Transcript of the Saturday Post Qualifying Press Conference organised by the FIA for the 2016 Italian Grand Prix.
1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)
Lewis that fifth Italian Grand Prix pole is equaled only by Senna and Fangio in history but the margin is perhaps what’s most impressive, describe your emotions?
Lewis HAMILTON: Obviously very happy today. I was only made aware of that record as I came into this weekend, so of course that was in the back of my mind, but hoping that it wouldn’t steer me off course. Yeah, I feel incredibly proud and honoured to up amongst Senna and Juan Manuel, incredible drivers. I never in a million years thought my name would be mentioned in the same sentence as their, so very proud of that. But today, this weekend, a very strong feeling and obviously came with my A-game today and particularly that last lap felt incredible. It’s such a great track; it’s got such a great crowd. Big thank you to all the people that came out. But what this team has achieved, as race by race I continue to say, is just phenomenal. I’m so fortunate to be driving for this team, to be representing them and to drive a car as it was today, I got it right in the sweet spot and I was able to do an exceptional time with it.
Very well done. Nico, coming to you, by the standards of your battles with Lewis in the last couple of years, which are normally very tight, that was a large margin. How do you explain it?
Nico ROSBERG: I think the best explanation is that he did some good laps and that’s it, because I’ve had a decent weekend until now and got some good laps in today but just not quick enough.
OK, thank you. Sebastian, Kimi was ahead after the first runs in Q3 but you managed to pull out a lap at the end, running a little bit wide though on the exit of Parabolica, tell us about that?
Sebastian VETTEL: First of all, I wasn’t that happy with the first shot in Q3, I sort of lost the rhythm a little bit. And then I was obviously able to get it back and I had a good lap. I went just on the limit in the last corner. I actually lost and was a bit late going on throttle but I think the lap itself after let’s say not a great start, not a great first sector, where I was still losing out a little bit compared to Q2, I brought it back in Sector 2 and Sector 3 and obviously very happy for us to look our the second row as a team. I’m not entirely happy because the gap is quite big to those guys ahead. Looks like they have been in a world of their own today, but who knows what happens tomorrow. For sure it’s great to see that we’ve got so much support. Last year was already phenomenal and this year seems even better. Every out lap you do people stand up and wave. It’s great to see all the flags; I think the support we get around here is massive. Bit thanks to everyone around the track, to all the tifosi and hopefully we’ll give something back tomorrow.
Thank you for that. Coming back to our polesitter then, Mercedes’ strategy seems clear, you and Nico will both start on the soft tyres tomorrow, one stop therefore is possible for you, but is there any concern about that flat spot? We heard that radio message; you wanted to do another run in Q2 because you felt you had damaged your tyres. Does that compromise you at all for the opening stint tomorrow?
LH: I didn’t really damage the tyres, I just had a small lock-up into Turn One and ultimately for the race tomorrow you want everything to be perfect. I had the pace so I went back out but I was actually up but I just lost it in the last corner. The flat spot is minimal; you can’t really feel it, so I don’t think it will be a problem,
Lewis, I’m going to hit you with another stat you might quite like: surprisingly, pole position is more important than Monaco, since 2000 13 times out of 17 the polesitter has won, whereas in Monaco it’s only 10 out of 17. Why is that?
LH: I probably don’t have all the facts, but it is a low-downforce circuit. It is a track you can overtake on but for some reason you need to have a delta of nearly a second advantage to the car in front to be able to really put the overtaking move into action. When you’re doing a qualifying lap you have to get a gap from the car in front of at least six seconds because you’re still towing someone six seconds up ahead. With these long straights, the turbulence lasts a long time and I guess the closer you get the less downforce you have and we already have low downforce here, so I would imagine that’s it.
Coming to you Nico, obviously the start tomorrow represents an opportunity, it’s always a ‘particular’ start here at Monza isn’t it, but I guess, as well, in your mind you want to make up for last year, your DNF, you want to get a strong result here in Monza?
NR: No, that’s not in my mind. What’s in my mind is just tomorrow’s race. Starting from second is a great opportunity. It would be awesome for me to have a great result here in Italy, because it’s a special place for and I feel a little bit Italian myself in many ways, so it’s great to race here and I would love to have a great result.
Alright, coming to you Sebastian, obviously still no front row start in 2016, but how would you assess the improvement on the power unit you’ve brought into this weekend, how it’s performed for you today, particularly with an eye to where your rivals like Red Bull and Williams are?
SV: Well, I think it was working as expected. I think the guys are pushing on hard at the factory, both chassis and engine side. Obviously for it’s low-downforce, so we have a low-downforce package on the car. For the engine we did a step forward. But it looks like other people are improving as well. It’s not just you who is bringing stuff to the car, it’s others as well, so we need to make sure we bring more and better bits. But the season is not over yet. I think the last two races the car felt a lot better than the races before that. I think we lost a little bit… circuits maybe didn’t come our way and I think the weekends weren’t entirely clean, we had lots of issues that we probably caused ourselves, so it just wasn’t clean and now I think the last two weekends were more in the groove. I think for tomorrow we can be reasonably confident and I’m sure that when we move on from here it’s not going to change much. I think at the tracks that are coming we should be fairly competitive and it should be a fairly exciting second part of the season.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Sebastian, on a track with only a couple of corners, eight-tenths is a big difference. Mattia Binotto told us yesterday that actually between the engines only about three tenths covers all of then at Monza. So where do you think is the deficit – which is way bigger than last year.
SV: Well, we’re not happy that we are further behind than last year. I think there’s a lot of stuff leading into the actual lap time that you are able to do, like Lewis said, he was completely happy with his car. I think we were happy all weekend but in quali, here and there, it didn’t… yeah, I think it could have been a bit better. So there’s a little bit in that. I think if you look at the compares, it’s not a big surprise in qualifying, Mercedes seems able to turn it up probably a little bit more. So for the race that does come down because they can’t run – I hope they can’t run – those engine modes for the whole race. I think it’s partly explained by that. Then obviously the fact that we’re just not quick enough yet. It’s nothing to… y’know, try to make it super-complicated, we know that the combination of car and engine, we’re a little bit behind on both sides, so it’s up to us to catch up. As you can imagine, it’s not that easy – unless you know how, then sign the contact and join us.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Lewis and Nico, Lewis is was very simple, your explanation about your fantastic lap, and Nico, did you have any difficulty in the car that you can understand this almost half a second of difference.
LH: I don’t know what I said before. What did I say before? It felt great. Through qualifying the laps were just getting better and better. I think Q2, first lap was so-so. I went again and was up but didn’t finish it off. Then the last two laps were just fantastic. The first one was a great banker, was up on my delta – but I felt that there was just a little bit more in it. Honestly, the last lap was super-clean. Didn’t have any lock-ups, aced… I came out of Turn One already a tenth up and just maintained that generally through the lap. I think I pulled a little bit more out of Turns Eight, Nine and 10 and the last corner, I did that definitely the best I’ve done it all weekend. Parabolica was… I mean it’s such an amazing corner. The speed we hit that corner and the grip that’s there that allows us to carry speed through is phenomenal. Because you’ve got a big straight going in, a big straight coming out, trying to find the right balance and not braking too much, not carrying too much in, not losing too much on the mid-part to make sure you get the exit… it’s probably one of the most difficult balances to get.
And the second part of the question was ‘Nico, did you have any particular problem?’
NR: No problem, no. The problem was that I think he had his best qualifying in a long time and that’s it.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) To Sebastian, in your final attempt we saw that you were maybe off track at the Parabolica. Did you have that feeling or is everything OK?
SV: I had two wheels out, I think but I think I was just fine. I lost a little bit, if anything. I was already up quite a long way compared to the lap of Q2. The last corner was a match. Was not really an improvement.
Q: (Barna Zsoldos – Nemzeti Sport) Sebastian, Kimi starts right behind you and there’s a chance you will be side-by-side in the first corner. How will be your approach? Will you be a bit more careful?
SV: I think normally you’re a bit extra careful when you’re racing a team mate – so nothing changes obviously. I think we’ve elaborated enough on what happened last week so I don’t think… first of all he’s not starting behind me, he’s starting next to me but I think both of us, our target is to have a good start and then it’s a long way down to Turn One. We are on a different tyre which should give us a bit of an advantage given our start is good. Then we’ll see.
Q: (Agris Lauzinieks – Kapitals)Lewis, often you have referred to your faith. How important is religion in your life and what is your prayer routine, and when was the last time when your prayer was answered?
LH: That’s really private stuff. Obviously it’s something that’s really important to me in my life and I think every day my prayers are answered. I feel very fortunate to be doing what I do, what I love. I’ve got a wonderful family, great friends, get to visit all these beautiful… there are so many blessings all the time. I never actually ask for anything in prayers, for everyone to be safe, so most of the time that happens.
Q: (Peter Hartig – Danish F1 Magazine) Sebastian, I would like to ask you how you cope with the fact that all the tifosi want nothing less than victory on their home ground?
SV: Well, I think it’s normal that they always want the best and I think I said it going into this weekend, I think Monza’s coming at the right time. It’s the race when we get the most support and I think now is the time we need that, so it feels great and it gives extra boost. I’m sure the people would be happiest with a victory like you said but equally I think the people understand as well if we are nine or eight tenths behind in qualifying that there is a chance of miracles, but if you just go and be realistic, you have to also say that we are not the favourites going into the race. I’m sure we’ll try to create whatever is possible and I think in that regard they are actually clever and fair and appreciate the fact that if we do a good job tomorrow, I’m sure they give us credit for that. Of course our target is to win, always something you aim for, your target in your home Grand Prix and no doubt Monza is the best podium in the whole championship and being dressed in red, it’s probably the best combination you can have tomorrow. So all eyes first of all on the start, the first corner, lap one and then we go from there. It’s nice to know what people expect, what ideally you want to achieve but you mustn’t forget what it needs and it needs a lot of small steps starting from now, where we know which position we start from, what we need to do.
Q: (Lionel Froissart – Sport Auto) Technical question for Seb: what’s happened with your nose?
SV: No, I jumped the fence after qualifying to give a wave to the crowd and there was another rope that I didn’t see and hit my face. In the face!
Q: (Ralf Bach – Auto Bild Motorsport) Mr Vettel, do you think Marchionne is here and he’s really satisfied with the nearly one second you are behind the Mercedes?
SV: I tell you what, I think above all, knowing what’s going on, he’s realistic. I think he knew, going into qualifying, that we’re not the favourites but it’s something everyone in the team is up for and willing to change. Now, the way you need to look at it is not that we get smashed by Mercedes. I think the way we need to look at it first of all, and it is a question of respect, is to say that they do a very very good job, they’ve strung a very strong team together. Both drivers are hardly making any mistakes, they are really clean every weekend and if we can be behind that, that’s a positive because the level is very high. Obviously it’s not satisfying for us, for anyone going from our president to us at the track, to all the people in the factory but as I said, I think what we need to do and what we know is our biggest strength is to do what we can do and rely on what we have. I think we know we need to improve for the future and that’s what we target, every single one and for tomorrow, as I said the target is clear and of course you always aim for the highest, otherwise what’s the point of going on the grid if you think that you can’t win. But you have to be realistic as well, saying that they are the favourites but we’ll try to give them a very very hard time.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Lewis, just to elaborate a bit more on that: the difference between you and Nico tends to be a bit bigger here than at most tracks. Even last year it was three tenths, now it is almost five tenths so what’s the secret, what makes you so confident and supreme on this low downforce track?
LH: I don’t really have a great answer for that. It is obviously a heavy braking circuit, it’s a bit more like a go-kart circuit where you have to throw the car around, in the lower speed, I would say. I don’t know. It’s probably more a question for Nico, I would say. I just try to turn up and perform my best wherever I am. I love being here in Italy and for some reason Italy’s been good to me.