Q. For the drivers in the front row: in the past, the guy who had the fastest car was the guy who was winning and this year, because of the strategy – and Lewis knows this really well – you may finish fifth with the best car or first with a car that isn't as good as the best car. Is it something that stresses you, do you like it, personally? Does it add too much pressure to you and you would rather go back to the old system?
LH: I think it still remains the same – the fastest car generally ends up at the front. The fastest car has obviously won the first two races and then almost won the third race. But, of course, being in the early stages of the season, where strategy is still not fully optimized or the way the tires behave through each race is not fully known, what the characteristics will be like, it makes it a bit more exciting for us because we can approach the weekend thinking there's a greater possibility than there perhaps would have been in the past. I think it's definitely exciting for the fans, which is probably the most important thing.
FM: Yeah, I agree with Lewis. In the fastest car you have more possibilities to win, compared to the others, which we maybe didn't see in the last race but we saw that Sebastian won most of the races. But anyway, I think that depending on the situation with the tires, with the strategies. I heard so many good things about the last race. All of you guys were really impressed with the race, really happy with the fights and everything. Even if I couldn't finish in the position that I would like, fighting for victory, I think it really was an interesting race. It's true that race after race, all teams are going in the right direction in terms of everything around the weekend. But anyway, I think it's much better than in the past, how the fights are, how is the overtaking, even the wing is doing a good job. I think it's interesting for overtaking. The tires are helping a lot as well, so is the KERS. It's important that we have fun on the track but it's also important that everyone who watches Formula 1 – the fans – get really excited.
VP: Really nothing more to say. They're right. It's good to have the fastest car, but you can see what Lewis did last race. He just destroyed all of us because of the tactics. For example, last year we discussed tactics for about 20 minutes and this year we spend around 50 minutes with the team, deciding what to do and what strategy to use, because the team has to react like this. Sometimes you wait just one lap more and you're out of position. I think this year it's more exciting, you need to think during the race, the drivers need to talk to the team, explaining how the tires are, that you need to come in, or what is going on. Things like this. It's trickier this year and more exciting maybe.
Q. To all drivers: all of you have said you expect a step forward, changing the cars. Is it realistic to believe that we can have big changes from what we have seen until now this year?
TG: It's difficult to say, if I understand the question. We have a big update here and we think we have a good step forward but you never know how it's going to work out and you never know how it's going to be on track.
HK: Well, if we were expecting to go backward I think something would be wrong, so you've got to be expecting to go forward and that's why the teams are in Formula 1, that's why all the teams have got such capabilities and that's why the better teams are at the front, because they have more advanced technology and facilities and whatever, to go farther ahead. I think it's correct to expect to go better and then the relative performance between the cars at the back and at the front...at the back, we probably expect to make bigger steps forward, relative to the opponents than the Red Bulls and McLarens because they have less margin but there is still distance and the gap between our teams. For us, it's correct to expect that we would be gaining and we are in a position at the moment that hopefully a small relative gain to our direct opponents ahead of us will result us actually jumping ahead and you can see it on the scorecard, but then, of course, the next step gets tricky; to gain on Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull is another story.
AS: Everybody is trying to improve all the time, every race, but for some, updates work better, for some, not so good, so sometimes you think or the (wind) tunnel numbers tell you (that you have) a really good update but it doesn't work, but sometimes it's different. It's just natural that you always try to improve and that's why we're all here. We don't want to get worse, like Heikki said. We want to go better at every race, as a driver, as a team, so that's just natural.
VP: You can see our exhaust; I think we've moved in the right direction and we will bring something new for this event. We will see how it works.
FM: You know what Formula 1 is, what technology is; how engineers work, so a bigger step forward can be possible. We have seen what McLaren did from the last test to the first race: they did a big step forward, so it can be possible.
Q. Question to all of you except Heikki who has already answered: when you go around the paddock, do you notice the absence of Robert Kubica and do you miss him as a friend and a personality in Formula 1?
TG: Yeah, definitely. I have known him for a couple of years now. I spent a complete year with him at BMW and just a couple of days ago we sent messages back and forth. He's a special guy and I think everyone is missing him. He's a very good racer and it's a shame that he's not here, but I just hope that he recovers as quickly as possible and will be back in the paddock again.
AS: He's a great character and I've known him for a long time as well. It's always very disappointing and shocking to hear that something like this can happen. It shows that motorsport is still dangerous. At the same time, I think he was very lucky to be alive, so we wish him all the best...I wish him all the best and he should definitely come back here. He absolutely deserved to be in Formula 1, he proved that many times and he's a really good racer.
VP: When I came to Renault at the same time as Robert, I didn't know him before but with him, the team was loose, like one family, because he always tried to push the team, to wake up, to explain what to do. He was also a positive guy, he knew exactly what to do and all the guys in the team believed in him and he was always funny and very, very quick. What we saw last year, he was one of the best drivers. So we all miss him. We know he just left the hospital; now he has a long time to recover, so we all support him and we are waiting for him. I hope that this year we can see him in the paddock, just to say hello.
FM: I've known him since he was racing Formula Renault. I moved from Renault to Formula 3000 and he was starting in Formula Renault so I've known him a long time already and he's a great driver, a very friendly guy, a very nice guy and an incredible talent, for sure. We miss him, for sure, fighting with him on the track. He was always very strong, a very good driver. The way he drives and the way he works, the way he believes, so I really hope he's back here to do what he likes to do which is racing and just to see him in the paddock to have fun together as well.
LH: I think everyone – all the drivers – have paid a compliment to him and fair do's to that; I second what they've all said, really. I've known him since I was about 13. We raced together, as soon as I got to Italy, so I've known him quite a long time and we generally came up through the ranks together, so perhaps I've known him a little bit longer than some others but I think that as we got to Formula 1, I've known him perhaps a little bit less because you have less time for that kind of thing, but obviously he's a great talent in the sport and he definitely deserves to be here so I hope that he has a very, very fast recovery and no doubt he has the right people behind him to help him recover in the best way. And knowing him, and how competitive he is, he will be doing everything he can to get back on the scene, so I look forward to welcoming him back, the same as everyone else.
Q. Felipe, can you estimate the lap time and improvement in respect of the "old" Ferrari that we saw in China, for example?
FM: I think it's always difficult to say, really, how big the step is going to be. Even if we always have an idea how new pieces are going to be, we don't have an idea about the other teams, so we don't have any idea about how everybody's racing, so it's always difficult, especially before you try all these new parts you have on the car. I hope we have a bigger step than the others, that's always what everybody hopes in Formula 1, so we will wait and see.
Q. Going back to what has been said about the excitement of the races – more overtaking, DRS, the KERS, the tires – but Mark Webber, for example, in the last few days has said that overtaking has become too easy. He says that you probably had to take more risks in the past to overtake. Do you think this is the case or not?
LH: His car's too fast!
FM: For his car, for sure, it can be easier... It depends on the situation. For sure, when you go out of the garage and you have new tires and you find cars with old tires in front of you, it's definitely very easy but it's because of the tires, it's because of the high degradation. I think when you are in a similar situation it's not so easy, but the wing helps, you know? I don't think it's just the wing which makes overtaking possible, easier or not easier, it's everything, together with the tire degradation and everything: how the cars use the tires; how the strategy works as well.
"I think it's better for you guys [media]. How many years have I heard people saying, "The good thing was the past, when Senna, Piquet, Mansell...it was really fun to see all these drivers race. They knew how to do it: Villeneuve, Arnoux." It's true. It was also different cars as well and I even heard some things like after China: "Ah, now Formula 1 is back to how it was before." It's important to see you guys happy as well, and I think for the fans it's what we care about. If they are happy and the drivers are happy as well, we will carry on like that.
LH: I think Mark's car is too fast, it's definitely too easy for him to overtake people! But as Felipe was saying, I don't personally feel it's too easy to overtake. I had some great battles with people in the last race and it's definitely just as hard but obviously when you have the opportunity to use the wing it makes it a little bit easy, but it allows you to get closer and really remain in close proximity to be able to attack in places. It aids overtaking but it doesn't make it too easy, personally.
TG: I've started behind a couple of times now, but I've never managed to be on the podium this year and last year so I will have to talk to Mark and ask him what he did different to me. I think it was quite interesting to see how good the car is, he had a good strategy as well, lots of good overtaking maneuvers, so he had everything right but as I said, I have to find a way to make that happen as well.
HK: I think that on the circuits that we've had so far, he's never really struggled to overtake anyway, so I think Barcelona will be the first real test, in order to make a fair comment. In the past, we've also had long straights in Sepang and China and you've always been able to overtake in those places and maybe the wing is helping a little bit but let's wait and see when we go to Barcelona, where we never overtake, so let's see if we overtake a few more times now. It will be a fair judgment. Someone said to me that we've had 148 overtaking moves in the first three races, which is not bad.
AS: I think it's a little bit easier in some places but it's still the same in others. Australia, I think, was a good example. I thought it would be easier to overtake but you just couldn't get close enough in the last corner and nothing really happened. And the same in China, I would say. The straight was a bit longer but also the activation point was a bit later and I was in the middle of the pack and on almost every lap in the first stint I had the chance to activate my rear wing but I couldn't manage to pass. It was just not enough. It's helpful but it's not too easy. That's why I think it's still OK.
VP: Nothing to add, really. I think we are moving in the right direction with the rear wing, it's more exciting to watch racing and good for us, even in the last race I had so many overtaking maneuvers. I think we are moving in the right way because with the DRS system, with this 700 [meter] straight or something, I think at every race this line will be shorter because at the moment it's too easy to overtake. Sometimes it's harder – it depends. I think the FIA will move this line so it's a little bit shorter, so the car won't just stay behind and overtake the car in front easier. I think it's more exciting when you go in to the corner together and you can still fight under braking. I think it's interesting. I think in the last race there were 70-something overtakings. I think it's good, no?