Canadian GP - Post-qualifying press conference - Pt. 1
9 June 2012
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Sebastian, we've seen pole decided all year being decided by mere hundredths of a second, but today it was almost a quarter of a second. What made the difference?
Well, it's difficult to say. I think we've had a fantastic weekend so far to be honest. Yesterday was very smooth, we didn't have any problems with the car. I think we have learned a couple of lessons, especially in the last two races where arguably we were quick on Sunday in the race but we didn't get [the best] out of the car on Saturday in qualifying. So, we learned quite a bit and, as I said, it was important to have a clean run, yesterday was a good day and this morning. We trusted the car that we had, we were able to go with the circuit and tried to read the conditions, so I was very happy in qualifying - throughout qualifying really, Q1, Q2 and Q3 – so yeah I was able to always get a little bit quicker. It looked very tight in the beginning to be honest. I knew it would be within a tenth, but in the end it seemed that we could make a bit more of a difference, which obviously is good. But still the advantage we have over Lewis is eight metres on the grid. Looking forward to the race, I think we have a great car. This time we got it right in qualifying and I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow. It should be an interesting one I guess.
Lewis, moving to you, so fast all day yesterday, how much has the change in climactic conditions affected car balance for you today?
It was definitely a bit harder for us today. We definitely struggled with working with the tyres in FP3 and in qualifying, having to push extremely hard to try to get the temperature, to get the tyres to switch on, but very, very fortunately we had still a new set in Q3 and just managed to get through. I'm very, very happy with the performance. I'm very surprised to see us on the front row but nonetheless we'll definitely take it and work as hard as we can tomorrow.
Fernando, some big upgrades this weekend, paying dividends almost immediately.
Yeah, the car felt quite good yesterday when we tested some new parts and we feel much more happy with the balance of the car and the grip of the car, Felipe and me, straight away. It's a first step. Obviously, the world will never stop, for us or for the competitors, but at the moment we are extremely happy and thankful to the guys in the factory.
Sebastian, in recent weeks they've banned your floor, they banned your wheels this weekend and you guys are still on top, in pole position. How do you keep doing it?
I think it's not just a hole in the floor that makes all the difference. Obviously reading the papers you get that impression. It was a bit of a shame that it went one way and then the other, being declared illegal, then legal and then illegal, but in the end we never feared a big impact on the performance of the car. I think generally, the car works as a whole – not the hole in the floor but a combination of all the parts together! We were not afraid that it would have a big impact on performance. This track is very special. As Lewis said it's very tricky to switch the tyres on, there arte not so many corners, as in there are no long duration tyres so it's difficult to work the tyres properly. But as I said, I think for us it was crucial that we learned from the experience especially of the last two grands prix. It was good fun today and even without the hole I enjoyed qualifying a lot.
Sebastian after the win in Monaco for the team was there a certain amount of confidence coming here. Was this, if nor expected, did you feel you'd taken a step forward?
Well, we changed the car. We had to close the hole or slot or whatever you call it. It seemed to work pretty well without the hole. No, I think there wasn't a lot of time to react. It depends on what kind of schedule you follow. We've seen some teams bringing a big step here, Ferrari did. For us it was nothing big. We are always pushing very hard to improve the car but I think, as I mentioned in the [unilateral] press conference earlier, it was important that we really had a clean preparation, a clean Friday. We were focusing on ourselves, so that was important. Then in qualifying, we just tried to get the maximum out of every run, and we seemed to improve on every run and even we seemed to chip away a little bit from the guys behind, which was a bit of a surprise because I thought going into qualifying that it would be extremely tight. On this track it's very difficult to make a difference, so I'm very happy.
The first nine on the grid are going to be on the supersoft tyres tomorrow. One guy, last year's winner, will be on the soft tyres. How crucial is that going to be, on the supersoft?
I think we've seen in Monaco that the tyre works pretty well. I think we've seen that yesterday. I don't know where Jenson is... tenth, so it depends. It can work, but it depends also on how the race unfolds, where the other guys are, what other guys do with their strategy and when they pit etc. We started in a very good position here two years ago on the harder compound and it didn't work. It can work both ways. In qualifying what you try to do is get on pole, which we did today, so I'm very happy with that. Looking forward to the race tomorrow, it's going to be interesting. Making the tyres last around here is going to be tricky. We've seen it, not so much last year because it was, but especially the year before, so it should be a good race and I'm looking forward to it.
Is there a little bit of unfinished business about getting on pole tomorrow?
Not really. Obviously you're talking about last year's race and last year's last lap of the race. Obviously in that moment it hurt a little bit because the victory was so close, but in the end it was a tough race, easy to do mistakes. We didn't except for me in the last half a lap, which cost us the victory. But it's 2012 now and I think we had a quite decent 2011, so it's not too bad. Of course, it would be nice. It's a nice track, a nice atmosphere, always a lot of people here. It would be a great place to win for sure.
Lewis, you have an extraordinary record at this circuit and again on the front row. Interesting that there are two different tyre choices, two different strategies at McLaren. We saw you go out on the supersoft as well in Q1 which is rare as well. Is there a big question mark over the tyre wear for you tomorrow?
Lewis Hamilton: No, we don't have a different strategy, we were struggling throughout qualifying. Yesterday we had very good pace in the cooler conditions but as it got hotter today we really, really struggled. So, I for one didn't expect to be so far up. For Jenson, he just didn't have more tyres in Q3. I was fortunate enough just to make sure I got a good lap in Q2, which meant I still had one set [of supersofts] left. Otherwise, I probably would be a little bit further back as well.
So how do you approach tomorrow if you feel you have been struggling today?
Lewis Hamilton: I don't know. I've fortunately got myself into a reasonably decent position and I think yesterday when we did the long runs they seemed to be OK, but now that it has got hotter it's going to change things and it's going to be tough. But we just have to do the best job we can and try to maximise on everything we do. We can still have a really good race and get some really good points from where we are and I'm looking forward to it.
Obviously you're one of the very few driver who hasn't yet won but are you just happy to stack up the points?
Lewis Hamilton: I am for now, yeah. Of course I want to win, but these guys are phenomenally quick at the moment and I'm not sure whether we have exact pace but we'll wait and see tomorrow.
Fernando, your equal best qualifying position so far this year, with Spain, and a lot of new parts on the car. Looking so good but you didn't improve on the final run, what happened on that final run?
Fernando Alonso:Nothing special. It's not easy here to improve laps. There are only five or six corners on the circuits so you are gaining or losing milliseconds corner by corner. We repeat more or less the same timed lap, in the second I gained a little bit from the first sector and I lost a little bit in the last. But overall the limit was more or less there – the 14.1. So, happy with the performance of the car, it has been a very smooth weekend for us. All the new parts work as expected. Felipe and me felt straightaway a good grid and a step in performance in the car, so a very good weekend so far. As you said, best position so far. We repeat what we did in Barcelona. In Barcelona we got one important podium. In Monaco on a completely different circuit we had a competitive car again and a good podium once more. And here on completely different circuit, with long straights and chicanes, we are also competitive, so this is a very good sign for us. Very good teamwork, because all the improvements we have been making on the car are really paying off now.
So, potential winners tomorrow?
Fernando Alonso:You never know. Races this year are very difficult to predict. What we think on Saturday is normally not anywhere near what happens on Sunday. So we'll see. A similar comment to Lewis: it would be nice to win here, it's a good circuit for Ferrari historically, a lot of fans here. Also, it's Gilles Villeneuve's anniversary, 30 years. So, it would be nice to offer all the Ferrari tifosi here in Canada a good result. But we know there are, at the moment, two guys quicker than us, as they proved today, doing a very good job and tomorrow we need to do better if we want to win.