Press conference.

Q:
Sergio, how did things go for you today? What are your first impressions?

Sergio Perez:
I think it was a good day. I felt comfortable towards the end of the session. Tomorrow I need to improve a bit more. Apart from this I think it is a good first day and hopefully tomorrow can go the same way.
Q:
This is your first grand prix, although I am sure you have been to grands prix before with GP2 et cetera, what is your first impression of it?

SP:
It is very tough, it is very difficult to get the most out of it with the traffic, with the tyres, with all the things you have to be moving which I was not used to. In GP2 you do not have to move anything like this. It is very critical not to get everything right for just one lap but to be consistent as well, so it is quite a big step but overall I am comfortable.
Q:
What's the most different thing from GP2 for you?

SP:
I would say the amount of things you do have. Not only inside of the car, out of the car you have also a lot of people around you. You have to be very focused to be right and don't do any mistakes as it is very easy to do mistakes. You are very busy moving a lot of things on the steering wheel which I was not used to. You have to worry about the tyres, it is a big package. It is not only one thing, I think it is a bigger picture.
Q:
Obviously a good time today.

SP:
Yes, today was good day for me.
Q:
Paul, you were also quicker than your team-mate as well. Your feelings about today?

Paul di Resta:
Again, it is quite difficult to come to your first grand prix. I obviously sat out FP1. Nico (Hulkenberg) was in the car and session two was quite tricky with the weather. Also the traffic, just trying to get some clear laps to give me a good idea going into tomorrow. I think it was quite positive. We ran through the programme we had to so we will certainly need to sit down and analyse it and try just to improve upon myself where I think most of the time will be.
Q:
As you say, you sat out the morning session. That must have been quite difficult but on the other hand you had your morning session a year ago.

PdiR:
Yeah, the morning session is a bit different. It gives you a bit more time. When you go out with all these guys and they are all up to speed a bit quicker, you obviously have to pace yourself a bit. But it is my first grand prix so I have to work from the bottom and try and work my way to the top. Every lap around Melbourne is key. You can quite easily make a mistake. I had to get through the programme going into tomorrow.

Q:
How different for you is Formula One this year from last year?

PdiR:
It is quite different. Thankfully I was able to go to all the grands prix last year and also take part in some of the testing in FP1 so it is not that new to me. But at the same time there is extra pressure, extra demands on you as a race driver. But you know what the case is when you take this job. I want to stay very focussed and put the effort in and keep a long-term relationship in Formula One and also with the team.
Q:
A lot of people would say you were a touring car driver and now you are a single seater driver. That perhaps is over-extending it, but how different are the cars?

PdiR:
They are quite different, there is no denying it. But Formula One has always been my dream to get here. It is the car I want to drive. You can't really compare them. They are both at a different level. Equally I enjoyed racing DTM with Mercedes-Benz. I had four great years there. I think it has prepared me well but this step is also very big and only time will tell how the transition is. But relatively, up until now, I feel quite confident, quite comfortable. I need to put a lot of effort in and work up.
Q:
Jerome, how was today for you. It seemed to be fairly simple but not necessarily, particularly quick at the moment?

Jerome D'Ambrosio:
Well it was a good day for us. Obviously we need to work hard. It is not easy, but we made progress throughout the day and for us in this situation the most important thing in the end is to get better every time we hit the track. That was our case between the two sessions. I believe it will be the case also for tomorrow so this is the main thing really.
Q:
This is your first full season of Formula One, but you have driven Formula One cars quite a lot haven't you?

JD'A:
About four morning sessions last year and then the Abu Dhabi rookie days. That was some experience. It was good for me to get up to speed in the winter testing. Last year I didn't know the buttons and the steering wheel. It is quite complicated with Formula One. But then a race weekend is obviously very different. It is something new. Being quick over a test day is not the same thing. I have got many things to learn from Timo (Glock) so I am really lucky to have him beside me this year so I can learn a lot.
Q:
You did the Renault demonstrations as well?

JD'A:
Yes.
Q:
Which must have been fun anyway?

JD'A:
That was fun. That was donuts things. Now I know how to do donuts in a Formula One car, but hopefully I won't have to use it in a grand prix weekend.
Q:
How much of a worry is the 107 per cent rule as you were outside of that today?

JD'A:
Well it is really nothing I should worry about as that is not going to be anything productive. The only thing I can do, and we all can do as a team, is to focus on getting the best out of what we have now. We will progress and we will get better but for now, for this weekend, we just have to focus on getting the best out of the package and that is the only thing which will bring us to a result that will hopefully be in the 107.
Q:
Your aim for the season?

JD'A:
It is difficult to give an aim in terms of results or points or things like that, quite concrete. There is a lot of data missing for that. I think for me I need to learn a lot from Timo and get as close to him as possible through the season. Get closer and closer and that's the main things really.
Q:
Sebastian, World Champion of course. How have things changed for you in 12 months.

Sebastian Vettel:
Well in terms of how I approach the first race nothing has changed. It is Friday afternoon, it is a very busy day and I cannot be in the garage now, I have to be here so potentially it is the worst possible moment of the weekend to answer your question unless you can answer me which ratios we put in the car or those sorts of things. But as I said in terms of approach, how you come here, what you want to achieve, nothing has changed. Looking back it makes me very happy and very proud. I think that is the same for everyone in the team as well. We enjoy where we are at the moment, but we know as well we have zero points at this stage just like everybody else.
Q:
Looking at the various changes in Formula One. First of all the tyres, how different are the two types of tyres after today's sessions.

SV:
Well they are different. I think it was good finally to come here and start the season and race on a different track. All winter we have been in Barcelona and I think we know it inside out and we know exactly what the tyres do. Today we were, I wouldn't say surprised, but in a way probably surprised as the tyre behaviour is different. No doubt compared to last year the tyres are different. You cannot compare. There is a big difference. But I think we expected worse conditions here in terms of how long the tyres last et cetera. I think this morning and this afternoon was quite useful and helped us understand what to do in the race on Sunday. So far I think it is positive. Still we cannot race with one stop only. I think we have to come in a couple of times so ultimately we will find out on Sunday if the track improves or not as it is also something we have seen in the test. In four days running the track does not rubber in so we will see how it is here, different tarmac, different track, different lay-out, different conditions but so far we are positively surprised.
Q:
What about the Drag Reduction System. It was very interesting watching you how much you use the DRS in one lap today.

SV:
Well I think it is not just me it is all the others as well.
Q:
No, I don't think so. I think you used it more than anyone.

SV:
Yeah, I don't think the others need to wake up. We said it often enough that it works in a similar manner to the F-Duct and surely it keeps us busy. Melbourne is a rough track with a lot of bumps, lot of corners and you really feel the speed here in some corners and you don't have much time between the corners. Everything is following up quickly so it keeps you busy. Similar to the F-Duct, you try to work on it as soon as you can to try to get the biggest benefit. I would be surprised if everyone else is much later operating it. I think that is partly what we have been talking about pre-season and not all of us yet probably do understand. As you can see and as you said it was the first time a lot of people got to see it. Qualifying and practice is very different to a race as in a race ideally you use it once a lap or maybe twice, but you know where and how so it is quite different to practice conditions.
Q:
How do you balance using that with using KERS as well?

SV:
Yes, you have to do that on top so there is no real balance. Either you do both...

Q:
Have you got enough thumbs?

SV:
It is up to us, the teams and drivers to find a lay-out that suits you. Nevertheless whatever part you use or if you use your thumb, another finger. Elbow hasn't come in yet. But you need to find a way according to your liking. It depends or it varies between the drivers. Just practice and get used to it. But I think all of us, you are very busy, with both of those things plus driving. Now imagine the phone rings, then the next wall is very close.

Q:
Nick, good to see you but in sad circumstances. I believe you have something on your helmet to acknowledge Robert?

Nick Heidfeld:
Yes, I have his initials, RK, on the front of my helmet.

Q:
It was obviously a late change for you to take over his seat. You were obviously working with Pirelli before then as a test driver; how much of an advantage was that?

NH:
Well, I think one thing that could have been an advantage was that I helped in the early part of development on the construction, so at least that should have been something that suited me well. I wasn't there when they developed the compounds and what I found out in testing was that I had no advantage at all in knowing how to set up the car, because you can imagine that when you develop a tyre you don't try adjusting the set-up, you just put on new tyres, new tyres, new tyres all the time and we didn't actually touch the set-up.

Q:
So how did things go today?

NH:
It was OK. It could have been better, could have been worse. We had some small issues on the car, didn't do all the mileage we wanted but most importantly we learned quite a bit. You spoke about the tyres before with Sebastian; I also thought it was quite interesting. From testing in the winter we thought the soft tyres would only last one lap. I did my quickest lap here today on the second lap; the third lap wasn't too bad either so this hopefully makes qualifying a bit less of a problem, because we will see more pit stops. And then on top of that, we see that the lap time difference between hard and soft tyres is quite big, huge - at least, compared to last year. That means that maybe only the very quick cars like the Red Bull may be able to use the hard tyres and save some soft tyres, but most other cars will already have to use soft tyres in Q1 to get through. That means that you only have two sets left for later on which you might also have to use in the race, so it makes things very different, quite interesting and complicated.

Q:
And obviously if you get through to Q3, you're probably going to be on soft tyres, you've got to start the race on soft tyres.

NH:
Yes, definitely. It's the same as last year. Of course they will last a bit longer but I don't think that is the big issue; the big question is how many stops is it after that? On simulations, in winter testing in Barcelona, we've seen most cars and people doing three stops but you also saw that their lap times became quite slow towards the end of the stint. That was just to find out where the limit is. So it might be that in a real race situation you would have seen four stops. That, again, will be interesting to see. Today's degradation was obviously a lot better but it should spice up the racing. It will be interesting to see how difficult it is to overtake during the race. It's going to be new for everybody.

Q:
And also there's the possibility of better weather on Saturday, increased track temperatures as well. How much of a difference will that make?

NH:
Nobody knows, because it wasn't that hot in winter testing. Some people believe that with higher temperatures we will see the circuit improving and the rubber sticking to the surface for once. Now we just see marbles off-line, which might also make overtaking more difficult, but as Sebastian said, throughout winter testing the circuit was pretty much the same from day one to the end.

 

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