F1 – 2021 British Grand Prix – Saturday Press Conference Transcript

F1 – 2021 British Grand Prix – Saturday Press Conference Transcript

1 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)
2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
3 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes) 
(Conducted by Jenson Button) 

Q: Congratulations Max, winner of the Sprint. Great result and probably exactly what you needed after Qualifying yesterday? 
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, around here it’s difficult to start but we had a good start and a good fight with Lewis on the first lap and then we tried to do our own pace, but you could see we were pushing each other hard because at the end of the race the tyres were blistering a lot, so we had to manage that to the end. Nevertheless, happy to of course to score those three points and it sounds a bit funny to then hear ‘you scored a pole position’ but anyway we will take it and again I think it will be a really exciting battle tomorrow.

Q: It’s interesting looking at the tyres on all of the cars out there, the blistering on them. It really does show you when you push the tyre what happens and how much you guys have to look after the tyres in a race situation?
MV: Yeah, you start the race on lower fuel and we really push these cars through the fast corners lap after lap so it is really hard on tyres. But it’s the same for everyone so we have to deal with it.

Q: A great start here and it must bode well for tomorrow. Obviously the straight-line speed difference is quite big between yourself and the Mercedes, which was a surprise. You can’t really do much for tomorrow can you? 
MV: No, we are not allowed to touch the car. I think we are quick in corners so that’s where we have to make sure that we do the same tomorrow. The straight-line speed, that’s the thing, after FP1 you cannot make any changes and that’s a bit tricky for us now but we just have to deal with it. I still think we can have a very strong race. I just have to say also a big thank you to the fans. I know they are here for the British drivers and they have a bit more support, but it’s still great to see them cheer and all I want is a good battle with Lewis especially, but also with everyone.

Q: Lewis, I’m sure it’s not how you wanted to finish Saturday after a fantastic job in Qualifying yesterday. Just one poor start and it puts you in P2 without strategy during the Sprint Race, it’s tough, right? But you were fighting hard on that first lap. 
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, I mean I gave it everything today. Firstly, I’ve got to give a lot of love to all these fans. I can’t tell you the energy I’m getting from everyone; the support means a lot to me. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get the win in Sprint, but tomorrow we fight again. I mean I hit target on my start… Yeah, it’s not good when you lose from P1 but we’ll try to turn a negative into a positive tomorrow.

Q: Can you take a positive from it knowing it was only a 17-lap race, it was only three points. You only lost one point?
LH: Every point counts, man, so I wouldn’t say that. I’m grateful to have finished and tomorrow, as I said, we will fight again. But they are just so strong. In the race he was pulling away and there was nothing I could do to hold on. So we’ve really got to try and be in front somehow. They have done a great job with their engine. Their starts are really great this year and we have lost a bit of performance on our starts, so we’ve got to try to work a bit harder to try to improve that because losing positions is never a great thing.

Q: The consistency with your starts seems to be reasonably good but with the Red Bull it seems to be a little bit more up and down. Can you take positives from that? You are starting where Max started today and with the straight-line speed you guys seems to have you can do that lap one all over again. 
LH: I hope so. Agh! I wish we could re-do the start. Luckily we have it tomorrow. I don’t know how it was to watch for the fans. This weekend has been awesome in terms of… Yesterday was such a fun day, to have qualifying on a Friday, way more enjoyable. I don’t know whether that was the most exciting or not but we should do more like that, maybe a different version of it in future, because it just makes the weekend more enjoyable. I need everyone to bring their energy again tomorrow and I’ll come with my A-game.

Q: Valtteri, you took the gamble with the soft tyres at the start, which looked like it could be something really interesting and I guess you were trying to jump Max, but it ended up being your team-mate that was the one you almost got in Turn 1?
Valtteri BOTTAS: We tried to do something different and obviously the target was to try to get him in at the start or on the first lap. It didn’t happen. I think he had a good start as well. In Turn 1 I was slightly blocked, so I couldn’t really use the momentum, but we tried, and in the end I still managed to keep the place with the soft even though there was some blistering but it was OK.

Q: It wasn’t just the soft runners that had blistering; it was also the medium runners. So I guess this is really useful information for the team to have run soft and medium. Both blister by at least you have got a good understanding of the tyres?
VB: Yeah, definitely shows that tomorrow is not going to be easy and if it’s going to be a bit warmer we might see more issues. At least now we are definitely aware and tomorrow anything can happen.

Q: Max, you’ve created a bit of history today. How much did you enjoy Sprint Qualifying?
MV: I think what was nice in the beginning was of course you start with lower fuel in this race, so naturally the cars are faster and that is what you like and the car is a bit more alive. So that was fun compared to a heavy car and everything and it’s just slow in the beginning, so I enjoyed that bit for sure.

Q: And what about your approach to the sprint. Was it any different to a normal race?
MV: What is important is to try to make a good start, have a clean first lap and then of course you try to just settle in, you know, and follow your pace. That’s what I tried to do, what I tried to think about before I jumped in the car. Of course, when it works out, it’s great. I think in the end not much really changes.

Q: Well, talk us through the start. Front brakes were on fire but you still had a good launch.
MV: Yeah, I was really worried. A little bit of fire, it’s not… it’s OK but at one point it was becoming quite big and I was just looking in my mirror to the guys in the back, saying please, speed up, speed up. So then, of course, I was not sure going into Turn 3 if my brakes were going to work but luckily it didn’t do too much damage. I saw a few people in the grandstand making pictures when the brakes were on fire. For sure they have a good few shots there.

Q: And Max, let’s look ahead to tomorrow’s race. What did you learn today that will be useful in the grand prix itself? 
MV: I think what we learned today is that it’s very close again. It’s a bit different. It seems like we are quick through corners, they are quick on the straight this weekend and, of course, after one free practice session, and then you’re not allowed to make any changes and you don’t get it right, then you’re a bit stuck. So I think we’re a bit stuck on the straight, so that’s why we have to make up our time in the corners – but yeah, it seemed like in this more-or-less flat-out race – you cannot really call it flat-out but at least pushing more, the pace was alright but I still expect with a pit-stop coming into play – or two pit stops, who knows – it’s again going to be a good fight.

Q: Lewis, you’ve had a few moments to reflect on Sprint Qualifying. How do you reflect on what’s just happened?
LH: Pretty much the same as the last races in terms of just following behind Max. Yesterday was a more enjoyable day in terms of just qualifying is great. It’s very hard to follow naturally in these cars, so it wasn’t the most exciting but hopefully it was for the fans.

Q: Did you enjoy sprint qualifying?
LH: I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it too much – but it’s nice to have more races for sure.

Q: Talk us through the start. You said a moment ago that you hit the target – but could it have been better?
LH: Well, it was terrible, so of course it could be better.

Q: What did you mean by ‘hit the target’?
LH: Well, we have a target position that you have to hit with your clutch and that’s what the goal is always to be on target, and I was on target, so I did what I was supposed to do but it didn’t deliver, for whatever reason. I don’t know why. Had a lot of wheelspin and the rest is history.

Q: Can you talk us through that opening lap, particularly the run to Copse. At one point you were right alongside Max. 
LH: Yeah, trying everything obviously to get by. They were just too quick. They were just too fast today.

Q: Let’s throw it forward to tomorrow. It’s the main event. What can you do to beat Max tomorrow? Do you think you’ve got the car underneath you?
LH: I think he had a lot of pace in him today and I don’t think he was particularly having to push too hard, and we were flat-out. Tomorrow’s going to be tough. If I can try somehow to keep up with them through the stints, maybe we can apply pressure through strategy – but we’re not going to be overtaking them on the track: they’re just too fast. So, we play the long game hopefully.

Q: Valtteri, you did something a little different today, you started sprint qualifying on the Soft tyre. What was the reason for that?
VB: Yeah, we tried something different. We thought most of the cars are going to start on the Medium, so it would give a bit of an opportunity for me, for lap one, for the start and the first few corners. We tried the Soft in FP2 and actually it was a bit better than I thought it would be. It didn’t quite work out but luckily the risk was quite minimal, so I managed to keep my place. The start itself, the performance was good – but I was a bit blocked into the first corners so I lost the momentum. So, yeah, we tried and it’s not a disaster because the main day is tomorrow.

Q: How hard was it to keep the Soft tyre alive towards the end of the 17 laps?
VB: I have to say the most I struggled with the tyre was from, let’s say, Lap 3 until Lap 10-11.  There was quite a bit of overheating. I think once the tyre was starting to wear it was starting to feel a bit better towards the end. Losing a bit more temperature – so it was not bad.

Q: Final one from me, how much did you enjoy sprint qualifying? 
VB: It’s another race start, which is naturally always quite nice, and a bit of extra racing. For me it hasn’t really changed the weekend so much. I qualified third, it’s third today and still the same starting place for tomorrow – but I hope people enjoyed it.

Q: (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) Question for Max. Yesterday you said you had a lot of understeer during qualifying. Was it the same during the race or did it disappear? Also, you said you are locked-in because of the parc fermé rules. Would you change anything, will you go for a smaller rear wing or something like that?
MV: Yeah, the understeer was gone but naturally you’re not going as fast through the corners as in qualifying. So I guess that helps. And yeah, I think we have to look a little bit at the schedule because, to do an FP2 session and you’re not allowed to change the car is a bit wrong, in my opinion. It’s a bit of luck sometimes now, if we keep this format going, for sprint races that you only have one free practice to nail the set-up. Of course sometimes it will work in your favour and sometimes it will work against you. I think so far this week it hasn’t really been good to us – but of course we always have to look at ourselves to make sure we could do better – but if I could do it again, yeah, for sure, I would choose for a bit more top speed.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) To all three: it seemed that the drivers unanimously felt that Friday was more enjoyable. There was only one practice session then straight into qualifying, but today, Max was just talking about it there: FP2 seemed a bit pointless from the outside. Was it just a case of drive around, data collecting for you and then for the race itself, a bit more specifically. Obviously there was the excitement of the race start but apart from that it didn’t seem like maybe the most entertaining of races. 
MV: Well, first off for me, Friday didn’t feel more enjoyable because we did qualifying… for me personally qualifying where you should get pole position, and of course Lewis was ahead there, but you jump out of the car and it actually doesn’t… Well, it does mean something but not the real hype of, you know, I nailed the lap and I put it on pole or whatever. So yeah, when I crossed the line today after this race and they were like, ‘yeah, great job, pole position’, it feels a bit like, ‘yeah, I did a kind of like one third of the race distance’ and then to hear you did pole position for tomorrow it’s a bit odd but yeah, we’ll go through it and I guess everyone has their own opinion about things.

LH: Sorry, what? Yeah, yesterday was enjoyable the way it was set up, I think, which was the one session and straight into qualifying. In my opinion, it only needs to be a Saturday and Sunday weekend, that means we have one whole day less, 23 days actually less of driving these cars around the track and obviously that would be better in terms of going more green. Today’s been kind of… it’s been a… I think it’s because it’s so difficult for us to pass and unfortunately with these cars you need pit stops and strategy to help sometimes coming to place (sic), otherwise it’s so hard to get close. We’ve got a different rear tyre this weekend but we’ve got the highest pressures I think we’ve ever had, so blistering is an issue and so thermal deg is an issue. I mean… I don’t know. Today they did a great job and I think the fans enjoyed it, from what we saw on the parade laps. It’s always nice doing more races that’s for sure, but tomorrow we’ve only got one event, right? It’s almost like they should almost do the sprint race on the Sunday and the race because there could be a lot of sitting around for people tomorrow.
VB: If I would choose which I enjoyed more, I would say Friday. I really enjoy qualifying and that feeling of pushing the car to the limit on a single lap. Obviously was a nice thing to try, get another start, but the same lines with Lewis, that yeah, definitely enjoyed maybe yesterday a bit more but it’s still good fun, you know, racing with these cars against the best drivers on this amazing track in front of all the fans, it’s nice but I’m just already looking forward to tomorrow for the main event.

Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Max, Lewis said earlier that his feeling is that you didn’t really have to push. Is he right? 
MV: I was pushing otherwise I could not keep Lewis behind. You could see that. Also, my tyres were blistered, so… I guess we will find out tomorrow during the race, of course, how competitive we are going to be because then fuel loads are again different, the car will be moving around a bit more so yeah, we’ll find out.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, you were obviously on such a high yesterday after putting it on pole for today’s race. Obviously today didn’t work out quite as well as you’d wanted to. How difficult is it going to be now to pick yourself up for tomorrow’s race? There will obviously be 140,000 people here and it’s going to be a big race for the championship as well. 
LH: Yeah, well, naturally it’s not been the best of days for us but I’ve given it – we’ve given it absolutely everything. I think we got, well, it’s a shame, we got the same points as Red Bull got today, I think me and Valtteri together, so it’s great that we’ve done our job. Yeah, tomorrow’s going to be tough but the support of the fans, you know, just the parade lap we just did there, the roar of the crowd is just magnificent. I will recharge tonight and just come back stronger tomorrow. There’s definitely things that we’ve learned from today and I hope that we can improve for tomorrow and I’ll be given it everything for everyone that turns up tomorrow and hope that we can have a closer race than we had today.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Valtteri, just on starting on the soft tyres, I just wondered… could you talk us through what you were thinking after the first few corners because I guess the main advantage of starting on the softs would have been trying to get the jump from the launch or maybe have the edge in the first few corners, but once that happened, maybe you were a bit sort of wondering whether or not your tyres were going to last the distance? 
VB: Definitely after the first three corners it was yeah, I was thinking OK, obviously I will try to keep up in the beginning but the main thing for me is not to destroy the tyres, because there’s always cars behind and there was cars behind with the medium tyres so naturally they would have an advantage with less thermal deg and less tyre wear but it’s a shame it didn’t work out but yeah, I’m glad I could still be able to keep third place.

Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport.com) Valtteri, it looked like you backed out of the first corner a little bit. Would you have acted differently there if it wasn’t for Lewis? 
VB: I was in quite a tricky place there, you know. Obviously I had good momentum into Turn 1. I felt a bit boxed (in). I’ve been in that kind of situation before. Suddenly you get this understeer, you need to back off and it looks like a bigger lift than what it actually is when you lose momentum. Obviously when we race as team-mates, especially in this Sprint Qualifying and the main event being tomorrow, the last thing we want to do is crash. For sure, with your team-mate you race a bit differently. You have a certain amount of respect if you don’t want to ruin things. We were focusing for tomorrow, much more than we were focusing for today.

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