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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Italian GP, Monza

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Drivers: 1 - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); 2 - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren); 3 - Jenson Button (McLaren)
Q: Sebastian, pole number 10 this year but by half-a-second in the end after it had looked like it might be a little closer than that.
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, we thought it would be much closer than that. I had a bit of an improvement in the first run for my second lap...

We weren’t sure whether the tyres worked best in the first lap or second lap, but then I did a bit of a mistake and we stayed out and focussed only on the last run we had. I knew I had a bit more time in the car. The first lap I did on my own without anybody and on the second run I think I had one or two cars ahead down the road, which always helps you in Monza. But we would not have thought of going on pole by that big margin today on a track which, to be fair, the last two years did not suit us. This year I have to say the car is very good here. The balance is perfect even though for most of the people except these two [the McLarens] we don’t carry a lot of wing around and on low downforce it is very slippery, but still we are quite quick in all three sectors and I was able to put it together. I am very happy today also considering that we have quite a racy approach so I am very pleased with today.

Q: Lewis, the final run didn’t work out for you after it had seemed very close up until then. Was this the one that got away today?
Lewis Hamilton: I don’t think so. I didn’t have another half-a-second in the bag. I think we perhaps could have got another couple of tenths out of the car. Firstly, the guys did a fantastic job to bring the new components to the circuit and clearly we are very competitive. Both me and Jenson were able to be up here so that’s a great step, but no, Sebastian was mega quick today. It looked like we would be quite competitive throughout the weekend but today in that last lap, that was untouchable for me.

Q: Jenson, strong result here last year. How do you see tomorrow’s race shaping up from the position you are starting in?
Jenson Button: Well third is normally a pretty good place to start. But here you just can’t get past the front two if they are side by side so it is tricky. But looking at today I totally agree with Lewis. Even if we had got a little bit more out of the car we were never going to challenge Seb. They were very fast today. The strange thing is that these guys don’t look like they were carrying a lot of wing but they are sort of half-a-second quicker than us in the last sector which is the high speed corner so difficult to understand. That is something we will have to look at, but not at the moment. I think we have got to concentrate on tomorrow now and look forward to a good race. We are both in a great position and I think we can both score some good points here. It is not so important to be on pole here like previous years as you have the DRS so we will see.

Q: So Sebastian, what are you doing. Where are you getting all this downforce?
SV: It is not just wings. We know we have a good car. The last two years here we weren’t that competitive even though we had very little wing on the car. But this year I think the most important thing apart from the wing level which always helps you go around corners is to have the balance and we are very good on that this year. I felt very comfortable gong into qualifying and then throughout I could feel the track getting quicker and just simply went with the track so that is the secret if there is any.

Q: Sebastian, pole of nearly half-a-second and everyone is asking where does it come from?
SV: I think there is no secret. I think we just got everything out of ourselves and even though carrying around quite a little wing I think the balance is very good this year and the car is behaving great. I think we have been working hard knowing that this is usually not our best circuit if it is dry so it is nice to be back. I like this track. There are a lot of straights but carrying that little downforce around and still managing to get the car into the corners is not always that easy so all in all I am very pleased with the result. As I said the gap, I don’t know whether Lewis and Jenson’s lap was entirely perfect. I saw one of them aborting their second run so not sure, haven’t seen what happened but for us we can be very happy and I felt I got everything out of the car today.

Q: The team had a late night last night. Was there a lot of work on your car?
SV: No, I think Mark [Webber] had a problem. They were able to fix it and I don’t think it affected him today. I don’t know why he only did one run in Q3. With only 10 minutes in Q3 there is not a lot of time we spend in the garage. Usually we just change tyres and go out again.

Q: You had a couple of moments on your first set of tyres?
SV: Yeah, a little bit out of Lesmo 2 but it was still okay but then I lost it in Ascari on the second lap. The first lap was fine, but then the second lap I think the tyres started to go off a little bit and I was getting closer to another car, but I knew I had a little bit left for the last run and it turned out to be a couple of tenths so I was very pleased. As I said I had the feeling I got everything together which isn’t always easy here when you arrive at such high speed to hit the braking point perfectly and to get the car through the chicanes, not asking too much, but on the other hand not too little. Don’t leave lap time on the ground, so very happy.

Q: When you have mentioned the car hasn’t suited the circuit you haven’t felt confident for the car itself. Just two weeks ago the car wasn’t supposedly suited for Spa and you weren’t very confident for the race for perhaps a different reason. What about your confidence for the race this time?
SV: It is quite high. I am looking forward to the race as, for one, we carry little wing, which helps. In qualifying the DRS can help you so that’s a good thing. On top of that I think our approach has been quite racy and today we weren’t 100 per cent sure whether that was the right decision. As it turned out it was so, for tomorrow, now it should be the better choice so I am very happy. I like the track. It has been a while since I was sitting here. I remember when it was the last time but hopefully I am back on the podium tomorrow.

Q: Lewis, you thought you could take the challenge to the Red Bulls. The margin of half-a-second is fairly major so can you do it tomorrow do you feel?
LH: It is a long race tomorrow. The target is to finish. I am sure if we are in the race then I am sure we will be able to finish quite high.

Q: You said you thought that qualifying was going to be intense and fascinating with the DRS so how was it?
LH: It wasn’t. It was pretty straightforward really. Obviously Q1 and Q2 I think were relatively close then as always they pull out another half-a-second in Q3, so whatever happens there happened. But I am very happy to be back up here again and another opportunity to have a good race tomorrow. I really hope that things turn out better than they did in the last race.

Q: You had a little lock-up. Is that why you aborted that lap?
LH: Yes.

Q: A little lock-up at the second chicane I think, but otherwise were the laps perfect?
LH: I think my first one was pretty much perfect, I mean almost perfect, so yes.

Q: Jenson, third on the grid and also again you didn’t do a final run?
JB: Yeah, I mean the first run in Q3 was pretty good. I was pretty happy with it. But I felt I could go a little bit more, maybe a tenth or so, but I didn’t get a great first sector and I just carried that all the way through the lap so I was a tenth-and-a-half down. I knew through the last corner, the previous lap was perfect through there, so I looked down at the speed and just pulled into the pits knowing that I was a tenth-and-a-half off my best. It’s not so bad. When you look at the time difference from first to third in qualifying it’s way more than you’d hope for, but we’ve seen it before. As Seb said they are racy for tomorrow. I pretty much think I know what he means and I think we have also gone the same direction so I think it is going to be a fun race. Their lap times yesterday were very good on the long run, but you never really know what fuel loads people were running or what have you, but I think we are going to have a lot of fun tomorrow. I don’t think Red Bull and Seb are going to have it all their own way, which is exactly what everyone wants so it should be a fun race.

Q: Yesterday you said not all the adjustments you made were good. Was there a lot of fine tuning overnight.
JB: Yeah, I struggled in P1 as we had some test items. A few of them to drop drag and I was struggling really to get them working correctly so we didn’t continue working with them in FP2. Then this morning again we had some good improvements so I feel that we have chipped away at it and in the end in qualifying it is not a bad result. I think it is pretty close to where we could have been. I don’t think we had a chance of getting P1 here but tomorrow is a different story, hopefully, and we are near the front. It is always nice racing from the front, not having to fight your way through, and we will see what we can do from P3.

(Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, after this pole is it possible to get all the poles of the season for Red Bull?
SV: I don’t know. We had a similar question I think going into this weekend or the last race. I don’t know. I don’t care as well as I think we have to go step-by-step. This weekend we knew it is not easy for us. So far it has been excellent but it is not over. The main task is coming tomorrow. So far we haven’t scored a single point. We have put ourselves in as strong as possible a position but that’s it so far for this weekend. After tomorrow’s race we focus on the next one and then we go step-by-step. If you ask the same question going into the last race and we still have the chance to keep that record up we will see. I don’t know, but it is not our target. Obviously, our target is to maximise the points tomorrow.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News ) For all three drivers. We are going to India next month. What do you think about racing in the Indian Grand Prix from your own point of view and also from all those sponsors’ names on your driver uniforms?
SV: I am looking forward to it. I haven’t seen much of the circuit yet. But I heard it should be quite spectacular. A lot of uphill and downhill as well, more than we expect. I have never been to India so am looking forward to it. I hope that all of us we manage to spend most of the time on the track doing what we usually do and not in the restrooms as I heard some funny stories. I hope we put the circuit on fire, nothing else.
JB: I don’t really think there is anything else to say, is there? I am looking forward to it. It’s a new experience for me anyway. I have never been to India. It is a new culture but it is something to look forward to. I think they are going to love motor racing when we get over there. I think they are going to be into it. I think if we can get a good crowd I think that is the key to a good grand prix. It makes such a difference to us if there is a good crowd and there is a lot of support for the grand prix so hopefully that will be the case. I have seen the lay-out of the circuit and it look a lot of fun, but we won’t know until we get there. But, yeah, it is a new experience.

Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Sebastian, do records mean anything to you? You’re actually now four shy of equalling Nigel Mansell’s 1992 record of 14 poles. You’ve got six races left after this one, would you like to equal or better that?
SV: I don’t know. We still have some races to go. So far we’ve had a fantastic run on Saturdays and Sundays, to be fair. It’s not always as smooth as you would like it to be, but I have to say this year we have put everything together and most of the time we’ve got it right. It’s not really the target. If you come back to me and say that I’ve got a big amount of poles, I think it’s nice to hear but I think the most impressive one on pole positions on Saturdays, and it will probably always be, is Ayrton Senna. The amount of poles he got during a year and then for three or four years in a row, I think that’s the real benchmark.

Q: (Yoneya Mineoki - La Vie Creative) Sebastian, can I ask you your thoughts about going to Japan this year after such a huge disaster?
SV: I’m looking forward to it. I think most of us do. I love Suzuka, I love the track, the fans. It’s a good sign for us to go there and I hope that we will bring some laughter and joy to the people. Obviously it was quite a big disaster that happened at the beginning of the year. As I said, I’m looking forward to it. The atmosphere is always special, the people are very funny and enthusiastic so I’m really looking forward to going there.

Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) To all three of you, but especially to Sebastian, because you were young at that time, do you remember 9/11, 2001? What you were doing, what were your thoughts and what do you think about it right now?
SV: I think of all us - it would normal - remember pretty well what we were doing on that day. I remember I was going mountain biking, and just before I left, I saw on TV a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I couldn’t really believe it but I had to make it – I don’t know what time I was supposed to be there, but to be perfectly on time, German efficiency… So I left and went mountain biking because I thought ‘it’s not true, something is wrong’ whatever. When you are 14, you don’t think about these things too much. Then I went biking, then two hours later I came back and obviously we saw the pictures again and I think, as I said, it’s something we will never forget. I also remember the race taking place here in Monza, I think a week after, where the Ferraris had a black nose. Things like this you surely don’t forget. It’s 10 years now, and I hope nothing like that will ever happen again. As I said, we all remember pretty well what we did.
LH: I do remember, yeah. I’m only a couple of years older than you [Vettel]. I was at home and it was quite a tragic time, obviously. Probably one of the most devastating things that has happened in my lifetime, a huge moment for everyone in the world and as Sebastian said, I hope that never happens again.
JB: I don’t think any of us can really forget it. I think we all remember it like it was yesterday. It’s amazing to think that it was a decade ago that it actually happened. I think we remember all the details so this is a time to remember and also a time to move on as well, a very important moment, I think.

Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado do Sao Paulo) Sebastian, you have had many references of long runs, yesterday and this morning, and McLaren looked very strong in these conditions. Do you think it’s realistic for you in race conditions to beat them?
SV: I think we have a fair chance. Yesterday we were very happy with the car. This morning, for all us, I think it was more about qualifying preparations. The long runs we had, the one we had yesterday, I felt very competitive, I felt very good, the balance was right and it seemed to be very competitive. As Lewis touched on, you don’t know how much fuel the others have. You know what you’re carrying yourself but obviously it’s difficult to know about the rest of the field, but I think that judging from other events that we had a very good Friday and similar to today, we’re positively surprised how competitive we are and I think we should be in good shape for tomorrow as well. Sure it’s a long race and the most important thing will be the chequered flag; even if you want to win you still have to see the chequered flag, that’s for sure and we will see what we can do. It will be tight and we will go from there.

Q: (Luis Fernando Ramos - Racing) Jenson, Ferrari, in qualifying, had a bad middle sector but a very strong high-speed first and third sectors. Is it going to be crucial to keep position at the start because you have a Ferrari beside you or do you think that with two DRS zones it’s going to make it easier for you or have less of an advantage to have good straightline speed?
JB: Don’t really know, it’s difficult to know really. I think that at the start, it’s not long enough to make too much of a difference whether you’re carrying the wing or not, as we saw last year when I was carrying an unbelievable amount of wing and I actually passed a Ferrari at the start and led into the first corner. Running high or low downforce I don’t think is going to make a massive difference into turn one. During the race, yeah, I think the cars, including myself… you’ve got to get close enough to the car in front. I think the DRS zones, even though there are two and you would think it would be easy to overtake, it’s still going to be quite tough I think, especially into Ascari. But I think we’ve chosen our downforce level correctly, and our drag level and our gearing, so I’m happy with what we’ve done and I think we can have a very good race from there. I think all in all it’s not been a perfect day for the team but it’s been a good day and I think we should be happy with the choices that we’ve made for the race tomorrow.

Q: (Ted Kravitz - BBC Sport) Sebastian, talking of gearing, with the gearing that you have on your car, is it a big problem if you get overtaken at the start? Can you use the DRS or do you really have to make that more than a one second gap so as not to be vulnerable for DRS?
SV: No, I think we have a good chance. It’s a long straight but tomorrow, I think the conditions will be a bit different. As I said, our approach might be racy but the race is obviously most of the time without DRS but with DRS, which we did consider, it should be fine. As Jenson touched on, it will still be difficult to use both of the zones, especially the second one down to Ascari. It looks very tight and I think if the guy defends well on the inside then you need a lot of speed around the outside to pass him but all these answers we will get tomorrow.

Q: (Mathias Brunner - Speedweek) Seb, at the end of the first run, you seemed to lift off coming out of the Parabolica and then you went back on the throttle. It looked like a misunderstanding with the pits; what went on there?
SV: Not really a misunderstanding but we decided… obviously I saw that I was losing a bit through Ascari, as I said earlier and I was not really able to beat the time that I set on the first lap. I wanted to come in but I was told to stay out so there was a bit of a misunderstanding but it didn’t cost us anything, also because it was pretty clear that the first timed lap would be the important one, which we weren’t quite sure about going into Q3, but then after the first run it was pretty obvious that the lap time should be there on the first lap.

Q: (Rodrigo Franca - VIP Magazine) Sebastian, in 2008 you took what was the first pole in your career. What big changes have occurred from that time to nowadays and what things are pretty much the same for you as a person and as a driver?
SV: Obviously a lot of things changed. I think I’ve driven a lot of races and had a lot of chances to learn, learn in Formula One. Obviously back then it was an incredible weekend and something I will never forget. It’s always nice coming back here, it’s one of the real special places. When I walk the track, you get all the pictures again and the radio calls that I received after crossing the line etc. It is a special place for me and that’s why I’m very happy with the result today but I think that since then I have hopefully made some progress as a driver. Obviously it’s a completely different situation with the team that I’m in now. We are in a completely different position as well so all in all things have developed in a good way. As a person, I don’t know. Everyone changes but I think from the person point of view, I am same the guy I used to be.

Q: (Ralf Bach - Autobild Motorsport) Sebastian, can we say that Monza is a kind of living room for you now?
SV: It’s been three years that I haven’t been (sitting) here, on this very spot so I hope to be back tomorrow but as I just said, of course it’s a special place for me and I have good memories so yeah, the target is also to win in the dry tomorrow, so let’s see what we can do.


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