DRIVERS – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Haas)
Q: Sebastian, begin by looking back at events in Baku two weeks ago. You said in a statement on Monday that you over-reacted in the heat of the moment. Please can you just talk us through what happened in that moment.
Sebastian VETTEL: I don’t think that’s necessary, is it? I think we’ve seen it many times. I’ve seen it, I’ve looked at it, so err… obviously, I had a very different view inside the car than I had with a little bit of a gap and outside the car – hence why obviously I made a statement. I had the chance to quickly talk to Lewis after the race – but I don’t want to pump this up more than it is already. I think that it’s my right, our right that it stays between us. I think I said everything I had to say. I think it was the wrong decision. Obviously I got a penalty in the race and, yeah, lost a potential race win. We couldn’t obviously foresee that Lewis was running into a problem with his headrest but could have been a lot more points at stake. After that obviously I tried everything to recover.
Q: Seb, you said ‘it was the wrong decision.’ What was the wrong decision?
SV: It was the wrong move, the wrong decision. It was the wrong move to drive alongside him and hit his tyre. So, that’s obviously I guess what you all want to hear but there’s not much more to say. At the time I was surprised. It felt like Lewis hit the brakes and I couldn’t stop running into his car – but I also said in the statement and said afterwards that I don’t think there was any bad intention. So I don’t think he actually brake-tested me. At the time I read it like that. I was surprised, and hence why I was obviously I was upset and over-reacted. Am I proud of the moment? No. Can I take it back? Do I regret it? Yes. So I don’t think we need to drag it out any longer.
Q: Lewis, is it the end of the matter for you as well now?
Lewis HAMILTON: It is for me, yeah. Solely, really focussed on this weekend. Obviously it’s an interesting press conference, as I mentioned, with so many people here. The people watching can’t see how many people are behind the camera. Yeah, I mean, I said everything I felt I needed to say at the last race and just left it there. Now the job is just to focus on… still got a lot of races ahead of us and a little bit behind points-wise. So just trying to keep my head down.
Q: Does what happened in Baku in any way change the dynamic between you and Sebastian?
LH: I don’t think it does. Sebastian and I, we spoke after the race and on Monday and shortly after that he messaged me, I think the day after I think it was. For me, I just said that, for me, I still have the utmost respect for him as a driver and will continue to race him hard for the rest of the season in the same way I always have. No less hard than we have been already up until now. My only point to Sebastian was that I felt that, saying I had brake-tested him, I was like, I hope you can correct that publicly – because people who are watching felt that this was something I did. In the data it obviously showed that was not the case. In actual case he accelerated. I think the goal was to try and be as close as possible to me but that was an error in judgement. My own point there in reply to him was that I hope he makes that clear because I had no intentions… there was no need for me to do something like that. I was in the lead. And… yeah. I accepted his apology and moved forwards.
Q: Sebastian, just a few words from you about the relationship with Lewis. The dynamic between you.
SV: Well, I’m happy to hear that it doesn’t seem to have a big impact. Obviously what I did was wrong and I apologised. I think it’s totally up to Lewis. Obviously I did a mistake so I can understand he’s upset but it’s nice to hear that we are able to move forward. Yeah. I think the respect that we have for each other on-track, off-track helps us in this regard.
Q: Kevin, team’s best finish of the season in Baku. Haas are now up to seventh in the championship. You must be very pleased with how things are going. Do you feel you’re getting the best out of the team and yourself?
Kevin MAGNUSSEN: Yes. I feel like it’s going well. I’m enjoying my time at the moment. We’re getting good results, both me and Romain, scoring points for the team. As a team the size that we are with so little people and limited budgets, it’s a good effort to be where we are. I hope to be able to keep it up. I think seventh in the championship is one position better than last year and I think our target as a team was to try to improve at least a little bit on last year – which was already a good rookie season for Haas. So, y’know, we need to keep it up and keep scoring those points when other people make mistakes and take the opportunities when they’re there.
Q: You talk about the target for the season; what’s the target for this weekend? You’ve never been out-qualified by a team-mate here but you haven’t been in Q3 yet this season. Can you do it here?
KM: Q3? I think… it’s not going to be easy. It’s not our natural position. We don’t have the actual pace to be there but I think it’s not far away. With a slight variation in people’s performance and if we get a little more out of the tyres, balance, setup etc., we can get there. But for this track it’s not our natural position but for sure we’ll do our best.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Sebastian, of course I respect what you said that you wouldn’t want this topic to drag and drag – but there’s one interesting question. There are some suggestions that you didn’t deliberately move onto Lewis’ car and it was only because you were just showing the gestures that we all know about and it was unintentional. Was it really intentional to crash into Lewis or it was only that you didn’t really pay any attention to the steering?
SV: It’s a very confusing question. I think it’s very simple: obviously, I got surprised. I got the impression at the time – which I have corrected: I was wrong – that I got, let’s say, fouled and y’know I wasn’t happy about it. I drove alongside him, obviously wasn’t happy about it, over-reacted. I don’t think I need to explain further. I think it’s very clear. You all saw what happened, so… yeah. Not sure I get the question.
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – AP) Question for Lewis. After that race you had some strong words, obviously in the heat of the moment you were very angry and you said that Sebastian, on that incident, was a disgrace to the sport. Do you regret saying that now? Do you think perhaps you were overly upset? Do you regret those words?
LH: I don’t feel I was particularly upset after the race. If I was upset it was for other reasons but I don’t feel like I said anything I particularly would wish to take back. But I think, I still have the same opinion of what happened – but it’s water under the bridge now. We move forwards. We spoke about it, we move forwards. There’s no point really saying much more.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Sebastian, you’ve admitted that you made a foul. Why did it take you so long then to actually apologise? Why did you have to wait until after you’d appeared before an FIA investigation?
SV: I don’t have your number. I don’t want it. So, I don’t feel the need to talk to… sorry… all of you for more than what I have to. So, I think the person that I had to talk to was Lewis, that was the most important. Obviously then Monday I went to Paris to see the FIA, we had the hearing, they asked me my opinion in terms of what happened, to run through the incidents, that’s what I did, so yeah, I don’t think, as I said, there was a need to talk to you straight after. You’re not the most important people I think. As I said, the most important for me is the guy I’m racing with, is Lewis, and that’s the one I decided to call first.
Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport Magazin) Question for Lewis, we were a bit surprised with the reaction from inside the car that you stayed so calm when Sebastian hit you. Can you explain how you managed to stay that calm? Because if something like that happens we probably expect… we ourselves would probably react differently.
LH: Well, it’s a little bit different perhaps to if it had happened on a football pitch and you’re face-to-face with someone. I think maybe your initial reaction would be different – but we’re strapped into these cars so there’s not much I can do in the actual car at the time. As I said, I was more focussed on the race result and the difficult race that we had had. So, whilst that was a difficult scenario – or an unfortunate mishap during the race – that was not my main focus or goal. So, while there are questions about it, I was just thinking about the points that we had lost, how we are going to regroup as a team again to try to make sure we don’t have that same issue again, and that we still have a pretty steep mountain to climb before the end of the season.
Q: (Ralf Bach – Sport Bild) A question to Lewis. Gerhard Berger said last week, first the FIA punished Sebastian in Baku but then God himself punished you. Can you tell us something about what he could mean?
LH: I don’t know what he’s talking about, so… [Question repeated off-mike] I guess that’s an opinion of his, and… what do you think it means? I don’t care what he thinks he means, he didn’t say it to me, he said it to you! I don’t know. I don’t think it had anything to do with God.
Q: (Natalie Pinkham – Sky Sports) You’re both guys who are passionate and vocal and speak your mind – I’m thinking Seb, you with Kvyat in the cooldown room. Why didn’t you just speak to him straight away after the race?
SV: Well it’s the same as if you ask me to try and exit through that door. There’s a lot of people I have to go through first and I think it was the wrong time given how much fuss there was kicked up after the race to talk to him. So, I’m sure he was busy as well after the race. You usually have your meetings and so on. So I don’t think that was the right time, straight out of the car. Too many people in between us, let’s say.
Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) For Sebastian. You’ve just said now that you’re happy to hear that it’s moved on, following Lewis’ comments now. Does that mean that’s not the impression you got after you spoke on Monday? And just a very quick question to Lewis: did you accept his apology?
SV: No, it’s not the impression I got. I’m just in that regard happy to hear that we, obviously… yeah… mature enough to move on. Obviously what I did was wrong and I did a mistake. I apologise but it doesn’t take it away. It’s still there. If I can could literally take it back and go back in time, I would – but I can’t do that. And since I can’t do that, it’s good that we’re able to sit here and say that we’re focussed on the weekend and we go out there and race and do what we love most.
LH: Just on my point, the conversation we had… there wasn’t actually an apology in the conversation that we had – even though that was perhaps the intent. It was literally the next day when we were texting. I got a text from Sebastian, apologising and I did accept it.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) A question for Sebastian. You’re laughing about it now but I would suggest that you have nine penalty points, you tell the Race Director what you did in Mexico, you swear at him, you use your car as a weapon. Would you agree that you got off quite lightly?
SV: Well I got a penalty, obviously the race was potentially handed to me with the fault or the technical problem Lewis’ car had with the headrest, so you can believe me that I wasn’t happy at all after the race because I finished fourth and I could have won the race. So I didn’t need to tell you how many points difference that is. So…
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Yet you were driving into him, using your car to ram into him…
SV: Well I said also to him that I never had the intention to hurt him. It’s not like I tried to punch him…
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) But you did.
SV: As I said, the Intention… I over-reacted. The intention was not to hurt him, damage his car, it was at low speed but looking back it was the wrong thing to do, it was dangerous, plus it was unnecessary because it didn’t win me anything.
Q: (Livio Orrichio – GlobeEsporte) To all drivers, when you have a stress point in a relationship, as Sebastian and Lewis now, even if it’s clarified between you, and you go to the next race, here or Silverstone for example, is it possible to leave everything in the past or unconsciously do you take it to the moment of the fight with the same driver into the track?
LH: No honestly I really don’t feel that there is tension here. Obviously you guys might feel that there is. We just really distinguished that when we spoke on the phone and it remains respectful. As I said, there are two things that are most important for me, the first is that Sebastian acknowledged that I didn’t brake test him, which while he has apologized I don’t know if people still understand that. That’s important for me because people were commenting or sending messages to me saying that I was out of order. Obviously I didn’t do any of the braking. Secondly, road safety is a big issue, a campaign the FIA are constantly pushing and obviously the decisions and how they govern the sport and how it reflects to the rest of the world, they were the only two points I was focused on.
Q: Sebastian, can you let it be or do you take it with you into the next race?
SV: No, I’m quite happy to get into the car tomorrow. I think come practice, come race day you try to do your best. Obviously, you’re very busy driving the car, when you fight someone, we know that overtaking is not easy, I don’t think you have much time to think. Obviously you’re planning an overtake, etcetera – but sitting here I think I would say it doesn’t impact on the next race and who you’re racing.
Q: Kevin, do you have anything to add?
KM: I have no grudges to either of those guys!
Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) There’s too much tension in this room right now. This question’s for Lewis and Sebastian. Lewis, I know recently both of you were involved in Cars 3 doing voiceover work, and Sebastian you did a German version of it. What was it like working with the people at Pixar, and for Lewis, what was it like doing another voiceover for Cars, and Kevin, would you do any voiceover work or acting like these two?
Let’s start with Kevin.
KM: I did, actually! On the Danish Cars, as well. I’m one of the Cars, I guess. Yeah, we all did it.
SV: All the same car, I guess, Sat Nav.
KM: I’m not a Sat Nav, I’m… I can’t ever remember which one it is. That’s too bad!
SV: I’m sure they ask you again!
Sebastian, how did you find the experience?
SV: Well, I think I’m quite comfortable with voiceover… acting maybe less. It was good fun, it’s a fun experience. People help you a lot. Obviously, as I said, it’s quite easy because they just put your voice wherever they need to – whereas with acting I think you need to be a lot more precise. It was good fun. I did the German version and also the Italian version, which was a bit more difficult but good fun. Looking forward to hear myself when the movie comes out.
Lewis, how did you find it?
LH: It was the second time I’ve done it and I had a lot of fun with it. I’m appreciative of the opportunity.
Q: (Peter Vamosi – Vas Népe) Question is to Lewis and Sebastian. Fernando Alonso’s management is right now in talks with Ferrari and Mercedes – at least the rumours are about this. How do you like the idea having him as team-mate?
Lewis, why don’t we start with you? You’ve had him as a team-mate before.
LH: I’m pretty happy with the team-mate I have, so it’s not even a thought in my thought process right now.
SV: Well, I’m not responsible to sign the drivers but if I had a say, I’d say I prefer Kimi.
Q: (Tom Slater – Soymotor) A question for Kevin. I wanted to know your vision about the Baku incident because these last days a lot of people were saying the FIA wasn’t hard enough with the penalty. If it had been different drivers do you think the penalty, the FIA would have acted the same?
KM: I have no idea.
Q: (Petr Hlawiczka – F1news . cz) Sebastian, do you have each other’s phone number now and the other questions regarding latest technical directive about burning oil, do you think Ferrari is most suffer by this latest technical directive?
SV: I’ll start with the second question. I don’t think so. I think it’s better for you to ask somebody who understands a lot more about the engine. For me it’s important that the engine is running, that it’s working. Then, I’m not sure I understood the first question. I said we spoke on the phone. To call somebody… I don’t know where you are from but to every place I have been to you need the number of the other person! Maybe you have a good phone, you just say the name and it dials the number.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) This is also for Lewis and Sebastian, but about the racing at last. There are now two races where Mercedes seem to be much stronger than Ferrari. Lewis, are you now confident that you are on top of the tyre problems you had before and Sebastian how concerning is it? Obviously the race in Baku was hard to judge because it was chaotic but especially in qualifying the gap was really big and how optimistic are you that you will be able to get close to Mercedes again?
LH: I think we’re constantly learning about these tyres, so I think we definitely made a big step, I think it was going into Montreal and from there we are continuing to learned weekend-in, weekend-out. Of course we’re coming to other circuits. Each time it’s a little bit different – different abrasiveness, different challenges – but I think we do understand obviously what the issue has been and that it can occur at any point but I think we have the better tools and understanding now to be able to tackle whatever issue we do.
SV: I know what was going on in the last two races. They were very different. The tracks are different. But if you take Canada: we actually had good pace in the race. The car was damaged and obviously my race looked very different to Lewis’, he could control the race from the front. Then in Baku in qualifying, we just didn’t get it together. The gap was artificially big. I’m not sitting here thinking that we are 1.1s behind in quali here. Came Sunday I think the pace was very similar. Overall it’s probably fair to say that Mercedes had the upper hand Saturday and Sunday but the difference was small. I think you are constantly trying to push all the areas, trying to improve the car, understanding the tyres, these kind of things. But I think for here we should be all set and we should be ready to race. Hopefully we have a calmer race and we should have more, let’s say, consistent conditions, then you are able to read much more how close we are.
Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) Kevin, do you think the next world champion is on your right or on your left?
KM: I have no idea. I can’t see into the future. Let’s see.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Mark Webber has recently suggested that drivers shouldn’t be penalised for technical issues with grid penalties etc. How do you feel about that – can one separate a driver from a team and vice versa?
SV: I think it’s a difficult one. I think we understand as drivers what Mark meant and he’s probably right about it but on the other hand you have to get the rules straight and set some rules so that the teams comply with it. Since everyone is always really competitive in Formula One, you are always trying to look for something maybe the other guy hasn’t, so you might develop a pattern of I don’t know, changing your gearbox every race because of whatever advantage it brings to you, so I don’t know… yeah, that’s a tricky one.
LH: I understand his point. I’ve only just heard it, so I haven’t had much time to think about it. But I imagine it’s difficult to really implement that. You’re a team. If a driver makes a mistake, the team loses points and if teams, ultimately if it’s a team, collective mistake when something or when reliability hits, it hits you all together… and then also you know, if you have an engine issue and you get a brand new one and you don’t take a penalty you gain an advantage on power quite often. I don’t know. Perhaps there’s a way they could do it.
KM: I think it’s frustrating for the driver but it is also for the team. It’s true that if you make a mistake as a driver it goes to the team as well. But if there is an engine failure it’s more on the team’s side of the blame, if you want. I think it could be looked at a solution to take a constructor point or something like that instead of penalizing the start position for the race. But it’s not something I think too much about.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere Della Sera ) A question for Sebastian. Today we heard that in the team there’s a change, the [person] responsible for the engine is not any longer in his role. Do you think it could affect the second part of the season?
SV: I don’t know. I don’t know what you’re referring to, but again I think these kind of things it’s better you ask a little bit higher up.
Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Lewis, after the race you said you were concerned about the example the incident set for children. Are you happy with the message being sent from the hearing on Monday after what happened to Sebastian?
LH: I don’t think anything changes. My opinion stays the same. With all due respect, Jean [Todt] should be sitting next to us to be honest to answer some questions perhaps because they didn’t change anything on the Monday, so the message that was sent still remains the same.
Q: (Nathalie Pinkham – Sky Sports) Seb, in the heat of the moment, you do seem to lose your cool a bit. Do you think you have a problem with your temperament? Lewis, do you think that judging by the size of this crowd this kind of jeopardy and rivalry is good for the sport?
SV: To answer your question, I don’t think so. I could see why you might believe it’s not, but I think I have faced a lot of situations that are quite hot and I don’t think so.
LH: I think an intense battle is always a good thing for any sport, so I don’t disagree with that but of course we are used as a platform, we are supposed to be role models, we are supposed to give a certain message. We are only human beings, so we don’t always get things right. However, collectively we are supposed to inspire and send the right message to young kids. There are so many people who want to be in our position. We are in a position of power and how we utilise that is very important.