FIA post-race press conference - Mexico
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Lewis, maybe not the result you wanted today but nonetheless still a strong result for the championship.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, well, firstly congratulations. Their car was far superior this weekend and there was nothing we really could do about it. I gave it absolutely everything and even obviously a great fight with Sergio at the end, but I am really grateful I was able to at least get a second.
Q: The atmosphere here is quite special isn’t it? The support for Checo. You saw him coming towards you at the end of the grand prix, how worried were you about that pressure?
LH: Well, I mean the pressure… I’ve had that many times before so it was easy to hold on. But it just shows how fast their car was when Sergio was that close behind me and able to follow that closely. He did a great job, so he was applying that pressure and kept going, but I really enjoyed the race still.
Q: Max Verstappen, your third victory here in Mexico. What do you think of this crowd?
Max Verstappen: It’s incredible. Of course having Checo as a team-mate coming here to Mexico is amazing but even before that already, all the time the fans here have been incredible, they love Formula 1, so it’s really, really nice to be here.
Q: Talk us through the start. It seems like you really aced your braking on the clean side of the track. You took such an advantage into the first corner. Was that something you played in your mind before the grand prix?
MV: I mean it was nice three wide and it was all about just trying to brake as late as you can and I always kept it on the track and went from third to first and that was basically what made my race and I could just focus on myself. We had incredible pace and I could just do my own thing.
Q: The Americas have been kind to you - last time out in Austin and here in Mexico, now going to Brazil, another circuit that is strong for you. Are you starting to think of this championship or is it just race by race?
MV: Ah no, there is a long way to go. It’s of course looking good but also it can turn around very quickly but I’m looking forward to Brazil. I have also very good memories there.
Q: This was a fantastic win. Were there any issues at all? As we get into this late part of the season were there any little concerns?
MV: No, it was actually quite straightforward, so that was really nice.
Q: If you listen to the crowd you would think he had won this race, Checo Pérez, the first Mexican to lead his home grand prix and the first Mexican to finish on the podium [here]. I can hardly hear myself above the roar of the crowd.
Sergio Perez: It’s an unbelievable day. Obviously I wanted more, you know. Today I wanted to get the one-two for the team, it was pretty close, but I didn’t have a single chance to get through, but still I gave my full heart for these people. I could actually hear them when I was going through here [the Foro Sol] it was pretty, pretty enjoyable.
Q: We often talk about home support or home pressure. How much was that this weekend, because you are everywhere in the city.
SP: Yeah, it was full of support.
Q: Many congratulations Max, it looked like the perfect race for you. How satisfying was it? What stands out?
MV: That was clearly the start. I mean three wide going into Turn 1. I mean, of course, that’s something quite typical at this track but it’s exciting but also, you know, you have to be really precise because speeds are really high and braking into Turn 1, the start tyres are cold, brakes are cold going into that corner, so… but yeah, it was crucial today for me to get ahead there and I could just do my own pace from there onwards.
Q: How good was the car from there onwards?
MV: The car today was very good again. I don’t know, yesterday was a bit of an off, I think, in quali but today it seemed like the car recovered and you know, we were just doing really well. I mean, this has been a really good track for us anyway in the past, so I was always confident going into the race and yeah, it showed again today.
Q: And Max, just give us a few words on that podium. It’s the third time you’ve won here in Mexico but to have your Mexican team-mate alongside you…
MV: Yeah, I know, it was an incredible atmosphere. I mean of course I was very happy to win the race here and see the fans but especially also for Checo to be on the podium here at your home grand prix, this is always something very special and of course something I experienced for the first time myself in Zandvoort, and it’s something else. It’s really impressive to see in your own country how many people can support you, you know? So yeah, great atmosphere and great fans.
Q: And Max, a word on the title, it’s 19 points, the gap now. Do you feel you’ve got some momentum going your way now?
MV: No, I don’t believe in momentum. So, every single race we have to try and nail the details and we didn’t do that yesterday, so you know, things can go wrong very quickly, or can go right. So, it’s going to be really tight and exciting to the end. This has been always a track really good for us, so I expect Brazil not to be like it was today.
Q: Lewis, coming on to you. Well done to you as well. As you said a moment ago, you gave it everything out there. How do you sum up your race?
LH: Yeah, well, I mean, it was fairly lonely until the end. Obviously not a lot that I could do really about the pace that Max was able to put in. I think they were close to half-a-second, I think it was, a lap, something like that, and I couldn’t really match that with also trying to manage the tyres. So, I think on, in the Friday night we thought they would be two-tenths faster or something in the race but it was I think a little bit more today. And then obviously at the end trying to keep the second Red Bull behind… it was difficult, of course, I mean I’m used to pressure so that wasn't the issue. It was just that it was the last couple of laps, my tyres were falling off and so for sure it was difficult and Sergio did a great job but they have clearly got some amazing pace this weekend and particularly today. So, I’m just grateful that I was able to stay in between them and get as many points as I could for the team. And we live to fight another day.
Q: And that run to Turn 1. Three wide.
LH: Yeah, I mean I was… I’d envisaged it differently, naturally, in the sense that if Valtteri had maybe got a better start then I would have tried to get into his tow. But obviously I was alongside him, which was good, and then I was just covering my side of the track, making sure no-one could come up the inside, so I was trying to keep whichever Red Bull I could see in my mirror behind. And I thought Valtteri would be doing the same – but obviously he left the door open for Max and Max was on the racing line, so did a mega job braking into Turn 1. Because I’m on the inside and on the dirt, there was no hope for me.
Q: You lost your team mate at Turn 1. How much harder did that make your race?
LH: Yeah, I mean it made the race a lot harder, naturally. I think having one car ahead and one car in, just means they can play on the strategy and Sergio, I think, was super-close, I think, within that first stint and I couldn’t really pull away from him, so it was a moment where they were either going to undercut us or we were going to undercut them, so we stopped, which… yeah, I think the team did a great job. It was just we didn’t have really much left on the tyres at the end but yeah, where there’s a will, there’s a way. We managed to just keep them behind. One more lap, I think it would have been over, but yeah, I’m happy that I still got second.
Q: And Lewis, what about Brazil. Max thinks it might be closer there. What do you think?
LH: I need to go back and check. I mean, there’s still four races, there’s still… obviously 19 points is a lot of points and I think, was that your ninth or 10th win? So, you know, he’s had a lot of wins this year. Yeah, I think today with their superior speed, if they were to carry that into the next ones then we may be in trouble – or we will be in trouble – but if we… I don’t know if they’ll be wearing… be using that huge wing that they had on today, naturally we’ll find out when we get there but I hope we’re closer.
Q: Checo, coming to you. We’ll come on to your race in a moment but first up, tell us about that podium? It was the 15th of your Formula 1 career. Was this the most special?
Sergio Perez: Yeah, definitely. Being on the podium at your home Grand Prix is something very special. Obviously I wanted more, I wanted to win the race and obviously to finish one-two for the team would have been amazing, you know. But at the end of the day, we are such competitive persons that if we finish third, we really, really don’t enjoy it, but today is one of those days that I must enjoy, you know, because the crowd and seeing so many people so happy, and especially on the podium, you know, like very much everyone who has been with me since day one was on the podium, so that was extremely special for me.
Q: And what about that pursuit of Lewis? He’s just said maybe one more lap he might have been in trouble.
SP: Yeah, it was really close, as Lewis said. There was a lap where it was so critical to do the undercut. Obviously they pitted that lap, so we did the opposite and we went long. It was a bit tricky with the lapped cars as well. I reckon we all lost some time there. It was really close, you know? I didn’t have a chance, you know? Overtaking here is really difficult, given their straightline speed, they were really strong on that. I didn’t have a chance so it was a bit of a shame, you know, because I think we had the pace to finish one-two today.
Q: And Checo, this is your third consecutive podium, do you feel properly hooked up with the car now?
SP: Yeah, I was very disappointed yesterday, you know, because I felt like we were going into qualifying with a great momentum, you know, having had a good FP3 and the pace in the car, but I think we are enjoying today a lot but we have to understand what went so wrong for us yesterday, as well, because all of a sudden it swung around and Mercedes was a very strong force yesterday but yeah, what matters is today. There are still four races to go, things are getting really tight.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Max, just going back to your move at Turn 1. I just wondered what were you thinking at that point when you braked? Had you planned all that in your mind, was that a particular spot, where you swooped round the outside? And also, were you just surprised at how early the Mercedes cars braked?
MV: No, I mean, you can’t really practice how a start is going to go, right, because you end up left, middle, right, depends on what happens, but once I was on the outside and basically on the racing line, I knew exactly where I was going to brake and… It’s always a tricky one, especially the car, of course, on the inside, is fully into the dirt because nobody is really driving there, so they can never brake as late as the car on the outside, also because of the angle going into the corner, and I knew where I was braking that was really on the edge because you could see I was also getting closer to the white line on the exit, so I knew if somebody would brake later on the inside he would have definitely gone off the track, so yeah, I just went for it and it worked.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Lewis, do you feel that you have to win in Brazil now, because if you don’t Max’s lead will be more than a clear win, with three races to go?
LH: Well, I naturally feel I need to be winning every race, because we need those extra points, not to lose those points, to try and regain, that was the goal going into the last race and the race before that and before that and here this weekend. But it just, you know, they’re just too quick, so giving it absolutely everything we’ve got but unfortunately it’s not enough at the moment to compete with them.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Lewis, you said on your team radio after Turn 1 under the safety car that “we’ve got to sort our braking out, that was crazy”. I just wondered if you could explain what you meant there? Was there a problem that cost you in Turn 1 when it came to the braking?
LH: I mean, braking’s been an issue for me all weekend but yeah, I mean, I’ve been… went on twice in Turn 1 through practice, qualifying, locking, just our car, for some reason, this weekend has been quite poor in that area and that’s a particular area in which they’re a lot stronger than us but of course when you put more load on the car, it does help but we couldn’t match them load-wise in terms of wing setting this weekend.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Max, just about Valtteri Bottas getting quite near you during the late stages of the race when he’d been lapped. He’d come out, he was catching the fastest lap at that point. What did you make of all that, it looked like it cost you a bit of time there?
MV: Well, I mean I can understand, of course, they go for the fastest lap. So, the first time it didn’t work out but we played it safe, I think. We were side by side but it was all good. We lost a lot of time but it was alright, to be honest, for me. I know Valtteri, he’s a clean driver anyway and I never was in doubt that something would happen.