1. Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), 2. Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes), 3. Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)
(Conducted by Martin Brundle)
Q: Lewis, congratulations. You had to work so hard for that one.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, today was a really, really hard job. This weekend the Ferraris have been incredible and I just had to see Charles because he did such a great job. I’m sure this is a devastating result for him as he had done the job to win the race. We were definitely lucky today but you have to take it as it comes. Ultimately, I still gave it everything in the race and I pushed as hard as I could, and obviously the fight I had with Vettel was great fun for me.
Q: Take us through that. You went around the outside of Turn 4 a couple of times and Seb spun off behind you.
LH: Yeah, if you look at that big flag on top of that tower there is a massive headwind into Turn 4, so I just gave it everything and braked later than usual and dived down the outside. I don’t think we touched or anything like that, but this is a great result for the team considering how hard the race was. This guy here [Leclerc] has lots more wins coming in the future so congratulations to him.
Q: Charles, I’ll come back to you. I’ll just have a quick word with Valtteri. Valtteri, P2, pretty satisfying, the pace was difficult, but you were there when it mattered.
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, I think as a team we got a bit lucky today but we kept it together, we did no mistake as a team and the car was very reliable – and that’s the win today. The hard work at the factory is paying off like this, so that is good. Otherwise a difficult race for me. The balance of the car was a bit everywhere and I ended up doing a lot of mistakes and so on.
Q: A great start and you weren’t giving Lewis any extra space there in the early laps?
VB: No, I never will. The first lap was good. I had a bit of a lock-up into Turn 1, so I lost a place but then I had a good battle with Lewis and congrats to him.
Q: OK, congratulations on second place. Oh, Charles, I think your car should be parked there [in P1] today?
Charles Leclerc: It happens. It’s part of motor sport. Unfortunately today it was not our day. But I am confident. The team has done an amazing job to recover the lack of pace we had in Australia. And yeah, what to say? Of course I’m extremely disappointed, like the whole team, but it happens in the seasons. I think we made the best out of it. We have been lucky in a very unlucky situation. Hopefully we had the safety car at the end, otherwise we would have finished even more rearward and also I don’t think with the fuel we would have been OK. Vey hard one to take but thanks to the team for the amazing car all weekend long and I’m pretty sure we’ll come back stronger.
Q: Well, you got the point for fastest lap. The first few corners seemed a bit difficult, low grip, but then you took the lead beautifully.
CL: Yeah, I didn’t do a good start. Then we were very strong all race long. It’s a shame to only finish third but as I said, it’s part of racing, and we will come back stronger.
Q: It’s your first podium, let’s look on the bright side.
CL: Yeah, exactly. But, as I’ve said a lot in the past, I’m never really looking at the result, I’m more looking at the potential there was to do better. Today, third was not our place, but yeah, very happy anyway. Congratulations to Lewis and Valtteri and as I’ve said many times, we’ll come back stronger.
Q: Lewis, an incredible race from start to finish for everybody but another really good performance from you. As you lined up on the grid today what were your expectations?
LH: I think the expectation was it was going to be a very, very tough race. Clearly the Ferraris had been quick all weekend. Charles had been incredibly rapid all weekend and was quickest in all sessions, and truly deserved the win. I think at the start I was hopeful to leapfrog at least one of the cars and in my opportunistic mind I was thinking to jump both of them at the start. But I got a terrible start once again, which is a bit disappointing, as I’ve put a lot of work in to try and improve those. You fall down and you juts keep going, and get back up and I’ll keep trying. After that, I think it was up and down clearly throughout the race. It looked like I could keep up with at least one of the Ferraris. And then that second stint was horrible, on the soft tyre. Then we fell back behind the Ferraris and it looked like we were out of contention for a second or even the wind. I was just battling this snappy, oversteery car in these winds, which were very tricky out there. And then with the undercut, that was a very exciting moment for me. I definitely didn’t see all that happening when we pulled up to the grid, but I’m grateful for it. As I’ve said, clearly we were very lucky today to get the 1-2 as a team. I think collectively we’d done a solid job through the weekend and Ferrari had out-performed us from the get-go. We’ve got to continue to work, as everyone is, it’s very, very hard. We’ll analyse where we have gone wrong this weekend. And as I was saying downstairs, for Charles… do they call you Charles or Charles?
CL: I don’t mind. Whatever is easier for you.
LH: I’m struggling every time I say the name. He did an incredible job this weekend and he’s got a beautiful, bright future ahead of him, so this will only make him stronger.
Q: Valtteri, 32nd podium of your career, we saw you make a great start. You’re still leading the Championship after race two. How do you sum it all up?
VB: Yeah, actually there were many points that were very interesting and exciting in that race and good fun – but then there were points in that race where I felt quite lonely! I didn’t see anyone. So, yeah, I had a great start to the race, I managed to get into P2 but then on Lap One into Turn One I think the wind caught me up a bit, I braked a bit too late into Turn One, trying to keep my position, and I lost two places – so back to fourth place. I think Ferrari, ultimately, was very, very strong again today, like yesterday – but yeah, during the times with the wind I ended-up doing some mistakes, like I think some other drivers did as well, and it was extremely difficult to keep the rhythm – but yeah, there were some good battles and so on. I managed to save the engine at some point when there was no threat from behind and a big gap in front. Also, I had a plastic bag stuck on my front wing at some point, which was costing performance, so not the perfect race but in the end, luck was on our side and we’ll definitely take it – especially me, after al the bad luck last year. So, obviously hard luck for Charles, he was very strong – but y’know, it will come for him. I had to wait for more than 80 races for my first win, so I’m sure it’s going to be OK.
Q: Charles, coming on to you, your first podium in Formula One, but obviously tinged with disappointment. I just wanted to ask you what positives you can take from today?
CL: I think from the whole weekend there are a lot of positives to take. After Australia we were quite a lot far off. I think we found some answers – not all of them – but we found some. We came here, front row lock-out, which was very positive for the team, and we showed that they have done an amazing job. That doesn’t mean we’ll stay there for the rest of the season but that just shows off how good of a job they’ve done between the two races. And then I think we’ve shown also that we had very strong pace during the race. Probably we were the strongest today. Unfortunately the issues stopped us winning – but, on the other hand, issues always happen in a season and, if any time I have an issue, I finish third, then I think we could be quite happy. Today was not our day. It’s sad, because obviously I was so close of realising a dream that you have since childhood, which is your first win in Formula One – but hopefully this day will come one day in the future. I’ll work for that, and I’m pretty sure the team will work for this but they should be proud about what they’ve done this weekend, and we’ll come back stronger.
Q: How comfortable did you feel out front?
CL: Well, very comfortable. The car felt amazing. There was quite a lot of wind, which was extremely tricky, especially out of [Turn] Four. So yeah, it was a very difficult race. i had to stay on it absolutely every lap. So yeah, it was very enjoyable, especially in the first part of the race when I had to catch back the position lost at the start.