FIA post-qualifying press conference - Great Britain 09 Jul 2011
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1 - Mark Webber (Red Bull), 2 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), 3 - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Q: Mark, you won here last year, pole position today, what is it about you and this Silverstone circuit?
Mark Webber: Oh, not sure. I think I always enjoy driving here. You have still got to put it alltogether. You don't get these results without applying yourself. It was a very mixed session for all of us. Even the build-up, obviously, with yesterday's rain and things like that. It was important to make sure every lap counted as you never knew if it was the one that would count for your main grid position. So even in Q2 and things like that you wanted to make sure you weren't caught out and having to scramble around on inters to try and do a time. In the end very happy with the job we did. It is easy to slip up in conditions like that from an organisational and logistical point of view, but also from a driver's perspective, so very good job from the team and we are in a very good position for tomorrow's race..
Q: Sebastian, there was a lot going on in the run-up to qualifying. Difficult conditions during qualifying. Was that the most pressure you have felt under during qualifying during a season.
Sebastian Vettel: I wouldn't say most pressure, but I think it was a difficult session with the conditions changing. When it starts to rain here it can vary on different parts of the circuit and it is quite difficult to see where it is wet or damp or if it's fine. You really rely on the out lap or the lap before as if you arrive flat out and it is still damp it is very easy to go off track. All in all that wasn't easy, but in the end it was dry. Shame that we couldn't get the second run. I would have loved to challenge Mark again but I think he had a good lap and it was a very good result for us today, especially with the amount of talk going into that qualifying or into the race here, so good to see we are still on top of our game and still can produce reasonably quick lap times. We are quite happy. Tomorrow, anything can happen. I think this circuit is quite tough on tyres, so we see what we get tomorrow.
Q: Fernando, you were off track in the first part of qualifying, really flirting with disaster. But you came through in the end to be only a tenth off pole. You must be pleased with that?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, very happy. I think it is the best qualifying in terms of the gap to pole position of the year. We have been more or less, on average, one second or seven-tenths in the last couple of races, and here in Silverstone, on a circuit that normally is not our preference in terms of lay-out and characteristics, with these high speed corners, being one-tenth off the pole is good news for us. The new parts we brought here are working well and (I'm) pleased with qualifying. But the job is tomorrow when the points are given, so hopefully in the race we can still perform well, be close to these guys and put some pressure to be on the podium in the end.
Q: Mark, how big a distraction has all the row over the blown diffusers been in the run-up to the qualifying session this weekend and what are your prospects for the race tomorrow do you think?
MW: Well, I think the team has handled it pretty well. Seb and I have concentrated on the driving, otherwise it gets very, very boring. But it is not new for our team. Adjustable front ride height controllers, front wings, whatever. Every year we have a new thing to talk about. This last few weeks it has been about this. Let's hope everyone can find a common ground. It is incredibly boring also for the fans. I think they cannot understand 0.1 per cent of what's going on. Even for us it is sometimes difficult, so let's get on with the racing. Keep the rules as simple as possible from the start of the year maybe and go from there. But from my perspective for tomorrow I am in great shape. I have prepared well and ready to challenge for the win for sure.
Q: Mark, which side is pole and are you quite happy whichever side it is? Is it on the left side?
MW: Definitely on the left. If it's not, we will change it tonight.
Q: Your second pole after Spain and you were a winner here last year. The eighth pole position of your career. Do you derive a lot of satisfaction from this?
MW: Yes, it is always rewarding when you get the maximum out of the situation. I couldn't have done any better today apart from obviously being on pole by a bigger margin but that's not always possible with these guys around. I did my best and it was enough to be the quickest car when it counted. Hasn't always been the case this year, but today it worked out well. Tricky session. Very easy to look stupid when you make a mistake. Rain and different tyres and what do you do and when do you go and all that sort of stuff. It adds a bit more intensity to the logistical side for the team but also inside the cockpit for us. Particularly in our garage we can't see much. It's like being in an underground car park down there. We can't see the track, we can't see too much of the conditions so we have got to go purely on the television so engineers did a good job.
Q: Looking at what's happened over the last couple of days, you could say last couple of weeks, is this Red Bull's reply perhaps?
MW: No, it's not. We are not looking to reply to anything. What has to be re-iterated is that the last three years our team has virtually turned up very, very early and left very, very late. Every team in this pit-lane works hard but our team works incredibly hard as well. We worked with the RB5, RB6, RB7, whatever, to concentrate on that and that's what we have done for the last few years. What is happening in the last few months is not what we've done in the last few months, it's years of hard work to put ourselves in this position technically. It is a subject at the moment that is topical, which we have had each year, but not maybe as heavy as this one, and we have seen today that we are still going okay. But irrespective of lap times it is all about interpretation of rules and regulations and principles and how you go forward as competing under the right guidelines. Whether we are pole or 10th the team will still continue to have its stance on what they think is correct so it is not a comeback what we did today at all.
Q: Did the car feel any different? Has it felt any different say from Valencia given the regulation change?
MW: It is always difficult from track to track unless we do proper back-to-backs. We had not a bad chance this weekend because the rules changed, especially every session, so we had a little bit of a chance. But the weather was on top of that as well. It is not going to turn the car 180 degrees, the car is still going pretty well and that's it.
Q: Sebastian, front row again as for every race so far this year. At least you have that satisfaction.
SV: Well I am happy with the result. I think it is important to qualify on the front and it wasn't an easy session as Mark touched on. With the conditions changing it was very easy to go wide or go into the gravel like Fernando. All in all it was tight. Not much between cars. I am sure if you get the chance to try again maybe you could find a sniff here and there. But it was a good step today. We kept our heads cool. There was a lot of talk. Still might be a lot of talk. We are happy as soon as we jump into the car because then we are allowed to work and focus on what is really important. Tomorrow will be a long way, long race. I think tyres will be incredibly important. Looking after them, et cetera, this is a tough track for those plus we had no experience on Friday as it was wet so it's a bit driving into the unknown tomorrow right from the start and then we will see.
Q: How well prepared is the team?
SV: As prepared as you arrive on Friday morning I would say. We know a little bit more now, but no one really was able to do a proper run. You cannot catch up the time you lose on the whole of Friday by a little bit of running this morning and then through qualifying. In qualifying, it's a different approach. It's a one timed lap that counts and not the whole distance so we will see and I think we will learn along the way.
Q: A lot of people were saying it is going to be a pretty lively race tomorrow. There are going to be a lot of place changes. Is that your view?
SV: We will see. I think overtaking is not easy around here. Never has been. There is one DRS zone. We will see whether that works or not. I think it is really tricky. It is not an easy job to get things right because distance based on one track, then it is too easy on the other track, it doesn't really help. I think we will know a lot more after we have raced and take that experience into next year, which will help but for this year every circuit is different. The corners before the DRS zone are very decisive so we will see. I think we will see some overtaking, definitely more than last year or in the last years.
Q: Fernando, your second best grid position of the year, obviously some satisfaction and encouragement from your aerodynamic improvements?
FA: Yeah, definitely. I think I was second in Canada but this third feels much better because we are only one tenth off pole position. This is completely new for us this year and a little bit of a good surprise because you normally bring new parts to the races, you always test them on Fridays and then you see which ones are working, which ones need more time before you put them on the car but it seems that this weekend everything we put on the car seems to have worked OK and we've got some downforce back. Especially here at Silverstone, with these high speed corners, being one tenth off Red Bull is fantastic news for us so far this weekend. But we are only happy if, on Sunday, we score points and this is only Saturday. We have a good grid position but tomorrow is when we have to deliver.
Q: Does it make you a challenger for victory tomorrow?
FA: Let's see. I think we are definitely closer than ever, usually being one second behind and sometimes finishing second or third in the race is a little bit closer to Red Bull as in Turkey where we finished third, but we fought with Mark until the end. Last race we finished second, also fighting with the Red Bulls. As I said, having been seven or eight tenths off the pace in qualifying so today when we are a little bit quicker, I'm sure that tomorrow we can put some more pressure on them.
Q: We saw you going off the circuit; you seemed to be heading in the direction of a rather better surface than what you were on and actually discovered one that was worse!
FA: Yeah. Obviously I lost the car in turn six, on the exit, so I knew that I was going onto the gravel. I didn't know whether to try to slow the car and get back quickly onto the asphalt or take the long way. I thought the gravel was a little bit more compact, but that was not the case, so it was a big risk to stop the car there but luckily I was helped.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mathias Brunner - Speedweek) Seb, you mentioned yesterday that the pit entry will be an issue in the drivers' briefing, so what was the outcome of that?
SV: Some drivers felt that it is unnecessary to do 100 km/h. We had the chance now and I have to see it's possible but it's not really comfortably, particularly with some drops (of rain) it was quite scary. But the majority said nothing so we stick with 100 km/h.
Q: (Niki Takeda - Formula PA) What we used to see, until now, was you negotiating Copse and then a mad dash to Stowe and now we are in a completely different part of the circuit, you have a completely different layout ahead of you. How different is the start dynamics for all of you?
SV: In a way, it's a different circuit. Traditionally, I think you were used to starting a lap and then you had a massive corner straight away into Copse and then the first sector - after that it wasÉ you know, to get your head straight again. Now it's different, now you have a quick corner initially but then a rather slow start into the lap and it just feels wrong when you arrive at Copse and it's halfway round the lap, so you exit onto the Hangar Straight, then after the fast section and your lap is nearly over. In the end, you get used to it I guess but I think there was a lot of tradition on the old layout, the old track. I really liked it. I still like it because I think the character is still there but of course you give away some parts to get some new bits.
MW: I think it's a good question, actually, because it has changed and Seb explains it well, but Copse, Becketts, the first sector was very, very quick, not too dissimilar to Suzuka but at Suzuka you have a bit more of a tighter corner in turn two but the flow is different, but turn three here you obviously have heavy braking not long after the start. It's a different track on the first lap but that's it.
FA: For me it changes nothing, very similar to last year. Only the start will maybe change a little bit. Instead of having the first corner flat out, now we will have the first two corners and then heavy braking, so we will have different lines there, probably more action so it will be better for the show.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, you said that you are just one tenth away from Red Bull at this Grand Prix. Do you feel that is just because of the new parts on the car or also because of the new regulations?
FA: Difficult question to answer. I'm not a technician but I guess it's just because of the new parts that we have on the car. About the exhaust and diffuser and all this talk, we repeat a hundred times: we all lose performance with the new rules and we all lose more or less the same performance, maybe from three tenths to five tenths but I don't think that one team can lose 1.5s, one team can lose a tenth. This is not possible so I guess because we are third and fourth now means that the whole team did a very good job, bringing the new parts here and we are more competitive, not because of the thing.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Sebastian and Mark, you were 0.117s fastest in qualifying on a circuit very favourable to your team. Do you think this is an indication for the rest of the season, because qualifying was mainly your big advantage in comparison to your competitors?
MW: I think we are still very, very, very good but the red cars might have done a little bit, to come closer today so the rest of the competition - if you look at just today, not tomorrow, but just today - we look like we're still performing at a very, very high level. Ferrari haven't been slow today so there might be a bit of form card starting to build for the future, but we obviously need more events to see if that's possible, but it's completely fair for you to ask that. Normally we are here - Barcelona, Silverstone, whatever - then you expect us to be down the road but we are, on most people. Obviously these guys (Ferrari) are a bit closer. The cars are very sensitive to lap time at the moment, the tyres, all that sort of stuff, and it wasn't a normal preparation for qualifying in some ways so let's see how we are in the next two events to see if your question is right.
SV: As Mark said, in the end, we can't let go, we have to keep on pushing. That's what the other teams do to catch up and that's what we have to do to maintain our position, otherwise it will change. Sure it varies from circuit to circuit but we have to keep on working hard.
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Mark, you haven't led a single lap this season. How likely is it that you will do so tomorrow?
MW: Well, it's incredible, isn't it, that I haven't but yeah, good chance tomorrow. If I lead one lap, but it's the right one, then that would be nice but if you lead all the rest, of course it gives you a few more options to control the race and whatnot. It's not the best statistic for me so far this year but I still have a few points so I need to get some more points by doing what you just said.
Q: (Sean McGreedy - CSMA Magazine) To all of you: a lot has been said about Lewis Hamilton's driving style. If you were being criticised in the same way, how would you deal with it, how would you react?
MW: Look, when you're a professional sportsman you're going to get criticised at some point in your career. All of us have been, we will be again and it comes with the territory. You've got to deal with it.
SV: First of all, it's always individual. I think it depends how you take it. If people criticise you, sometimes they're wrong, sometimes they're right. It depends on what they criticise you for. As Mark said, in the end it's something you have to learn to deal with. I'm sure Lewis is aware and Lewis has dealt with some situations in the past as well. In the end, he was always quick on the track, so I think that to us, that's the most important thing.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, as you've said, you've caught up a lot, in particular in comparison to Barcelona which was a similar type of track in terms of lap time. Does the same apply for the hard tyres which were the biggest problem in Barcelona?
FA: That's something we need to find out tomorrow. Obviously we haven't had enough laps in dry conditions: yesterday none and today only I think five or six laps so no real reference at the moment, but what we felt in free practice three and first qualifying was a very good feeling with hard tyres this weekend, so we are quite confident that tomorrow we will not have the problems that we had in Barcelona, where we lost a complete lap in the last forty laps of the race. Maybe we still prefer the soft tyres but with the hard - fingers crossed - that we have no problems tomorrow.
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