Monaco GP - Qualifying press conference
With Vettel, Button & Webber
Q: Sebastian, your first pole here at Monaco. Share your feelings with us?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yes, it is a long way around here. Qualifying is tough. Three segments so in each one you have to give it your 100 per cent. We had very good preparation in Q1 and Q2, maybe not yet perfect but then in Q3 the lap I had was just spot on, so I was really happy with that. But I think sitting here now talking about qualifying, I think the most important thing was to hear that Sergio Pérez is okay. He is conscious. We all sit inside the cockpit and wait to go out, but we see the images as well. We are all thinking of him and wish him all the best and hopefully he can start the race tomorrow. It wasn’t easy to wait that long time but I think the circuit in Q3 after waiting such a long time was not there anymore. Not a lot of people did improve. It was quite slippery. Had to wait long for that pole but very pleased. Always here it is very important, so very happy.
Q: Jenson, a difficult session for everybody but as Sebastian said the lap speed was not there in that final run. Tell us about the track condition when you all went out there for that final two minutes.
Jenson BUTTON: Yeah, it was very slippery. But we wanted to get out early to really push on the out lap and there wasn’t any tyre temperature as we had been sitting in the pit-lane for two-and-a-half minutes. It wasn’t best but the great thing was I put in a good lap at the start of the session. A lap I was very happy with, much better than my Q2 lap. But I would just like to say also it is great that Sergio is talking and is okay. I think I was the last person to go in there in 2003 and I know how much it hurts. It is never nice to see that sort of thing. I hope he is okay. I am not sure he will be racing tomorrow but I hope he gets well soon.
Q: Mark, you won last year from pole position. With the new tyres and the DRS wings is it possible to win this year from third place and how did you feel about your performance today.
Mark WEBBER: Absolutely it is. The races we have seen are a bit more mixed up certainly than the last few years. Tomorrow should be no exception but qualifying here is crucial, no question about it. Pole is certainly a nice benefit to have. Seb did a great lap again today and deserves the pole. JB as well. It was a good first run. It was a messy session I think for all of us. You never anticipate not getting a second go but that is the way it felt today. Clearly the biggest priority took over when one of our colleagues, Sergio, had a tough crash and all the medical people have got to make sure they make all the precautions to extract him in the best possible way. Our thoughts are with him and he is in great hands. We know he is talking and conscious and he will bounce back from this I am sure. But we can learn from this incident. In terms of safety it’s an area where we need to look at and improve for the future. JB was lucky, Karl Wendlinger back in the mid-1990’s, so I think there are a few places around here we probably need to continue to keep an eye on.
Q: Sebastian, the Monaco Grand Prix is a race you have never won before. How important is it to you to put that right tomorrow?
SV: Well I wouldn’t mind, let’s put it this way. It is a long race. Always here it is a bit of a casino so a lot of things going on. It is a long race, 78 laps is a long way and as we have seen grands prix this year with multiple pit-stops could change in the last minute but one thing that remains unchanged is that pole position here remains important so I think we can be very happy with that. But there is no guarantee for tomorrow. All our eyes are on tomorrow‘s races and we have to push hard so let’s see what we can do.
Q: Sebastian, it is no surprise to see you on pole position in many ways but there seemed to be two other teams that were looking good in practice and in qualifying itself?
SV: Yes, I think you can never be sure you are on pole especially around here. P1, P2, P3, all the practice sessions were extremely close. We knew that we should be okay, but until qualifying comes you don’t know. McLaren, especially Lewis (Hamilton) looked very competitive. He was a bit unlucky. Obviously different strategy to the rest. Probably doing only one run in the end which caught him out with the red flag. Then to be honest Ferrari looked very competitive. Fernando (Alonso) in particular. I don’t know what happened to them in qualifying but once you start going you are totally focussed on yourself. You try to find your way around here. I think it is very, very important to find the rhythm. In Q1 and Q2 I think we were there or thereabouts, not 100 per cent happy, but in Q3 I think the circuit did another step and we were able to use that and improve by quite a bit so all in all very happy with qualifying. Especially around here we know it is very important the position you start from. Starting on the clean side as well so couldn’t be any better. But surely there is a bit of a shadow over qualifying when you see a colleague crash and not jumping out of the car immediately. Nico (Rosberg) had a similar accident this morning, same place, and he walked away so nothing to worry about. But then you sit inside your car and I was asking to get any feedback, any updates, to know how Sergio is doing. To be honest it is difficult to keep the focus and you don’t feel 100 per cent well when you don’t know what is going on. The message that he is fine, he is talking, he is conscious is already a big relief. We all wish him the best and to get well soon. Whether he is able to drive tomorrow I don’t know. We hope but we have to see.
Q: For the race tomorrow do you feel this is more of a lottery here. Every race seems to have been so much of a lottery. Things going forward, backwards, everything? Is it more of a lottery or less than other races?
SV: It is difficult to say. I think Monaco in general is casino. There are a lot of things that can go on but we will have to see. One thing for sure overtaking is not easy here. Other tracks it was quite easy, possible, as sometimes you were on a different tyre plus DRS helped you. I think the effect of DRS here is fairly small. If you look at the distance it is not even half of what we used to have in other tracks plus even if your tyres go off, if you have someone in front and they are struggling with tyres, it will be very difficult to pass him. We have seen it in the past. I remember two years ago I had a horrible rear tyre and I was able to stay ahead. I was, I think, five seconds slower and then at some point there was no chance anymore to defend. We will see. I can give you the answer tomorrow. Obviously it is a long race here so we have to keep the focus now completely on the race and see what we can do.
Q: On the front row for the second time after China so obviously you must be pleased with that?
JB: Yeah, very pleased. These guys for some reason always seem to go a lot quicker in Q3 than in Q1 and Q2. But personally I was very happy with my lap. I didn’t really get it all together in Q2. I knew there was a bit more there. Considering I was expecting to get another run I am very happy with the time I did. The car felt good and pretty much all weekend the car has given me a lot of confidence to really push it around here, which bodes well for the race. The race pace seemed to be very good. So good to be on the front row. But same as what Seb said I am glad that Sergio is talking and okay. I obviously had a big accident there in 2003 and I also know he will be very well looked after. He has probably had all the x-rays and everything by now. He is probably already shouting ‘I want to be in the car, let me get back in the car,’ which is what I was doing. I am glad he is okay and hopefully we will see him back soon.
Q: Tell us what the problem is going into that chicane; we’ve seen two cars just turn right into the barrier, why does that happen?
JB: It’s when you first hit the brakes; the rear goes very light. For some reason it seems to be more of an issue this year, which surprises me, because of the blown diffuser systems that a lot of us have. But the rear goes very light and at that point you become a passenger if you get oversteer. You have no control of the car and it’s pitching them into the right side barrier and then the problem is that you lose braking capability, because you’ve got two wheels off the car and it’s just a sled, just sitting on the floor. And I’m really happy that Charlie made the right call and took away those speed humps from this morning, after Nico’s accident, because I think if they had been there, the accident would have been even worse. It’s a tricky corner and it’s an area where it’s very difficult to do anything about in terms of safety because it is what it is. It’s Monaco, a street circuit, but I still think we need to look further as to what we can do with the run-off there.
Q: Mark, you’re obviously a previous winner here; how much of an advantage is that?
MW: Not a disadvantage. I think Seb can join a lot of the quick boys tomorrow, obviously, with everything else he’s achieved, but it’s great to win here obviously: JB has, Lewis has, Fernando, myself, so quite a few of us have won here. It’s a long grand prix, we know that. This year things have changed a bit more within the grands prix, as you’ve touched on, so let’s see how it goes. For sure pole is important. Seb did a great job today, a good first run and that was enough, obviously, in a pretty chaotic session in terms of dealing with Sergio and then obviously a long, long, wait for us to go back out. So, in the end, to be honest, if you’d asked me before qualifying would I have taken third, probably I would have, but yeah, it’s never nice knowing that you could do a bit better. Obviously the car, the team have done a great job getting everything ready so yeah, it was a tricky session for everybody and I’m pretty happy to be third on the grid to be honest, and it’s a great position to still get a top result tomorrow. I just want to echo the boys’ thoughts on Sergio. Obviously, it was a very nasty incident. We’ve seen a few guys have problems out of there this weekend and it’s not a very nice part of the track – very, very high speed with a compromised run-off. You’ve got to slot down either side. Obviously, Nico went down one side and we’ve seen people go down the other side but if you get it in the middle, you have problems, as Sergio did today. He will be in great hands, we’re all thinking of him. It’s never comfortable to see one of our mates have a nasty one like that. So yeah, that can happen, but we want to see and learn how things improve in the future.
Q: You lost a full session on Thursday; how much did that hurt you?
MW: It’s never a help. I’ve normally not been too bad around here, struggling a little bit with rhythm and not comfortable in a couple of corners on the track but getting better, to be honest. I think the short runs are actually a little bit more difficult for me than getting into a rhythm and doing a longer run. As I say, second row, try and get away well tomorrow. It’s a long, long grand prix. It could be quite easy at any stage to be leading the race, it can happen, and also you can go the other way as well but I’m looking to go forward. The car’s been reliable and running well, so looking forward to a long grand prix tomorrow and hopefully I’ll see you guys again.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Malcolm Folley – Mail on Sunday) Jenson, you have experienced the same accident that Sergio has had. We saw Karl Wendlinger before you and DC’s had an accident there and two this time. You talk about there being not much you can do about it, improving the safety there. It would suggest that something ought to be done to improve the safety there for you guys.
JB: Yes. The cars have improved dramatically in terms of safety since Karl Wendlinger’s accident and the circuit has improved, the barrier’s been moved back since my accident, so there have been improvements, but we need to find a solution because we all love racing here. It’s a very special circuit for us and there’s so much history but there’s a couple of areas. That is the main area really, I think. It’s an area that we need to discuss and try and come up with a solution because we all think the same thing. We all want it to be safer there, so we can really come here and really enjoy the racing.
Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association) Guys, you’ve all talked about the dangers, about part of the circuit, and obviously it has become, clearly, quite dangerous. You’re paid to do what you do but are all you three guys prepared to put your lives on the line tomorrow going into that race?
JB: Motor racing is dangerous; it says that on the passes, and we all know that, but there’s always more we can do. We’re all going to go racing tomorrow and I’m pretty sure that with higher fuel loads and everything you won’t see any issues – I hope. So yeah, it is a dangerous sport, but I think we still need to keep tweaking certain areas. Some people say that it should always stay a dangerous sport, we shouldn’t improve it, but I don’t think that’s correct. I think we’ve had some amazing racing this year and a lot of very safe racing, and some great fights, but there are just a couple of little areas that I think we all need to sit down and really be improved for the future.
SV: Not much to add. If we make comparisons to the past, between the lines you can read a bit of criteria that things are too safe these days and too easy in some ways, but things like this are a bit of a wake-up call, so we have to make sure that we learn from this and surely there’s very little we can do for tomorrow. Obviously, the most important message was that Sergio is OK but for the future, we race on street circuits, here or places like Singapore, so it’s our job, the drivers’ job to make sure we defend ourselves and say OK, listen, we need this and that much space here and there and that should be the target. But, as I said, the most important thing is that Sergio is OK now and we’ll have a good and safe race tomorrow.
Q: (Mathias Brunner – Speedweek) There is a lot of construction going on in that area; do you find that the track has become more bumpy than in years past?
MW: It’s always been pretty bumpy out of the tunnel, on the brakes and as the boys have touched on a little bit, every year we come here the cars are a little bit different, aerodynamically. Also, in the early 2000s, we had cars with engine braking, distance mapped electronics, things that were very sophisticated to help (with) the rear locking and the problems that you can have when the rear of the car is moving around. Now the cars are a little bit more basic in some ways but then obviously you have more technology like the diffusers and things like this, so we’re always looking to make the cars fast, but on the flipside of that, the cars also then become a bit easier to drive or more predictable in those tricky situations. I think there is a bump there but it’s just if you have a problem with the rear of the car there at that speed, the chance to recover is very, very low. We saw Nico, obviously, and Vitaly on Thursday had a problem and he went straight down; I think he was lucky. And I think also what’s important to mention that it was very lucky that they pulled the sleeping policemen up after Nico’s incident this morning because I think Sergio could have even had a nastier accident with his car potentially not having the right impact into the side. We just need to keep learning and work with the FIA, and the drivers chip in every now and again and help out the guys, because we’re the ones in the cockpit and it’s nice to try and improve where we can.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, this was your first pole here in Monaco. Was this the pole that you wanted the most and it must have been quite a lap because you broke Kimi’s record from 2005 by one tenth?
SV: Ah, it’s good to hear. I think Kimi doesn’t care, to be honest. Yeah, Jenson’s just said he’s driving trucks these days. I was very happy with the lap. Obviously, round here it’s very important to find the rhythm. If you feel happy in the car and you have confidence in yourself and the car, then you are able to extract so much lap time around here. It’s a very special circuit, it’s good fun but still you need to push very, very hard, just like on a normal racetrack where you have space and nothing around. But here, any mistake could lead you into the barriers, so you feel this extra thrill and it’s even more of a reward when you cross the line and you know that you had a very, very good lap. I’m very happy with that pole position. As I said, it’s an important part of tomorrow’s race but we’ve seen a lot of casino in many, many years here so we will see what happens tomorrow.
Q: (Tony Dodgins - Tony Dodgins Associates) Sebastian, last year it was Mark who was really well hooked up around here and I think they might have found a small hairline crack in your tub or something later, but does it feel like a different race car this year? What’s different?
SV: The cars are different this year, the tyres are different. A lot of things are different, but to look back at last year, surely I wasn’t happy, didn’t always feel comfortable in the car, but I think Mark was very quick around here, and very tough to beat, especially in the race, so he gave us all a lesson on that day. We will see this year. I’m very happy with how it went today but tomorrow is a different story. All I have gained so far is eight meters over this guy (Jenson Button) so we will see what we can do tomorrow. Track position is very important here, we’ve learned that in the past but I think there’s no rain forecast so we can leave that one out. But you never know, we’re living by the sea. There are so many factors here, we will see.