Red Bull sprang a surprise by topping both of the opening practice sessions at the Hungaroring on Friday. With the team's updates apparently working well, championship leader Sebastian Vettel admits Ferrari and Mercedes have a new threat to contend with in Budapest...
Q: Sebastian, from what you’ve learned today how likely is pole position for you tomorrow? Will you, or someone else, prevent Lewis Hamilton's bid to match Michael Schumacher's pole record?
Sebastian Vettel: I don’t know. I have to say it was a bit difficult for us today. In the morning it was not good at all. In the afternoon [it was] a bit better - but what that means for tomorrow, how would I know! What I know is that we definitely will be able to raise our game tomorrow!
Q: Will we see a three horse race for pole position?
SV: It looks like it, yes. And I hope one of the three will be us!
Q: Can it be that Red Bull are a bigger challenger than Mercedes this weekend?
SV: We are focusing on ourselves and I will squeeze everything there is out of the car to ideally be in front of everybody else – and the truth will show on Sunday. The race is difficult to judge as overtaking is not the easiest of things.
Q: What issues did you face today?
SV: The balance of the car was not really good. We will have to put extra time and thought into that to find out what the car wants! (Laughs) But when you look at the gaps it is marginal. The long runs felt good and in the course of the day I felt more and more comfortable in the car.
Q: You had a new floor on the car in the morning – did it work?
SV: Well, I had a small amount of damage so we had to go back to the old floor – but that was fine. We saw several cars going off the track – the exits of Turns 4 and 11 especially are a bit harsh and I went a bit wide and aggressive in the morning.
Q: What does a perfect lap demand from a car on this track? A pole position lap that is…
SV: Good balance. A good balance between front and rear suspension so that the car doesn’t slip. But that is ideal and almost never happens! The tyres will also play a significant role – to get them into the right window to be able to extract the maximum for one whole lap. Note: we are speaking about an ideal world!
Q: Then lets get back to the reality: what worked better in the afternoon than in the morning?
SV: I had more time in the car. That sometimes works wonders. I simply had more time to find the right rhythm. And we tried a number of things. Maybe not all worked out as we had hoped – but the majority did so we have a clear direction for tomorrow!
Q: The predictions are that it will be pretty hot on Sunday….
SV: It is always hot in Budapest! So from that side there is no real surprise. My guess is that tyre strategy will play a significant part on Sunday – the game of undercut and overcut. Whoever has the best intuition for that will have the upper hand. I think we have a good chance on Sunday. I am really looking forward to the race!