So it was another Red Bull Racing one-two in Brazil this morning, with the young German Sebastian Vettel taking the win to keep his title hopes well and truly alive. Australia’s Mark Webber came home second and is still the closest man to Ferrari’s Fernando, some eight points behind. Alonso, third, simply needs to finish second or better at next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to become the youngest man to be crowned a triple World Champion.
The Constructors’ Championship was decided in Sao Paulo with the maximum points haul for Red Bull enough for the Milton Keynes based outfit to deny the chances of McLaren. Cast your mind back to the bits and pieces that were left over from the old Jaguar team at the end of 2004 and consider their reincarnation as Red Bull Racing is now the best team in F1; very impressive given the resources and history of their closest opponents. As Team Principal it is fair and reasonable that Christian Horner was on the podium to claim the team’s trophy, perhaps, though, it should have been Adrian Newey; without him the RB6 may not have been the dominant car in season 2010.
Clearly Fernando Alonso is the odd man out in the picture above, will it be him, or one of the Red Bull men with the broadest smile after the season finale?
You can gauge the thoughts of all three contenders with the full transcript from the post-race press conference below.
[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]
Brazilian GP – Conference 4
1. Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull), 1h33m11.803s
2. Mark WEBBER (Red Bull), 1h33m16.046s
3. Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari), 1h33m18.610s
Q: Sebastian, you have won the Constructors’ Championship and now you have a chance in the Drivers’ in Abu Dhabi as well.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I think incredible day. Not an easy race to start with. We knew we were on the dirty side but I think we had a good start. I saw that Nico (Hülkenberg) had a bit too much wheel spin and I just used my momentum to squeeze down the inside. He didn’t give a lot of room, but just enough. Then it was key for me to disappear in the distance, controlling the gap. The car felt fantastic. All throughout the race I was able to hold the gaps as I planned, so I could control the race from there. With the safety car in the end it was the right choice not to try to pull away too much, to have some tyres left. Then I focused on the first couple of laps, built a gap and then just brought the car home. It is pretty incredible. I don’t know what to say really. Incredible effort from the team. Not an easy season, especially with races we just had in Korea. I think it was the right answer for all the people to come back here, never mind what happened in Korea, just stay focused and the whole team pulling on one string and getting us both up here, one-two, and getting the Constructors’ Championship one race before the end. I think it is fantastic. We are still fighting for the Drivers’. I want to get rid of this guy (Alonso), but it is an unbelievable achievement. I am very proud, regards to all the people in the team, in the factory in Milton Keynes, but also in Austria. They have been starting this programme, this target, before I entered Formula One but it is nice now to be part of it. I am very proud. Proud of my team, of myself, so I would say a fantastic day.
Q: Mark, you pushed Sebastian very hard but ultimately I guess the start was the decisive part of the race.
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, that’s right mate. Most of the races are decided as we know pretty much on the Saturday or the first lap. You can follow each other around but eventually… in the old days you could play with the strategy a little bit, change the fuel loads and have a look at going long or a bit shorter. Having a bit of a play, but that is not how it is now. Fair play to Seb. He drove a god race and won the race. We had to manage a few problems through most of the second part of the race. I had a very, very, very hot engine for some reason, so we had to turn the engine down quite a lot. Then it was about really just focusing to keep Fernando out. The safety car brought everyone back, but it was a pretty straightforward grand prix. I am absolutely stoked for the guys and girls. I have known a lot of them at Milton Keynes for a long time and for them to be part of this amazing effort, over so many years to come through and get the Constructors’ World Championship is a phenomenal effort from them. Also everyone who started the programme. Dietrich Mateschitz and everyone who put everything into getting this up and racing against Ferrari and McLaren. At the end of the day we have beaten them fair and square. The rest can say what they want but we have the Constructors’ at the moment and it is a very, very good achievement by the team.
Q: Fernando, you passed Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hülkenberg at the start but I guess you lost touch with the Red Bull duo in the process.
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, I think we lost too much ground in the first laps of the race trying to overtake Hamilton and then Hülkenberg. Those 10 or 12 seconds we lost with the Red Bulls were impossible to catch. We are very close in race pace, maybe one or two tenths quicker some laps, one or two tenths slower some of the laps, so when you lose 12 seconds probably it is over. Then we had a little chance when the safety car came out but we found ourselves in the wrong position again with seven cars between Mark and us, so to pass these seven cars the gap again was six or seven seconds to the Red Bulls, so it was over for a second time but overall a good race for us. Being on the podium, overtaking Hamilton and Hülkenberg, we knew that it was not an easy thing to do but in terms of points we are extremely happy. Congratulations to Red Bull. To win the Constructors’ World Championship after six or seven years only in Formula One is a great achievement. We will see what happens in Abu Dhabi with the other championship. It is very open now with the win of Sebastian. He is another strong contender, so we will see what we can do in Abu Dhabi and we will see the final result of a very exciting championship.
Q: Sebastian, you have got to outscore Fernando by 16 points in Abu Dhabi. Is it possible?
SV: I think so. If it would be 26 it would be impossible, 16 is possible. I don’t wish anything bad to happen to him but I think we wouldn’t mind if we saw some nice Ferrari smoke. But jokes apart, we are all racing, we are all on the edge pushing ourselves to the limit. I have to focus on myself, just as I did here, trying to get the best out as I did yesterday and today, so we just try to repeat basically and try to win the race there and then see where he is finishing or probably not. In a week’s time we will know.
Q: Mark, the team want you to race each other and that means you are eight points behind Fernando instead of potentially one. How do you feel about that?
MW: That’s the way it is. That’s how they handed the points out today. Go to Abu
Dhabi, we have to get a few more on Fernando now. One would be nice but it was not possible today but we go with eight and it is still a big, big chance for me to pull it off, so very exciting. We are still absolutely in the hunt. It was very good for me to come back off a bad race in Korea, so very happy with how I drove all weekend and so I look forward to five days time and getting to the next venue.
Q: Fernando, I guess the situation suits you pretty well?
FA: Well, I think I need second place if Mark wins to be mathematically champion. A fifth if Sebastian wins, so we will see what happens. We saw today how very easy things can change. With a safety car in the late part of the race, maybe some people change tyres, some others not, so if you make the wrong decision at the wrong moment you find yourself eighth or ninth and the championship is over. We need to go to Abu Dhabi very concentrated, very focused. It is going to be a stressful weekend for all of us but this is Formula One and anything can happen next weekend. For me, we will start from zero and see who does a better job in seven days’ time.
Q: Seb, a final message from you to the Red Bull team on winning the Constructors’ Championship. An amazing achievement?
SV: Congratulations. As I said an extremely difficult season for us with lots of people talking us down at some stage. Sometimes right, sometimes not right, so it is good to show them one race from the end what we are made of. We are here to fight. It hasn’t been that long since Red Bull entered Formula One. If you look in general terms compared with teams like Ferrari and McLaren we are fighting, so it is a nice feeling to know that you have the better car and you did the better job over one season. We still have one race to go, so very proud. They can be proud of themselves and at least for the race team – I am not worried about the guys in England they know what to do – but for the race team I think we are in the right country for tonight at least with some good caipirinha, some good drinks, to enjoy.
Q: Sebastian, as far as I could see the only problem you seemed to have was with the back-markers.
SV: Yeah, it was a busy race for lapped cars. It is a relatively short track, let’s say a short amount of time you spend for one lap, around 1 minute 10 or 20, so mid-way through the race the laps go past like crazy, which is a good thing as 71 laps is a lot. But so many cars and always very risky, so you need to be extremely focused. You don’t want to lose a lot of time but on the other hand you have to have enough margin as you don’t know. Some guys are better than others. You never know if he is giving you way now or is he just making a mistake. With some people it is not always obvious but all in all I think all the drivers behaved and I managed to get through. It was nice to have the safety car phase with two cars as a cushion as then I could push right away. But to start… The start was good. It worked as per plan. I saw that Nico struggled a bit off the line and I just at some point floored the pedal, used the momentum that I had. The grip was lower on the dirty side but still it didn’t seem to be too bad. Then it was a close fight. I think he got a good start. I just had a bit better one and then he was trying to squeeze me down the inside. There was hardly any space left. I was just praying there was no debris as it was not really the racing line I had to use. But it was obviously the key to enter the first corner first and then build a gap in the first stint. Mark was behind, so I was relatively safe. I was always trying to keep two and a half seconds gap which seemed to work. Control the race from there. We were pulling away slightly step-by-step from the Ferraris, so everything worked. I would say as expected, a nice race and in the end incredible result for the team. Winning the Constructors’ Championship has been a mission. Red Bull entered Formula One and I was a small boy. I remember my first trip. I had just got my drivers’ licence and I drove to England. It was in 2005. To Milton Keynes and if I compare the place back then to now it is massive progress. I was a little boy. Someone showed me around and I was fascinated. Sparks in my eyes. Looking up to Formula One and now to be part of the team and part of the driver line-up to give them their first championship is incredible. I don’t really know how to put it in words. Big thanks to the guys in Milton Keynes, here at the track and also in Austria. It is not always just investing money, it is time, patience and a lot of passion. I think we have got all the ingredients to build that kind of car and even with a season like we had, ups and downs, to still to be able to win the Constructors’.
Q: Mark, what about the start and the overheating engine; when did that start?
MW: The start wasn’t too bad. I had a good run around turn one, on the inside for two and then I lined Nico up. I was waiting for him to brake for four and I thought ‘hmm, that’s going to be a bit deep, I don’t know if you’re going to hit the apex’ and thank God he didn’t and that opened up my race a bit more. Then I thought OK, keeping an eye on Fernando, where he was. I saw in my mirrors that Lewis didn’t have the best first lap and Fernando was there. I was just watching my pit board for a while, to see when Fernando cleared Nico. And then… not much to comment on the race really. After that, as you say, the engine was cooking. I’m not sure… obviously I haven’t talked to the guys yet but obviously we had to short shift and control reliability from there and get the car home. So it was a relatively comfortable race for us. Obviously Seb and I were going OK.
But today’s all about the team, today’s about the team, yeah, nothing else; what they’ve done this year and previous years. People like Adrian Newey, David Coulthard, people who have played a big role in the early days, along with Christian Horner. The list of the people back at base is incredible but we’ve got some soldiers back there like you wouldn’t believe and I would love to be in the trenches with those guys and girls because they do an incredible job for us, because Adrian pushes them very, very hard on the design front. Rob Marshall and his team, all of them; you don’t win a Constructors’ championship if you’ve got a car that’s not reliable, so they’ve done a very good job on all fronts. Yeah, we’ve hit a few logs in the river along the way, but this is sport. Today’s all about the team, and I want to thank everyone that’s been involved.
Q: Fernando, at the end there, you looked as though you were catching Mark with a succession of fastest laps.
FA: I think the race pace was OK all through the race. Obviously at the beginning, with the time lost behind Nico, it was too much for us. The gap to Red Bull was around 14 seconds, so we decided to control the gap to Hamilton at that point, and try to be conservative with the engine settings etc. So when the safety car came in, we pushed a little bit harder, tried to see what was the real pace of the car and the real pace of Red Bull but again, we found ourselves with a lot of traffic, seven cars between Mark and me, so we spent five or six laps overtaking those cars and then the gap to Mark was five seconds already, so even with fastest laps at the end, it was obviously not enough but it also seems that Mark was controlling engine problems, so we will never know but I think the car was very competitive today as it normally is on Sundays. Very, very, happy, extremely happy with the result. We started fifth with a very complex race, I think, in terms of strategy with Hülkenberg, something that is not normally there, so you never know how the strategy will change. And also with Hamilton: we knew that overtaking was going to be very, very difficult with the top speed of the McLaren but we were lucky to overtake him on the first couple of laps and then our race was much easier from that point.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) Sebastian and Mark: with the Constructors’ title now out of the way, and the Drivers’ picture pretty clear. To Sebastian initially, if this is the top three going into the final lap in Abu Dhabi, will you do the honourable thing and allow Mark by for him to win the title? And Mark, would you expect Sebastian to do the honourable thing and allow you by, given the occasionally uneasy relationship you two guys have had this season?
SV: I’m not sure if I got all of your question. It’s pretty straightforward. In less than a week’s time, we unpack the cars – the day after tomorrow actually – and prepare them for Abu Dhabi, try to get ready, first of all. We knew that we were strong last year, we have to see if we are competitive, but I’m confident we will be. With such a strong car under our belt, then we see where we are. We will see where we qualify, up to that point in qualifying we are both historically… we just try to get everything out of the car, then we will see where we are. Operating those cars on the limit, you are never certain of anything happening. The best proof is probably two weeks ago, ten laps to the end, the race was safe, everything was fine and then the engine pops. Things can be out of your hands. So we go there, try to qualify as high up as possible and then race hard and then see where we are. And then obviously in my case it’s pretty straightforward. The only thing I can do is try to optimise my result, get everything out of myself, ideally repeat the result we achieved today and then obviously it depends where those two guys are. For sure, you will have to judge according to the situation. I think both of us know how to act. We’ve had some moments which were probably not representative and which we’re not very proud of and we don’t want to repeat. So, full stop.
MW: To cut a long story short, I think it depends on how it is on the last lap.
Q: (Byron Young – The Daily Mirror) Mark, could you feel anything with the engine, or was it just information from the team?
MW: Just information mate. Normally they don’t ring us up unless there are issues, so the phone rang… it’s never nice when they have to ask you to manage something. The safety car helped a bit but then very quickly it was back again the first lap after the safety car. I’m not in the best position to answer all your questions in terms of what it was but it was right on the edge apparently, but we got it home.
Q: (Edd Straw – Autosport) Mark, given that a win today would have meant that you would have gone to Abu Dhabi knowing that a win would be enough to win the championship, and given that there’s a precedent saying that in the title run-in team orders are allowed, should the team have swapped you and Sebastian?
MW: It helps but it’s not in the team’s philosophy. That’s how it is. It was a good drive by Seb today for the win and that’s how it is. I think the team’s position has always been on the sporting side and that’s how it is. Obviously Fernando got some points in Hockenheim, which has happened in the past in Formula One and will happen again in the future. Everyone has different ideas, but that’s how it is at the moment, so I will go there and do my best.
Q: (Carlos Miquel – Grand Prix Actual) Fernando, do you think you didn’t do a perfect job this weekend?
FA: I think I tried to do the best job possible. For sure there are some cars with six or seven seconds’ slower pace than us. It was sometimes very close. I remember I nearly touched a Virgin in turn eight one time. In turn three as well, with a Lotus. This is the risk we have to take, sometimes to be a little bit conservative when you lap someone because we know the car difference in terms of the speed but I’m sure they try to do the best job they can.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Fernando, given how strong Red Bull is and how strong they were last year, do you feel that your hands are a little bit tied because they have it in their hands to decide who becomes champion if you can just finish third?
FA: I think we have to see how the car performs there. I think here, with a better qualifying yesterday, or a dry qualifying maybe we could have overtaken a Red Bull at the start because we did a very good start and then the race changed from there. We will see if we can be in front of them in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. If not, probably the start will be our next opportunity and then we see. As I said before, if I’m fifth and Sebastian wins, I think Sebastian is World Champion. So it’s not so clear for them either, which one can win the race.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Sebastian, you gave a long answer to Ian’s question but you didn’t actually answer the question. As Fernando says, if you win the race, he only needs to be fourth to win the championship. If Mark wins the race, then Fernando would need to be second, so if you’re leading going into the last lap of Abu Dhabi with Mark second and Fernando third or fourth, will you let Mark by?
SV: I think you will see then. I went to school, obviously, so I know what I can answer. There was a lot of talk before this race. In the end, the way the race unfolded it was all unnecessary. For me, it’s pretty straightforward. I go to Abu Dhabi, try to do my best, we have a strong car, I can rely on that and then we will see. What do you want to hear? I can only tell you in that scenario you are describing, I can only tell you what you think. I think it’s clear.
Q: (Byron Young – Daily Mirror) Was that a yes?
SV: It’s one week away. As a kid, I never liked it when my parents teased me for something and didn’t answer my question, so now I’m in a good position to tease you, so you will see.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi – Tuttosport) Fernando, the two guys beside you seem pretty confident of their chances for the title; and you?
FA: Hundred percent. I just need to finish second. It doesn’t matter who wins in Abu Dhabi if I finish second. So the main goal for us is to be on pole on Saturday and to win the race on Sunday. If we cannot do that, because we are not quick enough, we try to be second. With that, the problem is finished.