1 Ė Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 Ė Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
3 Ė Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)
(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)
Q: Lewis, every winter you go away, every winter you come back, driver-team
combination, you come out, you get pole position here and you deliver a
performance thatís just incredible.
Lewis HAMILTON: Oh man, Iím shaking, it was so close out there. Weíve got
this incredible crowd here today; thank you everyone for coming out and
creating this atmosphere. What a beautiful day. Coming from testing, from
winter, we had no idea where we would be. We were hoping of course to be
where we are, weíve been working towards that; the guys back at the factory
have been working so hard. And on the weekend also they have just been
working to perfection. Valtteri did an exceptional job out there; it was
very close. Itís great to see the top 16 or 17 are within a second; I think
thatís an improvement in the regulations, so it should be an exciting
Q: Sixth consecutive pole position here in Melbourne. Eight times youíve
been on pole, matching Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna for pole
positions at a track, what does that record mean?
LH: I didnít even know about that. Thatís news to me. All I can say is that
my family are here and I wouldnít be doing what I do without my dad, who
taught me everything, and heís here with me. So big thank you to him but I
couldnít have done it without this great team.
Q: Well done, all the best for tomorrow. Valtteri, P2 on the grid, front row
start. I think more importantly a very strong day for the team. You almost
did it but just missing out on that last run with a little bit of
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, we really made some good progress. I had a difficult
practice three and we could turn things around for the qualifying. All the
session was feeling good. The quali three, lap one, was really nice, I
enjoyed that. Unfortunately not quite enough for pole, but Lewis had a good
lap in the end and I struggled a bit in the first sector in the last run.
Anyways, it was fun and I look forward to tomorrow.
Q: Youíve been away, you said you were going to have a different winter
reset. Youíve come back fighting and youíve made him work for it, havenít
VB: Yeah. Of course Iíd prefer to be on pole, but the race is tomorrow and
Iím starting on the front row. But I have to say that, as a team, after a
quite tricky winter testing they have done an amazing job to turn the car
around and be in this good shape.
Q: All the best for tomorrow. Sebastian, second row of the grid, third
[place]. I think everyone thought after what we saw at Barcelona that
Ferrari were going to start strong. Where do you feel [the team is] after
the last couple of days?
Sebastian VETTEL: I donít know. Congrats to Lewis and Valtteri, they had, by
the looks of it, a very today qualifying. For us it was OK. I had an off in
Q2, which wasnít planned but I tried. I donít know. The car feels alright,
itís not that there is anything wrong (inaudible) but today I thought it was
OK. I think compared to those guys we were just not quick enough. The race
is tomorrow, though. I think we have a good car nonetheless. This track is
very specific so not worried too much, but for sure itís not great. I would
have loved for it to be the other way round.
Q: To play the long game is a big thing this year. Youíve won this race more
than a few times. Can you win this grand prix tomorrow?
SV: Of course. I think we can. You never know whatís happening. Last year we
got a bit lucky but the race is over when thereís the chequered flag. I
think we have a good car, we have a good race car and we are in good form.
Obviously Mercedes are the clear favourites after the result today and the
pace they have shown so far. But we are here to race. Otherwise it would be
quite dull. I think all the people would agree. Weíll see what happens
tomorrow. I think our starts are pretty handy, so weíll go from there.
Q: Lewis that was a huge second lap in Q3. How satisfying is that?
LH: The second lap was definitely a lot better than the first, which is not
always the case. Itís always quite difficult on the second lap to pull that
amount of time out. But on the first lap I made a mistake, which is unusual
for me. It was OK, I just brushed it off and kept moving. We just kept
working away, chipping away at our pace and our balance throughout the
weekend. As I said, coming from Barcelona, we made some really big steps
forward in the last couple of days with set-up and we brought that here and
it seems to have worked. There was also a little bit of work done after that
two weeks, were we analysed everything and made some small corrections. I
really was not expecting to see the performance difference that we have
here. It had been so close throughout the whole weekend between us all. Itís
amazing to see how close the top 16 are, I think there was a second between
us all at one point. Thatís a real positive for rule regulations. Itís a bit
difficult when you have a session like that to grasp exactly what just
happened but Iím very proud to be up here and very grateful for everyone who
has worked so hard throughout the winter and this couldnít be a better way
to start the year. But Valtteri was doing some incredible laps out there, so
I really had to pull something special out at the end to stay ahead of him.
Q: High praise from your team-mate Valtteri. Just talk us through the
session and that second lap in Q3 in particularly.
VB: First of all, I think, a bit like Lewis Iím a little bit blown away
about the performance we had today. Obviously yesterday was looking good but
itís always practice. It was the first session this year that really counts,
in terms of lap times, and I donít think anyone in the team could have
imagined weíd be in this position after the testing we had but everyoneís
been working so hard and that made this possible. But itís only one session:
tomorrow is the main day. From my side, I really enjoyed the qualifying. I
had a difficult FP3. Wasnít really happy with the car. We made some changes
and really felt more confident in the qualifying and got some nice, clean
laps. The first lap in Q3 was pretty good. I was quite happy with that. I
knew that there was still something to improve in the second run but for
some reason just lost some time in the first couple of corners. I think Turn
One and Turns Three and Four. I did a little bit slower out-lap due to
traffic, so maybe the tyres werenít quite ready Ė but Lewis did a great lap
in the end, so well done for that but, I mean, weíre just all happy in the
team to be in this position.
Q: Sebastian, we saw a little off for you in Q2. How did that affect the
performance of the car going into Q3?
SV: It didn't. During winter testing I was joking with Valtteri that I was
quite jealous he did some rallying in the winter. Maybe it was in the back
of my mind and I wanted to try some myself Ė but not the right time. I
tried, obviously, to find the limits in Q2, and went a little bit over the
limit. Fortunately the car was fine. Q3, run one, or generally Q3 was fine.
Overall, that fortunately did not impact our qualifying.
Q: And how surprised are you by the gap to the Mercedes drivers?
SV: Certainly surprised. I think everybody is Ė probably even themselves. I
think yesterday we didnít have a good day. Today felt better but in terms of
gap and pace, it was very similar. For sure thereís some homework for us to
do to understand. I still think we have a great car and we should be better
than this Ė so Iím looking forward to tomorrow. Weíll see overÖ I donít know
how many lapsÖ 56? 58? 58 laps we have some time to get a proper read of
where we are Ė but certainly Mercedes are the clear favourite if you have
such a big gap and comfort throughout qualifying. All the sessions. Weíve
got to live with it today but tomorrow is a new day. Weíve done it before,
around here especially, so, weíll see.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė Autosport) Sebastian, you talked about you still think
youíve got a great car. Did you feel that here, youíre missing something
that you felt you had at Barcelona, or is it just that Mercedes have made a
surprising leap up the order, basically?
SV: Well, itís difficult to compare. We have something like 10, 15 degrees
more ambient, hotter track, different circuit, so overall different
conditions Ė but the car felt really good at testing and probably around
here, so far this weekend it didnít feel as good Ė yet. As I said, yesterday
was a difficult day for us. It was tricky. Today felt a bit better Ė but
thereís not an awful lot of time to try different things. Obviously you have
to get on with it and the sessions come fast: especially in qualifying, you
canít really change much. If anything, you get a better understanding of
maybe where youíre losing out or where it feels uncomfortable. So for us, I
think, there is still a bit of margin but certainly the gap is there today,
and it was a surprise. We didnít expect it coming here but now it is that
way. And, as I said, we focus on tomorrow and donít worry about the gap now.
Q: (Heikki Kulta Ė Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, first time you are in the front
row here. How big a difference does it make in a circuit like this Ė
especially compared to last year when you were nowhere after qualifying.
VB: I was in the wall after qualifying! I was somewhere! Historically, itís
not been the best track for me, honestly. Iíve never felt like Iíve had a
great qualifying or race here for some reason. But, I mean, I think I
managed to build it up well this weekend. Really started from zero this
weekend, trying to learn session by session, and was pretty pleased with the
car and driving and the main thing, in the qualifying, especially the first
lap in Quali 3, I was really enjoying the driving and thatís when the
lap-times were good. So, yeah, obviously there were still things I could
have done better, as Lewis showed in the last lap, but it was close enough Ė
so much better, for example, than the year before.
Q: (Christian Menath Ė motorsport-magazin.com) Question for Seb. Would you
say itís fair to say you have a bit more problem to extract maximum
performance out of the soft tyre Ė because yesterday the long run looked a
bit better compared to the others and today in Q1, when you had the medium
tyre on, you were not that far away?
SV: Well, itís difficult to read Q1. I think people are playing around with
how much, first of all, how much they push, how much they push the engine
especially. I think everybody was surprised how much the track picked up as
well in Q1. So, Q1 is not a great session to read into. I wouldnít say we
have a problem extracting the grip from the tyres. Obviously there is a lack
somewhere, because we are too slow Ė but didnít feel like it. I was very
happy with the laps that I had in Q1 on the medium compound Ė but hard to
have a reference because nobody else was really on that tyre at that time,
so yeah, for tomorrow, weíll see. Tyres so far this weekend were no headache
and should be quite straightforward tomorrow. I expect a solid race from the
Q: (Laurence Edmonson Ė ESPN) Seb, could you just explain exactly what it is
that youíre lacking because you mentioned yesterday that you didnít have the
confidence in the car? Could you just go into some detail on what is
missing, and is it the same on heavy fuel?
SV: I thought the sectors might still be there. I think a little bit of
everything. I donít think the straightline is a problem so I think we are
quite competitive down the straights but I think weíre just losing in the
corners. There are 16 corners around here and I think itís a fairly even
spread so probably by the looks of itÖ and so far it was more in the medium
and lower speed stuff rather than the high speed stuff which, I would say,
also speaks for a strong car in general. I havenít got the balance yet which
maybe I would like to have, especially in lower speed, and not the
confidence and trust which again, around here, can make a big difference
because itís a bumpy track and I hope they donít resurface it because itís
part of the character of this track. Itís fairly evenly spread around the
track but I would say more towards the lower speed corners and itís easier,
I would say, to lose time there. But given the gap is so big, we must lose
time in more than one place, for sure.
Tomorrow? I donít know, I think in the race it could be closer but also the
long runs that both of them had yesterday looked very strong and ours looked
OK but not as special as theirs so we will see. I think today the car was
better and I expect it to be better also tomorrow so we should be a bit
Q: (Daniel Paez Ė Caracol National Agency) Lewis, do you agree with
Sebastian, do you think the track should not be resurfaced? Do you like it
that itís a little bit bumpy in Melbourne, thatís itís part of the
character? How do you feel about that?
LH: Yeah, I like the track the way it is. I think itís a great circuit
because there are not particularly massive run-off areas. If you put a wheel
wrong, it generally does bite you which is great and how it should be. The
bumps are part of the character of what Melbourne is so if you were to iron
those out it would lose a lot ofÖ you know, it does make it trickier for us
but thatís a part of it, you need that. I donít like these circuits which
are super flat and super smooth, donít cause us troubles. For us this
weekend we have to raise the car because itís too much into the ground under
braking, thatís what you should have to do and you have to live with a
certain amount of vibration and your fillings coming out but thatís motor
racing, hard core motor racing.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Ė Auto, Motor und Sport) Lewis, it seemed that before
your last run on your out lap you almost came to standstill twice in the
last sector. Valtteri said before that he thought he had a too slow out lap
but in the end it didnít seem to affect you. What happened there?
LH: I think I came out of my garage behind at least two cars so I was really
conscious of trying to keep a gap to them. I think one of them was Grosjean
or something like that, maybe Magnussen ahead or something like that, and I
was really trying to make sure that I got the right gap to them and they
were backing up also. They came round the last corner and I just wanted to
slow up and make sure I maximised it because I think on a couple of laps I
didnít have the perfect lap and particularly in Q1 and Q2 I had some messy
laps with traffic so I just really wanted to make sure it was perfect and
ultimately it was a good gap in the end, no issues. The tyres have been
really good this weekend so no complaints. I know Iíve complained a lot
about the tyres but theyíve been really good so it will be interesting to
see how they perform tomorrow.
Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė Autosport) Lewis, Valtteri mentioned that he was a
little bit blown away by the performance today. I know youíd said in the
build-up you didnít consider yourself favourite. Do you share that
assessment? Has this come a bit out of the blue for you, the size of your
LH: Absolutely. There was absolutely noÖ since practice from the day one to
the last day when we left, when we went back to the factory, we knew we had
work to do, I felt like we wereÖ I felt good that we had a decent package to
work with but we were wary that we might be slightly behind, thatís what we
honestly thought, when they showed us the summary of how testing went. We
were behind Ferraris from our analysis, we truly believed we were behind.
And from then until now, we havenít changed the car, weíve understood the
car more, we know what we have to do to move the car forwards but we havenít
brought any upgrades or anything like that but as I said, the last couple of
days felt really good at the track. Yesterday, Ferrari were just with us I
think. It looked like they were a little bit heavy on fuel initially and
then they dropped their fuel and then we were quite on par in performance
and we thought we were closer than we thought we would be after testing. And
then all of a sudden they lost a bit of performance in running, I think this
afternoon or this morning, which we were not expecting and so it is a real
shock. When we look at the GPS, itís a lot of the mid-speed corners. When
you look at his lap from Barcelona the car looked planted so I was just
saying to him were you on fumes or something? It is a difficult circuit and
itís quite gusty here as well so it could be a number of things but Iím
really really grateful for where our car is and where it enabled us to be
today. I know that Ferrari are going to be pushing hard and progressing over
the coming days and tomorrow Iím sure they will be putting up a good fight
as they are always strong in the races.