Lewis Hamilton benefited from Ferrari’s qualifying woes to take pole position for the German Grand Prix.
He was joined by Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas to face the media…
1. Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), 2. Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull), 3. Valtteri BOTTAS ( Mercedes)
(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)
Q: Congratulations, Lewis, another pole position. I know how important this race is to Mercedes-Benz, the new livery of the 1950s and the celebration of motorsport on this car. And what a day to pull it out… to do it?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, I don’t really know how we did it today. I’m not quite sure what happened to the Ferraris, but it’s such an important race to us, it’s our second home grand prix, so for Mercedes and their 125 years it’s just incredible to celebrate in this way.
Q: Yeah, the Ferraris have obviously looked very strong. I think Charles had a fuel issue and Sebastian a turbo issue – you’ve been up against it this weekend with them.
LH: Yeah, they’ve been really fast all weekend, and we brought some upgrades this weekend as well, so the car’s been feeling good but the Ferraris were just really I think on a slightly other level. But I think the time at the end was good enough to be able to compete at least with Leclerc, if he had done a lap at the end. It would have definitely been close between us.
Q: And were you satisfied with the lap itself, what you did around Hockenheim today?
LH: Ah, this track, it’s incredible. Every year we come the car’s get faster. Turn 1 is nearly flat, Turn 12 is nearly flat, it’s a real challenge throughout the lap. My first lap was spot on. I think the second lap was a little bit better in some places but still it was good enough.
Q: Well done. Max, I know Valtteri pulled up in the wrong place. The Dutch fans travel quite far don’t they, this orange, you could actually hear at the start of qualifying, cheering, but I don’t think you would have expected more than that today. You’ve got a strong race car, so I guess pretty happy.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I think I started quite conservative in Q1 but then somehow for my feeling towards Q3 I was just losing a bit of grip, but still of course happy to be in P2 and of course it’s great to see so many Dutch fans still around here. Happy to be on the front row and anything is possible tomorrow.
Q: You could see the lap was developing, you did a very good first sector on that last attempt. But I think it was at Turn 8, you looked like you lost the rear end. Was that the finishing of that lap?
MV: Yeah, we could have been closer. I wouldn’t say we would have got on pole but I went a bit wide, bottomed out, lost the rear, but still, like I said, it’s a good result.
Q: I’m sure you won’t give up tomorrow; we’re expecting some mixed weather in there as well in there. Valtteri, I guess a very good day for the team, they’re celebrating where there are, but you narrowly missed out on the front row but I guess at the same point it’s a very long race tomorrow.
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, for sure it’s going to be, and I think the weather is going to play a big part tomorrow. Obviously a bit disappointed in qualifying, I didn’t really find similar confidence to what I had in practice three. I just struggled and I just need to check everything is all right, but anyways, the race is tomorrow.
Q: This car has looked quite difficult all weekend on track, it’s moved around a lot more than normal. You have brought upgrades but have Ferrari surprised you, how much they pushed you?
VB: Yeah, they’ve been extremely quick here. We knew coming into qualifying it was going to be really difficult to beat them but I don’t know what was their issue in the end but we have a good place for tomorrow and obviously I’ll try to come up from the third place.
Q: Congratulations Lewis, it looked like a pretty smooth session from where we were sitting, what as the reality in the cockpit?
LH: Yeah, it was a relatively straightforward session. It was very clean, the team did a great job in terms of timings and getting us out at the right times. As we saw both Ferraris drop out, that made it a little bit different in terms of the battle that we had at the end. Nonetheless, I think I had pretty good pace. I think maybe it would have been close between myself and Leclerc, who knows. They were pretty quick all weekend. But I was really, really happy with the laps I had done, particularly from Q2 onwards. The team have worked so hard and it’s really great for Mercedes with the 125 years celebration this weekend. It couldn’t have been a better way to start the weekend.
Q: Where do you see the biggest threats coming from in the grand prix tomorrow?
LH: I think it’s weather – that can be a threat. There was talks of rain, even today, obviously tomorrow potentially more so tomorrow. I’ve not looked at the long runs, so I don’t know how strong they are on the long runs. It’s not the easiest of tracks to always overtake. But yeah, depending on the temperature, if it was like yesterday that makes it quite a difficult race and probably more stops. If it’s like today, which again actually starting getting hotter towards the end, it’s still going to be a real challenge. I think the real challenge is just making sure we do all our due diligence and make sure we operate at the level we have been operating at today.
Q: Max, this is your seventh front-row start in Formula One. Did you believe that pole was on today?
MV: Difficult to say. I think Q1, you could see Ferrari was quite comfortable, ahead. And then you know anyway the gap in Q3 is going to be even bigger, normally. In a way, of course it was good that they dropped off but yeah, from my side, I think from Q1 to Q3, I felt like I had a loss of grip. In Q1 I felt like… y’know you always take your margins… but somehow in Q3 it never really had the grip like I had in Q1. Of course, it’s getting warmer. It seemed like it was hurting me maybe a bit more at the time. So, still, to be second for this race is, I think, good. So, happy about that.
Q: Was there a technical issue at the start of Q2, and how did that interrupt your flow?
MV: Yes. I tried a different mode for that run but as soon as I crossed the start-finish line somehow it just cut out so I lost a bit of power and then you know your lap is ruined, so I backed off. I went into the box just to check everything and we went out again. Of course, I had to use the other tyres, which was a little bit of a shame because I wanted to try and do the same like the other guys did, but y’know, that’s how it is at the moment and we just have to live with that. The second run in Q2 and then in Q3 there was no problem.
Q: Valtteri, you took your first-ever car racing victories here at Hockenheim back in 2007 but clearly not so happy with your car today. What were the issues?
VB: Obviously overall, I think as a team we had a good result. Lewis did a really good job in the qualifying. Also, we got a little bit lucky with the Ferraris. Who knows how quick they could have been in Q3 but myself, I did feel OK in practice three, there were no worries really, and felt like qualifying should be fun and interesting but all through the quali I struggled on the brakes quite a lot. Turn Two especially; Turn Six; Turn Eight. So, all the big brakings. Turn Two locking up many times, going straight. So, just the confidence under braking and the bite of the brakes was varying from one lap to another. So, that made it difficult and I felt that was maybe two or three tenths I could have improved in Quali 3 by getting everything spot on – but not more than that. So, yeah, it was not the easiest qualifying and keen to have a look why.
Q: And a difficult race for you tomorrow as a result?
VB: Well, I think tomorrow is a new day and also, as Lewis said, it could be raining and it’s always a different today in the wet and everything’s still possible. I’m sure it’s going to be a good fight.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Stuart Codling – Autosport) Question for Lewis. Just an enquiry about how you’re feeling, with reports you’re not feeling 100 per cent. Was there any possibility that you felt you might not have been able to do qualifying today?
LH: Yeah, I wasn’t feeling good this morning. A bit of a sore throat. We just prepped, just in case I wasn’t going to be able to do the session. I did the practice and we were prepared to be able to put the second driver in, worst case scenario. I got through it good.
Q: (Lawrence Edmondson – ESPN) To all three drivers, when you were talking to the engineers this morning, where did you think Ferrari would be? Did you think they were really the team to beat for pole position?
VB: Yeah, we saw in practice they were very quick and, again, as we’ve seen the trend this season is all on the straights. They’re making big gains on the straights. I think to use, seven-tenths in the full lap. We were gaining a bit in the corners but not quite enough, so we knew they’re going to be very difficult to beat in the qualifying. So yeah, it would have been nice to see how they’d have been at the end of the quali – but for sure they’re going to be strong tomorrow. If they get everything fixed with their cars.
Lewis, the threat from Ferrari: did you expect them to be able to challenge for pole?
LH: This weekend you mean? I didn’t know where we’d be. I think last year it was really close between all three teams, so anticipating, I think they were quickest last year as well. So it seems to be a track that they will be good at. But this weekend, Leclerc was rapid. I think he did a good time in Q1, then Q2 – I think it was his second lap, wasn’t it? – so not sure if he had done his first lap, whether or not he would have… but their car sees to working very, very well. So I imaging it would have been very, very close between us at the moment. It is how it is now.
Max, your thoughts on Ferrari?
MV: Yeah, I always expected them to be quite quick here. They have, of course, amazing top speed, but also, I think the layout of the track seems to be quite good for them. But yeah. There’s still a race to go and we’ll see how they will perform there. Of course, they have a bit more work to do but I expect them still to come to the front.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) There’s a distinct lack of red up here. I’m asking for a little bit of honesty from you guys. When you see the monitors and you see Sebastian getting out of the car and then you see Charles doing exactly the same thing, what are the thoughts in your head? Are you secretly pleased to see them out of the running and think ‘that’s good, that’s someone else out of the frame’? Or are you a bit upset for them, do you feel that pain?
MV: Yeah, it can happen to anyone, you know. I’ve had it before as well, but at the time when you see it on the screen I honestly don’t really care so much about it because you’re focusing on your own job. Of course it’s a shame because it’s a bit of a lack of the tough competition you have with Ferrari but still at the end of the day you want to do well for yourself.
LH: Yeah, the same. It doesn’t make any difference in the sense that you still focus on trying to do the best job you can, so you see it happen. Ultimately, it’s difficult when you do all the practices and then you go into qualifying and something happens as soon as you go out. That’s definitely a horrible feeling for everyone so they will definitely be feeling it. But I think we’ve all been there. Hopefully they will recover tomorrow.
VB: Of course we all love a good fight but in the end we are also here for ourselves and as a team we want to be doing the best possible result, so it’s competition, but that’s how it is.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, this has been one of your strongest circuits. How surprised are you with these problems you have had this time?
VB: Yeah, a little bit surprising. I think yesterday was a bit tricky overall, could easily put it down to temperature, it was quite sensitive and I did quite good clean laps. Practice three I felt good, I was really looking forward to the qualifying and knowing that there was a place where I could improve then it should be all good but like I said earlier, I struggled a lot with braking in the qualifying and just the consistency, it was not there, I was not always sure when I hit the brake pedal what’s going to happen, if I was going to lock the fronts or not so that made it more difficult. It can happen sometimes but we need to figure out why. So yeah, I was definitely hoping for better qualifying result but it’s not a disaster and there’s a long day ahead tomorrow and yeah, if it’s going to be raining, it really doesn’t matter at all where you start, it’s going to be a bit of a mess so should be good fun.
Q: (Joe van Burik – Racing News 365) Max, you mentioned some turbo lag issues in Q1 again. Was it similar to the calibration issues you had at Silverstone?
MV: I don’t know if it’s exactly the same of course but in the car it feels pretty similar. They are all working hard of course to try and get on top of it. I think in Q3 honestly it was fine, so that’s when it matters of course. I think we did get on top of it.
Q: (Giovanni Messi – NewsF1.it ) So Max, you start second tomorrow, do you think tomorrow you can have a great race like in Austria with high temperatures? The Red Bull car is very, very good, so what do you think about tomorrow? You think you can challenge Lewis or Valtteri?
MV: Unfortunately I think tomorrow’s going to be like 24/25, so it’s not going to be warm enough. Yeah, I believe that normally in the race we are always a little bit more competitive. Of course I’m starting on a different tyre so we have to wait and see how that’s going to work out. Yeah, hopefully we can follow and try to challenge them, that would be good.
Q: (Lennart Bloemhof – Volksrand) Max, on the track you said you could have been closer to Lewis, what does that say about the progress you guys are making with Honda?
MV: It’s not only the engine, of course. That’s also the car where you’re always constantly trying to improve but it’s not only about bringing updates but also about learning more about the car in terms of set-up, how you can find a bit more time in that as well. Of course sometimes it’s better than on other tracks but I think… today in general has been pretty good but of course we tried to close the gap because there is still a gap but we’re working on it. I’m pretty pleased about today.