Sebastian Vettel held his nerve to record victory in the 2010 European Grand Prix.
Here are his thoughts on the race alongside McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who finished second and third respectively.
2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1h40m34.613s
3. Jenson BUTTON (McLaren), 1h40m37.229s
Q: Sebastian, fourth time of asking and you finally convert one of those poles into a race win.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, it is about time I would say. It wasn’t the easiest way so far but what happened, happened. We cannot change it but it is good to be back and on a circuit where we didn’t expect to be that strong, to be quick enough all the time in the race to slightly pull away, find the gap, and then carry the car home. It wasn’t as easy as expected. When I saw the safety car board it was just on the main straight and I thought this will be tough as the cars that follow might get a stop for free. But I was lucky the first couple of cars were in the same situation that I was and after the safety car I had a huge lock up into last corner trying to brake as late as I could. The tyres when you go around slowly and after the pit stop you never really have the chance to bring them up to temperature. They were colder than I expected and a big lock up but I could stay in front. After that I had a bit of a flat spot but it was alright. Obviously a lot of laps to do but I tried not to do push too hard. When I got the message that Lewis had to go to the pits to get his drive-through I backed off a bit and finally we are back here. It is good to get a lot of points. It is good for the championship and very pleased with today. I think the guys can be extremely proud. Another tough weekend for them. As I said already yesterday, very little sleep but it pays off, so we keep our head in and focus on the next one. It is our home grand prix. I think it is more or less everybody’s home grand prix but it is good for the team. We had a sensational race weekend last year and we try to repeat that. One more thing. Most important of today is the fact that Mark (Webber) had quite a big shunt but he is fine. It shows that the cars get safer and safer but still there is a lot of risk. I am happy. I asked on the radio, so I am happy to hear he is all good.
Q: Lewis, you had your drive through penalty. Talk us through what happened when you saw the safety car coming out and you were side-by-side on the track.
Lewis HAMILTON: I don’t remember too much about it to be honest. I was coming round turn one and literally as I got to the safety car line I saw that the safety car was pretty much alongside me. I thought I had passed it, so I continued and that was it.
Q: You certainly gave it your all trying to make up for that penalty. But hunting Sebastian down did you ever get the feeling you could close him or was it a fruitless chase, did you think?
LH: For me from the start we obviously touched at turn one and I had a bit of a vibration from then on and so the worry was that something was perhaps damaged at the front and also it was a long time on those tyres. I was really trying to look after the car. At certain stages it looked like he was slowing down, so I tried to close the gap but he was able to react to that, so therefore I just tried to bring the car home in one piece. There is nothing worse than getting the whole way through the race and something happening at the end. And like Sebastian said, it is great to hear that Mark is fine. I haven’t seen the incident but it is good to see that he is well.
Q: Jenson, from seventh on the grid a podium finish. Maybe unexpected. Certainly very welcome for you but maybe a frustrating race as well behind the BMW Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi?
Jenson BUTTON: Yeah, I don’t think it is a surprise considering the speed but starting seventh and finishing third I was definitely helped out by the safety car. The safety car lights came on just as I entered the pits, so it was perfect for me whereas these guys had to go around another lap. That was good. But then I got stuck behind Kobayashi for the rest of the race. His pace was okay. He was pulling away from the rest of the field but you can’t overtake around here. I was running pretty low downforce, so the straight-line speed was good but you just couldn’t get the exits. I couldn’t get the exits I wanted. As soon as he pulled in I had three laps before the end of the race when I could have some fun and see what lap time I could do with the car, so a great finish. I also had a really fun first lap in the race. Pretty crazy I must say with Robert Kubica and Mark. Three abreast into turn eight but it was great. No touching and a really good battle. A great result for the whole team to get a second and third. We weren’t quite good enough to win the race here. Red Bull were and Sebastian did a great job. Germany one England nil at the moment but we will see what happens in a little while. But a great day for us. Also I will add to the comments these two have made about Mark. That was a horrific accident. I am sure we all saw on TV. Something similar happened in GP2 and very happy he could walk away from that. It doesn’t ever get much worse than that, so I am glad he is okay.
Q: Just try and explain some of the confusion for us when the safety car did come out as yourself and eight other drivers are being investigated by the stewards for the lap time that you did on your way into the pits.
JB: I had the safety car light and the safety car warning from the team when I went round the last corner of the lap which is a full speed corner. I went round that corner, slowed up, obviously as you slow up anyway after that corner. The problem is where I was on the circuit. It was at the end of the lap. I couldn’t slow up because as soon as I got the warning I would have had to hit the brakes and you don’t want to do that around a high speed corner. But we will see what happens later after the race.
Q: Sebastian, we should mention the football as Jenson has brought that up as well. I think whatever happens in Bloemfontein there will be smiles when you go back to Milton Keynes and the factory on Monday morning.
SV: Yeah definitely, whatever we had today in our hands we were successful. We worked as a team. When it comes to racing we have the same opinion most of the time. When it comes to football, especially this afternoon I think we go two ways. Obviously I support Germany. The majority of the team backs up England, so we will see. It will be an exciting match. Of course I wish all the best to the German boys. I think if we manage at least a draw, then in penalties we should be fine.
Q: Sebastian, tell us about the start as it was pretty close with Lewis down into the first corner.
SV: Yes, I thought I had a very good initial launch and then I saw in the mirrors Mark and Lewis fighting. I think Lewis passed him right away and then braking for turn one I had no reason to try something stupid as I had nothing really to defend. I saw that Lewis was quite late on the brakes on the inside, so I tried to give as much room as I could. Once you set your braking point it is difficult to react and say okay I delay it. It was getting quite close. I think there wasn’t much I could have done to go further on the left. I think we touched. I was quite lucky. I felt the hit but a couple of corners later I felt there was nothing wrong with the car. I think he hit the inside kerb a little bit, so there is not much you can do. You get a bit of a jump from the cars. But it was closer than I expected, closer than I wanted. After that I was very happy with the car. I pulled away. Managed a very good gap at that time. I was a bit afraid when I saw the safety car boards when I entered the main straight as obviously 20 seconds earlier or 10 seconds earlier I would have been able to react right. I thought I don’t know where the guys are behind me, so depending on the gaps they might get a stop for free. But it worked out all pretty well. I think we managed the situation well. Restart was tight again. I had a big lock up. I was trying to defend and probably was a little bit too late plus underestimated the tyre temperature at that stage, so I had a bit of a front right flat spot after that. But when I knew that Lewis had to get the drive through I could adjust the pace and just try to bring the car home. I think as we said already before and seeing the pictures of the race, the most important fact is that Mark is fine. For some people they miss a little bit the attraction sometimes of the cars and they say at this time in Formula One compared to 30 years back it is boring, nothing happens and so on but I think on days like this you get reminded that still the speeds are extremely high and if something goes wrong it can go terribly wrong, so I think the most important is that he is fine and not much more to say.
Q: What about the tyres? Everyone said it was all about tyre management here.
SV: I think everyone was positively surprised. The options at the start worked really, really well. I did not try to push too hard. You don’t know the reaction after five or 10 laps. I tried to manage the tyres. I have to say they really worked well and I never got the feeling that they are dropping away, so towards the end I think the circuit got better and better and better, so it was improving, so therefore for the tyres it was an easier life today, this Sunday, than two weeks ago.
Q: Lewis, at the start you were having quite a battle with Sebastian. What happened to Mark? Did you see him? What was your feeling with Sebastian going into that first corner?
LH: I was clearly past Mark. I was way past him, so I did not see where he was. I came through turn one and I was very close to Sebastian. I saw that a gap was available and I went for it. I outbraked him and we were pretty much steaming into the corner at the same pace but I was more or less half way up the inside. He tried to give me as much room as possible whilst trying to get around the corner. I cut the kerb which pushed me much closer to him and we touched for a moment. I broke my front wing, so I was very fortunate to be able to keep up the pace and then came in with the safety car. The team did a great job to change the front wing and change the tyres. After that the pace was much stronger. I was able to challenge Sebastian pace-wise but it is impossible to overtake on this track when the cars are within a second. It is unbelievable even with the F-duct. I tried my best and at the end it was just done to just looking after the tyres and bringing the car home.
Q: Sebastian just mentioned when the safety car went in he went a little wide at the final corner. It looked as though you were going to have a go and have a go on the inside.
LH: Sebastian did a very good job at the actual restart pulling away, so I tried to stay as close as possible but it wasn’t that easy. He made a big mistake but fortunately was able to recover from it and I didn’t take any silly gambles. I took the corner normally and he got quite a good exit.
Q: So you are leading the championship going to Silverstone, your home race. What does that mean to you?
LH: I think it is just very, very positive to be leading both championships for myself and Jenson and also for the team. We’ve been working so hard all year and I think the result clearly shows the effort that we have been putting in. It is great that we are now getting the results that we deserve but it is going to be interesting going to Silverstone. Hopefully we will be able to close the gap with the Red Bulls and really challenge them.
Q: Jenson, your feelings about going to Silverstone second in the championship?
JB: I think it is amazing for our team and amazing for us two. Two Brits heading the British Grand Prix first and second in the championship. We couldn’t really wish for anything. We also head to that grand prix with an update for the car. A lot of teams had updates here and we didn’t and we have come away with a reasonably good result, so it is all positive at the moment. Today for me wasn’t the most exciting race, sat behind Kobayashi for most of it. But the first lap was a lot of fun. I was side-by-side with Robert for 10 corners from turn one to turn 12. Both of us going around Mark Webber, one of us on the inside and one of us on the outside at turn eight. Really, really good fun first lap. Clean but also fun. After that I got very lucky on the entry to the pits with the safety car just as I was coming around the last two corners. Turning right for the last corner I heard safety car, safety car from the team and then saw the board, entered the pits and I was able to jump Robert and two other cars. I was very lucky at that point and then I got stuck behind Kobayashi who was doing a good job I must say on his first set of tyres but still he was holding me up quite a bit. But you just can’t overtake and when he pitted I was able to go 1.2, 1.3 seconds quicker than when I was behind him, so a little bit frustrating but great to get on the podium from seventh.
Q: Your fastest lap at the end was a demonstration of what you could do?
JB: Was it quickest? Yeah. It was also fun, good to really find what the car can do. I was running pretty low downforce here. I think it worked for us but I just couldn’t get close to have a chance (to overtake) on the straight, but it was nice when I had some clear air to see what the car can do and it felt pretty good. Considering we have an update coming, I think we’re in reasonable condition.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto, Motor und Sport) I missed the beginning and maybe Sebastian has answered this question but how much was your car affected after the little collision with Lewis in the second corner, and later on when you braked after the restart?
SV: Obviously I felt the hit in turn two. Obviously what I was most afraid of was that his front wing touched my rear tyre. I didn’t know what part of his car touched me and where exactly. I was a bit afraid that maybe I caught a puncture but after the first lap, and after a couple of corners I felt that everything was alright. When I came back now after the race and stopped the car here I saw that the right hand side floor was quite damaged a little bit. It didn’t seem to make that great a difference. We obviously need to see in the numbers if we have lost something. Balance-wise, I was extremely happy. I think the circuit ramped up a lot and it got quicker and quicker. Regarding the flat spot, it was obviously a bit easier when Lewis had to come in and was losing about fifteen seconds at this stage, so I could control my pace and carry the car home. Yeah, basically try to prevent any further front right locking up. With higher speed, I was taking care of the tyres. It’s difficult to say how much it really cost. Obviously at the end, I never really tried to push hard because I didn’t want to try anything stupid but I think looking at the first stint and then after the restart, when we were in the pushing mode, let’s say I was very happy and the pace seemed to be very strong and we were able to pull away a bit more initially at the beginning of the race and afterwards at two or three tenths a lap, something like that.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Sebastian, it seems that the circuits in the second part of the season will suit your car more. What do you think?
SV: We hope that the next couple of circuits are more in our direction but as Jenson said before, everyone is pushing hard, bringing updates, so we need to see what steps the other teams make. We know what we have in our hands, so I think naturally our car suits those kinds of tracks, but we still need to go out there and get the job done, working well at the weekend, managing the tyres, finding the pace and everything. Even though the car sometimes suits the track, you might not face the easiest type of weekend. There’s still a long, long way, it’s a tough job, you need to be there all the time. I think this is what we have learned so far. It’s quite easy for the next couple of races, knowing that what we have to do is just finish up high all the time.
Q: (Ivan Martin La Gaceta) Sebastian, how was it to race and manage the F-duct at the same time?
SV: In terms of the F-duct, you can ask these two guys because they have more experience with it. It’s our first race with it. I think you get used to it quite quickly and not operating it seems harder than actually operating it, because it becomes automatic and you just put your hand down there and close the hole, close the hole. I think many drivers will have the same opinion about the system. It was a very smart idea, it’s a big benefit if you manage to set it up right but obviously you don’t have your hands on the steering wheel all the time; I was managing to drink, I used the right hand side to press a button on the left. It also depends on how many adjustments you make per lap, brake balance and so onâ€¦ you get used to it but it’s not the most comfortable thing.
Q: (Ivan Martin La Gaceta) For all three of you, you just saw Webber’s crash for the first time, how do you personally feel when you see something like that?
SV: As we said, motor sport is dangerous. It’s what is written on every ticket, even on yours. There’s always a bit of a risk. Obviously when we go out there we go hard, we go racing, so we try our best and try to overtake the car that we are racing in front, try to pass. Sometimes it’s close and if things go wrong, I think it shows how high the speeds are and what can happen, so you should never lose respect. From the public point of view, as I said, many times it’s been criticised that Formula One is boring compared to the past and so on. I think that as a racing driver today, you seem to need the same qualities as thirty or fifty years ago. You need to deliver, you need to be fast, you need to be brave and get everything together.
LH: It really shows just how safe and how much of a good job the FIA and Formula One has done all together, also with the circuits in terms of improving safety. It’s something that we need to continue to push but it wouldn’t be the same without the danger factor, so it’s good to have it there. It’s sometimes good to be reminded of it but it’s nice to be able to see from a big crash like that fellow drivers walking away uninjured. I think that’s the key.
JB: The same. The great thing is that it really shows how far we’ve come with safety. That was a massive accident, the height that he got, it was the same in the GP2 race also today. There was a big, big accident. I think the guy was a little bit more hurt than what Mark was. I think it shows how big an accident we can have and we can walk away. Obviously there can be slightly different circumstances and it would be a lot more serious, but we’re doing all we can to try to make it as safe as it possibly can be. We’re racing at 200+ miles an hour, cornering at very high speed, pulling high G, so it’s never going to be a safe sport, we all know that and you have to respect the car that you’re driving. As Sebastian said, it’s an 800 horsepower beast that doesn’t want to be tamed. It’s something that we understand when we step into it but I think we are also pretty happy with the improvements that we have made over the last few years.
Q: (Marco Degli’Innocenti La Gazzetta dello Sport) For you all: following up Livio’s question, do you think that at this stage of the championship the battle for the title is restricted to Red Bull and McLaren?
SV: Well, there’s a long way (to go). I can only repeat what I’ve said so far. Two races can change a lot. Obviously in terms of team ranking McLaren had a very good run in the last two races with two one-two finishes. Looking at how it looks now, if you look at the points only, I think it’s between us and McLaren, but still Ferrari have made a step forward this weekend. They were probably struggling a little bit yesterday, I don’t know what was going on. They seemed a bit stronger in the morning and on Friday. There’s no time to rest, they will come back, there’s no question about that. It will be tight. At the moment it probably looks as if Mercedes are losing out a little bit but even they can play a role, even if they don’t score points but if they have a very strong car at the end, you obviously fight I don’t know who. In the case that we fight against the McLaren drivers, if they are also around, they can obviously play a big part. We will see. It’s not even half time, so there’s a long way to go.
JB: It looks like these two teams are very strong but I don’t think you can ever count out Ferrari. This was obviously a tough race for them. They’ve been a bit unlucky and also Mercedes. It was a bad race for them, but we all have bad races. I had a couple last year. But you can come back from that and I think that they will be competitive. A lot of the teams had new updates this race and maybe they’re not working to the full potential. I think when we get to Silverstone we will see a little bit more of where people are. We’ve just got to keep pushing. Every race you’ve got to be bringing stuff, otherwise you drop behind. I’ve never known a year like it.
Q: (Stefano Mancini La Stampa) Lewis, do you think that the late decision of the stewards about your overtaking of the safety car helped you to come second after the drive-through?
LH: I don’t know really. I haven’t watched the race but as far as I was concerned, I had passed the safety car, at least that’s how I saw it. I thought I had passed the safety car one line and in the end this is the way the race went. I think my general pace was quite a bit better than a lot of the people behind me. We were competitive from the beginning. I think that’s the reason why we ended up second.
Q: (Stephane BarbÃ© L’Equipe) Can you comment a little bit on this penalty with the safety car? Did you see the car coming out of the pits? Did you hesitate to overtake it?
LH: No, when I came down the straight, I was accelerating, I didn’t see the safety car coming out and then as I came round turn one, we know that obviously the safety car was out but I was able to push until the safety car two line, I think, and at that point I saw the safety car alongside me and I thought I was passed, so when I noticed it, he was already behind and so I continued