Podium Interviews - Conducted by Pedro de la Rosa
Lewis, tell us about the race? First of all, bad things, what happened at the start?
Lewis Hamilton: First of all, I just want to say a big thank you to the crowd that came today, for the warm welcome and for the support. It's been a long, long time coming to Barcelona [for me] and I can say it didn't start out the greatest when I first came but it has grown so much and my love and appreciation for the country has grown so much as well, so thank you. The team did an incredible job today... what an amazing... that's how racing should be. That's as close as it could be. Sebastian was incredibly close, incredibly fast. The team did a great job with the strategy. The start - I don't really know what's gone wrong. I have to see with my guys...
Don't worry about that...
LH: But it wasn't good enough, I know! Trust me, I thought I did everything I was supposed to do but I got a bit of wheelspin.
Tell me about the squeeze, let's call it the squeeze into Turn One? Seb was coming out the pits with the medium tyres. How did you handle that?
LH: I think in the heat of the moment it's difficult to know from the outside view what it's like. I felt like I ran out road but I was alongside. It was definitely close but again, as I said, that's how racing should be and I loved it and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Well done man, your 55th grand prix victory in my home town. Seb, do you think you should have pushed a little bit further? Was it enough?
Sebastian Vettel: I was pushing! I had a really good start, best start maybe at the beginning. I think Lewis and myself we both picked up wheelspin straight away, then I pulled the clutch in again and then I could gain on him so I was really happy with that. Then again the run to Turn One was quite long, but I managed to stay ahead. Then I settled into a nice rhythm, everything was fine. Obviously Lewis stayed out longer, did the opposite, mirrored the strategy so I knew in the end it would be crucial. Then he came out, I was a bit surprised when he came out and it was already so close. I tried to brake as late as possible into Turn One, locked up. I don't know if we touched but I managed to stay ahead so it was really close. The laps after I was doing everything I can to stay in front and I was a bit luck because there was always a car in front giving me a tow, but as soon as I was alone, he just flew past down the straight, which was a shame. We tried to stay in the race but well done to him, he drove a good race and we did everything we could.
Hey man, you're still leading the championship, so don't worry, six points in front.
SV: It was a nice race and a great crowd, so it would have been great to win but...
Tell us about the Plan C. Was that a real option towards the end - change your strategy and try to attack?
SV: Yeah, we had a huge gap to Daniel behind, so we could have done anything really. We weren't sure. Obviously there was a big conversation, trying to do something. We were hoping Lewis would maybe struggle with his tyres at the end but normally in the end of the race the track picks up a lot of rubber and the tyres last long so he didn't have any problems. We tried to keep pushing, stay close, but it was never close enough.
A fantastic drive my friend. Hey, last but not least, come on man, no shoey, just behave yourself, I'm very elegant today. Your favourite podium of the year, first since Mexico 2016, how does it feel?
Daniel Ricciardo: Feels good. We had a little bit of fortune today with Valtteri stopping. We were fourth and then he had his... I'm not sure of what his problem was in the end, but for now we take what we can and it's nice to be up on the podium. Really happy to spray some champagne again. The weather is good. They said maybe a chance of rain. It's cool, we got some sunshine, so gracias a todos.
Well done amigo. Lewis, was it that hard, because obviously this is possibly the most demanding phsyically?
LH: Yeah, this is one of the hardest races.
How's your neck after it?
LH: My neck is fine, but physically, yeah, I probably lost two kilos just in that race. It's draining, the car is fast, to keep up with him... he drove fantastically well and it's a re4al privilege to race against such an awesome driver so...
Lewis, many congratulations, win number 55 of your career and your second here in Barcelona and I have the feeling from your celebrations that it meant a lot to you. It was one of those races that was getting away from you but you and the team made it happen your way and from your side making the softs work first and final stints critical to turning it round.
LH: Yeah, I really just have to congratulate my team and thank my team for doing such a great job with the strategy and the pit stops and everyone back at the factory with the upgrades enabling us to be as close as we are to Ferrari. It has been a really good weekend, being able to bounce back from Russia is a great thing. But I obviously lost out on the start. I'm not quite sure exactly what it was. The initial phase was good, just got wheelspin later on and saw Sebastian fly by. Then seeing him after that, he was so fast up ahead, it was such a push to try to keep close to him and not let him pull away. I don't know, I think it was the rawest fight I can remember having for some real time, which I loved. This is what the sport needs to be every single race for sure. This is why I race and this is what got me into racing in the beginning. To have that close battle with him, with a four-time champ, is awesome. The first stint I was able to manage the tyres and stay relatively close. The second stint was a little bit difficult to keep up the pace with him with the medium tyre. At the end came out so close together, very, very close into Turn One. I gave you space, otherwise we would have touched...
SV: I thought I gave you space too...
LH: Not really! Definitely didn't give me much space! It was close; it was cool...
SV: We're still here so...
LH: Yeah, just! And then after that was just biding my time, trying to find the right opportunity. There were backmarkers we were coming up against, which made it fun. Trying to get past backmarkers is very, very tough and so clocking the DRS with the use of the battery pack and everything... But as I said, these guys have done a phenomenal job, their car is awesome and the pace that he had... it's very close between us both. But at the end I was able to manage the soft... wow, I'm talking as long as you normally do when you win!
SV: Go on.
LH: But the last stint: when they told me I had 25 laps I didn't think... at the end of the stint he would come back, being on the harder tyre, but I was able to manage it.
Well done, it was a fantastic race. Sebastian, I guess you file this one down as the one that got away. You had the lead, you made that early stop when they looked like they were going to make that early stop but they didn't it. Then they played a tactic where they left Bottas out for an extra eight laps to hold you, you lost four seconds behind him...
SV: Nice, huh!
It was just one of those days that you were trying to catch something that was like a bar of soap, always getting away from you.
SV: That's a good way to put it. Well done to him. He won it fair and square, so I can't take it away from him. Obviously I'm not happy because as you said it was there and... yeah, the start was good. I saw Lewis struggling with wheelspin and so did I, but then I pulled the clutch in immediately and reacted and tried to set off a second launch phase, which worked excellent. Looking in the mirror straight away to see if any of the guys behind got a better start, but I think we probably all overestimated the grip, which wasn't that good. First stint, I was really in control. Happy with the car, but it wasn't easy. Just trying to control the gap, the pace was similar. Then we had to obviously go, because otherwise they might go and then you get jumped. I wasn't sure. I came out right behind Daniel I believe. The second stint I thought was pretty good and then Lewis has the luxury to stay out and then think about what to do, and not being in a rush, gap behind, choosing a different tyre, which might allow him to come back in the end, which unfortunately was the case. Second stint, which you touched on, with Valtteri was... yeah, I was catching him but I knew they wouldn't pit him. He was all over the place with his tyres so they used him a bit to block me. He still managed to somehow get a decent exit so I didn't quite make it the first time round so the second time round down the straights I thought “now, I have to find some way, even if it's over the grass”. He used a bit more of the track. It was really close. I don't know what is the word, I faked it on the inside, went back on the outside and then on the inside to surprise him, which worked, but I nearly lost the car doing that because I had the DRS open and it was a quite aggressive move on the steering wheel. So I was really happy but then equally I looked down and I'd lost an awful lot of time so I wasn't that happy becau8se the real fight was with Lewis. Then I don't know what happened in the last stint because I came out of the pits and I was surprised to see him that close because I thought I had eight seconds in hand. It must have been because you stopped a lap sooner or something. So yeah, obviously that could have bought us a bit of a cushion. Then it was nice he stayed behind and I just managed always the end of the straight, end of the straight, and I thought it would be more difficult for him the longer her tries. But then I had no tow from any car in front and he sailed past. He managed a good exit and he was very quick in the last sector and he went on to win the race. We did everything we could, we tried everything. I think the car was good, nothing to blame there. I think our weekend was a bit scrappy overall. So I think it's still a very, very good result.
Well, you're still leading the world championship?
SV: I think I was more focused on the race today. It was very close when we came out. You come out on fresh tyres - I was just guessing. I wanted to stay ahead but I was just guessing on the brake point. It worked, but there was no room for him. He reacted well, because he avoided the contact. I don't know if we touched? I think we just missed. It was good, because I stayed ahead, so you always take it, but it was really close.
Daniel, welcome back. Podium, nice to have you here but 75s behind despite massive upgrades all around is, I guess, a little bit of a cold shower after the champagne-shower.
DR: Yeah, I've definitely got a less exciting story that these two guys. I'm pretty envious sitting here listening to the battle they had. But look, firstly, it's nice to be back up here. Absolutely. But it's nice to see that at the front there are some battles and they're enjoying it. As Lewis touched on, that's a big part of why we race: we want to have these battles and fights. I'm enviously not to be part of that but we're going to try to work on it. I think today certainly we just have to be grateful that, y'know, first podium of the year, it's nice. We got, I guess a bit lucky, not sure what the problem was with Valtteri, looked like he just stopped on the side of the track, I guess something with engine failure or whatever but yeah, it's nice to be up here nonetheless. As for my race, yeah, not any exciting stories besides watching a bit happen in front of me at the start. Otherwise, just trying to manage it. At the end, I felt I was trying to get the most out of it, pushing but yeah, I heard the lap times they were doing at the end, and yeah, we've still got a bit to go but we'll keep working at it, try and stay positive and keep everyone motivated.
Check out our Sunday gallery from Barcelona, here.