Sunday’s FIA press conference


Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were joined by Fernando Alonso for the post-race press conference in Istanbul…

Q: Sebastian, today most drivers needed to use Plan B but it all seemed to go very much to plan for you today.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I think we had a smooth race. Obviously a very good start which was crucial and then I was able to pull a gap, right at the first stint, which was important as we could then afford to stay out a lap longer, wait to see what the others are doing in terms of strategy and just react. We always had this three, four to eight-second cushion to the second guy and it makes my life easier, easier to find out which strategy really works. All in all I am very happy. We lacked the Friday. I had an accident on Friday and crashed the car badly and all the guys, not only the guys around my car but Mark’s guys, helped a lot and together they fixed the car. It meant some extra hours for them which I am sorry for but I think yesterday and today makes up for it. I am very pleased with the result and big thanks to the team.

Q: Talk us through briefly your own tactics. It seemed you had to be quite fluid today?
SV: Yeah, it wasn’t easy from the start to know what is going to happen. Of course you have a rough ideas about tyres and how long they will last but you really have to wait the first and maybe the second stint to see this is the trend, this is the way we are going. In the end, I think I could have afforded to stay out on my first set of prime, but you have to be in a position for whatever comes. I could have made it easily to the chequered flag, which gives us the pit-stop, around 15-20 seconds, but then again, if something happens or an accident elsewhere and a safety car comes out and obviously you are on a used tyre. I think it was the right thing to come in another time, even though it was just a very short fourth stint after the third stop. It was very much in control. I am very happy with how we communicated during the race and how we reacted so very, very pleased and I think since China we have definitely made a step forward. We have learned our lesson and we have to make sure that we keep this momentum into the next couple of races.

Q: Mark, an eventful race for you. You lost ground at the start and then again to Fernando during the race. How did you make your comeback?
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, it was eventful wasn’t it. The start wasn’t that easy out of that side of the grid, which we probably expected a little bit. But it is not the end of the world as we have seen the last race starting 18th, it doesn’t really matter if you are on the dirty side or whatever, even if you’re at the front. I spent a few laps trying to clear Nico (Rosberg), which is obviously not ideal and Seb got a bit of a gap. I was then a little bit on the back foot from there. I cleared Nico and the guys pitted me a bit earlier than I expected, as I knew that the undercuts were coming into play and clearly there was a gap for us to come into. That’s the way it went. We made our bed in terms of our strategy from then on. The fight with Fernando in the middle of the race was a little bit unexpected. He drove fantastic today. It was a good fight. Both of us used the DRS to get the moves done, so that was part of it, but the tyres play a huge role. In the end I had a fresher set of tyres from qualifying and got the job done on Fernando and that was it really. Congratulations to Seb: another victory. He is on a roll obviously but this is the maximum I could get today.

Q: There were a lot of multiple phase overtakes today, passes lasting several corners. What was that like?
MW: I just think it is the way the circuit is on that last sector there. You try to get into the braking for 12 and then the guys can either run round the outside at 13 and then you have to try and have the rhythm or the line correct even to open the next lap. That is the reason why it is like that around here.

Q: Fernando, you were second for quite a bit of the race. Third at the end but you must be pleased with the pace of Ferrari today?
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, absolutely. We did a good weekend overall. The car performed a bit better than what we did in the first three races of the championship. Finally we enjoy racing again and we enjoy a race fighting for the podium positions and as you said changing second and third position through the race. Finally we enjoy racing again.

Q: Tell us about the pass on Mark and where he got you back
FA: As Mark said we lost a little bit of time behind Rosberg at the beginning of the race, so we forgot anymore the possibility to fight with Sebastian for P1, so we concentrated on P2. I had a little advantage in terms of tyre degradation maybe at that part of the race compared to Mark and as Mark said we used the DRS and I was able to overtake him. Then, in the last part of the race, it was more or less the opposite. We had maybe a little bit of a disadvantage with tyre degradation and we lost the position again but it was okay. I think fighting with Red Bull in these days is quite difficult and we were close so hopefully next time we will try again.

Q: Sebastian, you’re opening up quite a nice lead in the championship now. You have 93 points.
SV: It is good to get as many points as you can every single race. But it is a long, long way and we saw how quickly things have changed last year especially with Fernando coming and going and coming and going and in the end it was very, very close. We have to really go step-by-step, see every race on its own and try to maximise our points. But a good start to the season always helps, but it is a long, long way to go. Four out of 19, so you can work out how many points there are still to get so we have to keep focused.


Q: Sebastian, three out of four wins and a second place. It has got to be the best start to the season hasn’t it?
SV: Yeah, I think statistically you are right. Cannot really complain. A very good race today, very smooth and pretty much in control from the start to finish. It was a bit of a comfortable situation having Nico at the beginning behind me, at least for the first five laps, as I was able to open a gap maybe quicker than if Mark had been behind. Throughout the race I had this cushion and we were able to react rather than act, so very pleased. This one is for the guys, as I wrecked the car on Friday, but they got it back together and everyone played his role. Not only my mechanics, also Mark’s mechanics helped a lot to fix the car and get ready for Saturday. I have to say, when I walked in on Saturday morning every little worry was gone immediately, as the mechanics gave me the impression that nothing happened, nothing is wrong and we will continue as usual. This helps a lot. People I see in the paddock, I see them from time-to-time, but people I see in the garage, I am working with them all year long and it means a lot if people that are close to you give you the impression there is nothing to worry about and they make you feel comfortable. It was a very good race and I am obviously very, very happy.

Q: It looked a comfortable race as well. It didn’t look as though you had any dramas throughout. Was the car perfect as well?SV: Especially the first two stints you have to really see where you are. The tyres are tricky to handle. We saw today again different strategies with different people. It is never perfect as naturally the tyres go away from you at some stage and you have to deal with that. I think there was nobody today with no tyre wear. I think we expected this circuit to be extremely challenging, especially around turn eight it was very difficult to handle. But being in the lead and having this extra cushion plus we also had the pace in case we had to react. We never had someone really close behind which might be a completely different situation. The pace was good today and the car I was very happy with, even with the lack of practice on Friday. Starting the race it is a bit uncertain, you have to find your reference points, braking points as with higher fuel you do not know where they are. If I think about braking where I did yesterday in qualifying then I think I did that once. But that was not the target. A very good race and as I said straight after very much in control.

Q: Mark, tell us about the start, were your worst fears realised?
MW: Yeah, it was, but no panic these days. It’s a long race, last year’s regulations and years before, when passing was very very difficult – yeah, you might be panicking a bit more but no huge panic. Good start from Nico and yeah, he was struggling in the first few laps. Obviously then Seb got the nice cushion and the gap and it’s a bit like in tennis or squash, when you have the ball in control of what you want to do, Seb drove a great race and then when you’re in control of the manipulation round the stops it’s an accumulation of making life easier, so it worked out well for him today. I got the maximum I could, really. I would have not liked to have had the fight with Fernando earlier in the race, middle part but again, he drove a very good race and we had a little bit on there with Fernando using the DRS eventually to execute a move coming close to me. That was good and then at the end of the race I could come back. Obviously I had a slightly better set of tyres than Fernando did which is very important these days. We know the tyres are virtually everything and I arrived back on him and thankfully returned the favour. I was saying to myself ‘I can’t finish third having started eighteenth on the grid and then finished third having started on the front row.’ So I needed to finish second, so thank God we did that. The guys did a great job all weekend, maximum result for the team, so we can’t do much more than that as a team. Yeah, wasn’t a bad car race, I think. I’ll have a look at it on telly, see what it’s like.

Q: Do you think you could have fought for the win if it hadn’t have been for the gap at the start?
MW: Would have been difficult to beat Seb today. It would have made it easier, of course. When you get that four or five second buffer, probably four seconds, Nico was doing his race and that’s fair enough. Could have made a cleaner move initially then Nico got me back so in the end, the result is as it deserves to be, I think.

Q: Fernando, as James was saying in the unilateral, third place must feel good, after the previous races.
FA: Yeah, it feels good. Obviously we capitalised on the opportunity. I think we were in condition to be second, maybe, in Malaysia. I touched with Hamilton when I was passing him for third and then we had the opportunity to catch Button as well for second so we missed that opportunity and today we had another one and finally we did it. It was a good race from us, I think, a good weekend overall. Friday we had some issues but Saturday and Sunday were perfect for the team, for the strategy, for everything. So yeah, very, very happy with the result but this is only the first step. We want to win races and first we need to be on the podium as we were today and now we need to keep moving forward.

Q: Obviously you had two battles with Mark, one went your way, the next one didn’t. Was it down to tyre-wear that it didn’t go your way right at the end?
FA: Yeah, I think that these days tyres make a huge difference. Even with three or four laps on the tyres you can feel the drop in performance so I think in the middle part of the race, when I overtook Mark, maybe my tyres were in better condition, because I was comfortable at that part of the race. In the last part, I think Mark had a new set of prime tyres and I didn’t, and maybe that was enough to make a difference. We also saw cars performing a little bit better with hard tyres, cars performing better with soft tyres as well, so we need to see, try to analyse and anyway, fighting with Red Bull is not easy.

Q: Next race is in Spain, an important one obviously for your fans, what are your thoughts about that?
FA: Well, I think we need to keep working, keep understanding better this car, these tyres, the problems that we may have in the factory. I think we need to keep in this direction for Barcelona, this improving course that it seems that we start here and this has to be only the first step of our recovery and in Barcelona there is much more to come from us, I’m sure.


Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado do S