The action couldn’t have gotten much better after the Austrian Grand Prix, ‘hold my beer’ said Silverstone.
The top three spoke with the media after a thrilling British Grand Prix…
1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
3 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)
(Conducted by Jenson Button)
Q: Lewis, congratulations, there must be so much emotion in there?
Lewis HAMILTON: Honestly… I’m a bit out of breath! I cannot tell you how proud I am to be here today in front of my home crowd. I’ve got my whole family here, my team. So many British flags out there; I could see them lap after lap. Every year I’ve been coming and I’ve seen it and noticed it and appreciated it. You would think you would get used to something like that but I’ll tell you, it feels like the first time. And I’m just forever grateful for everyone who has come out and spent their whole weekend here. I really hope that you enjoyed the day and God bless you.
Q: I think everyone did. It was an epic race. One of the best British Grands Prix I’ve seen. Today you also made history – six-time winner of the British Grand Prix.
LH: Jeez. I couldn’t have done it without these guys. I couldn’t have done it without my team. They’re all around here. And the guys back at the factory. Everyone back of the factory and their wives and their kids who are supportive through the whole year of their time away and how dedicated they are to their jobs, so when I tell people thank you to the team there are nearly 2,000 in my team that make this possible. I’m just a chink in that chain. I value them massively and I’m super proud to be a part of this.
Q: Congratulations Lewis, good job. Valtteri, it’s a tough one right? After such a good start, such a good fight with Lewis – he put a good move on you, but to get him back into Copse was a great move. It looked like you had it under control but you were hurt by the safety car.
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, I don’t really know what to say. Congrats to Lewis, massive support for him over here. I stopped first and I was controlling the pit stop gap, so I was still effectively leading the race until there was a safety car and Lewis got a free stop there and he got me there. I also went to the mediums so it meant I had to stop at the end again, so that was pretty much it. So not really my day, but at least the pace was good and it felt good out there.
Q: Yeah, I think there are still a lot of positives to take from today. To take get that pole position around here at Silverstone, a place that is obviously very special to Lewis. And that fight back for me was great to see. Do you take a lot of positives from here moving on?
VB: For sure there are positives. Yesterday I was the quickest on track and that was good and I think the race pace was good today and we had a good fight. I’ll keep fighting, it’s not over yet, so…
Q: Well done. Charles, congratulations, you were the driver the day and I think everyone agrees you were the driver of the day. That was a fantastic race. It was great to see the battle between Max Verstappen and yourself, and it’s the new generation of Formula One. How was the race for you today?
Charles LECLERC: It’s probably the race I enjoyed the most in my Formula One career. Great to finish third, but today was a very difficult day. The first two stints we weren’t where we wanted to be. I think on the hards we were very strong. But unfortunately with the safety car we lost a little bit of positions, which was not great for us. But yeah, very happy to finish third and extremely happy for the battle we have had on track.
Q: Yeah, as you said, you went for a different strategy it seemed, starting on the soft tyre. It didn’t really work for in the first stint. But as you said, with the safety car, your fight back and your move on Pierre Gasly was also epic – you must take a lot of positives from today’s race, gaining confidence all the time?
CL: yeah, definitely. I think the last race was a bit of an eye-opener for me, really showing how far we could go. I think it’s great for Formula One to just fight on the limit that way and really happy that this race has gone like this.
Q: Lewis, many congratulations, sensational pace from you all afternoon, culminating in that fastest lap on the final lap of the race. You were undoubtedly helped by the safety car but you had great pace today.
LH: This is one of the best days I can remember having. I was just thinking downstairs, I remember my first win herein 2008 and the feeling that I had coming out of Brooklands and going down the straight towards, at the time, the start-finish line and seeing the crowd, it felt so reminiscent of that today and just the excitement and happiness and joy that I felt was exactly the same as then. The reason I say that is that I’ve done so many races, you know, you think you would get used to it, or that the feeling would numb down, but it felt just as amazing as the first win that I had. So I’m really, really grateful to all those people that have helped me achieve this today. I’ve got this incredible team, There are almost 2,000 people, I always mention, in our team and we got to see them yesterday at a family fin fair kind of event that they do and they will never truly know just how grateful I am but it’s really amazing to be part of this team and to be breaking down walls and records and pushing the limits and boundaries every weekend. You never know if you are really going to be able to deliver a day like today but me and Valtteri had such a good fight. I got him at Turn 7 and then he was on the inside but when we pulled out of the corner I couldn’t really see where he was, he was in my blind spot. He wasn’t in my mirror but I couldn’t see him next to me either, so I couldn’t close the door, just in case he was there and he happens to be there obviously. He drove sensationally well there. So I was, ‘OK, I’ve got to back off, wait until he stops and then nail it after that’. I was going to do a few more laps and hopefully do like an undercut and catch him up etc but the safety car came out and it was perfect timing.
Q: Congratulations. Valtteri, tough day for you, second at Silverstone for you for the thirds time now. The safety car came out at just the wrong time. Was the plan always to make two stops?
VB: Yeah, it was maybe not my luckiest day, but that’s life. Obviously Lewis drove well, he’s got massive support here, so congrats for the win. But obviously we had good racing at the beginning and I really enjoyed it, that’s why we are here, to race hard and fair. I’m sure Toto didn’t maybe enjoy it as much as we did but it doesn’t matter. After my first stop I felt like it was under control. I was following the gap closely, the pit stop gap I had to Lewis, and I was just waiting for him to stop and obviously the safety car got him ahead of me at that point. I was stuck into a two-stop at that stage, because we stopped for the medium again from medium tyres so it meant anyways I had to stop in the end, which was a mistake from our side. Two stop we thought would be by far the fastest but actually one stop was possible as well. Not quite ideal but one of these days… At least it felt like the pace was good today and yesterday so there are positives to take. Also, really, really happy for us as a team, getting maximum points and it’s pretty impressive the gap to the teams behind now. So it makes me very, very proud of us. In any case, I’m still super-hungry for the win so looking forward to doing it again in two weeks.
Q: Well done Valtteri, thanks. A great dice between you and Lewis. And another many who was involved in great dices today was Charles. That battle between you and Max in particular, reminiscent of your karting days. Was it clean, were you happy with the way you fought?
CL: Very happy. That was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had in my Formula One career. Well, it’s a short career, only one year and a half, but it was definitely very, very fun from inside the car. I think that Austria was quite an eye-opener for me to understand how far we could go and what was accepted and I’m very happy at the end to race like this. I think every driver wants to race hard and that’s what we did during most of the race. It was very, very fun, always borderline, but I think always in the rules and very, very enjoyable from the car.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Congratulations, Lewis, on your victory. I know you aren’t one for records but obviously this quite a big one – you’ve won the British Grand Prix six times, more than any other driver in the history of the sport. It’s your home race, a race that’s been on the calendar for 70 years and now you hold that record. How special and amazing does that feel for you?
LH: Yeah, it feels incredible. I’ve not ever been one to look at statistics. I really take it one race at a time and I like the approach with that. I came here this weekend and I heard people talking about the amount of qualifying poles I’ve had here but I don’t really take any notice of it, I’m just trying to do the best I can and seeing if I can achieve it, but it’s great to be able to have the opportunity to shoot for it. Unless I stop and think about how many wins I have, I didn’t know if it was four or five or whatever it was here. To then hear that I have six and to be up there with the greats. I remember growing up watching this sport and watching a lot of the greats and meeting a lot of the greats and even working with one of the greats and to be up there with them is one of the coolest things.
Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Lewis, yesterday you faced questions about the nature of your Britishness and today after the win you immediately picked up the Union flag and took it one the podium. You’re obviously very proud. Did it mean much more to you to do that at this race?
LH: To win here at this race?
Q: To wave the flag at this race.
LH: Yeah, this is the greatest single moment of any athlete in the world – to raise their flag as the number one or with the gold or whatever it may be in their home country. It’s one of the single most incredible feelings and special moments an athlete can have. I come here and I’ve got this incredible support. They always talk about how much does it lift you up and it’s a huge amount of energy but a lot of weight comes with that, a lot of responsibility. People save up so much money to come to this grand prix. Everybody is buying merchandise and flags and you just want to deliver for them so much. Not only for yourself and your own ability, you know you can do it, but for your team. I’ve got like 40 family members here – from my mum’s side, from my dad’s side, a bunch of them from the Caribbean. So I just really, really wanted to deliver. And when you achieve something like today and you see all those British flags, I was looking the whole time for a flag, ‘someone give me a flag’, because one day I’m going to be able to look back and I’ll have that picture of me in the car with that flag and I’ll always be able to smile until my dying day.
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Charles, how difficult was it to defend against Max, and what is your favourite move during that ten-lap battle?
CL: Very difficult. I think we have got some work to do on our race pace and try to keep these tyres as good as Mercedes and Red Bull are doing. I think we are a little bit… struggling on that. The best move was probably the one on Max on the outside in Copse? I think he just passed me and I passed him back around the outside of Copse. That was definitely one of the most exciting of the race. Of my race.
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) For Lewis and Valtteri. Was it always planned that you’d go on split strategies, or that the second car would go to a different strategy. And if it wasn’t, what was your reaction when you realised that was happening.
LH: We have the meetings in the morning and they do thousands of simulations of the different strategies. So we’re shown a handful of them: maybe ten different strategies that could happen if we lose position; if we hold position; if we switch positions; all these different things. There was… it’s very difficult for a team – because we are a team – but then individually we want to win. So the team has to do the best and most balance approach for both of us. Most of the simulations come out with ultimately the first car… if you do a good enough job in qualifying, the first car generally gets priority etcetera and it gets quite hard to overtop that, unless you do it on track, or undercut and those kind of things. We had discussed the opportunity of… I think the fastest way to the end of the race was Medium-Medium-Hard, I believe – but there were alternative strategies. That was something I looked into, and I had already decided at the beginning of the race that I was going to take the medium (sic), in the middle stint and extend my first stint to 20 or 21 – whatever it was. Did I know that we were going to stay on the one-stop? No. But, we have to be strategists, almost, a little bit inside ourselves, and it something we’re constantly working on, trying to finesse, because it’s always different. There’s always new figures that have to be put in, from each race, and no-one ever gets it perfect – but the cool thing is that it enabled us to race today. What they probably didn’t expect is that we were going to push so much at the beginning. I think we were expected to save our tyres and stuff – but we were racing pretty hard – which is how racing should be, y’know? So, I’m happy we were able to do that today?
Valtteri, your thoughts on strategy?
VB: Yes, so definitely there was an idea to split the cars. One of us going for the Hard for the second stint but still the idea was for that car to do Medium-Hard-Medium or Medium-Hard-Soft. So one stop honestly was out of the question today, and was a mistake from our side. It was by far the quickest strategy today for our car – the Medium-Hard – we thought it would be much slower so, for sure, a learning point for us.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Maybe F1 isn’t broke after all. We’ve had two good tracks, two good races. Is it the case that we need to tweak these Mickey Mouse tracks a little bit and just get some more excitement back in?
CL: Yeah! Silverstone and Austria, I think, are two good tracks I think to overtake on and I think it’s good for the show. The battle was quite good from third place onwards but the Mercedes are still very, very quick. So, if we can all close the gaps to them, will be even more exciting – but definitely the track has an important role in overtaking and the last two tracks are good examples. So, if we can have more of them on the calendar I think it would be a good thing for F1.
LH: Probably in the history of the sport, the drivers have never been a part of the decision-making in terms of advising on tracks. We know better than anybody which track we can overtake and which track we can’t. I don’t know who does the selection, and I know it’s not that they always have a ton of tracks in every country that are possible to race a grand prix – but there are ones that they’re selecting for the future that we’re going to have not such great racing, the ones that are on the calendar that aren’t great. People always ask me which are my favourite tracks and this is one of them because you can follow. It’s just spectacular with the high speed. Austin, Texas is built like that, as a new circuit. But then we’ve got places where you just can’t follow and its like a train. And so, what would you prefer? Having a race in those countries just for the sake of having a race – or do you want a great race like this? If so, then we need to look at the different options in the different countries. I think the really cool track they used to have in Hockenheim – and it still is awesome – but the big, long one they used to have as quite unique. There was always good racing there but they changed it. Austria was great but I think the old track was even better from what I was told by Niki. So, that’s something, hopefully the GPDA can be part of in this next step in 2021 rules. We can be a part of advising on that. We’re there to help make the sport better. If they’re open to… we’re happy having the grands prix in these different countries but if they’re open to the idea of changing or adapting some of the circuits or using a different circuit in the countries, then we should look into that.
VB: I agree completely. You know definitely it’s all about selection of the tracks. I’m sure many of the track selections for the calendar, it’s just pure political reasons and money, rather than actually focusing on whether it’s good for racing or not. From our side, it’s not that nice. We love racing. Everyone loves good racing, so that’s how it should be. And, like Lewis said, as a GPDA, we’re very keen to give our input because we’re in the car. We know exactly which type of tracks we need to have good racing. We have the feeling. So we are very, very happy to help. And obviously, big plans with new cars, everything for 2021, so hopefully it is going into a better direction, so fingers crossed.
Q: (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) First of all, congratulations Lewis, question for you. You could have had a free pit stop in the end to go on the softer tyres as well. You knew Valtteri was going for the fastest lap on the soft tyre at the end. Why didn’t you choose the extra stop. Were you so confident you have the extra pace in the old hard tyres in the end?
LH: No, it was really… why take the risk? In my opinion. Yes, I had a pit stop window – but there’s the entry of the pit lane, there’s the stop, there’s the extra pressure on the mechanics to do the pit stop – and it’s not that I doubt them all but you just give chance to it. I’d saved enough in the tyres. I felt good with… the Hard tyre was really great, it could keep going. So it’s obviously a very, very solid tyre. I did have some blistering, so I was kind of conflicted. I was like ‘should I stop?’ I think it would have brought us back closer. I was just like, ‘there’s seven laps left.’ It’s very, very hard to catch a 21-second delta at the pace I can still do. So I decided to… it’s rare that I go up against the team but I decided today that that was the best thing for me. I don’t think… we thought that a two-stop was the best thing and it just worked out today that I was able to save the tyres, meant that we could do a one. My long run on Friday was one of the best long runs that I’ve done, and everyone else was running out of tyres except for me. So, tried to utilise that today and it worked.
Q: (Luke Smith – crash.net) Lewis, you spoke about the battle with Valtteri, could you just talk about the importance of the trust you’ve built up with your team-mate and being able to enter that wheel-to-wheel battle knowing it’s going to be a hard but clean and fun battle?
LH: Yeah, honestly I think… look it’s no secret that Valtteri wants to beat me and I want to beat him and that fighting spirit is stronger than anything, individually for all of us. I think it’s so vital though, to have a respect. I know how hard is it to get a pole here. He did a fantastic job yesterday I know how hard it is to wake up and deliver every weekend, as do these other drivers, so the respect is there between us. I think we want to race wheel-to-wheel and tough. When you’re racing with a team-mate it’s on a different level. If I were racing a Ferrari, you take more risks. Still respectful, but you can lean on them a bit more but as team-mates, we sit down at the beginning of the race, we talk about Turn One and how we’re going to respect each other, make sure we don’t collide, and even when I overtook him and he was coming back, I could have swept across the front and blocked him – but that’s not the right thing to do. Ultimately it enabled him to get back past – but that’s racing. It was really fair, and it was great. Honestly I was hoping… I was looking forward to maybe some racing later. I was extending that first stint hoping that I’d come out… he was doing some good times so the gap was growing, in terms of me coming out maybe one second, one-and-a-half seconds to two seconds , and I was trying to keep it as little as possible before I finally stopped so that, so that when I came out, I had the advantage on a new tyre and could finally catch him up and try to get past – but the Safety Car came out and kind of intervened. But that was awesome.
Valtteri, anything you’d like to add about your trust, your battle with Lewis.
VB: I think that’s what we’ve both said, that’s how it is and yeah, it’s all good fun.
Q: (Keith Collantine – Racefans.net) Lewis, following your comments a while ago about wanting to reduce the weight of Formula One cars, FIA president Jean Todt has suggested that one way of doing this would be re-introduce refuelling in the races and some other suggestions he’s made for increasing the unpredictability of races including getting rid of what he calls driver aids, such as your anti-stall devices, reducing the amount of telemetry on the cars and getting rid of the virtual garages that teams use to conference back with the team back at base. What do you think about any of those suggested changes, and also Valtteri and Charles, if you have any thoughts on those?
LH: Don’t necessarily think that’s going to make a big difference to racing. Do you think it will? I don’t think many of those are going to do much different except for having a lighter car. They’re constantly making these cars heavier and heavier and heavier every year and we’re going faster and we have more downforce and the tyres… it’s really hard for Pirelli to develop a tyre with such limited testing that can sustain that weight etc etc and then the thermal deg, all these different things, it’s like a domino effect so with lighter car, we could fight harder. If you look at the end of the race, the tyres that we have at the end of the race, we can push more, we can race more at the end with so much of a drop-off like today and that’s because the car was lighter on the lighter fuel, so that might not be such a bad thing for us in the future but there’s a bunch of other elements that is not in that list… I don’t know, off the top of my head but as the GPDA we mentioned it.
VB: As long as the cars are lighter it’s always going to be better for everything, for racing, tyres, everything so whatever can be done for the weight is always going to be a bonus and we’re going to enjoy it more, everyone’s going to enjoy it more.
CL: Well, I don’t know, I’ve never raced with refuelling but it was definitely one cool thing to see, so if it’s back in Formula One why not? I will be happy to try. I think the main problem is still that the cars are probably too heavy so these two things for me are separate things but refuelling can be a good idea. Then, to limit the amount of informations to the box or to stop… did you say stop completely the telemetry from the garage or reduce? Yeah. I think we are quite limited in that the cars are so complex now that we also need to make them run, having the help of the engineers, in the background. Yeah. maybe reducing some informations but I think we are limited into that, just by the complexity of the cars now. That’s it.
LH: The cars don’t need to be 730 kilos, they just don’t need to be that heavy. They used to be 600 or something was it, years and years ago. I spoke to my engineers and they said if they change the rules we can make it that weight. We just have to take some things off the car but we can make it lighter. Performance items will come off but they can do it.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – liviooricchiof1.com) Valtteri, on lap 19, Lewis had only 17.4s advantage over you and now he would stop in 21 laps, so he probably would come back to the track with five/six seconds behind you. Can you make a comment? And Lewis, at the end of the race, you had 21s advantage to Bottas, 33 laps with hard tyres and the last lap you set the fastest lap of the race. Your self-confidence would be in the clouds, right?
VB: I’m not quite sure it was ever going to be five second gap. I think it was about two seconds before the safety car, the pit stop gap, so I was basically controlling it because I knew Lewis would have a tyre advantage on the second stint, because I stopped earlier, to also cover some cars behind and he was continuing, so at the end of the second stint he was going to great opportunity, so I tried to save the tyres, not to push flat out in the beginning and just to be sure that I’m going to be ahead when he stops. And obviously with the safety car he managed to jump ahead so we missed the fight later on.
LH: None of us had driven… only a few teams had driven he hard tyre this weekend. We only had one hard each but obviously the medium that we started on was quite durable for us. I know other teams struggled more and others less but with this first stint was really really mega between us. There was only 0.9s between or one second between us for most of it and then he pitted… I wasn’t planning to stop on lap 21, I was trying to see how far I could go, I was pushing it as far as I could but I had to try and keep up the pace because he had new tyres and he was doing generally better times but the gap went from 0.7s to a second, to 1.5s. He was out of my window, or in my window, yeah, in my window of pit stop and then it was getting to two seconds so I was getting very close to having to stop anyways but then the safety car came out. It was around two seconds, so if I would come out I would have been two seconds behind and he would five or six lap older tyres. But you could see the pace he had when we restarted. He had really great pace on that tyre, so it wouldn’t have been easy. The harder tyre is slightly slower than the medium tyre so it would have been a difficult race between us but not an impossible one but the thing is, he would have then had to stop again and I knew I wouldn’t have to stop. I generally had a feeling that I wouldn’t have to stop.
The flying lap at the end? I didn’t know what time I could do to be honest but I looked after the tyres and they felt pretty good, even though I had a bit of a vibration on the right front. You know, we have this fastest lap thing… I can’t say that I love it or anything like that but it’s still fun to push. As you go through the race, you have to turn down your engine to save fuel and all these kind of things so that last lap, everyone’s kind of pushing at one point and I heard of the time that he had one and I thought Jeez, I don’t know if I will be able to get to that and then I pushed for that lap… It was like the qualifying lap that I should have done yesterday generally poorly. It was awesome. There’s no better way to finish a race with just like on the edge of your seat, the car moving and it was definitely the best last lap that I’ve ever had.
Q: (Stephen Camp – Motorsport Monday, Motorsport Week.com) To both Mercedes drivers: Lewis, you set the fastest lap at the end of the race. It now means that you leave here with 39 points so it’s one of the biggest leads you’ve ever had at this point of the season so was that one of the reasons behind that too, put the hurt on Valtteri and make sure that you have a big hand on this championship already. And to Valtteri, how does it feel that Lewis was able to do that on 30-lap old hard tyres and you were still on soft tyres? I’m not sure of the life that you had one them but they must have still had the pace to beat the lap that Lewis had done.
LH: Ultimately, there’s nothing personal between us, you know. Coming to this weekend, you are trying to apply the pressure and come out on top. I didn’t come to this weekend with the idea that I need to extend or anything like that. I need to work my way towards trying to win, how do I do that, and every weekend it’s slightly different but this has been the strongest year that I’ve – to this point in the first ten races – that I can remember ever having. When we were in Barcelona, when we were driving that car, these guys were doing some really serious laps and we couldn’t do that and we were super nervous and I think if we had left Barcelona without discovering some ultimate changes that we ended up making, we probably wouldn’t be where we are right now but still, the journey’s been great and we’re going to go from strength to strength. We’ve got improvements coming, we’re understanding the car a lot, massive download and the technical direction is just… the advancements that this sport makes and that we make as a team – each team makes – is amazing, so I’m excited to see the upgrades that other teams have and the improvements for example that Ferrari make of their use of tyres, the improvements we make to downforce, all these different things, it’s going to be different.
VB: Yes, so I tried to go for the lap with the soft tyre, obviously had more fuel than Lewis at that point but yeah, surprised by the pace on the hards and that shows Lewis managed the hard tyres very well all through the stint, so the wear was quite low so it was possible. From our numbers the hard tyre actually seemed pretty solid. No feelings, really. It was a quicker lap time and that’s it.
Q: (Simon Abberley – Nevis Radio) Charles, previous races your results have been a lot more consistent in comparison to Seb’s results. Today saw another mistake from Seb with this incident with Verstappen. There’s only three points between you now in the championship. In the coming races, do you think the focus might shift from previous races where you’ve had to give way to him?
CL: Well, I don’t know. I think the team is always acting for the benefit of the team and that’s the way I felt from the beginning of the season. Sometimes obviously, one driver was advantaged, the other one was advantaged at another race. There have been more situations from the beginning of the year where he had to benefit from something but I think the team is always looking at the benefits of the whole team and that’s how it will work for the rest of the season.