Hungary GP: Saturday Press Conference
1. Fernando ALONSO (Renault), 1m21.569s
2. Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull), 1m21.607s
3. Mark WEBBER (Red Bull), 1m21.741s
Q: Fernando, a chaotic session. And a particularly chaotic finish. You had to wait a while to find out that you were the pole sitter. How does it feel? Are you back in business?
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah absolutely. It was quite a stressful qualifying to be honest. In Q1 we had the yellow flag from Toro Rosso I think in turn 13, so we were P15 at that moment and we had to get the lap to go through turn one. We did it at the end and then in the end in Q3 as you said the times were not working, so we were waiting in parc ferme, chatting between us drivers, asking what time you did, what time you did and try to find in which position you were. Now confirmation arrived that we are on pole. A fantastic effort from the team. We put some new stuff on the car at the Nürburgring that worked very well and here we confirmed that we made a step forward. But, obviously, it is not enough. We need to keep working but finally we found the direction to go.
Q: Sebastian, you were a couple of tenths behind Mark in the first part of qualifying. You must be feeling good that you are in front now.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, definitely. It was a pretty difficult start to the weekend. In yesterday’s practice I was struggling with the balance of the car, so not yet very happy. But overnight I think we did a good step and also looking very confident for the race, so we should be good tomorrow. But, for sure, I think the biggest challenge no matter if you are first, second or third will be the threat from behind with the cars equipped with KERS. That is big as it is quite a run down to turn one. But to come back to qualifying, first and second qualifying I was always a bit on the edge. Obviously, as Fernando mentioned, sometimes yellow flags and twice I caught traffic in the second timed lap, so it was not ideal but I was confident in the last qualifying. I think in the end it was roughly one tenth. We still don’t know exactly the time. We were working around 21.5, 21.6, 21.7, so it is a good result and let’s see tomorrow. It should be a good race for us.
Q: Mark, a strong position once again for the Red Bull team. But what about the battle for supremacy between you and Sebastian?
Mark WEBBER: Oh, it was Seb’s day today. He did a clean lap and I made a mistake in turn two and dropped quite a bit of time, so it was his qualifying. But it is a good race tomorrow I think between all of us. Well done Fernando, obviously another Renault engine up here for us on the front and the pole for him. With Brawn, I still don’t even know where Jenson qualified. We know that Rubens didn’t make it through. Sebastian and I are in a position tomorrow to capitalize on some good points hopefully. The KERS cars will be arriving on the straight somewhere, we don’t know where. But that is the way it is. It is unfortunate but it’s the same for everyone basically.
Q: Fernando, your third time that you’ve been fastest in practice here: one other pole, a penalty which left you sixth on the grid, and now your second pole here.
FA: Yeah, absolutely. I think it would be nice to start on pole at any place but here is a special circuit for me anyway. I had my first win here in 2003, so I will always be very happy when I drive in Budapest. It will be interesting tomorrow. Obviously we made a step forward and the car improved in the last two races and we are now a little bit more competitive, maybe not as quick as these two guys but we hope to score some good points tomorrow.
Q: Is that what you’re looking for, good points? You don’t feel you have a good chance of winning?
FA: Well, we will try but being honest and realistic our target is to get some good points after the last four Grands Prix when we only scored points in Nürburgring, only two points with seventh place. We need some points for the Constructors’ championship especially. If we start very heavy, we go around in eighth or ninth position and we finish our chances to get some good points. So we are aggressive this time, we’ve got what we wanted with the pole or maybe better than we expected and then from now on we will push all through the race and hopefully score some good points and help the team in the Constructors’ championship because it’s very tight with Williams, Toyota, with McLaren, so we need to go for it.
Q: You suggested a step forward there, do you mean in terms of modifications on the car?
FA: Yeah, we have been introducing new parts all through the championship. New parts are coming for the car at every race but some of them didn’t make a huge difference in terms of performance, and it seems that in the last two or three races the new stuff we put on the car is working really well. I’m confident that we have found a good direction to go in terms of developing the car and improving the car and this is the first good result of the championship so far, so hopefully this second half of the season will find us a little bit more in this room, not always fighting for Q3. Hopefully we can be in the top five a little bit more often.
Q: Of course, this is a historic circuit for Renault, isn’t it?
FA: Yes, and again today, three Renault engines in the first three positions, so this is a fantastic achievement again from the Renault guys. In China we also had the same top three and this means that they are doing a really good job, so thanks to them as well for this pole position.
Q: Sebastian, as you mentioned, struggling to find a balance yesterday, was it good immediately this morning?
SV: Not quite but much better and I think towards the end of P3 we were much closer to where I wanted to be, so a very, very good job overnight, obviously, and I think we should also look strong for the race. Obviously today was a bit chaotic, especially at the end, chatting between the drivers and finding out who did whatever lap time and trying to figure out who is first, who is second, third and so on. It was quite special. But yeah, overall I’m very happy. In Q1 and Q2 I was struggling a little bit, both times when it mattered I had a bit of traffic and not the cleanest lap, but in Q3 I was confident I had the car and in the end I’m very pleased. Obviously, we missed just a little bit - as far as we know, we still have no times - what was missing to the pole today. But it should be good for tomorrow.
Q: Is it going to be fairly dirty on your side of the grid?
SV: Ah, GP2 is running now and tomorrow morning. I think we have seen in the last couple of races that it wasn’t a real disadvantage. Just looking back at the last race, the Nürburgring, Rubens was nearly able to pass Mark but yeah, for sure, the advantage is the clean side but I don’t think it’s massive around here.
Q: And a little bit of relief that you’re ahead of the Brawns?
SV: Well, I don’t know… Obviously we know where Rubens is, but I don’t know where Jenson is, to be honest. All we know is the top three and after that, I don’t know. For sure, I think the biggest threat for tomorrow is right behind us. The KERS cars are somewhere there and it’s a question of where, left or right, will they pass us down to turn one? We saw in the last race that it can make quite a big difference. We will see again tomorrow.
Q: Mark, that time must have come right at the end.
MW: Well, it would have been very confusing for the guys on the pit wall as well as you guys. All the drivers were just talking amongst ourselves after the session saying ‘what time did you do?’ and then you were just trying to eliminate where you might be on the grid. I heard that a few guys did 21.6s, so I thought that I wasn’t in the top three, so I went to have a shower but it turns out that I’m in the top three. It was a pretty good day for us to be honest. I’m happy to be starting there, I’m in a good position for the race and I’m aiming to go forward. It’s a good day for Red Bull and it’s good to have my mate up here on pole compared to a Brawn guy, so it’s good.
Q: You started third here in 2003.
MW: Yeah, and I helped Fernando a little bit to get his first victory. I was driving a green car which destroyed its tyres, so that was back in those days but I think we expect a different result tomorrow for me and I’m looking forward to it.
Q: You had the hydraulic problem yesterday but it doesn’t seem to have held you up too much.
MW: That’s right, we lost a bit of track running yesterday, also had a little bit of a problem with it in Q3, we had to change a few little things but with Felipe’s stoppage we could then make a few adjustments, so it was fortunate.
Q: So you feel you’re looking good for tomorrow?
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Question is to both Red Bull drivers: low speed circuit, more or less like Monaco, high temperature when the Brawns used to be very, very fast and efficient, and you are in front of them again. Is this is the real answer, that you have overtaken them in performance?
MW: Well, it seems… again, we don’t really know where Jenson is in that session. We will definitely be able to answer that question in a bit more detail tomorrow afternoon when we have a full Grand Prix behind us, seeing how our tyre characteristic is and seeing how the whole race will unfold. But we knew we would be pretty strong here. OK, it’s maybe not one of our best, best circuits because McLaren and Williams and Renault have a few guys doing pretty good jobs as well but in general, our car is quick at all venues now. It was clear that the step we made at Silverstone we could take that everywhere and we’re not focusing on hot tracks, cold tracks, whatever we’ve got. We’re focusing on doing the best we can for every venue we go to and the guys have done a brilliant job with that so far.
SV: I think we are the ones to catch up, so we are better off developing and putting bits on the car that work and I think in the last couple of races we have proven that it is going in the right direction. So we try to push even harder and make the car better and even better. Even if here there are quite a lot of slow corners and so on, it’s possibly not the best place for us. I still think you have to be quick everywhere and a good car is a good car, no matter where you go. I think you have seen that. I’m not that experienced but you as journalists have been around a bit longer and I think that for at least the last ten years the cars that have been on the front rows at their first Grands Prix have been there consistently for the rest of the season. So I’m looking forward to the next couple of races but first of all we need to focus on tomorrow.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Fernando, both Renaults made Q1 at the very last minute, what happened there?
FA: We used the prime tyre on the first run. We knew the prime tyre was not quick enough to get us through Q1, so we put on the option tyre just four minutes from the end of Q1. We had the yellows flags in turn 13, so we couldn’t improve our timed laps and when the yellow flag went in we had just one lap, so we tried not to make any mistakes on that lap and try to get into Q2 and we managed it but it was unfortunately quite stressful and quite on the limit.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, could you explain to us what happened when you jumped out of the car?
FA: Nothing. What happened? My team said ‘we don’t know what position you are because our system is completely off, we cannot see any timed laps.’ So I jumped out of the car and they didn’t know if I was ninth, seventh, third. When some of the other drivers stopped - because I was one of the first drivers in parc ferme - I was asking what time they had done, just to have a reference, how far from pole position I finished this qualifying. And everybody was saying two or three tenths more than me, so I was starting to get excited and then finally came the confirmation.
Q: (Carlos Miquel – Diario AS) Fernando, do you think a podium is a realistic option, a real option for tomorrow, third position?
FA: Right now I have to say yes, it will be our aim tomorrow. As we’ve already said, we don’t know who is fourth, who is fifth, because it’s quite confused, and we obviously need to wait two or three hours to see on which laps people will stop tomorrow but anyway, being on pole position, the podium is a real possibility. When you are eighth or ninth, the podium is just a dream, so even if we are a little bit lighter on fuel or whatever, the podium will be our target tomorrow.
Q: (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Fernando, do you think you could have the same second part of the season that you had last year?
FA: That will depend a little bit on the other people because it’s true that in the last half of the season last year it was very good for us and we scored more points than anybody but this was due to the performance of the car which reached a very good level last year, in the last couple of races, plus the little mistakes that other drivers made and the other teams. I remember Singapore, Felipe with the fuel rig in the pit lane. In Fuji, at the start, all the first four cars were touching each other and going off the track, so you always had a combination of factors that put me in a very good position in the last half of the season. For sure Renault will improve the car, for sure we are a very strong team and we will be better and better at every race but at the moment, I think Red Bull, Brawn, McLaren now, they are also very, very strong. They don’t help us, it will be difficult to win a race this year, or something like that.
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