Transcript from the post interviews on qualifying day for the Hungarian Grand Prix, Round 11 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, at Hungaroring near Budapest.
Featuring top three: pole winner Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), second placed Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and third placed Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes).
Grid interviews conducted by Will Buxton
Sebastian tell us about your run to pole…
Sebastian Vettel: It was important to have the car in the right window, to have the sun shining, to have people around, that’s what it is about, so it was really big fun. Obviously a front row for us, which is incredible and now we are looking forward to tomorrow.
Yeah, no, front row in front of all the Ferrari fans, the flags waving in the grandstands. What changed overnight, between yesterday and today?
SV: Nothing. We are working hard. Obviously the last race wasn’t great for us, but it doesn’t matter now. We are here and try to do the best and that’s what matters. Really step by step and I am very happy with where we are as a team. Again, we need to remember where we were 12 months ago and where we are now. Also thanks to the support, people believing in us. It’s great to get the result also on Saturday, but as I said, the main task comes tomorrow so nothing won today but sure we are very happy and take it to move forward.
Kimi, that was a superb lap, absolutely sensational. Listen to all you fans, massive fan base in from Finland. How good did that lap feel?
Kimi Raikkonen: Actually not too good. The start was good and the end was not too bad but in the chicane I braked on the outside kerb and got loose and really threw it away there but you know, it was decent enough for second place but it is disappointing. I felt I had it quite comfortably but you know I couldn’t really finish.
Is it too easy to say that this is a track naturally should have suited Ferrari?
KR: If you purely looked at lap times, yes, but then if you look from yesterday it wasn’t the easiest day and today we have definitely been pretty happy with things. I managed to improve my car for the qualifying and I must say we are happy with how they are handling now. So far, so good but tomorrow is going to be a long race and a hard battle, so we have to keep it going.
Valtteri, lots of Finnish flags. A great lap, phenomenal job. How hard has it been for you guys to take the fight to Ferrari today?
Valtteri Bottas: They’ve been quick all weekend and coming into qualifying we knew it should be close and they will be tough to beat and they really had the upper hand today. They had a quicker car, so they have clearly got everything right for this track and we still have work to do on circuits like this, but you know, let’s see tomorrow.
Are you guys on the back foot a little bit this weekend?
VB: This weekend, yes, clearly. We can see that we are not performing as we should, as we want, so that just highlights that we still have work to do with the car. But now we are focusing for the race tomorrow, because it’s going to a long one and still anything is possible.
Seb, you lead the championship by one point, summer break starts tomorrow. Is it going to be, well, 25 points tomorrow? How big is that gap going to be?
SV: Not by my count: summer break starts on Monday. Not even that, we have the test next week. Numbers… I was decent I would say in maths in school but yeah it’s way too early. We go racing; we go flat out. That’s what we have been doing for the first races and that’s what we keep doing. I think that’s the only way to succeed. Certainly we have a lot of boost from people here, at home and in Italy, you know, it can’t be better than that and the main thing is to enjoy.
Sebastian, your 48th pole. It looked a pretty seamless session from where we were sitting, how was it for you?
SV: Seamless? Well, it was seamless in terms of we didn’t have any problems. I felt quite good straight away from Q1 onwards, we did the laps that we had to do and then come Q3 I was fairly confident… you always debate about small things you can do with the car. I was very happy with the first run. I knew there was still a little bit, so I went flat out on the second attempt and I was a little bit faster, it felt like I was faster, but then I arrived in the last sector and I think I asked a bit too much of the tyres beforehand and lost it, sort of, all in three corners and did the same time. So then I didn’t know. I looked up and I didn’t know who was coming behind me because there was a bit of time. I was very happy with the first lap. I think the second could have been a little bit better. The car was phenomenal. And then when I saw it was two red in the first two positions then obviously… the same time, simultaneously the radio opened and there was a big scream. So, really nice. Obviously it is only Saturday, so nothing to get from today other than the best position but we did that and it’s great I think, especially after… there’s always a lot of talk but the talk after the last race was a bit too much so it’s good to give the answer on the track. I’m just happy, as I said. I really like the track. The car was fantastic today and it was really a pleasure to just go round.
Kimi, it is a Ferrari front-row lock-out. You came on the radio at one point and said you were unhappy with your braking, so was there more to come from you? Had you been happier with the car?
KR: No, in the end it was OK. Obviously when you lock the front, it’s not ideal but there is nothing wrong with anything, it’s just you try to always find a better way of driving and doing things, so it’s a very normal thing to discuss stuff like that. I was pretty happy with the last apart from going into the chicane, I dropped the wheels on the left kerb and got sideways. I lost an awful lot of lap time. I really felt I had a good chance to put it in first place but anyhow it was decent enough for second place, so obviously great for the team. But it is only Saturday. We have a long way to go tomorrow, both cars, and we try to keep the positions and see what happens.
Valtteri, Mercedes were seeking their third consecutive front row lock-out here in Hungary. It hasn’t happened. How surprised have you and the team been by the pace of the guys sat alongside you?
VB: I definitely think today, all-day, Ferrari has been just too quick for us. We saw in the practice the times they were doing: after that we were expecting a tricky qualifying but I think, y’know, it felt like we got most out of it, more or less but just they were quicker today and yesterday it was looking a bit better for us, so, yeah, today was a little bit surprising but it just shows that we definitely have work to do. Tracks like that that requires the maximum downforce of the car, we seem to be struggling a bit more, for one reason or another. So, just need to keep working.
Sebastian, of course from here the aim must be victory – but you haven’t had a clean race since the Monaco Grand Prix. So which is more important: having victory tomorrow or having a clean race at last before the summer break?
SV: Well, if you say the last clean race was Monaco, it ended in a victory so… I don’t know. Chances are good, we start at the front, they couldn’t be any better but tomorrow is a long day. It’s hot, it’s always hot here. It’s tough for tyres. We saved a set compared to the others. We’ll see. I think the race is long and a lot of things to look out for so… yeah. A clean race is a good race and then we’ll see which result we get.
Question to all drivers. Since 2005 there is a tendency here, if you win the Hungarian Grand Prix, you will be not the champion at the end of the year. What do you think about this?
SV: I don’t know what happened in 2004?
Michael Schumacher won here…
SV: 2003? I don’t know. Statistics! I think if you ask us, we all want to win tomorrow. That’s it.
Kimi, Valtteri, anything to add?
VB: No. Nothing to add, we all want to win tomorrow.
KR: I’ll happily take it. See what happens.
Valtteri, the car was lacking a little bit here in the supersoft tyres but how was it on the soft tyres in the long runs?
VB: I think long runs seemed OK but it seemed OK also for Ferrari and actually Red Bull, so at least what we could see from the practice long runs, all three teams were really consistent actually. So, yeah, that’s why today in Budapest is always important but yeah, I’m sure we can still fight for… trying to gain position, trying to win the race. That’s still the goal although it’s not going to be easy because it’s consistent pace between the teams.
This question’s for Valtteri and Kimi. Both of you have had some interesting interactions with some young fans. What does it feel like having that kind of support from the smallest of F1 fans?
VB: yeah, so y’know, I saw the picture of this guy. I’ve never had that kind of fan: face painted, hair painted blue. Just wanted to cheer him up. The boy was in the wheelchair as well. The team managed to find his parents and that was really cool. I’ve never seen the reaction of a fan like that, so it made my day really, also meeting him.
Kimi, you remember back to the Spanish Grand Prix?
KR: Yeah, obviously it was a sad moment at first, so not very happy memories of the first part but then the second part cheered me up and cheered up the little guy and his family up a lot, so obviously it was great. Can’t expect to happen every time, just by luck it all went like that, I guess. It’s great if we can please somebody. Had quite a hard time with me going out so, yeah, it turned out to be OK and that’s the main thing.
Question to all drivers. The qualifying, we were in 56°C in the asphalt. It seems to be it will be a challenge to keep the tyres for tomorrow. Ferrari at the beginning of the season had an advantage on that. Comment of all drivers, Mercedes and Ferrari.
SV: Yeah, I think your question is also a good summary. I have not that much to add. It’s been really close. Tomorrow will be largely unknown because we didn’t get much yesterday. We got a glimpse but there was a lot of red flags so nobody could really do what they wanted to do. So we’ll see. We’ll see how it works. Obviously first we focus on the start and then we see how the race goes – but really happy with the car today. The balance was better than yesterday. I don’t see why it should change for tomorrow. It was hotter today than yesterday and yeah, I think we were coping quite well with that. Should be OK – but yeah, for sure it will be the main challenge tomorrow to survive longer than the others in better shape.
Kimi, anything to add about the balance of your car and the track temperature?
KR: No, that’s perfect.
OK, Valtteri, how about the Mercedes?
VB: Well, can’t say it was absolutely perfect but for sure it’s going to be more tricky tomorrow than the long runs we did yesterday – but that’s going to be the same for everyone. I think us, as a team, we have improved since some of the struggles we’ve had in hotter temperatures, it’s gone in a bit better direction. Tomorrow will be a good test for that.
Kimi and Sebastian: F1 teams will have two days of testing at the Hungaroring next week. So how important will those days be for Ferrari in terms of upgrades and in terms of fighting with Mercedes during the second half or the season?
KR: Obviously it’s important. We don’t get an awful lot of track time so you can do simulations and stuff like that but when you get track time, it’s definitely the best option and obviously we have two days so we will see what we come up with and what we try and find out but it’s definitely helpful and we can obviously have a bit more freedom and time to try things and learn about certain things.
To all three: given how difficult it is to overtake here and recent history at starts, how much risks are you all prepared to take in the first few moments of the race?
VB: Yeah, it is one of the most difficult circuits to overtake, that’s for sure. So yeah, the start will be important. It’s quite a slow speed corner, turn one, high braking so normally you can see places being exchanged so for sure, trying to gain if there’s any possibility.
KR: Obviously, if you could chose, you would take the left hand side but I don’t think it’s really going to destroy your day, it’s more about making a good start rather than which side you are and try to do that and see what happens in the first few corners.
SV: Well, it’s not the first start for us. I think we’ve been there… I think we all focus on the start and then you have to react from there, it’s impossible to predict. I think we’ve had good starts, especially this weekend so let’s see tomorrow.
To all three of you: all of you have been doing spectacular lap times today, in fact Sebastian broke the lap record from 2004 by more than two seconds, so could you please describe how much more spectacular it feels from the car to drive on a twisty circuit like this so much quicker than before? And in which corners is the most spectacular compared to last year?
SV: Well, it feels great, I think we always want to go faster so… we always want more so it’s good to know and to feel that the cars are fast, certainly faster than they’ve ever been so that’s great, also in terms of power, I think we’re getting there so it’s quite nice. Biggest differences I would say is that you tend to gain everywhere but braking, I think, is a big difference and then talking specifically about corners, obviously you’ve got the high speed (turns) four and eleven and I think also the fact that they resurfaced for last year helps, especially in turn five. Eight and nine are less bumpy so you can extract the grip a little bit more. Yeah, it’s always nice to go fast.
Kimi, you were in Formula One back in those… the halcyon era of 2004; how does this compare?
KR: Obviously very difficult to compare. I think the biggest improvement comes from resurfacing the circuit and it improved the grip like in Austria. It’s very smooth and a lot of grip. Obviously the cars are faster this year than last year but no way to compare. It feels very normal for us because we get used to it. Done it for a lot of races that are actually a lot faster circuits so it’s not suddenly like… even if the lap time is a lot faster, it doesn’t feel like… it just feels normal.
VB: Yeah, definitely it is quick like all the circuits; all the corners this year are pretty much quicker so you always enjoy it more, especially turn four and eleven here is impressively quick and I like it.