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Abu Dhabi GP - Post qualifying press conference - Pt.1

3 November 2012

TV Unilateral

Q:
What are your feelings for tomorrow?

Lewis Hamilton:
Very excited, very excited. It's the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Red Bulls, and not to be seeing the tail of them at the start of the race but I know it's going to be, as always, very, very tough in the race because they've got great race pace. But we are strong enough to fight them, the team's done a fantastic job all weekend. The car's felt beautiful all weekend. I don't know why the car works so well here. We've not really made any improvements to the car since the last race, so I guess it just suits. The guys are still massively focused so I hope that tomorrow's a good day for us.

Q:
How have the long runs been looking?

Lewis Hamilton:
We did a couple of long runs and they seemed to be OK. On one of my long runs I had a lot of traffic, but Jenson had a fairly decent long run, which shows… a bit like last race, we should be quite competitive. But for me it's trying to improve the start of the race because these guys are so quick over the first couple of laps.

Q:
Mark, well done, second fastest in qualifying. You've out-qualified your team-mate as well. But there have been some worrying moments, for example last week you had the loss of KERS and you had the problem yesterday. Are you slightly on the back foot?

Mark Webber:
Well, first of all credit to Lewis, he's obviously got a quick car this weekend and he bumped us off the front row, that's the first time in a while, maybe since six or eight weeks ago when we had a good run, so now they've done a good job today. Credit where it's due and we did the best we could. I think it was a pretty smooth qualifying session for both Seb and I and we did what we could. I think it went well but as you say we've got a little bit of a fire going which we need to tidy up and the quality of the team is exceptional, we know what we need to improve on, to help our championships along. Obviously Seb's still involved in the Drivers' [title] and the Constructors' is still important to us, so we'll focus on tomorrow's race. The car generally works pretty well on Sundays but Lewis and JB did some pretty strong long runs as well, so yeah, a little trouble this weekend but overall we're positive and looking for a good strong run.

Q:
Sebastian, obviously you had a problem with the brakes this morning and we've just seen you stop on circuit this afternoon, but you're third on the grid, at least you salvaged that. What are your feelings about that?

Sebastian Vettel:
I don't why I was asked to stop. I think probably some problem. It shouldn't be something major. Obviously this morning wasn't ideal, not being able to run. So we didn't get probably the answers that we were hoping for. Nevertheless, this afternoon we were settling in quite well and the pace was there, but I think as Mark touched on, McLaren, in particular Lewis, are pretty quick. So they were out of reach today. I'm not entirely happy with my qualifying, the last part of qualifying was quite tricky for me. I think I should have been a little bit quicker, whether it would have been enough to beat Mark… obviously he's on a different sheet of paper, but all in all I think we can be quite happy. Race pace should be good tomorrow. As we know it's a long race here and there's a lot of things that can happen, so looking forward to tomorrow.

Q:
But there must be a certain relief in being three places ahead of your main championship rival?

Sebastian Vettel:
Is he sixth or…?

Q:
Seventh.

Sebastian Vettel:
Ah, so… yeah, I think we've seen so many races this year that have been up and down, so from where we start it's obviously quite good, close to the front, so we go from there. As I said, it's going to be a long race; a lot of things to look out for. I think strategy-wise it's probably not 100 per cent clear yet, a similar position to last race in India, so yea, I think we have to look after ourselves, try to race this guy and then we should be in quite a good place tomorrow.

Press Conference

Q:
So Lewis, you can't really explain why you're so quick here this weekend?

Lewis Hamilton:
No, I don't know. The car's been feeling fantastic all weekend, like I said we haven't come with upgrade packages, we haven't got any… y'know we're always modifying small, little wings but it does very, very little – but the car's felt great from the get-go this weekend and done some fine tuning and every now and then you're fortunate enough to make the right change and it feels even better, which it did. So, I didn't really have to change too much going into qualifying. Actually I didn't change anything going into qualifying from P3. That lap felt fantastic. The next lap I was up a little bit, I think I was up a tenth or so, and then I lost it. I had no idea I'd done a good lap, so it was just about going completely over the line and seeing if you can get something – but it didn't work.

Q:
We have seen a lot of drivers doing that this weekend and I guess it's just exploring the limit.

Lewis Hamilton:
Yeah. Well, I know what the limit is because I was on it when I did my first lap but I was trying to go way past the limit and see if it was possible. It worked for half the lap but then it didn't work the rest of it.

Q:
Mark, the reliability thing, has that set you back a little bit in terms of race preparation, yesterday for example.

Mark Webber:
Yeah, you would like to do that work for sure but obviously we have a huge amount of historical data, this year and also at this venue and Seb did some work. I did one lap, so I've got a little bit to look at. But it should be OK, the Friday's running is never a bible anyway, it's just a good reference. So we're in pretty good shape in terms of data going into the race. So obviously we'll have a bit of a look through in the morning to see how we're going to prepare. But yeah, we realised we've got to work on our reliability. We've had a few issues of late and that's something the group is on. There's nothing Sebastian and I can do about it. It's not our job, it's their job and they know they've got to improve.

Q:
And you'll be starting ahead of Sebastian, so what chances in the first corner?

Mark Webber:
Well, good. You never know. Lewis' starts lately haven't been phenomenal so let's see if he has a good one tomorrow. Generally it's down to how the clutch is and things like that – it's not really down to Lewis. We'll see how they go off the line but I'm looking to go forward, for sure. Then we'll get settled into the race and see where everyone is after that.

Q:
Sebastian, the brake problem today, is that something that has been cured and you're confident you won't see again?

Sebastian Vettel:
Yes, I think so. Obviously it wasn't expected, it wasn't the plan because the plan is to run in free practice – but I think we fixed the problem, I had a fantastic brake in qualifying, so I think we got on top of the problem at the end. I had a little bit of a run, two laps in the practice this afternoon, so should be fine.

Q:
Overtaking has been difficult here in the past. Admittedly you haven't had to do very much but it's been difficult, there's a double DRS, how vital is pole position and a good qualifying position?

Sebastian Vettel:
Well, I think Lewis is pretty happy where he's going to start tomorrow. Obviously we are not on pole but yeah, I think, y'know, third is not far off and it should be a good race. Obviously, as you touched on, it's difficult to pass here, even though you've got long straights, we've got the double DRS so we'll see if that helps. I'm sure it's not impossible. It's definitely possible to pass people, even though it's not easy but, y'know, race pace should be good. Should be in a good position.


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