FIA post-race press conference - Hungary 31 Jul 2011
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1 - Jenson Button (McLaren); 2 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); 3 - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari).
Q: Jenson, what a way to mark your 200th Grand Prix. Finally, you can start to mark the occasion and start the party.
Jenson Button: Yeah, it is good having a couple of weeks' break, as it might take me that long to get over tonight! This is the first place where I won a Grand Prix, back in 2006 in these sort of conditions, and it is my 200th race and I have won here again, so a great moment. For some reason I like these conditions, dont ask me why, but it worked out again. A great call by the team to put me on the prime tyre when they did and a great call by all of us when we decided not to go to the inter. All round, amazing weekend, and I want to say a big thank you to the whole team, the mechanics, the engineers, everyone within the team that has worked so hard to produce the car that we have now. We are going into the break on a nice high, but I think every day we are on holiday we are going to be thinking about Spa already and excited about coming back and hopefully doing the same again.
Q: Sebastian, you got the start you wanted today but sometimes staying on the track in the early stages seemed impossible. Holding onto the lead even more impossible.
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, indeed, I was struggling a bit in the first stint with the intermediate tyres. Lewis was a bit faster and then I lost it down into turn two. Yeah, quite tricky. He was pushing quite hard and I tried to be on the edge and at some stage I realised it would be too late, so I opened the car as I know the white lines, and in particular the green paint afterwards, is very slippery. It is easy to have a spin and lose the lead. After that the circuit was drying. I think we could maybe have come in a lap earlier, and then on the super softs I was feeling quite good initially but there was quite a lot of drop off. I think it was the same for all of us with the track being quite green. I think both times I would have loved to come in a lap earlier, but it was quite good fun to see all of a sudden both of the McLarens very close again. But then in the last stint I had to let Jenson go. I did feel I had more speed in the car but I had a couple of problems with the brakes and it was difficult to know, 20 laps to go, how the car would be in the end, so I couldnt push as hard as I would have liked to. But still, second today is an important step. Nevertheless, I think the win was within reach but we didnt get it. We need to work hard as both of the McLarens are very, very strong in all sorts of conditions, so it is clear now for a couple of races that they have done a step forward and we need to make sure we come back, definitely.
Q: Fernando, with yourself, Ferrari went for an aggressive four-stop strategy in the race and third place is the reward for that. Did you ever feel that a podium was on in the early stages of the race when you were struggling as well?
Fernando Alonso: Well, in this type of conditions the race is very, very long. You need to be always focused, as with so many pit stops and so many weather conditions anything can happen, so I stayed focused at the beginning. Unfortunately, the start didnt go as we predicted and both Mercedes overtook us on the start, so I had to overtake Michael (Schumacher) and then (Nico) Rosberg two times. Then with the pit-stops we found ourselves behind (Mark) Webber for half of the race. After that we were able to push in some free air and we were quite quick, but the first 30 laps we were behind the Mercedes and behind Mark so it was a little bit too much, the price.
Q: Jenson, at what stage did you feel the victory was on today? When you got to the chicane and saw your team-mate suddenly right ahead of you or did you feel that as you were catching him at that stage the win was always on?
JB: It is very easy to say now but, personally, I felt at the end of the first stint. I felt I was able to look after the tyres for the remainder of the first stint. I think about half way through people started struggling and I was able to push on and the car felt really good. I think I was about three seconds behind Lewis when he pitted for the first stop. I think I had pulled in about a second a lap up to that point, so at that point I knew I was in good shape. The car was working well for me and I thought it was a matter of time in the dry conditions for us to get the jump on Lewis because at the end of the stints he was struggling. Obviously, it turned out a little bit different with the rain coming down. It was pretty difficult on the prime tyre. Those arent the conditions for that tyre, but a lot of fun all the same. It is always fun racing with Lewis. I think we are pretty fair. I dont think we touched this time and great to come away with a victory this weekend.
Q: Sebastian, for yourself, not the victory but you do increase your lead in the championship. Is that what matters most at this stage?
SV: As I said I think the win was in reach today. Not impossible, but thats the emotions I am going through right now. Looking at the championship it was a good race with a lot of people finishing behind us, except Jenson, so we will see. Still a very long way to go and we see with the races like this especially, how quickly things can change. I think the most important message is that especially McLaren in the last two races were very competitive and we are not happy with that. Surely Jenson is. But we need to come back so we are pushing hard for Spa.
Q: Fernando, Sebastian mentions that McLaren have been competitive in the last couple of races. How competitive do you see Ferrari now for the final part of the season?
FA: I think we are confident that we can do a good second part of the championship. The car did improve a lot and we are fighting for podiums, for pole positions, now in the last few races. For us, I think it was a fantastic July month because I think we are still the drivers that have scored more points in July, in these three races, with three different conditions, three different tracks. We are happy and I think the team did a step forward. I think McLaren also did a step forward so the competition is quite fun for you to watch with three teams able to win races. Unfortunately, it was not very hot in July. We love high temperatures for whatever reason in our car so hopefully August and September will be better for us.
Q: Jenson, it was certainly a fantastic race from the outside. I dont know what it was like from the inside?
JB: Well, it ended in the right way I think, but it was a very tough race. The first stint on the inters in the wet, it felt like there was no grip at all. It felt like we were on the drys. Then we put the dry tyres on which was definitely the right call but in some places it was very, very slippery. Then with the rain towards the end you just couldnt find any grip out there. We were skating around and it was hard enough keeping the thing on the round let alone trying to overtake and fight your team-mate. But a wonderful race. It is just perfect for my 200th grand prix. This is where I first won in Formula One and here we are again for my 11th win so I am going to enjoy this evening.
Q: Around about lap 47 it got really lively when your team-mate spun. You went off the road. You were battling wheel-to-wheel. It was fantastic stuff.
JB: Yeah, it was good fun. I was really struggling though, as I was on the harder of the two tyres and to try and keep heat in the tyre was really difficult in the second corner of the lap as it was so, so wet there. Everywhere else it wasnt too bad. I think I kept them in pretty good nick. I came round the corner and saw Lewis facing the other way. I went to the inside and I was just about to overtake Adrian Sutil and had to hammer the brakes on, as it was a yellow flag. He had backed off to let me by, so I almost stopped the car, he almost stopped the car and Lewis was able to turn the car around and he was on my bumper before the next corner, so it made it very tricky. I came out on top today. One of my most enjoyable races I would say, but I would like to win one in the dry please.
Q: In fact you went wide shortly afterwards and he took the lead back.
JB: Yeah, that was in turn two and I passed him again and then he passed me again and then the team said we are going to pit for inters. To me that was a big surprise, so when we got to the pit entry the team suddenly said no, no, stay out. Stay out as Lewis is coming in. He came in and I stayed out. Personally I was never going to come in anyway as it was nowhere near inter conditions, Braved it on the slicks and it was definitely the right call.
Q: Obviously you jumped Sebastian as well at the first stop?
JB: Yeah, it wasnt the stop was it, it was after the stop. He came out of the pits on cold tyres and I overtook him a lap later out of turn one. But at the start of the stints in the dry I didnt have the pace. I was also asked to sort of look after the car and look after the fuel as well, which didnt help my situation. But at the end of the stints the car was working great, really, really well and I was able to pull in Lewis by a second a lap I think if not more. But it was really working well, so it was looking good for the end of the race.
Q: Sebastian, it just didnt seem that you had the pace of the McLarens today. Would that be a fair judgement?
SV: Yeah, I think it is fair to say that. Start of the race I was struggling a little bit on the intermediates. I tried to keep Lewis behind but most important was to move away from the pack behind and build up a gap, so tried to defend and ran a little bit wide into turn two. Opened the car, as it is very easy to do a mistake on the paint. It is very slippery. Managed to stay ahead of Jenson and then pulled away slightly at the end of the stint. Arguably we maybe should have come in a lap earlier. But both times then on the super soft I was feeling reasonably confident in the beginning of the runs. Tyres saw some wear but it was the same for everyone. But then in the end of the stint I was struggling to keep up with Jenson. Second stint I think overall was a little bit better. I was able to change a little bit the car during the pit-stop. Both times I think a lap earlier could have helped us a bit and it would have gained us some time. We have to look into that, but, all in all, I think the last stint I felt the pace was there. I had some issues with the brakes and Jenson wasnt slow either. He was still some three or four seconds ahead at that stage, so first of all I have to close the gap and then overtake him and if you dont have the confidence it was more important to bring the car home. I think the pace was not so bad but fair to say Ferrari in race pace and McLaren for the last couple of events seem to have made a good step forwards. We need to have a look at why but then we need to look at ourselves as I think there is plenty of stuff to learn and things we can improve without looking at the others. That has to be the target for the next race and for the second half of the season.
Q: Theres still a long way to go, isnt there?
SV: Yeah, there is. Today Im not 100 per cent happy because I started from pole. I had the feeling we could have won the race, but pace-wise it was not impossible. It was a difficult one, especially with the conditions as Jenson said, with the rain, very, very slippery at some stages, many drivers making small mistakes here and there. I saw Jenson nearly lose it two corners from the end. It always depends, obviously but yeah, as I said, not a hundred percent happy. The target is to win and not to come second. Still, I know its good points today, everyone except Jenson finished behind us but as you said, theres a long, long way to go. Always remember, last year weve seen how quickly things can change so we need to make sure we see the chequered flag.
Q: Fernando, given your pace, were you happy with third or a little frustrated, because you were catching towards the end?
FA: Yeah, but Im happy with third having started fifth. Again, we recovered two positions in the race and we were able to jump on the podium for the fourth consecutive race, I think. This is good again for us. The weekend was maybe not as expected: we maybe expected hotter temperature and more problems with degradation for our main competitors, but in the end it didnt go like that. I think we have another - for the third consecutive time - difficult conditions for us, cold conditions and I think we reached another podium which is a good target for us every weekend.
Q: During the drivers parade, the track was wet and everyone was wondering why they had saved a set of supersoft option tyres, but they were pretty useful, werent they?
FA: Yeah. Its always important to save tyres this year. Even if the conditions were a little bit damp at the beginning we saw we switched to dry tyres quite quickly this year. It was good to have some good sets. I think there was always the possibility to run with supersoft. Different teams chose different strategies and we need to see which one was the best but we tried to do our race, always trying to avoid the traffic. At the beginning with the two Mercedes cars, I overtook Michael and then Rosberg and then with Webber for maybe 20 or 30 laps behind Mark. That was probably when the win possibility - the little chances we had for victory - disappeared in the first thirty laps.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) Jenson, well done.
JB: Is that all youve got?
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) At one point they did ask you - invited you - if you want to come in and you said no, I think. When was that? I wanted to cover this more.
JB: That was when Lewis came in and put inters on. They said in this lap for inters then round the second to last corner they said Lewis is coming in, stay out, stay out. I was never really going to come in for inters anyway. I didnt think it was the right choice personally. We werent going slowly enough, to start with. We were struggling on the tyres, it was difficult keeping the car on the circuit but we werent that slow, it wasnt inter pace really. And when you put the inters on, youve got to put the dries back on as well, so youve got to stop twice. For me, it wasnt the right decision. The team made the right call earlier on, we put the prime tyre on at the second stop which was definitely the right call. We could have run to the end of the race on that, whereas Lewis was on the option tyre. I dont know if he would have made it to the end, or he would have had to stop but for me the car was working very well and I personally didnt think it was ready for inters. These guys didnt either.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) Jenson, you were the only one of the top drivers - unless I missed something - who didnt make a mistake today, in tricky conditions. Would it be fair to say that you are more careful or less crazy than others when its raining, which allows you to win.
JB: For me, I lost the lead twice because I made a mistake. You obviously didnt watch the same race as we just did. Yes, Im crazy as well. I went straight on at turn two twice and Lewis got past me.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) Sebastian, at a certain point, when you were fourth, with Fernando and Lewis in front of you who were your most serious rivals for the championship, how were you feeling and do you feel a relief in that regard because you overtook them?
SV: Yeah, you should be watching closer. I think my toughest rival is I think Mark was second in the championship before this race. I dont know how many points and I dont really care and I dont care in the race, I dont calculate I see Fernando ahead of me and hes on a different set of tyres, obviously struggling so I could get past him fairly straightforward but I dont think about the championship when Im racing. I think about trying to win. As I said earlier, thats why Im happy but not entirely so. We go out there, we try to get pole on Saturday, we did so yesterday and we try to win on Sunday which we didnt do today. As I said, I think there has been a chance and we didnt use it, so we need to look into that. As I said earlier, Jenson scored more points today, other people scored less but thats not really important. There are still so many races to go so our target has to be to win races and I can tell you that we still feel very hungry, I feel very hungry - hungry in Hungary - to win races, full stop.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Jenson, what my friend wanted to say was more or less like this: in 2006 here, last year in Australia and China, this year in Canada and here again today: all races in similar conditions and you won all of them.
JB: All lucky. Always lucky in these conditions.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) My question is if there is any feeling as to the right moment to stop and change tyres. What elements are there to judge it and take the decision?
JB: Youre not always going to make the right call in these conditions, and I havent always made the right call in these conditions. But I feel that Im pretty good at making the right call when it comes to tyre changes, but Im not the only one. These two guys did exactly the same as I did, so Im not alone in my decisions. We had good pace today, very good pace and on the option tyre, I was able to make the tyre last for a long time. I was really looking after them. Towards the end of each stint the pace was very good. The reason why we won today was because we were quick and thats the reason. If it didnt rain, it wouldnt have made any difference at all.
Q: (Istvan Simon Auto Magazine) There was a pretty nasty-looking accident at the exit of the pit lane. One of the Renault cars was actually on fire. Dont you think a safety car would have been required or wasnt it that dangerous?
JB: It wasnt on the circuit. I dont know the full extent of the fire, but we could see the smoke, but it was well off the circuit. He didnt crash into that position. He pulled off and the car caught fire, so no, I dont think a safety car was necessary.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, you had one pit stop more than Jenson and Sebastian. Do you think, with hindsight, it would have been better to switch to soft and then do the rest of the race like Jenson did?
FA: I dont know really. Yeah, looking now, after the race, maybe the soft tyre was better than the supersoft, especially for second or third stint, looking at the very high degradation but we found ourselves behind Mark for two stints and we had to anticipate the stops a lot so we came to overtake him and coming in that early, it was impossible to go to the end of the race, because you chose four stops already, just to overtake Mark. I dont think it changes your tyre choice too much.
Q: (Carlos Miquel - La Gaceta) Question for Jenson, what this does symbol mean (touching thumbs in shape of W)?
JB: It means winner, its a W. Something me and my girlfriend have got going on.
Q: (Carlos Miquel - La Gaceta) Fernando, was the key to your podium just staying out on slick tyres on the wet track?
FA: Obviously there were some conversations going on, as I think there were for these guys as well. It started raining, we were like eight or nine seconds slower than the normal lap, but you never know if that rain continues, so I think you stop, you put on intermediates and you are much quicker. If that rain stops, its better to keep on the dry tyres, so you have to toss the coin in the air and gamble: whether to chose the dry tyres or if you chose the inters. And it depends only if the next cloud brings some more rain or if it stops so its completely unpredictable and completely out of teams and drivers control. So there is a luck factor that sometimes goes your way and sometimes doesnt. I think thats what happened to Lewis today. He was leading the race, maybe heading for victory and if the next cloud had more rain, maybe he would have won the race because he was the only one on intermediates.
Q: (Peter Farkas - Auto Motor) Jenson, when you had that really entertaining fight with Lewis, did you get any kind of instructions from McLaren, like keep your position, or please be careful or anything?
JB: No, they didnt say anything. I think they thought we had to concentrate on what we were doing at that moment in time. No, I didnt hear anything on the radio, which is nice.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, you spun in the last part of the race when you were following Sebastian. Without that, was it possible to fight for second place?
FA: Maybe, I dont know. I touched white lines in damp conditions on dry tyres and I spun, I lost a couple of seconds but luckily I could engage first gear and continue. I dont know, maybe yes, but there I lost maybe four seconds. I think I lost half a minute behind Webber at the beginning of the race.
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