Q: Lewis, difficult day for you yesterday, as you were saying in your comments after the free practice. You weren’t happy with the balance of the car. It’s quite a turn around from you and the team. Can you talk a little bit about that – and also the crowd power aspect of things: did you feel that today?
LH: The car is… obviously as Nico was saying, we’ve got a great car and to fine-tune it seems to be a little bit harder than what I’ve been experiencing in the past. So really trying to get the car underneath me and feeling comfortable and having an equal balance. With a Formula One car you’re always trying to balance it on a knife-edge. Just for some reason with this car I’m struggling to do that. In the past I would aim do that all the time. But got closer. We made the right steps, made a change going into qualifying which helped – still not perfect but it helped. And then the crowd to make a huge difference. After seeing them turn up in their thousands and seeing all the flags waving. Of course this weekend I come here with an extra boost of energy and just want to pay them back. Every year I come… this is the first time since 2008 that I’ve had a car that I’ve really been able to compete with so I’m really, really proud of what the team have done and I hope the fans can have a good evening and bring us some good luck tomorrow.
Q: Nico, we mentioned earlier on that the last six races have really been all about this, particularly in qualifying, between the two of you. You’ve had the upper hand a few times, Lewis has had the upper hand a few times. Can you talk a little bit about how you’re enjoying this in-house battle with someone you’ve known and raced against for such a long time?
NR: Yeah, it’s a big battle we have, and usually it’s very close – not today – Lewis did a great lap in the end. It’s also a really, really big push, also for the whole team, that we’re pushing each other all the time, and that’s really good. We’re really lucky because we have a great atmosphere at the moment in the team, everybody’s going in the same direction and sticking together, so it’s fantastic momentum that we have at the moment.
Q: Sebastian, do you feel that you’ve got the most complete package for this weekend? Obviously you’ve given a bit away in qualifying but you’re here, some of your rivals for the championship are behind you tomorrow, how’s your approach?
SV: Well, certainly we’re not giving away anything consciously or on purpose. They are bloody quick in qualifying, I think that’s what it is. I think we are not too bad but obviously they seem to be in a different world on Saturday afternoons. I think something, yeah, they manage pretty well around the tyres which allows them to get a very, very strong lap in. Plus Nico and Lewis are doing a great job. Doesn’t help if you want to qualify on pole. But points are scored on Sunday and the last couple of races have been pretty good for us. I think, to sum it up in both – in qualifying and in race – so for sure today I think P3 was our maximum but for tomorrow y’know, who knows? They are also getting better. It helps the more time we spend on the tyres – let’s leave it there – and yeah, I think we all try to understand more and more and as the season goes on we do get better and there’s less and less room for improvement. For the moment it seems that we have a strong car in the race, maybe a little bit better than the Mercedes. Whether it will be like that tomorrow? Well, we’ll find out. But that’s the fun part. I’m looking forward to finding out.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Kate Walker – GP Week) Lewis, obviously none of us experience putting together a pole lap like the one we just watched and it really was a phenomenal performance. Could you explain what it’s like actually sitting in the cockpit; do you sit there completing your sectors going ‘ wow, I’m really on it’ or is it only afterwards that you realise how well you’ve done?
LH: No. You have a delta time on your dashboard so you can tell as soon as you cross the line into turn one and when you start the lap whether you’re up or not and so you kind of keep checking it, halfway through, after each corner, after each sector so already by turn nine I could see that I was two and a half tenths up and you just don’t want to lose that, so you have to take extra care after that, but also you want to improve. But yeah, you also feel that it’s a feeling having the tyres up to temperature, the brakes up to temperature and the car just beneath you and not trying to get away from you. Sometimes it is like a wild bull, you’re trying to tame it which is very very difficult to do. But when you do, and you pull out a lap like that, it really felt like 2007. I couldn’t hear anyone still, because the car’s too loud, hopefully I got a good roar today.
Q: It looked like the track improved a lot, two or three tenths improvement from session to session this afternoon.
LH: Yeah, each time we go out we seemed to… which is kind of normal but it’s quite a good surface here at Silverstone so the grip does continue to go down (on the circuit) and hopefully that will be good for us tomorrow.
Q: (Julian Harris – City AM) My question is for Lewis as well: are you still learning this car, are you still finding out more each week and do you think you’re getting better in each race, or do you think you’ve pretty much got it sussed now?
LH: I definitely haven’t got it sussed. This weekend’s been a tough weekend. Every weekend is tough, even if you are used to a car it’s tough but I really have been struggling with the car, trying to tune it, trying to get it to behave the way I want it to, and then drive it and extract what I want from it. Out of all the cars I’ve driven, it’s one of the hardest cars to drive. So when you pull it together, it’s a great car and obviously very quick. Each weekend I’m working as hard as I can, each weekend it does feel like it’s improving a little bit. We made another improvement on the brakes this weekend which is another step in the right direction so I hope we can continue going forwards.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto-Motor, Hungary) Lewis, obviously Paddy Lowe is now at Mercedes and he is here, working with you. Is it a boost for you personally to have him in the team since you have known him for a long time, and did you influence the decision that he would join the team in any way?
LH: I don’t believe I had any influence on him coming here. I think that was a decision of his and Ross and Toto. Is it a boost? It’s a boost to the team. We already have some incredibly talented people in the team, doing fantastic things and coming up with great designs but the stronger the package, the better it is for everyone. He’s a good addition to the team and hopefully he will only help us moving forwards.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Sebastian, you started Q2 with hard tyres. It looks like you are very comfortable with tyre wear… No?
SV: You said I started Q2 on the hard tyres?
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Yes.
SV: No. I did only one run in Q2 with the soft tyres, well, medium.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Well, it looks like you are very comfortable with tyre wear for the race. Is that correct?
SV: Well, it depends. I think comfortable or not depends on where the others are. I think we were happy with the runs that we had yesterday. I had another one this morning, so I think we are pretty happy with that but it’s difficult to judge, because you don’t know what fuel loads other people are running, the usual stuff, so we will find out tomorrow plus in the race it’s always a little bit different. Tomorrow is supposed to be hotter which is nice for the crowd after the last couple of years, I think it was always quite miserable on Friday, so now we’ve had a good Saturday and tomorrow, as I said, again a little bit warmer so it could change the balance of the car and how the tyres work. I think we’ve saved as many tyres as we could and the ones that we liked so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, Alonso is only tenth today. It’s good news, thinking about the championship?
SV: Well, I didn’t really think about that. I think it’s not good news for him. For sure he wanted to be a little bit higher up as well as Ferrari. It’s a bit of a surprise. I think they’ve been very competitive here the last couple of years but this is also a circuit – let’s not forget – where the balance is very important so even if you have a good car, if it’s not coming together it can make a big difference, especially over one lap. And the other thing, that’s why I’m not too interested to look at the results today. In the race we’ve seen that a lot of things can happen and people starting from further back can still score a lot of points and come through the field, so I think in terms of race pace and tyre wear they will be strong tomorrow and surely, should everything go as per plan for them, they will finish higher up than tenth. Everything else, I think, would be a surprise.
Q: (Sarah Holt – CNN.com) Lewis, before you got in the car before qualifying, we saw you wave to the crowd. Did you feel, having lost pole to Nico over the last few races, that you needed to psyche yourself up and find something extra today?
LH: Not really. It’s not about psyching myself up because I’m always mad for it, I’m always on the limit, I’m always on the edge. I always have the determination and the will but it’s just trying to get my car to where I want it to be so when I went out there, I was hoping that my car was where I wanted it to be and it’s also… The fans sit there for a long long time during the day and don’t really get to see our faces so it’s the one opportunity that I do get to see them and try to extract what I can from them, because the support means a lot.
Q: (Derek Bish – Anglia Newspapers) Lewis, you’ve obviously been here in junior formulas as well; what sets apart the Lewis Hamilton that puts together a lap like that today from the one who was here in GP2 and before that?
LH: Yeah, my age, getting older, older and wiser, I think. I’m still very much like the GP2 driver I was. I just have more knowledge now. Of course, we all change over time but yeah, I think I’m a little bit more sensible and a little bit better at making decisions than I was back then. And hopefully that approach helps me win in the car.
Q: (Phil Agius – Racing Post) Sebastian, Toro Rosso have been going well this weekend and I think Daniel Ricciardo is sixth on the grid. Would you be comfortable with another Australian teammate next season?
SV: I think first you should see the individual rather than the country where he comes from but surely I haven’t got a problem with Australia. I like going there, it’s a nice track, we go every year too, so I’m looking forward to going back next year. Congratulations to Daniel. It seems that both of them, the whole weekend… I don’t know what happened to Jean-Eric in qualifying but both of them had a car that was good enough to show their potential so happy for them and hopefully they can keep it up throughout the race and score some good points for the team. In a way, obviously, we’re all fighting for ourselves; secondly we are fighting for our team but obviously we have more connection to Toro Rosso than Mercedes for example so not a surprise is it? So yeah, all the best to Daniel and Jean-Eric tomorrow.