Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Sebastien Bourdais and Adrian Sutil were present at the first press conference scheduled for the F1 representatives in Monaco. Here's what they had to say about the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix. Q: Adrian, memories of last year here. Do you ever look back and think what might have been?
Arian Sutil: No, I look back in a good way. I think it was a great race for me being in fourth place between the Ferraris. It was a big success. For sure, a really unlucky ending and a lot of tears but that’s how it is, that’s sport. You have to bring it to the chequered flag. For the team it was very good and still I get lots of questions about it. It is good to hear that they talk about it and it is still in their memories.
For the rest of the Q&A session (questions from the floor), click here.
Q: Recently you have been showing the same sort of perseverance, the same sort of staying power to the end of the race. Are you hopeful that with the slightly different nature of this circuit it might reap a good performance this weekend?AS: Yeah, I think all the field will be really close, so every tenth, every hundredth will count for a good lap and finally maybe to get a few places on the grid. But let’s see. I think everything is possible in Monaco. It is a tricky circuit. I like street circuits very much and it is one of my favourites, so I hope it will help me for a better position.
Q: I think you are still the Formula Three record holder here?AS: Yeah, still. Exactly. Hopefully it is a good omen.
Q: What are your feelings about the performances recently? It seems that the technical side of the car is improving.AS: Yeah, step by step we are doing our improvements. The problem is that the other teams improved their cars quite a lot, in big steps, so it is hard for us to catch up. But of course overall the balance is really good and it is definitely a big change to last year. We are very fast on the straight line, so straight line speed is really good. We need a little bit more downforce but reliability-wise it is really promising. There is potential in the car but we need somehow to catch up the train. It is difficult.
Q: We do see that your straight line speed is very good. But can you have downforce as well?AS: Yeah, that’s the thing. It is a compromise we are looking for but right now the factory is pushing a lot and trying to give their support in the best way. But as I said it is difficult for us but let’s see how we go on. We are trying our best to put everything on the car right now.
Q: Sébastien, your feelings about the season so far and your own performances?Sébastien Bourdais: Yeah, it has been obviously a steep learning curve for us as we had zero kilometres, or nearly, before the first race. The car has been changing every race, so it hasn’t been easy to understand the car and optimise it. Here and there we felt we did a good job. I think obviously at the last one we got a major update and we were hoping for a big step forward and a great performance which didn’t come. I think as a whole we didn’t optimise what we had and that was a bit of a shame and obviously here it is a completely different game. You can’t be quite sure of what is going to happen, if the car is going to be easy enough to drive to give you the confidence to go fast. It is always a very interesting weekend and I think all through the season it will be a very changeable, movable target. We have done what we could with what we had at the beginning. Now I think the car has a lot more potential and it is up to us to use it better.
Q: What do you think is lacking? Where do you think you need to improve? Everything?SB: No, I think quite clearly since the beginning of the season up until Monaco we were definitely lacking downforce and that is what you need these days to go quicker. For sure here if you do not have downforce it is quite hard but once again we have some new parts on the car which should help us get a little bit closer. We will give our very best and see what happens.
Q: Do you feel this is your home grand prix?SB: Yeah, I mean to me Monaco is very much like France. You have a lot of French supporters that come over. It is a very unique track, loaded with history and for the French it is always very special to drive here. I have had my fair share of success here and I really like the place, so hopefully we can put on a good show and have a good result.
Q: Sebastian, a phenomenal performance last year. Nineteenth on the grid to fifth. Is it a circuit that you enjoy?Sebastian Vettel: Yes, I do. I mean last year we had a difficult time here as we introduced the car for the first time, so we had no spare parts, nothing. It wasn’t very easy to deal with but in the race, fortunately, it was a chaotic race with wet and dry conditions, so we survived. We were on a one stop strategy and able to catch a lot of cars and in the end score some points, so it was a very good race for us.
Q: How do you feel you have changed since one year ago? Your driving, your own personality?SV: Well, I think as a person I am still the same guy. I don’t think I have changed much. Hopefully I have learnt a lot and I feel much more comfortable sitting in the car, driving the car and working together with the crew, with the team. Obviously this year I’m with Red Bull Racing and it is my first season with them. It is a different team but I think I get used to it and getting better I suppose.
Q: So what are your expectations for the Monaco Grand Prix this year?SV: It is always difficult to say and give a number but I think we have a very competitive car. We saw that the last five races. Also independently from the results I think the race was always very good and promising, so why should it change much for here. We have some new bits on the car, so if any they will help us I hope and we will be even stronger, so let’s see.
Q: Your concentration has come out in Monza and China as well. Obviously it is very important around here. Do you see that as one of your assets perhaps?SV: I hope so. I mean it is a very long race around here and street circuits are always very difficult. You need to be very focussed. It is all about keeping your concentration up and in the end you need to push just as hard as on a normal circuit but you are not allowed to make any mistakes. It is a bit more spicy but I think that is the extra challenge around here.
Q: Felipe, you felt that you could have finished third in the last grand prix. Is that the sort of progress you are expecting here?Felipe Massa: I hope for sure. The last race we took a big step forward. We were very competitive during the race. I know we had a problem at the end of the race but at least with the pace point of view we took a big step forward. Here is a very different track compared to tracks we have had until now. So many things can be different here because of the lay-out of the track, so I think it is a little bit different for everybody. Sometimes you will see cars which are a little bit more competitive in one track but less in others. I hope our car can be as competitive as we were in the last race here as well. Also I hope we can have a very good race, start in a good shape and finish in a good shape. What happened in the last race was really a shame.
Q: Is there less emphasis on the technical side here and is it more on the drivers?FM: Well, for sure it is a very technical track. The way you drive here is different than other tracks. Usually you need to anticipate the corners as you are getting to the corner and some corners you have understeer and some you have oversteer. The corners you have understeer you need to anticipate because if you are turning in the right place as if it was a normal corner maybe you lose a little bit of the apex, so you need to anticipate to get very close to the wall but not touch it. So it is different driving here. It is also very important as Sebastian said for the concentration. It is a huge factor in this race.
Q: You have had pole position here and two third places, so what chance of being on the podium again this year?FL: Well, I hope we can have a great race as we have had in the last two years. Especially last year it was really, really good. We had a fantastic car and fantastic pace here. I made pole position with two laps more fuel, so it was one of the best poles of my career. The race was a big lottery unfortunately but I think we were very strong. I hope we can be strong as well and having a car to fight.
For the rest of the Q&A session (questions from the floor), click here.