Rubens Barrichello was delighted at scoring pole position for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix infront of his home fans. Meanwhile Mark Webber had some strong words to say about the decision to start qualifying in such treacherous conditions.
2009 BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX
SATURDAY POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE October 17, 2009
1. Rubens BARRICHELLO (Brawn GP), 1m19.576s
2. Mark WEBBER (Red Bull), 1m19.668s
3. Adrian SUTIL (Force India), 1m19.912s
Q: Rubens, you love this circuit. It s your home grand prix and you love these conditions.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: I do. I do. It is a special time for me. Qualifying is obviously a great time when you go out. If you do have a balance it doesn t matter if it is wet or dry it just feels nice and off you go. There were plenty of strategies. It was A, B, C, D. You never knew what was going to happen next. Come back in, put on a new tyre, stay out. It was so variable but I am so happy. I am very happy. It was a great drive and it may be that we have less fuel than them but it is much better to start at the front and have your own race pace than be towards the middle of the pack. I am very, very happy with the situation and it is great to see that all the people stayed to see it because they went through a heavy period of rain. I was expecting people to leave, but very happy that they stayed to see this.
Q: Mark, welcome back. Top three for the first time since Hungary. Again conditions that you usually revel in as well.
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, it was a very tricky session, especially the first one for both Sebastian (Vettel) and I. The car was quite tricky in the real heavy, wet conditions. We scraped through just and when the track came back a little bit I was much more competitive. We knew that the inters were probably going to come into play in the back part of quali(fying). When I went out I thought â€˜woh, this is not too comfortable. Then the grip came and the times were quite competitive. I saw that I was going between the top three and pole, third, pole, third and then I would have liked to have another crack at the end there, but my mistake. I think for a lot of guys it is very hard to knit six perfect laps together in those conditions but I am very happy with how I drove in that session. The guys did a great job. As Rubens touched on, it is very difficult to know what to do. A fresh set on inters maybe to get the end of the session home. Tricky, but congratulations to Rubens on his pole here at home and we will give him a race tomorrow.
Q: Adrian, again I have to say you always seem to shine in the wet. We saw you with a few odd angles with the car this weekend and looking like you ve been driving it on the absolute limit.
Adrian SUTIL: Well, I am always on the limit with this car. You have to be. On Friday it didn t look great to be honest. In the dry we had a few problems. Therefore I was really hoping for rain the whole weekend and finally I got a lot of rain. We had to wait so long and it was hard to keep the focus up. It was a good session in the end. Q2, with extreme wets, went extremely well. I knew that the balance was right and in the last qualifying I managed to do a good lap in the end and it was enough for P3. Being in the top three is always a great moment and I am so happy that, finally, after such a long wait I am really competitive in the front of the field and it is nice to race here.
Q: Rubens, that was an extraordinary qualifying session. You excel in these qualifying sessions, don t you? It is your sort of weather.
RB: More and more it is amazing and I found it fascinating. I have been using this word again after so many years. After 17 years in Formula One I never got out of the car twice in the middle of qualifying. It was just amazing that things change and you have to be prepared. Then you go out and people are just going mad and then you have to concentrate again and get on the car, so I am very proud of what we achieved today. We were on the borderline in Q2 and we should have gone for intermediates, but we were lucky enough just to make it. I knew the car was competitive. I am keeping my feet on the ground as we have won nothing just yet. We did fantastic today. It is amazing. It is going to be a great night of sleep but we still have to get everything tomorrow.
Q: It is your second pole here, but what does it mean to you being on pole here at Interlagos?
RB: You know it s obviously great to start from the front. It is a number that goes to the records. What it means to me is that I am doing my job the way I have to. Be as fast as I can, at the front. I am not watching what s going on on the side. I am just concentrating, focussing on mine, so like I said, I will race as hard as I can to win the race and when the race is finished I will just go on the radio and see where Jenson (Button) and Sebastian finish but it is a great start to the weekend and I am looking very much forward to tomorrow.
Q: Of course, they start 14th and 16th. You must have some thoughts on that.
RB: Well, it is amazing, isn t it? If you go back and just think that it is an impossible thing to happen. It is impossible to see that Rubens is starting from pole and all of a sudden Sebastian and Jenson are from the back. If you thought that initially then it was impossible, but then the rain came. It is such a lottery and things played in my hand. The best thing is that I have kept quite cool, kept honest and just running as hard as I can. I think everyone of us will have quite a headache as it has been an appalling time. One-and-a-half hours when we said â€˜okay, we go out, two laps and then another set. But then â€˜no, no, we are staying out now for four laps. Oh no, no, come back in. Three laps. It has been strategy from A to Z, so it was a lot to think and the team did fantastically well to prepare my car the way I wanted, so I am very happy for the starting position tomorrow.
Q: You say you have those worries and yet we haven t even got to the weather tomorrow or the potential of safety cars tomorrow.
RB: We saw todayâ€¦ we were not expecting the rain that came down. The worst time of qualifying was when Liuzzi went off. We shouldn t have restarted qualifying at that time. On that straight, when he went off, I was in fourth gear. You don t have much pleasure, because of the visibility plus the fact that you are aquaplaning, so you just don t know what s going to happen next. But then when the rain came down, it was a good session at the end of Q2 and Q3. I m sorry for all you guys that you had to wait. I had to wait but I had the pleasure of driving the car after that. It was very much a situation that we need to learn for tomorrow if that s what s going to happen tomorrow in terms of rain.
Q: Mark, one better than your Q3 in 2003, but this hasn t been a fantastic circuit for you in a way.
MW: Well, it hasn t been too bad, not results-wise, but I enjoy coming here. I think Rubens got pole that year as well. Today was good for us. It was tricky all the stuff Rubens has touched on, obviously. It was difficult to make the right calls at the right time. We re very isolated in the cockpit. You obviously only find out where you are each lap when you come round: are you doing enough, are you not doing enough, are you on the right tyre, pushing hard enough, risking enough? Because Q1 was over the edge in terms of conditions and then the start of Q2 got better, obviously the second part of Q2 but there were a few times there where obviously it was not really that driveable and a lot of guys survived and some didn t. Yeah, we re in a good position. I m very happy to be starting on the front row and we can hope for some good points off the back of that. Suzuka is really the only time this year that I felt that I missed a big opportunity. The other races sometimes we weren t quick enough, had a drive-through at Spa, some other things, so I m happy to be back and it s five percent of the job done, but a very important five percent done and we start tomorrow in a good position.
Q: Give us some idea of the conditions out there, because we did hear you on the radio saying that there were streams everywhere and standing water.
MW: Yeah, I don t think it was probably the right thing to start in those conditions. Every driver I ve spoken to was of the same opinion. Fortunately the right decisions were made in the end but TV drives these things and we ve got to start on time sometimes. You cannot have a car losing control in the last sector because if that happens we can t see and you have a sickening crash. We need to have a chance to control the cars and that obviously means accidents will be a lot less. If we are in a much more difficult position to control the cars through the aquaplaning, the standing water was massive and then visibility is also a big thing. We ve learned today when to drive and when not to. They re not street cars, they re Formula One cars. They re quick, they re low to the ground and they go off quickly when the car gets it wrong in the conditions. So we ll make the right decisions tomorrow I m sure. I m sure they ve learned a bit today upstairs (in race control) and we ll go from there.
Q: From a team point of view, Sebastian is still in contention for the championship. Is there anything you can do to help him; he s a long way back of course?
MW: At the start, I will back off and pull off straightaway! As I ve said before, I doubt the situation will arise how we can help each other. To do a normal Grand Prix in itself is generally difficult enough, to get all the ducks lined up. There s never really been an occasion this year, with the exception of Turkey, where we ve been together on the track. It s always been Sebastian up the road a bit or I ve been up the road a bit: different circumstances. I m sure that will happen in the next two races. We ve already seen it s probably going to happen this weekend. No.
Q: Adrian, 20th and 21st have been your last two qualifying positions here; third today. How crucial was the tyre wear to getting through to Q2?
AS: Yeah, the session was difficult throughout. The first qualifying was definitely on extreme wets. There was so much water you just had to be really careful not to have a spin or something, to drive over the limit. And then there was a long wait. In Q2, there was the cross-over from extreme wets to standard wets. I did my best lap on the extreme wets but you just had one lap and then they started to go off, but it was a clear sign to change tyres for Q3. That s what we did and it worked out really well, so I m absolutely happy.
Q: Nice South American connection for you, your father born down here. Are you getting a lot of support?
AS: Yeah, yeah, it feels good to be here in front in Sao Paulo. I like the circuit anyway and for sure there is a good link, close to my father s country, so there s a little bit of home feeling here, definitely. As you said, it wasn t our luckiest circuit in the last two years. Even in the dry here this weekend, I didn t have such a great feeling. I was really hoping for the rain and I knew in the rain there would be different conditions for me and it happened and turned out really well.
Q: It s often been said that the Force India car doesn t have a lot of downforce, and yet in the wet you need downforce. How do you reconcile that?
AS: Yeah, we don t have enough downforce, that s absolutely true. That s why we were struggling a little bit in the dry on Friday. The wet is a condition I really like and maybe I just get 100 percent out of it all the time. I don t know. Over the last few years, I think everybody could see that I was always much better in the rain than in the dry. Well, when the car was not competitive enough. At Monza we could do it in the dry as well. If you have a problem with the car, if the balance is not right, it s normally much better if you have rainy conditions and then you are a bit slower in the corners and you can put in much more feeling. If you have a good feeling, if you risk a little bit more than the others, you can be in front.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alberto Antonini Autosprint) Rubens, you have driven so many cars under different regulations over the 17 years of your career. Do you think that these cars are trickier than the ones that you started with?
RB: No. I think that the cars were very tricky when we had the grooved tyres, they were very tricky. It was said that, in the first place, when we put the grooves on, we lost sixty percent of grip on the front and only forty at the rear, so to set up the cars, you had a lot of understeer at low speed, so you had to make up for that, and they were tricky. Those cars, 2007/2008 and 2008 we lost traction control so 2008 was very, very difficult. Now we have less downforce and on a wet track we put the same tyres as last year and that s why we need good decisions as to what time we re going out and so on, because cars aquaplane a lot with the lack of downforce, but I wouldn t say that this car is any trickier than last year, for example. I think they are a lot safer than when I started, obviously, because of all the rules for the head protection. So many things are much better now.
Q: (Rodrigo Franca VIP Magazine) Rubens, do you think that today s pole is the most special pole of your career?
RB: Well, the most recent is always the most special one. You can see, I am very happy, but I am keeping my feet on the ground. I m sure we re going to go out there and people are going to be over the moon, as if we had won the race. I just want to keep it very, very steady. I ve done great today. I don t think we had the car to be on pole, especially in the wet, so it may be that we have less fuel than our competitors. But in any case, that s the rules right now. Next year we qualify without fuel and having said that, it was a great lap, it was on the maximum that I could achieve from the car, so I m delighted with that, but, like I said, steady. I would love to start from the front, so here I am and now I have no-one in front, so I can have a perfect race. But again, keep my feet on the ground.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Earlier on, Rubens, we saw your children on the TV; is it the first Grand Prix that they ve been in the pits?
RB: No, they ve been here before. We keep them quite private and that s why you don t see them but they ve been here last year, they ve been to Barcelona, Monaco. It was great, it was a great image when I was in the car and all concentrated and all of a sudden you could see Eduardo with Silvana and looking at the TV and saying â€˜oh, I m on TV, so I will have to bring them down to earth when I go back home but it was a great feeling.
Q: (Ingo RÃ¶rsch Sportbild) Rubens, in the first part of the season, Jenson was usually in front of you. Now, in the second part of the season, you are always in front of him. Can you explain why it has changed?
RB: I ve tried to explain to everyone that I had some technical problems with the brakes. My brakes were working perfectly but unfortunately, with this car, the way it s built, I had the rear callipers running too hot and because of that, I couldn t run the rear wheel covers for most of the time. The balance was not the same. The car was still good but it wasn t as good as Jenson had it at times. For the past three years I ve tried the brakes that Jenson were using and I never liked them. We tried and took them off and just before Silverstone we said we should try them again because we re losing too much time, and then since Silverstone I ve been using those brakes and I have the same quality of car that Jenson is using, so since then I ve made a step forward and I ve been much happier with the whole condition and been helped by the fact that I could use all the aerodynamic devices on the car.