1 Ė Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
2 Ė Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)
3 Ė Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
(Conducted by Johnny Herbert)
Q: Max, second place. Interesting battle going down to Turn 1. You seemed to
get off the line well but then Valtteri got in front of you. But of course
then you had Daniel Ricciardo at your side and you decided to go through
that penalty chicane. What was it like for you?
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, just very low grip on the inside, so that cost us a
bit but at the end it was quite interesting the first few corners. Of course
I had to take that other chicane and luckily got through there without any
issues. After that, after the re-start I was a little bit slower on the
medium, I was having a bit of problems with the balance. But once we went on
that hard tyre I think we were a little bit more competitive so pretty happy
about that. At the end to be able to split the Mercedes cars again, I think
we can be pleased with that.
Q: Were there any worries at some point once you saw Lewis getting to third
place. Did you think ďnow Iíve got a fight on my handsĒ?
MV: No, I was trying to do my own race there. If they are faster they will
anyway pass you. I think we managed it well and I did everything I could.
Q: Youíve got to be happy though, second place going into the Nurburgring
next time out?
MV: Yeah, Iím very happy with second, especially after two DNFs. Again a
good amount of points.
Q: Well done. Lewis, what a frustrating day for you. What happened with the
practice starts and of course then that 10-second penalty you got? What
Lewis HAMILTON: First, I want to say a big thanks to all the fans that came
this weekend. A big thank you. Spasiba. Yeah, just not the greatest day, but
it is what it is.
Q: How did that go wrong? I know there were some notes that had come out
from the FIA; Michael Masi had mentioned about where you can and cannot
start? Why is it you ended up so far down the end of the pit lane?
LH: It doesnít matter. Itís done now. Iíll take the points that I got and
Q: The race itself, though, great little comeback from you.
LH: Not particularly. I didnít really do much. I just held my position so
congratulations to Valtteri.
Q: Valtteri, race win but it was very tricky going down to Turn 2 where you
tried to go round the outside of Lewis but you got stuck on that kerb. Just
talk us through that?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, obviously I tried. I knew the start would be the
start would be the first opportunity but actually it was a bit compromised
because there was like a massive bee or something that hit my visor just
before braking, so I couldnít really see when I should brake, so thatís why
I went too deep. I knew it was going to be a long race after that and with
the medium tyre I had there would be opportunities but obviously Lewis had
the penalty so once I was in clean air I felt the pace was pretty awesome
and I could control everything.
Q: What about Max? He was obviously there a little bit earlier on and he was
pushing you very hard. Were you a bit concerned in those early laps that he
might challenge you?
VB: I wasnít concerned at any point, because looking at the [inaudible] for
today I knew how many opportunities there would be and yeah, never give up,
itís a good day.
Q: Well, itís your ninth win and your second here in Russia, so going
towards the Nurburgring you must have a lot of confidence to take there?
VB: For sure. Itís nice to get a win again. Itís been a while. Definitely
good. I need to try and keep the momentum. Again I managed to squeeze a few
good points against Lewis. There are still quite a few races to go. You just
never know. Iíll keep pushing and wonít give up and weíll see how it ends
Q: Man congratulations Valtteri. Your win in Austria seems a while ago. How
good did it feel to hear the Finnish national anthem on the podium?
VB: Definitely. Itís been a while ago but itís been so close many times and
I feel my race pace, especially this season, has been quite a bit better
than any season before so I canít say itís been frustrating but you know
itís been a bit annoying that itís been close but nearly there. But things
definitely did go my way today, as I have been saying that things canít go
against you forever. So, definitely really satisfying today to get the win.
It felt like it was well earned. Obviously I consider myself lucky as well
with Lewisí penalty. But otherwise it was a strong race and really I feel
that it can give me a confidence boost and good momentum for the next races.
Q: Can you just talk us through the race a bit? Good start, you overtook Max
and you didnít really look back from there from what it looked like?
VB: Yeah, it was a good start. I think Lewis has a good start as well. But
obviously I had the tow. I went outside, braked, perhaps slightly too late
so went a bit deep into Turn 2, so Lewis maintained the lead. But then I was
just trying to be there because I knew that with the medium tyre I knew
would have the advantage once Lewis had to stop. When I was in clean air it
really felt pretty good and the pace was strong. Same with the hard tyre. I
could really feel that I could control the race. I was actually pretty happy
there were no red flags or safety cars this time around towards the end of
Q: Do you think you could have beaten Lewis today if there had been no
penalties for him?
VB: Going to today I knew that there would be opportunities. I knew that one
of the best ones would be the race start but I knew that even if I canít
make it there itís now over, because obviously with the medium tyre itís
quite an advantage in race time and in terms of strategy, so yes, of course
I believed I could do it. But who knows. He got that penalty and thatís it.
Max, after two difficult races in Italy, how satisfying is it to have a
clean race and to come home on the podium?
MV: Yeah, I mean thatís how it should be every single weekend. So, of course
it was not good, the last two weekends and I think now, to be back on the
podium and in second, I think for us is a great result on a track where
normally we are not that competitive and we never scored a podium before as
well. So, Iím very happy with that. The race itself, the start was pretty
bad but it was just so low grip on the inside, the righthand side, it seemed
like everybody had a really poor start, so just felt likeÖ Even then during
the race, the first lap I had a bit of a battle with Daniel to get back into
third and I had a nice off-road experience through the bollards soÖ nice.
And then for there onwards, on the Medium tyre it was just not really having
a great balance. A bit like I had in Q1 and Q2 yesterday where I just
couldnít push the entries of the corners and I couldn'tí keep up with them.
So, just tried to not lose too much time. Then once we pitted, put the hard
tyres on, everything was a bit more stable and a bit better balanced. I was
pleased with that. The second stint was pretty OK. Very happy with second.
Q: You say the second stint was good but did you ever think you could
challenge Valtteri for the win?
MV: No, because he was already too far ahead anyway. I think. Once we pitted
it was 12 seconds or something. Thatís very hard to close Ė and anyway,
following around here on the same tyre, more or less the same pace, I think
itís very difficult.
Q: Lewis, like yesterday, it was another eventful day for you. How do you
sum it all up?
LH: Uneventful. It wasnít that eventful, to be honest. I started first, was
in first, I came out third, so, not the most eventful day.
Q: Well it looked eventful from the outside, particularly before the start.
Thatís when it started to unravel, when you were doing your practice starts
on your way to the grid. Can you just talk us through your communication
with the team, and why you elected to do the starts where you did?
LH: Generally, if you look at probably every race that Iíve done this year,
at least, I always start further down. Never, ever had a problem, done it
for years. Here I havenít done that before, I would say, but it says you
have to be on the right after the lights, it doesnít say how far, and so
oftenÖ I donít like to be on the rubber, thatís where everyone has done all
their starts so itís not representative of what itís like on the grid, so I
try to get onto the surface that doesnít have any rubber.
Q: Did you communicate with the team, ask if it was OK to do it where you
LH: I did, and as far as we were aware, it was OK. Itís no different to
Brazil. You drive to the end of the pit lane and you do your start. Itís
actually probably safer where I was, compared to Brazil, because there was a
lot more space on the leftÖ so interesting decision.
Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė The Race) Question for Lewis. Because you got the
penalties for the practice start, race penalties like that come with penalty
points on your licence, so youíre now up to ten penalty points on your
licence in a 12-month period, which means youíre only two points from a race
ban until, I think, after four races from now. Just wanted to know what you
think of that and if itís the sort of thing that means you change your
approach, take more care in the coming grands prix?
LH: Itís ridiculous the points that have been given people this year in
general. Penalty points usually are for Ė I donít want to speak on my behalf
Ė from a driversí point of view, if you put someone else in danger, you
crash into somebody, of course, you should be getting penalty points. I did
not harm anybody, did not put anybody in harmís way so ultimately itís a
ridiculous rule Ė but it is what it is. Iíll just make sure Iím
squeaky-clean moving forwards. Donít give them an excuse for anything.
MV: It is a bit harsh. If you causes a crash itís difference Ė but the
penalty Lewis got was already painful enough. I donít know how many points
you got Ė two points? Ė itís a bit harsh, heís up to ten points without
actuallyÖ I mean, it was not correct where he stopped but penalty points for
thatÖ Iím not sure thatís correct.
Q: Max, while youíre commenting on this, whatís your understanding of where
you were to do the practice starts here in Sochi. Was it clear to you where
you had to do them?
MV: They just told me to do it there. From the team side. We discussed that
before we went out. Like Ďdo your starts thereí. I never questioned about
going further. I donít know. Probably was not allowed. Itís unfortunately.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas Ė Autosport) Lewis, you didnít sound particularly happy
about when you were called in for your pit stop on the Soft tyres. How much
further did you think you would have been able to go Ė and did that cost you
any time at all coming back against Max, coming in a bit early than you
LH: It ultimately didnít make a huge difference but my goal ultimately was
to offsetÖ to minimise the loss with the tyres. So, the original stop was
supposed to be lap 16, luckily we had a Safety Car which took us to lap six,
or something like that. So I thought thatís bonus points, it means I can go
six laps longer. I think they stopped me still on lap 16, or something like
that but I thought I could at least do another five laps, which would have
just made it a little easier on that second stint Ė but five laps wouldnít
have made a huge difference. My tyres were dead right at the end, so they
were definitely on the limit but yeah, itís a discussion weíll have
afterwards and weíll work on it.
Q: (Ben Hunt Ė The Sun) Lewis, you said on TV that theyíre deliberately out
to get you Ė I assume thatís a reference to the stewards. Do you actually
believe that they are targeting you to try and slow you down or to force you
to have this penalty, this one race ban, just to artificially liven up the
LH: I donít necessarily think that itís for me, I think probably most teams
Ė whenever a team is at the front, obviously they are doing a lot of
scrutiny. Everything we have on our car is being checked and triple checked
and triple checked. They are changing rules, such as the engine regs, lots
of lots of things to get in the way to keep the racing exciting, I assume. I
donít know if the rules Ė in terms of what happened today Ė was anything to
do with it but naturally thatís how it feels, naturally it feels like you
weíre fighting uphill but itís OK, itís not like I havenít faced adversity
before so we just keep our heads down and keep fighting and keep trying to
do a better job and be cleaner and squeaky clean, as I said before.
Q: (Laurence Edmonson Ė ESPN) Lewis, is this kind of thing youíre just happy
to turn a page and move on from or is it something that you will take up
with the FIA, with Michael Masi to try and get clarity if not some kind of
LH: I havenít decided, but at the moment Iím looking forward to getting
Q: (Alan Baldwin Ė Reuters) Lewis, if you really are concerned that somebody
is trying to stop you, how concerned are you about the possibility of a race
ban, if you reach the twelve points, because youíve got only two points
between you and that and there are several races to go before any drop off?
LH: I donít know what to say about that. Iíve got to try my hardest to, you
know, toÖ I guess weíll go through the rule book and pick out areas where
they can create rules, areas where penalties have never been given before
and weíll try and figure out all the ones that they have and try to make
sure that we cover ourselves in the ones that we are aware of. Like I said
before, I donít think anyoneís had the penalty for that before so weíll just
work hard andÖ weíve gone through seasons before without penalties so just
have to make sure I give them no reason, not even a sniff to be able to do
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas Ė Autosport) Max, you mentioned the low grip on the
inside off the line, so was it a case of were you always expecting to lose
that position or was there something that could have been done if everything
had gone completely perfectly to stay in second place on the run to turn
MV: I was just hoping that it was going to be a bit grippy but actually on
my formation lap I had an anti-stall so that was not nice, but then in the
actual start, as soon as I dropped the clutch you could just feel there was
no grip. And then I thought initially I just had a bad start but then I
looked in the mirror and I could see the whole line behind me as well had a
poor start so yeah, I donít know, if we could do something different. Well,
Valtteri shouldnít have been in my way in qualifying, then, with the tow.
Then I would have been third!
Q: (Laurence Edmonson Ė ESPN) Valtteri, we heard your now trademark radio
message Ďto whom it may concern, FU after the raceí. Who exactly was that
aimed at? And a few people have said that youíve been dealing with quite a
lot of criticism on social media so how have you dealt with that, and has it
been something which has actually been playing on your mind?
VB: No, itís not been playing on my mind but I just donítÖ honestly I just
(donít) get the people who has the need to criticise people. You know,
thereís been people telling me that I should not bother, I should give up
but how I am, I will never do that so I just wanted to, again, send my best
wishes to them. It just came out, you know, so, yeah. But the main thing is
Iím confident, when I come to every race weekend, Iím confident and I
believe I can do it and thatís how Iím always going to be. You have to have
that mindset so yeah, Iím glad. Even yesterday was tough, I didnít give up,
I looked at it positively, I knew there would be opportunities and things
came to me today, so yeah, I hope I can encourage people not to give up
because thatís the biggest mistake you can do in your life.
Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė The Race) To all three: with regards the penalty points
that have been applied here, the fact that there seems to be a little bit of
disagreement over how the rules relating to Lewisís practice starts have
been interpreted, and the disagreement at Mugello over the handling of the
restart, how satisfied are you with how the FIA is handling stuff at the
moment? Do you think there is good enough communication between the race
director, Michael Masi, and yourselves? Do you think youíre all on the same
LH: Are we all on the same page? I donít think so. Iím probably on a
different page of the book or Iíve skipped a few pages clearly.
VB: Itís a tricky one. Itís obviouslyÖ I donít know theÖ even maybe I should
know the rule book word by word but I donít. Obviously we always get
guidance from the team what weíre allowed to do and what not. There are so
many different circumstances and I donít really know what to say. I think
itís tricky. For sure they are trying their best no doubt but yeah, I canít
MV: Iíve been up there myself, I think with ten points or something so yeah,
I said to myself I will just try to stay away from the stewards at the
track. Seeing them in the hotel or the bar, thatís not too bad, but stay out
of their room during the race weekend. Itís difficult. Like I said before,
if itís like a crash or whatever, you caused, I can understand they want to
hand penalty points to maybe calm you down or whatever but with things like
this, Lewis didnít do anything on purpose to create an issue or whatever. He
just wanted to practise his start. Maybe itís not allowed there, OK but he
was penalised enough by having this penalty in the race so I donít think
youíd need to hand out penalty points for that. But I guess weíll talk about
it in the next briefing we have and see if something will happen or not.
Itís always good, I guess, to talk about it and communicate. At least we
know what weíre up to fully and then we move on.