(Conducted by Eddie Jordan)
Azerbaijan, Baku: what an amazing city and what an amazing race and we have your winners here today. Nico, tell us, you needed this today didn’t you, your fifth win of the season? Tell us about it.
Nico Rosberg: Yeah, Eddie, it’s been an amazing day really, an amazing weekend. Thank you all here in Baku for welcoming us in this way. It’s been spectacular, great track you’ve made, really exciting racing. Of course, for me the weekend went perfectly: qualifying, race, everything to plan, so it was really awesome.
When we saw you at the beginning of the week, you had some concerns about how you would approach this particular weekend. That’s all forgotten about I expect?
NR: No concerns; flat out.
Brilliant result for your today, we’ll come straight back to you. Second place, ladies and gentlemen, please, Sebastian Vettel. Come on Seb, tell us, second place in Canada, second place here, is this a complete Ferrari revival or are you going to have a word with Sergio, your boss and your President at Ferrari. Are you going to look for more horsepower?
Sebastian Vettel: Well, first of all, thank you very much. It’s the first time we are here in Azerbaijan. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it’s been a great track, a great pleasure, a great welcome for all of us. I think the circuit is incredible. You need to be ‘well-equipped’, let’s put it this way, around here, so some proper high-speed corners and very, very close. Today has obviously been a great job for us. Already by the end of yesterday the car was coming alive. We were struggling a bit on Friday, but to see where we are now I think is a great recovery. Second place in a row, two times on the podium now in a row after Canada, which is great, scoring some good points – even though this weekend was a bit different to last week. But still I think the pace is there, the car is good, we are coming along, so all in all a great day and thanks to the team.
The two different make-ups of the circuit – the slow speed and then the high-speed – did you enjoy that difference between the two?
SV: Yeah, definitely, especially because in the low speed you have to tackle quite a lot of kerb and be very, very aggressive. Very easy to get caught out. I think a lot of people lost a lot of money because they were betting on a safety car and we didn’t have one! I think it also speaks for the quality of the drivers. So it was a clean race. I expected a couple of safety cars, but it didn’t come out. But it’s a great circuit, a great challenge and with the high-speed sections where it’s really narrow it’s a lot of fun.
Well, it’s delightful to see you on the podium; we all love it. Ladies and gentlemen, the pride of Mexico! You’ve got a lot fans here.
Sergio Perez: Many Mexicans I hope.
We thought you’d blown it yesterday: you ran into the wall with a lap to go in the qualifying [sic] and to have to need a new gearbox, I said “well, he’s just cost the team a podium”. You’ve proved me wrong!
SP: Me either. I knew yesterday when I put the car in the wall in P3 that this was a big chance for us to score a massive result [potentially lost]. I was so frustrated with myself. Then going into qualifying, my boys did an amazing job to fix the car, to put everything together. And then I had to do the job, you know. I had to get on with the job. We had a great qualifying but still we were starting P7 today and we had to make our way through. Very good start, very good first lap. Very nice overtaking in Turn Two for Massa and Kvyat and then fighting with Kimi all the way to the end. I knew that he had a five-second penalty, but it was still nice to get him on the last lap.
Exactly – how sweet was it just to pip him on the last lap?
SP: Very nice. Although I knew that the podium was secure but when I saw the opportunity, that it was safe enough to do it and no risk at all, I went for it, because it obviously feel a lot nicer to finish the race P3.
Well, we’re very pleased, amazing drive from seventh to third. We come back to the winner – Nico! Nico we have to talk about the championship. You won the first four races, everyone thought it was in the bag and then you had a couple of little hiccups, so to speak. Are you back with a vengeance?
NR: To be honest, today I’m just enjoying this win, because that’s what I came here for. I wanted to win Baku and it worked out, so ecstatic, can’t wait to go down and see everybody….
You could answer my question!
NR: I’m not answering the question; I’m avoiding it! I’m going to go down and see everybody and big celebrations.
Q: Nico, great victory for you this afternoon: Pole, win, fastest lap, led every lap. Would you say that’s the most dominant of your five victories in 2016?
NR: It’s been a great and awesome weekend, really, yeah. Everything went cleanly, y’know, from the beginning to the end. And even in the race, it was a special feeling out there in the car because it felt like I could do whatever I wanted the thing would just stick to the line, stick to the ground, there was no risk of making mistakes or anything. It felt really, really special and I’m very, very happy. It’s been an awesome result, first time here, y’know, I think it’s been a big success. The track is exciting, definitely, and a lot of overtaking also today I hear – I think, I’m not sure but I think so – so all in all good.
Q: Your team-mate Lewis Hamilton had a few technical dramas it would seem along the way. Anything going wrong with your car or was it perfect all the way through?
NR: I think I had the same but I’m not sure. It was just a matter of getting out of ti with the right combination of switches.
Q: Sebastian, great recovery by you and Ferrari this afternoon – but are you a little bit unnerved by the pace of the man on your left [Rosberg]?
SV: Surely it’s not great news but all weekend they’ve been very, very quick. First session, after four laps they were putting lap times in that took us the probably the whole day to copy – so yeah, I think we didn’t have a good day on Friday, we were lacking pace. The car didn’t feel bad but it was just not quick enough. Then we changed quite a lot for Saturday, changed again quite a lot going into quali, so we did what we could here, reacting to it and came back and in the end finishing second… of course we benefitted a little bit from the problem that Lewis, or the mistake that Lewis did yesterday because both Mercedes were very, very quick throughout the weekend – but that’s how it’s done. So I’m very happy and very proud. We kept our head in and, as a team, worked well. Shame that Kimi couldn’t quite keep the third place but, for sure, he made it very nice for me to secure the second. Obviously at that point with a lot of laps to go we didn’t know how quick Lewis will be and how much him and Checo would be able to catch up so it has priority to make sure that we ran away. Surprised there was no Safety Car but, all-in-all, it’s been a great track and a great weekend.
Q: Checo, you’ve made it hard for yourself this weekend. How much satisfaction do you get from this third place?
SP: A lot. I knew that the podium was possible today but it was very hard, very hard work to get it. We really did an incredible first lap to get around the Williams and the Toro Rosso. I think that was one of the keys. The first laps were really difficult with the graining. Just basically not panicking. The easiest thing would have been to stop when the graining occurred, especially when Kimi and some people behind stopped and we decided to stay longer. It cleaned up. That was one of the keys of my race. Obviously pitting early to go onto the one stop and as soon as I left the pits I was under pressure from Lewis. So I couldn’t introduce nicely my tyres. I had to push straight away. The warm-up with the soft for me was a bit difficult. Those first laps were really tricky to keep Lewis behind. Then I managed to open a gap and then I was attacking Kimi but at the same time looking after the tyres, thinking that there’s going to be a Safety Car at some point. Unbelievable it didn’t happen. I was just looking after my tyres to make sure I made it to the end. I think Kimi was very strong with his pace given the lap-age that he had. I knew that he had a penalty, so I get pretty close to him, and at the end I saw the opportunity that it was safe enough to do it and it was good to take it and finish in P3. It is well-deserved for the team because they have done an amazing job. All my boys to fix the car from yesterday, so very pleased. It’s only the eighth race and we’ve done two podiums already. It’s been an incredible year so far.
Let’s open this up to the floor…
Q: (Sebastian Vettel – Scuderia Ferrari) Question to anyone. Who won the Le Mans…?
SV: How did Toyota manage to lose?
SV: Retired? Nooooooo…!
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Sebastian, going to the very first part of the race, can you confirm that you were asked to come into the pits but you preferred to stay out?
SV: Yeah, yeah, basically I was called in. We wanted to react to Daniel who pitted. He was struggling a lot with his tyres; obviously we passed him and then he went into the box. But I had a decent feeling, the pace was quite OK, I thought, and then we decided to stay out so I was asking the team to stay out, the tyres felt OK and I wanted to keep going. I was maybe at that point, seeing that Daniel was struggling and feeling that the tyres were not feeling so comfortable in the first, six, ten laps, a bit worried that the second stint would be very very long. In the end I don’t think there was much in it. Obviously we lost position to Kimi who undercut us but obviously we played well as a team together to make sure that when I came out behind him with the fresher tyres to use the pace and secure second place.
Q: (Oana Popoiou – F1 Zone) Sergio, do you think you had the pace to fight for a victory today if it wasn’t for the grid penalty?
SG: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think we could have fought Nico. He was very strong, in another league, but certainly I would have had a really good fight with Sebastian for P2.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globo Esporte.com) Sebastian and Sergio, we saw in Monaco and Canada some teams more close to Mercedes and here Mercedes was one second faster per lap. How do analyse that please?
SV: Well, I think they had a very strong package here. I think, as I explained, Friday was a bad day for us and we managed to recover, get away from here with a second place. I think it’s the optimum so we can be happy with that but surely not happy with the gap. Why they are quicker? I think looking at the comparison yesterday they were gaining quite a lot down the straights. I think maybe we carried a little bit too much wing. The other bit, we were losing quite a bit in low speed corners. Arguably they are doing something clever to pick up some pace there in low speed, the way they treat the tyres but if there’s something clever to be done, we need to be as clever as them and not be lacking that.
SP: Yeah, for us I think relatively on this track we certainly got a little bit closer to Mercedes but not a lot. I think everyone else dropped behind and they lost some performance so for us, I think the track suited our car well. Obviously a good power unit and I think good balance around the track. People were probably struggling more than we did but I think that was the main reason why we managed to be so much further up.
Q: (Jerome Bourret – L’Equipe) For all of you, after we have seen yesterday in qualifying and during the GP2 races, we were all expecting a crazy race. It hasn’t been the case; do you have any explanation for that? Have you been more cautious or was the track less tricky than yesterday?
NR: I think for sure a little bit the experience helps in that case. We’re all much more experienced and we’re able to avoid the incidents better and we also learned a lot from what was going on in the GP2 for sure, because we were watching and that was mayhem so I think we picked up a few things there as well and that’s it, but very surprising anyways.
SV: Well, surprised, yes, but then again I think it speaks for the quality. I think we’ve talked a lot about this track being high risk, dangerous. It reminds me. A couple of months ago I had a very nice lunch with Sir Stirling Moss. Obviously in ‘their’ time, you can argue it was very dangerous everywhere they went and he said it was a big deal of the reason why he jumped in the car, because it was dangerous.. Otherwise anybody could do it, so the thrill of it was exactly that challenge. I think we had some corners here where you don’t want to think about what’s happening if you get it wrong, very little room for mistakes and error but then it definitely makes you more alert, you’re awake and obviously you try to go as hard as you can and push but I don’t think we were taking it easy, any one of us, but equally, obviously, you don’t take any stupid approaches to risk because it could end quite badly.
Q: Checo, how do you describe the lack of safety car?
SP: To be honest, I’m very surprised, given how difficult this track is but it also speaks for the quality of the drivers that we have in Formula One. It’s not that we were taking it easy out there, I think we were all pushing and every braking point you really feel it can go wrong at any point. There is no room for mistakes in any place. The very least that can happy to you if you make a mistake is you lose a couple of seconds but I’m really surprised and I think well done to everyone because nobody made a mistake. Very surprised for that.