The performance has been getting a little bit better in the last few races and also this track seems to be not too bad for me in the past. I must say the session went pretty well, with the exception of the first option run in Q2, well the only run in Q2. That wasn’t very smooth but the other two laps were good and the boys did a great job on the car. Again, they have had some pretty late nights in the lead-up to this event, so we recovered well and we got it altogether at the end there. I was thinking on my in-lap, ‘if someone gets me, they deserve it’ as I couldn’t have got much more out of it. It was my complete limit, but it was a pretty good lap and so it is very satisfying to see no one grabs you at the end there, as it is a bit of an anxious wait for those 30 seconds.
Q: Lewis, you missed out on pole by five one-hundredths-of-a-second after a lap which you described as as good as it gets.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, first of all, huge congratulations to my team. A fantastic effort. We have had some new upgrades this weekend and throughout the weekend and throughout the week a constant push to bring updates and to improve some of our engine modes which, have helped massively. We definitely underestimated how good the car would be when we went to light fuel, but it felt fantastic and the lap was just beautifully flowing and it was one of the happiest and most comforting laps I have ever had. It felt just incredible. We are not far from them (Red Bull Racing) so it is a good step for us.
Q: Sebastian, the first time in 15 grands prix that you haven’t been on the front row, so how much of a disappointment is third?
Sebastian Vettel: Well, it is not really a disappointment. I would like to be a bit further up but I think it was a tough session. All in all, I think we had a very good recovery. Yesterday, I didn’t really find my way, I didn’t really find the balance with the car. This morning I think it was much better. Through qualifying here and there maybe we should have been a little bit quicker but, all in all, there wasn’t much missing to Lewis and to Mark. A little bit here and there, but the most important thing is that I have a much better feeling for the car today and (I’m) looking forward to tomorrow. I guess if it is dry we have a very good chance, but it might not be the case, so we will see.
Q: Mark, the forecast is that it could be quite wet, but for you tomorrow, the first thing you must do is try to lead a lap, as that is something you haven’t done in Formula One this season. But you have got the best chance of doing so once again.
MW: Yeah, that’s right. Good quali today and I hope I lead one lap tomorrow, which is the last lap. That is the most important thing, so I will be in there pushing very hard, so don’t worry.
Q: Lewis, you say the upgrades have worked for you this weekend, but how much of a surprise is it to you to find yourself on the front row? You said at the start of the weekend you were optimistic, but surely this is beyond your wildest expectation?
LH: It is absolutely. I wasn’t expecting the car to feel so great. I think we have found a really good balance throughout with the set-up and I think we were comfortable coming back this weekend, with the rule changes, knowing we would be more competitive. But I don’t think anyone in the team would ever have imagined we would be this close to the Red Bulls and also being able to split them. That’s fantastic and a really fantastic job done by the guys and I am really happy I could put it up here for them.
Q: Seb, do you go into the race looking for rain to give you a better chance or would you rather it stayed dry?
SV: Well it depends. It will be a long race. With the weather here you never know. Rain is forecast, it is on the way, the question is how much we will have, and when, so we will see. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, the most important thing is we have a solid race. The target is to win, which is not impossible from third. It is the clean side of the track and we go from there, so I am looking forward to tomorrow. It doesn’t happen so often that you have so many people coming here supporting you, or supporting the German drivers in particular, so I will make sure I enjoy the race tomorrow.
Q: Mark, oddly enough a reversal in fortunes between yourself and Sebastian in comparison to your home race, where you were third and he was on pole, and this time it is the other way around. I guess that is just coincidence.
MW: Well, I don’t know what the gird was. I know I wasn’t on pole and Seb probably was and I was a bit further back but anyway I hope the result is the same. It was a good session, I think pretty good for you guys to watch as well: tight between all of us. We had a red car, couple of Red Bulls, silver car, all of us pushing to the limit so a very tight session for all of us. We had to be incredibly accurate and spot on and in the end I could not really complain about my last two laps. I was pretty happy with them and it was enough. It needed to be good, as Lewis was right with us and very nearly took pole off us. So a very good qualifying session for myself and it ran very smoothly, and we did the best job we could do today, so looking forward to tomorrow.
Q: You said earlier on this year that everything had to go absolutely right every time and that was happening with Sebastian. Was that what was happening with you this weekend?
MW: Oh, I think that you can’t just... everything was going right and it is not going right for you and you are not getting results. Today was still pretty tight between Seb and I and it is hardly a disaster for him as he is on the second row. Today I did a better lap time but often it is the other way around so it worked out for me today and that was it.
Q: And race pace?
MW: Yeah, we should be cool. Yesterday worked out okay for us. We always know on Sunday night. You have a better indication because we saw with the McLarens that sometimes they are a bit up and down with race pace compared to where normally they are strong. We saw in Valencia they weren’t so strong and a few races here and there so let’s see who has the smoothest race tomorrow. We might have a few decisions to make from the cockpit as well with the mountains being a bit wet so we will see.
Q: Lewis, earlier on I think today, I don’t know if it was today or yesterday, you said that you had no chance of pole position. But as you said you are pretty surprised to be where you are?
LH: Yeah, just as I was sitting in the car before Q3 I was thinking I might be having to eat my words, but I would still do that. For us, we really honestly never thought we would be anywhere near this place. I don’t know what happened with Jenson (Button). We were struggling with overall downforce grip compared to the others. I don’t know if it was switching tyres on but what was important was that, even though we weren’t the fastest, we kept on trying to dial the car in and improve it and find little bits here and there and we did. We made some changes. The car felt fantastic. It really, really felt fantastic. It is the most exciting and fun part of the weekend, so I was massively excited and positive going in to it. But as soon as I saw we were competitive with the guys at the front it felt great. I would say it is definitely my best qualifying session I can remember having, at least this year. My first Q3 lap was fantastic and then my last lap was even better by quite a bit, so when I came across the line it felt massively satisfying.
Q: You were already saying yesterday that the long run here was better than at Silverstone.
LH: Yeah, well at Silverstone we really struggled quite a lot with the rule changes - they massively affected us: corner entry, stability, all those kind of things. All the downforce and grip we had and everything we have developed had gone out of the window pretty much. So we were just on the back foot, there was nothing we could do, but coming back into this weekend, with the rules again made it much better. It doesn’t look like it’s massively affected the two Ferraris and the Red Bulls but for us it’s enabled us to get back in the fight so that feels great.
Q: Sebastian, how much did you have to change the car after you said yesterday that you had work to do and it’s obviously better today? How much did you have to do?
SV: Well, quite a bit, obviously. As I mentioned it wasn’t the easiest session or the easiest Friday we had but we had a good recovery, so this morning the car felt much better. It wasn’t just one change that we made. Obviously we tried many things in free practice so we went back a couple of steps in one way and then obviously changed some small tweaks here and there which all in all made the balance much better and I was much happier this morning. This afternoon, I think it was a tight session, there wasn’t much missing. In Q3 I think I had two solid runs, maybe lost out a little bit in the last sector on my last attempt but all in all I think Mark was very quick. He did a very good lap today and it would have been very close. I’m happy with third, it’s on the clean side of the track. We will see whether that’s worth an advantage or not. It depends on the conditions tomorrow. I think rain is on the way, the question is where and when it will hit the circuit. So all in all, I think we are in a much better shape than yesterday, also regarding race pace so I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.
Q: To what extent do you look for a points finish, given the lead you have in the championship?
SV: I don’t race and think about the championship all the time. Sure it’s important to finish the race tomorrow but first of all I’m going to enjoy it, because it doesn’t happen too often you have so much support. It was very nice to see so many people in the grandstands waving our national flag and some Red Bull flags as well, so that was very nice. I will enjoy that more than anything else tomorrow whatever the result will be.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) How difficult was it today to get the tyres into the operating window with the track temperature of 21 degrees or whatever?
MW: Yeah, it’s something we always look at, you know that. Other teams are looking at it, it’s a very important factor to get right. In the end I think you saw most people do one timed lap, so the tyre was ready for one lap. As always, it takes some attention and detail to work on it. When you’re at the front with these guys obviously everyone’s looking at that. We worked on it and it’s slightly different from other venues this weekend.
Q: Lewis, was there every any consideration of doing two timed laps on the same set?
LH: No. We’ve had some interesting experiences in the past where we’ve done that and it’s not been of a benefit to us so we had fresh tyres and every lap that we did was very good, so there was generally no need to have to run another set or the same set again.
SV: I don’t think it was easy today but as Mark said, the first timed lap was the one to hit so you had to do your best to get it done. I think for all of us here we managed pretty well. Maybe some people struggled more, depending on what set-up they ran so it’s hard to say for us.
Q: (Marco degl’Innocenti - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian - actually it should be a question for Mark - will you fight Mark tomorrow?
SV: I will fight everyone, that’s what is happening when you race in Formula One. First of all there’s Lewis eight metres ahead and then another eight metres further on there’s Mark. That’s where we are going to start and then we will see. It will be a long race, as I said, and tricky conditions but I know that you are very excited but as I said, I’m racing everyone.
Q: (Adam Hay-Nicholls - Metro) Seb, if we have a situation like Silverstone, but the roles are reversed and you’re asked to maintain the gap, will you agree to do so?
SV: I think it always depends on the situation, but if it’s in a similar matter to Silverstone, where, for the team, there’s really nothing to gain, the leader is far ahead, then there’s no point in trying something silly.
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Mark, next week it could be one year since your last victory. Do you still remember how sweet it was?
MW: Yeah, mate, yeah. Last victory was where? Hungary, yep. The last victory was nice - they’re all beautiful. We all know that. All the drivers love to have them so irrespective of venue, so it would be nice to feel that very, very soon again, so that’s what I’m going try to do.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) With the low temperatures, on this track it looks like the tyre wear is not so high here. It seems we will have fewer pit stops in this race or is that wrong?
MW: Well obviously we all did our work yesterday, conditions were good, it was a dry day and we can get good information. Generally we have an idea, within reason. We know seven out of ten - confident - how the race will unfold for us in terms of tyre wear and pit stops but you’re right in your question. It’s certainly not Turkey or Barcelona. The tyres look a little bit happier here. We will definitely do two - maybe six - so it’s between those two. You can one-stop if you want… The tyres are a bit different here. It’s the same for everybody actually.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) The run-in to the first corner is 240 meters shorter than the last time we were here. The first corner normally means trouble; with a shorter run-in to the first corner is it more difficult, is it easier to have a collision?
MW: I don’t think it makes much difference on the apex. Obviously it’s a tight corner, you go down there, do your best. Braking point is a bit later, obviously, because you arrive a bit slower.
SV: As long as the KERS works it’s fine. If it doesn’t work then it can be painful. Maybe it’s a bit shorter this year, but I don’t think it makes a massive difference.
Q: (Walter Koster - Saabrucker Zeitung) Mark, do you feel disadvantage in your team? For example, I remember the circumstances with the front wing and at the last race at Silverstone it was forbidden for you to attack Sebastian.
MW: We’ve had a few incidents, obviously, which have been played in public, which is never ideal for us as a team. We’re here to race, we’re here to win, the team’s come a long way. Sometimes we learn in not a good way, sometimes we learn in a good way which is behind closed doors. I feel OK in the team. Dietrich is very good, all the guys on the floor, Christian and Adrian doing their stuff. I do my job, turn up and try to concentrate on purple sectors and that’s all I can do.