F1 – Qualifying British GP press conference

Press call (Photo by Drew Gibson/Getty Images) In attendance, drivers – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes), Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing) and Jenson BUTTON (McLaren)


Q: Nico, clearly a day like today it’s very easy to get it wrong and there are plenty of examples of that up and down the field. The track was fluctuating by as much as eight seconds a lap with rain and drying out. What are the most important things to take care of on a day like today?


NR: The way to go about it is to try to minimize the rise, especially with the car that we have y’know? We have such a fast package so really we just need to try to make sure we don’t have any big risks, even if then it doesn’t turn out to be the perfect qualifying and the perfect day. And that, I think, we did very well. Definitely tried to eliminate all the big downfalls and it all worked out well. It wasn’t perfect but it worked out really, really well. Everything came together so it was great to be on pole.


Q: Sebastian, you’ve been on the wrong end of this once or twice in the past so you know how it works but how much does the driver contribute to the decision-making process and how much of it is the strategists, your engineers and even people back at the factory?


SV: You would love that the pitwall was in a better place today, trying to predict the rain. I think it was impossible because it was very local. It could have rained every minute and could have stopped raining as we’ve seen. Difficult to predict and therefore it’s you inside the car obviously trying to get the best out of the tyres and the conditions when you’re on track and obviously together with your team trying to be calm on the radio and going for the right decisions. In the end there’s also the element of looking what the others are doing and trying to make sense of whether or not it makes sense to do the same. But it’s very tricky because, as I said, if you take our Q3, the first run, we went out just probably a minute later than everyone else and we didn’t get a lap at all. That’s how close the lap can be sometimes. You try obviously to go for a clear track but then you get caught out by rain. It’s tricky in these conditions to get everything right – so you need also to be a bit lucky.


Q: Jenson, it’s also a question of risk versus reward isn’t it? You mentioned that you were one of the first to go onto the slick tyres earlier on in the qualifying. It was the right time for that. We saw Ferrari and Williams at the wrong time and they’re starting from the back of the grid but did today, the track limits ruling, make things a little bit more complicated given how slippery it was out there.


JB: It did, yeah, because you could make a massive mistake and lose a second by going off the circuit and still put in a really good lap time to get through Q1, Q2. So, it made it really difficult. And obviously my Q1 lap quick enough by quite a long way but it was disallowed because I drove off the circuit in the last corner – but the whole of the qualifying session I felt that I could read the conditions pretty well. And then it came to Q3 and the last timed lap, which obviously meant everything. I said to the guys on the radio, “I’ve got wheelspin in fifth gear in a straight line.” I said: “this isn’t gonna happen,” and they said: “Just push, we’ve got nothing to lose.” We’re in a very different position to Nico. We have to take the risks to gain the positions at the moment. So, I pushed. Very aggressive lap but it worked. Big thanks to the team for their call. And being third here in front of the home crowd, on this weekend, this year, really means a lot. I’ll go to bed very happy tonight and look forward to the race tomorrow.




Q: (Alex Goldschmidt – Richland F1) Jenson, coming back to the discussion between yourself and Lewis on Thursday, you seemed to be the best hope for the British fans but obviously Lewis is going to come charging through the field. Depending on weather conditions, how do you see the outlook for tomorrow?


JB: I’ve made the race easier than previously thought but still we have to be realistic. I want to be upbeat, I want to be positive about fighting for a podium. If it’s like today that’s obviously a possibility with mixed conditions. As long as we make the right calls and the right strategy it’s possible. But in a dry race. A standard dry race, it’s going to be very, very tricky but, believe this, we will give one hundred per cent and get the maximum out of what we have this weekend and hopefully have a great result in front of the British fans.


Q: (Chris Medland – crash.net) Nico, you talk about the psychological edge you’re looking to get over Lewis and he’s starting to make quite a few errors in qualifying sessions which has always been a strong point for him. Do you feel that that’s part of the psychological edge you’re getting now?


NR: I’ve never talked about trying to get a psychological edge over anything, not at all. What I’ve been saying is that at the moment the momentum seems to be on my side and I just need to make the most of it because it comes and goes and I have a period now when it’s going my way and I just need to make sure I get as many points as possible on Lewis and it’s working out at the moment. But anyway, today’s just qualifying, there’s no points for qualifying and with the car that we have, even from sixth place, everything’s still possible, but of course it’s a big advantage to start first.


Q: (Haoran Zhou – Formula One Express) Nico and Sebastian, obviously 26.5s in the last sector for both of you, there’s only four corners in the last sector. When did you realise that there’s a lot of grip there?


NR: Well, it was very wet on the previous run in Q3, where we lost like four seconds in the last sector so as long as it’s a little bit dry patches and a little bit drier already you can gain a lot of time and on the out lap there was a chance, and then once I got round to the fast timed lap, I could brake quite late into there and it was quite dry so it was quite quick through there and that made a massive difference.


SV: Yeah, on the out lap it was quite slippery but then when I started the timed lap I could feel that most of the track was nearly completely dry, so arriving in the last sector after the long straight I just said, yeah, all or nothing and treated it as if it was dry. It wasn’t entirely (dry) in turn 15, I went a little bit wider than I thought but for the rest… for the last three corners it was quite completely fine.


Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Nico, you said you had to start the lap directly behind Lewis. First, how much time did it cost you in the first two sectors, where did you pass him and what did you think when you saw Lewis pulling into the pits?


NR: Well of course I was disappointed, starting the lap behind Lewis because if I’m in his gearbox, that doesn’t allow me to do my pace so I was disappointed with that, but I didn’t have a choice with the situation, with the way it was and just managed to get over the line before the red light came. I actually saw the red light but it worked out. I wasn’t sure but then it worked out and then Lewis made a mistake in turn four and after that he then pulled over so as not to block me and I just kept on pushing.


Q: (Chris Medland – crash.net) Jenson, you were asked about Ron’s comments on Thursday, asking for a bit more from you. Does that make this perfect timing in response, this  sort of result?


JB: He’s watching this, I’m sure! One result doesn’t mean anything. We’ve obviously talked since and yeah, I think there’s mutual respect there but when we all want things to improve quicker than what they are, we maybe say things in the press that maybe we shouldn’t. We have a really good working relationship and I hope that that continues into the future.


Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) You just said that this result doesn’t mean anything, but anyway, thinking about your father, so far it’s a nice position, and talking about fathers, Nico, your father got pole position in ’85 in similar conditions here in Silverstone, so what are your feelings about that?


JB: For me it was obviously quite an emotional slowing down lap. As I’ve said before – as we always say – qualifying’s qualifying and the race is tomorrow, but when you do a lap that you’re happy with and it’s in front of your home crowd and I knew the Old Boy would have been very happy, it would have meant a lot. I’ve had so much support from the fans, it’s been overwhelming, a lot of guys wearing pink out there in respect to my Old Boy. Yeah, a good day today and he’s definitely smiling down today.


NR: Yeah, of course I’ve also been watching how many supporters, how many people have  been wearing pink. Even in my camper van, my driver, he came with a pink shirt and I was like ‘what are you doing?’ He never wears pink and then he explained to me that everybody’s supporting John… in memory of John so that’s how I came across it this weekend. With respect to my Dad, yes, there was one of his great days here in qualifying in Silverstone, something that I’m proud of also. I like to look back at the history and what was happening back then but there’s not really too much to compare to nowadays.


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