FIA post-race press conference - Singapore 23 Sep 2012
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing), 2 - Jenson Button (McLaren) and 3 - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
PODIUM INTERVIEWS (Conducted by Eddie Jordan)
Q: Sebastian youre a back-to-back winner here. Whats the secret?
Sebastian Vettel: I think its one of the toughest races of the year to be honest. Its very long; the full two hours. The circuit is a killer. Theres so many bumps, theres no space for mistakes and the race just seems to go on forever. Obviously we benefited from Lewis failure. A couple of laps before that he lost some oil and then after that I think we generally we had very, very strong pace all weekend. I had a good start, which got us into second and in the hunt. The pace was there so... Im just incredibly happy and proud because this is a such a tough race. I would like to dedicate it to one very, very special man, Professor Sid Watkins who passed away and we remember him for sure. I think he is one of the biggest reasons we can go out on a circuit like this and enjoy ourselves and be reasonably safe. He pushed the boundaries in terms of safety for all of us, so a big thank you to him.
Q: Can you see something reminiscent of 2010; how you came from this position and just sneaked that win of the championship in 2010?
SV: I dont think Fernando would be too happy if it happened again in the last race. But its an incredible season for all of us (inaudible) we have a lot of races left, the car seems to be competitive and we just have to use the momentum and keep pushing for these last races and see what happens.
Q: Jenson, what happened at the re-start?
Jenson Button: First of all, good evening everyone. Was that fun? Good. It was a pretty tough two hours for us. The re-start? Sebastian accelerated and braked for the right-hander and I just didnt expect that, such a speed difference. So I hit the brakes, locked up and just missed the rear of his car, because that would have been quite embarrassing. But we got through it and yeah its a good second place. Im reasonably happy with that. We all want to win, but you cant win them all.
Q: Does that second place make up in some small way for Monza?
JB: Yeah it does, but for us as a team to have another failure this weekend is disappointing. The important thing for us is we have a very good car. I think the team are doing a fantastic job and it seems that every race we go to we really do have a chance of winning so thats important to us.
Q: Fernando, you also have won twice here and now on the podium again. It must be one of your favourite tracks?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, good evening everybody. Of course, is one of the best tracks to drive, to enjoy. The weekend in general is out of our normal routine, lets say, of times etcetera. We enjoy driving here, the atmosphere is fantastic, the layout is quite interesting and it was a fun race again.
Q: You still have a 29 point lead in the Championship but yet you havent won since Germany. Are all of your opponents, are they all falling away or tripping over themselves?
FA: Well, in Monza is was Lewis winning the race and Sebastian retired. Here its Sebastian winning, Lewis retiring, so for me its OK is they keep doing it like this.
Q: Sebastian, really should we have expected that result after practice - but perhaps not after qualifying?
SV: Yeah, it just underlines that we obviously struggled a bit yesterday, especially in the last section of qualifying. Up to then I think it was fine and the pace was there. The confirmation was straight away there in the grand prix when we found ourselves behind Lewis and were able to push him quite hard. I think he was obviously trying to save his tyres, we were trying to save the tyres. Its a bit of a different race, its very tactical but I think the pace was there in the race throughout. Also, towards the end versus Jenson I think we could have an answer every time he was going quick and it was a good finish of the Grand Prix. Obviously its a long race, a lot of laps - we did the full two hours again - but its fun in a way, you are excited, a bit nervous before the race starts, knowing there is a little bit of a marathon coming, but I think thats what makes this race so special: not just racing at night, its also the circuit with a lot of corners, a lot of bumps, making it extremely difficult. Its a great challenge for us. Very happy with the result, obviously. I think the team deserves a big thank you. In fact working in these conditions is very, very hot and in the garage it is another 10, 15 degrees hotter than outside. So not the nicest office to work it but obviously its nice to give a little bit of champagne back and bring a trophy home - so Im very happy.
Q: And good for the Championship chances as well
SV: Yeah, it looks better than before. Fernando finished third. I am not a genius but I think its looking ten points better than it was before. Theres a lot of races left and its a bit difficult to predict whats going to happen. We have to make sure that we finish the races first of all. I think the pace is there, even if we are not quick enough to win then it is good enough to collect a lot of points. And we have to make sure we do that. Its a tough championship so far but were still in it. Were still looking forward to the next couple of races, and obviously the target at the moment is to beat Fernando.
Q: Jenson, the pace seemed to be there at the start but not necessarily at the end.
JB: Yeah, the pace on the supersoft was good. I could look after the tyres pretty well not that it did me any good anyway because after the pitstops they had a gap because they went to new tyres earlier than me, so it didnt really work out. And on the harder of the two tyres, the balance wasnt as good and I couldnt really look after the tyres and degradation was reasonably high so, yeah, not too bad. Would have been nicer to have pushed Sebastian a bit harder: you never know around a street circuit when you push someone hard, so there was always the possibility that we could do one step better but it wasnt to be; Sebastian didnt make any mistakes and we came away with a second. Reasonably good points and its nice to get some good points back on the board after the DNF in Monza.
Q: After Lewis retirement was there any concern in terms of reliability, or did they not tell you that?
JB: No, they didnt say anything. I obviously knew that it was a I still dont know but Im guessing it was a gearbox problem. For about three or four laps it was spraying gearbox oil. I thought it was the backmarker at the time, and then I saw Lewis pull over so I knew that was from his car. Its disappointing for the team to have another DNF - two weekends on the trot. Its something that we need to sort out because as a team over the race weekends were doing a great job and the pace is there with the car. Over the last few races the results weve had have been very good but its just we cant seem to do that with both cars. Its something for sure we need to work on for the rest of the season.
Q: Fernando, for you was this pretty much the best you could hope for?
FA: Yes, definitely. I think we were not very competitive this weekend so we struggled a little with the pace of the car and yesterday we managed to put a good lap in Q3 and that was a little bit the best part of the weekend. Because if you start at the rear I think you are having problems all the race, so starting in fifth, it was OK. Then the start was so-so. We lost position with di Resta and then we recovered in first and second corner, and then we fight a little bit with Maldonado so I think the safety car arrive in the worst moment for us because we have stopped and changed the tyres five laps before the safety car, so we didnt have the pitstop for free like the others did. So, it was, I think with all these difficulties, if we put altogether, arriving third in our difficult weekend is for sure a fantastic result in terms of points.
Q: And in terms of your rivals obviously with Lewis not finishing
FA: Yes, again I think its a very positive weekend. A very good weekend. Of the four or five contenders, we lost points with one, with the other three we increased our advantage, so obviously, as I said, when we are not quick enough to win more points against three of our opponents, I think its positive.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ubaid Parker - F1 Pulse) Sebastian, when you were chasing Hamilton, you were losing three to four tenths on several laps in sector two alone, although you were recovering it a little bit in sector one and sector three. Was there any particular reason for that, because you did mention that turn ten was a difficulty yesterday?
SV: No, not really. I saw that I was gaining a little bit in the first sector, not sure in the second sector but I could see that I probably lost a bit but I think Lewis has been very quick in sector two all weekend. Also, I think I was fairly close to him, so obviously the closer you get, it's a bit of a disadvantage but I try to keep the gap fairly much the same, lap by lap. I didn't really mean to close the gap, because I know that the closer I get, the more grip I lose, and obviously I will lose tyres just by running close to him and losing downforce so I think it was a tactical race in the beginning, especially the beginning of the second stint after the first pit stop. If you go all out in one lap you probably go a second faster but then you do this exercise for three laps and Jenson is coming. It's the races that we have these days but I think, as I said, Lewis was already quick in sector two so it was probably not a surprise to lose a little bit against him.
Q: (Ian de Cotta - Today) Sebastian, you say this is a tough circuit. What does it feel like to win twice in a row?
SV: Very good. I'm very happy. I think this is one of the best races to win in terms of atmosphere. Everything is a little bit special here. It's a surprise in a way, because we haven't been racing here for fifty years - Formula One hasn't been racing here for fifty years but it still feels like a real classic already. It's nice. I think everyone likes coming here. It's a bit funny to be in the European time zone and a little bit against everything else in this city. It's great to get the opportunity. It's a great city, more than five million people living here and the circuit is right in the middle. When you do the drivers' parade and you see a lot of people around the track it's nice just to be part of it, obviously even greater to win, which was great last year, but is even greater this year to repeat it. I'm very happy, especially with this year's championship. It's very tight. We probably didn't have the fastest package this weekend but we still won the race. I'm very happy.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, in the second stint you were consistently catching up to the leaders; what was different in that stint compared to qualifying and the other parts of the race?
FA: I don't know. I think we were pushing a little bit harder and we were in free air. In the first stint we were fighting a little bit with Pastor and then we were probably a little bit more competitive with the soft tyre compared to the super soft, so maybe that was the reason.
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) To all three of you: what are your expectations for Suzuka and your specific car, each of you?
SV: I think we have to improve. I think there is still a little bit that we need to gain. I think that at the moment McLaren is the fastest car and the Ferrari is a little bit of an all rounder. It's always quick and always there so we need to make sure that we see the chequered flag. Reliability will be important but it's a fun track so I'm looking forward to it. The Sauber will be quick, unlike this weekend and we will go from there.
JB: It's always very difficult to know because it's such a different circuit to this one but if you compare it to Spa, and it's reasonably similar to Spa - but without the run-off areas - it's a circuit that should suit us pretty well. I still think that the Red Bulls will be strong as they were in Spa. Qualifying was great for us and the race was as well, but in the race our pace was no better than the Red Bulls. It's going to be a competitive race, I think. We really don't know where the Ferrari will stand on that type of circuit. It's going to be a competitive race, and one I'm very much looking forward to.
FA: Yeah, a little bit difficult to predict. I think all this year we've been up and down for all the teams and it's the same for us. For sure, we need to improve the performance we saw here. We struggled all weekend. Positions five and 13 for our cars is not what we were hoping for so we need to be in a better position in Suzuka. Maybe Silverstone is also quite similar to Suzuka and we were quite OK there so hopefully we can repeat that kind of performance.
Q: (Carlos Miguel - La Gaceta) Fernando, maybe your first stop was a little bit early; one or two laps more, for the traffic, I think - or no?
FA: I don't know. We more or less stopped when we felt that the tyres were dropping off too much and we didn't want to lose too much time. So we stopped. We found some traffic there and we struggled to overtake. After that, we had good pace so maybe... I don't know. It's difficult to... or it's easy to see after the race. I was happy with the pit stop call.
For tickets and travel to 2012 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.