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FIA post-qualifying press conference - European GP, Valencia

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Drivers: 1 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), 2 - Mark Webber (Red Bull), 3 - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Q: Sebastian, you said all along this week that the new regulations on engine mapping wouldn’t affect Red Bull and as you are on pole I assume you are correct.
Sebastian Vettel: I didn’t say that. There was obviously a lot of talk beforehand going into this grand prix and there will be a lot of talk before the next grand prix...

But everyone will lose out something. People expect us to lose more than others but that’s where I disagree. All in all a very good day for us. Very good to have the front row for our team. It will be a long race tomorrow. It is always tough here. It is a tricky circuit, there are so many corners. We have got 25 before we cross the line again and especially in qualifying to get every single corner right is very, very difficult. So to get the perfect lap in is quite tough. But I think my first run was quite good. I was very happy and Mark obviously in the second run. It is a good result and a good point to start from tomorrow so we will see what we can do.

Q: Mark, you are alongside Sebastian on the front row as it was last year and you were the only one of the leading contenders to improve on your final run. So was it the perfect lap from you?
Mark Webber: It was pretty good to be honest. As Seb touched on you have got so many corners you would like to put all of them together perfectly from all of your runs I suppose. But that’s not the case. You have got to try and do your best to put them together when it counts. I hadn’t had the smoothest build up into Q3 so the guys did a good job to recover with me. I knew there was some more to come on the last lap, I just had to put it all together. Still not easy. Still it was a pretty good lap and it was good to go a little bit quicker in the last sector to put that one together. Seb was a bit stronger in the first two but in the end great day for the team off the back of all the talk. Nice to come here today and do well. Of course, no points today so looking forward to tomorrow’s race and go from there.

Q: Lewis, you to were trying to improve right at the end of Q3. But, compared to this morning, third on the grid is that a good effort for you and McLaren?
Lewis Hamilton: Definitely. Definitely. We weren’t really - at least I wasn’t - expecting to be so high up. After P3 we were struggling a little trying to switch the tyres on but the guys did a great job in analysing some of the data that we have from there to improve into qualifying. Fantastic job by the guys. I think the lap wasn’t too bad. Tried to improve on the last lap there but you are always trying to get a little bit more but I guess I got a bit greedy so just bailed out on the last lap and hopefully save those tyres for the race.

Q: Sebastian, you have already alluded to it being a long race tomorrow. A double drag reduction zone system as it was in Canada. How easy will it be for you to protect that pole position?
SV: Well it depends where you are exactly, as you say. Obviously if you are in the front and the people are close enough behind then it is tricky. And it is tricky not only once, but twice here. Valencia is a street circuit but still they are quite long straights and for those two zones it will be important tomorrow to have enough of a gap or if you are behind to be close enough to try something. Both times you have a reasonable hard stop so you can try something under braking so we will see. At the moment it is not yet clear how many stops we will have and how efficient overtaking will be so we will see what happens. As I say it is a long race and it will be quite hot tomorrow.

Q: Sebastian, was this Red Bull’s answer to the regulation changes?
SV: Well I mean as we touched on earlier there has been a lot of talk but for us we never really understood why. We had to focus on what we have to do here and that’s it. I think we had a good qualifying session. Generally I think a good build-up throughout the weekend. Picking up steadily some pace and, in my case, I felt more and more comfortable in the car. That was most important. It is nice today to sit here and to have the front row for us so it is a good start for tomorrow but it is a long race so we will have to go from there then.

Q: Interesting that you did seven laps in Q1 on the prime tyre. Probably the hottest conditions that you’ve used them and, of course, same time as it is going to be race time tomorrow.
SV: Yeah, we did a couple of laps, probably more than we needed to, but in the end it is free running and it is nice to get a feel for the car especially with the conditions as I think the circuit has changed from morning to afternoon so I was quite happy that I wasn’t called in and I could have a couple of laps to get the eye in.

Q: What is your feeling between the prime and the option for tomorrow for the race?
SV: Big difference I would say. If you look at the lap times only, for the whole field it is somewhere in the region of one to 1.5 seconds or for some even more seconds so it is a big step. If you are in Q3 the option tyre was the favoured one as usual. But I think tomorrow for strategy and so on it will be quite interesting. Maybe we will see a different approach at different times so we will have to go from there. So first off, as I said, we need a good start and then we see where we are. You see whether you have a gap you can afford to wait a lap or not whether you have to try to pass someone but tyres are pretty far from each other.

Q: Mark, your third time on the front row this year. Can you be fighting for the lead tomorrow?
MW: Absolutely. It is going to be a long race for all of us. Not too clear on how we are going to go with the race strategically so I am in the second best place to start the race. It’s been a tight qualy, wasn’t the best build-up through Q3 for me. I was a little bit out of bed. The boys did a good job recovering. It looks like we had a bit of a brake balance issue so we have recovered from that and then in the end did a very good job with getting back onto the front row ahead of our main rivals.

Q: Will brakes be an issue during the race tomorrow?
MW: Brakes? No, touch wood. It should be fine.

Q: And that final corner. So many people seemed to make mistakes there. What is it about it?
MW: Yeah, it is a very challenging corner actually. One of the most challenging on the calendar for us although it is just a tight second gear left hand hairpin, or first, depending on what your ratios are. But the entry speed is very high. You have a kink beforehand but you know the entry and exit are both very important so you see people having a lot of problems getting into there. It is quite easy to misjudge the breaking point. I was very, very lucky on my last lap and got it right so that helped me get the front row but it is easy to run out of talent and not look too good there. But got through there today just.

Q: Lewis, yesterday you said that you found the primes quite difficult; were they better today, had the circuit come to you?
LH: I think that when we got to qualifying we managed to switch them on a little bit better. So, through the team analysing some of the data, the pressures, temperatures, all those kind of things, seemed to be able to switch them on - thank heavens, because we were struggling in practice. For us, there was almost a three-second difference from prime to option at one point. So I was quite thankful that I was able to get a decent time out of it in Q1 and then, obviously on the options, they worked quite easily, they were very easy to bring in, so I’m quite happy with the pace that we had. I think it’s good for us to be able to be up ahead of the Ferraris this weekend, compared to the previous race. I think we should be able to have a good race from there.

Q: Can you race Red Bull?
LH: Ah, that is always the question but we’re as close as we can be. This is a track notorious for being difficult to overtake on. Since 2008 it was always hard to overtake whoever was up front, but we will see what happens. Obviously there are more pit stops here - hopefully - than we’ve had in the past. We’ve seen how the other races have unfolded, so we could still have an exciting race.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) Sebastian, we couldn’t hear much passion between you and your team when you secured pole. There was like ‘Sebastian, good job, pole position’, ‘yes, thanks’: not much. Is it something that you’re so used to that there’s no passion any more?
SV: I think that’s wrong, it was a little bit odd because I stopped the second run a lap early, came in and then had to focus that I did everything right and stopped the car. Yeah, I was waiting for the call, obviously, and then I had to switch off the car, so I didn’t have a lot of time, so I just said ‘congratulations’ also to them. It depends on the moment. When you’re cruising on the circuit you have time to talk then you are obviously giving a bit more room to yourself to celebrate.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) But were you anticipating it, you knew you were going to get it?
SV: No, I knew on the second run that obviously it was a little bit quicker but not by much so I wanted to save a lap on the tyres and came in and then I didn’t know… Mark improved and so on, but as I said, I was already stopped in parc fermé and didn’t really know.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) For Lewis and Mark: isn’t the situation getting a little bit annoying for other drivers to be always fighting for second place ?
LH: No.
MW: I think that it’s what it’s about in Formula One, isn’t it? Seb’s done a good job on Saturdays for the last few years. Obviously, it was closer between him and I on Saturday (last year). This year he’s on a phenomenal run, he enjoys this car and tyres and is doing a very good job. That’s how it is.
SV: With all respect, I think that we all fight for first. I can’t expect Lewis to go into qualifying to fight for second as a target. We always want to be… everyone I think. Otherwise what is the point of going round and trying to finish fifth or second or tenth? There are no points on Saturday.

Q: (Alvaro Faes - La Nueva Espana) Sebastian, when you got out of your car, you took a look in the cockpit of the other cars. Were you looking for any kind of new engine mapping or new innovation?
SV: No, you obviously can’t see much. I was having a look at the steering wheels of the other cars. There are no secrets but maybe there is something you can learn, so that’s why I had a look.

Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de São Paulo) To all drivers: your teams haven’t tested the new regulations on the track. Tomorrow, you will use the same engine map that you used today. Do you think it can change anything in the result of the race; are you worried about that?
MW: Well, first of all I think some teams tested it a little bit in P1, the Silverstone regulation, and I don’t expect there to be a huge, huge difference tomorrow, from what we’ve done today, in terms of the difference between Saturday and Sunday for us. We’ve seen in the past that sometimes the results can be different and I think that could happen tomorrow, but it won’t be down to… if Lewis wins by 50 seconds it’s not down to the exhausts regs or the fact that he can’t change the differential by a bee’s dick. It’s going to be down to a result that probably would have happened anyway.
SV: I think, as Mark said, and I said earlier, a lot of talk and we will have the same sort of talking before Silverstone Grand Prix again. I think we know what we’re doing. Surely it is a step back but it’s the same for all of us; for some probably more, for some less, especially for those cars which were based to work on that concept, cars like the Mercedes or Renault, they will feel it more than others, I think.

Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Mark, you picked up the speed on your very last run. Was it just a brake balance problem before which hampered you?
MW: I probably said that we changed the car quite a bit with what we can change, within qualifying: obviously front wing, brake balance and a few things like that. I wasn’t happy with the car at all in Q1. We were in big trouble but we got on top of this, so thank God we managed to recover very, very well and put the car right towards the front, because after Q1 I was thinking that it might be a different day tomorrow. It was most of the reason why.

Q: (Ian Stafford - The Mail on Sunday) Seb, after what happened in Canada, I think the world of Formula One has been slightly clutching at straws and thinking ‘ah, the first sign of weakness. Will it prey on your mind?’ Has it preyed on your mind? You don’t get any points for being on pole but is this a nice beginning to a reaction to what happened in Montreal, what you’ve done today?
SV: In that very moment, I was obviously disappointed. I think you could see it, I wasn’t the happiest guy at that moment, Jenson was. It was a long race, it was easy to make mistakes and not everyone finished so looking back, it was very important to finish that race and collect a lot of points. Surely it took a little while, but to be honest, by Monday, Tuesday, it was history and you start looking forward to the next race. A championship doesn’t come down to one race or two races. Of course I would have loved to win but it didn’t happen, so we start from zero again here.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) For both Red Bull drivers: one may have thought that the FIA’s decision on mapping of engines was a decision taken against Red Bull to prevent you taking a huge lead in the championship. Is there a small feeling of revenge right now that you once again took the first and second places on the grid?
MW: I think we’ve said it enough, mate. We came here and we didn’t expect any difference. You guys wrote a lot about it, some other teams spoke a lot about it. Maybe some people in our team spoke a bit that maybe technically were not completely on top of things, but in the end we’ve just got on with our job basically and we knew that it would be… if we got done here, it would be fair and square, not because of that. It was just a fair battle going into today and the results are a fair reflection of what happened today.


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2012 Race Drivers

Sebastian Vettel
Mark Webber
Lewis Hamilton
Jenson Button
Fernando Alonso
Felipe Massa
Michael Schumacher
Nico Rosberg
Kimi Räikkönen
Romain Grosjean
Paul di Resta
Nico Hulkenberg
Kamui Kobayashi
Sergio Perez
Daniel Ricciardo
Jean-Eric Vergne
Pastor Maldonado
Bruno Senna
Heikki Kovalainen
Vitaly Petrov
Pedro de la Rosa
Narain Karthikeyan
Timo Glock
Charles Pic

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