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Australian GP: Thursday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
13/03/2014

Today's press conference with Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen, Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.

Sebastian, can we start with you. You're a four-time world champion, it's your 121st grand prix and your seventh season in Formula One. Four times a world champion consecutively but would it be fair say that as we sit here today you're not terribly optimistic about making it a fifth in a row this year?
Sebastian Vettel: I don't think that's fair to say. It's a long year. Our pre-season testing, our preparation, hasn't been ideal and, yeah, we're probably not in the best position for this race but I think it's a different story when we think about the championship. There's a long way to go. Two years back Fernando was on the grid with 1.5 seconds to pole position but he was very close to beating us to the title at the very last race. Anything can happen. That's why this race is important, just as any other one. But there are a lot of races this year.

Obviously we've all seen from the outside, and you've mentioned now the difficulties you had in pre-season testing but what are you doing to try to put that right - you personally?
SV: It's obviously a tough step for all the teams, all the drivers, a lot of new things to get used to. We know that obviously we're not in the best shape yet. There are a lot of things we need to solve. Unfortunately, you can't solve them overnight. We'd love to but we can't. So you really have to go step by step, together with Daniel, I think just trying to be as precise as we can, trying to give the engineers the best feedback possible about the whole power unit so that we move forward on that and also talking about the car because at this stage it's a bit unknown where we are. It's not a secret: you need very, very strong reliability to be a title contender, so we'll see... I'm looking forward to tomorrow and especially Sunday to get a feel for the new regulations and see where we are.

Thanks for that. Moving on to Fernando: two-time world champion of course, 193rd grand prix this weekend, 14th season he's beginning in Formula One. Ferrari a little hard to read from the outside in terms of testing, you haven't really stood out, for good or bad. From your perspective how to do you feel Ferrari is placed with this new technology going into this very different new season?
Fernando Alonso: I think it's very difficult to tell how competitive we are at the moment. We'll get some answers in 24 hours or 48 hours, we will know a little bit more than we know now. The car itself and the technology that Formula One brought this year are a little bit complex to everyone. We are learning and we are developing the car every day that we work on it. As I said, a little bit of an unknown situation for everybody. We just need to put everything together, maximise what we have, and see where we are.

Some changes have just been announced recently to the qualifying format, particularly in relation to the final part of qualifying. I was wondering if we could get a comment from you on those changes and the impact they might have?
FA: I think it will not be a huge difference, from the outside especially. OK there were some cars that didn't run in Q3 or they only did one run in Q3 and now maybe we'll see an extra lap from everybody but apart from that I think it's not a huge change in approach in the qualifying for the teams and the drivers. Anyway, I think this change is welcome, to see more cars on tracks. I arrive many times with no new sets for Q3, so now I'm happy.

Moving on to the 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, who is starting his 130th grand prix. It's his eighth season now in Formula One at the age of 29. Obviously it looks very promising after testing and both you and Nico Rosberg it seems are in a position to take an advantage of Mercedes' competitiveness. I wonder will it come down to which one of the two of you wants it more?
Lewis Hamilton: Possibly. Yeah, it's very technical this year and we're all in the same boat. We're always trying to find where the advantages can be between two drivers. From race to race I think you'll see... one race he'll be ahead, one time I'll be ahead, same as you saw last year. Obviously the goal is to be ahead all the time.

Can you talk about the feeling of driving these 2014 cars, compared to the cars of the last generation: the pleasure you get from driving them, whether they're more you're kind of car, what's coming through the steering wheel to you?
LH: Well, naturally I think.. I probably speak for all of us that last year's car felt better, it was perhaps a little bit nicer to drive, when we had lots more downforce. But that was a car that was in the fourth year of its evolution. Now we're in a new phase and it's just something that just takes some time to get used to. The sound, for example, is not as impressive as what we had in the past but once you get all the cars on the track, on the grid, I'm pretty sure it will be impressive for the fans still.

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