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Hungary GP: Post Race press conference

NEWS STORY
30/07/2017

Podium Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Sebastian, 46th victory in Formula One, very measured but looked like you had some issues there with the steering, we heard lots of radio transmissions saying "keep off the kerbs". First of all, congratulations on your win and tell us about what you had to manage there...
Sebastian Vettel: I'm over the moon. I mean it was a really difficult race, maybe it didn't look like but I had my hands full from three or four laps after the safety car. There was something wrong, I don't know why the steering started to go sideways and it seemed to get worse. Then I stayed off the kerbs, tried to save the car. It wasn't easy. I didn't do a favour to Kimi who obviously could go faster. I didn't have the pace. But then towards the end it did come back a bit. I had a couple of laps where I had a bit of a cushion and I could breathe a bit. But yeah, I really had to stay focused the whole race. I was hoping for a couple of laps to breathe but they didn't come, so really tough. But great result, great day. Thank you for the support. There was a guy out of the chicane, every single lap he was thumbs up, thumbs up and keeping us going, so it was really great.

So you had one eye on the fans and one eye on the steering?
SV: And one eye on the steering, because it wasn't straight.

Can you explain that? Can you explain what can give you that?
SV: I don't know, we'll have a look, but to be honest it doesn't matter now, we won the race. It was a weird feeling because basically it was tilted to the left so you go down the straights and the steering isn't straight and then in right-handers it's sort of OK, but in left-handers you have to get used to it. After a couple of laps it's OK but if it's changing all the time it's difficult because you have to further than you want and than you think in your head. Not ideal, but as I said, it doesn't matter. A big thank you to the team, it was a great race.

Kimi, there's huge Finnish support here, maybe a couple of words of Finnish for your fans before we got to English...
Kimi Raikkonen: Oh, I think they all understand English. Obviously great support, unfortunately I couldn't give them the win. We had a one-two as a team, so I had a great car today, but obviously when you... I had a mistake yesterday in qualifying. I got a good start but I didn't want to force the issue and obviously after that just kept following the 71 laps. Not ideal, obviously I want to win, but it's great for the team.

You have been very consistent on this race track, this is your eighth podium here. Sadly, six of those have been second place. Clearly you had the speed today; it's just impossible to overtake on this circuit...
KR: Yeah, the other guy has to do quite a big mistake or have some issue. It's not easy to overtake and especially with team-mates you take more care. But at least they are still happy - that's the main thing.

Valtteri, we saw a very sporting gesture from you, at the request of your team, to move over for your team-mate. You must have thought towards the end that he as not going to be able to give that place back because of all the traffic and because of Verstappen hunting you down. What are your thoughts on this great sporting gesture?
Valtteri Bottas: For sure in the end I was getting a little bit worried as the gap was increasing. I really struggled with the backmarkers today and was a little bit unlucky also with those. But really, thanks to Lewis to keep the promise and let me by in the end, because I gave him the shot to try and get past the Ferraris. It's a shame, we had good pace in the end today but with the starting position we couldn't finish any better. Just want to say thanks for all the support this weekend. It's been really cool to drive here with all this support and Finnish flags.

Did you doubt at any point whether the team would make the call on Lewis given that you are in the championship battle, absolutely, but given that he is the lead driver? Did you have any moment of doubt or absolute trust in the team?
VB: Well, for sure when the gap was big I knew it could be a problem but in the end I just want to thank the team.

So, Sebastian, 14-point lead, that's a nice way to go into the summer break?
SV: I don't mind; it's OK. It could be worse!

What are your plans for this break from Formula One. You're notorious for being a hard worker, are you going to be at the factory simulator or are you really taking time out?
SV: Well we have a test here in a couple of days, but after that to be honest no big plans, I just want to enjoy the time at home. We spend so much time on the road travelling and I know you have a family as well, so you know how it is, so it's nice just to have a couple of days at home and rest and enjoy that.

Press Conference

Sebastian that's win number 46, your fourth of the season but it didn't look like it was one of your easiest. When did the problems with the car first materialise?
SV: Well, it was a tough one. I was hoping for a bit more quiet afternoon. I had a very good pace and I think Kimi had a good pace, so I think he could go a lot faster than me for the majority of the race. I don't know, I felt already that there was something not right when we dropped the car on the grid. Now, driving the car to the grid was fine but then for the formation lap when we dropped that the steering wheel was not straight and then... well, I did the start and then there was a safety car and then during the opening laps I felt that it wasn't right but it didn't impact too much because it was only small. Then it did get worse and towards the end of the stint it started to ramp up and gradually get worse. It was more and more difficult. Simply... I think after this race I am quite certain there is a reason why the steering wheel is straight and not shifted to one side. Because it's very tricky - left-handers to right-handers and then if it keeps changing to adapt. I did try to adapt and I obviously knew that we can't change it. Then I tried to save the car, also we spoke a little bit on the radio about it. I was talking through the problem and they told me to avoid the kerbs, which I was doing already, but on a track where you use the kerbs nearly on every corner it's obviously also compromising your performance. In the second stint then I just wanted to make sure that I've got enough tyres with whatever problem I might face, so just towards the end of the race I'd have enough tyres. So of course I was holding it back a little bit. It's not like I had an awful lot more pace. Also, in the end I was really going flat out and obviously they were all behind me, queuing and it's good that you can't overtake that easily around this track but I had no room for error. It was a tricky race, with the lapped cars not the easiest to go through. As I said, there was no room to the cars behind. It was difficult but the mindset that I had half way through the race was "it doesn't matter. I can't change it now - I'd love to but can't. We keep going and just try to hang in there as much as possible." The race felt very, very long. Every lap I was looking down; it didn't end. The last couple of laps I was able to find a bit of a rhythm, opened a bit of a gap, which helped me to take the very last bit of the race a bit easier through the traffic and controlled the race to the end. The result is great. How we got there was very tense but very happy, obviously great result for the team.

Kimi, how do you feel after that one? You've said that you had a very good car, do you think you had the pace to win this grand prix?
KR: Yeah, definitely. But obviously... I had a pretty decent start, our starts were pretty similar but obviously I get the tow effect and braked slightly later but obviously I'm not going to force the issue in the first corner. We're going to fight, but we're going to fight fair. Since that moment there is not an awful lot you can do. I had a very good car today, like it was yesterday, but obviously my mistake didn't help. The biggest chance was in the start and then took it quite easily at the beginning and my car was handling well and I was closing up. We were pretty on the safe side in the first stint because we pull away from Mercedes and then I catch up with Sebastian again in the end of the first stint but once he went in I had very good speed, I could have stayed longer out. I guess there are reasons - maybe the Mercedes they stopped earlier and they fresh tyres so... Anyhow, the whole race, basically, following Sebastian and hoping that he goes as fast as he can but not saving tyres because then there was a Mercedes catching me. Once you are in the middle it's a bit awkward place, because if you get a bad exit in the last corner or something the guy behind you with the DRS might get you with a good run but actually maybe once when I got a little bit sideways. I must say the car was great today. I was just, basically, following my own rear wing, same looking at least. Obviously I want to win but great for the team.

Valtteri, I guess it was an afternoon of damage limitation for Mercedes? It seemed to be just a tense, difficult race for the team. Radio problems etcetera, just talk us through it.
VB: Yeah, unfortunately we couldn't really gain any positions today. First of all the start was quite average so I couldn't really attack in Turn One. The initial bit of the start was OK but then I had bad upshift from first to second gear so I lost a bit of momentum and after it was tricky. In the beginning Ferrari seemed to be just really strong with the supersoft but then when we went to the soft, with the issues of Sebastian, everything started to be a bit more interesting. We were struggling with radio communications - sometimes they couldn't really speak to me. I don't know what was the issue - but anyways, I was trying to get close enough to Kimi at some point to attack but there was no opportunities, and then we swapped, as a team, and Lewis tried it as well. When he was trying, at the same time I really struggled with the backmarkers. I felt that I was really unlucky with a few of the guys, being behind them for full laps and losing time, losing the rhythm but then the team promised me that once we did the swap and I let him go and try that, that we would swap again back, if he couldn't make it. And he couldn't make it and the team kept the promise, which I'm really, really happy about and really thankful for the team that we swapped again at the end. Big thanks to Lewis as well because I don't think every team-mate would have done the swap back. If you're running for a podium place - so I think that was nice from the team and nice from Lewis. But unfortunately, damage limitation.

Questions From The Floor

(Flavio Vanetti - Corriere della Sera) Question to both Ferrari drivers. Can you tell me how did you deal with the situation, especially from the mental point of view, having such big pressure from Mercedes behind - was it one of the toughest tasks of your career?
SV: Well, I didn't have a Mercedes behind me so it was quite... I saw obviously that Valtteri was closing in. I didn't know about the Lewis swap and stuff but yeah, I was very busy driving to be honest and trying to keep it on the track without using the kerbs, which wasn't easy. I saw that Kimi sometimes got closer, sometimes not. At some point I think they were asking how much faster I can go. I knew that Kimi doesn't feel comfortable because he was a lot faster. I know that I wasn't very quick, so not a great position, as he said, to be in the middle for him but for me obviously it was good because I had Kimi and then, let's say, other people, so it was OK. In the end it's not so easy to pass here. I still had some pace - I don't think I was completely off the pace, which obviously helped. But not an easy on, as I touched on before.

And Kimi, that pressure from Mercedes?
KR: I was really not too worried. Obviously I talk with the team in the radio but I was not too worried because my car was handling so well. Even though I was very close, the whole race, to Sebastian, my car was still very good and no issue with the tyres. I could follow very well through the last corners. I had only one... two times a small issue in the second-last corner and then in the last corner pushed a bit too much, really the only time my car snapped, even once. But it wasn't ideal, obviously, because I felt I had speed and I was stuck in the middle because then it's always... we know how fast they can be on the straights sometimes, Mercedes. I also felt pretty comfortable because my car was so good that I didn't really... once there was traffic or something and I dropped a little bit back, I could just speed up and make the gap before the last few corners. So, that was just... to know what we were going to do because I could have slowed down in the first part and speed up in the last part. It helped me a bit. Not a big worry.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Hungary, here.

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