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United States GP: Post Qualifying press conference

NEWS STORY
22/10/2017

Cowboy Lewis, and you rode that car beautifully around there and you even left a couple of '11s' on the lap coming down out of Turn 1. The first sector wasn't perfect but the lap was good enough to beat everybody today?

Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, the team have done a great job. The track was very difficult today, guys. With the wind picking up, you've got a headwind into Turn 1, a tailwind out of Turn1. Through the fast section, sector one, there's tailwind and then you've got a headwind into Turn 9 and so it's shifting the whole way through the lap, so you're kind of gauging how hard you can push and how hard you have to let off. But that's why I love this track, man. It's such a fantastic circuit to drive, I love it, especially when you have a car you can really drive, it's great.+

And the heat as well, on those open parts of the circuit, it is so intense.
LH: I mean, it's always hot in the car. I think it's just the right temperature today. It's not too hot, the sun's out, we can at least enjoy it, I mean the guys out here are not getting a sun tan but still... It's going to be a great race tomorrow, it's going to be a tough one, because looking after the tyres in these conditions is still tough but I'm the best prepared I can be.

Sebastian, you needed this front row, man, didn't you, to take this championship fight, to keep the pressure on him, to keep the heat on him. How much did you have to draw out of yourself for that lap, because it was a brilliant lap?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I was very happy in the end, but I was lacking a bit the rhythm, especially the transition of the first to second sector, it was quite tricky with the wind, so I struggled a bit there. But finally I got it right, in the last run, when it mattered. As you said, important obviously to get front row, because I believe our race pace is really good. I quali all year we've been just a little bit behind, so well done to Lewis, obviously, he did two great laps and yeah, looking forward to tomorrow now.

All the talk this week has been about what Lewis needs to do to win the title this weekend. What you need to do is win this race, do you think you can?
SV: Not just here, it would be good to win also the others. But we go day by day. We were lacking a bit of running yesterday. Today was a lot better. I was getting up to speed and it was there when it mattered, but the race is tomorrow. It's a great track, a great place, a lot of people, so it should be a good day tomorrow.

And a big run up to Turn 1 as well. Well done, many congratulations. Valtteri, not quite the front row today. I guess a little bit disappointed but the pace is there, the car looks great, how confident are you feeling for the race?
Valtteri Bottas: Definitely disappointing, you know. It was looking good for us and quite close with Lewis as well at some points, so disappointing, but there is always tomorrow.

Well done. Lewis, back to you. Nick is here this weekend, adoring fans in the grandstand, which is pretty much your second home here in the States. I know how much you love it, you wrapped up your third title here, is it going to be four tomorrow?
LH: I think It's highly unlikely that will be the case. Sebastian did a great job today to bring the Ferrari back up there. Ultimately all I can do is the best I can of my abilities and we have to work as hard as we can to get maximum points. Sebastian is right there, so unless he makes a silly mistake, which is unlikely, he's a four-time world champion, then we're going to be seeing it continue on to other races.

Press Conference

Lewis, how good was that opening lap [of Q3], the one that followed and generally how are you feeling?
LH: I feel fantastic. I feel very fresh and happy and naturally always wish that qualifying would go longer because it's the most fun session of the weekend. In general, very happy with all of qualifying. The last was not spectacular but up until then generally very, very strong. The team have done an exceptional job all weekend in filtering all of the data that we've got to really put the car in the right place and enable me, again, have the opportunity to exploit that. This is such a fantastic circuit, because just the layout and the way the wind comes and intertwines with the corners, it really makes it challenging, you know, so when you are going through the 'Esses' it's not all the same through them, then you come out and you've got a headwind and then a crosswind and then you've got a headwind and a tailwind. So you're constantly dancing with the wind. That I do love. On the last lap, I got caught out by a bit of a gust but that's how it goes but yeah really happy to be up here, especially in front of such a great crowd.

And you had a low 1m33s on that first run, when you went out for that final run did you think that with a perfect lap it might be possible to get a high 1m32s or was that too much to hope for?
LH: It never even crossed my mind! I don't even know what time I did if I'm really honest! What was it?

I think it was a 33.2 or something like that.
LH: I think I was up on that last one. I think on a perfect lap I could get down into the 32s but it's very hard out there in those conditions.

Very well done, great job. Sebastian from your point of view it's a story of recovery really. We saw your old chassis being wheeled out yesterday, a new chassis being built up overnight. Tell us about that process, how you got back into it, and how you feel to be able to split the Mercedes?
SV: I think we are very happy with the result. It was obviously crucial to get that final run. Bit of a slow start. We had a couple of problems, I didn't feel comfortable yesterday with the car, and we did hardly any laps. Obviously I lost the car very early in FP2, which didn't help and I thought that there's something not right. Obviously a big job overnight. The team was fantastic, the mechanics now had a couple of weekends in a row with a lot of work, with last-minute engine changes, now a chassis change overnight and they didn't break the curfew. You know you're allowed to use a certain time before everybody has to leave the garages and if you do that big job there is always a threat but I think they did another re3cord time to change. Obviously it's not what we want, but obviously today was a lot better, I was much happier with the car. I'm glad it worked out. And not finding the rhythm straight away in quali, I struggled a bit in a couple of corners but I knew if I get them right I should be able to make a big step in the final run, so I was very happy. I think in the end we were closer than probably we even expected so for today, but for tomorrow I think if the car behaves like today it should be good.

Valtteri, conditions this weekend for this session the hottest of the weekend so far, how did the car feel and what are you expecting from the race?
VB: Well, as Lewis said it was quite a tricky session with the wind and every lap was always a little bit different. We have been making quite big set-up changes in the weekend and definitely made the car quicker but quite tricky car for me to drive at least. I just struggled really with the pace and the laps they felt good, I just couldn't go quicker. Lewis did a good job again.

Questions From The Floor

(Livio Oricchio - GloboEsporte.com) Lewis, you are the fastest guy all weekend. Do you think in race conditions you can keep also. In Malaysia you said you had doubts in the race, is it the same case here. And to Valtteri, you did an incredible first sector, in the strongest points of Lewis in this circuit, but then the lap was not so fast as the first part, why?
LH: We know we're often good through practice and qualifying but then the races are always a tricky one for us in terms of balance. We're not terrible but you would think that we're generally stronger in qualifying than we are in race, that's been the case all year. But I think we're good. I think I've got a good set of tyres, I think I've got a good balance for tomorrow. I'm looking forward to a good race with Sebastian and Valtteri. This is a track where you can follow a lot closer and even overtake as that race me and Sebastian had back in 2012 here, which was great, but I don't plan on him getting that close but we shall see. But I think we will be OK tomorrow.

VB: I didn't understand the question.

(Livio Oricchio - GloboEsporte.com) I said you did a fantastic first part of the lap, you were the fastest guy at that moment, but then the rest of the lap was not so good.
VB: In Q3. Yeah, I couldn't improve in the second run. The first run felt OK, but Lewis managed to gain somehow more from Q2 to Q3 and I couldn't really. I couldn't find any track improvement. Like I said it was not easy sessions, every lap was a bit different but there were no big mistakes, just small things here and there as I feel for all the drivers but there was just this big gap.

(Christian Menath - Motorsport-Magazin.com) Question for Sebastian. Would you compare the situation you had today in Q3 in the last lap with the one you had in Japan where you saw the gap was quite to the front runners? Or was it completely the opposite - because you knew he had to be a bit more on the safe side to get these two corners right. And which two corners was it?
SV: Well, I struggled a bit into Turn Eight, so Eight-Nine then it's a succession up the hill. Obviously, the wind was quite tricky all day really. In the morning, I thought it was fine. In the afternoon, I just started on the wrong foot. It wasn't really a question of stepping down, or calming down. It was more a question of getting it right. The shots that I had before, I obviously tried. Maybe I did take a little bit more risk but it never really worked - and then yeah, I knew what I had to get right, so I got it right. That was the most important but obviously in Japan I was fairly comfortable, let's say, front row, no matter what Valtteri was going to do, so I decided to take a bit more risk but it was very different here, obviously. My lap was very poor in Q3 and I knew that I had to deliver otherwise I would have been, I don't know, not even top six maybe. Therefor the timing was just right.

(Jeff Gluck - Jeffgluck.com) Lewis, how has your relationship with the American fans evolved over the years? It seems like you've soaked up the relationship with the American fans and the adoration that they have for you. How has that evolved for you over the years here?
LH: Yeah, I think it's been an interesting journey for me. I think it's... my love of America started many, many years before I even came to the States, watching movies and seeing these great cities, like New York and all over. My Mum actually saved up to bring me to New York for my 17th birthday and we had an amazing few days. It kind of grew from then. And obviously coming here, racing here, my first... my second grand prix win but first race in the US was Indy and that was an amazing feeling. A great battle that I had with Fernando, and then obviously moving here. I don't know why it's always gone so well for me here but there definitely is a... I do feel a lot of positivity here. It is such a great country, it's got so much to offer. Obviously, you've got great mountains, great countryside, great seaside, great food. There's not really anything it doesn't have. Plus you've got NASA here, which is pretty awesome. Rocket! I like that. So yeah, and I generally feel like, obviously... naturally I think people, Americans really do relate to... they're crazy into their sports, they relate to winners, and obviously the fact I've had the success that I've had here I think comes hand-in-hand with that relationship but I really do appreciate the support that I have here and it does feel like a second home for me. It's a place that I try to spend as much time as I can in my off-time 'cos it's where I'm generally happiest.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Austin, here.

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