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Sunday's FIA press conference

Sunday 27-May-2012 17:55

Monaco GP winner Mark Webber and fellow podium finishers Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso fielded questions from the media after the race.

Q. Mark, your second Monaco win, you won't have a closer one than that, how are you feeling?

Mark WEBBER: Yeah, I'm feeling incredible mate. It was a very interesting race. Reasonably straightforward at the start: getting the gap on the Supersofts, just managing it with Nico. Obviously we had a bit of a gap over the rest as well, so both of us were getting away, and it was just a matter then of trying to get back into a reasonable gap. Also, the weather was threatening around that pit stop window as well and we weren't sure if we should go a bit longer there and put a set of inters on if it rained or whatever. But Nico went for it, went early with the undercut, so obviously a few people had to react to his first chess move, and then the next phase of the race was very strange. It was very hard to get the Soft tyre warmed up, the harder tyres in terms of Prime tyre, and Seb, obviously, had his in and it wasn't wearing down that much. So he was then coming back into the picture with his strategy. We were all trying to get temperature and at the start of the stint I had very, very low front grip and I had to manage that and move the brake balance around and things like that trying to get everything organised, and [I was] managing Nico and everyone else. But also, Seb's going 'Hmmm, this is interesting', so I didn't want him to get the magic 21 seconds, to make sure he couldn't do the stop and get the victory - that wasn't part of the plan. I managed to sort that out and I could concentrate on Nico again and then get the car to the end. But the rain - as Fernando said coming across in the car, there were times when he was praying for rain, saying 'good, come on, rain, rain', and then when it started he was saying, 'no, no, I don't want it to rain'. I think it was like that for everybody, except for me, because the first guy there is always tricky. So, amazing day for the team and myself. Yeah, so I'm really, really happy to have won here again. A great memory for me. Fantastic.

Q. Nico, so close at the end - 0.6 seconds behind Mark. You tried a number of different things and you probably hoped for the rain as well but in the end I guess it wasn't to be.

Nico ROSBERG: Yeah, in general. At the beginning it was pretty straightforward. I was hoping for a good start, I had a good start, but Mark had a pretty good start too. That was it then. And then, it was just a matter of tyre management and everything and I must say I was a bit surprised by how strong we were not only in qualifying but also in the race. I think, at the end of day, for the weekend, we probably had the fastest car out there, in qualifying and the race, which is great to see, because we're just making progress all the time, so that's fantastic. Unfortunately, it didn't come together perfectly, so P2, it could have been P1 I think this weekend but there we are. No, I'm very happy with second place of course. It got a bit difficult there in the end, with the rain and the warm-up of the harder tyres but I'm very pleased.

Q. Fernando, fifth on the grid, third at the finish, you now have sole control of the World Championship lead. Does this feel like a win to you?

Fernando ALONSO: Well, our target obviously was to try to finish in front of Sebastian, in front of Lewis - they were with us in the World Championship. And if you go race by race you concentrate on different drivers. The next one will be Mark, now he's second in the championship. So, it will be interesting also this season with constant development of the car and the constant surprises we are having every race - you never know which one will be on pole or take the race win. Everything went smooth after the start, but I had a contact with Grosjean. At that point I thought maybe the car was damaged or something but the car was perfectly fine so I keep running. I felt good, I felt competitive but in Monaco it's difficult with the traffic, to manage the traffic. We overtook Hamilton at the stop, with a perfect time, a perfect pit stop again. Thanks to the team I think we are in a privileged position and well done to all of them.

Q. Mark, back to you. The start, obviously, was decisive and as you say, you got a good one. It's not always been your strength. Tell us about today's.

MW: Yeah, it went well. The first initial getaway was very good and control after that was good, but I knew straight away it was enough to get to turn one in good shape, so that was important. The next thing was the pit stop. When Nico went two laps short - aggressive underneath me in terms of pit stop, I thought 'I hope he can't get the tyres in'. But I was happy. Obviously I have full trust in the guys doing the strategy that he wasn't doing much more than me or in traffic or whatever. So that was the next key phase and then obviously down to the driver in terms of concentration to the maximum.

Q. Nico, tell us about how the strategies here this afternoon, because the way this race unfolded wasn't really the way it was predicted. There were expectations of two stops. Tell us how things changed during the race.

NR: Well, it was pretty straightforward. You know, there's two way to beat Mark. One is to go really long and hope that I'm that much faster in the end, which is even more difficult. The better chance was to go short and hope that I could put in some really good lap times straight away out the pits. But with the one lap it was just difficult and that's why I couldn't go fast enough to beat him on the track.

Q. Fernando, you mentioned avoiding the spinning Romain Grosjean in the Lotus. Just tell us in a bit more detail what it was like to see that car go through 90 degrees and work out what to do next.

FA: Well, I had a fantastic start and in the first 10 metres I was side by side with Romain and I was passing Lewis as well but it was fair. They went close to each other and I put the car in the middle I think I touched Romain with my rear left and his right front and after that touch he spun. We were lucky that nothing was damaged on the car. After that spin of Romain, positions mixed a little bit. I think I saw Vettel like position five or six after the start. So some people were hurt and some people gained some advantage.

Q. Back to you Mark, you're the sixth different winner in the first six grands prix of the season - never happened before in Formula One. What's it like to be part of this amazing season?

MW: Pretty good. I think we're a little bit... like Fernando said, it's up and down quali and the races are hard to predict so even for us, how we judge how the grand prix is going to unfold is not particularly straightforward. That is sometimes frustrating for us, because we'd like to push the limit and get the most out of everything we have, but we have to leave margin in not only strategy but also in driving and all that sort of stuff. So it's different to how it was in the past. So maybe we'll have seven different winners after Montreal, you never know. But hopefully we can get a bit of routine now. I think we got the maximum; we absolutely got the maximum out of this weekend. We were very, very fortunate to get pole. I was very, very happy with my lap. Then we knew that he race was our, not to lose, but it was a very, very special victory for us today. So, more to come hopefully.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q. Well done Mark. Was it any easier the second time? I don't suppose it was.

MW: This one was harder. Obviously the strategy was very different but we knew that from the start of the race that it was going to be different to the 2010 victory if I managed to try to win here. The start of the grand prix was reasonably going to plan on the supersoft. Pretty happy with how long that tyre went but we still couldn't quite get the gaps that we were after in terms of the mid-pack. Obviously Nico went for it, a bit shorter, and I was a little surprised that he went then because the tyres were still going not too bad - but it was worth a go. And then the race started to take a little bit of a different phase because then we had... going to the prime tyre - the soft - wasn't our ideal. We had to run it, obviously, but it was a very tricky tyre to get started. Obviously Seb was in the groove and underway and he was doing some very quick lap times in that part of the grand prix. And it was hard for us to get going, so I had to keep an eye on the Sebastian gap but also manage the... we needed to finish the grand prix on those tyres. So when Seb pitted, then I could revert my concentration back to Nico. It was pretty good after that. I must say that there were a lot of marbles on the track. Marbles are tricky, especially at Turn Three, the track was incredibly narrow there, it was just one car width wide, and then the rain. And it's always tricky when you're the first guy arriving into corners when it's sprinkling. So, again, on other tracks and in different conditions, a little bit of rain like that, you wouldn't really have to back off so much for it but all of a sudden the car is wheel spinning, the front's not biting, and around this place that's not very encouraging. Particularly when you're in the lead with only ten minutes to go in the race. So it required me then to really, really control the race and get the car home. The start was key, the pitstop was key, both of them went well. I did a little bit of work in between and we got an incredible victory that I'm very, very happy with. It's great memories for me to win here twice, fair and square off the pole positions. So I'm happy. Nico kept me honest. I had him under control but he drove well as well, and after that I didn't see what else happened - but yeah, it was good grand prix.

Q. Nico, at the start was there anything you could have done any better?

NR: No! My engineer and my team gave me a great start - but the problem was Mark had a great start too. I got away really well but he did too. We were miles clear of everybody else but not enough to get him. And from then on Mark drove a really, really good race, very controlled and at all times in control of what he was doing and in control of me also. So there was not much I could do. But in general it's been a really good weekend for me, for the team and I have to say that I think I had the best car out there today, that was my feeling, so that's really cool and lets me home for a lot more in the next few races. It's really nice to see how we're progressing so quickly.

Q. You got a lot closer in the rain, in the wet conditions, did you have any plans how you were going to get past?

NR: No - I was hoping I might get a chance or something but my tyres were really struggling too and also I had Fernando behind me and at times it was very difficult, just front and rear warm up, tyres lost temperature and then they picked up again towards the end. So it was a little bit easier in the end but very much on the limit.

Q. What does it mean to be standing here on the podium here in your home town, as it were, your home country?

NR: It's very special, having grown up here. It's great. The way through the tunnel is my way to school, so it was fantastic and I'm very happy. Fernando, I guess the crucial thing was jumping Hamilton at the pit stop?

FA: Yes. I think the start was the first point where we had the opportunity to gain some places, we did a great start again. We had to lift off because there was no space between Lewis and Grosjean, if not we could also overtake Lewis at the start and maybe the race was different. It was good being fourth in the first corner and then Lewis had quite big degradation because he was so slow and before the pit stop we get close and then with one extra lap it was enough to jump him at the stop. I think the tyres were surprisingly good, surprisingly consistent, so with the warm-up problems and the pace that we had after the pit stop, I think if we run longer with that tyre maybe there was the chance to win even more positions, as Sebastian tried to do. So, that was close but it is always difficult to predict. I think it was surprisingly good, the supersoft, and maybe surprisingly difficult to warm up the softs. You never know - only after the race.

Q. Did you have any plans at the end? You were all so close...

FA: If rain, then yes. I think at 20 laps to the end they said 'maybe rain is coming'. And I said, if rain is coming we have to attack. We would put on intermediate tyres and there is always a better chance to overtake in the wet than in the dry. We were out there ready to risk, because victory in Monaco means a lot. So, we were optimistic on that, but then five or six laps to the end with the drops of rain that we had, I think we were all praying 'no more rain' because it was so difficult. As Mark explained, the difficulty of being the first two or three cars, you don't know how the next corner will be. You have a little snap, a little bit of front problem in the corner before, you see all the drops on the visor on the straight and when you approach the next corner at 250kph, how wet will be that corner? You never know. At that point, five laps to the end, we all, I think, want to keep positions and finish the race as we were.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q. (Frederic Ferret - L'Equipe) Mark, were your settings very different from Seb's? And is it one of the keys to your victory today?

MW: I think, in general, qualifying has gone very well for me this year. Seb got me once in Bahrain, the rest have gone for well for me. Set-up-wise, we've always been pretty close, we always work very well as a team, to get the most out of both cars. He made some changes before qualifying, which - it looks in hindsight he wasn't particularly happy with. That's how it is sometimes for us drivers. Obviously we get it wrong and we get it right. Round here, if you haven't got the confidence, then you're not quick, which happened with Seb. He didn't have the confidence in qualifying and he couldn't produce the times, so that can happen at any venue. If you want to look at the battle between us then it was key that obviously qualifying went well for me but then I had my own battle with these guys, so if I just relaxed and tried to bed in by one tenth, I would have qualified eighth, so I need to keep my finger out and keep going.

Q. (Dan Knutson - Honorary) Mark, you and Seb are tied three points behind Fernando. You've said before that wins are what you really need for a championship; you got 25 points today. How much does that boost your championship bid?

MW: It's timely off the back of a difficult weekend for us in Barcelona, through a few small things that we got wrong, and ultimately we paid for that with no points in Barcelona. Up until then, generally, we've got the maximum out of most weekends, and that was the case this weekend. So that's all we can keep doing, Dan, is getting the most out of each weekend. In Shanghai, Nico was untouchable, Barcelona the Williams was quick. So we need to be scoring all the time and then when days like this come along you just cannot let them go at all. You have to grab them with both hands and feet and hang on to them like hell. That was the plan today but consistency is nice, but wins are what wins championships - well, DNFs can shag championships as well, but you need to win and then keep consistent.

Q. (Jaime Rodriguez -El Mundo) Fernando, you seemed extremely happy on the podium. What does it mean for you to be leading the championship, and what is the secret of this change in the team?

FA: I was happy all weekend. Yesterday there was some disappointment in the atmosphere around the result in qualifying, because we had been strong in free practice and then maybe people expected us to be fighting for better positions in qualifying, but inside the team we were extremely happy. We were fifth and seventh for the first time in 2012, both in Q3 after fighting to get through in some of the races one month ago, so this was definitely a very strong weekend with a good qualifying position and I think a good race position as well. In fact we overtook some other teams in the Constructors' Championship today with some good points, finally, so I was happy for that, happy for the direction or happy for the momentum that we seemed to have kept from the Mugello test so that we brought some updates for the car. Everything seems to work, not as at the start of the championship when some of the updates were negative and we were a little bit lost, so now we are happy not for the result, not for the pace which we understand that we need to improve - we are not Page 6 of 6 the fastest out there - but happy for the direction that it seems we are in. Everything that we put on the car seems positive, so the next couple of weeks will be important.

Q. (Vincent Marre - Sports Zeitung) Mark, at what stage did you think you had the race won?

MW: Lap 78, out of turn 19. That's Monaco. I watched the 1983 or '82 Monaco Grand Prix. Prost was leading with two laps to go and he crashed. So you never get ahead of yourself around here, because you'll get bitten in the arse really hard. So after the last corner was when I thought I was going to win.

Q. (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, the lap before your pit stop, you had two purple sectors. Was the set of tyres good enough to do again the next but one lap and could you have possibly jumped Nico or even Mark?

FA: Yeah, definitely I think so, but as I explained before, nobody predicted the problems with the soft tyre warm-up today. The temperature, the track conditions, whatever it was, the soft was not very quick at the beginning, so when the people around us stopped, you need to make a decision. At the same time, nobody predicted that on lap 30, the supersoft would do pink sectors every lap. Knowing now what Sebastian tried to do and how our in lap was and the tyre state on that lap, with a few more laps, for sure we could jump Nico and Mark.

Q. (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Mark, last year, at the same Grand Prix, you had a completely different situation than you have today, mainly compared to your teammate. He had won several races, you nothing, even inside the team it was different. Can you tell us what is the big difference between last year and this year?

MW: Yeah, last year was a little bit of a mystery to be honest. The gap sometimes was really really extreme and it was hard for me to understand why it was like that sometimes. I think there was also a factor of me getting on top of the tyres but it wasn't all of it. I didn't feel that I had lost that much form but as the season went on, obviously things got a bit closer and a little bit better. But you're correct in your question, the first five months was very tough and I was in a different category to the other car, whereas this year it's much much more like 2009 or 2010, which is nice.

Q. (Leonid Novozhilov - F1 Life) Mark, Red Bull Racing won today and the last two Grands Prix in Monaco. How do you do it?

MW: Well, we've been on pole position for the last three years here as well, which is a big help. 2010 was a similar race - actually the last three have been similar. I think they've all been one stop races, obviously different safety cars. Sebastian had a red flag to help him a little bit to get him over the line last year, but generally I think that we've had a very very good car every time we've come here. I think this year is probably the weakest car we've had here in the three years that we've come here, but it was still enough to win, so the other years were a little bit more straightforward, this one was much much more difficult. I don't know, maybe the guys are drinking a lot of Red Bull and it gets them in the zone for the special weekend, but they're very fortunate we've won three in row here and it's a brilliant effort from the team.

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