Conditions crucial to Ferrari chances - Sebastian Vettel Q&A
As in Australia, Ferrari’s Sebastian didn’t quite have enough to prevent Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton grabbing pole in China - though the gap was even tighter than in Melbourne. So can Vettel turn things around again in Sunday’s race? The four-time champion says it will depend on the Scuderia being prepared for anything…
Q: Sebastian, how likely is it that the ‘red festival’ will continue tomorrow?
Sebastian Vettel: I have no idea. That will largely depend on the conditions tomorrow. Right now we do expect a wet race, but that might change as the predictions are only a 45 percent [chance of rain]. What seems to be a fact is that there will be a drop in temperature by something like 10 degrees - and that alone can make a significant difference.
But that is all crystal ball reading. What I can say right now is that the car feels good and I have been pleased with my qualifying lap. Maybe compared to Valtteri (Bottas), luck was a bit on our side. In the last corner I had a slight mistake that probably cost me five-hundredths, but until that point my lap was perfect. It was good to see that from Q1 to Q3 we’ve been able to constantly raise our game, so it will be interesting to see what will happen tomorrow.
Q: When the cars were in parc ferme afterwards you were having a very close look at the Mercedes. What exactly were you looking at?
SV: That I will not tell. They have all been watching in Stuttgart and have a direct line to Brackley, so my lips are sealed! (Laughs) And maybe I am looking at the completely wrong thing. But I can look at our car the whole day if I want to, so it is interesting to see something else. Anyway, it is impossible to read anything into a single piece, as a car only makes sense as a whole concept.
If you have trust in your car that is half the battle won...
Q: Lewis Hamilton is on pole, but there is a definite feeling that Mercedes are a little fearful of Ferrari…
SV: …I hope so! As I just said, the car feels good and if you have trust in your car that is half the battle won.
Q: Mercedes’ Niki Lauda lost a 10 Euro bet with Toto Wolff, as he thought you were going to take pole here…
SV: Only 10 Euro! If he really had trusted us he would have bet much more! (Laughs) Well, they have clocked the first two pole positions of the season on very different tracks, so maybe we are still missing little things in qualifying. But the race is always a completely different matter, as Melbourne has shown. In the race there we were very good compared to them.
Q: But even though you lost out to Lewis again today in qualifying, the small margin must be a confirmation of the rising form of Ferrari…
SV: Absolutely. We’ve been able to get even closer and that demonstrates that we are on the right path.
Q: Mercedes did far more long runs than Ferrari in final practice. Does that show the confidence that you have in your tyre management?
SV: Well, maybe. Of course in that one hour this morning you try to do as much as possible - try to run your whole program - and I think we’ve managed to do the essential things that were on our list. I think we can be satisfied with what we’ve done.
Q: With conditions tomorrow hard to predict, what will decide things? The start? The strategy?
SV: Everything! As we all don’t know how it will be tomorrow, there is also the element of surprise and it will also be about how you respond to surprises. We need to be at the top of our game and make the right calls.