Today's post-qualifying press conference with Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas.
Track Interviews - Conducted by Paul Di Resta
Congratulations, Lewis, another pole position. I know how important this race is to Mercedes-Benz, the new livery of the 1950s and the celebration of motorsport on this car. And what a day to pull it out... to do it?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, I don't really know how we did it today. I'm not quite sure what happened to the Ferraris, but it's such an important race to us, it's our second home grand prix, so for Mercedes and their 125 years it's just incredible to celebrate in this way.
Yeah, the Ferraris have obviously looked very strong. I think Charles had a fuel issue and Sebastian a turbo issue - you've been up against it this weekend with them.
LH: Yeah, they've been really fast all weekend, and we brought some upgrades this weekend as well, so the car's been feeling good but the Ferraris were just really I think on a slightly other level. But I think the time at the end was good enough to be able to compete at least with Leclerc, if he had done a lap at the end. It would have definitely been close between us.
And were you satisfied with the lap itself, what you did around Hockenheim today?
LH: Ah, this track, it's incredible. Every year we come the car's get faster. Turn 1 is nearly flat, Turn 12 is nearly flat, it's a real challenge throughout the lap. My first lap was spot on. I think the second lap was a little bit better in some places but still it was good enough.
Well done. Max, I know Valtteri pulled up in the wrong place. The Dutch fans travel quite far don't they, this orange, you could actually hear at the start of qualifying, cheering, but I don't think you would have expected more than that today. You've got a strong race car, so I guess pretty happy.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I think I started quite conservative in Q1 but then somehow for my feeling towards Q3 I was just losing a bit of grip, but still of course happy to be in P2 and of course it's great to see so many Dutch fans still around here. Happy to be on the front row and anything is possible tomorrow.
You could see the lap was developing, you did a very good first sector on that last attempt. But I think it was at Turn 8, you looked like you lost the rear end. Was that the finishing of that lap?
MV: Yeah, we could have been closer. I wouldn't say we would have got on pole but I went a bit wide, bottomed out, lost the rear, but still, like I said, it's a good result.
I'm sure you won't give up tomorrow; we're expecting some mixed weather in there as well in there. Valtteri, I guess a very good day for the team, they're celebrating where there are, but you narrowly missed out on the front row but I guess at the same point it's a very long race tomorrow.
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, for sure it's going to be, and I think the weather is going to play a big part tomorrow. Obviously a bit disappointed in qualifying, I didn't really find similar confidence to what I had in practice three. I just struggled and I just need to check everything is all right, but anyways, the race is tomorrow.
This car has looked quite difficult all weekend on track, it's moved around a lot more than normal. You have brought upgrades but have Ferrari surprised you, how much they pushed you?
VB: Yeah, they've been extremely quick here. We knew coming into qualifying it was going to be really difficult to beat them but I don't know what was their issue in the end but we have a good place for tomorrow and obviously I'll try to come up from the third place.
Congratulations Lewis, it looked like a pretty smooth session from where we were sitting, what as the reality in the cockpit?
LH: Yeah, it was a relatively straightforward session. It was very clean, the team did a great job in terms of timings and getting us out at the right times. As we saw both Ferraris drop out, that made it a little bit different in terms of the battle that we had at the end. Nonetheless, I think I had pretty good pace. I think maybe it would have been close between myself and Leclerc, who knows. They were pretty quick all weekend. But I was really, really happy with the laps I had done, particularly from Q2 onwards. The team have worked so hard and it's really great for Mercedes with the 125 years celebration this weekend. It couldn't have been a better way to start the weekend.
Where do you see the biggest threats coming from in the grand prix tomorrow?
LH: I think it's weather - that can be a threat. There was talks of rain, even today, obviously tomorrow potentially more so tomorrow. I've not looked at the long runs, so I don't know how strong they are on the long runs. It's not the easiest of tracks to always overtake. But yeah, depending on the temperature, if it was like yesterday that makes it quite a difficult race and probably more stops. If it's like today, which again actually starting getting hotter towards the end, it's still going to be a real challenge. I think the real challenge is just making sure we do all our due diligence and make sure we operate at the level we have been operating at today.
Max, this is your seventh front-row start in Formula One. Did you believe that pole was on today?
MV: Difficult to say. I think Q1, you could see Ferrari was quite comfortable, ahead. And then you know anyway the gap in Q3 is going to be even bigger, normally. In a way, of course it was good that they dropped off but yeah, from my side, I think from Q1 to Q3, I felt like I had a loss of grip. In Q1 I felt like... y'know you always take your margins... but somehow in Q3 it never really had the grip like I had in Q1. Of course, it's getting warmer. It seemed like it was hurting me maybe a bit more at the time. So, still, to be second for this race is, I think, good. So, happy about that.
Was there a technical issue at the start of Q2, and how did that interrupt your flow?
MV: Yes. I tried a different mode for that run but as soon as I crossed the start-finish line somehow it just cut out so I lost a bit of power and then you know your lap is ruined, so I backed off. I went into the box just to check everything and we went out again. Of course, I had to use the other tyres, which was a little bit of a shame because I wanted to try and do the same like the other guys did, but y'know, that's how it is at the moment and we just have to live with that. The second run in Q2 and then in Q3 there was no problem.
Valtteri, you took your first-ever car racing victories here at Hockenheim back in 2007 but clearly not so happy with your car today. What were the issues?
VB: Obviously overall, I think as a team we had a good result. Lewis did a really good job in the qualifying. Also, we got a little bit lucky with the Ferraris. Who knows how quick they could have been in Q3 but myself, I did feel OK in practice three, there were no worries really, and felt like qualifying should be fun and interesting but all through the quali I struggled on the brakes quite a lot. Turn Two especially; Turn Six; Turn Eight. So, all the big brakings. Turn Two locking up many times, going straight. So, just the confidence under braking and the bite of the brakes was varying from one lap to another. So, that made it difficult and I felt that was maybe two or three tenths I could have improved in Quali 3 by getting everything spot on - but not more than that. So, yeah, it was not the easiest qualifying and keen to have a look why.
And a difficult race for you tomorrow as a result?
VB: Well, I think tomorrow is a new day and also, as Lewis said, it could be raining and it's always a different today in the wet and everything's still possible. I'm sure it's going to be a good fight.
Questions From The Floor
(Stuart Codling - Autosport) Question for Lewis. Just an enquiry about how you're feeling, with reports you're not feeling 100 per cent. Was there any possibility that you felt you might not have been able to do qualifying today?
LH: Yeah, I wasn't feeling good this morning. A bit of a sore throat. We just prepped, just in case I wasn't going to be able to do the session. I did the practice and we were prepared to be able to put the second driver in, worst case scenario. I got through it good.
(Lawrence Edmondson - ESPN) To all three drivers, when you were talking to the engineers this morning, where did you think Ferrari would be? Did you think they were really the team to beat for pole position?
VB: Yeah, we saw in practice they were very quick and, again, as we've seen the trend this season is all on the straights. They're making big gains on the straights. I think to use, seven-tenths in the full lap. We were gaining a bit in the corners but not quite enough, so we knew they're going to be very difficult to beat in the qualifying. So yeah, it would have been nice to see how they'd have been at the end of the quali - but for sure they're going to be strong tomorrow. If they get everything fixed with their cars.
Lewis, the threat from Ferrari: did you expect them to be able to challenge for pole?
LH: This weekend you mean? I didn't know where we'd be. I think last year it was really close between all three teams, so anticipating, I think they were quickest last year as well. So it seems to be a track that they will be good at. But this weekend, Leclerc was rapid. I think he did a good time in Q1, then Q2 - I think it was his second lap, wasn't it? - so not sure if he had done his first lap, whether or not he would have... but their car sees to working very, very well. So I imaging it would have been very, very close between us at the moment. It is how it is now.
Check out our Saturday gallery from Hockenheim, here.