Full transcript from the FIA Italian Grand Prix qualifying press conference featuring top three: pole winner Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing), second placed Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing) and third placed Nico Hulkenberg(Sauber)
Sebastian, you’ve got a long history here, how much do you love this place?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, it’s a special track for sure. It’s always nice to come back here. Obviously the memories of 2008 are great. I had another victory in 2011 but I think the first victory is always special. Today I think, or generally this weekend, the car was fantastic so far. I think better than what we could expect. We had a very strong pace yesterday and we were able to take that into the qualifying today. I had two good runs in the end. In the end I think it’s a bit of a surprise to have both cars on the front row at a place where historically we’ve had bad years. Yeah, this year it seems to work well and hopefully we’ll have a good race from where we start tomorrow.
You mentioned historically. How much has the team targeted the performance here?
SV: Well we do target to have the optimum every year. Obviously, some years we were closer and other years we were quite far away. It seems that this year we’re obviously in a very strong position. We’re able to match other cars down the straight and we know that in corners we have a strong car. It’s a nice place, a nice track, very challenging to get the lap right, because you have low downforce on the car, so the car is very light, sliding a little bit here and there. It doesn’t cost us as much probably as in other places but yeah obviously if you try too often to go over the limit there is a big penalty, so, yeah, I think it was a tough session but we managed to get through and get a great result.
Mark, your best qualifying position here and presumably you’re looking to follow it up with a good result as well, your best result here?
Mark Webber: Yeah, exactly. I said to the boys before the session I was looking for a quali PB. It hasn’t been the best track for me, so as your say it’s a nice step towards a very, very good result tomorrow. I’m happy with qualifying, to be up there. It took the old boy a little bit of while to be ready for Q1 but I got there in end, in the sessions where it counted. Actually pretty happy with my laps. Jean-Eric [Vergne] went off in the Parabolica, in the last corner, so I didn’t know if he’d dropped a wheel or if he was continuing on the circuit, so I couldn’t really see with the dust. Obviously then when I got further round I could see he was in the gravel. So a little bit of a tricky finish to the lap but overall it wouldn’t have been enough to get Seb, he did a very good lap. We have a few different people up here as well with us, which is good. It was a bit of a mixed-up session and that can happen at Monza, it’s not an easy track to get right. Looking forward to the race tomorrow.
This is you last European Grand Prix. Is that an emotional moment for you?
MW: Not really. I think Brazil will probably be a little bit more emotional of course, but if I’ve got the tissues out then I’ve made the wrong decision. It’s good that I still enjoy my driving. I’m not too uncompetitive. Just look for a clean weekend and get some very good results in the future in the coming races and that’s got to be my goal. I’m not retiring. I’m stopping from Formula 1, but of course there’s a lot of people that can come and watch me in the Porsche next year at Le Mans and some other races.
Thanks very much. Nico, where did that come from?
Nico Hulkenberg: I don’t know either. Really a nice surprise to ourselves. I didn’t expect it, especially after a very difficult Friday. Yesterday we struggled a lot with the car, we were trying some different bits and bobs, but the guys have done a fantastic job to turn the car around and give me such a competitive car today. It was just that Q1, Q2, Q3 the car just got better and better, I think with the track improvement and with the right decision just to go for one timed lap, fuelled for one timed lap, was the right call. Yeah a burning lap which made this nice surprise happen.
Of course it’s a good circuit for Sauber. They finished second here last year, so what are your hopes for tomorrow?
NH: Yeah, last year is a very different year. Obviously Sauber was very competitive very often last year in races. This year we have been struggling more, we’ve had a more difficult year, let’s put it this way. So I hope that the long run pace is good. From what I could see yesterday it should be all right. I don’t think we can challenge these guys but definitely points are now the target.
Sebastian, your third pole position here and 40th in your career. Tell us about the importance of pole position here. Is it an important pole?
SV: I think pole is always important. It’s the best place to start the race from on Sunday. Especially here, I think it’s important to manage to qualify in the top group, we know the first two chicanes are quite tricky. So, I’m looking forward to start the race from pole tomorrow, focus on the start and then we’ll see where we get. But it’s a long race, we’ve seen in the past that there’s a lot of things that can happen. A good example of how quickly things can change last year, I think Sergio [Pérez] had a fantastic race and coming through with an opposite strategy so yeah, race pace is very important but surely today we did our homework with qualifying, P1 and P2.
Mark, yesterday we saw a margin of six-tenths of a second. We saw a margin of six-tenths again this morning. Do you feel that you’ve got some of that back?
MW: To Seb? Yeah, the lap time looks like it. It’s down to two. It’s not quite there but it was still a session which I was pretty happy with because to qualify in second position is good. Seb’s strong here, quick in Monza. He’s not slow here so it’s not… it’s a bit of an opposite circuit for me so certainly happy to have a PB in quali and I’ll do my best tomorrow. In general looking forward towards the race tomorrow. The big clutch behaving itself in a good fashion, hopefully it should be OK, then we’re going to get a good start to the race in terms of the first few laps and settle in for the afternoon.
Nico, possibility of showers tomorrow. What would you like?
NH: I think I’d like it to stay dry to be honest. I think that would be the easier option but we’ll take it as it comes. We haven’t run in wet or inter conditions so it will be new to everyone. Obviously more challenging but I’m open-minded.
Complimenti Sebastian; are you happy to have the first Ferrari engine in Nico Hulkenberg’s car than one of the works cars? How important is it not to have the Ferrari there?
SV: I think today it was obviously all about preparing for the race, getting the best position. As I said, in this regard we got our job done but the main job comes up tomorrow so we will see. The races are long, a lot of things can happen so I don’t know. I think Felipe is P4 so I think Ferrari was strong in every race this year in terms of race pace so they will be strong tomorrow as well. I think their long run looked quite competitive; I don’t know what they have done exactly in terms of fuel loads but I’m sure they have the pace and the ability to come through. Equally, I wish that Nico stays there, first of all for him and for his team, to have a strong result and secondly, obviously, it would do me no harm in terms of the championship. But first of all, I have to finish in front of him.
To both Red Bull drivers: what is your strategy tomorrow for the start, as Nico is quite close to you?
SV: I think the usual: accelerate as quick as we can, try to get a good start. Partly it’s in our hands, literally, with the clutch and then our feet, but also it depends on how well we set up the start, how accurate we are. I think we’ve worked a lot in the past, we’ve had some very good starts, we’ve had some not so good starts. You never know what you get, but we’re both, I think, hoping for the best launch.
Mark, have you solved the problem with the clutch, do you feel you’re on top of it?
MW: (I’m) The wrong guy to ask. But anyway, there’s always a guy third on the grid, it’s Nico or whoever. We can’t start one and two and then have a fifty meter gap. He’s third because he did a good job. Nico or someone else, it doesn’t matter. We focus on ourselves really. That’s it.
Sebastian, there was a strange phrase by Fernando on the radio and it seemed to be against the team. Do you believe he’s getting nervous and nervous in the fight against you?
SV: Today? I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t what they… Maybe they had a problem. Obviously they were quite competitive this morning in the beginning of qualifying, I think it was very close at the end of qualifying to be fair. Obviously I fortunately had a bit of a gap but I think everyone behind Nico was quite close to each other. I don’t know, maybe they had some problem.
Nico, the drivers’ market is very sensitive at this moment, especially concerning the teammate of Alonso. You have put in a greater performance then Ferrari; do you think it can influence Ferrari’s decision to take you?
NH: I can only influence it by performing very well and obviously today’s result is not the worst. For me it’s just important to focus on my competitiveness and my performance and that will make the rest easier but probably the timing is not the worst at this moment.