Today's post-qualifying press conference with Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
Track Interviews - Conducted by Paul Di Resta
Q: Lewis, you're pretty excited about that. They say 95% per cent of the job gets done today but to qualify here on pole at Monaco, it's an incredible result.
Lewis Hamilton: It really is. Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to the crowd that's here. I love it here; it's my home. This is the race that every driver dreams of, from being kid. It doesn't matter how many times you come here, it's still a dream. You still put absolutely everything you've got, all the work we've put in, all the guys back at the factory have just worked tirelessly. So we've arrived with a great car and then a great battle with Valtteri, who has just been quick all weekend and all these races up until now, and just the desire and the will to get this pole; it means so much to me. I had to dig was deeper than ever. And I'm so glad that I could get that deep. I'm just really grateful to my team and the lap was beautiful. So I feel amazing, and just super grateful.
Q: When you get in the zone around here, do you have to get in the spirit of the lap and let the car do the work, pushing all the way through? I mean Valtteri, he was on fire today as well, wasn't he? What extra did you have to do to get that?
LH: It Well, obviously we have got a great package but what people need to realize is that all of us drivers, as you know, whatever car we have, fast or slow, we take it to the limit. And when you take it to the limit, it's like wrestling a bull or whatever you want to say it is. It's out of control the whole time, so it's really trying to balance it, react at the right times. The lap was hard and particularly at the end I had an oversteer moment coming in Rascasse and I just managed to pull it off, you know. And then coming out of the last corner I was losing a little bit out of the last corner but still I was coming across the line hoping 'OK, just that one millisecond, I hope that makes the difference'. I don't know what the gap is, but I'll take it whatever it is. It's perfect.
Q: It's enough. It's a front row start. All the best. Valtteri, it was pretty incredible the lap you did in the first run in Q3, but you didn't get a second attempt. How do you feel?
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, I'm disappointed. I still felt after the first lap that there were plenty of places I could improve so I left that for the last run. On the out lap I had a lot of traffic and I couldn't the get the tyres hot enough for the timed lap and that was it. I felt I had it today but obviously not.
Q: A front-row start still. You've been on fire all weekend. Ultimately Lewis has won the last couple of grands prix starting from P2, so can you still win this tomorrow, do you feel that starting from P2?
VB: Well, anything can happen. Obviously it would have been nice to be on pole, but there is no point giving up after Saturday. There is a long race ahead and for sure I will try to do everything I can to get it back.
Q: Max, P3 today. It looked like at one point, in Q2, you were going to be able to split these Mercedes, or at least get in the fight, but just at the end they had too much for you?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I think they were a bit quick. My lap in Q2 was good but then in Q3 my first lap I lost it a bit in Turn 1, a bit of cold tyres. Still it was a reasonable lap. In these streets to push, your heart rate goes up quite a lot, as you know. Then my second lap, just my out lap was too slow, so I went into Turn 1 already, cold tyres, and as soon as you see you are two tenths up, you can't risk it anymore. I decided to abort, but still P3 was good, because 10 minutes before the session there was not even a floor on the car so the mechanics did a great job today to bring the car in a full piece before we went out.
Q: And the journey you've had in the last year has been quite incredible. If you look where you were this time last year, you're a bit further up, so you should be more in the fight shouldn't you?
MV: I didn't do many qualifyings here so of course very happy to be third.
Q: Lewis, your second pole position of this season, but you said you had to dig deeper than ever to get this one. Tell us what it means?
LH:Yeah, this is definitely one of the best poles that I can remember. We've had lots of success over the years, but I can't really remember one that means as much this one, being that is has been such a difficult week for the whole team. Personally, it has been quite a difficult weekend, so... Obviously the goal here was always to get pole; it's such a difficult circuit. It's amazing that we have turned up, as a team, continuing to take strides forward together, collectively, and get stronger and improve our performance weekend-in, weekend out, so I'm so proud of everyone. But to have a little bit of a cloud over us this weekend, we're really, really trying to lift each other up and trying to deliver for Niki. Valtteri had been doing a sensational job. I think practice one and practice two were good for me and then today the car didn't feel anywhere near as good as it did on Thursday, so digging deep to turn the car round. Valtteri did a great lap the first lap. I was struggling to get the first lap time out on the tyres, so I did a prep lap for my first lap and the second one was not very good. So I pushed for that first lap at the end, and naturally I had to gain two tenths because Valtteri was ahead and I thought Valtteri would be up, so I was just throwing the car around. I'm pretty sure I touched a couple of barriers along the way but there's no better way of doing it around Monaco. I've not had a huge amount of success here over the years. It's always been a track that I've been quick at, but never quite get that perfect lap. I think today was about as close as I could get to it, so this one is for Niki.
Q: You mentioned how tough this weekend has been for the team. How difficult is it as a driver to then get in and have to put the helmet on and perform and put that all out of your mind when you get in the car?
LH: Ultimately we're professionals so you get in and do what you love doing. Niki would just want us to get in and Niki and would always just say 'give it arseholes', so that's what I try to do every time I get in the car. That's honestly what he says all the time. We just try to walk around with a smile and really try to lift each other up, as I said, and do him proud. I think so far hopefully we are and we have to continue to try to pull out something special tomorrow. Max has been really quick this weekend as well, so anything can happen still tomorrow, so still got a good job to do tomorrow. But there's no better place to start.
Q: Valtteri you were on provisional pole at the end of those first runs, so where do you think pole position got away from you today?
VB: Well, first of all, congrats to Lewis for the pole, he definitely did a good job and as a team really proud again being one-two again. My feelings at the moment, I'm really, really disappointed with the qualifying. I really felt I had the speed today. I felt really good in the car all day. In the first run, I felt there were two or three tenths I could still improve, so I should have done a better job on the first run. On the second run I had quite a bit of traffic on the out lap so had to go off the line in a few places on the out laps and the tyres just didn't work on the second run, so disappointing.
Q: Obviously track position is king here, so how do you approach the start of tomorrow's race alongside your team-mate on such a narrow run to Turn 1?
VB: Well, for sure we always aim for a good start but here it's a super short distance from start to the first corner so normally not many position changes but obviously I'll try to do a good start and as a team we want to be one-two again. Obviously for me then it's going to be waiting for any opportunities that come up.
Q: Max, you were quickest in Q2, heading into to Q3, what was the target, what was realistic and are you satisfied with third place?
MV: Yeah, all in all yes. I think in general, when you look to the weekend I think we were just missing that two or three tenths at the end but yeah, Q2 was a very good lap but also the tyres were switched on so around here, when your tyres work that makes quite a bit of a difference and in Q3, my first run, I went into turn one and the rear tyres were still not gripping up fully so I lost a bit of time there and basically from there on my lap was pretty stable compared to Q2 so it was not bad. And then in my final run in Q3 I had a bit of traffic on my out lap and when I started the lap, the tyres just felt cold, no grip and I was already 0.2s above it so I decided to abort. But in general I think we did a good job. I think coming into this weekend I already had the feeling we were not as strong as we were last year here but for myself I think it was a good qualifying. I think this is my first qualifying here but I've only done three now. It's really good to be here.
Q: What can you do in tomorrow's race to try and put some pressure on the two guys ahead of you?
MV: There's not much you can do but the funny thing is that two of my practice starts have been from P3 so I've rubbered in my own box so that's good, so we will see what's going to happen but normally in the race you need to be a bit lucky. I'm happy about today and let's see what brings tomorrow.
Q: Lewis, just returning to you, what are going to be the big threats in tomorrow's race? Obviously starting from pole is the best place to start but what do you have to look out for?
LH: Hopefully the weather stays something like today. I heard that there's a potential chance of rain tomorrow but it will be the same for all of us and if anything that makes it more exciting at this track but I guess ultimately, when you're on pole, you hope it will be just smooth sailing, a dry, safety car kind of day but yeah, the tyres that we have, it's a one-stop race generally, it has been for a long time here, so it's really just about keeping calm, cool and collected and just delivering on what we've practised throughout the weekend. But you know, this race - as you've seen in the previous years - lots of things get thrown at you so we've just got to stay on our toes. But I honestly feel that were the best prepared, we've had a really solid weekend of preparation. We've had good years of experience too but that doesn't mean that there are unknowns ahead but we'll face it together. We always win and lose together so we'll do what we can tomorrow.
Check out our Saturday gallery from Monaco, here.