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F1 Bahrain 2013: Thursday press conference - Pt.1

18 April 2013


Drivers: Charles Pic (Caterham), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Paul di Resta (Force India), Pastor Maldonado (Williams), Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Jenson Button (McLaren).


Press conference


Q:
Jenson, before we get on to this weekend in Bahrain, a general question for you. We've seen lots of variety this season, lots of overtaking, 10 different drivers have led a race and you're one of them but the fans seem a bit divided on what we're seeing, whether it's good or whether it's bad. Now you're the most experienced driver on the grid, so what's your take on the action so far?

Jenson Button:
Wow, that's question! I haven't watched the races to be fair, as we've been travelling around so much. So I haven't seen what's on the screen. Maybe it's the commentary that's the problem.

Q:
Quite possibly, but as a driver competing in them, what's your take? Is this racing as you want it or can you not push or do you have to save fuel or tyres or whatever?

Jenson Button:
Yeah, we have to do all that, but I think there's been a lot of overtaking. You know, we're never going to be happy with everything in this sport or in any sport but I think the racing has been good fun. I was on the receiving end of most of it at the last race, because obviously doing less stops you're running old tyres most of the time, so there's people overtaking you most of the time. So it's not the enjoyable part of it for me, but I think if you were doing a three-stop strategy at the last race it was a fun race. They seemed like they were able to push pretty hard. In the past we had tyres that would last the whole race and there wasn't any overtaking. It's very difficult to get the correct balance. But we're having two or three stops which I think is what the idea was for racing in 2013 so that's good and there are a lot of teams fighting at the front. I think F1's great at the moment. I'm really enjoying racing. As I say, I haven't watched a race but from what I see around me it looks good to watch.

Q:
What are us commentators going to be saying about you and McLaren for this weekend? A continuation of the progress you've been making or…

Jenson Button:
I hope you say something different because it's getting a bit boring. It's all about tyres when you talk!

Q:
Well, give us something different to say then.

Jenson Button:
No, I think it's been a difficult start to the season, as we all know. The first race was stand-out bad for us. Since then we've made a lot of improvements and I think we understand the car a lot more. Here, it's a very different circuit to Shanghai. It's very front limited in Shanghai. Here it's rear limited – tyres. Last year it was a really tricky race to look after those tyres. Not sure if it's going to be the same case this year but we will see. We'll know a lot more at the end of practice, P3, and we can tell you a little bit more in qualifying.

Q:
Felipe, let's move on to you. Jenson's talked about this circuit. It's a circuit you've won on before. You've enjoyed success here. So what's the secret to a good lap here at Sakhir.

Felipe Massa:
The secret is secret!

Q:
Spill the beans.

Felipe Massa:
I don't know to be honest. It's a track I like to drive, since the first race, which I don't remember when it was, I was with Sauber – 2005 or 2005? It's a nice track. It's a track that has a lot of long straights, heavy braking, traction. I don't know, I just like it.

Q:,/B>
So I imagine that you come here with a fair amount of confidence, certainly different to last year. Your form seems to have improved immeasurably on this time in 2012. What's made the difference for you, the car, the tyres - what?

Felipe Massa:
Yeah, I think since the middle of last year we understood a lot more how to work with the tyres, how to work with the car, to improve the car, the set-up. I'm sure how we started this year was much more in a good way. I'm very comfortable in the car and I think when you are comfortable you drive automatically. So you can do the better job you can on the car. This is the job we did last year. For sure it's a different car, many things are different but I think the working is in the right direction.

Q:
Pastor, how comfortable is life for you in the Williams team at the moment?

Pastor Maldonado:
At the moment we are living hard moments, especially this start to the season has been very hard for us. But working very hard. The spirit is quite high in the team, we are working together as friends, as family, as a real team. We really hope to improve our performance quite soon and hopefully we will be there fighting for good places.

Q:
Does that improve come this weekend or is Spain more realistic?

Pastor Maldonado:
I think we need some time. We've been working hard as I mentioned before but we need some time. The problems we have got are quite big and yeah hopefully step by step we're going to get there.

Q:
Is that frustrating for you as a driver – maybe having to overdrive the performance of the car, putting more pressure on you?

Pastor Maldonado:
Yeah for sure. Sometimes you don't feel very happy, because this is the real situation in the team. But this is racing, you know. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not and we need to do our best when it's like that to try to improve, to try to survive.

Q:
Let's turn to Paul now. An interesting afternoon for you in China. A first-lap collision with your team-mate but a points finish in the end. Have you and Adrian had a chat since Shanghai?

Paul di Resta:
Of course we've had the chat. It wasn't ideal but towards the end of the grand prix we managed to show the speed of the car. We were a bit locked because we were lost track position and I think our strategy was key on track position but I think looking back you can see how strong it was and the rewards was an eighth-place finish. We'll come into here hopefully with high confidence given our performance and how it was in Malaysia as well.

Q:
It was a top-six finish here for you last year and the team are very confident that once again Bahrain could be a good track. Why necessarily is that? And do you agree: is top six possible?

Paul di Resta:
Well, you're never going to say never. Last year was a bit of a key race for us. We tried the two-stop strategy which worked right down to the last corner and I think ran out of tyres and came under extreme pressure at the end. It would obviously be nice to repeat that but you're not going to say that on a Thursday going into a grand prix, given that tyres are the topic. But we'll manage our weekend as best we can and ultimately the end of the grand prix is what makes the difference and that's the key to this weekend because if we score points I think we can say it's a successful start to the campaign before we go to the European season when people start to bring upgrades and don't lose position out of that.

Q:
A good weekend in China for Toro Rosso, Jean-Eric, not necessarily for yourself and once again qualifying didn't go quite the way you hoped. What is it about Saturdays that seem to be quite a struggle for you?

Jean-Eric Vergne:
Well last season it was a problem for me though I think I did improve from the middle of the season to the end. I don't think this year I've had so many problems on Saturday. At least with myself: in Shanghai I did get a problem, something wrong on the car, so that was the reason.

Q:
The Toro Rosso car seems to have potential, seems to have pace. If you can unlock it, then is another weekend like the team had in China possible here in Bahrain?

Jean-Eric Vergne:
Everything is possible! Last year Daniel did P6 in qualifying. The pace he had in qualifying in Shanghai shows we've made a step forward in the race, even though I had a big hole in my floor, I had the same pace as him who finished seventh, so you know everything is really encouraging and hopefully for this weekend we can, I mean once more at least for my car, get everything correct and be in the front. So, two cars in the front would be possible and that will be the target.

Q:
Charles, an interesting development at Caterham this week. Heikki Kovalainen comes back as a Friday driver to the team. Do you welcome his return and his input that he can give yourself and Giedo?

Charles Pic:
Yes, of course I welcome him. I think it's always good to have his advice, he's got a lot of experience so I'm sure he can give us some interesting feedback.

Q:
Something that the team feel is desperately needed at the moment? Some experience just to see how good or how bad the car actually is.

Charles Pic:
I think after the first three races, for sure, we are not happy with where we are at the moment and updates are coming for this race… so it will be quite interesting to see how the car reacts here. We need to progress here.

Q:
And these upgrades you feel will help you take the fight to Marussia? You should be on level terms with them?

Charles Pic:
Yes, of course. It's always really hard to tell what the upgrades will do before running them but normally they should bring something and our job will be to try to optimise the car around them this weekend and get out one hundred percent of the speed on Saturday and Sunday.


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