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Austrian GP: Thursday Press Conference Part 1

NEWS STORY
06/07/2017

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.

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.

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.

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 publically - 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.

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.

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.

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

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

(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.

Lewis?
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.

(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 dion't need to tell you how many points difference that is. So...

(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...

(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.

(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 thr world, they were the only two points I was focused on.

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.

Kevin, do you have anything to add?
KM: I have no grudges to either of those guys!

Check out our Thursday gallery from Spielberg, here.

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