Formula 1 - What the drivers said after Spa's nailbiting qualifying

Read the full transcript of the press conference after the most dramatic qualifying session of the season so far.

Formula 1 - What the drivers said after Spa's nailbiting qualifying

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, center, pole position, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, second fastest time, and Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia, left, third fastest time gesture to spectators after the qualifying se

Lewis Hamilton: "It was obviously a good job by the team. I was so surprised when I crossed the line. When I started the lap, it looked like, on the board... I saw on the screen that I was about seventh or eighth and I thought 'Oh my God', especially as it was raining more.

"I went wide in turn one and the dash display is usually telling you whether you're up or down and it said I was three seconds down and then five seconds and six seconds, so I didn't understand what was happening in the lap but I just kept pushing. I could see I was catching Sebastian towards the end but what a blessing, I feel so fortunate to be up here.

"I think generally I feel quite comfortable in changing conditions and I feel I'm able to find the limits when the conditions are really on the edge. And in the middle I pushed quite a lot in the middle sector particularly as I thought I was down three seconds, so I was really caning it. But, yeah, the car's feeling good."

Sebastian Vettel: "It wasn't clear that the first lap we did in Q3 was the lap, on intermediate tyres. Obviously we all went out for the start with slicks tyres. It was quite entertaining because it started to rain pretty heavily. Then on intermediates, as I said, it wasn't clear because in the beginning it looked like there was more and more rain coming, so we were all rushing to get a lap in.

"But then it stopped raining and the circuit came back very quickly and the last lap turned out to be the fastest lap, with the circuit drying. It's difficult to know how fast you can go. Obviously I saw Lewis catching up in the last lap and I thought I could have gone a bit quicker here or quicker there. In the end it was quite close I think across the line.

"In these conditions anything can happen. A shame to miss pole, once again. I'm quite happy today. The boys did a very good job changing tyres from slicks to intermediates and got us an extra lap. Unfortunately the circuit wasn't ready but all in all I think a good day for the team, so let's see what happens tomorrow. We expect similar conditions to today, rain, dry and a bit of everything, so we'll see."

Mark Webber:"It's difficult for all of us to make the right calls. But in the end I think we got most things right. It's very easy to look stupid in those conditions, from a team side, from a driver's side, making the right calls. In the end, we got most things OK I'd say.

"It's a little bit bizarre with the DRS on or off in the session, actually in Q3. It's available in the first part of quali but not at the end, but it's the same for everyone, so it's a very, very difficult thing, as Lewis has touched on, to know where you are, how the track's moving around so much.

"It was quite a ballsy thing for me to go slow in the middle lap know if the track's going to be better on the last lap, to save the tyres, because they're struggling quite a bit in those conditions, on the inters. In the end, it wasn't too bad a lap and it was quite tight obviously. So, yeah, pretty happy to be right up there for tomorrow's race."

LH: "I think this weekend [the Red Bulls] have both shown that they have incredible pace this weekend. But I'm hoping that whatever the conditions are tomorrow we can try to fight it out with them. The guys have done a fantastic job in bringing a good package here.

"I generally feel we're quite close. I still feel the Red Bull is generally a little bit ahead of us in performance and that's why results like this today feel even better because it feels like we extracted more than what the car can actually do, so I'm really happy with it.

"I'm trying to catch [Vettel] up. He's obviously had incredible success over the last few years so I'm trying my best to battle with hum and I hope that we can do that in the race tomorrow whatever the conditions are. I just feel grateful for the way the year has turned out and that we can be so competitive and really try to challenge the Red Bulls. It's a huge accomplishment by the team.

"Everyone is on edge and communication is key for all the teams. So they're asking me what the track is like at certain points of the circuit and of course they need to be on it to make sure we get out at the right time. We nearly got pushed out of Q2, which I really wouldn't have been happy with.

"By the grace of God we got through. And then at the end, I didn't know that I was going to be one of the last ones across the line. I just kept pushing and at the end of the day it was a good job by the team, particularly when the moment counted."

SV: "Obviously in qualifying [Mercedes] have been quite strong in the first part of the season and they keep doing it. I think today you have to look from a different point of view. In these conditions anything can happen. Lewis had quite an impressive middle sector. He was right behind me.

"Maybe it helped a little bit to know how fast he could go here and there. I checked in my mirrors and thought I could have gone quicker here, quicker there because he was closing up. But I'm very happy with the result. As I said, in these conditions anything is possible. Mark touched on it - it's very easy to do the wrong calls and you're out. So, overall, a good result and everything is possible tomorrow, condition-wise we expect the same as today.

"[Have we got] confidence in the weather [forecast]? Let's say, mostly. It was supposed not to rain. I said OK there's no point in going out, let's wait, because the circuit will improve, which is what we did in the end. My first lap was not fantastic so I did another lap. I think we did the right thing there. Fortunately it didn't rain.

"Obviously when it starts raining and you haven't gone out you look really stupid. I think we trust the guys on the pit wall to judge the weather and the situation. Obviously, Q3 was different. The boys were quite in a hurry when we came back in to change tyres and go back out. But for Q2 I think it was the right call."

MW: "It's a sensational circuit. Compared to the ones that have been attempted to be designed of late obviously they're nothing like this track. It's a beautiful circuit to drive on, all the guys love coming here, the teams, the engineers. Even the cars I think in a bizarre way know they're here in terms of Eau Rouge and Blanchimont. You know, La Source is very tight and then 10 seconds later you're through Eau Rouge so it's a great mixture. I won the Formulas Ford race here in 1996 so it's a beautiful circuit to drive on in any category and yeah, looking forward to bringing the Porsche here next year."

LH: "I think there's several different people that have different opinions about [tyre suppliers for 2014] but I feel quite relaxed and comfortable with the people who are at the top who are going to make that decision. I don't feel that next year is compromised at all or this year just yet. I think it's trying to find a real fine balance. Of course we want to have the best shot possible next year but of course all of a sudden we're competing as well as we are now so it's striking a fine balance, but I think they'll do a good job of that."

LH: "[Do Mercedes have the fastest car?] I would be guessing but my guess would be maybe not. The Red Bull was looking particularly quick and also the Ferrari was looking quite quick in the dry conditions, so I'm not necessarily sure that we had the pace to be as fast everyone today. But who knows, it's just a guess.

"It feels like I'm driving the best but I feel like I've been driving well for quite some time and just sometimes circumstances don't allow you to really show that. But I really feel that I'm getting everything out of the car, I'm getting everything out of every opportunity that I have.

"I know there's a lot of pressure for everyone but I feel in a good place. And yeah, absolutely, I can't remember the last time I crossed the line and had such a good feeling, particularly as I was looking for the TV screens and I just couldn't believe... I could see the team was cheering so I couldn't believe that. It's just crazy to think that this is my 31st pole and it still feels like it's the first one. It's just an incredible feeling and I'm very grateful to be here today, as I said.

"I feel that the long pace is not bad. I think we... again, over the evening, last night we made some decent changes, but going into qualifying we made some better ones. Qualifying was more about just being there at the right time and you never know when you're going to be in the right position and I just happened to be one of the last ones coming across the line and that's when the track would be at its best. But I think Nico proved that the long run was good and I think I had a few good laps as well but the Red Bulls are still pretty quick. I think it's going to be close but I hear it's going to rain pretty heavily tomorrow."

MW: "Emotionally [qualifying in the wet] is a bit more of a roller-coaster, particularly when you've got... really it's the conditions changing so much. In our industry and in Formula One we like to control as much as we can, obviously, and the plan into a normal dry qualifying session is obviously very regimented, very organized and the fine tuning is incredibly precise. When it's like that, obviously you have to make decisions on the bounce, the driver's got to be very interactive with the pit wall, the pit wall has got to make the decisions with the boys so yeah, there is just, by circumstance, more emotion and the timing is a bit more - well, a lot more critical and that's what makes people a bit more squeakier, let's say, in terms of pressure. As I say, it's easy to get it wrong."

SV: "I don't think you are in any doubt - at least for myself - in doubt of what the team does. Obviously in terms of which tyres to use and when etc is largely depending on us inside the car, but I think, as Mark touched on, obviously in these conditions it's a lot trickier to get it right, not just for the team, also for the driver because it's so much easier to make a mistake. In the end, I think all three of us had very good laps at the end, on the lap where it mattered most.

"But for sure, compared to the dry, I think it's much harder to nail that one where you don't have room for error and it's so much easier to make a mistake, go wide, lose the car, lose time so yeah, if I look back to the lap I had now, obviously, there's room for improvement but many times I was quite close to lose the car. It doesn't mean that I had to go off and crash the car but lose the car, lose time. That's why, in the rain, in the wet, in these mixed conditions, there's a chance for everybody to over-perform, but there's also the chance to get it wrong. It doesn't take much and you are somewhere at the back."

LH: [What was so good about the qualifying lap?] This one just now? Again, it didn't feel spectacular. As I said, I went wide in turn one and my dashboard was really confusing me in terms of whether I was up or down on my previous lap, but I just kept pushing and particularly the first corner and the last two corners were terrible. I thought that the lap wasn't that great but..."

SV: "You thought I was on a cool-down lap which is why..."

LH: "I was catching him..."

SV: " much that I will just take it easy!"

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