Following his victory in today’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Mark Webber was joined by Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel in the press conference.
1. Mark WEBBER (Red Bull), 1h41m05.571s
2. Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari), 1h41m23.392s
3. Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull), 1h41m24.823s
Q: Mark, a commanding win by the end of 70 laps. But it was probably the 43 you managed in your first stint that really set it up.
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, that’s right. The start we always knew was going to be a little bit tricky on that side. Fernando got a good start. Seb’s was pretty good as well. But we all jumped into the slipstream in the run to the first corner and then I had Lewis (Hamilton) there as well, so had to make sure to at least get out in third position. If not, see what happened in front. Then settled in. You know around here it is going to be very difficult to make any moves on the track unless anybody made a mistake, so it was not a surprise to see Seb disappearing with Fernando doing his absolute best but I was still marking him and waiting for the crucial part of the race to see what would happen. That being the pit stop. Then we had the safety car and I had to go off strategy to try and pass Fernando and make it a bit easier to try and do that. But we were asking a lot of the option tyres. You are right, building from safety car through to when we decided when to make the stop we knew that we needed around 20 seconds but I told the guys â€˜let’s get a bit more of a buffer to make sure the guys have less pressure in the pit stop.’ All those types of things. But they were on it anyway. The front left was completely finished, it was pretty difficult with the grip that we had finishing that stint. But in the end, I knew once I got the primes on, these guys had already done 20 odd laps and the race was pretty much in the bag. I knew that Seb had some difficulties on the re-start for whatever reason and it was a bit of a gift to day for me. But I have not had many of them, so I will take today’s. Tough luck for Seb as he lost a couple of spots. I enjoyed the fight with Fernando at the start. Not much of a fight but as I was saying I was just trying to get the most out of the car and keep pressing on and we were gapping Felipe (Massa) and Lewis. But an incredible day for the team. Another victory. One-two was our goal. Unfortunately we didn’t get that, so we still got a big chunk of the points, so it was a good day.
Q: Not a bad way to celebrate your 150th grand prix and we heard you say on the team radio when you lapped Michael Schumacher â€˜boy that felt good.’
MW: Well, you know he did it a lot when I was in the middle of the field. A calibre of Michael, a driver like him, you know that you need to get everything right at this level. Credit to the team. Everyone pulling together. To lap someone of Michael’s quality is a good day out, so it is not rubbing anyone’s nose in it, it is just a unique thing to happen.
Q: Fernando, Mark said that the victory might have been a bit of a gift. A bit fortunate for him. Was second place for you and Ferrari a bonus given the pace difference between yourself and Red Bull this weekend?
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, I think so. But I think we have some credit still from this year’s bad luck. If we have five or six more gifts like this, still not enough maybe. I think it was a good race. The start was super. We passed Mark thanks maybe to the clean side and then we were side-by-side with Vettel in the first corner. Not able to overtake this time but very close. Then very stressful moments when the safety car came in. Tried to go to the pits. We were before the last corner, so there is always the minimum time to respond, so we were taking care about all the stints to do a good Sunday today with no mistakes, no penalties, not anything, so we found ourselves second. Mark was incredibly quick and the soft tyres this weekend were not too soft, so he was able to do 40 laps with a set of tyres which normally is not the case. Overall a good weekend knowing that the pace was not good enough. We had 40 laps with Vettel behind and one second or two seconds quicker than us, so the lay-out of the circuit also helps today as I think on a normal circuit it was impossible to maintain second.
Q: Sebastian, third place after starting on pole. The safety car caused a lot of confusion, a lot of chaos. You came in, in what seemed like a very late call for your pit stop but it was the resumption behind the safety car that seems to have clearly upset you. We saw your expression as you had the drive-through penalty, raising your hands off the steering wheel as you came in.
Q: Sebastian VETTEL: I didn’t understand what was going on and why I was penalised. It was a question mark for me. I didn’t understand at the time. Now after the race people told me what happened. The start was fine. We knew it was a long way to the first corner, so Fernando got the tow but we were able to defend. After that we had a very good first stint where we could use our speed. Then with the safety car it was very late, a late call, so I just managed to come in and after that usually it was a very easy race from there as we knew we had the pace advantage. We were probably the fastest car out there, so not much to do. At the re-start I was sleeping. I was probably relying too much on the radio but somewhere in the first stint I Iost the radio connection and I didn’t hear anything. I saw the safety car boards and was waiting for instruction when the safety car would come in. I didn’t see the lights. Also Mark, usually the leader when he does the re-start, he tries to drop back and then dictates the pace. Mark was very close and I was warming up my car. I was sure we had another lap, so I didn’t really understand. Then I saw Mark and the safety car at the second last corner, quite a big gap to myself. I noticed the safety car going into pits, so that must be the re-start and I was caught out, so I lost a lot of momentum and lost a lot in the first couple of laps which was not the intention. Then I got the drive-through. But during the race I did not understand. Pretty unlucky. Obviously very disappointed as otherwise it would have been a walk in the park today and we could have won the race but it didn’t happen, so we saved the podium. After that I was behind Fernando. I was clearly quicker but they are faster than us on the straights. We knew that, so it was impossible to pass.
Q: It is not the first time this season you have started on pole and not won the race. Is this the hardest one to take?
SV: Well, as I said I did not understand inside the car what was happening and I still do not really understand why I did get a penalty. In the end I should have won. For some reason it did not happen and we finished third. As Mark said none the less it was a good result for the team but surely I am very disappointed.
Q: Mark, you go into the summer break now as the man leading the World Championship. How much does that mean to you and how much does that spur you on for the return when we come back to racing in Spa?
MW: The victory is good. To maximise your opportunities is always good irrespective of what happens to your rivals. Not getting ahead of ourselves. We’ve still got some big events coming up. They all dish out the same amount of points, but all of them will provide different challenges for us as a team and technically for the cars. It is nice to have a few more points than other people, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Looking forward to the break for sure. Very, very timely. But two sensational venues to finish the European season off in Spa and Monza, so looking forward to them. Spa we all love driving there, so looking forward to going there.
Q: Mark, so you managed to stay awake this afternoon then?
MW: Ha, ha, yeah. The first stint I thought â€˜here we go.’ Budapest all over again. All of us have followed many cars around this track for the duration of the race. The start was pretty much standard, probably what we expected. It was going to be very, very difficult for me to pass Sebastian off the start. It was always damage limitation. Fernando got a very good start and was straight in behind Seb and then we settled into the first stint. It was totally obvious that Seb would start pulling away. Fernando was driving on the limit and trying to pull away from the other guys within reason for his first stint. I was just waiting for the stop or the part of the race where we could try to do something about Fernando and make an extra position and get our grid position back. Then there was some debris out of turn 11. The safety car was deployed and we had to go off strategy, to do something different to the Ferraris. Not a massive gamble, but not without its risks. We knew the option tyre was pretty sturdy but I still had to find the limit of driving flat out but without going off the edge. If you lose either end of the car I would not have had enough of a gap over Fernando. I needed to pull over 20 seconds to him and the front left tyre was not enjoying the last 10 laps for sure, particularly in the last corner. I was pretty happy with the way I drove there. I knew I needed to put some decent, consistent, solid laps in and pick the back markers off. Fernando would be coming across then too. All those facets are very important in the race. Once we got the gap it made it more comfortable for the boys in the pit lane. I was very conservative for the whole thing, got the stop done and then went back out on the primes and controlled the race from there.
Q: You mentioned it was a bit of a gamble. You must have had a very short time to decide as you were one of only two top drivers who stayed out. Otherwise everybody came in.
MW: Yeah, you would have to ask our strategy guys that. We didn’t have much time. Seb and Fernando, particularly Seb had the least time out of all of us, then Fernando and all of a sudden I was thinking when they told me to â€˜stay out, stay out’ coming out of turn 13 and then we come to the pit lane I said â€˜come on Fernando please pit, please pit, pull off, pull off.’ At least then I could try something. He pulled into the pit lane and I thought now I have to get a stop back in the race at some stage of the race. It was pretty much the obvious thing to do having been put in that situation, but for someone like me who probably had a bit of a pace advantage we could try to do something different, so it worked out okay.
Q: I guess the victory is pretty unexpected, isn’t it? You were one of the quickest cars.
MW: Yeah, unless Seb had a technical problem. He was on pole and he was leading the first stint and unless he makes a mistake or has a problem it is probably going to be his race. Second was certainly on the cards for me. But this is racing and sometimes it happens. Most of my other victories haven’t been gifted to me. Today I gained one position. Tough that Seb lost two positions but obviously in the Constructors’ we lost a few more points through that mistake on the radio or whatever. Look, I am not sitting here complaining. You have got to take them when you can get them. I still had to do the job today. It is a pretty long race and it is easy to not always get it right but we did today.
Q: Fernando, how hard were you being pushed by Sebastian in those closing stages?
FA: Well, a lot. I think we were clearly slow compared to them all weekend, so no surprises in the race. I had a similar feeling in the first part when I had Mark behind me, so I knew more or less the important places were the main straight, maybe the only opportunity, so last corner became crucial to do a good exit to avoid any risk. Lots of pressure. We felt very slow today compared to them but thanks maybe to the lay-out of the track and the difficulties to overtake we were able to maintain position and finish in second which is good for us but we know that we need to improve. I think this weekend the race pace and the qualifying pace we were not quick enough to fight with Red Bull, so we need to also be realistic about what we did this weekend. A fantastic result Sunday, but overall a weekend that we need to push and keep improving the car as we saw this weekend.
Q: And in fact second place was perhaps unexpected but also the fact that McLaren weren’t really in the hunt this weekend.
FA: Well, I think third place was our deserved place this weekend. We were third in all the free practices, in Q1, Q2 and Q3, so third position was maybe what we expected from the race but we knew that we maybe had an opportunity at the start, starting on the clean side. The car did a very good start today, so we nearly arrived first into the first corner, so we nearly had the chance to overtake both Red Bulls. In the end, it was not possible but it was enough to put me second and then with the safety car period, tried to pit and to secure second place and then Mark did a fantastic first stint, forty laps with the soft tyre with no problems at all, so that maybe surprised us and we were not able to react, or we were not quick enough to make our strategy work. When you have such a pace advantage as Red Bull had this weekend, any strategy works. That was the case this weekend.
Q: Sebastian, obviously disappointing for you, and you still don’t seem to know in your mind what happened, why you had the penalty.
SV: Well, people have told me what happened. I don’t like it but I cannot change it now.
Q: What happened after the safety car went in, because you did lose quite a lot of time to Mark at that time.
SV: Nothing happened. I think somewhere in the first stint we lost the radio, so I was probably relying too much on the radio call that the safety car was going to come in. Mark was still close to the safety car in turn twelve, turn 13. I had a little bit of a gap but I thought the safety car would stay out, so no problem, and then going through turn 13 I saw that Mark was still very close to the safety car, and all of a sudden the safety car pulled in, so I was surprised, I went onto the power. It looks like I was asleep and I totally lost out on the restart. I don’t know how much time but too much, not acceptable. If anything, that was already a penalty for me and from there onwards, I lost the rhythm a bit and lost a little bit on the first couple of laps. I knew that when the race goes normally there’s nothing to fear because we have made our stops, so we just have to finish the race and we had the pace. Then I got the drive-through. As I said, I was lucky to see the board, it wasn’t easy. Then I came in and got the drive-through. I was obviously pretty angry and had to finish the race (driving) thirty laps behind Fernando. We were clearly faster but there was no way to get past. When you run too close your tyres start to lose the grip. We also knew that we weren’t quick enough on the straights.
Q: You had one fairly big moment off the track at turn four, I guess.
SV: Yeah, there was a back marker and I couldn’t really see where he was and Fernando was right behind him. We passed him and I was a little bit late on the entrance, so I decided to go wide. It was not a big deal. I knew that even if I had a gap of two or three seconds to Fernando it would take a lap and I would be back again (close behind him). I tried to stay as close as I could and waited for my chance. It didn’t come. As I said in the car, I didn’t understand what happened but this weekend we were obviously not very lucky. Maybe you can argue that we did something wrong against the regulations but then I don’t know. The way I grew up and what I learned about life at the last race, there was also something that is written in the regulations and it wasn’t followed. Nothing happened. This weekâ€¦ nothing you can compare but we had to pay a very expensive price and in the end we got good points for the team but of course I would have loved to have won the race.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Joe Saward Grand Prix Special) Sebastian, can you tell us exactly when you lost the radio and how you knew when to pit?
SV: I don’t know when I lost the radio. Obviously I cannot say the (exact) lap because you’re not in contact with your team on every lap, and then from race control I got the message on the start/finish straight. It’s not so easy to see it because it’s just coming out of the last corner. I think I was just right, so probably a bit lucky that I didn’t miss it, and didn’t do too many laps.
For the safety car? I was obviously ten seconds clear of the rest of the field, and I was just exiting turn 13 and there is a light, a board on the right hand side with SC that just popped out, and I was already on the way to approach the last corner and then I saw it at the last second and decided to slow because I knew that within half a second, I knew what could be the consequence if I had to stay out. In the end, we had the pace advantage, so yes, it might have been the smarter thing to do, looking back, but you don’t know at that stage, so I cut the entrance a bit which was last minute and came into the pit, so it was fine.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, yesterday you were 1.2s behind in qualifying and you said that in the race you would be a little bit closer. What we saw was that you were quite a bit further away, even today. Were you expecting the gap to increase instead of decrease?
FA: Maybe it was not increasing. In the first sector we were taking care of the tyres. We knew that we were taking Mark at the start. We knew that maybe the first stint was quite long, because they would wait for us to stop and we had to avoid that, so we knew that maybe the first stint was quite long, so I was taking care of the tyres and Sebastian was pulling away, not by 1.2s I think. And when the restart came after the safety car, Mark was pulling away quite quickly, because I think the soft tyres were working very well at this stage, but with Vettel we were maybe four or five tenths slower than him. He was pulling away at a much, much slower pace than in the first stint. In fact when he had the drive-through we were able to pass him, because the gap was not big enough to do the drive-through and stay in front, so more or less as expected but for sure, we had some slower pace in the race and especially some parts of the race when we took care of the tyres etc. They don’t need to do that with the pace that they had.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) Mark, a lot of talk this weekend about flexing front wings. One rival team reckons it’s worth almost a second a lap. Tell us about your front wing, how good is it as part of the overall package of the car?
MW: Yeah, I think it’s at least one second, if not two! It’s like the adjustable front ride height control! It’s like everything else which constantly comes up. Our guys have broken their balls to design a car in the spirit of the regulations, and every time we are tested by the FIA, we pass. The car has always been passed by the FIA, so when people don’t like (what they see on) the stopwatch, they have to justify their own positions in some other teams sometimes, and when there’s pressure on people to perform and they’re getting destroyed, that’s how it is. McLaren have had a great year, if that’s one of the teams thatâ€¦ I’m happy obviously, but they’re a few points off, they’re still right there. Some teams have done certain things, other teams have done other things. They incorporated the F-duct which is a sensational idea. We’ve turned the world upside down to try and do that which is not without our resource difficulties. That’s Formula One. We’re more than happy with what we have on the car and we’re sleeping well at night, the guys, when they have inspections from the FIA that we’re doing enough. You should never penalise things that are ingenuous and people that are doing a good job, and that’s sometimes the case. Not about this particular part, but the whole concept of the car. If you have a slightly different concept here and thereâ€¦ The blown diffuser was all of a sudden worth four seconds a lap. It depends what week you’re talking about. There’s always something new to bring out of the cupboard.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Mark, when you decided to go for this strategy, to stay on the track with the softer tyres for so many laps, did you have references about the tyre wear because today was the hottest day of the weekend?
MW: Yeah. No we didn’t, is the answer to your question. It’s impossible to do a 42 lap run on Friday. We had a pretty good idea that the tyre might be OK but as always, we found in Canada and a few other places sometimes you might have a surprise. We were pretty optimistic that we wouldn’t get a surprise to be honest, and that we could do enough, but if the tyre still starts to go away, then I have a crucial point in the race where I cannot get the gap to Fernando, and then it would not have worked. So what was important was that I kept the rhythm, I kept the pace very high, but without killing the tyre but in the end I don’t think there was much left of the front left. It was completely finished and that was the balancing act I had to do, so there was a sensational job from the team, they got it right and it was good.
Q: (Carlos Miquel Diario AS) Fernando, my first question is if you think that this defence is similar to Imola 2005 when you stayed in front of Michael Schumacher, and the second question is about the rule to enter the pits? Do you think it’s Ok to cross the kerb at the pit lane entrance?
FA: About the defence, I think this was a little bit easier, because it’s impossible to overtake on this track. It’s like in Monaco. You can drive whatever speed you want and you will more or less maintain position. There’s no place to overtake. As I said, turn one is the only opportunity. If you do a very slow lap and do the last corner quickly, it’s enough to maintain position. Today was just a very long race, a boring race in a way but important for the points, for the championship.
Concerning the entry, I think it’s part of the track, the kerb, so I don’t know if you gain time or you lose but it’s OK.
Q: (Alvaro Faes La Nueva Espana) Fernando, what are your calculations now for the next races, and your goal to get closer to the leaders?
FA: I don’t know what the gap is now, if Mark is leading now. Twenty points? I don’t know. Two races ago it was 47 before Germany, so after Germany and Hungary we have reduced half of the gap which was important for us as we enter August and four weeks’ break with less than 47 points which was too big a gap to recover. Now, twenty is still a lot, especially because we know how competitive Red Bull is, we know how competitive McLaren is, even if they had a tough weekend, I’m sure they will come back very strongly after the break. We know it’s going to be difficult, very difficult but with the car we have now, the improvements that we’ve done, we know that there will be some circuits with some opportunities as we had in Germany and there will be some other circuits like this one where we will maybe have no chance to win and we need to score as many points as possible, as we did. It’s still open, but it remains very difficult, so we stay calm, we know how difficult it will be and we also know that we must improve. If we don’t improve, we will not win the championship. If we improve enough, maybe we have a chance. There are still very important races now, the next four or five races, so it’s important, for sure, to have less than one race distance, less than 25 points going into this break.
Q: (Jaime Rodriguez El Mundo) Fernando, what do you feel inside the car when there’s a faster car than yours right behind you for many laps?
FA: I felt like a back marker. I felt like one of the new teams, when we approach them, because I was doing my maximum and they were quicker than us, but we were lucky to have this scenario here in Hungary, which is a circuit where it is very difficult to overtake. I’m sure that with the pace advantage that Red Bull had, if we had this situation in Germany last week or in Spa next race, I cannot defend my position for more than two or three laps because they will overtake soon or later. Here we were lucky to have this opportunity.
MW: Just one more thing. In his question, Dan asked about how each team is asking for front wings and this here and there and all that sort of stuff. The reason our car is quite good on these sort of tracksâ€¦ we’ve been looking for engine parity for the last few years. We know we don’t have the most powerful engine. When we go to a track where there are not many straights, the car is good because we’ve had to try incredibly hard to get the car performing in this type of situation, so we would love parity with the engine. Other teams sometimes want everything, but we need parity on the engine and then it would be a fair game and that’s all we want, again, is similar horsepower to other teams and this is another example, when you go to different venues like here, we see who has a nice car. It’s not a one way street with this stuff you know.