QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. A question for Felipe and Lewis. Can you speak about Turn 8 and the difficulty and the pleasure of it and do you fear that your tire will struggle at that turn?
LH: I think, for me, I had quite an interesting experience through there in 2008, so I probably adjusted my driving style to hopefully suit the tires a little bit better over the last couple of years and I hope that will help this weekend. It is a great corner. You enter it flat-out. I think the Red Bulls were flat-out there a couple of times last year and we were quite close. It is a corner where you are continuously building up lateral G and you really have to be quite precise with the line that you take and how much you are taking out of the tires, and also how much minimum speed you carry through there as you carry it all the way down the next straight. But it is quite a straightforward corner. I don't think any of the drivers struggle with it but you do have to perhaps compromise the overall setup of your car to suit that corner perhaps more than the others. At least that is what I have experienced.
FM: Yeah, for sure it is a very special corner. As Lewis said, you have a huge amount of lateral G Force in the corner. You need a good car. You need to think about the setup for that corner as well in this track. Interesting thing is that you have a lot of G-force but then you even have one bump in the middle of the corner that sometimes if you are a little bit too aggressive you can even lose a little bit the rear of your car. But it is a very special corner to do, especially the first part. It is more difficult. The second, the last part, is like an easy flat-out corner. But it is very nice. It is a little different corner to what we are used to doing in most of the tracks and I think that makes this track quite special as well. We will see this year with the degradations that we have on the tires that we need to take care as well.
Q. A question for Vitaly, Felipe and Lewis. Considering the degradation of the tires, are you more concerned about wet or dry conditions as you don't know exactly the behavior of the rain tires.
VP: Nobody from us knows how the tires will be working here. I think we did just a few laps in the Barcelona test so to be honest I don't know really what to say. We need just to wait till tomorrow's free practice and we will see how it is.
FM: We need to run, to have a clear idea. I did some laps in the rain in the winter and also when we did a filming day it was raining a lot in Fiorano as well. We ran and it was almost snowing. The grip was very low but it is better to wait to see how it is going to be here in normal conditions and we will see how these tires work. But it is not very clear to everybody. Everybody needs to learn how it is.
LH: I agree with what they have said. We have not really had a lot of time on the tires, finding the right tire pressures, finding the right balance and those kinds of things that are going to come into play. But I hope it dries up and we don't have to experience that this weekend, but I am sure at some stage it is going to become quite important for strategy and we probably won't see too many people using the tires in practice mainly because we don't have too many sets of the tires. It will be interesting.
Q. Lewis it was exciting for you and for the team that you won last time in China. How realistic is it to expect that you can now mount a season-long challenge?
LH: Of course, you can come from the last race and be very excited and confident going into the next race, but I don't have particularly high hopes. I generally don't like to expect too much as then, obviously, if it doesn't work out, then it is a big comedown from that. But I would prefer to arrive here cautious. We may not be the quickest this weekend, which is definitely possible, but if we are then that will be fantastic and we will do what we can to win. In the last race, we didn't win because we had the fastest car. We won because we generally out-drove and out-did them with strategy. Our car was the next quickest, but I hope we have closed the gap. But you never know again who has improved their car more than others so fingers crossed our upgrade is good enough but we will see tomorrow.
Q. To clarify, you don't have particularly high hopes for this weekend or for the season for the title challenge?
LH: I was referring to this weekend, just because we have had that break and everyone is making a step forward. You have to assume everyone is making a step forward. We had a good half-a-second that we needed to jump to catch the Red Bull. Whether we will have that half-a-second we will have to wait and see, but we have to assume that whatever we bring they will have brought the same or similar. But for the rest of the season, of course, we are on top of our game and we are pushing as hard as we can to win more races. I think it was a great boost for us the last race and to then have that couple of weeks break was fantastic for our guys, so I was happy I was able to do that for them.
Q. Lewis, I would have suggested that you would come here with confidence and on a considerable high after China, so why the caution?
LH: In terms of my own performance and my driving I am confident that I can get in the car and do the same job that I did in the last race, but race by race you learn and people learn from other peoples' experiences through strategy how to control their tires and everyone is improving constantly. And just because it is such a big break. In this kind of break, generally we have gone back to Barcelona in the past and everyone has brought quite a big upgrade, so you have to expect that it is the same this weekend. Even though we won the last race, we were still slightly trailing behind the Red Bulls in pure pace, but you have to also be cautious of the fact that others like Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes have also made the step. Perhaps closer to us or past us, you never know. I am just not getting all excited, just looking forward to getting in the car and doing the best job we can this weekend to score some points. I am confident with what is coming over the next few races that hopefully it will put us in better shape.
Q. Felipe, here and Barcelona are two key races for Ferrari to see how this season is going to go. You have been in Ferrari for many years. How different is this year, the pressure, compared to other years in the past knowing that in the winter you have very big expectations and, so far, the results have not come?
FM: Well, I had good years, great cars, fighting and winning since the beginning. We also had some difficult years like 2009 and how we started the season and how we saw especially Red Bull – McLaren as well – show good performance. But Red Bull, especially in qualifying, is showing they have the quickest car. Sebastian (Vettel) has won many races already, his worst result was a second. It is clear that he has got more points and it is clear that we need to have a good result and a good step now, in Barcelona and that's why we are really pushing to have that. It is clear to see that we never give up, but the difference is quite big. We really need to have our feet on the ground and to work to improve the car. I would say more in the qualifying. In the race, we show that we have a much more competitive car compared to the qualifying but we are looking at how how much points Sebastian has and the team has as well. It is important to have a good step and to be very close to fight.
Q. Felipe, you have won here three times and you have spoken about how much you enjoyed this track. I think when you won it for the third time you were joking, saying you almost felt Turkish. With the threat of this race not being on the calendar so far, how much would you miss it if it wasn't. How much does it mean to you as a driver?
FM: As I said, it is a very special place for me. I won three times, especially the first time it was a big fight with Fernando (Alonso) and Michael (Schumacher) in 2006. In 2007, it was a little bit more free the race and, in 2008, I had a big fight with Lewis. It is true that it is a track you always like to come. You always have a good result, good feeling and we will miss it if we are not coming here next year. I would miss it definitely as it is a place that you have some better results than you expected. It is a good place but we will see how it is going to be.
LH: I think he's answered it quite well. It's a great track for racing. I think it generally provides quite good overtaking opportunities and as a driver – I speak for myself – I always enjoy driving here. It's quite a challenge. It's got some great high-speed corners and quite a nice mixture of corners. Of course, it would be a shame to not have the grand prix on the calendar but we love to race at circuits that are challenging and exciting for us, so fingers crossed it will be here.
Q. Felipe, it's springtime and the rumors about next season are already starting.
FM: No! Really?
Q. In Italy. We heard about you being connected to Red Bull, Nico Rosberg coming to Ferrari. What do you think?
FM: Really, nothing to say. Since I came to Ferrari I have been answering all of these things about me going away, so there's nothing to say really. We concentrate on doing the best we can with the car and to get all we want. It's just one more. It always seems to be at this time, more or less, no, during the season? It's the same as usual.