2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Valtteri Bottas on pole

Press call (Photo by FIA)Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes),  Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes) and Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)

Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Sebastian tomorrow in your mind you will have the attempt to try to win or the defence of the second place in the championship?

SV: What do you think? I think we’re here to race. Obviously it’s important to seal second place. We are in a better position than Valtteri but he starts the race from a better position than we do. Let’s see. It’s a long race but we’re here to race and the ambition obviously is to win, to get to the podium. We had a bit of a wobble finding our places, Lewis and myself, where’s second, where’s third here in the press conference, so it’s always better to aim for the middle I guess.

Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) Another one for Sebastian. Earlier this week you said you were determined to take Ferrari to the top – but it was hard. Just how hard do you think it’s going to be? Is it going to be next year, or the year after?

SV: Well, I don’t know, we haven’t achieved it yet. I think, as a team, we’ve taken some big changes. I think overall it’s heading in the right direction. We have a very competitive car, we’ve had a very strong year. Obviously we would have liked it to be a bit different at the end but yeah, it doesn’t matter now. We look forward. The year is more or less over, we have one more race and we want to finish with dignity. We want to show that we’re here to fight and we want to get Ferrari on the podium and ideally win the race. Let’s see what we can do – but overall it is hard, but everybody involved, you can ask the same question, they’ll give you the same answer. I’m obviously one of the drivers that’s driving the car, that’s my main job but overall I think we’re all seeking to improve and so far I think we’ve done pretty well. If we can do another big step like that, we’re heading in the right way.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Congratulations Valtteri. Did you need that killer instinct? Or how did you take that pole?

VB: I think I didn’t change my approach from last weekend in any way for the qualifying, and, like I said before, it was really clean, nice and clean session and I just managed to find time run by run from different corners. The car was feeling much better than at any other point this weekend. That allowed me to really work on the details. Found enough details to be on pole.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for Sebastian and a question for Bottas. For Sebastian, it seemed like you lost a lot of time in sector two. There is something lacking in the speed? And for Valtteri, if I don’t make a mistake, you won just once starting from the pole. How important after what happened in Interlagos will it be to start well tomorrow and then keep the position?

SV: I think you’re referring to the time-loss compared to the best overall time in sector two which – I don’t know – maybe Valtteri or Lewis had? I mean, it’s a long sector but there are a lot of straights. I think the corner bit we got it right, I was fighting a little bit throughout qualifying with the sequence of Five, Six, Seven, so I’m looking forward to get back and have a look. Overall I was pretty happy with the car around the lap, in particular, compared to previous years in sector two. But yeah, I saw as well that we’re losing quite a bit of time, so I don’t know. I guess it’s probably on the straights but we need to see.

Valtteri?

VB: Yeah, of course, when you start from the pole, the only target you have anyway… well, if you start from the front row or second row, you still have a realistic chance to fight for the win but pole is the best place to start and a win is obviously the only target. And yeah, I might have won only once from the pole but it’s not so many poles I’ve had and yeah, so, I’m looking forwards to tomorrow, it should be interesting.

Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) Congratulations Valtteri. You said two days ago that this track is not your favourite one – but do you like it now? A little bit more after this pole? And how much did you enjoy the lap?

VB: Well, I never said I don’t like it. I said for me it’s average. Well, of course, it’s always nicer when you have good memories from a circuit – like a pole position. But yeah, it’s not real the point. The point is to be performing in every single track. So, that’s going to be the goal in the future.

Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Lewis, Turns Two, Three and Four looked very impressive from the outside. I wonder if they now come under the heading of ‘easy flat’ or whether they are very demanding corners still and what they’ll be like on a heavy fuel load. Interested to get your input on that. And secondly, your first qualifying lap in the Q3. Watching from the roof it looked like you braked slightly too late at the end of the straight and ran a little bit wide – but I don’t know if that’s an optical illusion from where we were watching, or not.

LH: It’s not like Eau Rouge, where Eau Rouge is a lot straighter, more simple. It’s still, Turn Two and Three, whilst it is flat, you feel that Turn Three is kind of… you feel the rear of the car moving a little bit. When you put heavy fuel on, it actually gets a little easier because you’re just slower in general. So, the car is a lot better through there this year than it was last year, obviously – but they’re still considered corners and they still put a huge amount of heat into the tyres, so you do take a lot of consideration when you enter them. And, you’re talking about Turn 8 or 11. On the first one… I think that’s the place where Valtteri was slower on the way in, quicker on the way out. I was… I’m always late on the brakes and brake as deep as I can into the corners. I think on at least one of the laps I had a small under-rotation into there. Nothing too crazy but it put a bit of understeer into the car. In general, yeah, it was a session of which I had to push a lot. P3 I was much more comfortable with the car, and then yeah, into this session it was not the case and it was like ‘ah, I’ve got a serious fight on my hands here’. I gave it everything I could but it was on the knife-edge and ultimately Valtteri did the better job.

Q: (Graham Cagyill – The National) Question for Sebastian. The last time you were in a championship season when you missed out on the title and you had a chance of winning it was 2009. When you missed out to Jenson and you came to Abu Dhabi for the first time, and you went on to win this race and went on to win the championship the following season – so I was just interested to find out how much that win in 2009 helped you in your confidence for 2010 – and do you think something similar tomorrow could help you for 2018?

SV: Well, I’m a lot older than I was back then for a start. A lot wiser. I think, yeah, 2009 for myself was obviously the first time that I found myself in the front of the field, every now and then, and also for the team back then. I think yes, it did give us huge momentum for the year after, for the winter. I think the whole year gave us confidence. Then 2010. We had an incredible car and it was very close, to win the championship, I think we should have done better – but yeah, I had my mistakes, I think we have some here and there. Bu tin general I think the last race is important. Obviously if you’re not in the fight for the championship, it still is important to set things up for the winter, just give a boost to the whole factory. So let’s see what we do. I don’t believe that the result tomorrow determines next year – but for sure a good result always helps you, gives everyone a boost over the winter, so we try our best.

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