Q: Sebastian, there is a huge chance that you will not take part in Saturday’s qualifying. What is the reality?
Sebastian Vettel: As far as I know we will obviously take the chance to have an extra component - to pull a sixth component of all the components - and as far as the regulations are concerned I will start from the pit lane. For Saturday our plan can change - it will depend on how we approach Saturday.
Q: What did that mean for today’s practice sessions?
SV: Well, obviously it was not a great day today with the gearbox issues that we had…
Q: Does that mean a new gearbox?
SV: Not necessarily. This evening we will take it apart and see what the damage really is. During the sessions we had to change to an old one and that had cost us more time than we would have liked, as the plan was to focus entirely on the race trim. And that we would do so was probably no secret because if you start from the pit lane your focus cannot be on qualifying, because no matter what you do in qualifying it hasn’t got any impact on your starting position. So it is not rocket science [to see] that our efforts were on a race set-up.
Q: Wouldn’t it make sense for you to go out for at least a couple of laps in Q1 tomorrow - just as a sort of respect for the fans since you are the reigning champion?
SV: Well, I didn’t make the rules. If you have to start from the pit lane anything you do in qualifying doesn’t matter. That’s the rule. For sure, for the people who come here to watch the cars it’s a pretty bad rule, so yes, probably I will go out a bit in Q1 just to put mileage to on the engine and the other parts - but sorry, that’s the way it is.
Q: How will your race develop, starting last? We saw some years ago in Abu Dhabi what you can do in such a situation…
SV: Ah, those were different times. But, of course, I do see the chance to move further to the front. But overtaking is not an easy task here from the track layout. Then add our top speed to that and it becomes clear that there will be no Abu Dhabi on Sunday. So I think it will be paramount to see where our priorities are between here and the next two races.
Q: Talk of a move to Ferrari for you is all over town - and still no announcement. When will that happen?
SV: I cannot comment on that. There is nothing planned at this stage.
Q: Has the working situation changed for you since the team knows that you will leave at the end of the season?
SV: No, not really. We are still working on the same things - to increase our performance for the last couple of races. Sure, if you think about things for next year I am not that involved - but that is normal when you have made it clear that you will not be around.
Q: 2014 has not been your ideal year. Can you still take something from it?
SV: In many ways it is much easier to learn from poor seasons than from perfect ones. In a good year you hardly focus so much on what to improve because everything is going well anyway. But on the other hand I am not a fan of the belief that only bad races teach you something - you also learn from good races, and of course I prefer it that way.
Q: When you watch the battle between the two Mercedes drivers for the title, what springs to your mind given your own past experience?
SV: Everybody tackles such a situation in a different way. The closer you get to the decisive moment, the more the tension intensifies - but then it’s all about staying relaxed and calm and not getting distracted by anything that is happening outside the car.
Q: Today after FP1 was the first trial for the new ‘virtual safety car’ display. How did you like it?
SV: I just had a glimpse of it at the end. I suppose it does what it is supposed to do - I think it needs some fine-tuning, but overall it works. You see a plus or a minus sign - and you better stay in the plus because the minus means that you’re too fast. It is still in the trial phase as I understand it, but my guess is that in the future we will see something like this as part of race safety.