1 Ė Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)
2 Ė Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
3 Ė Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Charles, Iím sure mixed emotions there. We saw you step from the car,
point to the sky, an emotional weekend and your first every victory in
Formula One, congratulations.
Charles LECLERC: Yeah, on the one hand Iíve got a dream since being as child
that has been realised. But on the other hand it has been a very difficult
weekend since yesterday. We have lost a friend first of all. It is very
difficult in these situations, so I would like to dedicate my first win to
him. We have grown up together Ė my first ever race I have done it with
Anthoine and there was Esteban here Ė and just shame what happened
yesterday. I canít enjoy fully my first victory but it will definitely be a
memory I will keep forever.
Q: Beautiful words and certainly echoed by the entire motorsports community.
It puts a dampener on this celebration, but this racerís race: you raced,
you won, and youíve been dominant all weekend. It seems amazing that itís
taken this long for you to get the first victory when we consider what
happened back in Bahrain. So how do you reflect on the technicalities of
this race and the delivery of the team?
CL: Yeah, itís been a very difficult race, we have been struggling quite a
bit with the tyres towards the end, but a lot happier than what I have done
in Budapest on my side. Iíve managed the tyres better but Mercedes were very
quick in the race and we expected it yesterday but itís a good weekend
performance-wise Ė pole position and the first victory Ė so with that Iím
Q: And when you take a victory in front of a multiple world champion itís
CL: Yeah, and the end of the race was definitely not easy. He was catching
very quickly, so I had quite a bit of pressure but happy I kept him behind.
Q: Congratulations. Lewis, difficult race for us to really understand. At
various points you looked like you had the pace, at various other points you
looked like you were struggling. But the opportunity was there and you were
still pushing right to the end?
Lewis HAMILTON: Oh yeah, I gave it absolutely everything that I had. You
know we had a great crowd today. I think more people than we have ever had
here. A very difficult race today. The Ferraris were just too fast on the
straights and very, very hard to keep up with. I got as close as I could at
the end Ė maybe another couple of laps. Forty-four is usually my lucky
number but maybe we needed a few more laps today. Nonetheless,
congratulations to Charles, his first win. Heís had it coming all year, so
really happy for him.
Q: Finally Valtteri. It looked fairly lonely out there. You were in viewing
distance of the race ahead but you just didnít seem to have the overall pace
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, race pace felt OK, as we were expecting, but Ferrari
was always since the beginning really strong. Strong on the straights.
Always at the end of the stint we were better but there was no chance really
for me. I was trying as hard as I could and we took the advantage of saving
the engine a bit in the end and the gearbox for the next few races.
Q: Charles, sensational performance from you all weekend. What does this
victory mean to you after what has been a very difficult 24 hours for
CL: Yeah, very difficult to enjoy this first win with the situation we have
had yesterday, but overall it is just a dream come true. Since I was a child
Iíve been looking up to Formula 1, dreaming to be first a Formula 1 driver,
which happened last year, and then driving for Ferrari this year and then
the first win today. Itís a good day but on the other hand, as I said,
losing Anthoine yesterday brings me back to 2005, my first ever French
championship. There was him, Esteban, Pierre, myself and we were four kids
that were dreaming of Formula 1. Weíve grown up together in karting for
many, many years and to lose him yesterday was a big shock for me but
obviously for everyone of motorsport. It was a very sad day and, as I said,
very difficult to enjoy it fully today, but hopefully in two or three weeks
I will realise what happened today.
Q: Thank you and well done. Lewis, you came close today Ė less than a second
at the flag. If you had executed the race slightly differently do you think
the outcome might have been different?
LH: How do you propose I execute it?
Q: Around the pit stops perhaps?
LH: Well, I mean I executed it as best I could. Strategy I think maybe could
have been slightly better. I think after Seb stoppedÖ actually I completely
lost where I was. I was obviously trying to keep up with him but he was very
strong on the soft tyres and we just stayed out too long, I think, because
by the time he came in and the next lap the gap was twice as big. So I was
chasing that up and also I got stuck behind Seb. But ultimately he did a
superb job, so even if we had different strategies it would have been hard
to beat him today I think. Ultimately he deserved the win and did the job,
Q: Well done Lewis. Valtteri, your 50th points finish for Mercedes today. Do
you think you got the maximum out of it?
VB: It felt OK. Honestly I think itís definitely my best result and feeling
of performance Iíve had in Spa. Itís normally one of the more difficult
ones. Maybe first stint lacking a bit towards the end with tyre drop-off.
Second stint was really strong and at the end we were really just getting to
the flag. We knew there were no more opportunities, so saving the engine and
gearbox quite a lot. It was a bit of a Sunday drive at the end. Not that
many opportunities along the way. Obviously we managed to make up one place
with better strategy than Sebastian so that was positive so I was just
really waiting for the opportunities but there wasnít that much.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrew Benson Ė BBC Sport) Charles, it obviously wasnít the easiest win.
What were you thinking when, first of all, you came out behind Sebastian
after heíd stopped earlier, and then, as you felt Lewis closing in, in those
last laps when you appeared to have had a comfortable lead, after all the
disappointments youíd had this year up until now?
CL: When I came out behind Sebastian, first I was not completely confident
that the degradation was that much on the medium, that I could actually
catch him Ė but after two or three laps, there was quite a big delta pace,
so then I was like ĎOK, I donít think weíll lose time togetherí, which is
exactly what we didnít do. And then, towards the end, I was checking the
mirrors and obviously every lap on the radio, my engineer was telling me the
gap with Lewis, and he was very, very quick. On the Softs, I felt quite
comfortable but on the medium I was struggling a bit more. So I was just
trying to focus on my own job. Trying to bring the car as quickly as
possible to the end Ė but it was very close. I think one lap more would have
been difficult to keep Lewis behind but yeah, it ends up like this, which
Iím very happy with.
Q: (Luke Smith Ė crash.net) Question for all three drivers. A very difficult
weekend under the circumstances. Could you talk a bit about how you cope
with getting back in the cockpit today and pulling the visor down and going
racing after a tragedy such as the one that struck on Saturday?
CL: Yeah, I guess for everyone but for me it was definitely the first
situation like that where we lose someone on track Ė a track that you need
to race the day after. So itís obviously quite challenge to then close the
visor and go through this exact same corner at the exact same speed you do
the day before Ė but thatís what you need to do at the end. So yeah, thatís
what I tried to do at best today.
LH: Pretty much the same. You just compartmentalise it and you move
forwards. Get in and do your job. From a racers point of view and an
athleteís point of view you switch into a zone. Itís quite easy to switch
into that zone.
VB: When you put the helmet on, thereís not much in your mind than really
concentrating on the thing you do. The thing you love to do: driving. And
focussing on that. For sure before and after itís on the mind and always in
the back of your mind but when you go to the zone, thereís nothing, no
Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė Autosport) To Lewis and Charles, Lewis, when a driver
wins for the first time in Formula 1, thatís when they announce themselves.
Obviously Charles has come very close this year, in Bahrain especially. How
good a job do you think heís done coping with the pressure, first year
racing at the front of F1 and for Ferrari. And Charles, those last few laps,
did it feel more nervous knowing what had happened in Austria and Bahrain Ė
or were you able to keep focus, as you said, and keep him behind?
LH: I donít really know what to say. I think his results speak for
themselves really. Itís not easy for any driver to jump into a top team, let
alone Ferrari, against a four-time World Champion, in the sport more than
doubleÖ God knows how much more experience, and then to continuous from race
one, out-perform, out-qualify and out-drive a four-time World Champion is
not easy to do. So I think that speaks for itself. Heís been really unlucky
in quite a few races this year. Could easily have been the third win today.
So, thereís a lot more greatness to come from him and Iím looking forward to
seeing his growth and racing alongside him. It was fun today, trying to
chase him. He was just a little bit too quick.
Charles, your thoughts. Were you more nervous?
CL: I wasnít more nervous. Iíve started to get used to being in that
situation where Iím first and Iím chased by someone that is quicker.
Obviously I knew it was Lewis and I knew I could not afford to do any
mistakes because he will take the opportunity. But yeah, apart from the last
lap, he was never really close enough to try something. But yeah, as I said,
I was just trying to focus on my own job and finish the race.
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos Ė Formula Press) First for Charles, do you have any
flashbacks and were you prepared to do something more muscular than you did
in Austria if Lewis had come closer Ė or were you comforted by the idea that
you were quick were it mattered at the end of the long straights. And, for
the Mercedes drivers, given the speed differential we saw here this weekend,
how difficult is Monza going to be against Ferrari?
CL: In the position I was, I was just focussing to try and keep Lewis as far
as I could from me. And then obviously, if there was an overtake, you rarely
think about it before, you just try and deal with it once itís happening. I
was, as I said, focussing on my own things. Trying to fix a little bit the
balance issues that we had. I had quite a lot of degradation on the rear
tyres. I was struggling with that, so I was fully on that to try and gain
And Lewis, looking ahead to Monza?
LH: Itís all straights, so FerrariÖ itís going to be a happy weekend for
Ferrari, most likely in that respect. I mean, this weekend, I think just in
qualifying weíre losing over a second a lap. So, thereís not much me and
Valtteri can do in that instance and thereís not a lot of corners there to
catch that up. So, itíll be interesting. In the next few days weíve got to
make some drastic improvements to our straight speed, somehow. I donít know
if thatís possible Ė but if anyone can do it, itís our team. So, weíll do
our best Ė but position is also everything. Weíve got slightly better
degradation than them, so maybeÖ and itís a longer race, isnít it, so
hopefully we can have another close race like weíve had this weekend.
VB: Yeah, I think theyíre going to be quick there Ė but last year they were
quick as well but we managed to make their life pretty difficult. I think
thatís where we got booed on the podium and everything. We try to do the
LH: Itís probably better for me that I didnít catch you and overtake you
today Ė I donít think your fans would have let me leave the track.
CL: You have more fans than me!
Q: (Christian Menath Ė motorsport-magazin.com) Question for you Charles,
could you talk us through that situation when you closed the gap to Seb?
Because I think the initial plan for everyone was to go on a one-stop and he
undercut you and gained the position. Was it always clear he would let you
pass Ė or did you ask the team?
CL: Actually, I canít rememberÖ I donít think Iíve spoken on the radio from
the first lap to the last lap. So no, I havenít asked anything. Obviously at
the beginning of the race we are making our own plans. It was not planned
that he would stop earlier but I think that was just a result of the
degradation he had on the first stint. But yeah, I think it was pretty clear
to me, considering the delta pace we had at that time, once I arrived behind
him, that something will happen and that we wouldnít lose too much time. So,
yeah. Nothing was planned but I think everything was clear.
Q: (Livio Oricchio Ė LivioOricchio.com) Charles, Friday we saw in the long
runs you didnít have great pace. You were slower than Mercedes. Saturday we
came to the qualifying, you kept the speed of Friday but also today you
showed the performance from Friday that we didnít expect. Did the team
change the car in a very correct way; can you explain to us?
CL: Yeah, Iíve been working a little bit, especially after Budapest, as Iíve
said, to try and improve the race pace. On Friday night, we changed the car
a little bit after the race runs to try and help the race runs a little bit.
I think it actually helped the qualifying pace which we didnít expect to be
that quick on Saturday. But it definitely also helped the race runs so Iím
happy and itís definitely thanks to the changes we have done from Friday to
Q: (Ben Hunt Ė The Sun) We obviously have Monza up next, the fastest track.
We saw accidents here. Are you concerned about the safety, could more be
done, or are we doing as much as we can to keep people safe in Formula One?
LH: I think thereís a huge amount of work that the FIA have done up to this
point. I think theyíve been working incredibly hard and weíve seen big steps
already. Obviously, particularly when Charlie was here he made massive steps
forward so we will continue in that direction.
CL: Yeah, I completely agree. I think everyone is working extremely hard to
try and improve the security of the sport which I think should always be the
priority but then it will always remain a dangerous sport, obviously, once
you are going at these speeds it is dangerous. And then here, Eau Rouge is
quite dangerous because obviously the wall is quite close, so there will
always be some corners which are challenging and that are more dangerous
than others but overall I think the FIA has done an incredible job in the
last twenty years to improve safety in our cars.
VB: Nothing to add.
Q: (Rodrigo Franca Ė VIP Magazine) Charles, I would like you to comment on
your relationship with Spa where you have won in GP3, Formula Two and also
about your relation with Monaco because it has such tradition as a race
track and a Grand Prix but never has had a driver winning in Formula One, so
if youíve grown up in your childhood wanting to be an F1 driver, watching
those streets that have a Grand Prix?
CL: Well, with Spa obviously Iíve been quite quick and it has been quite a
successful track for me in the past so itís good that it stayed like this
this year and I could have pole and victory, it felt amazing. And with
Monaco, obviously growing up in a city where the Grand Prix is such a big
part of the year because obviously we only see the race on TV but thereís a
lot of preparation before that and after that too, to put up the grandstands
and then take them down. So yeah, itís a big part of my year. I canít
remember having any memories about being passionate about Formula One before
three and a half years old, itís a bit young, but once I first tried karting
at three and a half years old, since that day Iíve been completely obsessed
with Formula One and motor sport in general. Yeah, I definitely think it
helps to be from Monaco and having the Grand Prix here. I have always been
passionate about this sport.
Q: (Zsolt Godina Ė F1Valag.hu) Lewis, it was an amazing weekend for you:
technical problems on Friday, a crash on Saturday. What kind of lessons
could be learned in order to be more competitive next weekend in Monza?
LH: Well, there wonít be a huge amount of time for us to reflect as weíve
got to go straight into next weekend but naturally when you come away from a
break itís easy to beÖ the tension builds up through the first half of the
season and everyoneís on point and then you notice when you come back itís
all a little bit more relaxed and things donít always go perfectly to plan
so I guess in hindsight weíll probably work harder to make sure that when
next year comes round we start on the right foot and hopefully next week it
will start off on the right foot and be a smoother weekend. I think from my
side, obviously Saturday was not helpful and so weíll try to avoid that in
the future. Otherwise I think weíve got some improvements to try to make to
the car within four days so a lot of pressure.
Q: (Jerome Pugmire Ė Associated Press) Charles, itís your first season with
Ferrari and youíre leading Vettel 1-0 in wins, 3-1 pole positions, 6-0 in
the last qualifyings. Has this exceeded your expectations or been better
than you expected and given the right circumstances, do you already consider
yourself, in terms of ability, capable of challenging for a world title?
CL: Well, itís a difficult question, so on the first one obviously I think
Iíve been in better form especially in qualifying since six races, Iíve
changed my approach a little bit. In the race, itís been a bit of a
different story. Iíve been struggling a little bit in the two previous races
but Iíve changed here and it seems to pay off so thatís great. Then if I
feel like Iím ready to be challenging for world titles; at the end I have
the car and team for it. We obviously need to work because we are struggling
a bit compared to Mercedes but on my side, yes, Iíve got a lot to learn,
thatís for sure but I feel ready and you always need to feel ready, once you
are in that position, otherwise I shouldnít be in the seat that I am in