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Belgian GP - Post-race press conference - Pt.1

2 September 2012

PODIUM INTERVIEW (conducted by Jacky Ickx)

Q:
Jenson, the last few races were not really easy for you. Today you have done the perfect race. You did the fastest time in practice, you did all the race winning it, you are the only one, I think, this year who has won from the start to the end. It has been wonderful. Just let us know your feeling winning this wonderful Belgian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button:
Good afternoon everyone! Thank you very much. I still can't get used to this: talking on the podium, it's quite strange, isn't it? What can I say? This circuit is such a special circuit to most drivers and, yeah, the way that it flows and the history here so to get a victory here from lights to flag is very special, especially as it's not been the easiest year for me. So, yeah, a very special weekend. I'd like to thank everyone: the whole team and also all of you guys [the crowd] for being so supportive. And we're going to enjoy this for a little while longer before we head to Monza and hopefully do the same.

Q:
Well Sebastian, the weekend was probably not the one you would have loved to have; the fact you have missed your train yesterday is quite a handicap but you managed to finish second and you managed to come back in the Championship, reducing the score on Alonso. How do you feel?

Sebastian Vettel:
Well, thank you Jacky. Obviously it was a crazy race. From where I started the start was not so good, and after the first corner where a lot of cars went off I was pretty crazy and fortunately we came back with a fantastic strategy, I think it was the right decision to stay out – obviously I was keen to come in because when you're stuck in traffic it's difficult – but yeah, I think it was the right call and the car was quite good in the race so we were able to pick up quite some pace. Let's say after our poor start to the weekend, especially for you guys [the crowd] on Friday when it was raining like mad and you were on the grandstands, thanks for the support. Yeah it was good to come back and obviously a fantastic race, I had a lot of fun, racing a lot of people, racing Michael, so yeah, in the end obviously great to come second, great to be here on the podium and looking forward already to coming back here next year. This circuit is unbelievable. Thank You.

Q:
Well Kimi, first of all the crowd is really showing their pleasure to have you back in grand prix racing. You're flirting with the victory, now you are quite often on the podium, you did an incredible battle for third place. We had feeling that maybe you had difficulty with your car, maybe sometimes, but the result is that you are finishing third. It's a pure joy for us and we like to congratulate you for this great position.

Kimi Raikkonen:
Thanks a lot and I mean it's nice to be back here. Always lots of fans and good racing. So I think we have seen very nice racing today. Of course not the easiest day for me and for the team but the car was not exactly like we are liking but I was fighting and try to get the best out of it and we managed to get some good points for myself and for the team, so that's the main thing but for sure not the easiest race, one of the most difficult but that's how it goes and we try next week better.

Q:
Thanks to all of you, thanks for this great show.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q:
Jenson, we said the other day that Spa hasn't necessarily been very kind to you – I guess that's changed now?

Jenson Button:
Yeah, a little bit. All weekend, to be fair, the car has felt reasonably good. And this is the first circuit we come to that is lower downforce, we pretty much run full downforce everywhere else we go, so it's a nice change to try something different. I just love Spa, I think we all do. Through Eau Rouge, I know it's easy flat, but it's still an experience, the g that we pull through there. And yeah, to lead from start to finish, it's a very special victory. But I think you're going to say that about every victory. But it's really nice to win on a circuit like this. I remember watching F1 back in the day here – it was a little bit different then – and there's so much history. It's really good to be a part of that.

Q:
How important was it to get that first set of medium tyres to last all the way through to nearly half distance?

Jenson Button:
Yeah, well, we weren't really sure what to do with the strategy: whether it was going to be a one [stop] or a two, and we thought some people might even be doing a three and really we were just playing it by ear. And I think when Nico [Hülkenberg] got into second it did help us a little bit because I could just feel the car and not push it too hard and at that point I still didn't think we were going to do a one-stop, I still thought it was going to be a two. And then on lap 12 the tyres started working and the car felt very consistent, really good to drive and I could control the degradation of the tyres. It's always easier when you're leading a race, to do that. But it was a great feeling to be able to go so much further than pretty much everyone except for Seb.

Q:
Were you a bit worried that the tyres might drop off at the end there?

Jenson Button:
No. I had a bit more oversteer in the car, which isn't ideal, but yeah, the balance was reasonable, and it feels that the first ten laps were not perfect and then the tyres would come to you: you would lose a bit of front grip and you would get a balance – on both sets. So it was good. I knew that Sebastian stopped a couple of laps later than me, so he had a couple of laps' fresher tyres but he had to pull back 15 seconds, so we were in a pretty good position. But you think about everything: you think about all the things that could go wrong and, y'know, today they didn't. The team did a fantastic job and we really didn't put a foot wrong all weekend. So very happy and very proud of all the guys. And great to get this victory here in Spa.

Q:
Sebastian, you must be happy also, with second place from tenth on the grid.

Sebastian Vettel:
Yeah, after the first corner I was probably the only one who was not improving because obviously a lot of cars crashed in front of us but my start was very poor and I lost quite a lot. I had a very poor initial launch and lost positions. Obviously I was starting around the Force Indias, and I think they were not far away from Jenson after the first corners – and I wasn't – I was behind a Caterham even. So yeah, pretty poor start to the race but after that I think the pace was there. We were able to get through the field but it's not that easy when everyone has DRS available: it's like a big chain and you sit on the limiter like everyone else. It's difficult to benefit from that but I think we made reasonable progress through the field. And then we were able to have a couple of good laps in clean air, which I think was the right way. And obviously allowed us to come back through the strategy and finish second, which I think after the first lap nobody expected. We didn't expect the tyres to last that well, I think there was some talk before the race, there were some concerns the tyres wouldn't last that long. As Jenson touched on, probably most people were thinking of two and three stops and one stop seemed out of reach. Same for us but after a couple of laps it was clear that the tyres were lasting pretty well and the pace wasn't bad – that was the most important thing for us. Saturday morning went quite well, qualifying was shit and today was well again. Yeah, happy with second.

Q:
You were battling through the field. So you were probably asking more of the softer tyres than Jenson was…

Sebastian Vettel:
Surely in the first stint but even with that I think the pace was there. We had the fastest times on the first set of tyres even though I had a lot of battling going on with Felipe – well the Caterham first but Felipe and then Bruno, Mark, Michael – so yeah, it was fairly busy but as I said, the pace was there, which was the reason why we were able to gain so much and in the end come second.

Q:
Kimi, two defining moments that we can remember from that race from you, particularly the start, tell us about that.

Kimi Raikkonen:
I had an OK start, I gained one place on Sauber and I think a very similar start to Jenson and I just saw it in the mirrors that there's some accidents going to happen so I was pretty lucky to get out of it. I think they just missed me on the rear. But the Williams tried to get me – but he had a jump start, I could see it already, before the lights went that somebody was moving a lot so for me it was no problem.

Q:
And then the overtaking manoeuvre on Michael down into Eau Rouge…

Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, my car wasn't very nice to drive the whole race, even yesterday with new tyres in qualifying it was OK but even third or fourth we were quite far away from the guys in front of us – so I wasn't expecting a very easy ride and it turned out to be very difficult. Not grip, the first few laps with new tyres were always good but then sliding: no front end, no rear end, just struggling with the grip and last we had to run a bit more downforce to get grip and we were really slow in a straight line, so with Michael I passed him once, he got me back and I knew my only chance was try to get the DRS and then to be ahead of him because even if I had the DRS I could not pass him on the straight with the limiter. So, I had to just take a chance to overtake him with the KERS into Eau Rouge And it kind of paid off – but he almost got me still back which shows us that we didn't really have the speed today – but we had a third place so it's OK. Not the easiest race but pretty OK.


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