So fantastic. It was down to the team. They have been working very hard, most of the guys they didn’t sleep the Thursday until the Saturday, so it was good there was no qualifying as they didn’t have to touch the car and got some sleep. I think they deserve it today. Obviously this track is like it is drawn for us. With all the high speed corners it is always a pleasure and with the car getting lighter and lighter in the end it is just more and more fun. Yeah, incredible. Good start which was the key, from the clean side, and I could see Robert (Kubica) got a bit of momentum but the way down to turn one was too short for him. Then with the safety car which stayed out quite long with the incident with Kubica but then after that both of us were able to pull away from the field and then just controlling the pace until the end. There was a little bit of a rest behind Jenson (Button) as we couldn’t really go through him, so we had to wait until he pits. But after that, just incredible. So really, really happy and it is about time.
Q: You looked to have the race pretty much under control from the off but Mark was putting you under serious pressure after the pit stops.
SV: Yeah, obviously in his position he tries to push. I know that overtaking is not so easy and I think I just went as fast as I had to. I could see we were pulling away. I was mainly given the pace Fernando was doing for the majority of the race. I could see Mark when he was about one, two or three seconds behind. Like I said with Button in the middle after the pit stop half-way through the race we had to back off a bit but once he pulled it was free for us to go. As you said it was pretty much controlled to the end, just trying to carry the car home. But still you want to push every single lap because the car is magnificent around here. It just feels fantastic, so really happy.
Q: Mark, second today and increased championship lead. All in all a good day at the office.
Mark Webber: Absolutely. Very good day for me. It was close with Seb in qualifying. We know how crucial that is, so after that it was probably going to be difficult for me to win the race unless I got the start. I got a little bit of luck when Robert (Kubica) had the wheel nut come off. I could see it for most of that first lap and there was some debris coming back towards me, so I was pretty keen to pass him. I asked permission off Charlie (Whiting) to see if I could pass under the safety car but in the end Robert pulled over. Then after the restart it was just basically... it is a beautiful track but it is basically a formation finish. Both Sebastian and I just following each other around and it is very difficult to get much closer. Anything around about a second or second-and-a-half is about as good as it’s going to get around here, so very happy with how I drove this weekend. Congratulations to Seb. He deserves the victory as he did a good job and Fernando didn’t drive too bad either for third. All in all a good day for all of us and I am very happy with my position.
Q: As you said, you did get very close to Seb. At times taking almost a second a lap, sometimes over a second a lap from him. When you got that close to him was it a case of the circuit not allowing you to overtake or was it that the tyres had started to go off by that point?
MW: Circuit, and also we were mindful if I kept going into the back of Sebastian then we were coming along with Jenson as well. All that together I needed to make sure that if JB stayed out a long, long time and I didn’t have any tyres left trying to put pressure on Sebastian… even though Jenson wasn’t really in the race, for the lead, but he was potentially going to play a role in backing us up against Fernando, so I needed to get the balance right. It was fun to bring the gap back down to Seb and after that track condition is king. I know the rules and that’s how it is.
Q: Fernando, great drive for you. Fourth on the grid and third in the race. It looked pretty lonely for you at times but at the end you got very close to Mark.
Fernando Alonso: Well, obviously it was a tough race. The start was not particularly good. I didn’t make a good start. Robert did a fantastic start, on the clean side as well, so as Mark said, lucky when Robert retired as he was a tough rival, especially with the top speed of the Renault this weekend. Then I was more or less alone the whole race, no pressure from behind and impossible to catch Red Bull in the first part of the race. In the second part I think they managed the gap to Button a little bit. They were playing a little bit with that gap and I was able to run close to them but never close enough to put pressure. But anyway we knew that before coming here, third place was maybe our maximum position here. But we are convinced that this was the worst track for us for the remaining circuits of the championship, so it was a good weekend overall.
Q: A few races ago you said that you needed a podium in the remaining five races of the year to have a real shot at the title. A podium this weekend but a decreased advantage in terms of yourself for the championship battle. Do you still think podiums are enough or is it going to have to be wins?
FA: I still think that podiums will be enough.
Q: Seb, you are now tied for second in the championship. Only two drivers have ever taken back-to-back wins at Suzuka other than yourself. Mika H?kkinen and Michael Schumacher, and they both went on to win the title, so it is a pretty good omen.
SV: I guess. I wouldn’t mind obviously. I am very proud. I love this circuit. It is always special to come here. The fans - and I think the atmosphere for all of us is special. It is the first time I have won a grand prix for the second time, so I think ultimately you have to fall in love with this track. Yeah, very proud, so as you say I think that is a good omen, so I wouldn’t mind.
Q: Sebastian, well done, there seems to be a certain amount of relief to be winning again.
SV: Yeah, definitely. It’s obviously been a tough season for us, with a lot of ups and downs and not so trouble-free, but still I think we’re in a very good position. As I said, it’s about time, so I’m really happy to be back and to have won, my second time here which I’m very proud of. I think it was a very good day for us. Obviously it was a special experience with qualifying and the race in one day. It wasn’t too easy in terms of focus to be ready straightaway this morning and this afternoon, but I think the whole team did a very good job, also in the race. I think the pit stops were spot on. I was really happy with that. Yeah, happy!
Q: Mark, quite a difficult balance for you, because you didn’t want to put too much pressure on Sebastian, I guess, but you were being pushed quite hard by Fernando at the end.
MW: Yeah. First of all, quite a tight fight in qualifying. Obviously it’s very important to get pole here in Suzuka, so Seb did a good job there, very close between us, but in the end he got the pole. And then Robert got an incredible start, the best start out of the top five, just like an absolute cannon off third on the grid and he had a problem behind the safety car, and that obviously released me to allow Seb and I to go away together on the soft tyre in the first stint, so both of us could do that reasonably comfortably. Then we came to the stops, I had a lot of traffic on my ‘out’ lap, so that was really the only downside, I don’t think I could have done too much better. Then it was just close the gap down a bit to Seb and then it was Jenson controlling our pace in a way, because we knew that he was having to have a stop and he wasn’t absolutely flying – he wasn’t too slow but he wasn’t that quick – so we had to pace ourselves onto the back of him, and then when he pitted, we could finish off the race. But basically it was a formation finish, from lap nine. It was very difficult for me to do anything about Sebastian in terms of overtaking, virtually impossible, both very even, same cars. The team have done a phenomenal job and I’m very, very happy with second place, so it’s a great result for the team.
Q: Fernando, damage limitation today, to some extent, but you got very close to Mark at the end.
FA: Yeah, I think we have to be very happy with the result, 15 points. The leader of the championship got 18 points, so we only lost three points on a circuit that was not the best for us. Performance-wise, not at our best level. We saw we were struggling today: in Q1 we were P7, we saw problems also for Felipe in Q2, so it was maybe not an ideal weekend in terms of pace and we lost three points in the championship, but overall we have to be extremely happy.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Mark, you’re still in the lead of the championship but who is your main rival, do you feel?
MW: Oh look, two weeks ago it was Lewis (Hamilton), then it was Fernando. It’s chopping and changing, but the most important thing is that the gap is going the right way. I need to keep it like that. We’ve got three races to go and it’s a good result for me. Seb deserved the victory today, did a good job, but as we’ve seen this year, five of us are capable of winning races – well, four in the dry, Jenson’s had a few races in the wet conditions but in the dry conditions it’s been four of us who can win. I need to win again in the future. I’m very confident I can do that, and that would be beneficial, of course, but also reliability can still yet play a role, many things, circumstances, lots of different things. There are 75 points to go. Obviously these guys have a bit less because they’re a few behind, but in the end, confident.
Q: (Miran Alisic – Korpmedia) Mark, when Sebastian pitted, you had an extra, very quick lap. Was it ever considered staying out for one or two more laps, so that you might attack him?
MW: No. I think the undercut was fine here. To put the fresh tyres on, even though the option tyre was not too bad… if you stay out too much longer I think you can be exposed and lose time. Ultimately it’s better to pit pretty soon, to be there and then stay as close as you can to your rivals because the prime tyre was better when it’s fresher.