Valencia: Sunday Press Conference
1 - Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull)
2 - Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari)
3 - Mark Webber (Red Bull)
Q: Sebastian, another win. You described it on the team radio as better than anything you could imagine. Why do you rate this win so highly?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I mean maybe from the outside I don't know how much there was happening in the grand prix. But maybe from the outside. At least for myself it looked like a boring race but I tell you I enjoy it so much when it is between you and the car every single lap. Of course, I had some pressure from behind at various times as the strategy was a little bit different from Mark and Fernando. Sometimes they were pitting earlier, sometimes later. Even though I had a gap before the stop I came out of the garage and still they were quite close again. Pushing hard but judging the tires, trying to imagine what the end of the stint could be like, trying to foresee the strategy. For some reason I enjoy this track. Last year I had a very smooth weekend and again this year from the beginning to the end. Fantastic. The team has done a phenomenal job preparing the car. Even though we come here every year and we say this might be tricky as this track is maybe not made for us 100 per cent, with no real fast corners, but we manage to put everything together and faultless this weekend. I am very happy with the result.
Q: Fernando, for some laps it was just you and your Ferrari. Though for many laps it was you, your car and Mark very close on the track. It was a great battle with Mark that you had.
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, it was I think an interesting race for the fans, for the people on TV to see the fight with Webber all the race through. At the beginning of the race I was behind him, trying to be not too far and trying to have the benefit in the pit-stop and have the opportunity to overtake him. The opportunity came later on in the middle of the race but on the track not in the pits so I overtook him on the braking for turn 12. On the pit they did a good job again and overtook us and then in the last pit-stop I think the team did a very good strategy, keeping the car out with the soft tires for a couple of laps longer than the Red Bull, and the car performed very well and we overtook him finally on the stops. We changed positions between Mark and me and in the end second place is the maximum we can have this day so being here between the Red Bull cars is a great achievement from the team. Monaco was a very good performance all weekend. We finished second. Canada was a very good performance. We didn't score any points there and here again very good weekend in terms of performance Felipe (Massa) and me and now both cars in the top five is a great team result so definitely moving in the right direction. We need to keep working and be even closer to these guys in the next grand prix.
Q: Mark, Fernando mentioned the change of positions at the pit-stops. You received an apology on the team radio. Is that because the team believes you really should have finished second to Sebastian today?
Mark WEBBER: I think we should have but in the end we didn't. It was a good race with Fernando. I think it was probably my best race of the year to be honest up until the last pit-stop. It was quite close with all three of us. We are trying to go as fast as possible while managing the tires at the same time. It is always the same these days. I was very, very happy with how the race was going until the last stop. It was my fault basically not the team's. I was worried about Fernando coming underneath me around the stops and it was not really known how the medium tire would perform on the out lap. For sure, it is not as good as the soft but is it better than an old soft? That was the risk I decided to take. I lost out. Fernando stayed out for a few more laps and also I came out behind a little bit of traffic so my fault we missed second today and Fernando drove a good race. All three of us were nip and tuck all the way to the end. At the end the gearbox was playing up. We had to back right off but we had a massive gap to McLaren, they were one sector behind at least if not two, so we could cruise to the end and look after the gearbox.
Q: Sebastian, it seems the one man who is not taking risks at the moment is yourself. You are 77 points clear at the top of the championship. Could you start to take things a little easier now as we approach the half-way stage?
Vettel: Not really. I don't look at the gap. It is a long season. We have had a phenomenal start to the season and to continue that way is our target. But we have to go step-by-step and take every single race as it comes. Surely we don't have to win by taking too much risks but the target is to win races. It feels wonderful as I say today and we try always to achieve our optimum. If we have a chance to win then we have to take it. If the day comes and we might struggle and not be competitive enough and the car is only maybe good enough for third then we have to finish third and not seventh. It is still a long way. At the moment we all enjoy. It is incredible the achievement and the step the team has made in the last two-and-a-half years, every single department has got so much more professional, the reaction to mistakes. The amount of things we learn and the step we make forward is incredible. We have to keep doing what we do and stay hungry, wanting to win races and wanting to become better and better every time.
Q: Fernando, Ferrari have given you your first podium on this Valencia street circuit. But you will be hungry for more I am sure and pushing the team in your desire to win races.
Alonso: Yeah, definitely. We all in Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro know that our tifosi are expecting us to win. At the moment we are not in that position but we are getting much closer. In the first three or four races of the championship we were on average 1.5 seconds in qualifying behind Red Bull, now we are on average six or seven tenths so we have closed by half the gap. But it is still another half. We will never stop working until we reach first position in terms of performance of the car so they can be very calm about our effort that it will be always 100 per cent. First podium in Valencia. I missed this trophy. At home I have trophies from all Formula One circuits I race apart from Abu Dhabi and India, obviously we race there this year, so now that I have here in Valencia obviously Abu Dhabi and India will be the next target to complete the collection.
Q: Mark, it is your first points on this street circuit but you are after victories too, so how close are you to Sebastian in terms of achieving that?
Webber: Well, I think we saw today it was the closest I have been for a while. In qualifying in Canada it was very close between us with the KERS situation but racing when it counts. But I think I am getting better. Today's race proved that up until the last 15 per cent where it didn't quite go our way. That's the way it goes where it is a fine line racing against these guys. I learnt a lot today. I was happy with my performance and I will come back better for the next race.
Q: Sebastian, your second pole to flag here. You seem to have been on top ever since Friday afternoon really.
Vettel: Well it is always a long weekend. I really like coming here. It is not my home grand prix but the atmosphere here is something special. It is a little bit similar to Monaco but it is more relaxed. It is not so packed, not so busy, not so crowded. But still the atmosphere is there. The grandstands are full. Fernando gets most of the support but being in the city, a little bit outside around the harbor, it is nice so all in all it is a very nice grand prix. The circuit, we always approach the grand prix and it is a bit difficult to know how it will perform as there are not too many high speed corners here and a lot of hard stops. I think we have made huge steps forward in the last two years in those type of corners but still it is not our ideal track. Nevertheless, a perfect weekend. Yesterday was the foundation and today it was a long and tough race. It was quite close always between two, one-and-a-half, two-and-half, three seconds. Not too easy to really pull away and open a gap. It is a bit unknown. How long is the stint going to be? How many laps does it mean in the next stint and then at the end on the medium tires? It helps having that little bit of a cushion, so we always came a lap later and others came earlier and came out closer or they were closer behind me when I came out so I had to build up a gap again. Really trying to get a tenth or two every lap so, all in all, a faultless race and I enjoyed it a lot. I didn't have a fight or nobody to race but if you race against yourself and the car and always against the guys behind, between one-and-a-half and three seconds, so I really enjoyed today.
Q: What was the tire comparison like between the carious sets of tires?
Vettel: To be honest I think Mark was maybe the first of our group to change onto the hard tire. I saw him going in the pits, exit of the last corner, and then I was asking by radio what is his pace as we all didn't know really how quick the warm-up will be. I think, generally, the warm-up is fine but is it strong enough to beat a used set of options, and we realized he wasn't able to do the usual step you see on new tires because the medium tire is probably slower. We decided to stay out and came in last of the groups. If you have a bit of a cushion you can buy yourself a bit of luxury and wait for one or two laps so in the end I think we had a very good strategy and a race without mistakes.
Q: And the fast corners of Silverstone next?
Vettel: Yeah, I think it is something all drivers enjoy and we seemed to enjoy the last two years. I won 2009. Mark won there last year, so all in all we like the track. It is nice. It is very close to the factory and it is our home grand prix for the team so it is nice for the people as they can come to the circuit and watch our car. They see it on TV all year round but it is nice when they have the opportunity to come and visit and see us on the track performing live so looking forward to the whole week and the weekend in Silverstone with a new garage and a new pit area. That will be interesting so we will see.
Q: Fernando, great to hear that you get so much satisfaction from second place especially after the luck you have had here in the last few years.
Alonso: Yeah, I think podium here was the target and it was a personal target to get the trophy here in Valencia to enjoy the champagne and the celebrations after the race. I miss it in the last races here. We didn't have the chance with Renault in 2008 and 2009 and last year we had a difficult race with safety cars et cetera, so finally with a normal race we get this chance to be on the podium. To celebrate this fantastic weekend. I think it has been for the fans a good race, not only on the track and here on the circuit. I think there has been a lot of events, concerts, things like that all weekend. I think all the city of Valencia has welcomed Formula One in a very good way. People enjoy and this is the best result we can achieve now for them, for the Spanish fans, for the supporters, and obviously we keep working to win one race hopefully soon.
Q: You beat one Red Bull. Can you beat two?
Alonso: Well I think we need to be realistic knowing that our pace now is not enough to win races or be on pole position. But there is a clear trend, a clear direction that is moving forward and we did some good steps in the car. We were, as I said in the press conference, 1.5 seconds on average in the first three or four races of the championship. Now maybe we have halved the gap. We need to wait for Silverstone, Nurburgring, circuits that are more normal circuits, not only straights and big braking. But we are confident that we have understood our problems. The wind tunnel problems we had at the beginning of the year so now all the parts we put on the car, all the ideas that we have, we know now they are working so that is definitely a positive thing. What we can do on the track side, drivers, engineers, mechanics, is to deliver. It is to do clean races with no mistakes, good starts, good strategy as we see today. I know there was a lot of criticism about the strategy in Canada, putting on the intermediate tires and then it rained. But I think that is more bad luck than wrong strategy. In terms of strategy today we did very well. We overtook one Red Bull at the end and hopefully that will be in the papers tomorrow as well.
Q: And a great start from both Ferraris today.
Alonso: Yeah. Well, I wasn't 100 per cent happy with my start. Obviously we knew that the wrong side of the grid here is quite bad so I lost ground with Felipe who was fifth and also Jenson was very close to me, so I was sixth. I think the first 100metres of the start was not very good, but in the first corner, everybody seemed to brake very early this time, so I took the benefit from it.
Q: Mark, well done and it's great to hear that you get such satisfaction from a third place.
Webber: I think there are a lot of positives from this race for me. It was a clean, straight fight at the front for the first time since Turkey, probably, not having any real hiccups in either qualifying or the first lap or something like that. There wasn't a huge amount between all three of us, I think all of us were pushing as hard as we could, but also nursing the tires, getting as far as we could on the tires. So it was nice, for a change, to always have Seb in sight, that's the first thing, so he was certainly there and Red Bull's stops were obviously always close together. I'm disappointed myself... at the end I probably pitted a bit too early on the last one, because the warning on the option was pretty quick in terms of if you needed to pit, so I was a bit worried about Fernando coming underneath us but the big question mark was how was this tire going to perform in the first eight sectors of its life? And it turned out it was marginal against a used option and also I had a little bit of Vitaly and Rubens, I think, but that didn't cost me so much. It was just trying to get the car going on that compound so in the end, that was my call, so no fault of the team, at all. They did a really good job around the stops. I think we got all the other stops really good; together we did that, and then the last one didn't go our way so a lot of positives. We didn't give it to Fernando but we helped him get second, but anyway, a very strong result. The pace was quick at the front and I was happy to be amongst it for the majority of the grand prix until 15 per cent to go and then we had a problem with the gearbox in the last seven laps, when I obviously had to nurse the car home. It was good that McLaren weren't so strong, so we could nurse the car home.
Q: Did that contribute to your moment on lap 53, when you went off briefly?
Webber: Umm, where did I go wide?
Q: You went wide into the pit one time.
Webber: No, the gearbox was working fine but they were worried about the gearbox, so I had to look after it. A lot.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Salvador Ennui - La Vanguardia) Fernando, I don't think you're very happy about your race, but for a lot of people you have to have had a very good race in your car. Why are you not very happy today? That's the impression you give.
Alonso: I think I said in the press conference that I am very happy. I have repeated a couple of times that this is a very special podium. I also said in the press conference that I missed podiums here, Abu Dhabi and India. I can cross out here, and hopefully I can get a podium in Abu Dhabi and India as well and complete all the trophies from the Formula One calendar. Definitely this Valencia was one of the most special races, to be in the celebration at the end of the race, and we did it. So far it's the best result of the year and the best podium of the year.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Fernando, were you worried at the end of the race when you took on medium tires; you might have lost position to Webber because in free practice you were slower than them on this kind of tire?
Alonso: Yeah, obviously in practice I think we were more competitive with the soft tire compared to the medium tires, so as we said yesterday, we tried to minimize the time with the harder tire in the race because we knew that maybe we were less competitive. But it was the time to stop. Obviously we had two or three extra laps compared to him with soft but if you don't stop you lose the position so we had to stop and be in front of him in the first corner, and then the game is on, so you need to hope that the pace is good enough and I think it was a good surprise, how the car performed in the last stint. We were expecting a lot of trouble, a lot of problems with the level of grip and in fact I think our best laps of the race were at the end on the medium tire, so that's also very encouraging for the next races.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, when you passed Mark during the first stint, and then you came out a second behind him, was it because you waited a lap too long? On TV it looked like you had a bit problem coming out.
Alonso: No, I think when you are one second, 1.5s gap between two cars, the car that stops has the advantage because the whole lap will be around two seconds quicker. We knew when Mark stopped that we obviously had to stop the lap after, but our chance of being in front was not great, and I also think we had a lot of problems with backmarkers, problems of traffic. Obviously it's not easy to let cars past on this circuit, there are two walls on this long straight which isn't really straight, there's always a little bit of corner. I think we all lost time - maybe I lost time in this middle part of the race. I know Mark lost time with one of the Hispania cars at the end. At the end of the race it balances out but when you are in a pit stop area, or when it's pit stop laps, it's very important.
Q: (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Sebastian, each race you increase your lead, but behind you in second place, the name changes. Who do you think is your main opponent now? Mark, Fernando or the McLaren guys?
Vettel: Mark, Fernando, Lewis, Jenson. I think they are obviously closest. To be honest, I don't look at the scoreboard much. I think you always need to take last year as an example. It shows we had good races last year up to a certain point where things went wrong and we lost a lot of points, not necessarily making big mistakes but losing out, losing points. If you look at Formula One and you compare it to other sports, it's a very, very long season. We have a lot of races and there are so many things that can happen, and surely you will have some races where everything will work, but you will have races where you will struggle, where it will be difficult, where you have conditions like Canada or things not going your way. You decide to stop and then all of a sudden it starts to rain like Fernando had in Canada. It's not necessarily mistakes but it just doesn't go your way. The safety car comes out at the wrong moment or whatever. It can change the result completely and therefore the outcome and points. Of course our target is to be in the lead and make sure we stay there but the most important race to lead the championship is after the last one and not really before.
Q: (Jaime Rodriguez - El Mundo) Sebastian, are you calculating at which race you could clinch the championship?
Vettel: No. I wasn't good in maths. I liked maths but... No, it's good to know that obviously we are in the lead, by how many points I don't really care. People tell me often enough so I don't need to check. Sometimes they say it differently, surprising but it happens. I think we will find out early enough when it matters, whether we are in a good position or not.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - Agence France Presse) Fernando, you seem to be truly happy today about your result but you're 99 points behind Sebastian Vettel. When will you stop hoping to fight for the title? Is it already the case?
Alonso: Well, I think I'm happy with the performance and the team moving forward from a difficult start to the season. Obviously the championship is not in our calculations at the moment, so not in our hands, so we need to do it race by race, try to win the races we go to and wait for some mistakes from Red Bull. At the moment, I don't think we can think of the championship in a proper way. We just need to take it race by race and see what happens in the last part of the season. The distance now with 99 points, a hundred or whatever, is a lot so it's not in our hands. At the moment, as we said, we're one second behind, or eight tenths behind so if anyone thinks we can win a championship being eight tenths behind it's because maybe they don't understand Formula One.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti - Il Corriere della Sera) Fernando, we know that Ferrari is going to Silverstone with some upgrades. Which is the main thing you ask for from the team, the thing you need most?
Alonso: Aerodynamics. I don't think that it's a secret what we are lacking. What Formula One needs these days is aero performance. We can be more or less competitive in these circuits where there are not high speed corners with heavy braking on the straights. The tires are the same for everybody, brakes are no different, engines are more or less the same, KERS we all use, so it's all about aerodynamics. As I said, these days everybody knows about our problems during the winter and we were putting parts on the car which didn't make the car quicker, slower and when we realized that was Malaysia. Now we are a couple of months behind.
Q: (Marco degl'Innocenti - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for the two Red Bull guys: are you not a little concerned that your huge advantage from the previous races seems to be becoming a little thinner now?
Vettel: I think we have to wait. I think every circuit is different. If you need an example, we go to Melbourne and there we were very quick. We went to Malaysia and it's very tight. If you look at qualifying in Melbourne we were something like half a second clear. In Malaysia (he said Melbourne), two hundredths or maybe five hundredths. I don't remember. It was very close with McLaren. That was two weeks after and no upgrades, nothing happened, so things change quickly just because of the nature of the track, so we really have to go step by step. Every race is different, every track has its own characteristics. Historically we prefer tracks with high speed corners so Silverstone coming up should be a good one for us. Now the rules change slightly. I think we've said many times that it's the same for everyone, so if we are not allowed to do that any more, it's the others as well. Yeah, I said yesterday there was a lot of talk before this race, and already the talk starts now for the next race. We will see what happens.
Webber: I think this is probably our weakest track of the year, maybe, so we didn't do too badly today on a very weak track. We have a different regulation from Silverstone onwards and we expect that we can still be pretty competitive again. If we can keep Valencia as one of our weakest, definitely our top three weakest tracks, we didn't do too badly today, so we should go OK on the other ones.
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