Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas attended Saturday’s FIA press conference at Monza.
Q: Lewis, it’s the first pole since Barcelona since Barcelona back in May. It’s been quite a journey since then to get to this point. How do you feel?
Lewis Hamilton: I feel excited for tomorrow. I’m very proud of my guys. My guys on the side of the garage have also been through the difficult time with me and they’ve done a remarkable job in terms of every time bouncing back and fixing the car and dealing with the difficulties so we’ve done this as a team and it’s great to have another one-two for the team and I’m really proud that I can be up there for them.
Q: Well done. Nico, you were up by a tenth-and-a-half at the end of the first sector on that final run, but then it got away from you. What happened?
Nico Rosberg: A tenth-and-a-half relative to Lewis?
Q: Yes, Lewis’ benchmark, which he did on his first lap [in Q3].
NR: Yeah, but we’re always going to be quicker in some parts and slower in some other parts, so relative to my own [first] lap it was an OK lap, so from that point of view second place is still a good position for tomorrow. It’s a long race you know, everything can happen and so just need to now work towards the race and try to get a good start and have a good race. Anyways, also, I mean, definitely the team again. It’s so great. Even on a track like Monza, where it’s such a different track to all the others and even coming here, still we’re so dominant and that’s great to see. Of course it’s only qualifying and the race remains to be seen but it’s really awesome. The team is doing a fantastic job.
Q: Coming to you Valtteri. Your third top-three qualifying in the last four races. Particularly strong long runs yesterday in free practice. Does that suggest that you can challenge these gentlemen for the victory tomorrow?
Valtteri Bottas: I really hope so. From Friday to today they seem to have a bit more pace. In qualifying we expected that maybe we could be a little bit closer to them today but yeah, I really hope so. I think we have solid race pace and it just depends how much more pace they have left than on Friday.
Q: OK, thank you very much. Coming back to you Lewis. Obviously the margins are always pretty fine around here. How do you feel about the race tomorrow? You’ve got some points, clearly, you need to make up, any suggestion of team orders or are you free to race?
LH: Free to race. That was the decision last week, so it continues as usual. I hope that tomorrow… it would be really good to get another one-two for the team. I think they’re working extremely hard. I hope that we also have some competition from these guys [Williams]; I think that would be really great for the fans. As for me, I feel, I feel… I’m looking forward to it.
Q: Lewis, I guess the key really is to put a complete race weekend together, that’s what you’ve been looking for, for some time. Did you feel, coming into this weekend, and do you feel again now, that this would be that weekend that would give you that momentum back.
LH: Well to be honest, for probably at least seven races I’ve always gone into the weekend thinking that it could be a clean weekend. We saw the issue that we had yesterday and, again Nico had a problem today. It’s definitely an area that we’re focussing on to try and improve as a team but, y’know, I’m grateful to have got through qualifying today. It was kind of a very clean qualifying session for me, for once. And so, yeah, it’s a great feeling to be up here.
Q: Nico, Lewis mentioned there the problem that you had this morning with the electronics on the gearbox which meant that you didn’t really do any meaningful running. Where you able to bounce back today? Do you blame what happened here today on that loss of time this morning and the preparation of things like the braking points and that precision that’s needed for a lap around here?
NR: To be honest, straight in the first run in qualifying I had a good feeling and the car was better than yesterday in many areas. Adapted the setup overnight and worked on it so actually I got straight into it. I was happy about that feeling because I was expecting it to be a bit more complicated but that was good, definitely. So, from that point of view, qualifying was OK.
Q: Valtteri, when you talk to engineers here, they all say it’s incredibly difficult for a driver to get all four of those big brakings around this circuit absolutely perfect. How close did you get to that today and how do you feel about it?
VB: Pretty close! There are many braking zones that are quite bumpy here and with the low downforce and coming in at really high speed it’s not easy – but today managed to hit them quite well, the correct braking points, and lap by lap the lap times were really consistent so I really felt today there was not much more in the car – so we definitely have some work to do.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to all three drivers. What are your thoughts on the new Parabolica? Is it the same way of driving and attacking it, or is it different? You can take some more risks?
LH: I think naturally you can take more risks. In the past it was a corner that you really had to build up to and you really did not want to go past the limit because you would be in the gravel and it’s hard to get back from the gravel at that place. Now, of course, you can attack it more. I go in with the same mentality but you do know you have that cushion there if you have an oversteer moment or you went in too far, you can run wide and come back on. That’s the same everywhere really, that they do that.Q: For the race?
LH: For the race, yeah, for sure it makes it a little bit easier in the race but I haven’t been anywhere near the green or out of the white lines so I don’t really know what it’s like out there – but it is a safer option in terms of stopping the cars if there is a problem there.
Q: Your thoughts Nico?
NR: I think they’ve done well. Of course it’s a pity because it’s more exciting, in a way, the way it used to be, y’know? But we all need to think about safety and it was one of the most dangerous corners in the year – so I think it’s the right way to go, what they’ve done. And also , it works out really well because as soon as you do put the tyre over the white line, you lose grip because of the metal thing that’s there, and so it works out pretty well actually.
VB: Yes, I pretty much agree with the guys. Yeah, it’s not the same as last year. It takes a bit more time to build into it, to be absolutely on the limit. It’s just a bit less risky really, that’s it.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, our rally hero Markku Alen is here and he’s very famous for his slogan ‘Maximum Attack’. Was this your version of ‘Maximum Attack’ today?
VB: Yeah. It’s always maximum attack! You always aim for that. You always want to do your best – but trying too much, it doesn’t help. There’s a fine line with a maximum attack.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto-Motor) Lewis, you seemed to out-brake just a bit yourself on your first lap in Q2 which proved to be your best in Q2 – which means you have to start on that set of tyres. Is it a concern for you?
LH: Erm… I don’t remember that to be honest. I didn’t have any problems with the tyres when I finished the lap, so they’re fine.
Q: (Ian Parkes – PA) Lewis, Nico, congratulations on the front row – but how much will the words of your bosses be ringing in your ears as you approach the first chicane tomorrow?
LH: They won’t be ringing in my ears at all.
NR: It’s not changed. Already before, when we started the season, the message has been clear – so there’s no real change at the moment. So, from that point of change it’s the same as always, in a way.
Q: (Vincent Marre – Sport Zeitung) Nico, you say you improved the car since yesterday; I would like to know, technically speaking, how you improved it mainly?
NR: Mainly overnight, just looking at yesterday… at the running yesterday and the difficulties that we’ve had. The team made some suggestions because there’s also a whole group of people back in the factory looking at the computer and analysing. They made a good set-up suggestion which worked and then we just adapted it also here at the track, and I was quite pleased about that because it felt a lot better. Rollbars, for example.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Universo Online) Valtteri, considering it is difficult to fight with Mercedes, who do you consider can try to beat Williams tomorrow? Do you think Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari can be up with your team?
VB: I don’t think we should ever under-estimate them. Like we saw last week in Spa with the Red Bull, they were really quick and we didn’t expect to be behind them so we should not under-estimate but we are a bit more confident here than Spa for example. Hopefully there’s not much threat from behind us and hopefully we can mainly focus on things happening just in front of us or hopefully we can really challenge them, but let’s see.
Q: (Ian Parkes – Press Association) Lewis, Nico, you’ve both had issues this weekend, Lewis yesterday with electrical, today Nico with a gearbox. You seem to keep having these little niggles, these technical issues. Are there any concerns going into tomorrow’s race, that you can both have a clean race throughout?
NR: It is an area which we need to keep working on for sure, also medium term to make sure the car is working 100 percent all the time, but it is a challenge, it is difficult but we’re getting there. I’m very confident for tomorrow.
LH: It’s a little bit different for me because it’s happened quite a few times on my side of the garage. But… no, I feel optimistic, I think the guys have rectified whatever problems we may have had this weekend. Yeah, it’s not really a mindset you can go into a race with, thinking ‘what if?’ You go into it with ‘this is what I have and I want to do the best with it.’
Q: (Barna Zsoldos – Nemzeti Sport) Niki Lauda was a bit upset after Spa because you tried a risky overtake on the second lap. Now, if you will have the chance on the second lap, will you go for it again or will you wait a little bit?
NR: It’s a question that I’m not able to answer. The message is that we’re keeping on racing, that is the message, that’s the way it is. And then every situation is different. And Niki has apologised for that also which was great.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Nico, you haven’t won in Formula One here in Monza if I’m not mistaken. At the same time, you are leading the championship with quite a good gap. Tomorrow, what is your aim: to become a new winner here or to conserve the second position, thinking about the championship?
NR: Well, first of all Monza is a special place, also for me because I really like Italy, all my friends are Italian, so it’s great to race here and great also in front of the tifosi and they give me a lot of support which is great. I really enjoy that and I’m very thankful for that. And then at the moment I’m out to win, it doesn’t matter where we are, I’m not thinking about the end of season yet or things like that. It’s really every race, try and get the best out of it and try and win the race.