Q: Sebastian, we're down to the final three races, and still no win so far. Based on that fact, is the title still the goal for 2017 - or should the team be lowering the targets to take some pressure off?
Sebastian Vettel: No, and I think it is very normal that you put the expectations high – this is Ferrari and we are not here to end up second – or fourth! So definitely no lowering of the sights. The title is always the goal. And next year with all the changes it is a completely new ball game. I think we will see some surprises - and our aim is to be at the front.
Q: There is a saying that success in F1 takes time. Mercedes needed a few years to be successful, as did Red Bull - but both were new teams. Ferrari have been around for longer…
SV: You must not see it that way! I think that both teams you mentioned took a lot of effort, time and money on their hands – and that paid off. And it is no secret that at times it was not always so quiet at Ferrari before I joined. Further to that the whole world always expects the utmost from Ferrari – and I can assure you that I am not here just to participate. But yes, the teams that are competing at the front have raised the bar significantly and to get there is not something that happens overnight! And if you end up in P2 or P3 it doesn't by any means show you've done something wrong.
Q: After all the criticism of late, today must have been really enjoyable?
SV: Yes, I had a good feeling the whole day! Don't get me wrong, the track is extremely slippery – almost the same as last year – but it was a day with almost no issues, so in that respect it was an almost perfect Friday.
Q: How close do you think your performance today was to the true pecking order of the weekend? Can you challenge Red Bull and Mercedes?
SV: I think our speed today was pretty good compared to the two mentioned so if it stays that way – with us being at the front – I would not mind! (Laughs) I witnessed Lewis's lap and I saw that he had some mistakes, so we will see what happens tomorrow. But in general I believe that the result shows the real situation. Let's hope that we will keep it tomorrow afternoon!
Q: There is a suggestion that F1 could benefit from being more risky again - that run-offs could be replaced by walls to punish any mistakes. What is your opinion of that?
SV: I see it that way: there has to be the impression of an element of danger – but it also has to be compatible with the legitimate demand for security. Since Formula One has existed that has been a constant field to work on. Way back the knowledge was simply less, so I believe that thinking of bringing back these times would definitely be a significant step backwards. Right now at many of the tracks we achieve speeds beyond 340 kilometres per hour – and if something goes wrong you would rather have a huge run-off zone! I can also see the wish of the fans at the track to be as close as possible to the action – so it all is about the right balance.
Q: Looking forward to the race, it didn't go all that well for you here last year – but you must have appreciated the event…
SV: Yes, it was not one of my highlights! But the race weekend was fantastic! To see so many people – and with the layout of the track driving through the main grandstands –was fantastic to see. The city embraces the race in such an incredible way! I remember the drivers' parade, that was just awesome. South America is simply different. They show their enthusiasm openly – really special!
Q: The championship fight is pretty tight – and only two drivers are in the hunt. Nico Rosberg is leading the pack with Lewis Hamilton in the chase. As a man with four titles under his belt – sometimes fought until the very last race - what is easier: to be the hunter or the hunted?
SV: Ideally you would want to be the hunted – because then your situation is a bit more comfortable as you just have to bring your game home. The hunter is much more exposed to the ‘forces of nature' – meaning that he has to hope that circumstances, track, conditions and opponents behave in his favour. What I always found pretty helpful was the advice not to think too much about your situation. We are all professionals – and we know what to do in every situation so it is better not to have too much on your mind! (Laughs)
Q: You know both drivers pretty well. Do you believe that Lewis is still able to turn it around?
SV: With the successes that he had in the last couple of years you have to reckon with him. On the other hand I am sure that Nico is at eye level, so there will be interesting races ahead!