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Spanish Grand Prix 2013: Thursday press conference - Pt.1

9 May 2013

Drivers: Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Sergio Perez (McLaren).



Press conference


Q:
Sergio, sixth in Bahrain, was that a breakthrough result for you with McLaren?

Sergio Perez:
Considering where we started from, I think it was pretty much the maximum we could get. We came very close at the end, [fighting] with Lewis [Hamilton] for fifth place. We did a good strategy, good race pace – better than expected – so it was definitely a very positive race, especially after all the tough start to the season we had.

Q:
And what's happened in terms of discussions between you and Jenson [Button] after the disagreements over your battle in Bahrain. Where do you stand going into this race?

Sergio Perez:
It's very clear between us, between the team. We had a very good chat, Jenson and myself, but also with Martin [Whitmarsh] and Sam [Michael]. We sat down after the race and, yeah, I think we were a bit too aggressive, both of us, between us, and we risked quite a lot to the team… to damage to the result of the weekend. Especially, we needed so much those points. We both apologised to the team and it was cleared. It was a nice chat to have.

Q:
Thanks very much. Esteban, Monisha Kaltenborn said after Bahrain 'he's struggling at the moment'. Can you put your finger on why and what positives have you drawn from your experiences so far?

Esteban Gutierrez:
Well, generally it has not been the ideal start to the season. Especially for myself, I would have liked to have a more consistent four races. When you're competing you're taking risks. Especially at the beginning it's important to find the right equilibrium between being conservative and taking risks. I have made some mistakes and definitely it has not been very positive but I'm determined and focused to work, myself and also as a team. It [Bahrain] was not a great track for us and hopefully it will be better for Barcelona.

Q:
Obviously qualifying seems to be the particular problem, you're a few slots behind your team-mate on average this season. What are you experiencing now on Saturday afternoons?

Esteban Gutierrez:
Of course on Saturday morning, in Bahrain for example, we decided to do a race simulation and this is not an ideal preparation for qualifying. We thought we could get some information for race performance. And of course also my driving, there are some little bits I need to improve, be more confident in the corners with the car that I have and get the most of the car.

Q:
Fernando, you challenged for the win here last year and you've won twice on home soil. After all these years of racing in Spain, does the emotion that you feel help you, or is it something that you have to master first and keep under control in order to do well?

Fernando Alonso:
I think it motivates you to race at home and you give an extra 10 per cent on what you normally do, to take care of every detail of the weekend, starting from tomorrow's practice, qualifying, race. You try to do everything well because you know that a nice result here, a nice podium finish or whatever will make you happy, will make the team happy, make many people in the grandstand happy. So, it's a special weekend but after all those years I think you're OK with that extra motivation and it's not anymore a pressure or the emotions you maybe felt in the first year, that you really worry to do well here, for everybody that comes to support you. Now you've proved for many years that there's not a pressure or anything that will stop you doing well. After doing very good results at home, so now you want to keep doing like that to really make everyone enjoy Sunday afternoon.

Q:
From 22 Grand Prix here only two have been won from outside the front row, the stats say it all. Have Ferrari prioritised that in the approach to this weekend?

Fernando Alonso:
Not really. I think this year we see how important are the races, the race pace. The tyres are a key factor, more than previous. Obviously it's good to start at the front and if you start on the first row you know that your chances are high and the podium, you can really touch with your hands if you start on the first row.

But I think we need to have a very, very normal weekend like we did in the first four races and try to find the right balance between qualifying and the race. Maybe the first really important qualifying will arrive in two weeks' time in Monaco, when we know that qualifying is extremely important. I think here is still more or less a normal circuit and you need to find a compromise.

Q:
Sebastian, championship leader with 77 points, three front-row starts, three podiums out of four starts, including obviously two wins, and yet one senses that you and the team have not been completely happy with the level of competitiveness so far?

Sebastian Vettel:
Disagree. I think if you look at the results that we got, we can be extremely happy in terms of how competitive we were. I think we can be equally as happy because we had a car that was good enough to finish on the podium and fight for victory, not in all four races, but yeah we won two out of four so it's not that bad and even the third place in Australia was very strong and the fourth place in China. Obviously we didn't have that many races yet but I think from a result point of view we can be happy but surely you're not looking at the raw result and you're looking at the way you achieved the result and here and there I think we had some room for improvements and that's what we are targeting. But I wouldn't say that we are unhappy with what we got so far.

Q:
Pirelli has obviously changed the harder compound tyre to something more like last years. As a team that was calling for changes, how do you feel about what's happened?

Sebastian Vettel:
Who did we call? I think there was more talk than action from our side – as in I think we said what happened to us as a team, what we felt happened to us as drivers, just like everybody else. But surely there's a lot of attention and then people try to make their own stories but I think you could for the whole grid that people were struggling with the tyres, it's not a secret, it's not just us. I think we also learned to deal with the tyres, with the situation. Sometimes you succeed a little bit more, sometimes less, but then again it's the same for other people, so yeah, up to a certain point where you feel, as a driver, it's obviously different racing. It's the same for everyone but you know, I don't know, for example in the race in China where we struggled with tyres. I had the occasion that Fernando approaches from behind. I was on a different strategy to him and so on, so I was on different tyres. But there was no point fighting with him because in the end I only slow down my own race. So, I don't wave him past but I'm not really resisting and it's a different style of racing and I think that's what we, if anything, criticised in the past.

Q:
Valtteri, you got your big break this year but I'm sure you didn't expect it to be quite the struggle it's been. What has held Williams back so far, would you say?

Valtteri Bottas:
Yeah, it's not been a start we wanted – that's for sure – but I think we all the time understand more and more the problems we've had. It's just some of the paths in the development of the car we took in the winter proved to be a bit of a dead end and we understand it much better. We had a good aero test last week and I really feel we are on the right path now.

Q:
And what about your own performances against your team-mate? It's 2-2 in qualifying, you both have a best result of 11th, does that satisfy you?

Valtteri Bottas:
I think from my side it's not been a bad start. It's still my first season racing F1 and there's a lot to learn. It's been quite a smooth start, of course there's always things you could do better and willing to improve a lot during the next few races and during the whole season.

Q:
Daniel, a breakthrough result for you personally in China, qualifying and finishing seventh. Is that the limit though for Toro Rosso at the moment, or can you do more?

Daniel Ricciardo:
I'd like to be able to do more. I think seventh was the best we could have done in China. Obviously the week after wasn't anywhere near what we showed a week earlier in China but I think yeah, that's probably where we were at that time. We brought some updates this weekend – along with probably every other team – so we have to see now which direction it favours. Hopefully it can push us further up the front. We'll have to see but I think for us to just try to get some more top tens more consistently. It was great to have a one-off good result but we want to finish in the points more often. So, we'll see what we've got this weekend, really. We're all excited to see how much of a gain we make and hopefully the others haven't made any big gains.

Q:
What has the Red Bull management said it expects from you – and do you and they feel you're on target at the moment?

Daniel Ricciardo:
I was waiting for one of these questions! For them what they expect is, I think, what they've always expected from us juniors since I started in the junior team a few years ago now. Just to maximise our equipment, to show some signs of being a potential winner, a potential champion and just to make the most out of what we've got really. I definitely felt China, that was achieved, but doing it once isn't really going to stick for 19 races. It's got to happen more often. I think it's along those lines really, just to maximise it and get some good results like I did there. Want more now, that definitely… not only for them but for me, that's what I want.


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