1 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)
2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
3 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)
(Conducted by Jenson Button)
Q: Seb, well that was sublime. It’s lovely to watch.
Sebastian VETTEL: It’s better to drive, I tell you…
Q: That’s your first pole position in 17 grands prix. Can you believe it? I can’t believe it!
SV: Well, he’s bloody good in qualifying, hard to crack. Yeah, I’m full of adrenaline, to be honest. You know, with the feeling in the car, when it just keeps coming and you feel the grip and you go for it. That was one of those laps. So, really, really, really nice, and I really enjoyed it. So yeah, very happy, very happy for the team. The last weeks, the last 17 races! No, the last weeks have been quite tough.
Q: Obviously the big day is tomorrow. How did the long run pace go yesterday? It looked tricky for everyone – but do you think you’ve got the race pace to really back-up what you’ve just done today?
SV: It was awful! Today the car was a lot better. We take that into tomorrow. Obviously we also avoid the red tyre, the soft tyre, in the race tomorrow because we managed to go through with the yellow tyre, with the medium. So yeah, good day, the car felt good and I think we can carry that into the race. These guys will be very quick over the distance, but we’ll try to win it.
Q: Lewis, congratulations, I’m sure you’re a little bit disappointed. Having pole taken away from you by a small margin around a circuit that you are just exceptional on – but as Seb just said, racing could be a little bit different for them tomorrow. They struggled quite a lot on tyres, whereas you guys looked fantastic on your long runs.
Lewis HAMILTON: Honestly, I don’t know for whatever reason but I don’t particularly feel disappointment. I think we gave it everything we could. They were just quicker. Particularly that last sector: they were killing us. I think there’s something like four-tenths or five-tenths on the straight – but I did everything I could and we did everything we could. I think the timing was right, our procedures were perfect, so thoroughly happy with the job. Obviously we had P1 for a second – but we knew they were quick. But this is good. This is how racing should be. I’m glad that I was able to split the Ferraris and yeah, tomorrow, it’s going to be interesting. The weather’s fantastic. We’ve got a great group of fans sat here so hopefully we can put on a good show tomorrow.
Q: Charles, first of all, lovely to meet you properly. All weekend, you’ve been on it, you’ve been pushing Seb all the way in every session. It wasn’t quite there in Q3. What would you put that down to?
Charles LECLERC: I don’t really know to be honest. I struggled with the car, I think with the set-up maybe. I felt quite good with Q1 but then I didn’t felly follow the track, when the track was getting better, so I need to work on that, on the set-up and try to have the right set up for the final Q3 time. I struggled today in Q3 – but congratulations to Seb. He completely deserves it and hopefully we’ll have a better race on my side tomorrow.
Q: Tomorrow is going to be an exciting race. I watched your long-run pace on the medium tyre, which looked very strong – so does that give you some confidence going into the race tomorrow?
CL: Yeah, definitely. We were quite strong on the long-run pace and hopefully tomorrow is the same and we can have a good battle from there.
Q: Sebastian, many congratulations, it’s been a while. How much of a shot in the arm is this result for you and the team?
SC: A shot in the arm? Is that how…. I don’t know the saying. I translates really weirdly to German, like a mistake! Yeah, it feels much better than a short in the arm! Obviously a great day. As you said, it’s been a while and mostly for the team I think the last couple of races have been quite tough. So coming here and showing a stronger form than we had in the last races is positive. Obviously we knew that the track in a way would suit us, but still, you know, we have to do the job and the car felt better and better throughout qualifying. Not easy with the interruption with the red flag. Yeah, I’m still full of adrenaline. I’m really happy; I really enjoyed it. I wish I could do it again just for the fun of it. I had to pace myself in the first two corners because getting the tyres to grip up wasn’t straightforward but after that it was just a joy. The car was shouting ‘keep going, keep going!’ and yeah, really enjoyed it. I wasn’t quite sure if Lewis is improving. Normally he’s pretty handsome or p[retty good around here…
SV: Pretty handy is what I wanted to say, but there you go, handsome as well. Look at him! Yeah, so I wasn’t sure it was enough but then they screamed on the radio ‘pole position’ and yeah, just amazing. I really enjoyed it. Obviously it’s only part of the job and the main thing will be tomorrow. It will be a very long race and difficult to fight and keep them off but from where we start I think it looks like a god race.
Q: What were your expectations coming into this weekend?
SV: I didn’t really have any to be honest. In the last qualifying sessions in particular we lost ground, so I was hoping that we could be quicker and closer, because the gap was quite big. I think we had so many sessions where it was looking good. At the last races as well, if you take Baku, if you take Monaco, where Charles was very fast on Saturday morning. But then in qualifying, Mercedes, and particularly Lewis, always seemed to be able to step up and we couldn’t keep up. So I didn’t really expect that much so I really just wanted to enjoy it and make sure my laps were alright and that was the case. If you then get pole then obviously all the better.
Q: Lewis, how surprised were you by the pace of the man on your left?
LH: Not surprised. I think obviously all weekend they’ve had really great pace and for a large part of it they were six tenths up on the straights. So we fought so hard throughout the weekend to make improvements. I’m actually really happy for Seb, he clearly did a really great lap. My first lap was really good and it felt great for a second to be on pole, particularly as I missed all of P2 yesterday, so quite far behind starting today but it’s been a real solid day from us. Obviously the last sector – I think you can now start writing that they have the party mode. I don’t know who said we had the party mode in the beginning. End-of-straight speed was particularly where we lost out in the last sector but nonetheless hopefully the race will be close. It’s great to be able to split the Ferraris, so hopefully we’ll have a close battle tomorrow.
Q: You apologised to the team over the radio on your slow down lap. Were you referring to anything in particular or was it just frustration?
LH: It wasn’t frustration it’s just, you know, the team rely on me. It was a good lap but it was not good enough obviously. I had two really solid laps, no mistakes and I’m generally really happy with the job I did, but of course you can go back to the drawing board and say there’s always going to be a little bit more time in it but I don’t think I had two-and-a-half tenths, what they had or whatever it was. We just have to keep pushing, keep fighting. We’re still in a strong position. But I think this is great for racing anyway. I think this is what we and what the fans want, to see us so close. If you looks at the top 15 or something there was around a second between us all. That’s really great to see. Everyone’s so close at this track and hopefully that provides good racing tomorrow.
Q: Charles, coming on to you. It seemed that the performance dropped away a little bit as the session went on. How was it for you?
CL: Yeah, definitely – and this is a point I need to work on, to try to set up the car, especially for Q3. In Q1, the car felt quite good – then Q2 a bit worse and then Q3 it slipped away and I also did some mistakes. So, yeah, I need to understand from where it comes to just try to anticipate the track evolution and have the car at its best in Q3. But yeah, it’s my fault and I need to work on that to make it better.
Q: How did the 25 minute red flag affect you and your flow and approach to Q3?
CL: This, I guess, is the same for everyone at the end. But no, it didn’t affect me. We just had to wait, so we had a bit more time to look at data and then we went back on track.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Seb, we heard your emotional reaction over the radio as you celebrated pole, and obviously can see that you’re still buzzing now. How was that feeling when you found out you were on P1. Was it just excitement, or relief, or anything compared to how it’s been at the start of the season. And Lewis, you’re also in very good spirits despite obviously missing out on pole. You talked before about wanting to have more competition. Would you prefer it if – and obviously you’d want it the other way around – would you prefer if you could have Ferrari this competitive at other races as well?
SV: To be honest, just excited. I think, y’know, this is one of the tracks where you need to dare going very close to the walls in many places. It’s very bumpy, it’s very rough and, if you get it right, it feels great. So, I think I got it quite right and yeah, then you finish the lap and you’re full of adrenaline. Obviously I saw that I was a big chunk down and improving when I crossed the line. Then I was looking up and I didn’t know who was coming behind, and then I heard them screaming ‘pole position’, so, it was just pure joy. Mixed with the adrenaline. I don’t know, I’m not a singer but I was screaming quite hard.
LH: I didn’t say congratulations, so congratulations – though I did say it downstairs. As I said, I think this is fantastic for the sport. I love to fight with another team and today it was just so close. I had no idea where we were going to be; at some stages they were ahead of us and we were swapping all the way. I hope this is a turning point for them and this is going to be very close from now on and we get to have a really serious battle throughout the season. That’s be fantastic.
Q: (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) Question for both Ferrari drivers. Yesterday, apart from the ultimate lap time it didn’t look too great for you. You were good in the last sector, where top speed is key – but in the other two sectors I think Mercedes were faster. Today, you were faster in every sector. Is it just because the track ramped up – or did you find something overnight? Change something dramatic in your set-up?
SV: I think yesterday was difficult to judge because not everybody had a smooth session. I mean, Lewis, for most of the session, didn’t take part. So, practice is always difficult. The key is that we were able to improve the car, on the one hand, I think the track ramping up also helped us in that regard, so yeah, I don’t know how quick we were relative to the others in the sectors. What mattered, obviously, is that when we crossed the line, that we were faster. Quite pleased with how the car worked today.
Charles, anything to add?
Q: (Yhacbel Lopez – Motorlat) To the Ferrari drivers: this pole could be a turnaround of the season for Ferrari?
SV: Well, I don’t know, I’m not a fortune teller. I can’t look in the future so I don’t know. The last races were in Abu Dhabi. Maybe you come to Abu Dhabi and ask again whether this was the turning point. I hope I can give you a yes then but I don’t know. It’s a long way, long season, lots of different tracks, different challenges. I think we know still that we have to catch up. This track maybe favours us a bit more. We had more top speed in all the tracks so far. This is a track where top speed is a bit more relevant, not too many corners so we will see. The team is certainly pushing very hard, the whole of Maranello is throwing everything at it that they can to try and give us a better car and make better races to come.
CL: He’s saying everything I want to say so nothing to add, really.
SV: You start next time.
Q: (Omar Alvarez – Graining.es) My question is…
SV: Your website is called graining? Like raining or graining.
Q: (Omar Alvarez – Graining.es) Graining.
SV: You’re sponsored by Pirelli or…?
Q: (Omar Alvarez – Graining.es) Yes, and my question is precisely about that. Are you expecting the tyres for tomorrow, your sets are going to be working as well as today?
SV: I’m quite happy that we managed to qualify in Q2 on the medium compound so we should be a bit better off tomorrow because the soft was quite poor yesterday with lots of graining so we will see, we will see how it goes tomorrow. It’s still a long race, a lot of laps.
LH: More about graining. They only write about graining, right?
Q: (Les Kiser – speedcity Sirius XM) I was going to ask about the life expectancy of the tyres. You looked very confident through those laps, even when they were sliding it was like you were up on things, on your toes and you were managing it. Will you be able to do that through the entire lifespan of those tyres?
SV: No, you won’t, because there’s always a peak of the tyre, especially on that soft compound. It obviously gives you the highest grip but doesn’t last particularly long, but as I said, for tomorrow obviously we are able to start on the medium tyre and then hopefully go a lot longer so we will see what to do after that. Usually it’s not so nice when you get graining so hopefully we can stay away from that.
Q: (Michelangelo Choppi – La Voce Euro Canada USA) Sebastian and Lewis, do you think you can start from the position and you can win like last year and make a big victory for the ninety years of Scuderia Ferrari? And for Lewis, do you think if you start in second place you can try to do something at the beginning and try to win the race tomorrow?
SV: For sure. Obviously there’s a reason why we were able to put the car on pole position today. Looking forward to tomorrow, it will be a very very close battle. We know our strengths, we know our weaknesses. Obviously we are very quick down the straights, let’s assume not so easy to pass but we will see. It’s a long race, we know that in terms of pace it will be very very close and we need a perfect race tomorrow to fight for the win.
LH: Well, it’s a very, very short distance down to turn one so it’s not the easiest to make places up but it’s a long, long race, so 70 laps is a long way to go. Of course, whatever opportunity comes we will try to capitalise on it but yeah, the race is very long, probably a one stop so looking after the tyres is going to be really key. It’s very hard to follow here, even though there’s mainly straights, they are very quick on the straights so I don’t know how following Seb is going to be tomorrow – if I’m in that position, but I just hope that we are able to be close and have a real race throughout the race.