1 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing) 2 – Mark WEBBER (Red Bull Racing) 3 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
PODIUM INTERVIEWS (Conducted by Martin Brundle)
Q: Sebastian, seven in a row, 11 so far this season. They’re going to charge you rent on this top step soon.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I don’t mind. I also did some donuts so…
You are a naughty boy, that’s going to cost somebody some money…
SV: No, I don’t think so because this time I bought the car back so it’s fine. As you can see it’s in parc ferme. No, it’s incredible. Thanks to all the fans, the atmosphere today. Twice, we have this complex around Five, Six and Seven and then around Eight and Nine, along the straight to Turn 11. So many people, so many German flags, so nice to see and to get so much support. More and more for Red Bull so I hope that kicks up more in the next years. The car was absolutely brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Not much more to say. I was flying at some stages. At least it felt like it. Massive gaps, big surprise. Thanks to the team, thanks to Renault as well. A lot of our success is also down to them. They’re doing a very, very good job and I hope that next year we’ll have an engine that’s as powerful and as reliable as this year’s.
Q: Talking of support, your Mum and Dad are down there somewhere. How much does it mean to win yet again in front of them?
SV: Yeah, it means a lot. Obviously spend most of my time racing in front of them when I was a small kid and obviously now there’s a little bit bigger toys, more people watching but it’s very special to me that they were here this weekend. I love them very much and want to dedicate the win today to them. I think I learned a lot of good things from them and one day if I had kids I want to pass exactly these things on.
Q: Mark, well you tried your best, you gave it plenty but the start hurt you a little bit out there.
Mark WEBBER: Yeah. The start wasn’t great. Nico got an unbelievable start, Seb’s was a bit better than mine. I think we were lucky we’re not at Malaysia or Monza because it would have been even more painful. Anyway, I think in the first stint just not strong enough and on the soft tyres Seb got a very good gap. I had to reposition on the primes. So anyway, after that the race started pretty well for me but then Seb… he was gone. He was on another category out in front and I had to have a little battle with Nico for second. Guys did a great job on the car all week here. Nice and reliable. Fans have been great: plenty of Aussie flags here as well, so thanks guys coming from Australia. And…yeah, on to Austin and few more to go. Thank you.
Q: This guy. You’ve ended up in an era where you’re unfortunately his team-mate. That’s tough, isn’t it?
MW: Yeah. I think he’s in a sweet spot, for sure. Obviously I’ve got a few grey hairs now, I’m doing my best but yeah, he’s driving well. In the end I did my best today. It’s a circuit which… it’s my equal PB around here so would have liked to have got the win but that was Seb’s today. Thank You.
Q: Great drive Nico, you must be thoroughly satisfied to be up here.
Nico Rosberg: Yeah, I happy of course. Third place is good. The aim for the weekend was to be best of the rest behind the Red Bulls and that’s worked out – even though second place would have been possible in a perfect world today. Mark just got me with Di Resta. Little bit disappointing on that one but otherwise of course very happy.
Q: And you take a lot more points off Ferrari again for the team. Lewis had a little difficult afternoon but that’s looking good as well for second in the world championship for the team.
NR: Yes, for sure. I was very happy to hear that we took some more points off them again and that we’re edging away from them. That’s the most important thing for us at the moment – just to finish second in the Constructors’. It’s just much more money for next year but also motivation for everybody. If everybody in the factory can see that we built the second-best car this year, that’s just a massive boost.
Q: One final word from Sebastian. You’re so gentle with these tyres. What’s the secret champ?
SV: I don’t know if there’s a secret. I’ve got traction control – at least that’s what they said three or four races ago. No. These tyres are difficult to drive. Extremely sensitive. Obviously it helps when you are in free air. Not so much in traffic. But somehow we got the hang of it. More and more so towards the end of the year. And looking after them, really listening to them and being able to extract maybe a little bit more performance than the other guys. But I don’t think there’s any secret genetically. So… yeah. I’ll take it though.
Q: Sebastian, seven wins in a row, equalling the record. I guess in Austin you can go for the record. Are these numbers important to you?
SV: It doesn’t make me jump into the car but it’s a shock when you mention these [Schumacher and Ascari]. I knew that any kind of record you talk about, Michael is involved for sure, so… yeah… I don’t know what to say. The thing is that people see seven races. People don’t see the challenge it takes every single race to nail it. It’s been exceptional. The fact that we got everything right: smooth pitstops; reliability. All these things need to come together. To answer your question, the numbers are not that important to me but equally they make me very, very proud. It you equal something or you’re close to something then… the guys you talk about are the most special drivers in the world in Formula One. So, yeah, I don’t think I’m old enough to realise. Probably.
Q: What does seem to be important to you is doing donuts at the end of grands prix. You did it again today. Are you not worried about getting into trouble again?
SV: Not really because technically I didn’t do anything wrong. I brought the car back. I think I stick to the rules. I hope that we can provide a fuel sample because obviously it burns some extra fuel. But… yeah… obviously I spoke to the Stewards after India. I’m not sure I remember everything they said but… yeah… I was just happy. It’s a sort of stadium there. It’s really nice, people all around you. I think they loved it.
Q: Mark, the start was decisive for you today. It got away from you there at that point but you were able to get Nico back. Perhaps you could talk a little bit about that move and also, is there a sense of disappointment, given that you did start from pole. You seemed to be smiling on the podium. How are your emotions at this point?
MW: Yeah, alright. I don’t think the start was decisive. I don’t think what happened off the line… Sebastian was in another category today. So probably this was the maximum result, even if we got away in front. He was quick and very, very strong. It was then obviously a recovery job against Nico who got a better start than both of us. Obviously it’s a short run to Turn One so… if it was a longer run he would probably have got both of us. But, Seb and myself, the last few races… we know starts is not exactly my strong point, especially on these little babies. On the little Pirellis. So, anyway, we got away and then got into the race from there. The softs, I had a reasonably feeling for them when they were fresh but I had no real feeling for those tyres when they’re scrubbed. So, I was very slow in the first stint. Very, very poor feeling with the rear, and then that makes it even worse. You have more and more slip and temperature control problems and all of those type of things. Anyway, it was regrouping at the stops after that and I think my pace wasn’t too bad after that but Seb was well and truly gone. Incredibly quick pace from him. As you said, the fight with Nico was good. I managed to get that right. Obviously I didn’t use too many KERS. I think I understood a little bit of German with Nico. He said he used all his KERS on Paul in the first attempt, which was close. It’s always tricky to know how to deploy your KERS on those two straights but in the end I left some for the next attempt and managed to get him. It was good, fair racing which you’d expect from someone of Nico’s quality and in the end we probably are sitting here with the results that we all deserve.
Q: Nico, your side of that story. You got up into second at the start but obviously you got into that incident with Mark, and you were saying Paul di Resta involved in it as well. Perhaps you could give it from your perspective – and did you think second place was achievable any other way once that had got away from you?
NR: The main thing was that I got my balance wrong in the car for that second stint and that’s why I just wasn’t as quick as I was hoping. And I was just struggling a bit to get past the Toro Rosso and then Paul di Resta. I gave it a shot down into Turn Eight, used all my KERS up and I wasn’t able to do it and Mark got me on the next one. So, definitely that was unfortunate but that’s the way it is. Anyway, third place is still a very good result. Lots of points.
Q: Sebastian. Lots of success this year but I get the impression today’s quite an emotional day for you. Would that be right?
SV: Yeah. Obviously winning is very special. As I said, obviously seven races in a row… yeah, every single race is tough. It’s a lot of work that goes into it, from Thursday, even before that at the simulator, and then the whole weekend. Please stop mentioning these kind of things because, yeah, it makes you realise a little bit what it means. I remember when I was a small kid watching Formula One and Michael was with Ferrari and dominating Formula One. They had a very strong car, very strong team spirit for many years and… yeah… if you look back you feel like he won every second race but to equal some of the stuff that they managed to achieve is very, very special. For me – but also I think for the whole team. Definitely after 2011, a special year, we said it would be very difficult to repeat a season like that and maybe it comes across once in a lifetime. Now, we can probably say it came across twice at least. So… yeah.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, in Singapore, everybody thought you were dominating that race very easily. Today, to me it was even more impressive. In the early laps you were going almost two seconds faster and Rocky must have been very worried on the radio, from what we were hearing.
SV: Yeah, I realised that we were pulling away from Nico and also from Mark. Obviously you make use of it because you don’t know what’s coming later on in the race. We had a very very strong pace on the option. We could even have stayed out a little bit longer. I was busy, for sure, I was pushing because I felt that I can take lap time, I can take a couple of seconds out of the guys behind so I was pushing but I was also trying to look after them to be flexible on strategy and help the guys on the pit wall to make the call. Also, I could then afford to take it a little bit easier in the pit lane which I think is one of the trickiest all year with a slippery entry and a very narrow exit. I think it just all came together, I think it was a perfect day for us.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and National Speedsport News) Mark, early in the race you were on the radio talking to the team about the KERS; was there a problem? And later in the race, given the number of gremlins that have struck your car, were you hearing funny noises and worrying about that?
MW: No, there was no issue with the KERS, it just got a bit warm at one point so we had to give it a chance to recover so that was fine, just a lap or so where we were a little bit out of sync with a better management so we recovered that. And at the end, not really. I can’t do much more than obviously keep pushing the car and obviously I had to… couldn’t relax completely. Nico was going reasonably well but obviously we were just maintaining… did a few laps at the end just to let him know that I had a bit in hand, but he was probably doing the same so in the end we were getting the car home, mate. It’s always a surprise when the car stops on track obviously. Normally the ratio is that you finish so I was still confident that we could do that.
Q: (Joy Chakraverty – Sport 360) Seb, in an interview just a few days ago, Adrian Newey said that two of your best races that he remembers actually came in Abu Dhabi and one of them was last year when, despite the problems with qualification, you came back and finished on the podium. But do you think that this is much better than every other race that you have had in Abu Dhabi?
SV: It’s very difficult. Obviously I can remember all the races that I’ve had here, it’s been a very very good track for me, especially come Sundays, especially looking back to 2010 and obviously with five or four drivers going into the last race, being able to win the championship, yeah, it was a special day, special emotions when you look back. Also the race last year, a very crucial point in the championship to be forced to start last or indeed from the pit lane, was tough but we came back and managed to finish on the podium. So this year, for sure, stands out in a way that we had control over the race, very very strong pace and could match the cars behind whenever we had to and were able to pull out a very very big gap, so in a way, similar to – if you look at the time and the gaps – a little bit similar to the race in Singapore. It’s a bit similar, if you look at the track layout, quite technical, quite challenging, obviously mostly low speed corners but important to get the balance right in the car and to look after the tyres which I think we did very well.
Q: (Khodr Rawi – Autosport Middle East) My first question is for Sebastian: will you keep on doing your doughnuts celebration if you win the next two Grands Prix, even if you’ll get a penalty today?
SV: Well, it depends on what kind of penalty I get. If I get excluded from the next race then probably I won’t be able to do them. Again, it was spontaneous. Obviously I had the experience last week but entering the sort of stadium, I thought it was a very very good spot, I made sure there was nobody around and I was far away from the lines. I think if we are in a position to think about that then obviously it’s very special because it means we had a very very good result in the race. So I think there’s a lot of work before we get to decide whether we can do it again or not.
Q: (Khodr Rawi – Autosport Middle East) The second question is to Mark: you have won at least one race a year with Red Bull since 2009; would it make a difference if don’t win a race in your last season?
MW: Well, it would be nice. I’ve challenged for a few victories here and there this year but not strong enough when it counted, but in the end, Seb was too strong today for the win. I’ve got a couple more races to go, all I can do is do my best. It’s not going to be a huge huge difference but it would be nice to get it as any Grand Prix victory is always special to get them. Yeah, we’ll keep pushing mate and see how we go in the next two races.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Nico, I know that next year the regulations are changing completely so we’re going to have pretty new cars but is it not worrying for you to see that Red Bull has such a big advantage and that two seconds are not so easy to catch up, even with the new rules?
NR: Well, I don’t think it’s two seconds at the moment, I think it’s less than that. OK, maybe at times today but anyway, I’m not worried, no, because it’s a great opportunity because it puts everybody back to zero, so on the contrary, it’s actually better this way. Everybody starts from zero. We have such a strong team now, it’s been built up over the last four years, they already did a fantastic job last winter from 1.5s a lap slower. At the beginning of this season we were sometimes the quickest car without a regulation change, so they did an amazing job last winter and I’m confident that they can do it again, for sure. And again this year, OK, we had some weaknesses which we’ve learned from and are trying to continue improving and then I’m very sure we can have a good season.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Mark, you said that you struggled with the scrubbed tyres in the first stint. Has that been a general feature this year for you? Why are they so unpredictable? Was it just particularly here on this circuit?
MW: When we go to this type of range of tyre it is probably a little bit more high maintenance for me to feel whether the tyre is in the race. It’s a little bit frustrating but that’s the way it is. If you want to go quick, you’ve got to go… obviously it’s such a fine, delicate balance, obviously and then you can feed the tyre a lot if you treat it in a different way but to get into that window is sometimes not obvious. I think that we’ve seen – like Korea, China, a few other races where we are probably a bit more on the front tyre. Of course I’m very fast, I’m quick but when we’re on the rears it’s a bit harder for me to be as competitive at certain times. That’s the way it is. The primes weren’t too bad, I didn’t think we were going too badly on those in terms of feeling, anyway, but that’s the way it’s been the last… since 2011. I’m not going to learn now, mate. Old dog, new tricks, it’s over.