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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Hungarian GP, Budapest

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Drivers: 1 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); 2 - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren); 3 - Jenson Button (McLaren)
Q: Sebastian, you picked the right moment didn’t you to set your fastest lap of any of the qualifying sessions: right on your final flying lap.

Sebastian VettelSebastian Vettel: Yeah, I think it was a very good session for us generally after yesterday, where these boys were a little bit quicker than us. It seems we have done the right thing and I felt much more comfortable this morning. Q1 and Q2 was just about to get through to the last section of qualifying and very pleased with the result. We changed a lot on the car overnight and the boys were working pretty hard and they didn’t get much sleep but to have a result like this today is the best way to say thanks. I am very happy. I have got the confidence back. Today I felt much more comfortable in the car and now I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Q: Lewis, we saw your delight with a front-row start at the Nürburgring. Your second successive front-row start, but is there as much delight here, as you had provisional pole at one stage.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, still I think it is a great achievement for us. We knew from the previous race that we had good pace and yesterday was a good day. Today they seemed to pick up a little bit of pace but to still be on the front row I think from me and Jenson it was a good job by us so I am quite happy. I think we can collect some real good points from here.
Q: Jenson, at one stage it looked like Fernando Alonso was going to make it a three-way fight and now you are here third on the grid. A satisfactory qualifying session for yourself?

Jenson Button

Jenson Button: Yep, I am pretty happy with that. Always after a lap you think there is a little bit here and a little bit there but to be fair it was a pretty good lap, so I am happy to be third. It has been my issue of late and it makes it very difficult in the race to make up the time so it is nice to be in a good position and hopefully tomorrow we can have a good fight.

Q: Sebastian, we saw Adrian Newey looking at the rear of your car throughout the session. Was there a problem with your rear wing or with your DRS?
SV: No, I saw they were working a little bit on the rear wing. I saw that on TV actually, but I don’t know, I don’t think there were any problems. If any they fixed it, so the car was fine on the track. I never felt something being wrong, so a bit of maintenance maybe.

Q: Not enough to give you a few nervy moments?
SV: No, not really. I trust in them. I trust in what they do and I think they know what they are doing. I don’t know what was the problem. I will ask later on, but on track there were no issues. Everything was fine and the car was very quick so very pleased with today.

Q: Lewis, you mentioned the good work done by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and your car, but was there anymore you felt you could have given on that flying lap to try to get pole.
LH: I think as Jenson said you can always look back on the lap and think you should have found some more time. In hindsight I was two-and-a-half-tenths up through the first sector and then to hold onto it through the rest of the sectors was very tough. I went wide on the exit of turn nine, maybe lost half-a-tenth or so there and then through the last corner pretty much lost whatever small advantage I had there so I think it would have been very, very close. But at the end of the day they did a better job than us.

Q: Jenson, we have seen in the past the front-row start being absolutely imperative at the Hungaroring. But maybe with the new Pirelli tyres it could be a more interesting race and your 200th grand prix start. What is achievable for you?
JB: Well when you are that close to the front you have got to go for victory. I think a lot of races this year that we thought were going to be straightforward because of the front-row start haven’t been because you have got the tyres, the KERs is playing a big part as well and obviously the DRS. Obviously, going for the win tomorrow. It’s a big day for me. If I start the race tomorrow it will be my 200th grand prix and hopefully it is going to be a good one.

Q: Sebastian, a great bounce back after yesterday and a lot of hard work by the mechanics overnight.
SV: Yeah, indeed. I think they got back to the hotel around 5 o’clock, so we went a little bit longer than the curfew but it is the best way to show on the track straight in the morning that we made an improvement. Also today in qualifying, Q1 and Q2, was mainly to get through and we were a little bit behind. I was surprised by the lap times in Q2 but then in Q3 I think we were right on the pace. Lewis had a very competitive first run, especially in the last sector, but I was able to squeeze out a little bit more on the last run to get pole so very pleased.

Q: Not that you had a specific problem that I know of, unless you did have a specific problem with the car, but did it really start last weekend. Was it already there last weekend?
SV: It is difficult to say, I think the conditions last weekend were very different to what we had all year. To be fair Silverstone wasn’t very hot, Germany wasn’t at all and also here it is not as usual. Usually it is 10 degrees warmer than what we saw today. Nürburgring is hard to judge because of the very different conditions, but I didn’t feel comfortable at the Nürburgring and struggling to match the pace of the guys at the front, so for here, yesterday was not ideal. It was already a bit better but today. I could feel much more comfortable in the car and back to where we have to be, so I am very happy.

Q: It did seem to be right from the word go, virtually from the first flying lap this morning.
SV: Yeah, indeed. Straight away I noticed the difference and I was happier. If you are happier it is usually because you think the car is better and if you feel confident then you are also able to get more out of yourself. You are more consistent. It is not just one particular place where you find the time, it is just all around the lap a little bit everywhere, so I think that is a good sign and very important for tomorrow’s race.

Q: And does that come from confidence?
SV: As I said half-half. If you struggle with the balance of the car a little bit here and there you reach a certain edge. Then you try to work on the car, which we did, and I think we improved it but finally overnight I think we released the knot and it was much better today. Then you gain the confidence back on top and you just go faster everywhere.

Q: Lewis, not perhaps where you wanted to start but it’s your equal best grid position this year, four second places on the grid so far, you’re a previous winner here, so do you feel you start from a position of strength?
LH: Yes, I think it’s a good day, I can’t complain. We’ve come off a good race in Germany and we’ve come here and it’s very similar to how competitive we were in Germany, so that’s a positive for us. It’s also a positive to have Jenson up here with us, and I think we can hopefully challenge Sebastian tomorrow.

Q: Is it an advantage to be a previous winner here?
LH: Zero.

Q: We’ve seen you have a couple of offs down at the first corner, is that an issue or do you reckon you’ve sorted that out?
LH: We’ve sorted it out. I just have a problem with my brakes so we put some new ones on for qualifying and so it should be fine from now on.

Q: And has the car changed much over the last couple of days?
LH: No, not at all. It’s exactly the same as the last race. No updates, no we haven’t.

Q: Jenson, when you won here, you started from 14th on the grid so it is possible to overtake here. Are you feeling in a fairly strong position in third on the grid?
JB: It’s very different to back in ’06 when we had wet weather. I think it’s supposed to be dry this weekend, or tomorrow. Third place is a good starting position here. I agree that P1 is better, that’s what we do qualifying for, and that’s why we get excitable on pole position – or this one does (indicates Sebastian) – but P3 is pretty good. I think we can race well from there.
(SV attempts to reply)
JB: Sorry. Your microphone’s off, mine’s on!
SV: He said that he wants to bite my finger off.
JB: Yeah. He put it up and I almost grabbed it, outside with the cameras.
SV: Was that Holyfield, the boxer with the ear?
JB: Yeah, yeah. I was going for it but couldn’t get there in time. I was actually just going to straighten it up. It was falling over.

Q: Jenson, third is your best qualifying here. Yesterday you said that set-up tweaks were needed.
JB: Yeah, we made some good set-up tweaks overnight. This morning the car felt pretty good. We were just playing with it a little bit through qualifying and it eventually came good on the last run. I think I gained about half a second on the last run in comparison to my previous lap, and it was just getting a bit more front end on the car, because I’ve been struggling with not getting the front end in. The car felt pretty good in qualifying so I’m happy with where we’re starting and it’s a very, very long tough race tomorrow, for us and also mainly for the tyres so we will see what sort of strategies we can throw at it and obviously go for the victory.

Q: Do you see a multi pit stop race tomorrow?
JB: It’s definitely a multi pit stop race. I don’t know. We will see. It won’t be five, it possibly could be two, three or four. We will see. This place is pretty tough on tyres but so far this weekend I think people have been doing reasonably long runs. Lewis’s was pretty good yesterday. I’m not really sure how the race is going to go. It’s always different than testing.


Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Lewis, you’ve saved one set of super soft tyres, which is obviously an advantage. How big is the advantage on this particular circuit?
LH: It’s always a plus but it’s not huge. It might be one or two laps longer. We will see what we will be able to do with them tomorrow. As Jenson was saying, it’s probably two or three pit stops tomorrow and it could be important to be able to look after your tyres at this track, as it always is. It definitely will hopefully be… even if it’s a small advantage. Hopefully I will be able to use that.

Q: (Marco degl’Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, can you tell us a little more precisely what your mechanics did to your car during the long night?
SV: It worked. No. we haven’t brought much new stuff so in the end, as I said, we have been testing a lot on Friday and I think we just put the car to the spec where we think it is best. Sometimes it’s not so easy because you have to take some parts off the car. It’s not a big secret: you change the engine and the gearbox overnight and it just took a little bit longer.

Q: (Mat Coch – Sebastian, last year yourself and Mark were quite evenly matched. This year it seems as though you’ve got a couple of tenths on him at pretty well every qualifying session. Is that a result of the renewed confidence you had from the World Championship, do you think?
SV: No. I don’t think so. Last year I felt very comfortable here and we had a very good qualifying session as I remember. In the race it was a bit of a different story. I had a very good start and then a mistake which cost me the win but I think last year our car was very competitive here. This year again, but maybe the advantage is not that big. Last year we were much quicker than everyone else, I remember, so I don’t think it’s down to that. I haven’t had the chance to talk to Mark. Q1, Q2 I think he was there and then in Q3 the gap was obviously a little bit bigger. We will talk about qualifying later anyway and then I will find out, but I don’t think that it has much to do with last year. Sure, with experience, things become a little bit easier. You have a certain routine, but I don’t think it’s because of winning the championship that I’m on pole now.

Q: (Gary Meenaghan – The National) I think this year this circuit’s been on the calendar for 25 years. I was wondering if you have any comments on why it’s been so enduring, what’s the secret?
SV: This is the 26th. I don’t know. I like this place, I like coming here. Obviously, as an Austrian team, we get a lot of support, a lot of Austrian people come. The border isn’t very far away, so it’s kind of a home Grand Prix for us and yes, the circuit might be a little bit Mickey Mouse in places but it’s different to most of the circuits we race on, so I quite enjoy that. It’s quite tough, there are a lot of laps tomorrow. Usually it’s very tough on tyres, on the car and on the drivers as well.
LH: It’s one of the best tracks we have on the calendar and it’s a fantastic city. The weather’s always good, great crowd and whilst you don’t have too much overtaking it’s a great place to race, so I think that’s probably why it’s quite a historic circuit for us.
JB: It is a great circuit to drive, especially when the car’s on the edge in qualifying. It doesn’t really give you any rest, but personally I don’t think that’s the reason. I think it is probably the fans. We have a lot of support here, outside the hotels, in the grandstand. It’s pretty full, which is good to see. It obviously goes up and down through the years but generally there’s been good support here. Probably the main reason is that there’s a road called Bernie Avenue leading into the circuit. Possibly.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) To Lewis and Jenson, as I understand it, most of the time you are going to use the soft tyre tomorrow. Comparing your performance to Red Bull’s on this type of tyre, do you think you can compete with them?
JB: I really don’t know. It’s very difficult to tell on a Friday because you don’t know what people are doing, you don’t know what fuel people are running. Previously, when it’s been very, very hot - I can really only think of one race which is Valencia – I think we found it a little bit difficult, but I think things have changed since then, and also we’re not going to have such a hot race tomorrow.
LH: We don’t have any problems with it.


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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
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