Lewis Hamilton: Yes, it has been a great day and a great start to the weekend. It is just a bit overwhelming really for me. So many memories came back when they told me on the radio just now that I had pole position. It just reminded me of my first grand prix win here and my first pole position here back in 2007, so a very special day. I am just really proud of my guys to be honest as I damaged the car a little bit in practice and they fixed it in no time. Seriously professional. I owe it all to them really and this is really a reflection of their hard work.
Q: Mark, a very different tyre strategy between you and the Red Bull team and the McLaren team. Tell us about your thinking, about how you approached today and particularly tomorrow.
Mark Webber: Well, we thought we could still do a pretty good job today in qualifying on the harder tyre and that turned out to be the case. We knew we would still try and have a crack at the front row. We knew that the McLarens were still very strong on the option tyre if they elected to take it. Obviously it’s a long race tomorrow. We were planning to do the best job we can and we think this is something which hopefully will be beneficial to us. We are also mindful of the fact that there might be the odd safety car here and there, so there are many different ways tomorrow’s race could unfold. But we have stuck to our guns and the guys have done a great job all weekend and here we are with both Seb and I in the top three again.
Q: Sebastian, another cracking battle with Mark. This time the margin five-one-hundredths-of-a-second but once again in his favour.
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I mean it was a pretty entertaining last session. Q3 especially. Obviously we went out on the hard tyres and they take a while to come in. We knew that. To be honest I didn’t get a lap in until the very last lap, so it was not the perfect timing, but it worked. The lap was not very clean, so I am still happy that I even made it third, so it is good. Tomorrow I think I should have a good start. I am starting on the… well, both sides are really even, but I am starting on the inside, so let’s see what we can do and I am very happy that both of us made it with, from my point of view, the right tyre. After yesterday’s practice we have seen the soft tyre is quite difficult to last for more than a couple of laps.
Q: Lewis, give us your thoughts on the race tomorrow, particularly in light of what these guys have been saying about the tyres. Are you confident that you have got the right thing for tomorrow?
LH: I think the key is you need to take each day one at a time and clearly today we wanted to get as far up at the front as possible. For sure yesterday when we were testing the option tyre was not the best. It goes off quite quickly but we are going to do everything we can to maintain them. I think you might see a completely different race unfold tomorrow. There are possibilities, as always with every race here, of safety cars, so that’s to be expected, so I guess you have to be quite fortunate when they do and do not come out. I think these guys are in quite a fortunate position with the tyres they are on but who knows the track might improve and the option tyre might end up being the best one but I think we will have a good race tomorrow and, you know, we have just got to keep our heads down.
Q: Lewis, what about that statistic third consecutive pole here and also bringing to an end the run of poles for Red Bull Racing this year…
LH: I think it is fantastic for the team. I think it is a result of continued hard work for the guys and progression. It is great to come back here. I saw that second to last lap that Mark had gone ahead and I was so fortunate that the guys came across the radio and said that I had another chance to get another lap in. But it is great for us to at least split these guys. That’s what we have been working on for quite a long time. I think tomorrow is another day but today is a great result and I am very, very happy.
Q: Quite a margin as well in fact, about a quarter-of-a-second. What do you think of that?
LH: I think generally every time we have done a lap here it has been good gap like that. I am definitely surprised to see it. I didn’t know what time these guys had done. Definitely surprised to see the lap times. I did a 15.5, I think, which is quite a good lap. I don’t know where I found all the time but I knew it was there, so just very happy. No matter how it feels, just a small amount ahead, but this is perfect for us.
Q: You mentioned just now about the mechanics fixing something for you?
LH: Yes, the mechanics did… I saw them at work today like I have never seen them before. It was just like watching an orchestra. It was amazing. They did such a fantastic job. After P3 I just clipped the wall out of turn four and there was a little bit of a heavy feeling. I think it was the bearing on the front right and we didn’t risk it and changed the front and rear corner just to be sure. Nothing was broken, but just to be sure and they did an incredible job to do that in the 40 or 45 minutes before pulling up to qualifying. I think it was quite impressive.
Q: Now yesterday a lot of people would say McLaren were really in trouble with the tyres. What has changed overnight? The circuit as well as the car?
LH: Yesterday we were in a lot of trouble for sure. Through practice P1 felt quite good and then I think as we went into P2 people were switching on their tyres a little better than we were and the car was all over the place. Also the set-up we had gone to was not in the right direction for me but last night we sat down for quite a long time and made really good steps and I was very optimistic with the changes that I made last night. Got in the car this morning and it felt pretty good and so we were just very fortunate today the car was working and we just did a good job.
Q: Mark, obviously quite a margin between yourself and McLaren but you must be happier with the different tyres. Are you still pretty confident for tomorrow?
MW: Today is a very good day for me. I am very happy. It was a good fight as I predicted yesterday for the front row. McLaren were expected to be strong here and it has turned out to be the case. Lewis did a very good lap for pole, obviously with a different compound. Everyone is free to choose what tyre they want for qualifying and that’s the grid that we have today, so to be on the front row with a tyre that I think is going to be for us a little bit more stable and we will just see how the race unfolds. It is always an interesting grand prix here and I am certainly looking forward to it. I am very happy with how today went. My guys worked very hard and got the setting very well on the car and it was good enough to get second on the grid. It is good.
Q: How do you read the conditions as yesterday the track seemed to be dirty and then we had rain overnight. Obviously it is going to be more support races as well, so perhaps there will be more rubber down. How do you read that?
MW: It is a good question. These cars are very sensitive to the track conditions, particularly the tyres. I think all the competitors were very surprised yesterday when we went out in P1 and it felt like we were driving in the rain even though the track was dry. The grip that was offered to us was very low and generally as the weekend goes on it is only going to go one way in the case of improving. It took a little bit of a blow this morning with the rain and it came back to a reasonable level at the moment. It is a little bit of an unknown for tomorrow. I think we all know how the track will be. It should be fine. It is just a question of what the tyres will do and there is absolutely nobody who knows what is going to happen. Some people are guessing. We might have done the wrong thing, we might have done the right thing. Let’s see tomorrow.
Q: There is a lot of guesswork. Not just that but also the potential of safety cars as well tomorrow.
MW: Yes, there is a big history here of those. We are mindful of the fact. We are not just trying to get one-off results these days for Red Bull Racing. We are trying to get a very, very good result throughout every grand prix and sometimes that means making the slightly conservative choices here and there to make sure you have a better Sunday. Let’s see how it goes. It is going to be an interesting grand prix.
Q: Sebastian, we saw you lose one of your laps with a little trip across the kerb at the final chicane. Might it have all been different if you hadn’t gone off?
SV: It was a similar lap to the last one but surely it was the first time I had to cut the chicane this weekend and obviously it was bad timing. I don’t know, I probably had too much time in the third qualifying session with five laps. You don’t have the feeling that ‘this is the lap’ and you have to deliver, so you drive around and you warm up your tyres. So in the end, I had only one lap. I think I could have been quite a bit quicker but that’s life sometimes. It wasn’t my best qualifying session but still it’s obviously very crucial here to qualifying at the front. Looking at the strategy, I think that McLaren are hoping for a safety car. We don’t know, there’s no guarantee but we will see tomorrow. It’s a long race, I think we are in a good position. I’m starting on the inside, so yeah, I’m looking forward to the race.
Q: Did you make many changes since yesterday?
SV: A bit, not too many to be honest. I think we had quite a good balance. I was very happy after yesterday. Generally, I think we are looking very competitive, probably more competitive than people would have thought. We’re much closer to McLaren and I think in race speed we should be able to really fight them, so let’s see tomorrow.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Lewis, had you known that the Red Bull drivers were trying prime tyres, would you have done the same or later on, when you had realised that they were on the harder tyres, was it an option for you to switch to the harder tyres to beat your own time on the soft ones to be able to drive tomorrow on the harder ones?
LH: No, we knew that that was their plan, so it was already clear from Q1 that they had done something different, so it was clear to us. We just continued with the plan that we had. We’ve got good tyres for tomorrow. It’s definitely interesting to see the two different strategies, but it will be interesting to see how they pan out tomorrow with all the safety cars. I feel that we’re in the best position we can possibly be but we will have to see what happens tomorrow.
Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Lewis, is it fair to say that you and the team are taking a major gamble for tomorrow with a) the tyre choice and b) your banking on a safety car, so that you can dive into the pits early to change the tyres?
LH: I don’t think so. I don’t personally feel so because every race you’re taking gambles really. I don’t think we’ve gone into it thinking we should gamble this. It was just our feeling. I think both tyres are very, very close. I chose to go with the option tyre. Of course we know that the option tyre doesn’t last as long as the prime but generally through the race weekend the option tyre does actually get better, so that degradation should not be as bad as yesterday on a dirty circuit. Of course if a safety car comes round it could help but we’re going to see how long they last and do the best job we can with them. You never know what the strategies are tomorrow. I think it’s going to be interesting to see everyone’s strategy.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Lewis, does it worry you that you will have to make a pit stop very early and then you will do a lot of laps with hard tyres on a track where tyres are very demanding?
LH: I’m not worried right now, I’m just enjoying the fact that I just got pole position. Later on, for sure, we will sit back and analyse the different situations we could find ourselves in tomorrow but of course the obvious thing is just not to panic on the way and do the best job we can. I don’t know what the other guys behind us have done but I think there are a lot of people in a similar position. It could work either way for these guys, it could work or it may not, who knows?
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Lewis, will you have any time to watch the England game which is about to start right now?
LH: It’s about to start? Yeah, I have a bet with one of my friends who is from America and he thinks they’re going to win and I obviously have bet against him and whoever wins gets to pay the other one for dinner. I’m sure my team will be watching it. We will probably be celebrating and enjoying the evening watching the game.
Q: (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Mail) Lewis, that was an amazing last lap. What about the drama of that, just explain to us what it was like?
LH: The lap? Yeah, I can’t really remember being in a similar position. I went out with the plan to do one lap on the tyres. The first run was quite good, not such a bad lap. I thought it was quite smooth and then the second attempt is always the tricky one. This is a very tough circuit, it’s not particularly flowing and you need to make sure you hit the kerbs in the right places etc. On the lap that was supposed to be my last lap I touched a kerb a little bit too much in turn eight or something which lost me a lot of time. Clearly I wasn’t able to improve on the time and then I saw on the screen that Mark had gone ahead. I didn’t know exactly where I’d fallen to but I realised that I needed to go again and fortunately the guys said there was enough fuel for us to do that – just. So I was very, very happy with the final lap. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Lewis, just talk us through the coming-in lap. Have you ever had to push the car like that before?
LH: It was actually great. It gave me more time to… I had to slow down, it gave me time to wave. There is so much support here from all the fans. There are a lot of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes supporters here, there are a lot of British flags here. Every time I come here the support is absolutely immense. So it gave me a little bit of time to firstly acknowledge them and then I switched the car off and I was rolling. I got out and started pushing it and it felt great actually. It was quite a unique experience and I’m sure I won’t forget it.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) To Mark and Sebastian: how much lap time did you sacrifice by going out on the prime tyre compared to the soft one and was the race strategy the only reason for that or did you generally feel better on the prime?
MW: The tyres are pretty close, actually. It’s always really hard to get an absolute comparison until you really get to qualifying, because we only have two sets in P3 and you always run the prime first. The track was pretty green, so then you put the option on and it’s always going to be better because the track is better. That’s the way it goes normally in P3. So we basically made the decision for the race, really. We thought that there wasn’t a huge amount (of difference) in qualifying. Of course, if we had 25 points today, I’m sure we would have qualified on the option, but in the end we think it was the better option for us to start the race on this tyre tomorrow, and that’s why we chose it for race strategy.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Mark, as far as you know, in the last race your engineer asked you to reduce the revs in order to economise fuel. Here is a circuit which has higher fuel consumption than Turkey. Are you comfortable with the situation?
MW: Yeah, we’ll put a bit more fuel in the car.
[Original images via Formula1.com]
Latest posts by Richard Bailey (see all)
- ‘The Unknown Kimi Räikkönen’ - 8 December, 2018
- Hamilton wins Abu Dhabi finale - 26 November, 2018
- Pirelli stays as F1’s tyre supplier - 25 November, 2018
- Supercars: Reynolds wine finale, McLaughlin takes the crown - 25 November, 2018
- Supercars: Van Gisbergen stripped of victory - 25 November, 2018