Last night’s podium interviews were a bit of a farce. Jean Alesi, so admirable as a gritty underdog racer during his time in Formula 1, was little more than a Ferrari mouthpiece after Sebastian Vettel’s win at Monza. But it’s Italy and the tifosi needs to be catered to, so fair enough perhaps.
For Mark Webber, the weekend delivered his best qualifying result and best finishing result in 12 visits to the temple of speed. And while he says he likes Monza he’s done little to placate the rabid fans, telling Channel Ten in an interview he’d rather have a Porsche in the driveway than a Ferrari. He was also outspoken in his defence of teammate Sebastian Vettel who was roundly booed for not being a Ferrari driver.
“[I’m] very happy to be on the podium here at Monza,” said Mark. “It’s one of the most famous ones in the world, up there with Monte Carlo and a few other signature events but yeah, brilliant to experience that, even though the atmosphere I was not completely a fan of, to be honest. Sebastian won the race and the atmosphere is not completely correct but anyway… that’s their choice.”
Daniel Ricciardo, in his first race after being confirmed as Webber’s replacement at Red Bull next year still has his mind on the job of achieving better results for his current employer Toro Rosso.
“In recent races where we have managed to qualify in the top ten, we didn’t have the pace to stay there in the race, but today we did,” said Daniel. “I think I got the most out of the car, managing to keep the guys behind me and the low downforce set-up certainly helped us down the straights. We must keep pushing hard on the car development for the next few races, because hopefully, a top five finish is not too far away.”
The full transcript of the post-race press conference featuring the first three drivers can be read after the break.
[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]
2013 Italian Grand Prix
Transcript of the post race press conference organised by the FIA.
Sun 08.09.13, 6:06PM
1 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing)
2 – Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari)
3 – Mark WEBBER (Red Bull Racing)
PODIUM INTERVIEW (Conducted by John Surtees and Jean Alesi)
Q: Sebastian, you won your first grand prix, here at Monza, in an Italian team. So, it’s very special coming back for you, isn’t it?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, definitely. A fantastic race – but you can hear the difference, obviously, when you don’t win here in a red suit, you get a lot of that but in the end it’s very nice because it means you’ve done very good and beat the red guys. So we are very proud of that. Great job by the whole team today, very good job by Renault. Usually this is one of the toughest tracks we go to but this year the car’s been absolutely fantastic, the race has been incredible. I think for both of us towards the end we were struggling a little bit with the gearbox so we had to pace ourselves but obviously for me it was not that bad because I had a little bit of a cushion but very great to win here, to see all the fans coming, it’s the best podium of the season so very proud to be up here.
Q: It’s important that they come and the emotion is all about Italy, isn’t it?
SV: Yeah, for sure.
…Fernando did a very good drive and kept you honourable, so that was fantastic.
SV: Yeah, definitely. Most people, you can see are dressed in red – but there’s a lot of blue caps as well and I’m sure those guys are very happy. Thank you.
Q: Fernando, you must explain how was the overtaking in the beginning of the race for you.
Fernando ALONSO: It was difficult obviously. The car was OK and we overtook Nico [Hülkenberg] but then we had to overtake Mark and Felipe later on. And then with Sebastian we were not able to close to the gap so we were fighting with Mark until the end. Second place is good, to have this podium ceremony that is the most spectacular podium of the year for sure and hopefully next one, next year, we come back here but in the top place.
Q: And Fernando, when you make the pass, the whole public jump on the grandstand, it was amazing. Inside the car, how it was? It was very close.
FA: It was close. Obviously we have to risk. There is nothing now to lose for us. We are second in the championship and we have to take some risk. We did it and that’s OK.
Q: You understand Ferrari love you? You have to love Ferrari, we are all behind you…
FA: Ah, of course. I always said the same thing, big thanks to the team for everything they do for me and huge support from all the fans from all Italy. Some people still try to create some tension between team and driver but here is the better symbol: zero tension and we fight for the championship always.
Q: Mark, you had to fight very hard to be on the podium. From the middle of the race you had… it looked like from outside you had better speed, compared to the beginning. Can you explain how it was at the beginning of the grand prix?
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, I felt a little bit better on the tyre at the end of the race. The hard tyre was not quite as comfortable for me but I felt very, very good at the end. So it was a good battle with Fernando. Great team result. Thank you to Monza, last time here in Formula One, so thank you very much. See you next time.
Q: Well done Sebastian, your third win here but tell us the problems you had with the gearbox – you said between fifteen and ten laps from the end. Was it getting worse or was it just one problem?
SV: In the end we finished the race so it was not a disaster. I think yeah, the heartbeat was a bit higher in the car and also at the pitwall because we didn’t know what’s going on. Fortunately, as I said, we didn’t have any big issues. Just the last ten, fifteen laps, tried to pace myself a little bit more and control the gaps. Obviously it was good to have these ten seconds on hand, so I didn’t have to push that much and also I didn’t have to squeeze it all out of the tyres even though I stopped a couple of laps earlier than Fernando. So that was positive. But yeah, we didn’t know how bad the problem is. We’ll probably know better once we strip the car next week and have a look inside the gearbox. We’ll probably know for both cars, I think, how close it was.
Q: Fernando, were you happy with that second place? Was that as much as you could have achieved today?
FA: Yes, very happy. I think the weekend we took the maximum from the car. Practice were OK and we learnt some good information Friday. Saturday it was very good, both cars in the top five. I think the last time was Malaysia this year, so very, very long time, so we were very, very happy. Today, being in the podium again, it’s a fantastic feeling here in Monza. The fourth year that I drove for Ferrari, the four times that I was in the podium and every year is something amazing, something unique again, to be there in that moment. And we did the maximum and nearly a perfect weekend. We didn’t close the gap in the championship, which is obviously the goal every weekend but y’know, when Sebastian and Red Bull dominate Friday, Saturday and Sunday and they win the race we have to congratulate them. They were the best all through the weekend and we need to do hopefully a better job next time but from what we had this weekend I think we did the maximum. So we are extremely happy.
Q: Mark, you’ve had your best finishing position here and finally experienced a Monza podium – but at the same time, tell us about the start, tell us why you pulled off at the end.
MW: Yeah, very happy to be on the podium here at Monza. It’s one of the most famous ones in the world, up there with Monte Carlo and a few other signature events but yeah, brilliant to experience that, even though the atmosphere I was not completely a fan of, to be honest. Sebastian won the race and the atmosphere is not completely correct but anyway… that’s their choice. It was good to have a clean weekend from start to finish and then fight for top positions, which was certainly the case today. The start was pretty good but both Sebastian and I, I think, compared to the Ferraris were not as strong off the line. Felipe had a good one so he had to go to the other side. Seb gave me enough room up the inside. I thought he was going to go straight. He was very deep on the brakes but just managed to pull it up, so then we settled into the first part of the race. I was not super-happy on the hard tyre but anyway that’s the way it was. Fernando was into the rhythm a little bit quicker, we had a good little battle in the second chicane and then after that really just trying to managed the pace on the rear tyres to when we were going to stop to try to pass Felipe – which I was very, very happy with, the in-lap. And also the whole thing went well in terms of for the line, pitstop, exit, out-lap. We executed that as a team effort: driver, pitcrew, and got the job done against Felipe. And then actually it was a good battle with Fernando on the other tyre. Tried everything but yeah, as Seb touched on, we had to nurse the gearbox a little bit but in the end second was the maximum, we got third but we pushed Fernando all the way. It’s always a good battle racing Fernando, you have to be very accurate. We pushed as hard as we could and I’m satisfied with today’s result.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adrian Huber Rodriguez – Agencia EFE) Fernando, is the only way for you to win this championship is for Sebastian to lose it?
FA: Well, I think we need to be realistic about the championship now there’s a very big gap. We don’t have enough races and probably we don’t have the speed right now to win some consecutive races and hope to reduce the gap just by pace. We need to be lucky and we need to have some DNFs from Sebastian or something to win the championship. With the races left and the points disadvantage, it’s hard but in a way, it was exactly the same last year. We could only lose the championship, with 41 points advantage in front of Sebastian after the Monza race. It was difficult for him to catch up and so it was maybe up to us. We didn’t complete the job and we had a DNF in Suzuka and some other problems. There’s still a long way to go; we will try until the last race to be as good as we can and score as many points as possible and then in Brazil we will see how many points we have compared to him.
Q: (Adrian Huber Rodriguez – Agencia EFE) And yesterday, there was so much talk and so much written as to whether you had said this or said that. Did you feel today that the fans spoke out for you? They cheered you; do you feel much better today than yesterday?
FA: Concerning yesterday, it’s the third or fourth consecutive race that some people have tried to create some tension between the team and the drivers. Then we come to the press conference, we explain everything but obviously this doesn’t sell so many newspapers – normality. Every time I leave an airport, the hotel, home, everywhere – here in Italy there’s huge support, huge love from them and me to them as well and to the team and we keep repeating this and we saw today on the podium maybe not many of them read the newspapers in the morning, luckily.
Q: (Jaime Rodriguez – El Mundo) Fernando, can you explain the overtaking manoeuvre on Mark, maybe the most spectacular in the whole race?
FA: I tried a lap before but I was not close enough in turn four, in the second chicane, and then we were very close in the first chicane on that lap. Mark had a little slower exit in the first chicane so I used all the KERS on that straight hoping that with the KERS plus the slipstream it will be enough to pass, but it was not enough so that we arrived side by side. At one point, I thought ‘well, I will miss the second chicane and I will give the place back’ but at the last moment I get the grip, we were very close to touching each other but again we come back to the point that it’s not the same fighting with an experienced and respectful driver compared to some others with whom you would never try that move, with whom we’ve had some incidents already.
Q: (Cesare Manucci – Autosprint) Sebastian, in parc ferme you changed gears five, six and seven I think, because you already had a warning of the same problems with the transmission that you had during the race, or was it a completely different problem, or just to be more safe for the race?
SV: We already saw something on Friday, obviously something similar but Friday to Saturday we changed the gearbox and then I think in the race it was a surprise. We were obviously aware of the Friday problem but we didn’t see anything before that. There’s not much you can do; obviously once you start the car there’s nothing you can change so in the end, I think we were lucky or in a comfortable position to have a little bit of a gap especially towards the end. I don’t know what they saw on the pit wall in terms of data, if the problem got worse and worse and worse or stabilised, but obviously I tried to save the car, save the engine and gearbox as much as I can. In the end, I still have to go full power on the straights; basically try to short shift and save the car a little bit.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, does it hurt to see the people against you on the podium?
SV: About the general atmosphere, fortunately I had an experience in 2008 which blew me away completely when we won here in an Italian team with a Ferrari engine so the atmosphere was fantastic. When we won here in 2011 and this year… 2011 was a surprise, this year I think it was kind of expected. I said on the radio on the in lap that the more booing we get, the better we have done today. It’s normal. I don’t blame the people to be honest, I think their love of Ferrari is in their genes. It’s something very special. Obviously Fernando is in a great position on the podium, whereas if you’re dressed in any other colour it’s not the same, but still, it’s a fantastic race, a fantastic podium here.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, I think the only hard moment was at the start when you locked up the front tyres a bit. How was it after that, please?
SV: Our start was difficult, as I mentioned. I didn’t get off the line that well, couldn’t see Mark so tried to give him enough room and then tried to brake late, probably a little bit too late, locked the front right and then had lots of vibrations after that because I had a flat spot on the front right tyre. Fortunately we weren’t front limited on this circuit, so the front tyre was not a big issue, so I tried to look after the rears after that and we still got far enough to make the one stop work.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and National Speedsport News) Mark, can you describe your side of when Alonso passed you and how badly did that damaged wing affect your race?
MW: I think that I braked pretty deep into there, so did Fernando. It was early in the race, we were still to get a feel for where everything is. Obviously as Fernando touched on, it’s very easy to go straight there and not make the entry to the chicane. I was also mindful of the fact that I wanted to make the entry to the chicane as well but when Fernando then got pretty much level on the outside of three, the chess match is over, basically, so you then obviously have to concede and look to take the fight to another part of the race. The wing, I think, wasn’t too bad. I think we’ve had quite a few little snags on the front wings this season but that seemed to be OK. It wouldn’t have helped; I don’t think we had the best balance in the first ten, 15 laps because of that. As the race went on towards the end, it might not have been too bad to help the stint but I couldn’t go anywhere against that with Felipe and at the end of the stop the guys might have tweaked it up a little bit, but in general, not a big difference. I was concerned that the wing might have been more damaged when I saw it go and also on the back straight on the way to the Parabolica I thought I saw Fernando’s left rear – just an illusion maybe – but I saw the tyre about to go down but it didn’t, it stayed up and in the end we both survived.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Sebastian, Adrian Newey in Spa said that Monza wouldn’t be a positive track for Red Bull, but looking at the dominance here, maybe he was wrong. What happened, how were you able to change the situation?
SV: I think he was as surprised as we were. Just on the way up to the podium, he said ‘I thought that it was going to be damage limitation this weekend.’ I said to him ‘well, if damage limitation is like that, I want to have a lot of damage for the rest of the season.’ It was very unexpected. Already the pace on Friday surprised us. From a balance point of view, I was very happy with the car, similar to two years ago. So obviously we’ve been very competitive in Canada, very competitive in Spa on medium downforce tracks. This one was a little bit unknown. We haven’t been the fastest down the straights again, but fast enough, somewhere in the mid-field which is enough to use the strengths that we have through the corners, despite running as little wing as we can afford.
Q: (Carlos Miguel – La Gaceta) Fernando, what do you expect for Singapore, because in theory it is very good for your car. Do you believe Red Bull is now at the level of 2011?
FA: Yeah, we will see. Obviously we were expecting a lot from Monza and it was a very good Monza. It’s true that we didn’t win the race because Red Bull and Sebastian did an even better job and they were very very good but in our level of competitiveness that we had this year, Monza is one of the best weekends, as we expected before. We came from Silverstone, from Nurburgring, from Hungary where we had Red Bull in front of us, Lotus in front of us, Mercedes in front of us and some other cars sometimes, so here in Monza we were able to beat all those cars and fight for the wins, so if we can repeat this good performance in Singapore, we hope so but this will be the real test for us. We made some changes in the car, they seemed to be positive in Spa, seem to be good and positive in Monza, but when we reach the maximum level of downforce in Singapore, like we had in Hungary, we need to check. If we still have Mercedes in front, Lotus in front and some other teams, we will be more or less the same as in Hungary and we don’t want to be. I think we prepare the car and we prepare everything to make a step forward and in Singapore hopefully we can see it.
The level of domination? Well, I think as Sebastian touched on before as well, already in Canada, Spa, Monza are very unique tracks in terms of level of downforce. They were quick in Spa so more or less… we saw it in Canada so Spa was not a surprise and here in Monza also they performed really well. I think it’s more tight this year than 2011 and also there are more teams in the battle. There is not only Red Bull who can be on pole position etc; there is Mercedes who have done many pole positions this year etc, so many races are coming with many interesting combinations of performance so what we have to do is try to be close to the top in all track characteristics.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Sebastian, you said some minutes ago that the car reminded you of the 2011 car here. It means a very dominant car as we already saw in Spa – Francorchamps, you have 53 points advantage over Alonso. What do you predict for the rest of the season? You are very close to being World Champion for the fourth consecutive time?
SV: I’m trying not to think about it too much. I think that when I spoke about the fact that it was similar to 2011 I was speaking about the experience here in Monza because usually… you know, 2009, 2010, 2012 it was very tricky for us here. Obviously this year was similar to 2011 when the car just seemed to be very well balanced in the corners, I felt very good through all the medium speed and the chicanes. It’s not as simple as you think. People say ‘at Monza, you just need horsepower, little wing on the car’ but in fact if the car doesn’t feel right and doesn’t allow you to play, you lose a lot of lap time, just because you are not comfortable. The cars are sliding more than the rest of the year because you run less downforce so you need to be happy with that and accept that. We have a car this year that was similar in 2011 in that regard and allowed myself to play and still to feel comfortable, even though the car was loose. Other than that, I think I tend to agree with Fernando. Obviously the last two races have been very good for us but overall this year, I think it’s been very close. Yesterday was the first pole position we got in real dry dry conditions, if you don’t consider Melbourne because it was a little bit damp and drying up in Q3. So on that front, we seem to have made progress and in the race it has stood out this year that we have had a very very strong race car. Together with Ferrari, I think on average we have been the fastest in the race.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, during the race we heard a little message radioed by you that you were complaining about the rear light on the Vettel car. I would like to know how disturbing, how annoying it was for you during the race?
FA: Was the question for me? Well, it was…
SV: Will you listen now? You complained about the red light?
FA: Yeah, yeah. It was disturbing a little bit. Obviously it’s a very strong light with no rain.
SV: It’s worse in here.
FA: Sebastian is not used to having a car in front so he doesn’t know how it feels to have a red light on but when you are behind, a little bit close, it’s always flashing and sometimes you just have to touch one button because that’s the red light or something that you press by mistake, if he could switch, but he didn’t. So the whole race I had it flashing in my eyes.
SV: I was trying to get away so it wasn’t disturbing you so much.
FA: You didn’t…