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Spanish Grand Prix 2013: Thursday press conference - Pt.2

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).


Questions from the floor


Q: (Kate Walker – GP Week).
Valterri and Esteban, you're both rookie drivers; Valterri you came with a number of Friday drives under your belt whereas Esteban you had GP2 experience. What have you both learned in the first four races which has been different from your previous roles last year, and how are you going to take that on to improve further over the course of the rest of the season?

Esteban Gutierrez:
Well, basically one of the biggest differences from GP2 is the complexity of your work with the team. There's a lot more development, there's a lot more communication and you have to be more precise as a driver on that side. Also, from the atmosphere, there's media attention, there's more followers and everyone is looking more into detail and into everything so it's quite an interesting experience and something that is inclusive of being a Formula One driver.

Valtteri Bottas:
I think Formula One racing is something different to anything I've ever experienced before. The longest races I did before was F3 in thirty minutes or something and now it's one hour 30 minutes minimum, so it's a different style of driving, different style of adjusting the car's set-up and you really need to focus throughout the weekend to maximise the car both for qualifying and for the race to find a compromise. There's so much more other technical stuff; you can adjust the car and you need to be very focused on every single little detail if you want to improve your driving and make the car better. I've really learned a lot; I can't say just one thing but I'm sure I will be learning more and more all the time and at every race I feel I'm getting better and better.

Q: (Alex Popov – RTR).
It's about the back straight, between turns nine and ten. It's quite short so can you really overtake into turn ten (with DRS)?

Sebastian Vettel:
It definitely helps. I think in the race it will be possible to overtake, not only on the straights, and not only on the two straights where we have DRS, especially when, similar to the last races, when we're in trouble with tyres etc, I think you will find more than one or two places on the track to pass. It can only help if you have DRS available there. But surely, if you look for one lap on fresh tyres it's not going to be easy because turn nine is quite fast, so it's difficult to follow, as usual.

Fernando Alonso:
Same.

Sergio Perez:
Same.

Q: (Alex Popov – RTR).
Sebastian, would you comment on the rumours of you and Mercedes? What's the story?

Sebastian Vettel:
I was surprised when I read it as well. I don't read that much, usually just the headlines. It's pretty funny.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press).
To the three in the front row, because they are the most experienced: what effect can it have on a team when it loses its technical director in the middle of the season and what do you expect this to do to Kimi Raikkonen's challenge for the championship?

Sergio Perez:
Well, I think they (his neighbours) are fighting for the championship, they should be the ones to answer this one. I think it depends on certain teams. It isn't the same in every team. In some other teams the technical director is more important than in the others. Obviously he's a very key person in that team, so I don't really know what effect it's going to have on Kimi's team to lose the technical director. But I don't think it's a big thing if they have very capable people who can do a good job.

Fernando Alonso:
I don't know really.

Sebastian Vettel:
I heard it yesterday. I think there's always a reason and probably reasons that we don't know, so it's difficult for us to judge. I don't think it's our business. It can be negative, but it can also be positive. As I said, I don't know the background.

Q: (Toni Lopez – La Vanguardia).
Fernando, one year ago I think you were ten points behind the leader. Now I think the gap is thirty but you look more confident, more optimistic. Can you explain your different feelings now?

Fernando Alonso:
Well, last year we were one to one-point-five seconds behind the top cars. Whether we might have won the Malaysian race with luck this year but this year we have finished two races without problems. We finished second in Australia and we won in China so it's a very different feeling and a very different package that we have this year which brings us optimism and some confidence that we can have a good championship. We need to deliver, we need to do some consistent results now and gain some consistent points for the next Sundays but we are more optimistic now that we have some points behind us, but the championship is long and there are many, many examples, as we said many times last year - I think the most recent was Sebastian's recovery last year. He was 43 points behind us after the summer break and was leading at Austin in Texas, so in five or six races you can recover 45-50 points if you get some consistent results. Same with us in 2006 when I was 33 points in front of Michael, which means 75 or 80 points with the current points system, and he was leading the championship in Suzuka with two races to the end. Until we are 75 or 80 points behind, we should be optimistic, until that point.

Q: (Valenti Fradera – Il Nuovo Sportivo).
To both Sebastian and Fernando: how do you think the new hard compound tyre will suit your car?

Sebastian Vettel:
I've no idea. We will see tomorrow. I think we know what to expect a little bit, given the information we received from Pirelli so after all, I don't expect a miracle. I think we will still have to work a lot around the tyre and make the tyre last so whether it helps us or not and whether this is the compound that we carry on using – talking about the hard tyre – I think we will know a little bit more after Sunday.

Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, same, more or less. A learning Friday for us tomorrow, we will put that tyre on the car and try to have as much information tomorrow in practice, to analyse data and to have some good points, good information for the race and then after Sunday afternoon's race we will have more information on the hard tyre that we will use in the future and we will see. I don't think it will have a big impact on the car's performance. It's just up to the teams, up to each of us to make the most of the tyre and I think to get the benefit you need to work around them. We know how important the tyres are this year and we need to find the most information we can tomorrow.

Q: (Felix Gorner– RTL TV).
Sebastian and Fernando, have you watched the champion's league games and who is your favourite for the final?

Fernando Alonso:
I've watched (the games) and it was sad for the two Spanish teams – especially for Real which is my team – but they didn't play so well in Germany and in Madrid they played better but the gap was too much in the first game, unfortunately, and now in the final, who knows? I think it will be close. They've played in the national league and they were close so I'm expecting a close final as well.

Sebastian Vettel:
I think it was obviously, from a German point of view, very successful. Quite surprised to have two German teams in the final now. I think, on paper, Bayern Munich should win, they have an extremely strong team this year but I cross my fingers for Dortmund. Let's see what happens in the final. Nevertheless, I think it will be decided on the day and not on paper so depending on how well they play on that day.

Q: (Jens Walther – ARD Radio).
Fernando, with football and Formula One in mind, how would you describe the sports relationship between Spain and Germany?

Fernando Alonso:
Good. I think we don't have too many games together. It was this semi-final this week that was Germany – Spain for two games but in some other sports we don't play much together, because the sports that are good for Spain like basketball or tennis, the Germans are not so good. The sports that the Germans are very good at on snow, in skiing, where there aren't Spaniards, so we don't play much and in Formula One, I think we are in the minority because there are always four or five Germans in Formula One and one team or two, I don't know how many German teams: Mercedes and... I think Mercedes only. I'm happy for Germans to keep winning in football.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire– AP).
Sergio, you said it was important to have a talk with Jenson and with your management and you said it was a nice talk. Can you talk a bit more about what was said in that talk?

Sergio Perez:
Jenson and myself talked firstly to apologise to the team because we were quite aggressive, we were close to having an accident. The chat was mainly to clear the air, to say everything that we thought between us and to clear the relationship, because at the moment, especially, we need to be together to come out of the position that we are in where we are not quick enough at the moment, and we have to keep working very closely, Jenson and myself, and I think the chat that we had with Sam (Michael) and Martin (Whitmarsh) helped to keep the relationship strong and to keep the team together and get out of the difficult moment. The chat was mainly for that.

Q:
If you had the same situation again, what would you do differently?

Sergio Perez:
The same, but risk less with your teammate. We were far too aggressive with each other, we lost time and I think that has to be a little bit different between us. Don't waste too much tyre, especially as this stage of the season where the tyre is so critical. We are wasting too much tyre if we fight that hard, so I think we have to be more flexible in the fight. We are thankful that we are in a team like McLaren which lets you fight as teammates, so in that respect we have to respect each other a bit more.

Q: (Livio Orrichio – O Estado de Sao Paulo).
All teams brought components, new parts for this race. Do you think that we will now see a different picture than what we saw in the first four races this season?

Daniel Ricciardo:
Yeah, normally once the European seasons starts, it's the start of the F1 calendar. It normally creates a bit of a picture, the top teams are normally established here so I think now, for a few races probably, you will see the top teams and they'll stay there for a bit of time. Then maybe around Silverstone, there'll be a second set of updates from a lot of teams, but normally what happens this weekend will draw a picture for the next couple of months, let's say. Hopefully we're in that picture, from my point of view, but I think that's more or less the situation and as it has been the last few years.

Valtteri Bottas:
I really hope that we can really fight for better positions that we did at the beginning of the season. I really hope places will change and it will be better for us but as for everyone else, it's just unknown. We will see how it goes. I'm sure we're moving forward step by step, but it's in a week or something so we're bringing updates to every race now.

Sergio Perez:
I think it's the same. It's important for us to keep improving. I think we have improved quite a lot since the first race, so I think we're going in the right direction. We don't expect a big gain here. I think when you are so far away from everybody in front you have to bridge the gap and to start closing the gap is a priority. I think this race will be very important for us to learn a lot more about the car as well.

Fernando Alonso:
I don't think the picture at the front will change much this weekend.

Sebastian Vettel:
I don't think there will be a big surprise. I think ideally everybody makes a step forward and they're in the same boat.

Q: (Paulo Ianieri – La Gazetta dello Sport).
Fernando, do you feel that for the first time since driving for Ferrari that you come to this race as one of the favourites and ready to attack rather than being the underdog and trying to profit from the misfortunes of the others?

Fernando Alonso:
Yes. Maybe yes, first time that we arrive with a competitive car but that doesn't mean that you will fight for top places, even if you do everything right and if you don't put together a good weekend. It's also true that we need to check how the car responds with some new parts that we brought here. Same with the other teams. Our competitors make the biggest step that they do and after that we see. As I said, in the first four races we felt competitive, we felt that we were able to fight for the top places if the race was without problems and what we will try here is to have a clean race with no problems Friday, Saturday, Sunday and if that will be enough to put us in contention for victory it will be nice. If it's not possible, we will try to be as high as possible, but it's a weekend that we approach with a positive mentality and maybe not as a defensive mentality as my first three years with Ferraris.

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports).
Fernando, you worked very closely with James Allison when you were at Renault. He was deputy then technical director. How highly do you rate him? Is he the sort of man you would like to work with again and could you tempt him to come to Ferrari?

Fernando Alonso:
I don't really have an opinion on that. He will chose what he prefers. He may chose to stay at home. I don't know. We just know the news from yesterday and we don't have any more news. For sure, I worked very closely with him and was World Champion with him two times. Then I came back to Renault in 2008/9; in 2009 he was already technical director and we were not so successful with that car, but we saw the Lotus car in the last two years and no secret that he's one of the top men here and we will see what future he has.

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports).
Would you like to work with him?

Fernando Alonso:
I would like to work with all the technical directors. It would be nice to have all of them in our team and see how our competitors create their cars because this is impossible. We are working well and this year things are going much better so we are happy with what we have but it's always welcome, any extra help.


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