Full transcript from the FIA hosted qualifying press conference at the Austrian Grand Prix, Round 8 of the 2014 Formula 1 world championship,at Red Bull Ring, featuring top three: pole winner Felipe Massa (Williams), second placed Valtteri Bottas (Williams); and third placed Nico Rosberg (Mercedes).
Felipe, pole for the first time since, I think, Brazil 2008. Describe your emotions now…
Felipe Massa: Yeah, I’m so happy with what’s happened today with us and our team. It was such a great moment. It was already long time when I had my last pole position, which was, yeah, in Brazil, 2008. So, such an incredible moment. For sure we need to concentrate on the race tomorrow, you know, it’s a difficult and important race for us. But I think it’s a great moment. The best place to be is here in the first place. It’s something that I got the chance to be many times in all my career and I am again now. After a long time I couldn’t be in this place and I hope this is just the beginning of maybe some great possibilities to be here again, not just in the qualifying but also in the race. The race is tomorrow but I’m so happy, very emotional – not just for me but I think it’s a similar feeling what I feel and what Williams feel as well. Williams Martini had an incredible career in the past and they are back to the top, they are back to the fight. There is still a lot to do but the work is going on the right line. I’m so pleased for me and for Williams Martini as well.
Coming to you Valtteri. Your best ever Formula One qualifying in second place. You were in provisional pole though, but it looked like a mistake on your last and it ended up very close with Felipe, I believe only nine one hundredths of a second the gap between you…
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah best position so far in my career, so one more place to go. Well done Felipe. I’m really happy for us as a team. This result is really good at this point. We’ve made some big, big steps from last year and now we get a result like this. Of course it’s only Saturday but still we can see that all the hard work really starts to pay off. I’m really happy for us. As Felipe says the race is tomorrow, so we need to focus on that. It’s going to be a different story tomorrow, it’s not going to be easy to keep the Mercedes cars behind for sure, and even some other cars like Ferrari and Red Bull are going to be strong. Yeah, not a bad day today but we just need to keep focused now.
Nico, coming to you now. Championship leader but it’s not the first time that you’ve not been on the front row of the grid. Did you expect to have these two cars in front of you and what happened today for you?
Nico Rosberg: No, of course, I definitely didn’t expect the Williams to be ahead of me today but they did a good job and it just didn’t come together perfectly for me. I also lost out on that last lap because of Lewis spinning in front in the corner, so I couldn’t do that lap. You have to lift off two tenths of a second you know and doing that, to do at least two tenths you have to do three tenths and it’s just… it wouldn’t have been possible to improve on my lap time so I backed out of it. So that definitely cost me today but that’s just the way it is. But still third place is OK, it’s OK to start from there tomorrow and I have a quick car in the race, so I’m still looking forward to it and I’ll make the most of it.
Coming back to you Felipe. Obviously the race tomorrow, but there’s a big football tournament going on at the moment in your home country. I guess though that all eyes will be on you in the early part of tomorrow, what do you expect?
FM: Yeah, I think there is a lot going on in Brazil in this moment so I really expect that we can have a great show, a great show for everybody which is looking, you know the World Cup in Brazil. So I hope the best definitely for the World Cup in Brazil but I hope the best for Brazil. Just before I go to the car my son gave me a little Neymar, a little one, so I bring the little one to the car and I put on the side of my helmet. It was a nice feeling. I’m a great fan of football, so I hope we can have a great World Cup. I know what it is to win at home so I can imagine winning the World Cup at home is like a dream come true, not just for the players but also for everybody which is watching, so I really hope the best for Brazil.
Felipe, it was noticeable this morning in Free Practice Three that you guys were working on qualifying from fairly early on. Was it a real plan here to really focus on qualifying and do the best possible job that you could do here this afternoon?
FM: Well, it was not different, what we was doing this morning compared to the other races. We were doing similar working compared to what we was doing before, so definitely… also the Saturday the qualifying is the main focus y’know, but it was no different to what we did in the other races so… but I mean it’s pretty clear that our car was good, our car was competitive and it shows really a very good performance today and also yesterday since we started, both tyres it shows good performance. And it shows again in the qualifying that definitely we are a little bit surprised – we expect maybe Mercedes to be a little bit heavier, y’know? Just preparing the qualifying to put the right level of fuel and be like they were in the last races. Maybe not a big gap because this is a small track but, yeah, it was a little bit of a surprise – but it was a great job from us. From both of us, from the team, from everybody.
Valtteri, it’s obvious, as Felipe was saying, the car is working well. But it seems this year, your team, when you’ve bought updates to the car, they’ve worked straight away. Obviously the correlation is very good between the wind tunnel and the race track and everything seems to be pointing in the right direction.
VB: That is true. We haven’t been making any bad updates. We’ve always… if we have bought something it has always worked and that has been a big improvement from last year. We can really put all the energy into the right direction, developing parts and knowing that they will work, so, no energy wasted there so that’s good. Like Felipe said, I’m really happy for the result today. For us as a team it’s a great achievement. Of course it’s only Saturday but we are really looking forward for tomorrow, trying to get some really good points with both cars. So, we really just need to focus on that.
Nico, some thoughts from you. Obviously still a good chance for you to win the race tomorrow, taking on these two gentleman here. And also some thoughts on your team-mate who’s going to be starting down in ninth.
NR: Yeah, chances for the race are obviously good from P3. It’s more difficult than starting on the front row, of course, but it’s still a good chance there because I think it’s possible to overtake on this track. First stint, also, the tyres are going to degrade massively on the Option, so already there maybe at the end of the stint there’s a little bit of a chance. And I’ll have a good race car for sure. The balance was not ideal today in qualifying but definitely more a race car. So, in the race I’m sure I’ll be more happy with it. So I look forward to trying to make the most of it. Points-wise also with Lewis starting in ninth, that’s of course for the team not good but for me it’s, yeah, good that way. I need to make the most of it and try to extend the gap tomorrow.
Nico, last race Mercedes didn’t win after six races in a row winning everything. Here, the first competition with qualifying ended with Mercedes not starting again in the first position. It’s just the circumstance of the competition or the opponents are really approaching your team?
NR: It’s a short track here and still we have the fastest car, even today, it’s just that I didn’t get that second lap to give it a go and my first lap, the balance was not good. In general also today my balance was not good because I’d worked more for the race – but I didn’t expect it to be that bad. I didn’t expect to be that uncomfortable. But anyways, not it’s third and for the race I’m sure I’ll have a good car, so, I think that’s a very small view that we’re taking now: two races, no wins, no pole… or no pole now. But I still think we’re dominant and definitely have the fastest car and I hope it’s going to stay like that for some time to come.
Felipe Massa, how does it feel to be starting from the pole position? I think this is the first time since 2008.
FM: Yeah, it’s the first time since 2008. I think it’s always the best feeling we can have. Being the quickest on the track against everybody, it’s always the best feeling a driver can have. A driver always works and fights to achieve this. It’s definitely a great moment, this qualifying. Only, work for tomorrow is very difficult. Long and tough race but, y’know, is a good start.
Felipe, you had a chance to win in Canada last time out and you’ve spoken passionately about the events that happened there since then. Do you think that tomorrow you’ve got a cool head and Williams has got the race pace that you need to make it a win this time and keep Valtteri and Nico etc at bay?
FM: Well, I think that depends on these guys here. We need to try to do the best we can. I think we have a good car, definitely we show a very competitive car since yesterday morning. I think what happened at the last race is past. I think you cannot live the past, we need to live in the present and the future. We lost some opportunity, we lost great points in Canada. Unfortunately we had some problems in the first pit stop when I lost four or five seconds and that put me in a difficult situation for the race but I had incredible pace as well and looking what happened with the Mercedes, it would definitely have been possible to win. I was in front of Ricciardo and he won the race. Normally my pace was also good to fight with… to be in front of him. The race is tomorrow, it’s a different situation, we’re starting in a better position which is always a help and we need to see how Mercedes will be tomorrow in the race but we will try everything we can, definitely.
Felipe, we saw a very touching emotional moment with your wife and son. After all the troubles you had with the accident and the difficult times that came after that, how important was the support of your family all this moment, and what did your son tell you, or what did you feel when you looked at him at that moment?
FM: Actually, I was also very close to my family. When I was a kid, with my father, my mother, my brother, my sister – we were always together at the races. I have always had great support from my family and then after, with my wife, my son now. It’s a great moment. When I saw him, it was just like… he never saw me in first place so it’s the first time. I think that makes the father feel nice, a good feeling, to see that your son is looking that you are in first place so it’s a great feeling, it’s a great moment and for sure, it’s part of my motivation. He’s part of everything I’m doing for my career, so it’s definitely a great feeling. I hope we can have a great race tomorrow as well with him watching and my wife and all my family as well from home.
Valtteri, what influence did the arrival of Pat Symonds have on your team and on the performance of the car?
VB: I think we can see it in the performance. I think the results have shown that he’s been one of the key persons for Williams to come back to closer to the positions where we belong to be in the races. As soon as he arrived, many things started to change and are still changing. Every week, as a team, we are still getting stronger and stronger, so we are definitely on the right way and that is thanks to Pat but also many other people in the team.
Felipe, has the change of team environment to Williams allowed you to find your best form again?
FM: For sure, I had a great time with Ferrari. I’m not a guy who is trying to speak bad about the past. I have had an incredible time in my past and I really enjoy everybody from Ferrari, but I feel that sometimes a change helps. Always when you are in the same place for many years… also I had a difficult moment as well, you know, it was good to have a change. I think it was good for the motivation and everything, so I think it was definitely positive, this change and I really really feel happy with Williams Martini with really great people. I think they work 110 percent, happy, and they really believe in my job, they really believe in what I say and I think that’s really positive. It makes me feel better, it makes me feel nice and it makes me feel very important inside the team.
Valtteri, tomorrow, when you will see green lights, how do you think? You will concentrate not to lose second place or you will try to attack Felipe to the first turn?
VB: I think you always try to do the best you can. I think it really depends how good a start you get and it depends on the situation, what kind of start the other cars around will get and then you see how is the situation but I think both of us, me and Felipe, we really need to just try and do the best we can, try and go as forward as possible after the first corner and the first lap and keep the position as long as possible. We know that Mercedes’ race pace is going to be really really strong so it’s not going to be an easy day tomorrow but we will do our best.
Felipe, it’s the first time that somebody actually beat Mercedes fair and square this season. This actually looked closed, like finished, one or two races ago. Do you think it’s now a new opening, do you think you can handle a big challenge to them or do you think it’s just one track that is very unique and the future will be different? Maybe also Nico can answer this?
FM: Honestly, we cannot forget what Mercedes has been doing up to now. We cannot forget that they didn’t have a clean qualifying as well. For sure, for the moment they are in front. For the moment, they are stronger. I hope, during the championship we can close or maybe can even pass (them). This is what we’re always working for, you know. But I think it’s not enough to say that we are there with Mercedes. I think that for the moment we don’t know. For the moment is maybe this track helps us definitely, but we don’t know. As Valtteri just said, I think we will see a very strong Mercedes tomorrow, so we need to be ready for everything, we need to be ready also that finishing behind them is still an incredible job for us.
NR: I still think we are the quickest team and car at the moment, but we are always keeping a close eye on the opposition and today Williams was definitely close, so we need to keep on pushing. Today was Williams, two races ago it was Red Bull that were getting closer so we need to go for it, but I’m confident that we can keep up the development rate and stay ahead.