Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo faced the media in the wake of Sunday’s Canadian GP.
(conducted by Sir Patrick Stewart)
Q: Congratulations, Lewis. You might say that there’s nothing like a pleasant, quiet drive along the river on a Sunday afternoon in Montreal. But this was a little different, wasn’t it?
Lewis HAMILTON: It was! I just want to start by saying thank you to this crowd — you guys have been amazing. Every year we come back, every year the crowd grows, the energy grows, the atmosphere grows. I don’t think anywhere in the world we do qualifying and have the reaction we have here, thank you!
Q: It means something special to you, this track?
LH: It is! I mean, I had my first pole here, I had my first win here ten years ago, and to repeat it this weekend is incredibly special. I really have to thank my team who made this possible, the guys back at the factory have worked so hard to really fix what we had in the last race, to bring it here and give it to the Ferraris. It’s great. Valtteri did a fantastic job to get collectively great points; I’m over the moon.
Q: It’s a wonderful win, congratulations. Valtteri, congratulations. This is a good season, isn’t it? This is your fourth podium. Isn’t it? It is. How did it feel?
Valtteri BOTTAS: It felt good! Thank you Montreal, again. It’s my fifth time racing here, and my third time up here on the podium, so it’s been a good place for me. It’s always good to be here, and as a team we really needed to get those points. After a tough race in Monaco I’m pretty impressed with what the team has done to get it together, and how much we have improved in two weeks is impressive. I’m just very, very proud to be a part of this.
Q: And how does it feel, following Lewis like this around the track?
VB: You know, in the beginning it was tough being behind the Red Bull, and then I was stuck behind one of the Force Indias for some time there. We split the strategy with Lewis, I went on soft. Initially we had [unclear] control of the race and I knew what I had to do to bring the car home. It was a good day for us.
Q: Well, congratulations. Daniel Ricciardo! What an afternoon! You seemed to be having a lot of fun. But don’t you always have a lot of fun?
Daniel RICCIARDO: Today I don’t think I had fun till I saw the chequered flag! It was tough. I was defending the whole race, and we weren’t that quick to be honest. I had pressure, so I couldn’t afford to do any mistakes, and it was getting quite hot so concentration was being tested, but it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it and it is awesome to be on the podium here, with all the fans. As Lewis said, it’s awesome. It’s amazing. [crowd roars] I think I hear something… I have to do something. [DR does ‘shoey’ then gives PS ‘shoey’]
Q: This is becoming a ritual! Good vintage! Cheers! Congratulations. Lewis…
LH: I’m proud of you for doing that! It’s something I couldn’t do. Have you seen how sweaty his feet are?
Q: I don’t care – I’m on the podium for the first time; I’ll drink out of anybody’s shoe! You were in the lead for the whole race, from pole to the last lap. How does that feel? What impact does it have?
LH: I’ll tell you that in a second, but can you read my mind?
Yes. You are happy!
LH: I’m just so honoured to be here this weekend, to match the record yesterday in qualifying. LIke I said, I work with a great group of people, I’m a small part of a big team, so a big thank you to everyone, and let’s keep it going for the rest of the season!
Do you hear that, Canada? Montreal — what he said! Thank you! Thank you!
Q: Lewis, many congratulations. Amazing atmosphere, amazing win. Ten years you’ve been coming here to Montreal, you’ve had six poles and now you’ve had six wins. I believe that’s the first time in your career you’ve won the same race six times. Quite a day, quite a moment. I guess it was one of those days that worked out quite well for you — once you’d got Turn One, the strategy came towards you, you controlled the race; it must have been a great day.
LH: It’s been an incredible weekend — I couldn’t be happier. Firstly, for the team to have come away from Monaco, everyone kind scratching their heads but everyone wanting to work, to pull together, which we did. I don’t think in the five years I’ve been with the team that I’ve seen them pull so well together and really work towards the same cause. Understand the car and then come here and deliver what we’ve delivered – a great blow to the Ferraris, I think, because Valtteri did a fantastic job to get a 1-2 – it’s our first 1-2 together – and it’s important points for the team. So, well deserved. It’s kind of crazy to think that I had my first pole position and grand prix win here years ago. It felt great; it felt very reminiscent of 2007 in terms of how the race went. Once we did the restart, once I got past the pit straight it was all under control from there. I had to manage the car, the tyres, it’s a long race! When you’re out there on your own it feels very long — when you’ve got 35 laps to go, you think it’s a long way. Just hoping that the car holds together, which it did. The crowd here — as I mentioned on the podium — every year they turn up in their masses, and the energy from them is as close to the British Grand Prix as anywhere else. Really, the energy’s fantastic — you could almost hear them through qualifying, just generally excited. The city’s been buzzing, as it is every year. I’ve definitely put on weight, because the food is great, and it’s very hard not to eat it. I’m just really, really happy and a big thank you to everyone.
Q: Valtteri, as Lewis said it’s amazingly the first one-two of the season, really well done, really built on that aggressive start. The move on Sebastian Vettel crucial to the outcome today. Tell us a little bit about that and then also the decision to go with the soft tyre after had done, obviously, the same thing before you I think.
VB: Yes, so first of all, like Lewis said, I’m also really happy for us as a team. It’s been really impressive to see in only two weeks what we have been able to do and improve with everything, with the team. Never seen a group of people, so determined to win and get back on top and now a one-two here is amazing. Really proud to be part of that. Lewis did a really good job all weekend and today. Obviously in the start I tried to do everything I can to be aggressive, to try and get ahead of Ferraris. Had a bit of a lock-up there, which was compromising my first stint – but I knew there was an opportunity. I kind of dived in. I knew that the inside line is the way to go, so that was good. Then, lost a bit of time behind the Red Bull and then after the stop behind the Force India. We decided to go for the soft based on what the team saw with other cars running the soft – but it wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting as well, so the pace was missing a bit in the second stint but still, I knew what I had to do in the end: bring the car home and get the points. Not maybe the ideal tyre for me today but I tried everything to make the most out of that.
Q: Coming to you Daniel, third podium in a row. It’s becoming a habit. On the cool down your engineer said you “had a bit on today.” Obviously, a lot of it going on in your rear-view mirrors, so a word about that. There’s a bit of a controversy with Force India, Ocon asking to be allowed to have a crack at you. From what you saw, do you think he would have had a better chance than Pérez did? Be interesting to here your thoughts on that. And also, did you feel the same way as Valtteri, that the soft didn’t quite turn out the way you thought it was going to?
DR: Yeah, if he wants to have a crack we can go at it in the car park in about an hour! It was tough. I had a race of defence. The soft, yeah, it was a bit slow to get going and then, for a few laps, I was able to pull away from Pérez and it looked like then maybe the supersoft was struggling. But then, yeah, I couldn’t get anything out really of the soft. It was really hard to find the grip and quite easy to make a mistake. Hard to be consistent every lap. And then, yeah, Pérez started coming again. For sure the supersoft I think was better – and yeah we weren’t particularly quick with that tyre but, yeah, just managed to put in as clean laps as I could. It was tricky with the level of grip the tyre had but also with the wind. The wind was throwing the car around quite a lot and that was tricky. And then a few laps to go I heard Seb was coming, so yeah, I couldn’t rest the whole race. It was a tough one, y’know. It was quite warm and tested the concentration and everything. Very, very happy. Got carried away on the podium and didn’t manage to thank the team but yeah, three podiums in a row. Happy with that. Obviously, we’re not the quickest car on the track at the moment but we’re managing to put it together on a Sunday. Yeah, it’s nice. It’s nice obviously. Max had his problems today, I’m sure he would have been up there as well. We’ll try to get both cars on the podium soon.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ysef Harding – Xero Xone News) Lewis, you were controlled, you were measured and you made this look, like Sir Patrick Stewart said, incredibly easy today. You’ve had a whole lot of milestones here and it seems like after the incredible, emotional weekend that you’ve had, I asked you on Thursday if this place is very special to you. Has today and this weekend made it even more special?
LH: Definitely. It’s always been a special place for me, as I said, being my first grand prix win. I think every year I feel the fans have grown with me over these ten years and I think that it’s just my appreciation for Canada and the people here has just grown over the time. It’s crazy to think after ten years I enjoy driving every single lap just as much as I did ten years ago when I was 22 years old. I absolutely loved it the whole way today and I hope that I get many more experiences like that here.
Q: (Bill Beacon – Canadian Press) This is for Lewis and Valtteri. How were you able to avoid all that mess on the first lap, and how do you think all that affected the race?
LH: I’ve not really got much to say. I got a really good start, so I was generally in the clear. I think I saw in my mirror… I think it might have been Valtteri on the inside, I thought saw him lock-up, and I thought he was going to… I didn’t know who was on the right of me but I came out of Turn Two and saw that Valtteri was behind. You were behind?
VB: Yeah, I was third
LH: … so the Red Bull, I think, and then seeing the Ferraris further back, I was thinking ‘that’s fantastic for us’.
VB: Yeah, I was trying to get in front of the Ferrari, that was only target for Turn One really. Had a good start, had a bit of a lock-up which compromised my first stint. The visibility was poor and it was difficult to see and I think I need a dentist as well! But it came out OK in the end.
Q: (Mike Doodson – Honorary) Many congratulations Lewis. You said earlier this year how tricky this year’s car is to drive – but on the podium, you praised the team on the effectiveness of the updates they’ve bought this weekend. Does this mean to say it’s the end of Monaco-style upsets?
LH: I wasn’t praising them on the updates because we didn’t bring any upgrades here. I was praising them on the due diligence they did after the last race. They really did such great work in terms of analysing where we’d gone wrong, all the different points, and then giving us a summary: ‘this is where we went wrong, this is what we think we need to do to fix it.’ And then putting it into action. It was just amazing teamwork. We came here, the car’s back to where it should be. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be like that every time but I think we learned a lot. And I’m happy that it was actually… even though Monaco’s a special one to win… I’m happy that it was that early in the season that we had learned those things. I think it should put us in a strong position from here moving forwards. We know which direction we need to be developing the car from now on.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, third with Williams, second with Mercedes here. Which one feels better?
VB: This one, for sure because it’s… yeah, it’s my best result here ever, although it’s not first, it is second and second is better than third, so ’15, ’16, ’17 been on the podium here so Montreal has been really good for me – but this definitely feels better, for sure because of the result but first of all because it is our first one of the year to be one-two as a team. And also other results that we need. We are here to win the Championship and these kind of results we need, obviously. As a driver, I would prefer to be first rather than second. As a team, it is really good for us, I’m really proud of what we have done. It feels good.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport) For Daniel, of course: When you saw Max Verstappen go out, how much of a concern was that and did the team give you any instructions to avoid maybe having the same thing?
DR: Yeah, I’m not sure of the reason. I still don’t know. To be honest, I’m not too fussed in terms of it doesn’t bother me whether the team tell me what happened or not. Obviously I’ve got my car underneath me an I’ve got to do the best I can with that. I think sometimes if you know, you try to… I don’t know, you might be hesitant. I wasn’t sure but I had a lot of switches to change constantly, so I assume that had something to do with it, to try and prevent maybe the same happening with me. It was pretty busy. There are some procedures we do to avoid system failure and all of that kind of stuff, so I presume that was the things I was doing. But fortunately there’s a long straight so you get plenty of time to do that, but it wasn’t so easy when I’m trying to look in my mirrors as well and do all these switch changes. I still don’t know exactly what happened to Max, but it was quite early in the race. I don’t think it was anything with the brakes, I guess it was something more terminal.
DR: OK. Alright. Yeah. Fortunately mine held up today.
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – La Presse) To Valterri and Lewis. It’s unusual when a team is leading 1-2 very comfortably to split strategies. Was that planned or was that a consequence of Ferrari being on the back foot and trying things that were not normal to try in a race like this?
LH: I think it was just because it was an unknown… They have explained that for the lead car to have taken the soft would have been a risk and depending on where the second car is and in terms of the gap behind them, perhaps it’s a worthwhile risk for the second car. That’s why they said they would try. Also, because I was quite comfortable on the ultrasoft, they kept me out way longer than my stop, which was to be lap 21 and in that period of time everyone had stopped behind me and I was able to wait a bit to see how everyone was doing on the different tyres and after they had seen one of the drivers on the supersoft and it was going well, Vettel maybe, they said this is the better tyre go with. We chose that and to be honest the tyres were great today. I had no problems with them at all.
VB: I completely understand why we went to the soft. We spoke about it before the race and I was also up for it because of the temperatures being hotter today. I tried the soft tyre on Friday and it wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t just quiet up there as expected. I was personally expecting it to be better and if I could have chosen the tyre at that point when we stopped I would have taken the soft, just to try. The gap already to Lewis was quite big and there was nothing to lose really, just to try. But unfortunately it was the slower tyre today. It cost me some points but it didn’t cost me time.
Q: (Jeff Pappone – Inside Track) Lewis, I’m just wondering with everything that has happened this weekend, the blazing pole lap, the helmet, everything fell together today, can this be considered one of the best weekends of your career?
LH: I think it’s always difficult to say the best. I have been so fortunate. Motor racing has given me some great memories, from the early days when I was eight years old. And being in Formula One from 22 onwards I think there are just so many, I wouldn’t want to say one was more special than the other. The first grand prix win I had when my dad was here. The first grand prix I had when I finished third on the podium and seeing my dad coming out of the garage and we couldn’t believe that we were there; winning my first championship, there are just so many amazing memories, Each weekend you just want to arrive as a more solid, complete driver. I think this weekend I would like to hope being that I’m older, more experienced, further down the line, I would like to think I’m a lot more composed, a lot more complete as a driver. In terms of performance I would like to think it was one of the best weekends, yeah.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Does it feel any different to have a one 1-2 with Valtteri than it did with Nico?
LH: It’s always a great thing for a team to achieve a 1-2, it’s always special. I think experiencing it with Valtteri is definitely different. I think the chemistry Valtteri and I have is different. I think the working environment we’ve both experienced this year is on a complete other level, on a professional level that’s been above any other year that I have experienced. That obviously comes from Valtteri’s maturity and how the team also works with us, to give us a fair platform to fight. As I said on the podium there, it’s pour first 1-2, it’s solid, solid points for the team. I’m sure Valtteri will say he didn’t enjoy his qualifying, because he was rapid in Monaco for example but it’s very difficult with the car we have at the moment. I know he is going to have many more wins to come and I that when he has those wins I am able to back him up and get those points for the team.
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) You’re heading for a third street track in a row after Monaco and Canada. Baku could be considered a combination of both. How will you be attacking Baku and will you using what you learned in Monaco there or from here and Monaco?
LH: Definitely. You take each experience and you pile ‘em up. What we learned in Monaco will definitely impact Baku. It’s a much longer circuit; I think it’s very smooth, a lot more flat. Downforce efficiency is going to be important there, you don’t have to be as soft as for example you have to be here in roll and bumps. Last year I think I was very quick there; I just didn’t deliver. So the plan is to make sure I deliver. The trickiest part will be tyres I believe. I’m not sure which tyres we have, I’m sure it’s quite similar to here, but that’s going to be the tricky part, these tyres. Getting them in the window on such a smooth surface. That’s going to be the challenge for everyone. I’m excited to go back there. Now we know the place, I might try to get there a bit earlier to experience a bit more of Azerbaijan and sense a bit more of the culture. It always makes the experience much better when you get to live in the culture moment for a while, rather than just pop in and out; you miss so many great things.