» BACK TO CRASH.NET

Crash.Net F1 News

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

30 October 2011


Drivers: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Jenson Button (McLaren) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari).


TV unilaterals


Q:
Sebastian, pole, you led every lap and set the fastest lap. Was this your most perfect win of the season do you think?

Sebastian Vettel:
Obviously it was a very good race for us. I enjoyed the time in the lead very much. I had a little bit of a fight with Jenson. It was always around four seconds and strangely he kept closing in around the pit-stops. I don't know, I was pushing very hard into the box and out of the box but we seemed to lose a little bit there so we need to understand. But on the circuit it was crucial to manage the tyres, make sure that you have enough of them left in the end, so all in all it was a very smooth race. The car was very well balanced. I felt even a little bit more confident on the hard tyres at the end, but overall a fantastic performance. Thanks to the whole team. Thanks to Renault. I think exceptional job so far, the whole season without any problems but to be honest with you it is a little bit mixed emotions. On the one hand I am very, very happy. It is the first grand prix in India and I am very proud to be the first winner and I think we can be as a team but on the other hand looking back to last weekend we lost two of our mates. I didn't know Dan Wheldon but he was a big name in motorsport. I got to know this year Marco Simoncelli and out thoughts are with them. Yes, we are ready to take certain risks when we jump into the car but we obviously pray that every time nothing happens but sometimes you get reminded and it is the last thing that we want to see. So, as I said, it is a bit mixed emotions and our thoughts are with them at this moment.

Q:
Jenson, your engineer said at one point 'we can race Vettel' but I guess it just proved a little bit too difficult today?

Jenson Button:
Yeah, it was. The last race I really struggled on the first lap and lost a lot of places so I wanted to redeem myself here. Got a good start and was able to get up to second by Turn Four and then it was basically trying to hang on to Sebastian. His pace was very good, he didn't seem to make any mistakes and every time through the pit stops we gained a little bit. I don't know if it was the stop itself or if it was after the stop, but on tyres when I came out of the box I felt very good. I felt very competitive and that was when I could really close the gap down. But as soon as Seb got into a rhythm I couldn't do anything about it really – but all in all for the team I think we have done a perfect job today. We couldn't have done anything else. Yesterday was a disaster for me in qualifying but I think we have put it right here so a good race but, as Seb said, it is a tough weekend for everyone in motorsport. The last two weekends have been very, very difficult. We have had two fatalities so it is very difficult especially with Dan. I knew Dan from a very early age, he was the guy we always had to beat in the early formulas so very sad also so I think we should dedicate this first Indian race to Dan and obviously Marco, another super talented youngster. He was the most amazing guy to watch on a bike so I think we should dedicate this to them.

Q:
Fernando, your battle was with Mark Webber and you got him at the second round of pit-stops. Tell us about your race.

Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, we didn't make the perfect start today. To be on a very new circuit and starting on the clean side I think we didn't have the grip that we were expecting and the other side of the grid they started a little better than us and we lost a couple of positions there. Then we race with Mark until the second pit-stop where, a little bit surprisingly, he decided to stop and we did two extra laps so we were able to overtake him so extremely happy to win the podium in this first race here in India. To have this feeling and to taste the champagne is always nice in a first race in a new country. As Sebastian and Jenson said, mixed feelings this weekend with sad weeks for motorsport with the two accidents. I think we all raced for them today and try to go ahead but always remember these two fantastic people.

Q:
Sebastian, you have set a new record today for the most laps led in a Formula One season, taking over from Nigel Mansell. I bet you just don't want this year to end?

Sebastian Vettel:
No, I don't mind. I think we can continue. The car is fantastic. The team is enjoying and we are on a run basically since the beginning of the season and it is great. We enjoy every race. The great thing is you walk into the garage every morning and you see the guys and they are flat out. They are pushing very hard and there is no sign of getting lazy and not paying attention to detail. It is really enjoyable to see that knowing that we have already achieved a lot this year, but we are still hungry so we are not lacking motivation at any stage. All the people come back with their questions but we seem to give them the right answers. I love what I do. I think we all do so it is great and in a way we don't want this to end.

Q:
Jenson, tell us about your start briefly. You got past Fernando and Mark. Exciting times?

Jenson Button:
It was. The start off the line didn't feel that good but I think there is such low grip off the start line. Then I was able to get Fernando into Turn One. I think he went a little bit deep and I knew I had to get a good exit out of Turn Three. It is such a long straight. Got a good exit, was in Mark's tow and when you are in that situation where there is a car behind you can't do anything about it. He covered the inside, did the right thing, but I had enough speed to go around the outside and carry the speed. It was an exciting part of the race. Then I had Mark behind me for about eight laps, pushing me really very hard. He tried to get down the outside of me into turn four, we both braked very, very late and both ran wide almost off the circuit but kept the position and then I was able to pull away. I think he damaged his tyres quite a bit. But it was a fun race. A little bit frustrating that I couldn't catch up with Seb, but we did a good job this weekend and that's the important thing. Pace isn't quite there, but hopefully in the last two races we can make that little step.

Q:
Fernando, what is your side of the story of the battle at the start?

Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, the start was not perfect so the first two or three seconds we lost too much ground there. Then I tried to recover in Turn One, braking a little bit late, but there was not the grip to brake that late and I lost a little bit more. It didn't compromise the race as I don't think we were able to fight with Sebastian at any point. Being second or third in the first lap it didn't change too much the full picture of the race. We are not that super competitive at this part of the year but we keep on having podiums thanks to the fantastic job here by people at the track. Today again we had a little problem with the front wing on the grid and the mechanics did a fantastic job in the last two or three minutes before we start on the green light so again thanks to the whole team for the fantastic effort with the things that we have in our hands. As everybody knows, next year is our main target and the same for everybody.

Q:
Sebastian, just sum up the thoughts about this first ever Indian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel:
It is great, I think, what the people did here in a short amount of time. We heard about it a couple of years ago but to put up this arena is incredible. Surely there are little bits here and there that are not 100 per cent finished but now the people know so they will fix that for next year I am quite sure. I think all in all it was fantastic. I am very proud, as I said, to be the first winner here in India. I think it is a very impressive country, very different to what we probably know from Europe, but very inspiring. If you keep you eyes and ears open I think you are able to learn a lot, the way the people handle things here. It is a big country, a lot of people, but sometimes it looks very different but they get along with it and they are very happy here. They enjoy life and in the end that's what it is all about. If your life comes to an end it is more the thoughts, the emotions, the friends, the friendships you take with you rather than whatever you have in your bank account. Even the people have so little here I think in a way they are much richer than a lot of people back in Europe so there is a lot we can learn and it is a great race, great event. The circuit is fantastic so all in all it is fantastic so thanks a lot to India and all the people here.



Press conference

Q:
Sebastian, quite a few people were questioning your motivation earlier on this weekend. That should put an end to all that talk?

Sebastian Vettel:
Yes, I think so. I said everything yesterday, on Friday and Thursday regarding these comments. As I touched on the whole team is still very hungry and the best thing is we still have two races to go so we enjoy it a lot today so motivation is not an issue.

Q:
You just seemed to set nothing but purple laps. You let Jenson have one or two, but not very many. You were just so quick.

Sebastian Vettel:
Yeah, it was a long race to be honest. A lot of laps. The circuit is quite challenging. It is one of the difficult ones throughout the season and very easy to do a mistake, very easy to go a little bit beyond the limit, a little bit over the limit, get a little bit off line and you end up in the dust and dirt and you have to fight your way back. Not only in that particular corner but also for a couple of corners afterwards. Not so easy with traffic. Quite a big chance to lose a lot of time and as I was racing Jenson in the distance always around three-and-a-half, four-and-a-half seconds. You want to get through and ideally maybe get a little bit of DRS here and there for the straights to get a little bit of extra free lap time. But the car was great. Start obviously was important. I was focussing a lot on Turn Three, the first lap, to make sure I had a bit of a cushion going on that long, long, long back straight. In the first lap you are vulnerable so it was crucial to have a clean exit which I had as we saw with Mark who lost position to Jenson at that stage. Afterwards I was able to pull away in the first couple of laps, maintain the gap, and in the end I was feeling very happy. End of the first stint I was able to pull away. Jenson pitted so we had to react but second stint then wasn't that straightforward as the first one with traffic et cetera. Bit more tricky to manage the tyres and Jenson was at some stages very strong. In the end I found the rhythm again and got quicker but, again, Jenson pitted in front of us and we reacted the lap after. Warm up on the hards wasn't too bad and actually I felt quite comfortable on the hard tyre so I was able to push throughout and also at the end with the strong laps. Got some calls from my engineer reminding me what is the target, there is not trophy for fastest lap. Fortunately we were able to get both. The car was great. All in all it was a fantastic event. The race was fantastic. We were in a comfortable position controlling the race from the front, but always to have Jenson in the mirrors and not willing to disappear doesn't make your life easy so we had to push throughout the whole race and it was enough. At the end we were a bit more comfortable but fantastic. I am very happy, but as I touched on in the press conference earlier obviously mixed emotions with two tragic past weekends. For everyone who is a fan of motorsport It was a hard time we had to go through. On the one hand I am very happy and very proud to be the first winner of this grand prix. There were a lot of people, a big event, great atmosphere, all the grandstand nearly sold out so great to be part of that. But on the other hand we have to pay a certain respect to those two guys who lost their lives. Our thoughts are with them, especially with their families. We should never forget those two young, very committed race drivers.

Q:
Jenson, you said yesterday you lacked grip in qualifying. What was it like in the race itself?

Jenson Button:
Well it wasn't too bad, I finished second. Yesterday I struggled in qualifying basically just getting a rhythm. Whatever could go wrong in qualy it seemed to and sometimes you have sessions like that. Sometimes everything goes in your way. The race was very different. I had a good start, got past Fernando into Turn One and then it was about judging where to put the car into Turn Three as I had Mark in front that I wanted to overtake but I also had Fernando behind me trying to overtake me. You have to be very careful where you put the car in the entry into Turn Three but judged it well, got a good run on Mark and was able to get him into Turn Four. Then Mark proceeded to push me for the next eight laps around the circuit, pushed me really hard actually. Had a go into Turn Four, we both braked very late, both ran wide, but kept the position and then I was able to kick in and pull a gap. Then it was about trying to set off after Sebastian. But it was very, very tricky. At the pit stops I think the guys did a tremendous job and we seemed to be good on new tyres or after we had put a new set on and the pace was good. But as soon as Sebastian got into a rhythm we couldn't touch them. But as far as races go I don't think we put a foot wrong and as a team we did a perfect job this weekend but we just didn't have the pace of the Red Bulls and Sebastian. I think we need to say a big congratulations to the Indian people for their efforts on building this circuit because the circuit itself is, I think in years to come, we are going to think of it as one of the greats. It is a very special circuit and I really, really enjoy driving around here. I hope we put on a good show and it is also great to see the excitement in the crowd. The people that are here, as there are quite a few people here, they are really getting into the mood and really getting into the action and it is good to see, really good to see, so a very special weekend and thank you to them.

Q:
Fernando, interesting battle with Mark Webber but it seems Mark just doesn't have the straightline speed or DRS or whatever?

Fernando Alonso:
Well I think if they have also the straightline speed it would maybe be too much.

Q:
At least you jumped him at the pit-stop?

Fernando Alonso:
Yeah, we know that with the hard tyres the first two laps maybe they are not as good as the soft and we were a little bit debating on the radio what to do in the second stop. Stop one lap before Mark or wait? The team did the right call, be a little bit calm, wait for Mark to stop and then try to take advantage of the extra lap or the extra two laps expecting some warm up issues with the hard tyre for them. It did happen. After Mark stopped the team told me that we were gaining time so to do an extra lap so we did two laps more than him and we jump Mark at the stop. Then in the last stint it was a question mark as last couple of races we put the hard tyre on and we struggle a lot and we have been overtaken by them quite easy so even if we were third at that point of the race we were not sure and we had to push for 20 laps maximum. Try to defend the position so at the end it was very close. I think Mark crossed the line 1.5 or one second behind me so with more laps I think the podium was getting more and more difficult so the finish arrived in the right moment.

Q:
We heard a lot about how good the circuit was in practice et cetera. What was it like to race on for 60 laps?

Fernando Alonso:
It was fantastic. I agree completely with Jenson and Sebastian. The circuit is very nice to drive. Okay, it was a very narrow line of normal grip and outside that line there was a lot of dust and low grip but this is normal for new circuits and I think with the years that will improve. The circuit has a little bit of everything. Long straights and very wide entries for the hairpins, which allowed us to try some overtaking manoeuvres and put on a good show on Sunday. Two DRS zones that, I think, worked okay today with more overtaking possibilities and then the second and third sector which is a combination of corners in fifth, sixth gear which we normally love to drive and overall it was a fantastic weekend. A lot of people came, very passionate about our sport, to be here the first time and the circuit was completely finished and in a very good condition in a very short period of time. I am sure that things will improve, but already the level is very high, so congratulations.


» BACK TO CRASH.NET