1 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull)
2 – Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari)
3 – Felipe MASSA (Ferrari)
Q: Sebastian, six poles in seven races. This wasn’t supposed to be Red Bull’s strongest track yet here you are again.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I think we made up some ground from last year. Obviously last year we committed to a different strategy and I sacrificed qualifying. But this year I feel quite comfortable here. I had a rough start yesterday morning but the boys could fix the car in time and I had more practice in the afternoon, which is important around here. It is a tricky track with the kerbs and chicanes to understand coming from high speeds, hard braking, but I think we had a smooth qualifying and two very good runs. We were able to use first timed lap of the tyre so all in all I am very happy. It is obviously a big step. But the main task comes tomorrow. Conditions are very likely to change so we will see some rain. The question is when and how much. We will see. But P1 is the best possible position to start from.
Q: Fernando, a tenth-and-a-half behind Sebastian only. But how are you feelings about the race tomorrow?
Fernando ALONSO: Well we feel good, we feel confident. I think let’s go step by step. We concentrate in qualifying on Saturday and it is the best result of the year for the team, second and third, and as you said two-tenths or one-and-a-half tenths behind Red Bull which is a much better result than we expect. Or a much better result that in the first six races so extremely happy with today’s performance from the car and the whole weekend has been very smooth for us so looking forward for tomorrow. As Seb said, conditions are likely to change so maybe it is the less important qualifying of the year. Unfortunately we had the first row of the grid but it is always better to start at the front and tomorrow I think all the cards are on the table and I think we will have a chance to win the race for sure.
Q: Felipe, fastest in Q2. Great scrap with Fernando today and your best qualifying performance of the season. You must be delighted.
Felipe MASSA: Yeah, it is a very good weekend for us until now as Fernando said. I mean we were pretty competitive yesterday, this morning, in the qualifying and even when we were on the same tyres as the Red Bulls in Q2, the supersoft, it was also close. I think that’s really good for us and good for me as well. Back to a good qualifying. Starting in a better position compared to the other races. Maybe the weather tomorrow can be a little bit different than today but we need to be ready and starting in a good position, in the front. In the good or in the bad weather it is the best we can have. Anyway, happy with the car, happy with the team and I think we did a good job today.
Q: Sebastian, you have had quite a lot of pressure in the last two grands prix to hold onto the win. Are you expecting some troubles from the Ferraris tomorrow in the race.
SV: Not trouble, but pressure yes, obviously. We have seen all this weekend it is pretty close. Going into this weekend we know that probably this is not our strongest circuit. We like high-speed corners. You don’t necessarily find much of them here but still we managed to have the fastest package today, to do the best job, so I think we can be very confident. The runs we had, they looked very promising. I think the pace is there in the car. Surely it is never easy and it won’t be easy tomorrow but I think like the last two races we are also ready to fight so we will see what happens tomorrow.
Q: Sebastian, it has been a little bit of an up-and-down practice and qualifying for you given what happened yesterday, but here you are on pole today.
SV: Yes, so need to make sure it doesn’t become a habit to crash the car on Friday and be on pole on Saturday. I think the Friday bit, obviously, the target is to do many laps without damaging the car. I think the team worked very hard. Initially there was not much chance I would say, or hope, to go out again in the second session. They fixed it very quickly. Fortunately there wasn’t too much damage and we had the whole of P2 so that was very good and very important also for today. This place you really need to get into the rhythm as in the end to squeeze everything out of your car this is a rough track with the kerbs and so on. As I said it is important to have a couple of laps to find that rhythm and in qualifying we had a good feeling in Q1, Q2 and probably knew that putting things together a little bit more we can improve another bit for Q3. Still I think we saw in Q1 and Q2 we are not going around and joking so it has been very, very close. Q3 again not much. Going into this weekend we know that this is probably not our favourite race track but still we put a very strong package together. We had some new bits and it seemed to work pretty well and here we are. I think up to now we had a great weekend and did our homework. It is a bit of a shame for Mark (Webber) obviously. He was not able to run this morning, which surely it is not easy then, as I mentioned earlier, to find that rhythm straight away. But I think both of us we should have a good race tomorrow.
Q: The two Ferrari drivers have been fastest in certain sessions. Are you feeling more pressure from those two than perhaps you have from others so far this year?
SV: Not really. At this stage everyone looks after himself and in qualifying you know it is between you and the car. You are fighting against the others, but first of all you try to maximise your own performance. That’s the best you can do anyway. Tomorrow is a different ballpark and very likely to rain so I am quite happy as we brought rain tyres. We are as prepared as we can be. This is always a very long race with a lot of things to happen. We have seen from the last two races in particular it will be very close so we don’t expect anything else than that. As I said for today we can be happy but tomorrow is a new day and probably a new adventure.
Q: The inevitable question about KERS particularly as your team-mate missed out a whole session this morning. How has your KERS been so far this weekend?
SV: Fine, so no problems so far. It is difficult from outside to understand what is going on with us and the KERS. We know, obviously, a little bit more but as I said it is a shame. Sometimes it is no problem then all of a sudden we get caught out as happened to Mark this morning. He had to cancel the whole session of P3. We will see but so far I have been lucky this weekend. The KERS has been working and will be working tomorrow as well.
Q: Fernando, you said yesterday was one of the best Fridays. One of the best Saturdays today?
FA: Yeah, the best. No doubts. I think the car felt competitive from yesterday and today being on the first row of the grid, it is probably Singapore last year that we were on the first row. It is a good feeling. Back to the first positions, fighting with the pole position and for Felipe and me being here in the top three, both Ferraris, is a nice team result and a nice performance so far in this weekend. But the real job is coming tomorrow. It is the race where points are given so we need to maximise what we have tomorrow. We need to maximise this privileged starting position and score as many points as possible.
Q: What do you think has made the difference? Is it because of the circuit or do you feel you have really made progress with the car as well?
FA: Both. I think the circuit is a huge help for us with no high speed corners so the aerodynamic is less important which is our weakest point at the moment no doubts, I think all the new parts we brought here seem to work okay. Sometimes you bring new parts to the race. You test it on Fridays and there are some parts that are going okay, some parts that are not so good at the moment, so you need to keep developing. This Friday, yesterday, everything seems to work okay. Everything we brought here is in the car now as it was fine so we make a step forward but, as I said, the biggest help is coming from the characteristics of the circuit I think.
Q: Barcelona start tomorrow?
FA: Barcelona or Monaco is okay. I think in both cases I overtook one Red Bull so it’s okay.
Q: Felipe, you must be pleased with this third on the grid?
FM: Yeah, I think it was a good qualifying for us. I think we had a good car yesterday straight away. It looked competitive compared to the other tracks, even compared to all the teams that were always in front of us straight away like McLaren, for example. We were not 100 per cent sure that it was really like that but this morning we saw as well that our car is competitive. We can drive with better grip and we are much closer to Sebastian, to Red Bull, compared to the other tracks as well. I think it was a good qualifying. It was a good day for us and shows that we need to carry on in that direction to make the car quicker and quicker all the time. It is also true that this track is maybe a little bit better for our car. Tomorrow is tomorrow. Maybe it is raining, maybe not. We don’t know but we need to be ready and starting in a good position. It is good on the dry and good on the wet so hope we can have a good day tomorrow as well.
Q: Did you make many changes from yesterday to today?
FM: Yes, a little bit but just some details on the set-up on the car. But even yesterday the car was good.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando and Felipe, we have seen this year, apart from Barcelona, that Ferrari has been stronger on race pace than in qualifying. Red Bull here looks a little bit closer. What are you expecting from tomorrow. You said that you are going to go for a win; is that the case?
FA: Let’s wait and see. As Felipe said, the forecast so far is for rain tomorrow. We’ve never run all together, in race conditions, all the cars this year. We did a couple of laps in the Barcelona test but not all the teams were there, and we did a couple of laps in China, but some ran on Friday and some waited in the garage, so maybe tomorrow will be the first time that we see all the cars together with the new Pirelli wet tyres, so let’s wait and see what the pace is. We also can’t forget McLaren. I think that in spite of the qualifying position, with the set-up that they have, the speeds that they have, they are probably running with a lot of downforce, so in wet conditions I think they can become very competitive, so it will be a tough competition tomorrow but it will nice for you to watch, maybe more stress for us but that’s OK.
FM: Yeah, as Fernando said, tomorrow, maybe, we see different conditions, different weather, a different race. For sure, if we do as we do in many races… we make a step forward; from qualifying to the race is better, that’s what we’re looking for, but we need to be ready that maybe the weather tomorrow is different than what we have had up until now for races. Plus, this is not an easy track to race on in the rain, so we need to be very careful about that.
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) For all three of you; how have you prepared yourselves for the possibility of rain tomorrow?
SV: We brought some rain tyres and I brought a coat and an umbrella. To be honest, there’s not much more we can do now. We cannot touch the cars. If anything, we had to make our bed before qualifying, so car-wise the only things we can change now are small things and the tyres. And then we will see what happens. We will see how strong the rain will be, how long it will be and it’s also predicted to be quite windy, not very hot, but usually either heat or a lot of wind makes the circuit dry quickly so it depends. I think at the moment if you look at different weather forecasts, they all say something different, so I think the best thing is to wake up tomorrow morning, look outside and see how we are.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Il Corriere della Sera) To Fernando and Felipe: do you feel a sort of relief not having a bigger disadvantage to Sebastian this time?
FM: Yes. We are always looking to be first, you know, and seeing what Sebastian’s done this year – so many pole positions, always in the front – when you see that you are able to fight in the right direction, in Q2, Q3, with the same tyres, it makes us even stronger. I think that’s the direction, to push harder and to carry on, to see all the qualifying and races in a good fight.
Q: (Peter Windsor – Clarcksport) Sebastian, Mark Webber’s just confirmed that he didn’t have KERS in qualifying either. My question to you is that if you’re in the terrible situation that maybe you had a problem with KERS tomorrow, do you think you could win the race without KERS?
SV: The thing is that if I have a problem, then I have no choice. I can’t stop and say ‘OK, recharge’ or whatever. So far this weekend, as I’ve said, I’ve had no problems and it looks as good as it can be. You never know. You can ask these two if by any chance their engine would blow up tomorrow. I think the chances are very low but you never know, so, surely, with our KERS, there’s a bigger risk than probably the Ferrari engine blowing up. Mark obviously still had a problem this afternoon. I think they could be able to fix it tonight; we will have to wait and see. At this stage I think it’s too early.
It would be very difficult (to win it without KERS). Here, I think the effect of KERS is quite big, both to attack and to defend in the race situation. Yes, we have the rear wing so I think that makes a bigger difference than the KERS but still, I think you can check some of the other races. In Barcelona I had it on and off in the race and I felt more uncomfortable when it didn’t work so I would love to have it, yes.
Q: (Thomas Richter – TV Nova) Fernando, you said after two or three races that it’s difficult to predict tyre behaviour, tyre strategies. Do you feel it’s much better, you’re more comfortable with your engineers while choosing the correct strategy and do you maybe have some ideas for tomorrow?
FA: Yeah. After six races we have more experience with tyres. The soft tyre, in particular, we have used so far in the whole championship, all the races, the same soft tyre and the supersoft experience from Monaco as well. Yesterday, we got some information on the long runs, so we should have a much better idea now after a couple of races in the championship, how they behave and how the tyres behave. Anyway, every Sunday is a different strategy or a different possibility, depending on how the first corner goes, which position you are in. So normally you have to react to some other strategy. If someone running in eighth position stops (pits for tyres) and (then) goes very quickly, you need to react, you need to stop again because, if not, he overtakes you. Even if you have a perfect plan or an idea, the strategy this year is always very flexible.
Q: (Marco degli Innocenti – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, did you expect such a strong Ferrari, both Ferraris or are you more worried about Hamilton and McLaren?
SV: I think after yesterday it was pretty clear that Ferrari is very quick around here as well but tomorrow is a long race. McLaren is right there behind us and I’m quite sure that as Fernando said, if you look at their speeds, maybe they had a different idea going into qualifying and preparing the weekend, preparing the race so we will see whether that works for them tomorrow or not. For us, we knew that it would be difficult here. I think we had a very good day today so we can be very happy but the main task is coming tomorrow and it will be a very difficult race, on top of the fact that usually here the cars are fairly close; I think with the DRS tomorrow it will be difficult to disappear. On top of that, we don’t know what the weather is doing so I think it could be quite interesting for you to watch, but surely, I agree with Fernando, it will be busy for us.
Q: (Marina Cappitti – Il Cittadino Canadese) Alonso and Massa, one word for the Italian community in Canada who are waiting for this moment to feel Italian?
FA: Well, we feel very proud to drive for Ferrari. We feel very privileged to be in the red cars, so every place we go, every race we go to, we try to do our best, not only for us, not only for our team, also for the whole Italian community and all the tifosi around the world with the Ferrari flags and the red caps in the grandstands. So here is a very special place for Ferrari. I felt last year for the first time when I came here in red and I feel it again this year, despite our results in this campaign. The support for Ferrari is always huge here, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them tomorrow. Both cars on the podium would be a good present.
FM: For me as well, I did an interview two days ago and sent a message to the Brazilian community because we have a lot of Brazilians here as well and I did the same with the Italians. I hope everybody is here, you know, supporting Ferrari. We know how many and how much tifosi we have by racing for Ferrari and hope we can have a good result for all of them as well and I hope they’re happy to see Ferrari racing here but also for the Canadian people who are in love with Formula One. It’s always nice to come here and race in front of all of these people.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado do Sao Paulo) To all of you: let’s suppose that the weather forecast is dry; do you expect a race like last year when you used even harder tyres than this year?
SV: You’re right. I don’t think there’s anybody who can give you a guarantee on the weather. We have had the experience that it changes. If you look at the last three days, it changed a lot (to) today. Going into this weekend it was supposed to be completely wet. Today the rain has shifted and moved around, so it’s a bit unclear when there will be rain. If you look up, it doesn’t really look like a sunny day, so there will be rain, the question is how much and when? Surely, there will be some tomorrow morning. It can change quickly around here, I’m told, so I think we will have to wait and see but nevertheless we will see a very exciting Grand Prix here as usual, with different strategies. I think the tyres will be the key factor, similar to most of the places, but probably a little bit more because the conditions, the tarmac is different to other places. We’ve struggled a bit last year so I don’t expect it to be much better than last year so it will be an exciting race and surely grid position is important but it’s a long race and it will be much more important where you finish.
FA: With tyres not much different to last year, I think they were harder but they were degrading a lot here, especially the soft tyres, so we went to two stops and it was a surprise last year because we normally do one stop but I don’t think the tyres will be a problem tomorrow if it’s dry. What, for sure, is a more interesting or chaotic race is if there are safety cars and things like that. We have seen two or three red flags already this weekend. If this happens in the race or if there is a safety car period, then different strategies appear, if you chose to stop, if you chose to stay out. You need to make the right call and be a little bit lucky. Same in wet conditions. If it’s wet, right call, right tyres at the right moment. So the luck factor tomorrow is quite important.
FM: Like Fernando and Sebastian said, last year was different because it was just one more stop compared to the other races. It was strange last year but for this year I don’t think it will be so different from what we we’ve seen in many races this year and I think the strategy will be more or less what everyone is expecting, not like last year which was different to other races. So it shouldn’t be a big difference to be honest.
Q: (Ted Kravitz – BBC Sport) Sebastian, on the slow down lap, you apologised again for the crash on Friday. How much had you been beating yourself up about it and why?
SV: To be honest, we are here to drive the car on the limit and mistakes can happen, surely it is better when they happen on Friday than on Saturday or Sunday. It doesn’t feel nice when you come back to your garage without your car. I’ve seen that they’ve been working very hard, they had no lunch, just for me to get out again, so obviously, if you see days like today, or the races that we had, we all know what is our target and what we’re here for, but surely it’s not always easy. Naturally, I feel sorry for them because all I do is go back to my room, there’s not much I can physically do to help them. The only way to say thanks is to make sure next time I have the chance is to drive the car as quick as I can and put it in a good position.