FIA post-race press conference - Great Britain 10 Jul 2011
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
1 - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari); 2 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); 3 - Mark Webber (Red Bull).
Q: Fernando, the first win of the season for you and Ferrari. You were gifted the lead by Red Bull but do you feel you forced the mistake today?
Fernando Alonso: Well I don't know. It is difficult to know. I saw the problem in the pit-stop with Sebastian and we were in the lead at that moment. I didn't know as I was also fighting with (Lewis) Hamilton and with Mark and I left the pits and I found myself leading the race and then pulling a good gap. You never know. The race was in different conditions. We started with a very wet part of the circuit and then it was a little bit dry, but still with intermediate tyres. Then the intermediates were struggling a little and we were very quick at that part of the race and then with the dry tyres it was again the same thing. Very slow at the beginning when the track was damp and very quick when the track was dry so I knew that it was a race to be calm, to put the car on the track always, no mistakes, not being off the track at any moment as the grass is very wet and with no mistakes I knew the car had enough pace to fight for the victory. At the end it came.
Q: It was a great battle with Hamilton. Tell us about the pass and the re-pass.
FA: Well he overtook me quite easy. When we fitted the dry tyres he was very, very quick at that part of the race so we were forced to stay calm. We knew that our opportunity would be later in the race and when I overtook him again it was thanks to the DRS and the KERS and all these possibilities we have these days. Then we attacked the Red Bulls as from now it will always be the same thing. Every race we try to do like the final. Championship hopes are very difficult because Sebastian keeps finishing all the races first and second so the only thing we can do is try to win every race we go to and be very aggressive. Every race, every start, every strategy will be at the maximum.
Q: Sebastian, the pit-stop cost you the lead but were Ferrari on to you today? What do you think?
Sebastian Vettel: I think it is hard to say how much we lost but surely we lost the lead. I think we had quite a bit of a cushion at that stage so it didn't help. I came out behind Fernando and Lewis and struggled to get past really. I had some places where I was quite close to him but it didn't quite work so we went in for the stop and I had a longer stint at the end. But all in all we had a very good race. It was very difficult in these conditions. I had a brilliant start and was able to pull away quite good at the beginning of the race on intermediate tyres. Then I think we waited a little bit and we weren't that aggressive which cost us a bit of our lead plus then the pit-stop so little mistakes here and there. But you cannot get it right all the time and you have to accept Ferrari beat us fair and square today. It was not only in this race, I think there has been a certain trend over the last couple of races. They have been very strong on race day on Sunday and generally improving their car so it shows us we need to keep on working very hard and keep pushing very hard so soon it is the other way around again.
Q: You were very, very close to the back of Lewis going into Copse at one point weren't you?
SV: Yeah, I was. I thought it was the only place where I could try something. On that lap I think I had too good an exit so got off the corner very well and was too close. I was sitting behind and in that right kink where the old pit building is you cannot do anything there so I was too close to use my momentum later on. I had to lift and I don't think there was much left. We don't see the front wing but it was very close but good fun.
Q: Mark, you lost the start to Sebastian but what happened at the end? You seemed to be closing on him, but you couldn't get past him.
Mark Webber: Well it was a mixed race as the guys touched on. It was very, very slippery and tricky at the start with the inters. Half the track dry and half the track wet. It made it very frustrating as all of us had to stay out on the inters for longer than we would have liked as we had to wait for slicks to come into play at that part of the track. Michael (Schumacher) pitted first then we waited to hear on his pace on the slicks. Then, when he started to go okay we elected to stop. Just before, on the in-lap, I had a massive moment in Becketts so Fernando closed a bit on me. I went across the grass as I came in so bit scrappy there. Then we had an interesting race after that. I felt very strong at the start of the stints, not too strong at the end of the stints, and then both Seb and I were in big trouble with the tyres at the end. I tried to pass him but not quite so that was the race.
Q: Are you surprised at how tough a battle you have been given here this weekend by McLaren and Ferrari?
MW: Not really. I think Ferrari we have seen, in the last few events, going pretty well. You never, never know. Sundays are always difficult. It is always about the tyres as you know. McLaren looked absolutely in trouble yesterday and then today they weren't too bad at all. Very quick and they did a clean job in the pit-lane. I didn't think we had the best day in the box today. It is not normal for our guys but you cannot be perfect all the time. That was it.
Q: Fernando, describe both the emotion and the satisfaction this win gives you today.
FA: It is a very special win. I think Silverstone is a special event for every driver competing in Formula One. We know the history of motorsport here in the UK so it is special grand prix. Also today I had the privilege to drive the Jose (Froilan Gonzalez's) car. It was the first Ferrari win in Formula One and this year it is 60 years ago that one Ferrari car won the first grand prix in Formula One. Today we won on the same circuit with the same passion, with the same group of people, working for this fantastic team. Every year competing in Formula One right from the beginning so this is the big thing about Ferrari. The passion, the victory and the love for competition so very happy to drive this car and achieve this success again.
Q: Fernando, what a way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Ferrari's first win. Ideal way wasn't it?
FA: Definitely. I had two laps today with that car for the parade and it is part of the history of Ferrari. Being every single year, every single championship in Formula One, winning 60 years ago with that car with Froilan and now 60 years later on the same circuit with the same atmosphere I am sure in the team, with the same passion winning again with the red car. Very proud of the team. Very proud of the recovery that we did. I think three or four races ago we were 1.5 seconds behind and now we were leading the race and pulling away so definitely a good recovery from the team and a very special day. Every grand prix is special but winning in historic places on this fantastic circuit, Silverstone, with the tradition in England about Formula One, the culture about motorsport, it is even more special.
Q: Do you think you would have won without the pit-stop problem for Sebastian? After all you did set a succession of fastest laps in the middle of the race and you ended the race with a lead of 20 seconds.
FA: Who knows? You never know. I think it is difficult to have any prediction of what could have happened without the problems of Sebastian. For sure more difficult and you need to overtake on the track and when you are talking about two or three-tenths different pace in favour of them or us it is not easy to overtake as we saw with the McLaren and for Sebastian it was the same when he tried to overtake Lewis. It is not easy to overtake so the pit-stop problems for them was a help. But the same every race. Maybe in Canada it was a different thing also for Jenson. He won the race and we retired. The races are the way it comes.
Q: You said earlier in the weekend this wasn't a circuit that you expected to suit the Ferrari. What can we expect from the Nurburgring?
FA: Well it is a huge boost for us. Good confidence being quick here in Silverstone as no doubts it was a race on the calendar that had one red cross. We knew that it was not an easy grand prix for us in terms of the characteristics of the corners, the lay-out never being our strongest point, the high speed corners in the last two or three years so we knew that Silverstone like Barcelona, was difficult for us so winning here is good motivation for everyone and good confidence I am sure approaching the next races as they will be circuits that are a little bit better for us.
Q: You can put a red tick against it now instead of a cross.
FA: We will try to enjoy the moment, the win, and work hard. We will have the same approach that we had in Valencia, that we had in Canada, and here as well every weekend. It is a weekend to try for the victory, try to win the race. There is not championship thoughts at the moment with anyone in the team as we know that the gap is massive at the moment with Sebastian. We just need to enjoy every weekend. Try to win every weekend and be aggressive at the start, the pit-stops, there is no time to think about any other thing.
Q: Sebastian, what exactly happened at the pit-stop?
SV: Well I think you saw it from a better angle than I did. The mirrors are not really big. I think everything went initially according to plan. We changed all three tyres except the rear left. It went on but I think it wasn't tight yet and we put the car down, back on the floor. I saw it in the mirror that they realized it is not done yet so we had to put the car back up and lost a lot of time. Lost directly the position to Fernando in the pit-box and to Lewis on the circuit. Up to that stage I think it was a very good race. I had an excellent start and an excellent first stint. In these tricky conditions I was able to open a big, big gap which helped us for the rest of the race. Up to that point. It is difficult to say, as Fernando touched on, I think it would have been a tight race as Ferrari had very good pace and we have to respect that and take it into account. It was not just us maybe being unlucky or finishing second because of a mistake. I think especially Ferrari, especially Fernando, was very competitive today and it would have been a long way to the chequered flag. It was an exciting race with the conditions with one half completely wet - even struggling a bit and aquaplaning in places - and the other half dry, sunshine, on the same track. It is a bit funny. I think it can only happen around here. But it makes it very special to us as it makes it very tricky in these conditions. I think it was an exciting race. Then I lost a lot to Fernando behind Lewis. I couldn't get past initially and it gets more difficult. I lost the front tyres right behind him as I was so close and it wasn't easy to attack. I had one chance maybe into Copse but I think in hindsight my exit was too good so I ran into his back too soon on the straight and could not use the momentum. Then we got him at the stop but had to do a longer stint at the end. Mark was closing in, in the last three or four laps and he was quicker but we could stay ahead so a long race, a lot of things happened, easy to do a mistake again. We didn't do many and a good result for the team with Mark coming in third. A podium here is always special. There are so many fans here. It is one the nicest in-laps or coming back to the pits after the chequered flag as you can really feel people are passionate about racing. Most of the cheers goes to Jenson (Button) and Lewis but even with not having the British flag on your car they love racing. It is great to stand on the podium and see that many people.
Q: Mark, what happened at the start as it wasn't quite as good. It was still very good.
MW: Well Fernando and I spoke about it. The right hand side looked pretty good in those greasy conditions so that's the way it went today. I am not really bothered about that to be honest. The race wasn't won or lost there. Seb did a good pace on the inters and we were pretty evenly apart. Pace wise too-ing and fro-ing a little bit when the inters were going off. Then the pit stops started and all of us had different types of strategies, different in and out laps, and the pit-stops weren't the smoothest today so all in all it was where we didn't perform to the maximum. Fernando definitely deserved to win the grand prix, no question about it. He drove very, very well. The team did a great job so Ferrari deserved to win. I finished third.
Q: You had a few battles on the way?
MW: Yeah with Lewis I could get him. It was good to pick him off reasonably quick. It is always difficult when DRS zones have damp areas on the way in but managed to get him. That tyre did a lot so we had to get the tyre to the end. Coming to the end of the race I caught Seb but couldn't do enough to pass him.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adam Hay-Nicholls - Metro) Mark, Christian Horner has said that you should be fine with the team orders at the end and if you and Seb had raced until the end you would both have ended up in the fence. Do you agree with that? Was it the right call? Does this mean realistically that you are out of this championship?
MW: I am not fine with it. No. That's the answer to that. If Fernando retires on the last lap we are battling for the victory so I was fine until the end. Of course I ignored the team as I want to try and get another place. Seb was doing his best and I was doing my best. I don't want to crash with anyone, but that was it. I tried to do my best with the amount of conversation I had. One-way conversation obviously as I wasn't talking too much back. There was a lot of traffic coming to me, but I was still trying to do my best to pass the guy in front.
Q:(Adam Hay-Nicholls - Metro) Do you remember roughly how many messages you had?
MW: Probably four or five.
Q: (Sarah Holt - BBC Sport) Fernando, you've been saying for quite a while that you thought Silverstone was going to be a turning point for Ferrari. What did you know that the rest of us didn't and how personally important is it for you to get your first win this season under your belt?
FA: Well, what I've been saying over the last couple of races is that for sure the team has been improving a lot - there was one part of the championship in which we put new parts on the car and they were not quicker so the wind tunnel was not telling us the truth, so we lost a little bit of ground there in the first couple of races with upgrades on the car. Then it seems in the last three or four races every new part on the car is working fine, so they are steps forward for us and very good news, not just for this year but also for next year's development. We are very happy with this and it seems that here we brought quite a big aero update and everything is working fine. Both Felipe and me feel much happier with the car. It's something that in the last three or four races we were feeling and I was saying. Victory here is very special. As I said, I think here in England motor sport is very big. People understand this sport, people love motor racing. There are hundreds of different categories here, classic cars, different things that only happen here in England, because they love motor sport. So winning here, in front of these people, is great from a driver's point of view, and Silverstone, with all the historic races we've had here and the good fights for many big names that have raced here.
Q: (Mike Doodson - Honorary) Fernando, apropos what you've just said, it was a really thrilling experience for everyone here to see you push that old Ferrari right to the limit and I want to thank you very much for that. I would like to ask, if you would have been 60 years older, do you think you would have wanted to race a rather primitive old car like that as much as you enjoy racing your modern Ferrari?
FA: Yeah, yeah, I think I still love motor sport, I still love cars. I also had the privilege to be with John Surtees last week in Maranello with his car as well, sitting in that car. I think it was obviously a different sport, much more dangerous. The level of power and grip is totally different now. When I drove those cars, there is a huge amount of power for the grip that you have. We are talking about 450-500bhp on a tyre that is this (indicates small amount) wide. I think every car, or every steering wheel that you have in your hands - it doesn't matter if it's from 60 years or 30 years ago, it doesn't matter if it's more dangerous or less dangerous - you don't feel that. You just want to drive and to be flat out and enjoy driving. I perfectly understand the adrenaline, the emotion of that time and I'm sure that it's very similar to what we feel now. We are lucky now that safety has improved a lot.
Q: (Julien Febreau - L'Equipe) To all of you: how much do you think the change to the off-throttle regulations this weekend played a role in global performance of your own cars?
FA: For me, nothing. I don't think it's a big factor. We saw one McLaren fighting for the podium until the last moment. We saw Red Bull, Ferrari for the other positions on the podium and, as we saw 15 days ago in Valencia, I was second. I didn't see any Force India or any Sauber or anything fighting for victory because the rules changed. It was more or less the same.
SV: I think it's hard to measure for us, firstly from a data point of view and also from a feeling point of view, because this is a different track compared to the tracks we've been to previously. To really find out, you have to test one thing against another, so on-off. But I think, as Fernando said, it didn't make a massive difference in terms of driving, driving style. I didn't have to change anything so I think the influence wasn't huge. Sure you can see a little loss here and there but, as I said, it's not changing the driving.
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Mark, after last year's win here, you came out with a classic quote: 'not bad for a number two driver.' I was wondering, after today's comment from the team: Ômaintain your position' on the last lap, do you feel like a number two driver again today?
MW: Not really. I just want to race to the end, so with four or five laps to the end, they started to chat to me about holding my position. Of course, they want the points, but I also need to try and get some more points as well.
Q: (Marco Degl'Innocenti - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Seb, what did you think at the moment when Mark tried to overtake you?
SV: What do I think? I tried to stay ahead. Obviously, we were racing each other. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Sure, from a team point of view, if you have the cars quite isolated in second and third, the first car is away, the fourth car is pretty far away as well, so from the team's point of view, there's no point in racing and trying to do something stupid because the points for the team are the same, the difference between second and third is not massive, but naturally we try to race. What can I say? I was trying to defend my position which I did. I was struggling, Mark was faster. And then there was the chequered flag.
Q: (Peter Windsor - Clarkesport) Fernando, where would you place the Ferrari now in terms of fast and slow speed performance, perhaps relative to Red Bull or indeed relative to where you were four races ago?
FA: Obviously it's difficult to say. We need to analyse the race a little bit better - sectors etc - but I think we were between one and 1.5s behind Red Bull, especially in qualifying four races ago. In Barcelona, I think I was 1.2s and Felipe 1.6s or something like that, so the average was there and here, with similar characteristics, high-speed corners, exactly the same tyres, the soft and the hard, we were much closer so definitely an improvement. Here, for whatever reason, we were quick in sector two all weekend which is the high-speed sector, so maybe that means we have recovered a lot in that part and now we need to concentrate a little bit more on our strongest point that it was the slow speed corners where we need to make improvements.
Q: (Byron Young - Daily Mirror) Seb, isn't this a sham? You're the World Champion, you're supposed to be best driver in the world and Red Bull are reduced to begging on the radio to make your team-mate slow down, so he doesn't overtake you, suggesting the results aren't really what we've seen. How do we know you're a worthy champion?
SV: I finished second, I think. As I said earlier: Mark tried to pass me; I could stay ahead. Clearly you could see he was quicker at that stage. If I wasn't racing, I would just wave him past. Sure, the last thing you want is to do something bad for the team. If it would be the other way round, there's no point - of course, I would like to overtake Mark at that stage but there's no point trying to do something stupid, especially from a team point of view, so I don't see why there is a big fuss really.
Q: (Byron Young - Daily Mirror) But this is motor racing, it's about beating a guy on the track, not the team deciding who wins what.
SV: I think we were racing, it was not a scheduled 'I move right, you move left, I move left, you move right, I brake here, you brake there.' As Mark said, he stayed flat out and tried to race me, as hard as he could, didn't find his way past. To me, at this stage it's quite amusing.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Fernando, if Hamilton didn't keep behind Sebastian and Mark, your race would be different and in a normal race, if you had to use the hard tyres, how would your Ferrari react?
FA: Yes, that's a good point. After the first couple of laps with the intermediates, we didn't need to use the hard tyres any more so we chose to do the whole dry race with the best performing tyre, which was the soft on this occasion, so there's a question mark how the car would have performed with the hard tyre. In FP3 and Q1, we were very, very competitive with the hard, so we approached the race with no problems and no doubts as we had in Barcelona. There was a big problem but here we were convinced that we were OK with hard tyres but obviously it was just a thought. And without Hamilton keeping Sebastian behind, obviously the race was a little bit different, for sure. We had to push more to open the gap. With Lewis there, the race was a little bit more comfortable for us and we could drop the revs a little bit and take a bit more care of the engine, the tyres and things like that.
Q: (Sean McGreevy - CSMA Magazine) Fernando, this is a great way to celebrate 60 years since Ferrari's first win, but what does today's win mean to you personally and the team?
SV: It obviously means a lot for all the guys, the people working for Ferrari who are the sons or daughters of the guys that were here 60 years ago. They are working in the factory, with the same mentality, with the same passion for racing that is in Ferrari's DNA - of all the workers there. For me, as I said to the team on the radio, I feel very proud of them, of this recovery, always fighting to win races. In spite of a difficult start to the year, (they) never give up, they keep working, they keep showing the Ferrari brand and the Italian flag on the rear wing everywhere we go, very proudly. So, for me, it's special to race for this team and to give them the maximum capacity and my maximum abilities to give them a good result. This is teamwork and I'm very happy for them.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Sebastian, you struggled in the end with your tyres; was it just because they had two more laps on them than Mark's tyres, or was it a set-up thing? Or was it something general because it was a similar story in Montreal when Jenson was catching you up?
SV: I think it depends firstly on when exactly do you stop. I don't know when the others stopped, so it's hard for me to say whether I was doing better or worse than the others. At the end of the race, I was racing against Mark. As he said, he was in a similar position with tyres, so it's not as if only I was struggling. And then, to be fair, it was quite difficult at the beginning in wet conditions, semi-wet, at least, and then moving on to the dry tyres with still some wet places, so really only the third stint was the first dry stint where I was stuck behind Lewis. To judge the car then is quite difficult. At the pit stop, at least, you can change front wing angle, which can be quite useful around here with these high-speed corners. Obviously I didn't get a proper read because I was stuck behind another car, so in hindsight I think I would have done things differently for the last stint, but I didn't get the chance to read the car before and then, yeah, towards the end just tried to get the car to the chequered flag, because there was no chance of catching up 15 seconds in 15 laps. I was quite isolated at the end, then I lost quite a lot in the last two laps compared to Mark behind.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) Fernando, one year ago, you were in the middle of the team order crisis; are you enjoying now the fact that politics are involving Red Bull?
FA: I'm not happy with any politics, not to me and not to Red Bull. I don't think there are polemics. What you try to ask here to them, they answer very well, so there are no polemics but I'm sure tomorrow you will write something.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) Mark, you were one of the few drivers who actually defended Fernando Alonso last year, saying that it was normal that there were team orders. Have you changed your mind about that or was your track behaviour the answer to my question?
MW: No, I stick by what I said last year. Obviously, they had one guy trying to stay in the championship fight - Fernando. Felipe was not having the season that he's having this year. He's doing a bit better job. Fernando was much, much quicker, it was in the middle of a grand prix and he (Massa) released him, so this is pretty straightforward stuff.
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