Transcript of the qualifying press conference organised by the FIA for the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix.
1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing)
Nico, your first pole here in Montreal and given Lewis’ record here over the years you must be delighted.
Nico ROSBERG: I’m not really aware of Lewis’ record or something but of course I know it’s a track where he’s very strong at, so all the more I’m very, very happy that it worked out. It’s great. It’s been a fantastic day and also all through the weekend really progressing all he time, getting stronger and stronger. It’s really cool and best position for tomorrow of course.
It’s been very close all weekend of course, but Lewis did have the upper hand going into qualifying. Where did you find the difference today?
NR: It’s just working at it all the time: looking at data, working with my engineers, trying to just improve the set-up, trying to understand what are the areas where I can do better. It’s really just an onward process and it’s great that it worked out.
Lewis, you were behind on the first runs in Q3 and then on your final run it looked like you lost time in the middle sector. Can you tell us what happened?
Lewis HAMILTON: Not particularly. Nico did a fantastic job today, so congratulations to him. Just wasn’t the greatest qualifying session this; sometimes you have good ones, sometimes you have bad ones. But it’s great for the team that we have got the 1-2 in quali. A really fantastic performance by the team, so let’s hope we can make history tomorrow.
Well, it’s seven one hundredths of a second only the difference between you today. Can we expect a similarly close battle in the race tomorrow?
LH: I would assume so, yeah.
Thank you for that. Sebastian, a great final lap, you saved your best until last?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, indeed. The start of the last lap wasn’t great. I still didn’t manage to get that first sector right, the first two corners I didn’t get along very well with today. After that I tried to take more risk and it worked, so sector two was very good through the two kind of chicanes, especially the second one; I found a significantly better line and more time compared to previous runs and kept it together until the end. So, all in all, a very good result. I think it was the maximum we could do, very close with the people behind, obviously half a second to the Mercedes in front, but yeah, I think four cars were within five or six hundredths of a second, so obviously I’m happy to be the quickest one of those.
Obviously you won here last year, like you say the margin to Mercedes is big but you’ve got the Williams to contend with tomorrow. What are your thoughts on prospects for the race?
SV: We’ll see. It’s a long race here. Strategy I think could be a bit of a surprise, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens. But as you touched on Williams is very, very strong here. They have a very, very quick down the straights. Generally the Mercedes-powered cars are looking forward to the straight lines tomorrow. I’ll try to obviously stay as close as I can to those two, maybe get some tow and do the best I can. If we have a chance to attack them then we should go for it.
Coming back to you Nico, again same as in Monaco you had the advantage after the first run in Q3. Can you talk about the confidence that gives you going into your final run, knowing that you’re in that position; that you’ve got the pole and it’s up to the other guy to take it off you?
NR: Of course that helps a lot because I have a banker in and that’s a big advantage to have, definitely. That was also a benefit.
Q: So Nico, the word you used in Monaco was momentum: you stopped Lewis’ momentum there and you’ve carried that on here. Now you’ve got the momentum. Can you talk about that and how you take that forward into tomorrow’s grand prix?
NR: Well, it’s just that little bit extra when you have the result, when I have that result behind my back and I know I’ve come here knowing that I’ve won the last race. It just helps a bit. Lewis obviously had that winning streak and to bring that to an end was important.
Q: Lewis, you talked about the importance of pole position here in Montreal. How do you see it? On the one hand it looks like an easy track to overtake on but from where you are now, you thinking about that for tomorrow, how important to you in your mind is not being on pole?
LH: Yeah, it’s not that easy, especially with Nico being so fast, so overtaking is going to be very difficult, to overtake the same car as mine – especially when we’re so close in pace. So, we’ll do what I can but, of course, the thing tomorrow is to try to make sure we get as many points as we can.
Q: Sebastian, can you talk a little about the improvements that Red Bull have bought here this weekend – obviously we heard something about Renault giving you a bit more power – and how you feel all of that has contributed to you being here now.
SV: Well, honestly I don’t know where the Renault talk comes from but I think as far as we’re concerned, yeah, we always obviously try to improve but we didn’t have any major steps for here. Regarding the car, obviously you run a little less downforce around here, which I think is obvious and probably the same for everyone. And… yeah… we brought some bits, other than a different downforce package as well, which seemed to work – but obviously we’re fighting a very big gap and it’s difficult to close it in one go.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action / National Speedsport News) Seb, following on from that last question, how about you, yourself? Do you think maybe you’ve made a step getting more used to driving these cars?
SV: Well, I think you always try to work on yourself. Obviously if you look at the record so far I didn’t have the smoothest races, so it’s good to have a more or less clean Friday and a clean Saturday today. So, hopefully, fingers crossed, we’ll have a clean race tomorrow. But I’m confident, always confident that when I step in the car that it is good enough to make it – so we’ll have to wait and see. In terms of fighting with the car, I’m still not where I want to be, still not yet behaving the way that I probably prefer but, then again, you still try to get the maximum out of the car and that’s normal. It’s not like last year always I was stepping into a dream car and everything was smooth and perfect – I had to work very hard as well. So, this year, obviously, yeah, we’re not yet tickling the right spots, probably.
Q: (Pierre Durocher – Montreal Journal) I would like to ask each driver about the fact that they announced earlier today a new deal to keep the race in Montreal for the next ten years.
NR: It’s great because Montreal is one of the best races in the year, for all of us, I think. It’s a great track, the fans are fantastic, so enthusiastic so I’m very happy and I’m sure everybody is, that we’re going to be coming here a lot more often in the future.
LH: Yeah, I second that. It’s one of the best races of the year but mostly the fans here are just, again, some of the best that we get to see. They really make the atmosphere and the city is incredible, great food, we enjoy coming here so I’m grateful that that’s been done so hopefully we get to race here many more times.
SV: Yeah, I think it’s great. I think it’s one of those places… one of the few places in the calendar where the whole city really parties all weekend long and embraces the Grand Prix so really appreciates the Grand Prix being here and obviously for us that’s a great feeling. You stand on the grid tomorrow and you have so many fans during the drivers’ parade but also when you race you see full grandstands and it just makes your job extra special.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, is this third position a surprise to you, were you expecting to make it, looking also at the problems you had yesterday?
SV: Well, I think it was very very tight, you have to say that. I think between third and sixth there wasn’t much so obviously I’m happy I got the last lap right and it was just good enough. Obviously it’s quite good to start third, right behind the Mercedes so we will see what we can do from there in the race but I think it was kind of expected that it would be a tough battle for third. It was probably not yet clear yesterday but the contenders were already on the list, with Red Bull, with us, with Williams and the Ferraris.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Universo On-Line) Lewis, you lost a lot of time in the second part of the track with your last set of tyres. Do you think you lost your pole position there and what happened?
LH: In the middle sector? I went wide a couple of times in turn six and then turn eight but Nico just did a better job today so I need to work hard to make sure I do better tomorrow.
Q: (Jordan Irvine – Nextgen-Auto.com) Sebastian, in 2009 when Brawn seemed to be running away with the championship, Red Bull were able to catch up and challenge in the latter half of the season. This year, is Red Bull able to develop a car that can not only catch up Mercedes but actually in your opinion beat them on regular occasions to put you back in the fight for the championship?
SV: Well, you don’t have to be a genius to beat them. You need to be faster than them on the track and to beat them in the championship, you need to consistently score more points than them so right now we’re struggling to do that. You didn’t have to follow much… obviously they’ve been very dominant in the first couple of races, winning all of them so we are working very hard, completely motivated and we have a strong belief in ourselves. I think that’s the reason why we’ve been so successful the last couple of years, so rest assured we won’t give up.
Q: (Massimo Lopez Pegna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis and Nico; seeing the results today, do you predict for tomorrow that the race will be decided between the two of you or can you see somebody else maybe giving you trouble?
NR: I expect that it’s going to be between the two of us for now, yes, but of course there can be surprises so we need to still make sure we push but I think we have enough of a gap at the moment on race pace.
LH: I don’t think it’s just between the two of us. Obviously in qualifying Sebastian wasn’t as close as perhaps he would like to be but the race pace was great in the last race so I anticipate tomorrow they should be quite strong, so we definitely cannot disregard Sebastian or Red Bull. I think we need to be very cautious, still, and make sure that we keep pushing.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Nico, this has always been called a track for Lewis and you’ve never done better than fifth in your career racing here. Has this pole taken pressure off you, is it a boost of confidence?
NR: That’s statistics, you know. I didn’t even know the statistics until I got here and you told me on Friday or whenever, so for me it’s a track like any other and a track that I really enjoy. It’s a really great track, it’s a challenging track so I didn’t think about it that way and I always believed that I have a chance to be right at the front, so I’m just very very happy that it worked out.