Q. Mark, you are leading the World Championship and you are a Monaco winner. How does it feel?
Absolutely incredible and for sure the greatest day of my life today. To win here is a very, very special day. It started yesterday with qualifying when it went well but this place is such a test for two hours. I had a lot of work to do. The track was changing quite a lot during the grand prix as well, we had backmarkers and a lot of safety cars so we were tested quite often. Getting restarts and tyre pressures right – all the basics that could test you were in front of us today, so very, very rewarding win and just absolutely elated. To join Ayrton Senna and those guys around here is great. It’s a real Blue Riband event.
Q. Sebastian, second place today but you didn’t seem able to take the fight to Mark. What happened?
Well, we need to see. Especially in the beginning and the restarts I wasn’t able to keep up with him, there was a big difference. Later on when I finally felt the grip I wasn’t too far off but by then he was already 10 seconds down the road and winning the race by five, six, seven seconds, so there was no real point to make the effort trying to catch him. Obviously overtaking is too difficult and I had to look more in the mirrors. Robert was pushing quite hard and it was quite difficult to get away from him at the restarts. I was going more sideways than straight or forward, so it was quite difficult. But in the end I think it was our optimum today. I am very, very happy. I think we couldn’t have done better. A lot of good points and those count at the end of the year by quite a bit. It is a long season but I am very happy today.
Q. Robert, second on the grid but third in the race. For you it was all about the start, was it?
I mean I always knew that starting from the first row on the dirty side would be difficult for me. Normally I would defend the position but I saw that Mark was slow pulling away from the box, so I thought I might have the chance to overtake. Just went on power a bit too early and got a lot of wheelspin and it was too late to close the door to Sebastian and then I had to defend from Felipe [Massa], so overall the first lap I lost position. I was able to keep up with the pace of Sebastian. Actually I think we were a bit quicker, especially after the restarts. On prime tyres I think our pace was just slightly better than on options. Then 30 laps to go before the last safety car came into corner one I had big flat spot on the inside wheel, so I had big vibration and I was really scared that I might pit again and change front tyres. I couldn’t see even the pit board. Over 250 metres it was really difficult to see braking point and I was surprised about the pace. But third place we have to be positive. I think no-one was expecting us to finish on the podium here. We were up there in the front all weekend, so congratulations to all the guys and for Renault for three spots on the podium as engine supplier.
Q. Mark, four safety cars and a lot of rebuilding of leads and you almost got involved in a pile-up of backmarkers at the end of the race.
Yeah, I was on the radio and they said look you have got Jarno [Trulli] and I think it was [Karun] Chandhok in front with a few laps to go. I was nursing the car quite a lot in the last part of the race but with backmarkers you can lose a lot of time when you catch them. I saw Jarno going for a lunge down the inside of Rascasse and I thought ‘what the hell is going to happen here’ and they interlocked wheels, he went flying in the air and I just hoped I had some options to go on the inside and sure enough I did. I was just really hoping that Chandhok was okay as it looked like the car was around the head area and I thought ‘God, now we have another safety car but let’s finish it under the safety car so I don’t have to worry about doing one lap after the restart’. It was good obviously as both of us could just cross the line quite straightforward and get a very good one-two for the team.
Q. Sebastian, tell us about your move on Robert at the start?
Well, initially I had quite a bad feeling for the pull away. The revs dropped quite a lot. Still I felt that my start was better than Mark’s who was ahead and also then I saw Robert. He mentioned his car had a lot of wheelspin and I could see that, so I was driving down the inside. The sprint down to turn one is not that long, so I was able to get side-by-side, even a bit ahead, so I could take it a bit easier into turn one, not to do something stupid and maybe run into the back of Mark. It was quite important and it was the key to finish second today.
Q. Tell us about when you closed up on Sebastian. Did you think there might be a chance to find a way through?
Well, not really especially after I got the front locked up. I had huge vibrations, so I was looking quite a lot on the tyre vibration might be very dangerous for exploding the tyres, so I was just controlling it, so it didn’t get worse. When I saw that the tyres were handling well, although the visibility was not great, I was able to keep up the pace to Sebastian and controlling Felipe behind there was no real chance unless Sebastian made a mistake but he didn’t, so I was never really close and in Monaco it is nearly impossible to overtake especially if you are a bit slower than the front two guys.
Q. Mark, Red Bull have been on top speed-wise throughout this year but it has taken until now to get on top of both championships. Where do you go from here?
Well, continue to work hard. We are not here because we have been slacking. The effort has gone in from two-and-a-half-years ago. This is not just the sake of the last two weeks work. This has been a continuous effort off the back of RB5 into RB6. Fantastic continuity within the team. Rob Marshall, Adrian Newey, it’s impossible to mention everyone. The cars were very reliable for us today. Very, very good for both of us and we have just got to keep going to each venue. Of course it would be nice if it was the last race today but it is not. We have got a lot of work to do. We are very optimistic for the future and we had the maximum we could do today. It is the best result we could get and we need to try and make that as often as possible.
Q. Mark, congratulations. This ranks pretty high. Two victories in eight days don’t come better than that and one of them in Monaco.
You are absolutely right. I said in the last press conference that this is the greatest day of my life. To win in Monaco is a dream for any Formula One driver. It is a very, very special event and every Formula One victory is special but to win on the streets here fair and square off the pole, no attrition again, that’s nice and control the race from the front. To join such great winners here is a real special moment for me. I was reminded yesterday that Jack Brabham won here in 1959, so it has been a while for the Australians. A special day.
Q. Four safety car periods. Did that upset the concentration or did it allow you to rest? How did that affect you?
I certainly would not have wanted them. It is nice when you get the buffer and work on the gaps and then it is neutralised by the safety car which is a bit frustrating. I was totally open to that happening around here at some stage and I thought after the first one, which happened after the first lap, I thought ‘okay.’ Then we get up to the first stop and immediately after that it started. Never ideal to have a break-up in the rhythm for anyone that is leading the race. It gives the people who are hunting you more of a chance when they come back up on your tail. Apart from the manhole cover one, that one I didn’t really understand, as I did not see any problem but obviously the boys, Charlie (Whiting) and the guys saw something there which we needed the safety car out for one lap. But for the others we needed them as they were decent shunts. It was an absolutely faultless day except for the start which didn’t go exactly according to plan but it was good that I did it here at Monaco instead of last weekend in Barcelona as it is a long run there and it wasn’t the best start but I think I know why. After that it was basically counting the laps off. It was also a relief, to be honest, that Seb got Robert as I thought Robert would have been very, very strong today. It was good that we got a one-two for the team. It was the ultimate result for us.
Q. That safety car period was for a loose drain cover at turn three.
I was told that but I didn’t really… it was probably in the kerb. The guys probably had a good visual on it and saw that they needed to address something but from the cockpit I didn’t see anything.
Q. Both you Red Bull drivers had relatively late stops for tyres; were they good right to the end?
Yeah, fine, absolutely fine. You don’t go crazy on them at the beginning, you give them a good chance to keep going. I’ve got a good feeling, had a pace. We’re learning a lot at each race, we know how to go about that. Obviously with the first safety car it bunched the field up a bit, so we knew that the stops would happen a bit later than we probably anticipated before. It was just a nice situation, obviously, with a bit of a buffer as well to be able to pit, to have a bit more of an option when you want to pit instead of having more attention around you with competitors.
Q. Having been fairly restrained last Sunday evening, you’ve got a fair amount of celebrating to do tonight.
Well, I think it’s going to be a pretty dangerous night tonight for Red Bull. It’s not a back-to-back race and I think the ash cloud will cause a lot of people to stay here as well. I’m predicting some very bad headaches in the morning, that’s for sure. The team deserves it, there’s no question about it. You have to enjoy your victories. At the end of the day we’ve got some bigger goals to achieve this year but this is a very, very unique day for the team. Last year at Silverstone, we had a one-two which is great for a British… obviously it’s Austrian but there’s also a lot of British influence in the team. There were a lot of firsts last year and to get a one-two in the Principality for the team… sensational.
Q. Sebastian, you seemed to be coming back a bit at the end; did you feel you had some tyres left?
Yeah, it was absolutely no problem with the prime tyres. I think they were bomb-proof. I don’t know when we stopped in the beginning because stops were obviously delayed because of the safety car, but to do around fifty or sixty laps on the primes was absolutely no problem today. It was getting better and better. For sure, tyres start to wear and you start to slide a bit more but I think it was fine. For me, the main difficulty today was to switch the tyres on after the stop. I was quite a lot clear of Robert when I came out of the pits and then obviously within a couple of corners he was right there again, so it was quite difficult. I was sliding a lot. Also the restarts – maybe not the first initial lap, but then after the first five timed laps, I was struggling to keep up the pace. Obviously that was when Mark disappeared and when Robert was pushing from behind. So we need to see. Then afterwards we really got a lot of laps in and I was able to find the rhythm more and more and then I think also in terms of lap times it stabilised and then we were more or less competitive. All in all, I think it was very good day for us. I’m very happy, we achieved the optimum so, yeah, I can sleep well tonight.
Q. How close did Robert get to you?
Obviously, in Monaco it’s difficult to pass, and I knew that if I didn’t do anything stupid and always got good exits and take care of my tyres, there would be no way for him to pass. So I focused on that, it worked. Sometimes he was close and sometimes he was a bit behind, but I think he was always between half a second, a second and two seconds, so not far off, but enough.
Q. It was still fairly close.
It was still close. It’s not nice, obviously it would have nicer to have a bit of a gap. In the end what matters is the track position.
Q. Robert, obviously a phenomenal result today for Renault and for your team as well. At this stage, do you regard that as not necessarily a lucky result but perhaps your best chance was round here?
For sure we were more competitive here than we were on the other circuits, but on the other hand we hope to be in the position to fight for another podium in the remaining races. I think that today, on normal race tracks, we are not in the position but some nice tracks are coming like Hungary, like Canada. I think we can be strong in Canada, so it will suit our downforce level better. So we hope to be at least as competitive as we were here. But for sure, when you have qualified on the first row, although we were starting on the dirty side, you always expect the pole guy to make the better start, but actually Mark didn’t make an excellent start. I was maybe a bit too optimistic and I was hoping to get in front of him and then got too much wheelspin and Sebastian overtook me.
Q. Is that because the track was dirty on that side?
I don’t know. I didn’t start on the other side. Not really, normally the plan was to defend second place, but when I saw Mark pulling slowly out of the box I was maybe too optimistic on the throttle and had too much wheelspin. I lost the time to close the door to Sebastian. I took the risk, it didn’t work but if you don’t take a chance, you won’t know if you can make it.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Mark, you already won in Monaco, nine years ago. What’s the difference and did you believe in 2001 that you could win the great race?
Well, I said to the people who know me well last night that when I was on pole position here last time, I shared a room with Anne, my father and someone else. There were a lot of us in the room because we didn’t have much money to all stay in a room. But my father was snoring all night and I got no sleep, so in the middle of the night I got the mattress and threw it upside down and said ‘I’m on pole position tomorrow, I have to sleep.’ It was over there. I think it was an old brothel where we were staying. I said I’d had a much better night’s sleep this night, when I was on pole. My dad can really cut some wood, he can really snore like hell. To win here in any category is a special day. We had Daniel [Ricciardo] win today, so it’s the second time we’ve had the Australian national anthem playing here, he drove very well in the World Series race. And yeah, my F3000 race was nice here but obviously this is the biggest Formula One race you can probably win. There are some classics, obviously Spa, a few real classics but this is right up there. Yeah, winning but obviously at a higher level.
Q. (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Mark, it looks like the fight for the championship will be between you and Sebastian. Do you agree?
Two races ago everyone was saying someone else. In two races time they might be saying someone else again. I understand you guys have to write stuff but no one knows, there is no one who knows who is going to be in the hunt with a few races to go. Sure, we have a very good foundation, we’re in a good position, we’re leading both championships I hear. Obviously Seb and I are equal or close on points or whatever. We’ve got some different venues coming up, keep in mind that engines are going to come into play in the back part of the championship, there’s lots of things to roll into this situation yet. It’s a good position to be in. I would obviously rather be here than forty points behind. We have a good tally at the moment but I don’t think it’s between two guys, too early.
Q. (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Sebastian, which aspect do you have to improve to try to catch Mark again?
Well, every weekend is a new challenge. I think this weekend we did our optimum, it wasn’t enough to win, Mark was a little bit better. Maybe next time it might look different.
Q. (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Mark, I was wondering if you could be the new Jenson Button for 2011, an experienced driver who gets to win and be better and better in his older days.
As I’ve always said, in any sport you do, you can talk as much as you want but actions speak louder than words, so you need to do the talking in any sport which is in your activity, so clearly Jenson had a very good year last year, we all know that. He was written off in seasons before, through lots of different reasons here and there. But I still feel I’m driving pretty well. The fire is still burning pretty solidly inside. I’m not 21, of course. I would love to be 21 again but in the end, I don’t think I’m losing too much by being a bit older. Of course I have some wisdom and it’s not holding me back too much. So I’ll keep going.
Q. (Edd Straw – Autosport) Mark, people always talk about momentum being the key to winning championships in any sport. Do you feel that you now have momentum on your side and does that give you a lot of confidence?
Oh, for sure I’m not low on confidence at the moment. It’s two races we’ve done well. If you’re doing this three or four, five times, in terms of good results in a row, podiums and whatnot, then for sure that is a good run. We were on the back foot in Shanghai, it wasn’t a good race for us, so you can look back at that and say we really needed the result in Barcelona and then this one was a very unique challenge for us in terms of a very specific circuit. To be honest, we thought it was going to be a very, very tight fight, which it was, it wasn’t particularly straightforward. Obviously there were a few other guys involved. I think if Fernando had had a normal weekend he probably would have been around a bit more as well. Let’s go to Turkey, do that and just keep chipping away. You know as well as anyone, Edd, that things can change very quickly in this game. I’ve been round the block long enough to know that as well, so feet on the ground.
Q. (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Sebastian, is there a certain amount of frustration not being able to get the rhythm of your team-mate?
I think, in all respects, it could have been much worse. I think I’m happy with today’s second, as I say. Obviously, yes, I would love to win but today it didn’t work, so we try next time, but for now I’m very pleased. As far as I know, maybe you know differently, as far as I know you still get some points for second, so it’s not a complete disaster.
Q. (Edd Straw – Autosport) Robert, we’ve seen Renault make a lot of progress this year. This has been the strongest race this year for you in terms of pure pace. Do you feel now that with Renault you’re really working on a team that’s building towards being able to win races and fight for championships in the future?
Well, it depends on which future we are talking about. I think for this year winning races will be extremely difficult. Of course, in Formula One everything is possible but we have to wait and see. In reality, I think the gap to the Red Bulls, especially, is much bigger than it was here this weekend. I think Monaco was one of the tracks which suited our car best, our characteristics, so we will see. For sure there will be some opportunities. There are tracks to come where I think our car can do well but not only Red Bull but Ferrari as well are extremely quick, so it will be difficult. I think we are fourth row on normal race tracks on pure pace. Here we were just fighting with Red Bull. Of course, we were a bit slower than Mark but on a similar pace to Sebastian which was already surprising. Of course we are still working, still pushing and then we will see.
Q. (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Robert, does it bother you that people always talk about the top four teams and never about the top five, because now Renault is as fast as many other teams?
I think it’s because of the names: Renault, in the past, especially in the last two years, was not so good. The team is somehow building up again with a bit of a different mentality, bit of a different approach and I think it’s working. Nobody, before the start of the season, would put one euro on us. We managed to finish on the podium twice. We showed good pace, especially here in Monaco. We are bringing quite a lot of new bits on the car. All the guys in the factory are really working hard to improve the car. I think we are getting better direction than maybe in the past and it seems to be giving results. We hope to be able to proceed as we are but the way to catch the top cars is still a long way away, so we have to keep working and pushing and I believe and I hope that one day we will be able to really fight for victories.
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]