FIA press release
Q: Lewis, a fantastic lap, clearly, and what a great way to start a new season.
Lewis Hamilton: Yes, it’s an incredible feeling to be back here and to get off to such a good start. I think this is mine and Jenson’s first one-two – I believe at least – in qualifying, so it’s fantastic to start the season this way. I’m massively proud of the team, working incredibly hard as every year they do, but just to see that it’s never-give-up and this is the result of that.
Q: Jenson, very close between the two of you, just over a tenth of a second, but this tells us it’s going to be quite a competitive season.
Jenson Button: It does. I think, first of all, congratulations to Lewis and the whole team. I think we have done a very good job this winter and I think we have proved that today. It is only the beginning and obviously the lights haven’t gone out yet but this is a great first result for us on a Saturday and yeah, it’s looking like it’s going to be a very exciting season. We were so close through all the qualifying sessions but Lewis had the upper hand. I tried my best but it wasn’t quite enough.
Q: Romain, welcome back to Formula One and a fantastic performance for you. Third on the grid: what does this say about you and the Lotus F1 team?
Romain Grosjean: Well, fantastic job from everybody. It’s really nice to be back in Formula One and I enjoyed the time. Winter testing went pretty well and today I’m very proud to be part of this experience with Lotus. I think a few people believed in me the first time and today I’m back, well, almost to the top, and I’m very proud to be with those guys here and hope we can keep going that way all season long and then it will be a very nice story.
Q: Back to you Lewis, a tough race obviously always here at Albert Park. What are going to be the keys to tomorrow’s race and do you expect more of a threat in the race, from Mercedes and Red Bull in particular?
LH: I think it’s going to be incredibly tough, a very intense race. Obviously, looking after the tyres is going to be key as it always is and getting off to a good start, seeing what the strategies are like, and obviously the safety car is at all times a thing. The team need to be on point and so do me and Jenson, so we’ll make sure we do that.
Q: Lewis, that’s got to be a good start?
LH: Yeah, it’s a fantastic feeling. It’s great to back here and it’s just an incredible start to the season. But of course, tomorrow’s the important day and we have a lot to look forward to. But just a tremendous job from the team to get us to this point. We’ve had a couple of tough years but just never seemed to give up. It’s just good to be here, as I said.
Q: And yesterday you said how you were focused on dry running, knowing that the weather was going to be better for the next two days and that’s paid off I guess?
LH: To some extent, yeah. There was no disadvantage or advantage for me going into the wet yesterday but it was just to focus on the dry set up and get that as close to perfection as I could. My lap was a good lap, obviously. The second time I tried to brake 10 metres later at turn one, but it didn’t work. But fortunately, my first lap was good enough.
Q: It was particularly good in sector three: you were half a second faster than anyone else apart from Mark Webber there. Was that something you were concentrating on?
LH: Yeah, that’s something I focused on for a lot of the run. On one of the runs I got held up by Michael, but otherwise I was just trying to improve in that sector because all the others were OK. But there’s always time you can find everywhere. Jenson did a fantastic job, he was very, very closely behind me. As always, keeping me on my toes.
Q: Jenson, a two-time winner here. What are your thoughts about tomorrow?
JB: First of all, I’m going to echo what Lewis said: the team have done a fantastic job this winter. We knew that we had to have a good winter. It was something we were lacking the previous two years and we definitely did have that. Very happy to be here, in top three or the top two, on the front row, and hopefully we can race well from here tomorrow. I was actually a bit surprised by the gap back to the Red Bulls and some of the other teams but, yeah, we’ll definitely take that. The last two days have been good for us, just chipping away at the car and finding little bits here and there and it’s been a good couple of days and good start to the season.
Q: What have your learned about the tyres here that is going to make a big difference in the race itself – concentrating on the softer tyre perhaps?
JB: I ran on the soft tyres yesterday. I think a lot of people ran the harder tyre, the medium, but I ran on the soft and it worked pretty well. I was quite surprised by the consistency of the tyre. I think we found that when we came here last year after winter testing, the tyres weren’t lasting very long but we came here and it was a circuit where we had very good degradation – some cars even one-stopped. I don’t think it’s going to be one of those tough races where degradation is a massive issue. I think that’ll be more next weekend.
Q: Romain, it’s not a dream. You’re OK. You don’t have to pinch yourself. A fantastic debut here. Absolutely extraordinary. What are your thoughts?
RG: Well, I think: never give up. That’s the lesson. Today, I’m very happy to be here, very proud as well to be here. A few people believed in me at the toughest time and today I think they were with me in the car. I’m proud to be part of the Lotus team and the atmosphere and the experience can be very good and I think. We have been working pretty well during the winter, trying to do our best. As I said, I’m very happy to be with this team and I think they are working very hard for us and we are trying to make the best of everything we can. It’s not a dream; we did it. We can be proud of it and tomorrow we’ll keep working to improve ourselves, trying to get the best result as possible during the race and then in the next races as well.
Q: Where do you think the car has been particularly good around here?
RG: I think it’s a little bit everywhere. I think sector three. I think a little bit myself coming as well. I’m discovering the track, this morning in completely dry conditions. I think the car is pretty good everywhere. We are trying to improve it every time and if we can manage to bring some more pieces every race maybe we can in between these two guys or maybe at the front. That would be the goal.
Q: A lot of people would say that you’ve had a pretty tough learning curve here at this circuit. It was wet yesterday and yet here you are third on the grid. Do you always learn circuits really quickly?
RG: Normally yes, I do learn quickly but I think when we get everything at the factory I think it’s even easier. My engineer did a fantastic job for me, he’s trying to help me as much as he can and Formula One is tough, I have many things to think about and to do, during a qualifying lap and in the race and everything – but it went pretty well and I think there is some more to come.