Hungarian Grand Prix post qualifying press conference
28 July, 2012
Jul.28 (FIA) Hungarian Grand Prix post qualifying press conference from Hungaroring featuring top three: pole winner Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), second fastest Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and third fastest Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing).
Lewis you looked like that was fully under control at all times, apart maybe from that first run in Q3?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, it’s been a really positive weekend so far. The guys have done an incredible job this weekend as always, preparing the car. To finally see the upgrades working this weekend, I’ve been able to put the car in places that I previously wasn’t able to do. So, generally every lap has been quite good throughout practice and qualifying, apart from the first run in Q3.
Romain, obviously this is what you and the team needed, a strong qualifying performance, because you’ve shown in recent races that you’ve got a very good race car under you?
Romain Grosjean: Yeah, we normally have a good race pace, it’s good to be back at the front. We had a difficult German Grand Prix and a difficult start here in Hungary. But the guys did a fantastic job trying to help me set up the car, trying to find out what was wrong and [we’re] back to the top and it’s good. I think the race tomorrow will be interesting.
Q: Sebastian, you only did the one run in Q3 because you used up tyres before that. Tell us how difficult it was to get the tyres working today?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I think for us it more a difficulty of getting everything to work properly. I think the speed is there but yeah it seems extremely difficult once you lose the balance a little bit. So I think we were struggling a little bit with that in qualifying. Throughout qualifying I think it got better. We shot through all the tyres, more or less. I knew I only had one set in Q3. I’m not entirely happy with the lap I had. I think Grosjean, sorry, Romain, was in reach. I think Lewis was probably a bit too far away today. But I think with the progress we made this morning and through qualifying we should be in a good position tomorrow for the race.
Lewis if you look at the points you’ve scored in the past few races and the points scored by Fernando Alonso, the championship leader, there’s obviously a massive difference. How important is a win tomorrow for you and for your championship hope?
LH: Well, thanks for reminding me! This is motor racing, you know. We’re not saying we’re relaxed about it but we know that we’ve got a lot of work to do and we’re trying to make sure that we start that work from this weekend
Lewis, you seem to have hit the ground running from the road here almost – you were fastest in both sessions yesterday; fastest in all the qualifying sessions as well and you love the circuit, you must be so pleased with pole position now as well?
LH: I am, absolutely. I’m really happy with the work the guys have done. Obviously Jenson showed the pace of the car in the last race but to be able to put that to work through qualifying feels fantastic. This is a good boost to the team. Still we have a very long race tomorrow. Lots can happen and we just need to keep our cool. The weather’s fantastic here, the city’s beautiful and the fans, well what a great turn out for a Saturday.
Well, you’ve been on pole here before and you’ve won here twice as well, so you know how to win here. Is there a secret to tomorrow?
LH: There’s no real secret, no. It’s the same as everyone when they win races. You just have to keep your head cool and look after your tyres. Tyre strategy will be important tomorrow. Degradation will be interesting. I just hope for once we have a good start. That’s what I hope for the beginning.
How were the long runs this morning. Obviously you weren’t able to do long runs yesterday and everybody crammed in their long runs this morning.
LH: I didn’t do any long runs this morning. I did mine yesterday. It was pretty good.
So you were happy with that?
LH: Yeah, I mean, the track was a little bit greener yesterday so it’s difficult to compare it to today, but for us it was not such a problem. I think we know the Lotus is very, very strong on long runs and so is the Red Bull, so we just need to focus on us and really hope we can improve this weekend with those upgrade. Jenson showed in the last race that it is an improvement so hopefully I can show the same thing tomorrow.
Romain, on the front row for the first time – how much satisfaction does that give you?
RG: Pretty high, I have to say. We started the weekend coming back from the German Grand Prix which was a bit of a disaster for us and it didn’t start in the best way. But then we worked hard, tried to analyse what was wrong on the car and why I couldn’t get the feeling that I had at the start of the year. P3 was getting better and then the start of qualifying was very difficult, with the first one getting a nightmare. But then we found back the speed, improved the car, tried to understand what was wrong with it, and being here on the front row is something special – especially here at the Hungarian Grand Prix where we know overtaking is very difficult. We need to start from the front, we said that since a long time – so first job done. Hopefully tomorrow we keep our race pace from usually, we able to save our tyres as much as we want and be able to get some good battles with the guy at the front.
The performance of the car you’ve improved – do you think that’s going to be OK for the race itself on full fuel tanks etc?
RG: Normally it’s better on high fuel than on low fuel, so it’s pretty good to be on the front row. We have been maybe working a bit more this week on qualifying because we know it’s a big key for the race. So, hopefully tomorrow the car will feel pretty well with the tank fuelled and the setup we normally run for the race. Hopefully that’s the case. Hopefully we manage to save our tyres as much as we want, as much as we can, and then we have good pace.
Q: We’ve seen quite a few people going off the circuit at many, many corners, to turn this into a podium tomorrow, how are you going to do that?
RG: Well, the key is to stay on track, that’s for sure. Let’s have a good start, let’s see where we are at the beginning of the race and how the car feels. Hopefully it’s going to feel alright, as it did in Bahrain or Canada, and if we have this, then I think we have everything in our pocket to fight for a good result.
Sebastian, we’ve seen the performance, or seem to have seen the performance up and down the whole weekend – not just from you but from your team-mate as well.
SV: Yeah, a bit difficult for us this weekend to really get the balance right. I think the car is quick – and sometimes really quick – but it’s a bit difficult to get it out of the car all the time. So, I think yesterday afternoon we were quite happy, this morning we weren’t that happy and in qualifying it seemed to get better again. So, we’ll see. I think it should be a good race tomorrow. I think the pace with fuel in the car is probably a little bit better than without fuel, so we’ll see what we can do.
You said ‘room for improvement’ after yesterday – but that didn’t come this morning then?
SV: No, not really. I think it wasn’t that bad yesterday but this morning initially it wasn’t as good as it was yesterday – so we seem to have lost that little bit. But, I think just before qualifying we managed to come back and I think in qualifying I think we were able to improve session by session. Obviously we had to use a couple of sets that… or one more set than as per plan, which was not great. That’s why we had only one run in Q3. But in the end we used as many tyres as everyone else. We’ll see what we can do in the race. I think Lewis was out of reach today, they always seemed to be very quick. It’s probably not too bad to start third here, it’s on the clean side and it’s a long way to Turn One.
Questions from the floor
(Leonid Novozhilov – F1 Life, Russia) Lewis, are you surprised? This is your 23rd pole position.
LH: Privet. (Hello in Russian). I learned that in Moscow! Surprised? I think every time I remember my first pole position and I pretty much remember every pole position that I’ve ever had. I’m always striving for perfection and that lap and the pressure that we’re all under to get that perfect lap is intense, yet exciting. If you get it right, it’s incredibly empowering. This weekend we’ve obviously had the pace so I knew that it was possible, it was just a case of doing it and if I didn’t, I would be quite disappointed considering I’ve had the pace all weekend but fortunately I did it.
(Peter Vamosi – Vas Nepe) Romain, if you can manage to win the race tomorrow, you will be the next driver after Ayrton Senna in the history of Lotus heritage. How do you feel about this, have you got extra pressure because of that?
RG: Well, I don’t think it’s an extra pressure. I think Formula One is already full of pressure. If I win the race tomorrow then it would be fantastic for the guys in the team, at the factory, for everything we’ve been doing since the beginning of the year and what we’ve achieved. And if I’m the next driver after Ayrton Senna to win a race with Lotus, it would be something to add to all the processes and all the happiness that we can get in these circumstances. It would be an extra pleasure.
(Julien Febreau – L’Equipe) Two questions for Romain: your position on the grid today, what does it mean to you? Do you fully understand what was wrong with the car since Germany? And the second question is: if you had the possibility to switch positions with Sebastian, would you accept?
RG: What is wrong? I think it’s a lot of things together. We have seen that this year working with the tyres can be good, can be difficult. I think we were just, in the last two races, where we had to be. We had some signs on the car that things were not going as we wanted. the car was not handling as it should and we were not working the tyres properly, so we have been working in that direction, trying to get back to a normal set-up, to try to avoid every other aspect that could influence this. I think being second today is a bit of a surprise after we struggled but we improved lap after lap and that’s good and the track rubbered in and I think that helped us. And if I had to change position: no, because I was already third once in qualifying and now I’m second, and hopefully one day I can get pole position. The more ahead you are, the better it is. We know there is dirt and dust on the side, but if you look at Barcelona where there’s supposed to be a good side and a bad side, the drivers in second and fourth positions happened to be first and third at the first corner and the first and third finished second and fourth so hopefully I can do the same.
(Geza Suranyi – Heves Megyei Hirlap) Romain, you told us on Thursday that you need to be on the front row in order to fight for a win. Now you’re second, do you feel that the time has come to score your first win?
RG: Good question. I think the time has come since you’re racing for winning. As we say, qualifying is a good exercise as you’re looking for the perfect lap, and if you just manage your car to do whatever you want with it, it’s quite a good feeling when you manage that and then in the race, the idea is to win a race. If one of us told you that he arrives on a race weekend not thinking about a win he wouldn’t be saying the truth, so for sure tomorrow we will think about it but before winning the race we need to get everything in order so qualifying is job done, now we need to have a good start as we are now doing it, take off our tyres, have good pit stops and a good pace in the race.
(Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Romain, considering the bad experiences you have had in previous races on the first lap, will you use this experience to avoid anything different again?
RG: I use all the experience I get in Formula One to improve myself, lap after lap, race after race.
(Peter Farkas – Auto-Motor) A question to all three of you: the last corner has been re-surfaced for this year. How do you feel about it, is it a clear improvement compared to before and where is the track now worse regarding the track surface at the moment?
LH: The track is fantastic in the last corner. It’s much, much better. They did a really great job and now the track, altogether, is just very consistent, grip-wise.
RG: The last corner is easier than in GP2.
(Dorel Sant – MSSport1.com) Romain, did you have a perfect lap in qualifying, because Sebastian Vettel said that his lap could have been better and maybe he could have attacked your position, so what do you say?
RG: To be 100 percent honest, it was not the perfect lap. You have few times in your career when you just finish the lap and say how was it from the car? I think we could have improved in a few small areas. I think it’s quite hard here to get the perfect lap and to get the car all together for the lap, so it was not the best ever. I think if I compared to Kimi, then I’m sure I lost a bit of time into turn one but then the rest was pretty OK.
(Dan Knutson – National SpeedSport News) Seb, to get the move out of the tyres, not only here but over the whole season, is it more a question of bringing upgrades to the car or maybe just adjusting your driving style?
SV: To get the best out of the tyres? Well, I think we’ve seen…it’s a complicated question. At least I could give you a complicated answer but I think we’ve seen this year that everyone seems to struggle more than in the past to not bring updates but to improve the car through the upgrades. That’s for Lotus; I think in China they had an upgrade which they then decided to go back. McLaren, I think had upgrades and decided to go back. For us, we had some stuff and decided to go back. Why is that? Because you realise that it’s not quicker. I think it’s quite complex this year to understand the cars. Obviously in combination with the tyres, I think one thing you need to know is that everyone has less downforce this year. Generally if you have more downforce it also helps to switch on the tyres, to work with the tyres more consistently but as everyone has less downforce this year, I think the window is extremely narrow and it’s very difficult to get it right every time, so that’s why I think we probably see a little bit more inconsistency this year.
(Kate Walker – Girl Racer) For all three of you: we’re about to head into the summer shutdown in what is the longest season in F1 history. Is it a welcome opportunity for you to relax and re-charge your batteries or are you concerned that you will lose momentum going into Spa?
RG: Personally I think it’s time for a honeymoon.
SV: Yes, that’s not the case for us. It’s a long season. If you compare it to a lot of other sports, it’s one of the longest seasons we have. I think it’s important, even if sometimes you would like to carry on, I think you need the break, so it’s important to make use of it.
LH: It’s most important for the team. The team is travelling non-stop and they work incredibly long hours so the guys back in the factory… Time with your family is most important and they are away from their families all that time so it’s an important time for them to go away and relax and refresh and get ready for the second half of the season which is going to be the most intense.
Q: (Marco degl’Innocenti – La Gazzeta dello Sport) Sebastian, maybe this question could be boring for you again, but again, I would like to know if this lack of performance from your car could be because of this famous change of engine mapping?
SV: No, I don’t think it really affected us as much as people think. As I said, we were struggling a little bit generally to find a balance throughout the weekend and qualifying but it has nothing to do with the mapping.
(Jool Gabor – Index) Romain, simple question: do you believe in second chances?
RG: I think yes, to have the chance to have this second chance. As I say, I’m happy to be in Formula One again, even if it’s more difficult. When you lose something that you really like, you realise how much it counts to you and today I’m proud to be back, proud to be part of the Lotus F1 team. I think we are growing up together, so far having a very good season so I’m very happy to be here and fitting in well to the Formula One world.
(Peter Farkas – Auto-Motor) As far as I understand, there could be some rain tomorrow. Did you take that into consideration in terms of set-up?
SV: No. I think the impact in terms of set-up that we see these days is way less than compared to the past, so something like a real rain set-up doesn’t exist anymore these days.
(Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Considering the difficulty of overtaking here, the number of laps you are able to do with these supersoft tyres in the first stint will maybe be the key to victory or a good finishing position?
RG: We haven’t got supersofts so you may mean with the soft. I think the key is part of the strategy. I think if you they can go longer than the others then you may stop earlier, if you think that you may be in difficulty at the end of the race as we have seen some cars then you don’t have them. It will be a good question for the guys doing the strategy and then we try to make the target happening as good as we can.
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