Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg at the Malaysian Grand prix press conference
Here is the (slightly late) transcript of the Malaysian Grand Prix post-race press conference:
Q: Sebastian, a victory today set up by an excellent start and one that looked fairly comfortable if you ever can be comfortable in the heat of Malaysia.
Sebastian Vettel: Well, it wasn’t comfortable. I realised straight away that I had a good start and passed Nico, who was alongside, and then got the tow from Mark, so I was able to gain, gain, gain. It is a long sprint down to turn one and I clearly had an advantage over him and then I took the chance I had into turn one. It was quite late, so I just made it and then Mark had a bit of a better exit out of turn two, through turn three and it is very slippery and we both tried to push. We are here to fight ourselves but you should keep the respect and I think we both had the respect for each other. If Mark would have been in my position I am quite sure he would have done the same. After that it was just a question about getting away from our competitors. I could see Mark and I were more or less having the same pace, I think he was a little bit quicker in the beginning. I was trying to save my tyres. It did work, so before the stop I could pull away a little bit and the second stint was extremely long. It is extremely hot here and I didn’t stop sweating. Fortunately, I didn’t run out of drinks in the car. I was trying not to be too extreme in the beginning. But it is very hot and very physical and at some stage I was hoping for rain, just to get a bit of a cool down. What a day. Yesterday was extremely difficult with the conditions. Today it stayed dry all the time fortunately and we had a magnificent car. The key was to pace yourself, watch your tyres. Bridgestone did a good job bringing two compounds here that worked fairly well. A very good result for us, especially for myself after two races where we didn’t finish where we wanted to be. To come back, thanks to the team. It is very crucial in that moment not to panic and to stay relaxed. It is a long season but getting here on Sunday afternoon having won the race is the best result we can get. On top of that Mark in second place is a big, big plus for the team. A lot of points and I am very, very happy.
Q: Mark, we heard the call on the radio to look after the tyres on the seventh lap. At the pit stop you lost two-and-a-half seconds. Was that when you lost the chance of catching up with Sebastian today?
Mark Webber: We know these days with the strategy and how the races unfold that the first part of the race is crucial and the first sector. As Seb explained I got a little bit of wheelspin and on the run to the first corner Seb had a big tow. I didn’t really know where Nico was either. I didn’t know to go fully to the inside or stay in the middle, so I just braked late and both of us were on the limit to make the apex at the first corner. I had a bit better exit coming out of two as Seb explained and then the fight continued to turn four. We had a chat to Christian Horner at the start of the race and Christian said ‘boys, behave yourselves’ and we did. The spirit and the chemistry in our team is awesome. We fight very hard, you saw that today. It was a good fight between Seb and I. The result could have gone either way. But in the end he did the job at a crucial stage and deserved the victory. A one-two for us as a team is sensational. The cars ran very well. It was a nice comeback for us after some tough races where we didn’t finish where we should. All in all coming to the weekend you never know, you would probably take this type of result, but as the weekend went on I would like to be one spot further but a great result for the team and we executed a beautiful weekend for everybody. Well done for Red Bull and Renault, of course, the engines were great.
Q: Nico, you watched the Red Bulls sail away into the distance. You sort of had a race all to yourself but the first podium for yourself with Mercedes.
Nico Rosberg: It is a fantastic result for us. Quite pleased. The start did not go too well. I think this time it was quite a lot down to me. I just wanted a bit too much and got a bit too much wheelspin and lost out a little bit there. From then on, once I was third, I knew it was going to be difficult to follow the Red Bulls but I was struggling a bit in the first stint with the options. I don’t know why, we need to analyse that, and (Robert) Kubica stayed pretty close which wasn’t the plan. But once we did the pit stop and got on the prime I was very comfortable. A bit worried about (Lewis) Hamilton initially as I didn’t know how he was going to come up after his pit stop and I was expecting him to be very fast but apparently he didn’t get by the people behind me. It is a fantastic result for us here at one of our home grands prix also as we have backing from Petronas, so a lot of support here at this race and it is a great co-incidence that the first podium comes over here too. I really have to thank the whole team for all the hard work they have put in over the winter. They worked crazy hours, so a little reward now with the podium, so we need to push on as we are not there yet where we want to be but it is a good step in the right direction.
Q: Sebastian, how much of a relief was that after the last couple of races?
SV: A big relief. I am sorry. I feel a bit tipsy from the champagne. I think I took a bit too much. I am very pleased. A great day for us and Red Bull. As you said, the first two races we weren’t finishing where we want to be. But a great result. The start for myself was crucial. I had a good start, good initial momentum. I was a bit worried to start on the dirty side as the right side is the clean side but I was patient really trying to control the wheelspin and didn’t ask for too much throttle too early. That was the key to get past Nico and then run with big tow down to turn one. It is a long sprint. It is one of the longest sprints to turn one behind Mark and I was able to catch him and outbrake him into turn one. It was quite late. Big respect for Mark. I think he would have done the same thing. But he could have behaved differently down into turn one and turn two but that was good. The fight carried on down to turn four. It was extremely slippery for both of us and it was a question who is braking first and if the car stops. Obviously going out of qualifying it was wet, but usually you are having a completely different reference point. Now you start with the car fully filled and it is a bit of an adventure to find your braking point. From then onwards I could see we were one-two which was crucial, so we were able to pull a gap to Nico. But Mark didn’t stop pushing, so I had to push myself. I was trying to look after my tyres in the first stint especially with the soft compound. I was quite pleased that they held together. I was trying to save them a little bit for the end of the stint and then the hard tyres were quite solid and you could push all the way through. Mark again did not stop pushing. He came a bit closer and I could see he was doing faster lap times than I was, so I was just trying to control the gap. It was quite difficult with the lapped cars as they were coming quicker than you thought. Over the team radio I got the call that at some stage we were about 10 seconds quicker a lap compared to them which is funny as two laps before you had nobody there and then all of a sudden you catch them up. But in the end of the day very, very pleased with the result. I think we did a very good job yesterday as a team. Mark was the poker face yesterday and got the pole but today to finish one-two is fantastic especially for myself after the first two races, so I am very happy.
Q: Mark held onto you pretty much in the opening stages but in the second stint he came back at you. Was that all to do with the traffic?
SV: When you are in the lead and you have got a couple of seconds on your side then you don’t try to do anything stupid in traffic. For the guys I think in the slower cars it is a pretty difficult job to do as three corners before they had no-one in their mirror and all of sudden they had someone behind, so sometimes you find yourself in a bit of an adventure trying to get past. But they did a very good job. Sometimes you lose a little bit more depending on where you have to pass them and how quickly they move over but it was all fairly in control. On the primes in the beginning Mark was a bit faster. I was just trying to react to his times and then the gaps are sometimes shrinking, sometimes I am gaining a bit again. I was trying to bring the car home at some stage. I was hoping for rain as it was quite hot. I think we all lost quite a bit of water, so that is why after two sips of champagne you might feel a bit dizzy. I am still young. I am not used to this.
Q: Mark, a little bit of frustration for you with the start and the wheel nut as well.
MW: Seb has wrapped it up. The team has performed incredibly well today and the whole weekend. We were very quick all weekend and very important that we had a clean run yesterday in a very tricky session. It could easily have gone wrong for us but both of us did a good job in tough conditions which laid the foundations for a clear race today. We didn’t expect it to be dry for the whole grand prix but it was and knowing that the third, fourth row there wasn’t the normal people, so the race was going to explode massively and probably wasn’t the normal grand prix in that sense. The run to the first corner I had a little bit too much wheelspin at the start and as Seb said he was in a reasonable position to get the tow and then it was just fighting on the brakes for the first two big stops of the lap and Seb has the inside and we fought pretty close but in the end it was really tough fighting your team-mate as we have an amazing chemistry in our team and all the mechanics, Renault, everybody, we arrive at every track in such a good style. We want to get the best result we can. Every team is like that but this is by far the best team I have ever been with in terms of wanting to get the results. When you have got all those guys in your mind it is not the best thing to see Red Bull Racing wheels flying in the air, so we had a good fight but in the end today Seb got it. After that I was like, ‘my God, I have got the whole race now I am in second’ and that was how it was going to be unless Seb had a failure or he was going to make a mistake. But we know the quality of him. Both of us pushed each other to the end and that was that. I had Hamilton after the second stop but the wheel nut was putting up a fight and it seemed like an eternity when we are used to really quick stops. Then it was waiting, waiting, waiting, ok down it goes then I went. I had to sit behind Hamilton a little bit to start with and it was then a case of bringing the cars to the end of the race. You didn’t know how they were going to go. It is still a bit of a learning phase for all the teams as we go to different venues and we do a bit of work on Friday which I didn’t get to do myself but Seb did a bit of work and we still did a lot on Sunday afternoon. Sensational result for the team and we got what we deserved. Other races we didn’t as we weren’t prepared. Today we were prepared and we blew everyone away which was great.
Q: Nico, on the podium here; you said you liked the place, what does this mean to you, the team and your sponsors?
NR: I’m really happy for the whole team. Also for Petronas who is our biggest sponsor. It’s a great result and it’s really nice to have our first podium here at Malaysia which is a coincidence. We’ve had a lot of support. Even on the podium it was really nice to see all the Petronas guests cheering, so that was really cool. I’m also pleased because the team put so much work into it and they deserved the good result that we got here. Of course, we still need to work hard, because as we saw again Red Bull is just quicker than us at the moment and we really need to push on to close the gap now, to come up with some good ideas and some good upgrades, but I’m confident that we can do it for sure.
Q: How threatening was Robert Kubica, because he got pretty close to you?
NR: Yeah, I was not quite so happy with the first stint. It wasn’t going well because Robert could properly stay with me and I think he was just as fast as me, so I was a bit surprised by that, but it was the option tyres, I didn’t feel very comfortable on them and I was struggling especially with the rears on high fuel. And then after the pit stop, going on the prime, it felt much better and I could really push on and I was quite comfortable after that.
Q: He still got very close to you. On lap 34 he was…
NR: Yeah, that was a bit of a problem with (Karun) Chandhok, I think, who… I’m not sure but I don’t think he did a very good job on that particular occasion. He should have moved out a bit earlier. I think he maybe didn’t see me or something and that really gave Kubica a chance which shouldn’t have been there, because he was miles away. So we need to review that in the drivers’ meeting. It’s obviously difficult with all the slightly slower teams, the new teams that are out there. There’s always going to be an occasion where it’s never going to be perfect but we need to try and get it as good as possible.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, it only took you one race to wipe out the gap to Massa and Alonso, who were quite far ahead. Were you expecting to do that so quickly?
MW: The championship is over, isn’t it? I thought the championship was over!
SV: Yeah, that’s what people are saying. We are just here to race. Yes, as I said before, obviously there’s always a lot of talking and things happening. Yes, we didn’t have great races, the first and second one, we didn’t do the best job we could, but that’s life. You build racing cars to go as quickly as you can. They’re built on the limit and sometimes something breaks. Obviously it depends when. When it happens on Friday, no one cares but if it happens on Sunday, obviously everyone is highlighting the issue and blaming you for poor reliability. We are a team, we stick together in good and bad times. We win and lose together and it’s not like in football where you probably change the coach after you’ve lost two times. So we carry on and we’ve proven that we can come back. I don’t know the ranking in the championship now but I think today we scored 25 points. I saw that Fernando (Alonso) had an engine failure, I think, on the last lap. As far as I remember, our gap was about 25 points, so it’s not anymore. I think that’s a good thing. If anything, it shows how quickly it can turn around. It’s a long, long season. We still have 16 races to go which is a lot, so we are here to do our best and we want to fight for the championship, both of us, and for the team, so at the end of the day, finishing first and second was good points for the team and good points for ourselves, so I think we’re in a much better position now than probably on Friday or this morning.
Q: (Simon Arron – Motorsport News) Mark, can you talk us through turn one? You said in the unilateral that you weren’t sure where Nico was. Did you have any clue where Seb was and when exactly were you aware of his presence?
MW: I initially had a look off the start where Seb was and he wasn’t mega close initially; in second or third gear, he wasn’t mega close. It looked reasonable. You know the track is so bloody wide you think where the hell is everyone? I’ve obviously only got the mirrors to check the immediate positions just behind me. To be honest, I didn’t know Seb went to the inside. I thought he was more on the outside. Obviously that’s why I probably went back and maybe I’ll opened the door completely for him but it’s very difficult to see where the guys are on the run to turn one on such a wide track, so I just thought, ‘get in there nice and deep,’ for sure he arrived late, he wasn’t beside me, I couldn’t hear him or he wasn’t beside me when we were on full throttle or when we started braking. It was a fair fight and obviously there’s lots of different options into turn one, so it’s hard to know whether to go inside or outside. I saw him when we were on the brakes.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, last year you won the third race, and this year you’ve now won the third race. Are you on the same schedule like last year, to carry on fighting for the championship?
SV: I need to remember where we finished the fourth race and the fifth race. Last year is last year, this year is this year. I think we are always looking ahead but you can live in history or you can live in the future, but I think the best thing is to live in the now and live the moment, so we have to focus on what is happening now. From here, first of all we go back and then kind of come back to Asia to go to China. The cars go more or less straight there, but there’s a bit of break between races. And hopefully we will have the same result in China as last year, that’s all I can say. Every race is a new challenge. Into the first race, I think we were pretty quick. Ferrari was very quick and in Melbourne all of a sudden we were kind of back. They weren’t really that far behind in Bahrain but it just shows that a slightly different kind of track, a different layout… you know, we’ve seen here Mercedes was very strong, so we probably do have a little bit of an advantage at the time, but we have to work hard and focus on what is happening now to maintain the good performance and then we go race by race. There may be times when we will struggle as well and we won’t be able to win. We might only get fourth or fifth but we have to make sure we finish fourth or fifth then, and not put the car in the wall or finish eighth or out of the points. I think that’s how it should work.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) To Vettel and Webber, if we’d had a normal qualifying yesterday with Ferrari and McLaren closer to your team, do you think the result of the race would have been the same?
MW: No. It was a luxury today, for Seb and I, not to have to kill the engines, kill the tyres, kill everything because the gap to the other guys was more comfortable, no question about it. But Nico drove a good race, but I think there were some quicker guys, maybe particularly Lewis, who had a different day, starting at the back. Tactically the race could have been a little bit different if he was around, or Fernando or Felipe (Massa). I obviously didn’t see how their race went. Obviously Fernando didn’t finish at the end. As Jack Brabham used to say: ‘win at the slowest possible speed.’ One second or thirty seconds is the same result. We were very much in control of today’s race. It’s not always going to be like that but when it is, you have to make the most of it.
SV: Not much to add. Walter Röhrl once said that he’s not interested in winning a rally by one second having had a close fight. He wants to destroy the others and win by a minute, so two great drivers, one in rallying, one in Formula One, but I think that in the end, especially here, the result is obviously most important for us. We got good points. As Mark said, it probably wasn’t the easiest race for Ferrari and McLaren, but still, it was a long hot race and first you have to go out and do it.
Q: (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Mark, you had a different strategy to Sebastian; do you think that without the problem you had in the pit stop you could have passed him, after the pit stop?
MW: I don’t think the pit stop cost me the victory. The start cost me the victory and then when the first car is leading, he sort of has priority or the luxury when he can stop. It was clear. Obviously if I stopped first there was a big chance I could jump Sebastian but that would not have been fair for the guy who was leading. It was really down to the start and who had track position in the first stint. I knew, when Sebastian peeled off for his stop, I pushed. Obviously I found quite a bit more pace on the in-lap but it’s not enough to take on the fresh tyres of a competitor who in this case was Seb, because we know the cars are the same weight. In seasons gone by obviously the cars were different weights because of the fuel. Now they’re the same weight and fresh tyres, so it’s very difficult to fight and then, as you say, the pit stop was a little bit of salt in the wounds or a fly in the ointment. It doesn’t help things.
Q: (Joris Fioriti – AFP) Nico, you said you were really satisfied after your third place, but it also underlines how far you are from the Red Bulls, so doesn’t that frustrate you?
NR: Frustrating? No, I would not say it was frustrating. It’s really early days. The team has just come together in the way it is now with Petronas and Mercedes and the ex-Brawn team. I think we’ve started the season OK with two fifth places and now a third place. I think it’s a good start with some solid results and I’m happy with that and it’s very important now that we push on because we need to develop faster than the others, which is not going to be easy, but I’m confident that we can do the job and that’s going to be the most important thing, to really push on now. Looking at today, it didn’t seem to be such a huge gap to Red Bull at the beginning. I’m not sure, but anyway, it’s definitely some tenths that we need to catch up.