The top three qualifiers discuss Saturday's qualifying action ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
In attendance: 1 – Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 2 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3 – Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull).
Q: Nico, what a dramatic qualifying session. How difficult was it out there and just describe your elation when you saw you had taken pole position at the end?
Nico Rosberg: Yeah, it was a really challenging qualifying: the conditions changing all the time, very exciting out there. In the end it was pretty amazing that it did full dry out towards the end. I mean some kerbs still had some patches – going on to the start-finish straight, you had to be really careful opening DRS, I think you saw a lot of moments coming on to there. Then, yeah, I just got a really good lap in on that last lap – awesome, I’m very happy with that.
Q: Lewis, I guess you must feel disappointed? You had set the fastest first sector and then you came across Fernando Alonso’s spinning McLaren. Do you think pole position was on for you today?
Lewis Hamilton: I don’t know how much Nico was up, but obviously as you said I got the fastest first sector, I was four tenths up, so I felt good on the lap. Bit unfortunate with Fernando, but these things happen. I’m not really too disappointed, it was a tricky session and I did the best I could do and yeah, we still have a long race ahead of us tomorrow, so I’ll give it everything I’ve got from there.
Q: Daniel, as Lewis says, it was a tricky session. You had a big moment exiting the final corner during qualifying. Describe what happened there and also your performance during qualifying, do you think you got the maximum out of the Red Bull package?
Daniel Ricciardo: I think yeah… the maximum? I don’t know. We got hurt by the yellow as well. I was pretty angry on that last lap, because I was up a bit and I think it would have put me closer to pole. It would have been interesting without the yellow, so I’m a little bit disappointed, because it’s a maybe what could have been. But at the same time I think the session went really well. I think in all conditions we were competitive. It was crazy. You had to adapt quickly – when to go on the slicks in Q2 and even just little things: getting out of pit lane on the slick tyre when it was so wet, yeah it was sideways coming into turn one. It was fun, it was challenging. On the last corner, I think it was in Q3. There was still a little bit of a wet patch just next to the kerb and it sort of just sucked me in as I opened DRS as well, so I was in for a little bit of a ride but in the end I survived.
Q: Nico, looking ahead to tomorrow’s race: you’ve never finished on the podium here at the Hungaroring and I guess looking to put that right tomorrow?
NR: I don’t really think of the past in those ways, just looking forward to it now, yeah, because of pole position and I’ve been really feeling good out there the whole weekend, in all conditions – wet, dry, even with high fuel on Friday – so it’s been a great weekend so far. Looking forward to the race and a great opportunity tomorrow.
Q: Well, Nico that was an unbelievably exciting qualifying session ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix. Timing seemed to be so important: when to be out on the track to ensure you were there when the track was at its driest. Just give us an insight into how tricky it was?
NR: Yeah, it was unbelievable. Just changing all the time, and so many things count, even just getting a gap at the end of the lap, everybody is backing off and to make sure you get a good gap there was difficult, even for there, because the time was quite tight. And then, yeah, I really nailed that last lap, so I’m very happy about that.
Q: Congratulations. Lewis, I look to Q2 when I look at you. It was a very tense moment. You just got through into Q3 in P10; you heart must have been in your mouth?
LH: I wouldn’t say my heart was in my mouth, but yeah, obviously when I came in and saw how close it was, that wasn’t great. I went wide at Turn One. The rest of the lap I pushed as hard as I could. I was up on my previous, but of course I knew that everyone else would be quicker, so I lost too much time there. Very fortunate to get through and so that’s why even though I’m second I’m just grateful I got through and this puts me in a position to be at least be able to fight for the win tomorrow.
Q: Well Daniel, Lewis wants to fight for the win tomorrow, do you think you can fight for the win?
DR: That’s the plan. We’ve more or less fought for it the last two years and I think we’re even closer this year than we have been in the past, in terms of pure pace. We’re getting stronger and we were close today and in all conditions we weren’t too far off pole. Tomorrow should be interesting. As always the Mercs have had good long run pace, we’ve seen [that] in free practice, but we’ll be there and obviously we start close enough to the front to make a fight of it and so hopefully it’s an exciting race.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Balazs Vajta – Eszak Magyarorszag) My question is for Lewis. Well, first of all, unlucky last lap of course, and it seems you have been struggling a little bit more on this weekend than usual. Would you be able to explain why you are struggling? That’s question number one and question two: looking at your qualifying today, rainy conditions, do you prefer rain conditions tomorrow or a dry race?
LH: Obviously I missed a lot of time yesterday. It was probably the first time, at least in the ten years that I have… actually in 2006 I had a spin in qualifying which meant I started at the back in GP2, otherwise in Formula One I’ve not really had any shunts here. Yesterday really put us on the back foot. Sometimes a missed session doesn’t really make too much of a difference but with a track as technical as this it’s really about building a solid foundation and I didn’t obviously get that yesterday and that was my fault. Today has been just trying to catch up from being on that back foot. I was kind of grateful it was wet at the beginning of qualifying because that levels the playing field a bit more, kind of helps you get back to the rhythm. As I said at the end it felt good. In terms of a wet or dry race, I hope it’s going to be a dry race tomorrow, but I don’t mind it being mixed because those are conditions I seem to go well in, so we shall see. For the fans I hope that it’s dry but for them also I hope that it’s a fun race like it was at the last one.
Q: (Istvan Simon – Auto Magazin) Nico, we were lucky enough to see replays of your quickest lap in Q3 and it looked like there were double yellow flags right after the chicane. How do you remember that lap? How was it from the cockpit and aren’t you afraid of losing pole, perhaps after the investigation?
NR: I don’t know. For sure there were double waved yeah, but I had a very, very big lift and lost a lot of time as a result and I was also slower than on my previous lap in that yellow sector, or in that yellow segment, or whatever it’s called, so I’m sure it will be OK.
Q: (Péter Vámosi – Vas Népe) Question to all drivers: the Hungarian government will rebuild the whole building here, it’s now official here, in two years. The whole media centre, this building, the boxes. Can you give us some advice what you need? Elevators? Bigger places? Whatever?
NR: We don’t really… it’s great that they’re doing it because yes, it’s a bit out-of-date, and that’s awesome because this place deserves to have Formula One for many, many more years y’know? So many fans come to watch us and the track is awesome – it’s a very, very exciting track – so it’s cool that they’re redoing it.
Q: Lewis, anything to add?
LH: I love it here. I don’t think people need elevators! Could be a fun weekend but also one that you lose weight, bit of a workout! As Nico said, this is a historic grand prix, one of those that we cannot miss. I don’t think they need to go too overboard, we just need slightly bigger garages. I don’t know how it is for the hospitality but, just sensible improvement I would say.
Q: Daniel, your thoughts.
DR: They’ve said it, yeah.
Q: (Barna Zsoldos – Nemzeti Sport) How did you find the new surface and the new kerbs in the wet conditions? Is it any different to how it was in the past? To all.
NR: It’s good. The grip is very high and that’s a great feeling, to be able to go so fast. Even in the wet, grip is very high. Yeah, I think they’ve done a very good job. Feels good. The only thing that still needs work are the two track limit areas where they just need to figure something out for there. Otherwise it’s been done very well.
Q: Lewis, your thoughts on the track surface and the kerbs?
LH: I still don’t think they needed to do it, but obviously it’s done. I hope they don’t resurface it for a long time because it’s a track with age it gets better, it gains character. Yes, there are bumps and stuff but that’s what… as long as it’s not like a monster track bump then it’s fine; that means it’s more technical for us. But it’s very, very smooth now. And as Nico said, for one of the track limit kerbs, we have to find maybe a different solution – but the one seems to work now, so maybe that is the way forwards.
Q: And Daniel?
DR: I’m sort-of on both sides. I definitely agree with Lewis that a lot of tracks have character through some bumps or some little parts on the track which… it’s like Monaco, for example, out of Casino Square we always avoid the bump, or the drain, whatever it is. If they smooth that out it would lose a lot of Monaco. It wasn’t to the extent here with Budapest, but there were some corners, like Turn Five, which was always really bumpy and sometimes uncomfortable but it was a challenge to work your way around that and setup the car around that particular corner. Thankfully it’s still got a lot of character, the track is still very flowing and still a lot of fun. Having a new surface, it does make it a lot grippier, so I think when you’re going faster as well, you are having fun. But yeah, they’ve done alright here. Hopefully they don’t resurface every track on the calendar because it does create a bit of atmosphere around it.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nico, you have now 26 poles like Mika Häkkinen, do you feel that you equalled the Finnish record in this way?
NR: I didn’t know and, I don’t know…it’s not really… yeah it’s great to here that. But it’s not something that I think about. It’s just statistics. I’m not really focussed on that. I’m focussed on this weekend, happy to be on pole because it’s the best chance of winning the grand prix tomorrow.
Q: (Attila Lénart – Autó Stílus) I would like to ask all of you guys, after what we have seen here, we had more than an hour-long Q1, aren’t you feeling you are a bit over-protected?
DR: The only thing I feel is Hungry. I had a light lunch and now I’m hungry.
Q: Can you elaborate a little bit for us? What were your thoughts about the conditions at the start?
DR: I think, a lot like these new surfaces, they do… because they haven’t bedded in, there’s not many cracks and whatever, the water does seem to sit on top of these very smooth types of asphalt. You could see that even the Safety Car, at least from what it looked like, the first ten minutes after two o’clock, it was even aquaplaning a bit. Normally if the Safety Car’s having problems then it’s very hard for us. Sure, we want to be out there, we don’t want to wait but at the same time, the car can only handle so much water and the tyres can only handle so much. I think they made the best of the situation with what it was. I think all of us where amazed at how quickly it then dried. From extremes to then Inters and then slicks in 10-15 minutes nearly.
Q: Nico, do you feel the right decisions were made in Q1?
NR: Yeah, for sure because these puddles, they make it unbelievably uncontrollable, the car, this aquaplaning. You can’t drive in that. Even when we did drive, there were still a lot of those as you saw people going off everywhere. So, it was fine, it was good.
Q: And Lewis, your thoughts on Q1.
LH: I agree with them. Honestly. I’m pretty crazy and I like to go out in conditions like that but I had crazy aquaplaning at one point Nico was mentioning. I was ahead of him. And so I think they made the right calls. Unfortunately the tyres… there is water sitting on top of the track and the tyres cannot disperse the water quick enough, and so I think they made the right call and the right steps.
Q: (Ralf Bach – Auto Bild Motorsport) A question to Nico and Lewis. We will see a total free race tomorrow between you guys, or could it be that we hear “keep position” at one moment of this race?
NR: For sure we can expect a good battle and free racing.
LH: Good to see you smiling Ralf! We’re supposed to race, same as always.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globosport) To Daniel, your team-mate comes from two podiums, two second places. What is the importance for you in this race to be in front of him?
DR: Always you want to beat your team-mate. That’s always, in a way, your first target. Everyone wants to win but if you can’t win you want to try to win the team battle, as it’s called. So yeah, I want to have a good race tomorrow. I really feel we can fight for more than just a podium – but let’s see. Yeah, I’ve obviously put myself in a good position I think from the start of the weekend, things have been working well. Obviously Max has done very well and he’s got some great results since he’s been here and I really believe we’re pushing each other to that next level and I think it’s showing in the team’s results. But also on myself I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can. So I focus on me first, and then try to understand a little bit of what’s happening around me.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Revista Parabrisas) For all of you, I want to know how difficult it’s going to be tomorrow: Avoid three times the corners Four and 11 out of the limits with the electronics.
NR: It’s OK. You can see the white line and I’m sure it will be fine.
Q: Lewis, anything to add? Track limits.
LH: I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. It is relatively easy, you just don’t go through as fast as you would if you could go wider.
DR: Yeah, just being disciplined. That’s all it is really. It’s good that they are applying it. I think three times is definitely enough. Some people try to say ‘what if this happens? Or in this scenario…’ Three times is enough and that’s that. We can see it. It’s not like, as Lewis said, we can see the kerb, we can see the track limit. So, just be disciplined, be sensible and not too greedy.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Speedsport) Daniel, your team-mate reported on one run in Q3 that he lost ‘sync’. What does that mean, and did you have a similar glitch?
DR: Yes, so normally when you download from iTunes… I’m not sure what Max is using but obviously the music must have stopped. Weak wifi! Anyway, it’s normally just for the gears. Like a quick shift setting.
Q: Did you have any problem?
DR: No, it was all good.
Q: (Péter Farkas – Autó Motor) Daniel, it was difficult to judge because of the conditions but based on what happened in P3, Red Bull seemed to get closer to Mercedes today than it was yesterday. How confident were you of fighting for pole if the conditions were staying dry?
DR: I think we would have got close on the last run, with the yellow. It sounded like Lewis was improving as well but looking at the 19.9 that Nico did, I did a 20.2, I think and I was three-and-a-half tenths up a the time of the yellow on my time, so I think it would have been very close at least to the time Nico set, so I was pretty frustrated on the radio. But anyway. It is what it is. I think we’ve definitely made some ground today over yesterday which is really nice because, particularly in qualifying Mercedes seem to, if not hold the gap, normally increase it, generally speaking. So I’m really happy with what we’ve done today. I did a little long run this morning which I was more comfortable than I was yesterday, so the signs are going there to be more competitive for tomorrow. Let’s see, give it a good crack.
Q: (Agris Lauzinieks – Kapitals) Nico, as a leader this season and your contract just being signed now, how can it be justified that you are earning less than Lewis?
NR: How do you know that?
Q: I can feel it
NR: Well you need to check your feelings maybe. I don’t want to talk about such details.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globosport) To all drivers. In dry conditions, what do you project concerning tyres.
NR: Concerning tyres, it’s going to be, I think quite straightforward. Of course the supersoft is going to be very difficult initially, that’s going to be interesting how that goes. There could be some big differences there. After that, it’s going to be OK.
Q: Lewis, you all did a lot of laps on the supersoft in Q2. How’s that going to impact on that first stint tomorrow.
LH: I only did the one lap on the supersoft in Q2. I think it’s the same for both of us. Only one lap on that tyre. I’m pretty sure that’s the case.
Q: Daniel, how do you think it’s going to play-out tomorrow?
DR: I think if it’s hot the supersoft, it’s quite hard to get a lot of laps out of it. Or at least fast laps. It depends what the weather is doing. If it’s cooler, you can definitely run it longer but it does suffer more in the heat. Let’s see. I don’t think it’s going to be a one-stop race. We’ll see if anyone proves me wrong but at this stage it looks like a two stop and whether people do… obviously we’ve got three compounds to choose from. They might mix it up a little bit – but I don’t think we’ll see extremely long stints at the beginning with the supersoft.
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