German GP: Sunday Press Conference
Q. Mark, take you back to November. You are lying on the road in Australia with a broken leg and maybe thinking your career is now over. Here you are today a grand prix winner. Tell us your emotions.
Mark WEBBER: It is an incredible day for me. I wanted to win so badly after Silverstone. I thought I had a good chance there. But after yesterday's pole position I knew I was in a good position to try and win the race today. The only thing in the end that I thought was going to beat me or test me even more was the rain but even that held off. To get the victory today was a little bit testing. Obviously I lost Rubens (Barrichello) completely off the start. I thought he had gone to the left and I went to the right and I banged into him. That is not normally my style, so I got a drive through for that and had to recover. My engineer kept me calm and I pushed as hard as I could when I needed to. It is a great day for me, like you say. It was a difficult winter. Sebastian showed in winter testing what the car could do, that kept my motivation very high when I was hurting a lot with all my rehab. I have had great people around me to recover from the injuries that I had. The team had been incredibly patient with me as well and I want to thank Dietrich (Mateschitz) and Red Bull for what they did for me over the winter as well. Everyone in Australia that has supported me on the way through and of course there are a few people who doubted me too as well, so hello to them as well. It is just an incredible day for all the people who have helped me get to where I am.
Q. Sebastian, you had to work very hard today. Your thoughts on that and also on Mark's first grand prix victory.
Sebastian VETTEL: First of all congratulations to him, today he was unbeatable. He was quicker than all of us, so he totally deserved to win. I am very happy with the result. In the end it was a good recovery. It was quite a bad start and then all the KERS cars around me. I got passed by both McLarens and then even Felipe, so it was quite difficult. You start fourth and then go into the first corner maybe eighth or something. And then basically I struggled a lot in the first stint. I was in traffic and you know altogether we are four or five cars. Obviously I could have gone quite a bit quicker but there was no way to pass Felipe. He always used his special button when I was quite close, therefore I was lucky to have the right strategy and in the end that brought us back to second position but Felipe didn't stop pushing, so it was quite hard until the end of the race, so we had to fight but obviously another one-two finish for the team. I am very, very happy. Good points today. Obviously I would lie to you if I would say I am very, very pleased with second. Of course I wanted to win but yesterday Mark did a better job and that is why he totally deserved to win. He was quicker. It is a good fight among us, so I am very happy and looking forward to the next races. I think our car is competitive, so looking forward.
Q. Felipe, special button or not, it was a fighting drive for you today with lots of wheel to wheel action to bring you your first podium of the season.
Felipe MASSA: To be honest, I missed to be here, to be in top three but it was a fantastic race. I did a fantastic start, passed many cars. I was struggling a lot with the soft tires at the beginning like most of the people but fortunately I could manage to stay in front of Sebastian and managed to put out a good pace after a while. When we put on a second set of tires I think that was very important for the race, to have a good pace at that stage. I am very happy. I am very happy that everyone in the team did a great job on the strategy, on the pit stops, so I think having a good result like this, a podium will definitely motivate the people to keep working, to keep pushing hard and preparing a good car for the end of the championship and especially another great car for next year.
Q. Mark, you mentioned the incident at the start with Rubens. A lot of people have described it as very aggressive. It was a very aggressive drive generally but some wheel banging from you on the run down to turn one. Take us through it.
MW: I knew my start wasn't absolutely fantastic and I just moved across a little bit and as soon as I hit him I said 'there he is.' It was a bit of a surprise. I think I clipped the back of Lewis (Hamilton) if that was Lewis. I am not sure which McLaren it was. I lost a little bit of the front wing endplate I think but with these KERS cars and the way the mirrors are set up on these cars now, all the aerodynamic stuff, everyone is in similar situation. It was a difficult first run to the first corner but we got away okay.
Q. Sebastian, you had a fair bit of wheel banging today not least with Felipe as you were mentioning. You could clearly see how much it meant for both of you to keep the place.
SV: Yeah, it was quite tough to get past him. I didn't succeed and he was defending well with his button, especially downhill. I thought now I am in the tow but couldn't get close and then unfortunately at the end of the straight I was at the limit, so couldn't make the big difference in the braking then but he was on the inside, so it was tight and he did a good job. Sometimes it was very close. I was thinking if he wants to get my front wing off the car. I had to be very cautious as obviously it is very difficult with these wide front wings. You have to be extremely careful.
Q. What do you think, Felipe? Hard but fair?
FM: We are racing. Anyway we have the KERS, so it is a help to keep the position or maybe try to overtake. But you want to exchange the KERS for a bit of downforce. I change very quickly.
Q. Mark, you had a big pace advantage over the Brawns today. We have got a whole second half of the championship opening up in front of you. Do you think you can win both championships?
MW: Well, they are both still up for grabs, there is no question about it. The work that has gone on at Milton Keynes underneath Adrian Newey and all the guys there. They have produced a special car, no doubt about it. Brawn are leading the constructors because they deserve to be, they have got a lot of points but we are not giving up. Sebastian and I are on the top of our game and pushing as best as we can to be as consistent as possible at all venues. Renault are giving us fantastic engines. The team are gelling incredibly well. The big problem at our factory at the moment is building a trophy cabinet, so it is a very good problem for us to have. It is hard work they we are putting in but it is paying off. It is very good for us. We love fighting against teams like Ferrari and McLaren as this is what Formula One is all about. For Red Bull to take the fight to these big guys is a real credit to us. They will be back for sure but it is a special time for our team.
Q. Mark, what is it like? Will you have a few more of those, do you think?
MW: I hope so. I hope they are like muscles, obviously. When you get one you get a few more. I have done a few grands prix now. I think this is the first year I have really had a chance to win grands prix. I have had a few second places but today pulled the win off. But what is really important to me is that it wasn't handed to me. I had to work for it. I started on pole and it would have been a lot more comfortable obviously without the little penalty but apart from that it was still reasonably straight forward. There was still a lot of traffic and some other people like Sebastian were going to be quick but that's the way it goes sometimes and I have been in that situation, so it was nice to be able to have a very straightforward and easy first victory. I want to thank all the team for the effort they have put into me and the patience they have shown with me over the winter to get back to full fitness and just the job they have done to produce this fantastic car.
Q. How tough was it coming back from that cycling accident? Were you up to full race fitness right at the start of the season?
MW: Well, I think I was kidding myself a little bit. I thought I was ready to go for winter testing but I wasn't. It is absolutely clear that the leg was a long way from healed and it was still broken. It was just the metal holding it in place, so it has come a long way since then. Time has been a little bit on my side. I was lucky that Melbourne was put back a little bit in the calendar and a few things have gone my way, so along with having fantastic people around me, like Roger (Cleary), my physio. We spent a lot of time together getting back and even things like walking in the swimming pool and things like that in the first part of January was very tough for me. But there is always someone worse off and I always stayed positive and I knew that looking at the times Sebastian was doing in testing the car was going to be quick. That gave me incredible motivation to be ready.
Q. Do you see the irony of the margin you had over Sebastian today in comparison to three weeks ago?
MW: Yeah, I did. I did think that in the race. I thought now I know how Sebastian felt and it is a nice way to be able to control a grand prix. The first stint I got held up a lot by Rubens at Silverstone and that makes it difficult. But all of us know that. All of us know that it is very difficult to overtake. These cars, you know, the braking is so late and they are so even, in so many areas on the track it is difficult to stay close. Maybe in Malaysia, in Bahrain there are a few tracks where you have a chance but when you have slightly quicker corners it is very difficult and then you throw the KERS in as well. It is a challenge for us to jump people even when they are in trouble. You need free air, good quali, and that is when you can get the job done.
Q. Do you think the penalty was merited? And did you think it was all gone when you had to serve it?
MW: I thought it was a little bit harsh but maybe they wanted to spice things up a little bit. It is not really my style. I think I did definitely lose Rubens 100 per cent for a while. I moved across and then what made it worse was that I shitted myself and came back across again and I thought â€˜My God, there he is.' That's what made it look maybe a little bit worse than it was. I had a fair idea what it was for but also I thought that when I touched one of the McLarens in turn one I lost a little bit of the front wing, so I couldn't believe it was for that. But you know of course I was shattered when I was told I have got a drive-through. I thought â€˜My God, I am absolutely cruising here behind Rubens. I know he is short. I know everything is under control.' And a drive-through is very harsh for anyone in any grand prix, so I had to recover. Also I thought I was pretty close to getting done for speeding in the pit lane as well as I was quite frustrated. In the end it turned out okay but it could have been a different story as you say.
Q. And you were easing up at the end. Was that because you knew you had the time?
MW: Yeah, it was just staying away from the curbs. Sebastian had a problem on Friday with the car in turn one with some issues we had there, so there were a few things I had to be aware of and make sure I kept the car in the middle of the track and brought it home. There was no reason to finish 20 seconds in front instead of 10. As Jack Brabham used to say â€˜win at the slowest possible speed,' so I was thinking of Jack today.
Q. It is interesting you mention two issues caused at turn one. Was that caused by that bump?
MW: Well, there is an elevation change for sure. But it is not just there. You have got the chicane, you have got quite a few areas where we run the curbs on the exits and if you narrow the track a lot like I was in the last stint then for sure you drop the lap time. It is circuit specific here.
Q. Sebastian, you seemed to be involved in battles throughout.
SV: But I didn't succeed, so... It was difficult. At the start, I thought the start was alright because none of the guys in front of me had KERS and all of a sudden the cars just kept flying past me: both McLarens and then I saw Felipe approaching me. I tried to block him but obviously he was already side-by-side, so I opened up. Approaching turn one I was feeling that I was starting from midfield and not P4. Then it was quite difficult, I lost quite some positions. Then, basically, it was the old story: you are in the pack and you try to race. I had Felipe in front of me, I was quite a bit quicker than all the pack but couldn't get past. He used his KERS system very well to defend. All the time when I was close I could feel him pressing the button and opening up the gap which gave him enough cushion for the rest of the straight, so it was impossible for me to start a maneuver. I think the whole pack, led by Heikki (Kovalainen) and then Jenson (Button), who managed to get past Felipe in the beginning, Felipe and me, we were all losing a lot of time, every single lap to the two guys in front, to Rubens and Mark. I was already feeling a bit bad. Obviously I knew I had a very good strategy but still the first stint wasn't easy because the tires were not in the best shape at the end. I even had to defend from Kimi (Raikkonen) a couple of times. But then in the second stint we went onto the hard tires and everything was fine - struggling with warm-up, I think, like everyone was during the whole weekend, but able to recover and come back to second position, still with Felipe behind me, so I had to keep pushing until the end. But of course it's nice taking a lot of points. I would have loved to win this race for sure. It's my home Grand Prix but especially because there were so many people around the track supporting me. But I'm not the oldest person on the grid, so I might have a couple of years left and some more attempts. I'm definitely looking forward to the next races and we will see what we can do. The car is working well, the team is working fantastically both here at the track and back in England. We keep pushing, so we will see.
Q. Felipe, you were obviously overtaken by Jenson early on. What happened?
FM: Well, he passed me! I had my KERS but he had good speed on the straight, plus he was light. At that stage of the race the tires were still in good shape, so he managed to pass me.
Q. Then you were pushed by both Sebastian and Rubens as well.
FM: Yeah, during the first stint I was in the pack behind Heikki, Jenson, myself and Sebastian followed by Kimi. Sebastian was very close, he tried to attack me sometimes. Fortunately this time I could manage to stay in front and then I think everybody was struggling massively in the first stint with soft tires, massive rear degradation. During the first 15 laps, Sebastian was very, very close to myself but then after a while, I felt that he started to struggle as well with the rear tires, so things were a little bit quiet, so it was easier to control the situation. After a while he stopped before me, he managed to change the tires and his pace was much better than mine because I was struggling with the tires. I even asked the team what the situation was because maybe it would have been better to anticipate. If we did, maybe it would have been possible to stay in front of Sebastian but we didn't anticipate the pit stop and then I think we lost the position to him because of that.
Q. Is this the return of Ferrari?
FM: A podium is always important. Third place is a good result for us but we cannot say it's really our return. I think we are improving the car step-by-step a little bit, so I think that's good motivation for the people. So we know if we work we can manage to have a good car, a competitive car, so I push my team very hard because as soon as possible I want a car that gives us a chance to fight for victory and for the championship. It's what Ferrari is able to do and we have done for so many years. But nothing is coming for free, so we need to work and push very hard to steer things in the right direction, so that we can have a car that will bring us into this place (indicates the first place position), not on the left (in third position), in the middle. I think that's our aim and that's what we're working for.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Frederic Ferret â€“ L'Equipe) On the podium we saw you watching the flag. How important is it for you to win as an Australian?
MW: Very, very important for me to win because not many Australian drivers have reached Formula One and there are even fewer that are successful. So for me to win a grand prix and have the career that I've had â€“ a long career â€“ but for sure I wanted better results but this year has been very, very special and now we are able to say that we've won a grand prix, fair and square, which is nice. It's a real message to the Australian people. I've always tried to represent my country as best as I can. We're a very proud sporting nation, we have done well on two wheels, on motorbikes with Mick (Doohan) and with Casey (Stoner) but the motorbikes aren't motor sport in general at world level, where we haven't been amazing. It's a great day for me and Australia and that's why it was a special one.
Q. (Dan Knutson â€“ National Speed Sport News) Mark, how long and tense were those final laps, thinking that maybe it might rain, something might go wrong with the car or the track or anything?
MW: On lap 40, when I knew everything was pretty much in the bag, then it got a bit darker, I could feel it got a little bit colder in the car and I thought â€˜hmm, we're going to be tested once more again.' But from lap 52 or 53 onwards I knew it probably wasn't going to rain again and actually I was pretty relaxed. I was enjoying driving the car, it's always nice when you have a buffer but for sure I wanted the checkered flag to come, and yes, I was thinking about the car a lot. There was a little bit of debris in the first sector, so I was making sure not to pick up any punctures and also some stones in turn nine, so lots of things like that which you start to really keep an eye on which normally you don't care when you're twelfth but when you're leading it's a different ball game.
Q. (Ian Parkes â€“ The Press Association) To Mark and Sebastian: do you guys realize that in taking points off one another as you are doing these past two races that you may be playing into Jenson's hands a little bit? You're not making the big leaps forward that perhaps one of you might perhaps expect to if there was just one driver going for the title?
MW: It's a good problem for us to have at Red Bull. We probably never envisaged the season that we're having. We knew the car was going to be good but it's in some cases quite rare that two drivers are performing quite closely and getting very similar points. It could have been different for Sebastian today. It's very difficult to call how the races are going to be. Strategy is always playing a little bit of a role here and there, so if you put all your eggs in one basket I think it might help but you can do that for two or three races and then that guy might have two DNFs and the guy that you took points off before is in a slightly worse position, so we're taking the fight as hard as we can to Brawn. Either of us can have DNFs from mechanical problems or anything, so at the end of the day we've got a lot of points to go and that will be a decision for the team later on. We're getting on well, we drive the car on the limit, we love getting the most out of it, our team is brilliantly strong inside and we love fighting at the front. It's a team championship, a team sport at the moment. Maybe in the end, the last three or four or five races it will turn to one of us if we have a chance to fight Jenson butâ€¦ The last two races have been interesting for them. Let's see how we go in the hot races and maybe it's a bit more difficult for us.
Q. (Alan Baldwin â€“ Reuters) Mark, at the end when you crossed the line, we haven't heard you shout like that for ever, I don't think. Was that years of pent-up emotion coming out and was there ever a time in your mind when maybe you thought you were more of a Chris Amon than a Jack Brabham?
MW: I thought that but you know I think during my time at Williams it was very tough for the motivation, that's the hardest part of it. No one likes turning up and getting your arse kicked every weekend. That would test anyone's patience and that's why I suppose you've got to take your hat off to someone like Jenson and maybe myself a little bit, where you're still trying to stay involved and keep your motivation high to focus on other goals to keep your drive high and now it's obviously different. We can turn up at race weekends and get very, very good results. I've certainly had testing times in my career with unreliable cars and being in a position to get results hasn't happened for whatever reason. It's happening at the moment and as you say there was a lot of emotion. What happened today is not going to change my life massively but it's a very, very important thing. I will sleep well tonight, everything's fine but I'm not a different person because I've won one race. I'm just very, very happy that I've won it fair and square, that I've beaten everyone else today, so that's the most important thing to me.
Q. (Flavio Vanetti â€“ Corriere della Sera) Felipe, you told us that we couldn't consider Ferrari back completely yet. So can we consider this podium as a victory in some way?
FM: First of all, I would like to take this chance to congratulate Mark because I know how he's feeling. It must be a great feeling. I cannot say this is like a victory. I think this is like good work. Victory is victory. We finished on the podium, we finished in third position starting from eighth, so it's definitely a great result but victory is always first place. I think this huge motivation, it's a huge result for us to keep pushing, to keep working and just show the people that we can do it.
Q. (Bob McKenzie â€“ The Daily Express) Mark, it's a pretty good day for Australia. You will be happy to know that England are six wickets down against Australia. It's like it's going to be over by teatime. Have you had any contact with Ricky (Ponting, Australia's cricket captain) this weekend at all?
MW: No, not this weekend. Obviously, we spoke before I came away here and you know the baggy green, it's a very famous thing in Australia. They are fighting again in a very special series and that's their war. They're enjoying it, they love beating the Poms in that special series, so I'm very, very happy that they're doing well. They batted phenomenally and I'm going to a dinner tomorrow night with Ricky Ponting and I'm looking forward to seeing some of the Australian players and hopefully we can have a double victory. Hopefully they can get a few more wickets and knock Monty (Panesar) and a few of the tail-enders over quickly and they can go one-nil up in the series which would be very good.
Q. (Alessia Cruciani â€“ La Gazzetta dello Sport) Felipe, yesterday you said â€˜I have to be honest, a podium is impossible.'
FM: Well, to be honest, I didn't expect that.
Q. (Alessia Cruciani â€“ La Gazzetta dello Sport ) What's the reason for this good result, and how was the behavior of the car?
FM: The reason was that I was wrong, so a podium was possible. We are here but always when you see these guys very quick in qualifying, the whole weekend these guys were very, very strong and Brawn as well, they were pretty good. I started eighth with a lot of fuel, maybe some degradation of the tires, so I thought a podium would not be realistic. We fought so hard during the whole race, the start was also very important to manage to get the podium at the end, so it was possible. The car was good, the pace was reasonable. When I was on soft tires at the beginning I was not as quick as Sebastian and Rubens and Mark but that was with a lot of fuel in the car. The second stint was pretty good. I was following Sebastian, even catching him. Sometimes at the end of the stint he started pulling away slightly but in the last stint the car was good on the hard tires as well, so the car was pretty reasonable.
Q. (Michael Schmidt â€“ Auto Motor und Sport) Felipe, again as at Silverstone, your performance in the race was much better than in qualifying. Is qualifying the discipline you've got to work on?
FM: Yeah, maybe. Maybe qualifying is something that we still need to improve a bit. Also the strategy. Starting with a lot of fuel at some tracks is maybe something that pays quite a lot. At Silverstone my pace was very good but the strategy helps a lot, to pass all the cars in front. Here, as well, we had a race where many people were struggling on the tires at the beginning, so we passed some cars at the beginning and we were heavy on fuel, so the strategy pays a lot. It's difficult to say that we are much better in the race than in qualifying. I think in the race, together with the strategy, we manage to do a good job.
Q. (Juha PÃ¤Ã¤talo â€“ Financial Times Germany) Sebastian, you were expecting a lot from this Grand Prix and your public was expecting a lot. You look a little disappointed. I don't know if you are but can you just describe your feelings? Do you think it was not such a successful weekend for you and how do you cope with the fact that your team-mate is now a title contender with you as well?
MW: I don't think it's just from this race onwards. As someone said before, we are very close if you look at the points. Of course I would be lying to you if I said that second is very, very good. Of course I wanted to win but I think today after starting fourth and losing a lot of positions on the first lap, I think second was all we could do. I was basically in the group led by Heikki which I described earlier, then together with Felipe, Jenson and me, there was no way through and I lost a lot of time which allowed Rubens and Mark to disappear in front and after that I think it was more or less decided already. If there's anything or anyone to blame it's maybe myself in yesterday's qualifying. In the last run I was thinking I had two laps, it turned out to be only one but in the end on the lap I had I possibly had the car to put on pole but I didn't get the lap as perfect as usual and lost two tenths which made a big difference. The threat was there from the start, with the KERS cars behind and I was the first one to be in the shit. What are you supposed to do? I turned into the first corner, I'm P7 or P8 and I started fourth. It's a strange feeling and after that, having quite a lot of fuel on board and the strategy brought us back to where we finished.
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