Today's post-race press conference with Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.
Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard
So, Lewis Hamilton, your 77th victory, your third around the streets of Monte Carlo, and as you put the tribute hat to Niki Lauda on, I take mine off to you out of respect for that great victory. You had to work incredibly hard today.
Lewis Hamilton: That was definitely probably the hardest race I've had. I really was fighting with the spirit of Niki. Niki has been such an influential person in our team, helping us get to where we are, so I know he will be looking down and I know he would take his hat off today. I was just trying to stay focused and trying to make him proud. That's kind of been the goal all week and we're going to try to continue that all year. We truly miss him. Oh God, that was... I've not driven on empty tyres since I think Shanghai 2007, when McLaren left me out for a ridiculous amount of time. Really fantastic. I'm glad the weather was good. Great crowd here, as always, and I hope it wasn't too boring.
Now, you had us worried there. We heard the radio transmission to your engineers. You were questioning the tyre choice. We were really with you in the cockpit and whether you would make it go the distance. How close were you to over-ruling the team and coming into the pits. The emotional rollercoaster must have been intense?
LH: It was. I was never going to come in. A few years ago I was in the lead and I came in for a pit stop, so I learned the hard way. I lost the race here. So, I wasn't going to come in. I was either going to crash or finish. Honestly I was driving around on nothing. You could see how much understeer I had; the car wasn't turning. If you look at my back wheel we touched at the chicane. I didn't see him until quite late so... But dude, nonetheless, this team has done an incredible job. What we have achieved in these six races is incredible and I'm so proud to be a part of it. I'm so proud to be able to shine the silver star and I hope that I can continue to do so.
You alluded to that contact at the chicane, just a quick word on that: it was close!
LH: Yeah, it was close. It was a bit of a late dive. Luckily I saw him last minute. I think his front wing was alongside my rear wheel, so he was not fully past. It was a light touch and move on.
It didn't scare you.
LH: No. I was scared that if he had no tyres left.
Congratulations, great victory. Sebastian Vettel, congratulations, second place. It's been a difficult weekend for you, but you have to be happy with that result in the end as you try to find some way to beat these Mercedes guys.
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, it was obviously a tough race to manage. You know in Monaco something can always happen and today something happened. I thought we had a good stop but Max had an incredible stop. I saw them touching in the pit lane. I thought there was a good chance for me, obviously we could capitalise on Valtteri's puncture, which was a shame for him, but from there we tried to stay there, we tried to put the pressure on. Obviously with Max's penalty after that we tried to always stay in range. I struggled a little bit towards the end of the race. I wanted to put a bit of pressure on myself but I struggled with my rear tyres. I don't think I had any graining. I think Lewis and Max were in a worse position managing the tyres, but mine were just not getting hot. I don't know. It was obviously a great result for us and great for the team. But we know we have a lot of work to do, we know that we are not yet quick enough compared to these guys, so plenty of work. Finally, today is obviously about the winner, so congrats to Lewis, but even more so about Niki. He would be happy today. He will always be around. We will definitely miss him. I think he has been an icon in the past and he will be in the future. My thoughts are with his family and with him.
Beautifully said, congratulations on that result. Valtteri, you pushed Lewis to a point in qualifying that he said he has never dug that deep. We're seeing an amazing performance from you this season, but you just didn't get the luck this day, this weekend, and then you had that contact with Max in the pit lane. And when you spoke to the team you seemed typically Finnish and calm. I think my heart rate would have been through the roof there. Tell us about the emotions of that pit stop and about the grand prix as a whole?
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, obviously disappointing weekend for me, because I think the speed was really there, I was feeling good in the car. Small margins yesterday and that made today difficult. So we had to stop same time as Lewis and I lost a bit of time with the pit stop, so Max got me in the pit lane. He left me no room. I got a puncture from that and then I was stuck behind the cars, so a bit of a Sunday drive in the end.
Lewis, your 77th grand prix victory, but just how tense was this one inside the cockpit today?
LH: It was definitely... I think it was the hardest race I've had. Obviously I've had a lot of races in my entire career, even beyond Formula One. Yeah, I think just globally, just in the car, with the tyres, with the strategy, with the circumstances with Max behind, yeah it was the biggest challenge I think I've had. But I'm really, really grateful that I was able to pull it off. But of course there were multiple things coming into my thought process. I've got 38 laps to go and I've got no tyres left and I'm thinking that 'there is no way that with the feeling that I have and with the pace that I have to do at the moment that I'm going to make it'. It's a horrible feeling to have that, as the though of having to doing another stop obviously means we're not going to win the race. I've been there before. A few years ago I was leading this race by 20 seconds, the safety car came out, pitted, came out third, and your heart just sinks, so I was like: 'I'm not coming in, whatever the case. I'm just going to drive around with no tyres until they blow up.' With sheer will I just kept pushing. I really, really tried my best to stay focused and not crack under pressure, because Max was doing a great job behind on a much better tyre. And yeah, but ultimately, also this week has been such a hard week, emotionally, for us as a team and me personally, I just really, really wanted to do the job. I really wanted to deliver on the word of Niki, and imagining him taking the hat off in support. When I was driving I was like, 'what would Niki do?' so I just kept going. Ultimately I'm really grateful for the opportunity the team gave us this weekend to have the car we had and the team continues to evolve and improve and we're growing constantly as a team, even through our faults. We win and lose as a team, and I also wanted to pull it through for the team, because so many guys aback at the factory deserve it. So a proud one for us today.
You mentioned the fight with Max towards the latter stages, just how nervy were you when he started looking for moves and especially with that contact, which the stewards have now cleared, with no further action?
LH: Yeah, it wasn't a case of feeling nervous. Obviously I could see him. He literally covered the whole of my mirrors. Obviously I was able to get out of the last corner and pull a bit of a gap. I was super slow through Turn 1 but Turn 3 my right-side tyres were OK and once you got downforce on they would work but then once I got to Turn 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, I had nothing. Moving the brake balance rearwards, engine braking, opening up diffs, trying to get this car turned. I could see him barrelling a lot of speed in. Obviously the harder tyre was a lot more resilient. I could see it opened up on his car and I was like, 'OK, hopefully it's going to run out of tyres at some stage, as I am, but it didn't'. I kept thinking Turn 6 is probably where he's going to try to dive up the inside, because I was just waiting to get the car turned. So I was just trying to cover that whole area, tip-toeing and positioning myself so I could get a good exit out of... it was really strategy-wise one of the most strategic drives that I think I have ever had to do in terms of finding that balance around the track to try and keep that gap. I'm sure we touched multiple times and I definitely touched the barrier a lot of time throughout the laps but luckily kept the car in one piece.
Well done. Sebastian, starting fourth in Monaco and finishing second, is that a satisfactory result today?
SV: Yeah, certainly obviously we didn't quite expect that, but the way the race went we were able to benefit from mistakes other people made. Obviously Valtteri got squeezed in the pit lane and then had a puncture and we were able to get that position and with the penalty Max had it was just about to stay in range. Two laps to go I had, I think, Antonio Giovinazzi, and I didn't quite know if he would let me go, and I lost like two and a half seconds. So I was thinking, 'I'm queuing here the whole race', because I could see that Lewis was struggling, 'and all of a sudden you lose three seconds', and it was obviously the target to stay within these five seconds, but it wasn't a problem until the end. Good result, but not a good weekend for us. Obviously to lose one car yesterday in Q1 and I'm not sure what happened today with Charles, but it's always difficult when you start further back. So not the luckiest race for us as a team, but I think the lesson from here is that we are not yet where we want to be, the pace isn't there. I think today we sort of tumbled into second place. So we did everything we could but certainly we didn't have the pace to put the pressure on and go for a bit more.
I was going to ask you about that. You have at least ended the Mercedes run of one-two finishes but what are the key lessons that Ferrari takes away from this weekend and the first six races this season?
SV: Well, pretty similar with the last couple of races. We had one race where performance was standing out and we were quite strong. But I think where we are... I saw that Valtteri was faster but there was no way he was going to pass, as our straight line speed is really good. It's just because overall we are lacking downforce, a weakness that we know. I don't think the car is as bad as it looks. The results should be better here and there but it's very difficult for us to get the car in the window where it is happy. Certainly when we get it in there we're more competitive but still a way from where we want to be. That's really the key lesson: we need to focus on trying to get the car short-term more in that window. Looking forward for the next three, four, five races, obviously make sure we improve the car, put more grip onto the car so that we can go faster, simple as that. But that guy seems to hide fairly well. I don't know exactly where he is right now, so if you find him, or if you've got his number, that grip guy, but we've been looking for him for a while. I don't think there are any secrets we will be able to unveil. As usual, attention to detail and a lot hard work is the only way to get us up.
Check out our Sunday gallery from Monaco, here.