2011 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
1 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing)
2 – Jenson BUTTON (McLaren)
3 – Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari)
Q: Sebastian, a great win made possible by that overtake on Fernando early on, and then some tears from you on the podium as well?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, very emotional. I mean this circuit means a lot to me and has been very special. Obviously, I got my first win here, so when I crossed the line I remembered every single bit and the podium is unbelievable. When you stand up there you feel so blessed. It doesn’t happen to many people. So many people underneath and coming all the way, even from Curva Grande, all the way. It is filled with people. It is just unbelievable. A circuit that has been tough for us to be competitive at the last two years and [we] come back this year and, really, the car was amazing. In qualifying yesterday and in the race even better. It was crucial. The start wasn’t that good. Fernando [Alonso], I don’t know where he was coming from but it took me a while to actually understand we were three alongside going into turn one. I kept second then after the restart I was able to pass him. He didn’t give me much room there. I don’t know if he still believed I was on that side. I was half-way on the grass but it was just enough. So very enjoyable and after that the car was fantastic. A great race for us and a very special win, 150 years of Italy makes it special for all the people here as well, so thanks for all the fans. Last time all the Italian people were cheering a bit more but still it is very special for me to be at that place here again.
Q: Jenson, you reprised your battle with Fernando from last year but this time you came out in front.
JENSON BUTTON: Yeah, it was a really fun race fighting with Lewis [Hamilton], with Michael [Schumacher] and with Fernando. It was a good race. It wasn’t for the lead, which was a shame but it was always to be difficult when we were down in seventh at one point and sixth after the start. A tough start to the race but a lot of fun and the atmosphere here is fantastic, just electric. Another good race. I think we have got to get everything together on race weekends and hopefully we will be challenging Red Bull and Seb. So great job by the whole team. It is just little things we need to work on.
Q: Fernando, you said before the race that the start was going to be crucial. Have you ever done a better start than that?
Fernando ALONSO: Well, we have been doing something with the starts in the last couple of grands prix, but always starting fifth or sixth it is not enough room to overtake. But here in Monza we knew that if the car was in the same feeling of the good starts you have enough space and enough run into the first corner to overtake people, so we maximised the potential in our start and were leading the race for a couple of laps. But obviously we were not competitive enough to fight for the victory, so we tried to manage the podium possibility. It was very close with Lewis at the end but it was a fantastic race, fantastic feeling on the podium. As Sebastian mentioned I think here in Monza it is very, very passionate what the fans at the podium are giving you. Big emotions. Well done to the whole team. It was a stressful weekend, with a lot of pressure here in Italy for them and we managed the race in the best situation possible. No mistakes and I think being on the podium with Mark [Webber] retiring from the race and Lewis behind us, so one Red Bull and one McLaren behind us, I think it is a great achievement.
Q: Sebastian, I think before the race all the talk was of the gamble that you’d taken on the gearing. You must have been a little concerned when you found yourself behind Fernando.
SV: Not really. I don’t think we took any gamble today. I think we took the gamble yesterday in qualifying. All the people saw our top speed wasn’t very high, so gears were probably shorter than the rest of the field, so we were not that optimistic in qualifying as we can’t use the speed with the wing open. But for the race we were pretty confident and we were not afraid of the DRS zones if we had to battle other people. I think it worked fantastically well. I was able to pass Fernando without DRS, but with DRS it would have been maybe a bit more comfortable a lap later, but all in all I think we did the right thing. Great race car, great speed all the way through and I think the gearing was just right.
Q: Jenson, tell us about that decisive pass on your team-mate and also Michael Schumacher on lap 17.
JB: I think Lewis got a bad run out of turn two and I used the KERS. I think I passed him on turn two. Used the KERS to my advantage, then got a good run on Michael down into Ascari. I saw Lewis tried a few times on the outside but it didn’t work but gave it a go and braked a late as I could and the pass came off. Pretty good pass. Probably one of my best so very happy with that. And again with Fernando I think he made a bit of a mistake out of turn two and now we have KERS as soon as someone makes a mistake you can pounce and make the pass.
Q: Fernando, Sebastian said a minute ago you didn’t give him very much room. What’s your analysis of the situation” Hard but fair? Lot of pride to defend here in Italy I guess?
FA: Yeah, we have nothing to lose in the battles with Sebastian. He is leading the championship by 100 points I think, so when we have to defend we will be a little bit harder with him. Sorry.
Q: Sebastian, you only need, I believe, a podium in Singapore to be crowned a two-time World Champion at the age of 24. Thoughts on that?
SV: No thoughts. Wow. I don’t know. It has been an incredible year so far to be honest. We have progressed so much as a team and have become so much stronger in the last two years and again from last year to this year made such an incredible step. I think we have put ourselves in a very good position. But I love racing. We enjoy racing as a team altogether every weekend, unpacking the car, you can see the passion and it is great. You can feel the challenge. We want to make sure that we have a very good weekend and we squeeze everything out of ourselves. Of course, it is very nice to win but if we have a good Sunday and we finish third or fifth still you feel that we are very good in optimising the result so I don’t know really. I think we just do Singapore as we did all the other races this year. Go there and take it step-by-step and see what we can do. I love the circuit. It is very interesting. I remember I had a nice race there with Fernando, obviously to his advantage, as he finished first but it was great. I think we had a tough race there. It is a long circuit so I am looking forward and we will see what happens then.
Q: Sebastian, three years between your first ever win here and this one and yet the emotion is just as great.
SV: Yeah, obviously the first one was very special. Incredible. To be back here, especially on this circuit, given the memories I have for 2008 and the last two years, where we had a great car but not here. Not disastrous but not competitive enough to be back on the podium, so this year has been phenomenal. Friday already I had a very good feeling. Everyone is carrying quite a little wing around here to optimise the speed on the straight and I think this year the balance was fantastic so I really had a very good race car. Fantastic day today. Great race. The start wasn’t that ideal. I don’t know where Fernando came from and it took me a while to understand it was three cars going side-by-side down to turn one. After that, a great pass. Not that much room but very enjoyable. very hard but fair so great to be back in the lead and from then onwards the car was fantastic. I was able to pull a big gap and benefit from that for the whole rest of the race. Incredible. It is the best podium in the world. The only thing that could make it better is probably wearing a red suit but all in all great to be back on the podium here.
Q: The car performance was good, but tyre performance. Was there much difference between the two types. Did you feel there was any loss of pace?
SV: No, I preferred the soft tyre to be fair. I think it was a little bit quicker. Not just initially but all the way through but we have to use both compounds. The medium worked similar to Spa. Quite good. I think the pace was not that much slower, so for all of us we had no big problems. The pace seemed to be… seemed to have the usual progression when you burned down the fuel, so no problems from that side. Last race in Spa we were struggling big time with blistering and all sorts of tyre issues and this race it seemed to be very good for us whereas others had some problems I was told but for us, as I said, tyre-wise very smooth race.
Q: Jenson, just talk a little bit more when you were behind Lewis and Michael as that was a great battle and you had the best seat in the house?
JB: Yeah, it wasn’t too bad. At the start of the race I knew I had to catch them. The problem was Lewis is in the DRS one behind Michael so they just pull away massively on the straight and I have to close on them at the corners. It was tricky to catch them but when I did all hell broke loose really. There were cars everywhere. It was a lot of fun. I think Lewis went for a gap with Michael that wasn’t there on the exit of turn two and I got the run on him and then set about getting past Michael. I got a really good run out of the second Lesmo and I was able to get him down the outside down into Ascari which I am going to say was pretty brave as Michael doesn’t give much room. I don’t know how close we were. I didn’t look at the mirrors. I pretty much closed my eyes after I turned in but it ended up good and the pace was good. I could chase down Fernando. But I would rather form now on not race from a long way back. It makes it fun. I don’t know if we could have challenged Sebastian today, but you are that far down, sixth, seventh position, you haven’t got a chance really. A pity we had such a poor start but we will look at that for the next race. It is a little issue but it can cost you a lot of time. Apart from that I think we did a great job at the pit stops and strategy and it is great to get a second but you always want a bit more.
Q: You caught Fernando before the tyre stop and then seemed to drop back away from him. Tell us about that?
JB: It is this weird thing with the DRS. Our car here is not very quick in a straight line. Just the strategy we have taken as Lewis found out as well. We get to a point on the straight and we just don’t go anywhere. We sit on the limiter so it is very, very tough. Then I made a mistake through Ascari, Fernando pulled a gap, and then I just couldn’t get any closer after that. On the hard tyre I think Fernando was struggling for grip after the pit-stop, made a little mistake out of two, and I was able to get the run on him and that’s the good thing about KERS. You can really catch people out if they make a mistake. Made the move and then it was about trying to break the DRS. that’s the biggest thing. Even if you are quicker, the guys tows up to you and you can’t get away so it was a tense moment but I eventually pulled the gap and then it was easy to settle into a pace.
Q: Fernando, have to say you fought for everything today. You seemed to fight harder than ever before. What sort of fight would Lewis have had at the end if he’d caught you as he got very close.
FA: Yeah, I think it was close. One or two more laps and probably we lose the podium position as he was much quicker than us in the last couple of laps. We were a little bit lucky with Michael and Lewis’s battle in the race as Lewis lost maybe 10 or 15 seconds in those battles during the first 30 laps and we managed that gap. Definitely it was an interesting race, especially the start. It was again very good and here in Monza we exploit the potential as turn one is a long way and we knew the potential. I think the race was quite smooth for us with no big problems and in the last stint, as we are unfortunately used to, with the medium tyres we were less competitive, and Jenson overtook us and as I said Hamilton was getting very close.
Q: Just tell us a little bit more about that start as we have seen people make great starts but then have then usually gone across the kerbs and it has all gone wrong, but you seemed to manage it very well.
FA: Well I think we had quite a good start in the last couple of races, but, for example, in Spa there is only 300 metres to turn one and I was starting eighth, so a lot of traffic in front and you have to lift. Here, with clean air in front of us, you exploit the potential as I said. I don’t know. The start felt okay, but I think we can do better for next time. It was close with Lewis. At the first moment he was concentrating on Sebastian moving to the left and then when he saw me on the right he put me close to the pit-lane exit and a little bit on the grass but in turn one it was not a problem.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Joris Fioriti – Agence France Presse) Sebastian, you are 112 points in advance. You have got eight wins in the championship. No driver winning eight races in the championship ever lost the championship. When will you allow yourself to say that you are in a great position to win the title?
SV: I think I allow myself to say we are in a great position. I think if you ask Fernando or Lewis or Jenson or anybody, Mark, I think they would like to change, swap positions so no doubt about that. But it’s over when it’s over, not before. I think look at last year as the best proof. You don’t know until the last lap of the last race. Obviously, this year it might be a bit different, but there are still a lot of races to go. We go into every race trying to optimise our result as we did here. We knew it might not be the easiest race for us especially after the last two years. This year we can back very competitive so it was great for us. We were in a great position and we optimised our result today I would say so couldn’t have done much better. Great race. Great pit-stop. The start was not so good so we need to look into that for the next race. Then we go from there.
Q: (Vincent Marre – SportZeitung) Sebastian, at what stage did you think you had the race won today?
SV: Really only when I came out of the Parabolica on the last lap because you never know here. Obviously I knew I would be in a very good position, with the laps going. Some 15 laps from the end I saw that I was 15 seconds in the lead, so in theory, if I’m just under a
second slower per lap I would still be ahead going into the last lap but you never know, it’s a long lap here and there are a lot of kerbs. You have to be careful not to do something silly: always get the braking right, for the cars it’s a tough race. You’re often above 300 kph and then you have to stop the car again. I knew that if nothing unforeseen happens, we should be in a great position, but you never know. We’ve had races where we had something happening at the end, so you always hope that nothing breaks and the car survives. At the end, it was about nursing the car to the chequered flag.
Q: (Matthias Brunner – Speedweek) Seb, you told us in Belgium about the problems at the start. Are we talking about a similar problem here?
SV: I would say it’s difficult. In Spa I think many people were surprised at the grip level being very high and then they suffered. Mark had a bad start in Spa, he went into the anti-stall, but I think other people as well had a bad start except maybe Nico. Here it was different. I think the grip level was much lower and I had a bit too much wheelspin off the line and lost a bit too much in the beginning, whereas I think Fernando had a great start and was just able to get the traction at the beginning of the start and we were side-by-side so yeah, he had the best start, as far as I could judge.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Sebastian, you said your team made a great step forward from last year to this year. What about the car, how can you explain exactly such a good performance today in comparison to last year?
SV: I think last year we had a great car, very competitive. This year, obviously, the rules have changed again and it’s a different approach. I think the real strength this year is maybe not the raw speed that we have because at some races maybe we shouldn’t have won and it was very tight at others. So I think this year – in comparison to last year – we’ve made big progress. Just that everyone is very disciplined and we allow very few mistakes to happen, so even if we have a problem or the car is not a hundred percent, we’re still able to get a very, very good performance out of it. Nobody starts shaking in the garage as I said. In the end, it’s full of individuals, the driver, the mechanics, the engineers but we act as a team and as I said, even if the boat starts shaking, I think we all remain calm and we know what to do. I think that’s it, if there is a secret to this year.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, is it true what Jenson said, that you lost second position because of the problem with the medium tyre temperatures? Also can you describe, yourself, your fantastic start, please?
FA: With the medium… I think we cannot make a big thing about the medium tyre or our performance with different types of tyres. It’s just something that we need to improve and we need to be competitive with all types of tyres in all conditions. That’s not a particular problem but we were less competitive than Red Bull and McLaren. If we made a good start and found ourselves first, leading the race, that was not our real position, so sooner or later, with one tyre, with another tyre, on lap 15 or lap 45, they should overtake us, as they did and that’s the reality. It’s not a problem with one tyre or one pit stop or whatever.
If I had to describe the start, it was as usual a big moment in the race, as we know the start and the first couple of laps can change your race because you can be in traffic as we saw today with Michael and Hamilton. So if we concentrate on the start, the car was moving quite OK with no wheelspin and then you have to chose left or right to overtake Hamilton. I was thinking of the left but I saw Sebastian moving a little bit towards Hamilton as well so I thought maybe they were too close, so I went into the pit lane exit and Hamilton saw me and tried to move to the right. At the end, I think I had two wheels on the grass, two wheels on the asphalt for a moment, but I gave full throttle. Braking for turn one, which is always difficult because we arrived three or four cars [abreast] and there is only one that can go through turn one and two and we had the inside part so we were lucky there. It was a fantastic start, very, very similar or a replica of what we did in Barcelona, exactly the same. I started fourth.
Q: (Fabrizio Corgnati – 422race.com) Sebastian, you explained to us how the win was very emotional for you, even if you have beaten the red car which is probably the crowd’s favourite. What do you think about the response of the Italian fans to your victory?
SV: I think all the people who had a Red Bull shirt or Red Bull flag were very happy but the majority came here this morning dressed in red. Fair enough, it’s Ferrari’s home grand prix. It’s an atmosphere that all the other teams are allowed to enjoy as well, because so many fans… you know, before the race, down on the grid, I thought – looking at the grandstands, seeing so many people, ignoring the colour of their shirt, seeing the crowd – life doesn’t get much better than this. So many people cheering what we are doing, and being one of the drivers allowed to race; as I said earlier, the only thing that could make it a little bit better on the podium is if you are wearing a red suit, so I guess it was a very special for Fernando here last year. Obviously I know how it feels to listen to the Italian anthem from three years ago. This year it was a bit different, but still, it’s very special, it means a lot to me. I remember a lot. Always when I come down here, since I’ve been a little boy, since we came here for go-karting – I don’t know how many kilometres we drove in total coming here – a couple of times every year to race in Italy and therefore it is and was very special, three years ago and today as well.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia EFE) Fernando, there are six races here. Realistically you should go for victories in races because the championship is really almost impossible. Which circuits do you believe suit you the best? Is there one or maybe more than one on which to win?
FA: Yeah, six races to go so obviously the championship is impossible, not mathematically but we are no longer in contention so we try to enjoy every race, we try to go for individual victories, also fighting for second place in the championship. It’s always better to finish second than fifth. I think I’m second today after Mark’s retirement so I will try to get second place as I did last year. Yeah, of the races remaining I think Singapore is probably the best one for our car characteristics. In Monaco we were fine, we were second. The car was maybe not very competitive in that part of the year so now that the car is a little bit better, on a street circuit we should maybe perform well. I love the Singapore circuit so the next race will probably be it.
Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association) Sebastian, you could go on holiday from now until Abu Dhabi and still come out of that leading by a fair chunk of points. Any chance of you doing that so we can have an exciting end to the season?
SV: I’m contracted to do all the races, so maybe you need a word with Christian. No, I love coming here, I love racing. Obviously we will see what happens during the next races but yeah, we have to go step by step really. I don’t know. No plans. I think it’s wrong to plan before something happens. It would be wrong for you to plan what you would do with a million dollars if you won the lottery tomorrow. First you have to win, then you worry about what you do with your winnings.
JB: I think you have to plan a bit more if you win the lottery. You don’t want to waste it.
SV: We will see.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Sebastian, when you overtook Fernando, you had two wheels on the grass in the Curva Grande. Didn’t you lose momentum there?
SV: Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing it on TV, how much space there actually was, but when I came obviously I had a very good exit so I knew that I had a fair chance down to turn four, to the second chicane. And then going through Curva Grande, I wasn’t really sure which way to go, left or right. I thought if I go to the right then I’m sitting on the outside, maybe I might be a bit ahead before we start braking, but then I know that Fernando is an animal so he will brake as late as he can and then manage somehow to take the corner. I decided spontaneously to go left and then I thought, I just hope he has seen me because he kept going left, left, left. There wasn’t much space. I stayed on full throttle but fortunately the corner opened up, I had two wheels on the grass, and then once I was side-by-side he was obviously aware that I was still there and then there was another battle getting onto the brakes, who hit the brakes first. I hit first and then he was quite late but I had the inside so I was quite relieved after I was ahead.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, your car was much faster in top speed in qualifying; was there no chance to defend or did you have the wrong gear ratios for the heavy car at the beginning?
FA: Yeah, the top speed is related to the DRS as well. When you activate the DRS, you can reach a certain speed that in the race is not possible. Yesterday, our top speeds were thanks to the DRS, how it works and today, when you put on the normal wing down, we were not so quick on the straight any more.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Diario Libre) Sebastian, you have twice said how nice it would be to win here wearing a red suit. Is this a dream for you, do you expect to win one day wearing a Ferrari suit?
SV: Just speaking to Jenson as well, also on the podium, of course there were people who were very happy with our result but I think the majority, after a while, didn’t enjoy the fact that we were enjoying ourselves. You could also hear that. Jenson said to me that’s normal here.
JB: I’ve had it for the last two years.
SV: I think I had that experience last year as well. I think that the only thing that makes it really special – better than today here – is wearing a red suit, to really be appreciated by all the fans. We will see what happens in the future, but for now I am very, very happy. I think the story has been unbelievable so far. I owe a lot to Red Bull. Without them I wouldn’t be here. They gave me the chance when I was just a little kid, 12 years old. It goes back a long way so it’s very special for me to race for that team and being able to win races is fantastic, but of course, one day you don’t know what’s happening. We will see.