Q. Mark, you are on fire at the moment. Pole in Spain and a victory and now pole here. How did you do it?
Mark WEBBER: I don’t know if my previous lap was enough. I can’t really remember. It was a bit of a blur at to be honest. I remember it was pretty quick, but I told Ciaran Pilbeam [Webber’s race engineer] that lap three and four are the ones I am going to try and murder if I could. The first lap went okay. I brushed the Armco pretty hard starting the second sector on that lap and then finished that lap and then went again for another one. If you could ever just say I want to tidy up the details from the previous lap it doesn’t often happen but today’s laps just all came together. Nice clean exits and I the car was again a pleasure. It was not a broken record but the guys have worked incredibly hard, a team effort. As you say three Renault engines is a great credit to the guys there as well. To get pole at Monaco is a nice feeling obviously. The heart-rate is up, you have got to be very precise and it is a great challenge for the drivers, so I am very happy to be here.
Q. Robert, you dominated the third part of qualifying until the closing stages. Tell us how hard you pushed yourself.
Robert KUBICA: It has been a good effort for us, for the team and for myself. We took a different approach and saved two sets of new options for Q3, so I had first go with a bit more fuel and then the second one, which was okay. I think we couldn’t have done better. But the final lap was not ideal. I pushed very hard on the first lap as here you never know about traffic or something. I knew Mark was in front by a couple of seconds, so I didn’t know what he would do, so I tried on the first lap, then second lap I started very quick. I think the fastest first sector. But unfortunately the second half of the lap the tyres were already gone, so I struggled in the last sector and just managed to repeat my lap time, so so far so good. Of course when you are so close it will be better to qualify first but we have to be happy.
Q. Sebastian, you weren’t in it until right at the very end. Where did you find the time in the end?
Sebastian VETTEL: Well, it was quite a surprise even though you have only got ten cars. I got a little bit of traffic, so it wasn’t ideal to sue the tyres properly. They came in nicely but I think when there was the peak I couldn’t use it. Then I did it at the very end. It wasn’t enough but all in all still a good result as Mark said, so compliments to the team. Also to the Renault. I think there has been some criticism on the power side. We know it is probably not the strongest engine but we know around here it counts a lot to have drivability and if you have the first three cars in qualifying with the Renault engine I think that’s a positive note, so looking forward to tomorrow. It is along race here, a lot of things can happen. Obviously it is good to be in the front, so let’s see.
Q. Mark, set the scene for the race tomorrow for us. The start, the traffic, how you manage the tyres and the chance for you of winning the Monaco Grand Prix.
MW: Well, I will wake up happy in the morning. As Seb said it is a long race. All of us know that. It is a very, very narrow track. We are going to come across backmarkers. The track here changes a lot during the grand prix, so I’ll use my experience and try to get through the grand prix. I am very optimistic that I can have a nice clean race and do the best job possible. The team also are a great back-up for me as well, so getting us good momentum and we can give it a good crack from there. Of course we have some reasonable opposition around us as always in Formula One but looking forward to tomorrow’s race and we will go from there.
Q. Mark, we always hear how important this race is and what a challenge it is, so tell us about the satisfaction of pole position.
MW: Well, pole is always nice obviously. They don’t come around that often. It is a sensational venue to get pole position. It is a very, very big test for the drivers. We know the Armco is very close for the whole lap and you need to be very accurate and obviously trust yourself, trust the car and go and get the job done. I built up to it nicely. I knew that Q3 was where it is all about and it was a good way to finish the session. I knew when we do one run we don’t get a chance to look at the other guy. I know Robert did two runs, but generally we do two runs in Q3, so you get a bit of an idea where people are sitting but when you just do one run, obviously you know it needs to be spot on as you know you don’t have a second chance in a way. Of course we get more laps, so ideal result. Fantastic to get on pole and the team have done a very good job. We have had pole at every race, so very, very good for us as a team and Renault, all three drivers in Renault engines and lots of positives. Both Seb and I are up here. It is a good result for the team but we have got to capitalize tomorrow as best we can. We know someone had misfortune today. It was hard luck for Fernando [Alonso]. These are the types of things that can happen during the season when we have got to try and capitalize. But a tough venue tomorrow and looking forward to the race.
Q. You were saying the car is better in slow speed corners this year at this race than maybe in previous races.
MW: Well, we made some pretty big changes mechanically in Singapore and from that time on last year and then we saw Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Brazil, the car with Seb winning Abu Dhabi, I won Brazil, there were a few races where it started to come our way where earlier in the season with the RB5 it was probably a bit of an Achilles heel for us. It is such a big result for the team to get pole here at this venue knowing it has been a bit of a hard track for us in the past, so it is fantastic.
Q. And you said you had work to do after Thursday as well?
MW: Yep, we didn’t have the cleanest of Thursdays. Different reasons here and there but fortunately things can change fast at Monaco. We recovered well.
Q. Robert, so close. We thought you were going to be on pole. Did you think a Red Bull was going to pip you?
RK: Well, I mean if the same car is one-and-a-half seconds quicker through Barcelona, there is no reason why we should qualify in front of them, so somehow I was surprised by our pace during free practice and qualifying but miracles don’t happen from one day to the other, so all in all, of course, when you are so close you are a bit upset but we have to be realistic and therefore this for us was a great day for all at Renault. I think five months ago the team was not sure if it would exist but we are here in Monaco in the first row, so all in all we have to say thanks to all the guys at the factory and on the racetrack, mechanics, engineers, everybody who is working for our team.
Q. You also said you had balance issues on Thursday; did you sort those out this morning?
RK: Not really. Generally, the characteristic of the car is similar to two days ago and to this morning. Actually this morning I felt the car was a bit better. We did some more changes for the race, because we were scared that with a lot of fuel we would have too much bottoming, so we raised the ride height a bit, we raised the car a bit and I think in qualifying it was a slight disadvantage but I think it will be a bit better for the race.
Q. Everybody thought Q1 was going to be pretty tough out there; what was it like?
RK: No, pretty easy actually. Without Fernando you needed just one clean lap to qualify, so actually with my first timed lap I was already in, we just pitted and then I went out on the same used tyres just to feel the track evolution, just to feel the difference of the grip in different corners. Actually, for us, Q1 and Q2 were pretty smooth.
Q. Traffic wasn’t too bad out there, then, Sebastian?
SV: No, it wasn’t too bad, but obviously it depends where you are. If you are in a group of people then obviously you get stuck. It always depends on what the guys ahead are doing and if they are on a clean lap or not, if they’ve got traffic themselves. It’s always been bad here, we know that, especially the last sector.
Q. You said the car was OK on Thursday; it didn’t sound as if you were ecstatic about it. Did you make many changes?
SV: Yeah, we did actually. I think we made a good step forward but perhaps the way the circuit ramped up in qualifying, I think we still made a good step forward but it might be better in the race than in qualifying. We are now third. If they don’t crash in the first corner there won’t be a lot of clean air tomorrow but you never know here. It’s a long, long race, a lot of things can happen, especially with the backmarkers, so let’s see.
Q. And you had a moment on what I guess was your penultimate lap.
SV: Yeah, the second last lap, I lost the rear at the chicane. I was probably a bit too late and had to abort the chicane or cut the chicane. Yeah. It happens.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Mark, do you have the impression that you’re getting better and better this season?
MW: At this level, it’s always a challenge. I’ve been in lots of different situations throughout my career but I suppose that’s why I’m still here because I keep digging in and keep fighting and you just always do your best. It’s the same for every driver. We’re always going to do that. I obviously had a pretty decent year last year which I was happy with. It obviously wasn’t the easiest start to the season for me but in the end, I’m enjoying driving the car, as I have done for the last while, when we had the RB5, RB6. Of course, there are weekends where you are a bit disappointed because the bar is a lot higher now for our team. We arrive here always looking for top results, so that creates more intensity for everyone, including the drivers, but we relish the challenge and I look forward to getting the best out of myself always. So there are no magic ingredients. OK, I’ve just had a nice run at the last race which went very well for me and so far so good today, it was the best result I could get. We will see how we go tomorrow. And then before we know it we’re in Turkey and on we go. I’m not getting too carried away, but I would rather be in this situation than struggling, fiddling with the car and feeling that I have to get on top of things.
Q. (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Sebastian, are you starting to fear your team-mate more by the race?
SV: Yeah, I’m not afraid of him. As far as I remember, he fell off a bike a couple of years ago or last year, so his leg is still a bit unstable, so I can always run away, plus I’m younger, so there are good chances for me.
Q. (Laurentzi Garmendia – Berria) Robert, regarding your race pace, do you feel it’s OK to challenge these two guys?
RK: Of course in Monaco the race is a bit different. It’s not about race pace but about bringing the car home, pitting at the right moment, rejoining from the pit stop without traffic and bringing the car home. Of course, race pace helps but even if you are one second slower, one second quicker, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is to pit at the right moment, double quick pit stop and get out in front of everybody and that’s how it works in Monaco.
Q. (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Robert, you are on the dirty side of the track. How much of a disadvantage is it this year?
RK: I don’t know, to be honest. Our starts, especially at the beginning of the year, were very good. Unfortunately, lately we are not as good as we were. In Barcelona we managed a good start but we lost quite a number of metres to people who were around us, so it was a bit surprising. So what is helpful here in Monaco is that it’s not a long way to the first braking point. Dirty side, clean side? We will see tomorrow. For sure there’s a bit of a difference but to be honest I think it’s so small that we shouldn’t worry too much.
Q. (Federic Ferret – L’Equipe) Robert, you seem disappointed to lose pole; did you think you could get it? Did you make a small mistake?
RK: I’m not disappointed. I’m here, I qualified as best as I could and I think today we achieved it. The first one is what counts but second and third are good. It’s not the best. We are all here to fight, to push. We have to be realistic. For us, for myself, for the team I think it’s a great day, a great achievement and we hope for good points tomorrow, and that’s how it works.
Q. (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Mark, looking back, the last Australian to be on pole position here was Jack Brabham in 1967. The last Aussie to win the race was Jack Brabham in 1959. He’s a bit of a hero in your household, I think. I just wanted to know how it felt for you to be up there and doing the same thing as he did?
MW: It will probably sink in a little bit later, but I wouldn’t be here without Jack Brabham. My dad followed Jack when he was a young boy and that started the dream in the Webber household that he was interested in car racing, particularly open-wheeler racing. He wasn’t that interested in what my dad calls taxi racing! So he was interested in single-seaters and that’s where it started, I suppose. Jack is an absolute legend of the sport, we know that, and he’s been very good to me over the years and since I’ve been to Europe. Of course it’s an honour to get pole today but of course it would be the biggest highlight of my career if I could join him tomorrow, but I’ve got two hours work to do tomorrow afternoon. But it’s possible. I’m not under any illusion that it’s going to be handed to me but I’m looking forward to it and thanks for reminding me. It’s nice to know that… of course, I know that Jack won here but it would be good to join him.
Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Mark and Sebastian; you have been fastest in most circuits up to now and ones with very different characteristics: Bahrain, Malaysia, Monaco. What’s your comment about that?
MW: We’ll see how the rest of the season goes. We’ve got Canada, Monza; there are a few other different venues as well. I think it would be suicide of us to design our car around Monte Carlo. We don’t just design a car that is suited to… you don’t set your car up just for Monaco in terms of the main design. You design a car that is hopefully going to suit most venues around the world, and that means… tracks these days are obviously getting slower, particularly at the back part of the championship but there are a few fast ones in there. The cars have different characteristics and use their tyres differently and there are lots of different things that the teams have to cope with. We have a great foundation for the rest of the year, no question about it, but whether we are going to be on pole at every race and continue this situation, not a single person can answer that. McLaren or Ferrari or Renault or Mercedes might come across something which is phenomenal and then we’re a little bit under pressure.
SV: I think we have a very good car. We have very good people on board and they’re working together, as a group, as a team and not against each other. As Mark said, I think that’s a good foundation but if you think you are unbeatable then you are a fool. It’s always tough. So far, looking back is always easy but looking in the future is always a question mark. So we need to wait and see and keep pushing. You can’t let go.
Q. (Adam Hay-Nicholls – Metro) Mark, there are rumours this weekend that your management has come to a new agreement with RBR. Can you tell us whether that’s the case?
MW: Certainly haven’t come to any agreements yet but there’s still a long way to go in terms of what to do for next year. We’ve worked very hard over the last few years, Red Bull and myself to get into this situation. I’m actually in no real rush to make any big decisions myself; also I think both of us are very happy with each other, a lot of trust with each other, so let’s see how it goes, there’s plenty of time.
[Original images via AUTOSPORT]
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