1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Kimi RIKKNEN (Lotus)
3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing)
PODIUM INTERVIEW (Conducted by Martin Brundle)
Q: Lewis, when we spoke last night you didn’t believe you could be on pole position and you gave yourself no chance of winning today’s race. How on Earth does it feel now?
Lewis HAMILTON: It’s an incredible feeling. I really have to say a big thank you to all the fans today for turning up. It was great to see their support. And my team: they just did an incredible job. We studied a lot last night. We were hoping the tires were going to work for us. We had no idea it was going to go that well but the last 20 laps was just managing the tires and cruising.
Q: Well you got a great start but there were two key moments where you overtook Jenson, so you didn’t lose any time behind him down into turn one and then that turn three pass on Mark Webber, that was just incredible.
LH: Yeah, I think you could tell I was hungry for it today. I was just going all-out. I needed to get past those people and usually I get stuck in traffic, generally in my races, and today I wasn’t having it. I was going for every move I had.
Q: Incredible support here for you as always Kimi. P2 on the podium, you really had to work hard for that today.
Kimi RIKKNEN: Yeah, obviously I keep making my life difficult on Saturdays so then we pay a price but I had a good car and we managed to do two stops so that was the only way really to jump people. In the end it was a bit tight with Seb but in the end it paid off for us and we gained some points in the Championship. So that’s good.
Q: You made the last set of tires last 33 laps which is quite spectacular today in these conditions. Surely you thought he was going to have a great chance to pass you towards the end but you just seemed to park your car in the middle of the track and make it so difficult.
KR: Yeah, I mean I knew it was going to be a bit tight but I felt that the tires were good still in the last ten laps. So maybe last two laps they drop off quite badly but I didn’t really have any doubts that I couldn’t keep him behind. I had good speed through the last sector so I knew that in the first corner they will not have a chance. Obviously you take a chance always when you make so many laps with a set of tires – but like I said, the team worked well, everything worked well for us and unfortunately yesterday wasn’t an easy day so otherwise we could probably have fight for a win. But anyhow, we are here.
Q: Satisfied you take a few points off the World Championship leader?
KR: Yeah, it’s better than nothing.
Q: Sebastian, only third but the fans seem pretty happy with that. How do you feel about it?
Sebastian VETTEL: Well, it was not the best race. The start was difficult but was able to defend second and then Lewis pulled in, we thought we had a little bit more on the soft but the rear tires seemed to fall apart pretty quickly and then I lost a bit, came out behind Jenson which was crucial and struggled to get past, damaged my front wing which didn’t help, after that managed to get past. It was a long time but lost a bit of speed and basically tried to hang in there, tried to fight back. Very close with Kimi in the end but as he mentioned, he was very quick through the last two corners and then I couldn’t really get him on the straight. So yeah, I did all we could but surely wanted a little bit more today.
Q: You felt Kimi didn’t leave you enough room at turn four towards the end of the race. You felt that was a bit too close?
SV: Yeah, I told him but he was laughing only. It was fine. Obviously in the heat of the moment it was quite tight getting into there, I tried to prepare the next corner but nearly lost the car. That’s racing.
Q: Lewis, two very quick questions. Does this put your World Championship crusade very much back on course and how does this race today compare with your other victories?
LH: I think this is probably one of the most important grand prix wins of my career. To move to a new team and to win for Mercedes-Benz is just a real privilege. The guys have done an exceptional job, I’m so glad I could be a part of the team and I really couldn’t be happier. I hope there’s many more to come.
Q: And this year’s World Championship? Surely you’ve still got a chance of it, you’ve got to work hard.
LH: We’ve got to work hard, you never know how the tires are going to last elsewhere but if we come here and make our tires last then we should be able to do it anywhere. So, fingers crossed.
Q: Lewis, congratulations. You weren’t too optimistic yesterday but a lot of factors obviously worked well for you today: good start, getting the traffic right as well and some great overtaking manoeuvres. Tell us about them.
LH: It’s been a great weekend, really a great weekend. Really didn’t expect it coming in. It’s probably been one of the toughest weeks for me. Obviously we hadn’t had the test, we didn’t do the test, we were on the back foot when we came in. Really wasn’t even expecting to be on pole. Really surprised with that and then yeah, at the start of the race the pace was OK. I think maybe Sebastian perhaps was just as quick or a little bit quicker but fortunately he was behind and my tires went off just maybe a lap or two before his. I think I called the pitstop just right – the first one – and after that it was just managing the gap. I had to make sure I got past people. I normally get held up in my… I thought when I came behind Jenson I thought it was just my luck because that’s what usually happens. But I got past him and was surprised to see Sebastian and the others get stuck behind him as well. I guess he did me a favour there. But I think generally we had the pace on everyone today. I know I was really controlling the pace, particularly through the second, third and last stint, particularly on the last stint. This is just down to an exceptional job from the team. We came here with upgrades and constantly doing work to try and understand these tires. I think today we bolted them on and they just worked for us. I really was not inspecting it.
Q: Kimi, that was a robust defence at the end of the race. I’m not certain if it was a good job interview for joining Red Bull Racing for next year but tell us about it.
KR: Obviously I don’t have anything for next year so I mean it does matter what happens on a race circuit for that matter. I knew that my tires are pretty OK and I was good through the last sector so I was pretty sure there was no chance to try to overtake me into the first corner but then obviously turn two was a bit more tricky for me all race. He got a good run, Sebastian once before and then second time and I defended. Maybe I’m over a bit on the right and it’s a bit tight but then I kept him behind and that was the only time he had a good run on me. In there it is very difficult to overtake because it is so narrow on top of the hill. After that I had no issues. That was the only part of the circuit that I really had some problems with the tires. But it was good work for the team, the car was working well but unfortunately I keep making Saturdays… after Saturdays making the race a bit difficult for myself. Hopefully we can fix that a little bit and be a bit more on the front at the beginning of the race.
Q: Sebastian a little bit of trouble behind traffic during the race itself. What do you feel about third place?
SV: Generally happy. Not the best circuit to be stuck in traffic because it’s quite difficult to overtake. I think we had not enough speed on the straights to put people under enough pressure so yeah, obviously got stuck behind Jenson for a long time. Damaged my front wing as well which dropped us back and after that obviously it was about the fight back as much as we could. In the middle of the race I didn’t know where I was. I just tried to hang in there and try to come back as much as we can. In the end obviously quite close with Kimi. We were faster, I had fresher tires but as I said, no way past. Once I was pretty close up the hill. I think I didn’t have enough room on the outside but it’s pretty difficult to judge. Obviously I couldn’t go around the outside and pass him but I was trying to maybe put him under pressure for the next couple of corners and try to create my chance but yeah, was not a decent gap anyways. So, I tried, didn’t work, we have to be happy with third. The car was good all weekend, there wasn’t much missing. But as I said, I should have done a better job with Jenson in the beginning and especially not damaged my front wing – and then it could have been a different race. But would, could, should. In the end I think we’re happy with third.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Abhishek Tackle – Midday) Lewis, track temperatures were in their fifties today; would you say you’ve turned the corner with your tire wear issues and how much of that was work going on back at the factory, and how much of that was the new tires, new constructions?
LH: I think it was a bit of both. As I said, coming into the weekend, we are making improvement but not big enough to make the difference it did today so I’m assuming that a large part of that was the tires. I really wasn’t expecting it. Our long runs didn’t look that great in P2 but I got the balance just spot on today with the front wing and yeah, if we can be quick here in a race with these track temperatures then I’m very hopeful that we can be competitive everywhere else, so this could be a really good… could be a good turning point for us.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov – F1 Life) Lewis, which of the ingredients made the difference in your success today?
LH: Teamwork, absolutely teamwork. The guys have just been phenomenal all year with the work they do in the garage, preparation of the car, the reliability has been exceptional – obviously not for Nico today – and the team’s in the position where it’s beginning to develop the car still through the season. At this point of the year, last year, they said they weren’t anywhere near making improvements so it’s good to see that. I think hopefully I’m a part of that as well. I feel like I really earned my keep today so I’m really happy for that.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Sebastian, we have heard you complaining a bit over the radio two laps from the end when you thought that Kimi didn’t leave you enough room in turn four. Was it serious?
SV: In the heat of the moment, for sure, obviously it’s narrow there. As I said before, it was clear… or it was to me at that stage that I didn’t find a way past around the outside. First of all, Kimi is not an idiot and secondly, it’s a narrow part of the track so it was clear but I was pushing very hard, trying to create a chance, put him under pressure and as I said, it was clear I didn’t pass him there, but maybe two corners later or something. Yeah, I was not too happy but as I said, it was quite hot this afternoon, I was pushing very hard and it was quite narrow and I was a little bit on the dirt, turning in. You feel that you have to say something so that’s what I said.
Q: (Kate Walker – GP Week) Sebastian, three weeks ago in Germany, I asked you if you would relish the challenge of having Kimi as your teammate next year and you said you would enjoy having such a competitive teammate. I was wondering if your opinion had changed, now that you had finished behind him.
SV: There have been races where I have finished behind him, especially in the beginning of my career – I finished nearly every race behind him. And there are races where I’ve finished ahead of him so that doesn’t really matter. As I said, I think he’s one of the drivers I get along most with. He’s been very honest all the time which I appreciate a lot. I think at the end of the day we’re a group of 20, 22 guys; some of them you like, others you don’t. I think at the end of the day you have to beat everyone. Obviously we enjoy it a lot more as well if you’re fighting other drivers in similar cars, meaning with similar pace, because it’s kind of boring when you’re only fighting your teammate. I think this is something we all enjoy.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, at Nurburgring, after your battle with Kimi, you said that one day you will feel as angry as Kimi felt that day. Do you feel angry now?
SV: I don’t think it was really really angry but obviously it was a battle for the win so I was happy that I succeeded. Today was for second, but still, you know, second is better than third. I’m not entirely happy with my race because I think the car was probably a little bit better than where we finished today but as I described, with the race that I had, I think P3 is what we have to be happy with. It’s not a disaster. We were still on the podium which is nice, a lot of people here which is still very special so I think we have to keep our feet on the ground. I’ve always said that there will be days when there will be people ahead of us and there will be days when we will be ahead of them so it’s just life.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, do you think that with nine races to go it’s possible to fight for the championship?
LH: I think it’s too early to… still far too early to… of course, when you have a win like this, you get excited and you think anything is possible and obviously today shows that anything is possible but I think it’s still too early for us to say whether or not we can challenge these guys. I know the guys are working hard so that we can close the gap and I hope today is the first step in doing so but we’ve got a lot of tough races coming up. I just hope that that’s not the last time my tires work for me.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, do you think that today there is some complaint about the strategy because as you said before, you were twice stuck behind McLaren when you came out of the pits?
SV: Usually in the past it was not a bad thing when you came out behind a McLaren but this year’s a bit different. Yeah, I’m not blaming the team. I think it’s pretty easy (to see) what happened. In the first stint I lost more time on the way to the pits, because the tires were falling apart (more) than they expected, probably around 1.5s. If you take those away, I come out ahead of him, so I think in terms of strategy they did the right call. Second time round, I think he was on a very used set of soft tires which was going away quickly and I found my way past pretty quickly as well, so I’m not blaming them. If there’s anything to blame, today, then it’s me because I damaged my wing which wasn’t the best thing.
Q: (Michael Neudecker – Sud Deutsche Zeitung) To all three of you: how did the high temperatures today affect you, your performance?
LH: Physically it was quite easy, to be honest. I wasn’t on the ragged edge the whole way. Particularly the last twenty laps I was able to really chill, I was drinking a lot and just trying to bring it home, look after the car and the tires, yeah, for the first time ever that I can remember my tires not being a problem. I think this track has always been good to me. I hope there’s many more like this.
KR: Obviously I was bit out of tires at the end because we did a run with a set of tires but apart from that it was OK. It was a bit hot but as normal as any hot race. No problem.
SV: Yeah, it was pretty hot, especially, obviously, towards the end of the race when the drink is not cool any more, it’s more like tea, which isn’t the nicest to cool down. But yeah, I think we were probably in a bit of a different situation to Lewis, still fighting towards the end, I was pushing very hard. Every time you get close, you lose some grip. I was struggling to get past, didn’t succeed but yeah, it’s not the only hot race we have during the season.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson – F1 Racing) Lewis, does it feel different winning for Mercedes than it did for McLaren?
LH: I think it feels different. It always feels like it’s the first time, that’s for sure, when you win. I remember the first time I won it was exceptional, an exceptional feeling and today it was a really calming, relaxing feeling when I came across the line. I really wasn’t expecting it. As I said yesterday, I talked it down a lot because I really was expecting a real tough race today, I thought we were going to fall behind. The experiences I had at McLaren were some of my greatest but I think this is one of the highlights of my career up to now. Moving to a new team and a team that was struggling massively last year and to finally get a win with them after the first nine or ten races is a great feeling.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, now you’ve got some feeling with the new tires, do you think you have the right package to win in Spa?
KR: I don’t know. It’s a different circuit. I have no idea. Last year we were not very strong there. I think we know the reasons and for sure our car is better this year but is it good enough for fighting for a win? We will see in Spa in one month.
Q: (Peter Vamosi – Vas Nepe) Kimi, you are now second in the championship. What does this mean now, at this time, for you and for the next four weeks? Will you go to Enstone and help to develop the car or just have fun and holiday?
KR: I don’t design the car so there’s not much use for me there. Everybody has to be off work in a week’s time so there’s nothing happening at any of the factories, at least, that’s how it should be. I will do something and see what happens at the next race in four weeks.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Sebastian, if, at the end of the first bend you were first in the race after the start, the story of this race might have been different. And Lewis, I would also like to hear your opinion about that.
SV: Well I wasn’t so, hard to… If. If. If I was sick today I wouldn’t race so… I think Lewis did a great job today, a good lap yesterday and deserved to win today no doubt. I think we had a bit stronger pace than what we probably had towards the end of the race, but I didn’t do the best job either. I damaged my front wing, I got stuck behind Jenson, didn’t find a way past unlike Lewis so yeah, there are things that I could have done better but it’s hard to say where we could have been without those two things. I think it would have been close. Obviously he had track position, overtaking is difficult, maybe we would have been a bit closer, maybe with strategy we could have found a way past, I don’t know. But in the end, as I said, it wasn’t the case.
LH: It’s nothing I really want to think about. I got into turn one first, that’s the most important thing. I think if Sebastian was out in the lead it would have been hard to have kept a hold of him but I think generally my second and third and fourth stints were pretty strong. I think I would hopefully have had as good a pace as he would have had so I think it could have been a close race.
Q: (Gabor Joo – Index) Kimi, last year you finished second, this year you finished second as well. Are you satisfied with the progress Lotus is making in terms of car development?
KR: Obviously we always hope for more, myself and the team hopes for more. I think we’ve made progress, for sure. Now we have tires that are a little bit different and I wasn’t so happy with how things ran on Friday and yesterday – more happy in qualifying than the whole weekend before that but still not ideal and in the race we usually run better than in qualifying. I was happy with the car in the race but obviously when you start from such a bad starting place it’s difficult to make big progress on this kind of circuit but I managed to do two stops and we’re still pretty competitive so we’re happy how we’ve done but we’re here to try to win races and if we keep finishing second and third like we’ve done many times this year, it’s probably not enough for the championship but the best thing today when we finished second we gained a few points on Sebastian, so it’s better than nothing but with a win it would have been a much bigger difference.
Q: (Sarah Holt – CNN.com) Lewis, tire problems cost you your first chance of a win for Mercedes at Silverstone and it’s ironic that now, because of that, the tires have been changed and here we have them, you’ve got your first win, so does this make up for everything that happened in Britain and if the tires now suit you, it could have ironically set you up for the rest of the season?
LH: Well thank you. Yeah, yeah, you can’t really make up for Silverstone. That was my home Grand Prix, we were in a good position to have won that so I don’t know when I will ever get a chance to win at Silverstone again in front of my home crowd. But this is definitely a great feeling to finally get the win. I’ve been on pole position for the last three races, it’s good to finally not lose position and just stay and be able to hold it and maintain position throughout the race, it’s a good feeling. I came here saying and praying that when we put on these tires that they would come towards us more than away from us and it seems like they’ve done that: 52/55 degrees track temperatures today, one of the hottest races I think I can remember doing and for a team that really struggles with tire degradation today was a walk in the park. I’m really baffled… I used all the technique I could possibly use to look after the tires which I’m sure everyone is doing, but it worked today. I really really hope that when we go to the next race it happens, that we’re able to do the same.
Q: (Geza Suranyi – Heves Megyei Hirlap) Lewis, you said that this circuit is a classic, so as a four time winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix, perhaps it’s about time to name a corner after you. Which corner would you chose?
LH: I’d forgotten that it’s four times here. That’s incredible, absolutely incredible, I’m so happy with that. I love it here: the weather’s great, the fans, we have such a great turnout, they have beautiful women here, great food, I really can’t say more about it. A great track. If I was to chose a corner, I would say turn two.