DRIVERS – Paul DI RESTA (Force India), Jean-Eric VERGNE (Toro Rosso), Sergio PÉREZ (Sauber), Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), Mark WEBBER (Red Bull), Jenson BUTTON (McLaren).
Paul, if I might start with you, a good weekend with both cars getting into the top ten in Monaco. How good is the dynamic between you and Nico [Hulkenberg]? Is there a fair amount of pushing one another and a good partnership?
Paul DI RESTA: Yeah, Monaco was a good weekend for the team. Obviously where we qualified… we went forward and were lucky with some cars not finishing. But, I think to achieve what we did there was a massive result for the team. I think me and Nico have a good relationship, we’re obviously pushing each other along but also trying to develop the car because we feel that we’re a little bit behind the likes of Sauber and Williams at the moment. And to overcome that we need to be doing a good job in the race. Over the weekend you’ve got to maximise what you have, and that’s what we’re going to try to achieve again this weekend.
Do you feel that you just need to hit the Pirelli sweetspot, or is it more than that? Is it, as you say, the development, and even do you look at the results of Maldonado, Sergio for example in Malaysia, and say ‘hey, that should be us.’
PdR: I think the tyres are difficult, we’re not going to deny that but I think we’ve achieved that at some tracks and that’s where we saw some good results for us. Certainly Bahrain, we got the car in an operating window but I think it’s a bit more and we need to understand the car a bit more in terms of what we’re bringing in terms of upgrades. That’s what we’re trying to achieve. But I have every confidence the team will achieve that because last year our development rate went very high from mid-season, so we’re certainly hoping we can do that this year. I don’t believe we’re getting the maximum out of the car yet but we’ll try to achieve that this weekend again. It’s a different philosophy, obviously, being a bit lower downforce here. So hopefully that will suit us slightly better.
And are you expecting to go up a gear in terms of development in the middle third of the season?
PdR: I think so. It wasn’t a secret that we struggled at the beginning of the year, to what we initially first thought. Since then we’ve rapidly moved on. If we can do that… I think we bought a good upgrade to Barcelona. We obviously developed that forward over that weekend. Monaco was difficult to understand how much so I think here will probably be a truer reflection on what we can expect for the up and coming races.
Jean-Eric, first of all I understand you are nearly a Canadian, you have been here so long.
JEAN-ERIC VERGNE: Yeah, I can fake the accent.
Tell us what you’ve been doing, because you’ve been here a few days
JEV: I got invited to a nice hotel at Sacacomie to the north of Montreal. I was in the middle of nowhere and had a few days relaxing, doing some sport, it was quite nice.
And the Cirque du Soleil?
JEV: Yeah, I was there yesterday with Daniel Ricciardo. In the morning we were training, learning a couple of tricks with the guys in their factory, and then at night we get invited to the show. It was quite amazing to see.
And how much have you learnt?
JEV: I learnt to go high, and there was a circle thing [German Wheel], you had to go inside, upside down. Motorcycles as well. It was OK.
In terms of racing, obviously you had a good race at Monaco, overtaking Michael Schumacher. That must have been a pleasant moment. Looking at your qualifying. You’ve been out-qualified by Daniel 5-1 but you’ve out-raced him 4-1. Is that a fair assessment?
JEV: I have to say qualifying is quite hard, compared to what I was expecting. I guess it’s going to come: I have the speed, I can show it in the racing. Monaco, unfortunately I hit the wall before I could make a good lap, so, yeah, I wouldn’t say unlucky but I pushed a bit too hard and didn’t get a proper time. It’s just a question of time, I have to take it easy, I know I have the speed and I know I have a car to be able to be in the points sometimes. So yeah, I think that will come.
I read that you say this is your favourite circuit – but you’ve never raced here…
JEV: On the Playstation! It’s a track I like; I’ve been driving on it as well in the simulator and I quite enjoy driving on it. I hope it’s going to be the same in reality tomorrow.
Sergio, you only did three laps last year. Do you remember much about the circuit?
Sergio PÉREZ: Not really, it is not a circuit that I know well, not really from the few laps I did in FP1 last year, because after the accident I could not race here. So, I had to go back home after FP1. Hopefully this weekend can be a lot better. I think we have a very competitive car and we can fight for a podium here.
Have you done a lot of laps on Ferrari’s simulator?
SP: I’ve done some laps in the simulator as well. I think it’s a circuit where it will not be a problem to get up to speed because I’ve done enough laps already in FP1 last year.
Since Malaysia, things don’t really seem to have slotted into place. Malaysia was such a high point but it doesn’t seem to have continued. What’s required to get back to that situation?
SP: I think it’s just a matter of putting everything together. We have enough speed, we have had very unlucky races since Malaysia. Like China, for example. The only weekend we didn’t have the speed was in Bahrain. We had a lot of degradation. All the other weekends, Barcelona I was in fourth place but then I had a puncture; Monaco in qualifying we had the speed to fight for a win, I think, but then we had a problem with the steering wheel and I just went straight. I think the speed is there and everything is there and it’s just a matter of luck. We have been very unlucky in the last few races.
Felipe, things seem to have come together for you at the last race. Can you carry that on and also take what you learned in Monaco to other circuits?
Felipe MASSA: Yes, sure. I think it was a better race, a clean race where nothing wrong happened. It was good pace from the first session. So, hope we can use that to do things even better here and all these races until the end of the year. I think it was a positive weekend even if we cannot be so happy to finish sixth, y’know? I think it was a good start.
Monaco is so much of a specific circuit, is it possible… did you really discover something there.
FM: Yes. We discovered things that for sure can be the direction for the other tracks as well. Definitely Monaco is different than many other tracks but I think it helped a lot to understand things that we didn’t understand before and I’m really looking forward to understand that direction and be stronger and stronger all the time.
Do you regard this as a good circuit anyway for Ferrari?
FM: I think it’s very difficult to say. Here is a track that you have a lot of slow corners, chicanes, hairpins and a very long straight. Looking at what’s going on this season, every track is very difficult to say if this is the right track track for us or not. So we need good speed as well. It’s something we have been working since the beginning of the year to improve, our speed on the straight. Here we know how important is that. So, we wait and see. It’s difficult to say before.
Mark, obviously a winner of the last grand prix and you’ve been playing Action Man since then, how was the sky diving?
Mark WEBBER: Oh yeah that was good yesterday, the first time I’ve done it. It was in a wind tunnel, so it obviously wasn’t real sky-diving but it was great to catch up with Jon [DeVore] who is a phenomenal Red Bull athlete from California. He does a lot of… he was in the Transformers film with the wing suits, so those guys are incredible, what they did. We did a few tricks yesterday with a car and a parachute and it was really good, I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I’ve got the bug to jump out of planes to be honest but I enjoyed it. But the highlight for me between races was going to the Isle of Man TT. It’s an absolutely amazing sporting event if you love motorsport, it’s a must to go to. And to see John McGuinness, a friend of mine, win again, all of the riders are obviously heroes but John’s had such a great record around there it was really good to see all that come together again for him. Took some mates and we had just an absolutely great time. It was really good, last Saturday.
And some Action for Road Safety work this morning, I believe.
MW: Yeah. I’ve been doing some work for the Action for Road Safety campaign. That went well.
You were a winner obviously in Monaco, you’ve done nine Canadian Grands Prix, just in case you’ve forgotten, you qualified second in 2010, finished third in 2011 and you’ve had only one retirement here. So what are your thoughts about this race? Is it a good one for you?
MW: Yeah, I like driving here. It’s a good mixture, in terms of the street circuit sort of feel of it, but also with low-ish downforce. Obviously the cars won’t be in the Monaco configurations, so we’ll have to look for the top speeds. Yeah, you still need a pretty good car here, there’s no question about that. There’s quite a bit of time to be gained and lost here if you get it together [or not]. I enjoy it here. It always throws up a bit of an oddball race. I think that we need to see how the marbles go, the brake wear, incidents, safety cars. It’s always been like that the Canadian Grand Prix. Even ‘the Nige’ – I think he turned the car off at the last corner, so there’s always drama at this event. So looking forward to it.
Jenson, talking of drama, you had it all here last year: qualified seventh, went back to last and came back to win. And yet apparently you’re concentrating on qualifying. But qualifying seems to go out the window here.
Jenson BUTTON: Yeah, it did last year. It’s something you obviously still want to do – get as far up the grid and make your life as easy as possible on Sunday. As Mark said, a lot happens around here. Last year we obviously didn’t have the marbles but we had everything else we could thrown into the mix but we if we have a dry, hot race that’s something we’ll have to watch out for – we’ll have a lot of marbles on the circuit, as we’ve found in previous years. It’s a tough race, a tough race to get the car spot on but last year it definitely went our way.
Let’s hope it goes your way this time because you are getting a little bit left behind in the championship. Is that something that you’re feeling?
JB: To be fair I purposefully haven’t looked at the points for the past few races but I don’t think anyone is streaking ahead in the championship. As we have seen it’s been a very mixed bag over the first six races. But yeah, the last few races, I’ve retired twice and I’ve scored two points in the other race. They haven’t been my finest weekends. So, yes, I need to score some good points this weekend to get it back on track. I think we all come here hoping for a victory, aiming for a victory, but as we’ve seen for most of the season just being consistently in the double figures in terms of points is key really to fighting at the front this year. Looking forward to the weekend. I have some very special memories here, especially last year, but also 2010 and back when I qualified in pole here before. So looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we’ve got to play with.
The McLaren GT car is also performing pretty well, I think it won both races in Navarra last weekend. Is that something that rubs off a little bit on the grand prix team as well?
JB: We hope so! It’s very different obviously to Formula One, but those guys have been working very, very hard for the whole season to get it competitive, so yeah, it’s great that McLaren have had two back-to-back victories in Navarra last weekend.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adrian Huber – Agencia EFE) A question for Felipe. Last week, Fernando said in Madrid, at the opening of the Ferrari store, that he was very much confident that you are from now on going to be scoring tons of points, fighting for podiums, even for victories maybe. Does this give you further impulse and are you aiming for better goals this season?
FM: Yeah, for sure. I feel much better in the car. I think you know improving helps a lot the way of driving, especially for my driving style. I’m really looking forward to carry on like that, improving, getting stronger race by race, and fighting for many good points and even looking for victory and podium. This is the really the target, the direction and I feel much stronger in the car now compared to the beginning of the season.
Q: (Daniel Bastien – FM103-3) Due to the high competitiveness this season, Jenson recently said he’s worried that anyone can win a race. Do the other drivers share that concern?
JB: I think I said that the worry is that fans think we could all win, we could all lose.
SP: I think anyone can win a race. You never what will happen in any race, so there is always the chance for every driver to have a nice surprise. I think especially this year, most of the top teams and also the middle teams are really close together, so it can be a surprise like it has happened this year with Pastor winning, so some others might come during the year.
J-EV: I don’t really have much to say. I think he [Pérez] has said everything. I think maybe he forgot his second place as well! I think everything is possible. We just have to be at the right moment, in the right place, with a good car. So, yeah, maybe.
PDR: There’s not much to say. I think it’s unfair to say that anybody could win but I think if you get the car in a sweet spot over the weekend, you need to be prepared and you can make a massive step forward.
FM: The same.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) A pair of questions for Felipe : first question is about the exhaust system. You will compare, both of you Ferrari drivers, the exhaust systems and I would like to know what is the target for that: if it is to find more downforce, traction and so on? And the second question is if you can clarify your answer in an interview that you gave during the week about the future? You were quoted as saying ‘if I can’t drive for Ferrari any more, I would prefer to do something else.’ Would it possible to see you, in the future, like Barrichello in IndyCar for example?
FM: Well, the exhaust – we have some pieces to try here. The important thing is to find out some things. How much better, it’s difficult to say, we just need to try it, on the track, to see if it makes the car stronger, so we will see.
(With reference to the second question) I didn’t really say what you said. I said for sure, in the future, the most important thing is to think about the present, thinking about race by race, the results. Try to carry on in the direction that we took in the last race, making good points and for sure, after August, we start to see (look at) what will happen in the future. I didn’t say ‘if I’m not at Ferrari any more, I will stop.’ I didn’t say that. I said ‘if I need to go to a small team, maybe I will think about doing something else.’ I’m here, always want to race, to fight for victory and that’s what I did for many years, and I’m looking forward to getting back to fighting for victories and the championship. I trust myself, as I said, it’s important to… the season didn’t start as I expected, but I think things are getting better so it’s important to carry on like this and I think if we do, it will be much easier and we will find a good direction for the future, to stay in Ferrari or find a good direction in which to race.
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Jenson, you started the season with McLaren as a favourite, you won the first Grand Prix and since then, you seemed to have struggled to score big points. Do you have an explanation?
JB: We could go through every single race. The second race was a mistake on my part and then in China we had a good chance of challenging for victory and we finished second, which, this season, getting consistent second places we would be leading the championship. That was a very good result but then the last three races have been a little bit more difficult. Some of it has been (because of) Saturday afternoon, but not all of it. When you put yourself in a difficult position in qualifying, you can either get unlucky or lucky at turn one, especially around a place like Monaco, and obviously we got very unlucky. Yeah, it just hasn’t really fallen into place. It’s a very competitive season in F1 and I think if you do have a mistake or something goes wrong where you don’t have luck on your side, you can be outside the points, or you can be scoring small points which in previous years would be a shock really, to be scoring two or three points in a Grand Prix when you’re driving for McLaren, but this season is very different. There are, if you look at the history in the sport, there are big teams, you would say, but this season you wouldn’t pick out McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull as being the big teams in the sport. It’s massively competitive. It just hasn’t gone my way and the team’s way over the last few races but that will turn round, and we will be back scoring good points.
Q: (Randy Phillips – Montreal Gazzette) Jenson, can you just go back to last year: an incredible race, you said it was one of the best of your career if not the best. How long did it take you to decompress after that and really take in everything that happened that Sunday?
JB: I can’t really remember much from that night and I lost a bit of memory as well. As soon as I got back to the hotel really, after any win, as we know, it’s a very special feeling crossing the finishing line and seeing the chequered flag first, celebrating with all your friends and family and the team. But that one was very different. I wouldn’t say it was a shock victory but it was unexpected at many points during the race, so it really did mean a lot and the adrenalin was still pumping through my veins for many hours afterwards. But yeah, I’ve watched it back, even this season I watched it back. With ten laps to go, you think it’s impossible that I could have won that Grand Prix, so a special weekend. Hopefully we can have some more like that over the next few years, but that doesn’t happen very often. I cherish that memory very much.
Q: (Randy Phillips – Montreal Gazzette) Mark, as one of the six winners so far this year, can you speak of the competitive aspect of it, how we have more teams involved, more drivers, like never before?
MW: Yeah, I don’t think there are many top teams at the moment. Obviously it’s very tight between everyone’s performances. It looks quite sensitive to venue, quite sensitive to temperatures, quite sensitive to drivers, even. It’s quite open, and that’s why we’ve seen some different results, different podiums, different winners, like we haven’t seen before. I think that the teams which were not very good with the regulations last year, like Ferrari, Williams, Sauber – they were not very quick with the blown floor – they had a good step this year, coming back to the people that made the blown floor very strong, like McLaren and Red Bull. That’s the way it is.
Q: (Julien Febreau – L’Equipe) Mark, you are actually level with your teammate in the championship. Are you afraid that the situation could create some tensions in your team, as in 2010, or do you think that your team has known how to learn from the past?
MW: It’s a good problem to have.
Q: (John Lu – TSN Canada) This question is for any of you who have had good experiences here in Montreal, at this venue. Open House Thursday has been one of the traditions at this track but at the pits today, due to forces outside of the track, just wondering how you feel that fans have not had the opportunity to interact with you this week, like they would have in years past?
MW: I think in some cases it’s disappointing. We come here, it’s a sensational event for the whole season as one of the top few Grands Prix of the year; fans-wise, drivers, mechanics, photographers, journalists, everyone loves coming here. The city really embraces the event, the restaurants go for it, the driver parade lap here is one of the best parade laps we do in the season. So there’s a huge amount of positive aspects which we’ve had here. For a long long time, the Canadian Grand Prix has been held here in a very very positive fashion. Obviously I’m not completely up to speed with what’s going on with… like you say, some of the students are not happy with certain things. I’m not saying it’s a minority, but sometimes when there’s a little bit of tension then some other people can lose out. Like you say, some fans wanted to come and see the track today, so that’s really unfortunate. I’m sure that the weekend will go well. We want to put on a very very good weekend for everyone in Montreal and Canada and that’s the focus for everyone in Formula One.
FM: We want to see all the fans, all the young people, students, everybody, we want to see them here with us, enjoying the sport, enjoying Formula One and I hope everything becomes normal with this situation. For sure, for us we feel sad for this situation. We just want to see them here, enjoying themselves and enjoying the sport, nothing else but that.
JB: I think it’s just a precautionary thing. It’s the start of the weekend, and we hope for a very exciting weekend and this is a big weekend for Formula One but also for Montreal. If you listen to the radio here, it’s non-stop talking about the Grand Prix. Hopefully this can be put behind us and we can concentrate on having a great weekend and putting on a great show for all of the fans who want to come and see us and enjoy this great sport. I’m sure the fans have good memories of last year especially, but also previous years. The city of Montreal really comes alive over a Grand Prix weekend, they really embrace it and hopefully that won’t be any different this year.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – Gazzetta dello Sport) Mark, the FIA has declared illegal the pierced floor that Red Bull has been using in the last few races. Will it be a disadvantage for you in the coming races, and what do you say when people say that you and Sebastian won races using an illegal car?
MW: Well, to answer the first part of your question, I would not know if the floor is changed or unchanged, so on the driving side, we’re very optimistic that the change won’t make much difference at all. You won’t believe us but we had some changes for Valencia anyway which included no hole, irrespective of the rule change, so that’s what we were doing.
In relation to winning races with an illegal car, I’m happy to be called lots of things and I’m happy to have criticism about my driving and lots of stuff, but I will not take criticism in that respect. It completely pisses me off to be honest, because the car has passed every single, every single technical regulation after the race. All of the teams that were against it did not make any protest after Monaco, the car passed the test after Bahrain, the car passed the test after Monaco and now there has been a clarification on the rule, and the rule now is different and we had a car that was legal for the first part of the season and now the rule has been changed and we will start again, so looking forward to it.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Mark, Red Bull has never won the race here, even in the season when you won almost everything. Are the circumstances very particular in this Grand Prix or does it just not suit your car?
MW: It just looks like in ’09, ’10, we probably didn’t have the best car in low downforce or lower downforce. The team has been competitive for two or three, four seasons now and as you say, the Montreal win has not been there for us. Obviously Seb was very close last year but lost the concentration at the end and Jenson was there to capitalise. I think that judging by how the start of the season has gone, there is every chance that we can still do well here. If you look at Spa and Monza last year, we were very very very strong in those low downforce configuration track, actually stronger that we were on the other tracks but I don’t think that will carry over to this weekend. I think that there’s no real form card. We come here confident but not crazy on confidence. We know we have a lot of tough competition but I think Fernando was the last guy to win here with a Renault engine, so that’s something that they would like to win here again. They’ve had a lot of amazing success together with us at Red Bull, so as you say, it’s a bit of a scalp which would be nice to get. But again, it’s a nice problem to have when you’ve won so many races around the world in the last few years, but we would like to get Canada on track for Red Bull. When you’re aiming high, sometimes you don’t always get the goals.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) To all of you, a World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, said this generation of drivers are all Daddy’s boys.
JB: I’ll make a comment. Jacques has a very unusual way of answering questions but you’ve also just picked out one piece of his interview. Basically, the more important part of his interview is him talking about safety and the way that back in the seventies the drivers were more aware of there being a lot more risk and the possibilities of fatality. I think he was stating that these days racing has got safer, and the circuits have got safer, and he was talking about the manoeuvre with Nico and Lewis in Bahrain and he was stating that he didn’t think it was correct. That’s what he was saying. But that’s quite normal for you to pick out that sentence.
Q: (Mineoki Yoneya – La Vie Creative) Can I ask you about your helmets ; how and where did you decide the colour schemes of your helmet and do you have any favourite points on it?
MW: I designed my helmet in school classroom. It was a science lesson but I was very bored in the lesson so I was designing my helmet. I even remember the teacher’s name. She wasn’t very happy but I got some ideas and eventually I wanted to run with the Australian flag colours and then have the green and gold on top which are the sporting colours of Australia. Obviously I’ve lost a little bit of the green now at Red Bull because they don’t like green so much but it hasn’t changed. I want to keep it like that. It’s not super-exciting, but it’s close to me, I’ve had it for my whole career, so yeah, it was my design and I will start and finish with it.
JB: Mine was back in ’94. I didn’t actually design it, someone else did but it’s changed over the years but it’s kept the same idea with the Union Jack – the Union Flag – on the back. It’s got JB on the side, it’s obviously personal to me. I’ve changed the colours now and again over the years but it’s back to being pretty standard now which is nice.
FM: Well, my helmet’s design was from my father. My father used to race for fun but the colour was different. His colour was blue and orange and I changed it to blue, yellow and green, my country’s colours. I’ve used the same design since I started. For sure it gets a little bit more and more daring with the ears but it’s similar to how it was before. I think the helmet is like the face of the driver, I don’t really like to change it so much because it should be similar to when you started, you know. So I just changed the colours and the design was from my father, so I really enjoy it.
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