly, I think 15 or 12 laps to the end, I had a brake failure and I went off at turn seven and I was just lucky to bring the car home in the end, because of the big gaps to the cars behind. Without any brakes I was able to finish third, which is not a disaster, its good points but I think the result is a bit different to how it came together this afternoon.
Q: What did they do when you came into the pits? Did you have a puncture?
SV: Just changed tyres. They probably had a quick look but theres nothing that you can fix quickly. And then I went back out, I still had three brakes around the car, I think, so then obviously towards the end it was getting critical because you dont want to have another failure, so I think we were just lucky to bring the car home, to be honest.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mike Doodson) Mark, youve paid tribute all through the weekend to the strength and the hard work of your team. Could you give us a couple of examples of people close to you who have put in a special effort or make special sacrifices?
MW: It started, really, on the way back from Shanghai. A lot of people were out of position for a long, long time, so that probably didnt affect our team but there was a bit of a knock-on effect of people being stuck out there behind schedule, getting back into the rhythm, into the factory with race team and factory-based people getting going. And some astronomical hours really, Mike, I think there was a Bank Holiday Monday a few weeks ago and they were in, preparing the car, and after hours. OK, maybe every team is doing it but at least the intensity of the guys people are telling them to do things and they are not even questioning it. Its just boom, boom; everyone is on the same channel, pushing hard. Then trackside this week, Kenny (Handkammer, chief mechanic) was on the podium today, hes been in Formula One a long time and it was nice to have him up there today for the first time. Hes won many, many races as the chief bolt (mechanic), him with his soldiers and his boys, the hours that hes done. Its good that were obviously run by Red Bull because I think it keeps the guys awake because their eyes are popping out of their heads because of the hours that theyve done. That was a special effort. OK, Seb didnt have a clean race but there were no mistakes on the cars even though theyre under stress. That was good.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto, Motor und Sport) Sebastian, for most of the race you drove behind somebody else. Is it possible that the Red Bull loses more speed or loses more balance than other cars in traffic?
SV: I havent driven another car this year. I dont know. I think any car loses grip all around, loses downforce when you follow another car, depending on the gap. On top of that, I think this afternoon, as far as I could see outside from the inside of the cockpit, it was very, very windy today with a lot of gusts, especially in turn seven where I think you had a tail wind under braking, it was very difficult to get in, and then sometimes with a gust, it just blew you away. So it was difficult, I think, and obviously when you have another car in front, the closer you get it doesnt get easier. I dont think necessarily we are worse than others. I think weve had other races this year where I was able to follow and it wasnt a problem. For sure you lose grip, you damage your tyres, but thats the usual procedure for everyone.
Q: (Frederic Ferret LEquipe) Mark, this victory seems very special for you, even more than the first one. Is that because its at the beginning of the season instead of the middle or the end? And you can fight for the championship?
FA: Its in Spain.
MW: Yeah, its in Spain. All of them have been good. Obviously in Brazil it was all overshadowed by Jenson winning the title, so today was all about it was Fernandos home race, so there was a lot of people excited about that locally, but it was my day today and thats why I was very happy and satisfied that I started on the pole and could control the race, and theyre the ones which are very special to have. They dont always happen like that. I said to some people that when I win a race this year I will do something different, so it was nice to throw my helmet into the crowd and give a present back to the fans because they dont always get the best treatment in Formula One, so it was nice to throw a bit of a gift out there for them. Just a really special day for me, to capitalise off the pole again yesterday. Its the first time that someones won from pole this year and its the tenth time from pole at this venue, so its a very important position to start the race and we did the job in the end.
Q: (Carlos Miquel Diario AS) Fernando, I remember in 2005 when Räikkönen had a problem with the tyres at the Nürburgring and you were pushing every lap. This problem for Hamilton is more or less the same? And are you now achieving the average you want for the championship?
FA: I dont think they were similar. The problem was very different. I was pushing Räikkönen every lap in 2005. He had a lot of vibration coming from the tyre and he was running slower and slower every time just to finish the race, and I was pushing the maximum not to let him just cruise to the end. On this occasion, Lewis was just way in front of me and we were similar or he was even quicker than me. I think it was just bad luck for him.
For the championship, Im happy with this position, but as I said before, we need four or five podiums in a row. With one podium and then another three races with mistakes there is not enough to win the championship but I think we understand, we know the problems, we know the mistakes we made at the beginning of the championship and we arrived in Barcelona with a very good approach, super Ferrari team I think this weekend with no mistakes at all: preparing for qualifying in practice in a good way, at the maximum of our potential in qualifying and a very solid race. Sometimes we know that we will be third, sometimes we know we will be fifth, sometimes we can maybe win the race, but we need to do our maximum and today or this weekend all the Ferrari team did the maximum so we are extremely happy with our job and with all the guys, the mechanics, the engineers, the guys in the factory to bring here a lot of modifications on the car. It is thanks to those I am second today.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Deutschland) Sebastian, can you just clarify why you came into the pits in the first place, 15 laps before the end? Were your primes finished or was it a safety option?
SV: I was braking for turn seven boom! And then I went straight on. Obviously I saw that something flew off the car and I had some brake failures in the past, so it was extremely difficult. Every time I then touched the brakes the car was massively pulling to the right and didnt stop properly, obviously, so I knew that something was wrong. I thought at that stage that that was it. So what you do, obviously, is that you pit. They changed the tyres, they probably had a quick look, couldnt see anything and I was sent back out. The lap after I got the call to come in and retire and then I said is there no chance to save some points? Obviously at that stage I didnt know I was fourth but then I was telling the team that I would love to try and keep racing and try to save some points. At that stage I thought maybe two or three points were better than nothing, but it turned out to be a lot more and I even finished on the podium. So like it or not, I think it was a very lucky day.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, five races and three times youve had reliability problems. How much more pressure does that give you?
SV: Nothing for me, theres not much I can do differently. Obviously I knew that I was behind Lewis. To be honest I was seconds faster. Its very difficult to judge your true pace but he wasnt slow at the end, as Fernando said. They were also on a similar pace, so I think all us three were within a couple of tenths. So I was looking to finish the race in third and trying to save engines, save tyres and save brakes as well. As I said, it was a surprise and then boom, the failure.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Alonso, you said your team needs to work specifically in some areas of the car, which suggests you know exactly what you have to do, and also, you are three points behind the leader of the championship, in spite of all the problems you have experienced this weekend. Can you talk to us about these two subjects?
FA: Well, regarding the improvements on the car, there is a very aggressive plan of developing the car with some good gains and good improvements to come in the next races, so we are very optimistic on that. The championship is long. There will be some circuits where we will be closer to Red Bull and some circuits like this weekend where we know its going to be more difficult but overall, for the 19 races, I think we have a package, a car that can fight for the World Championship which is the main goal. We know the areas which will give aerodynamic improvements. Basically, I think, we saw this weekend here in Barcelona how important the aerodynamics of the car are and the maximum downforce and we were struggling a little bit more than we wanted. Nothing new. As for the championship, I dont know how many points I am behind Jenson now, three? Its just a very early part of the championship. Better to be in the first three or four positions than to be eighth or ninth in the championship for sure but I think you need the consistency, you need good results all through the year, but as you said, we had two engine problems, one gearbox problem, one jumped start and some chaotic races and we are three points behind the leaders, so we are happy.