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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Bahrain Grand Prix

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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Bahrain Grand PrixDrivers: 1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), 1m 54.101s; 2. Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m 54.242s; 3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1m 54.242s
Q: Sebastian, the testing did not tell us very much. You have picked up where you left off but how big a surprise is pole position to you?
Sebastian Vettel: A big surprise. I mean in winter testing no-one really knew where we were. Of course it was clear that there were four teams pretty strong, but close to each other...

To be honest yesterday it was a very tough day for us and we had not as much running as we were hoping for. Another long night especially for the mechanics, not a lot of sleep, some tired faces, but everyone was still keen this morning to push. I knew we had a great car but first of all you have to get it together. I have to say practice this morning and qualifying went pretty smoothly. Obviously I am very, very happy to be on pole, so thanks to the team. As I said the boys didn't get much sleep in the last month with a lot of testing in a short amount of time. To come here first time everyone really shows how strong they are and to be on top is definitely a very, very nice feeling.

Q: Felipe, what comeback for you from injury. Tell us about how you feel today about your journey back here and your performance today.
Felipe Massa: Well, first of all congratulations to Sebastian he did a great job for the first race of the season. I think it is very nice to be back here racing competitively and in a good direction. I feel very happy to be back after such a difficult time. I was watching the races on television and was pretty excited but it is much better to be sat in the car. I prepared myself in a good direction, testing, driving go-karts, everything was great to be back in the car for racing and if you look at what happened last season with us I think it is a good start to the season for us. After a difficult season where we finished in the last race and where we are starting the season in the first race is always great for the team, great for the guys who did a very tough job inside the factory since a long time, so I feel really positive to start on the first race second. We are second and third and for the team that is really great and we will see how we doing in the race. Red Bull and also some other teams are really strong, so the race will be very difficult but I am very happy to be here fighting for the top.

Q: Fernando, the margins at the end of qualifying were quite a bit bigger than they were at the beginning. What do you put that down to and how do you feel about where you have ended up?
Fernando Alonso: Well, I think the difference is difficult to read. With such a long lap like this one and with the conditions we were facing, with this very warm temperature, I think it is very difficult to complete that long lap with no mistakes and not any problems. I think the times are related to how the gap was as well and about the competitiveness of the car. I think in different parts of the weekend we saw times that were very tight and times that were split like they are now but I think it is okay. From our point of view we are obviously extremely happy with the result of this weekend so far. The race is tomorrow. We cannot forget this but so far everything has been great and we will keep going as we did all winter testing with a very strong car and I think competitive in all conditions, qualifying and race, and to be second and third as Felipe said is a great achievement for everybody in the factory at Maranello and the job they did from November last year until now was flat out every day and every night and the first result of the season is very, very positive, so this is a big boost for the team to carry on.

Q: Sebastian, you start the race on the same tyres you qualified on. Just give us a bit of inkling into your thinking on that?
SV: I think we all don't know really what will happen tomorrow. It could be exciting. It could be very boring. That is what I hope for. That is what all of us like to be more or less where we start. I think it is a very difficult situation to be in. The first part of the race will be crucial but on the other hand it is not a big secret that you need to take care of your tyres and the question mark is what you do with your strategy. A lot of things unknown I have to say, so all of us we don't know what to expect tomorrow.

Q: Felipe, how do you feel about the race performance of the Ferrari compared to what you can do over a single lap in qualifying? Are you stronger in the race, do you think?
FM: I think we did a good job yesterday to prepare the long distance in both tyres. We also swapped. I was on one tyre and Fernando was on the different tyres to do the long run. I think we are in the right direction, so let's see how the first race is going to be. It is the first race of the season and we need to understand so many things which will happen in the race, on the strategies, let's wait and see but I am really optimistic.

Q: Fernando, it's a long season but is this how you expect it to start?
FA: Well, you never know how a new championship will start with a big change in the regulations. For me, also changing teams, you never know, but obviously at the moment everything has been perfect and this is a very good start and I think now in equal conditions, let's say as quali with low fuel these days show the potential of the cars, so for both Ferraris to be in the top three means we have a nice car. But it is a very long championship, 10 months of developing the car, but it is very important to start scoring points from the first race. If not you are always behind and you need to close the gap and this is not ideal if you want to fight for the world championship and we are here to fight for the World Championship and this is the first step, so let's see what happens tomorrow.

Q: Sebastian, how exciting was that for you?
SV: Very exciting. Yesterday I have to admit we were not very happy, especially myself. We knew there was potential in the car but we were just not putting it together. On top of that we had some problems, so we did not do a lot of running. But this morning straight away it has been quite a lot better. In qualifying a very smooth session as per plan but it is never easy especially as I saw in the last lap where I saw myself going around one-and-a-half or two-tenths slower around the lap. I was already thinking I have to push push push and it was really close. At the end of qualifying the circuit got a bit more difficult with the conditions changing all the time. The heat here is different to what we had in testing, so you could see people having quite big jumps in lap time either up or down. But concerning ourselves I think it was a good result and a good position to start from, but tomorrow is going to be a long, long race. It is the first race out of 19. It is not going to be a sprint, it is going to be an endurance event, so you have to take care of your car, tyres and so on. But for sure there is no better position to start from than pole position and finally, and I think I am speaking more or less on behalf of all the drivers, give some great respect to Felipe.
FM: Oh, no.
SV: It is very, very difficult, well, I don't know, you can ask him, but from the outside big respect for what he has achieved. First race he is back and he is bang, bang bang. It is good to have him back.

Q: Did you do a lot of changes to the car overnight or did the track to some extent come to you?
SV: Well, I think the track was not very good to start with yesterday morning but then rubbered in quickly. There was a lot of rubber. I think it was more transforming your car and making it work in the conditions. We did change a lot overnight. Yesterday we could not show our full performance, we would have wished to do more runs, but I had a braking failure and Mark had a problem with the drive-shaft, so overall we did not do a lot of laps, but nevertheless we could feel the potential. We changed some things, I won't tell you what, but nothing special, small things, but they had a big effect in the end. We were trying to read the conditions and what will happen throughout qualifying and it seemed to work quite well. I think we were one of the most consistent.

Q: Felipe, it is a great comeback to be second. How satisfying is it for you and how emotional?
FM: It is just fantastic to hear that definitely. First of all congratulations for the pole. I want to be in your place but I am glad for you. It is just fantastic to hear that. We are here to compete and race each other but there is relationship and respect which go over everything. All drivers have great respect and it is nice to hear that after such difficult times and such difficult accident. Now I am here 100 per cent ready to fight again and most of the people are happy, so that is fantastic to hear. We always want to do the best possible. I think it was very positive the first qualifying of the season and looking how difficult it was last year and how tough it was to improve the car race by race and to understand the regulations. I think we did a good job at home to prepare the car, to make the car in a good direction, and that is a very important point to start the season. Fernando and I are second and third and that is great for the team to have a good direction for this very long championship which won't be easy. It will be very difficult.

Q: What were you expecting for qualifying? Did you have any ideas as the Mercedes seemed to be very competitive but they are not on the first three.
FM: I expected to be, looking at what happened yesterday and this morning, fighting with Mercedes and Red Bull. I think Sebastian made a little step forward if you look this morning and yesterday and did a great lap which you would expect him. I think he did a good job.

Q: Fernando, how satisfying is it for you to be in the top three in the first drive with a new team especially in such a competitive season?
FA: I am very happy. It is the first race and there are many things to answer after a long winter with so big differences in fuel loads in all the tests and yesterday in practice as you never know what the competitors are running. We were really excited about the first qualifying of the season to really know how competitive we were, so now to have both drivers in the top three means we have a very competitive car. We thought so but you never know, you need to confirm it. It has been great. A great day and I think some kind of nice feeling to realise that we are in the fight as you never know until qualifying.

Q: You talked about the rear tyres degrading yesterday


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Romain Grosjean
Paul di Resta
Nico Hulkenberg
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