Today's post-race press conference with Vallteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris.
Track Interviews - Conducted by Jenson Button
Q: Valtteri, wow! I mean the pressure on you through that race. One safety car, fair enough, but two and the tyre changes for people behind you, but you held it together man. Congratulations.
Valtteri Bottas: Thank you, yeah. There was definitely quite a bit of pressure all through the race. I mean one safety car was still OK, but with the last safety car, I was like: ‘Come on, again?' There were so many chances to get the lead if I made even a small mistake. He was really quick today, but I managed to keep it together and I could really control the race from my side and obviously no better way to start the season.
Q: Yeah, it's such an important way to start the season. Having Lewis bearing down on you for most of that race must have been so, so tough. Especially because you had warnings from the team over sensor issues. We saw so many failures out there, I think because of the gearbox, that must have added even more pressure?
VB: Yeah, we had to manage the car quite a lot, so couldn't really use4 all the kerbs and at some point I was slightly worried that everything would be OK, but I'm glad, both of the cars managed to finish and in the teams standings we're leading and that's a very good sign.
Q: Charles, I bet you didn't expect that result today?
Charles Leclerc: I did not expect it either. A huge surprise but a good one. I think we did everything perfect today to finish second. We had a little bit of luck obviously, with Lewis' penalty and some crashes here and there but it's part of the race too and yeah, that was the goal - to take every opportunity we had, even though we didn't have the pace to finish where we were I think. But P2 - I'm extremely satisfied. There's still a lot of work to do. We are still far away, we are not where we want to be, but anything is possible, so we need to keep the mental strong, all the team work as a team and I'm pretty sure we will come back where want, but it will take time.
Q: You still made the moves count when you had to out there. You were making some great moves in the race. Every time there was an opportunity you seemed to take it and when you are in the position you are, you really have to.
CL: Yeah, I wanted to be very aggressive because at every safety car I was seeing I was really struggling on exit of Turn 1 all the way to Turn 3 and I knew that there was no opportunity for me here but I knew that my opportunity would come if someone would do a mistake and Lando slowed down a little bit with Sergio at one point and I went for it. And the other one with Sergio also was pretty tough but I really enjoyed it.
Q: Where is Lando? I really want to give you a hug now mate, but I can't. No words. Awesome. A fantastic race. You guys were always near the front but you got there in the end, you got that first podium. How does it feel?
Lando Norris: I don't know, I'm speechless I think. The were a few points during the race where I thought I kind of fudged it up quite a bit. I dropped to fifth with a few laps to go. Carlos was almost getting past me, but I didn't give up and I managed to get past Pérez and I ended up on the podium! It was a long race but I kept going, I kept trying to give it my all. A pretty cool last few laps having to push as much as I can, and you can tell, I'm a bit out of breath. I'm so happy and proud of the team. Considering where we were a few years ago, to last year, to now, I think is a pretty cool achievement and I'm proud to be part of it all.
Q: As you should be. Obviously when you lose your rhythm around here it's very tricky and as you said you almost got passed by Carlos but then you came back so strong and then you attacked Checo. Very aggressive but it had to be done I guess t6o get within the five-second limit of Lewis. And also you must have a message for this team that has produced this great car for you this weekend?
LN: The last few laps... when I had to get past Checo, I just knew he had a five-second penalty but nothing more than that. I always seemed to struggle when I was close to the cars ahead, I always seemed more vulnerable to the guys behind. So I knew... not just because of Lewis, because I didn't know at that time, but I knew I had to try to get past him and then there was the Lewis penalty that came up and then I had to turn it up a little bit and start pushing. Like you said, it's a lot about rhythm here and I had three really tough laps, locking up, and it was going downhill quite quickly but I recovered well I think and I'm here so I'm happy.
Q: Valtteri, many congratulations. You led every lap but it looked far from easy. Just talk us through it?
VB: Well, winning a Formula 1 Grand Prix is never easy but today definitely come easy at all. In the first stint Lewis lost a bit of time getting through the Red Bulls, so there was quite a bit of margin. So the first stint actually wasn't that bad, because I had a decent gap, so I could really control and really make sure we could get to the target stop lap. And I tried to do the right things with the tyres and maintaining the car. The second stint, there was never like massive pressure because I was in front and I could really make sure that we could make it to the end. But there were all these variables in the race. We had some issues with some sensors that were getting damaged by the vibration of the pretty harsh kerbs here, so I had to avoid kerbing. So that costs quite a bit of lap time. And whe4n you're in the lead, safety car after another, and by the last one I was like "come on", because in the lead you just want things to be constant and trouble free. So there were many variables. I managed to dodge many bullets today and get the win.
Q: And the re-starts each time, you nailed them?
VB: Yeah, I think I'm starting to master the re-starts on this track soon, because we had so many today. But you always try to do something different each time., I think the last one was a bit on the limit with safety car line one, crossing with the safety car, but otherwise they were good.
Q: Charles, after you day yesterday when you qualified seventh, I guess you must be very pleased today?
CL: Well I'm extremely happy. It feels like a victory today. We have been struggling from the beginning of the weekend. We've had luck in this race with the various safety cars, crashes, penalties but in the end we stayed on track. I gave my maximum and I think we managed the race perfectly with the package we have for the moment and to have a P2, a second place, with the performance we had all weekend, we made the best out of it and I'm extremely happy about our result because the performance is not where we want to be.
Q: And was the car much more competitive today than it was over one lap yesterday?
CL: No. No, unfortunately not. We are quick around the corners but we struggle, so we will have a new package in Hungary to try to fix a little bit more this issue. But we will see. It has been a very, very difficult race today, struggling to overtake and every time someone was making a mistake then I was being very aggressive to try to take the opportunity, which I did, and I'm very happy again to be P2.
Q: Well done, Lando, coming to you. Your first podium in Formula 1. You've had a few minutes now to digest it all. What are your emotions now.
LN: I don't know... I need to get another one of these (masks). This one is full of champagne, which I'm very happy to say, but it's like suction, I can't breathe in it! I'm realty struggling. Cheers. Sorry. I'm just so happy. I was very happy after yesterday. I think we overachieved. We didn't overachieve but we just maximised everything we had. We just did better than we thought we were going to do because we knew Ferrari were strong and the Racing Points were strong and we knew they were going to be strong today, which they were compared to us. I think today's race highlighted that we had to keep on pushing through the whole race. Obviously it's nice when you have a car which is compared to last year more competitive and you can be there or thereabouts on safety car re-starts and so on. I'm so happy, because it very easily could have been the opposite of the result I have right now. I almost got back down to sixth after Charles passed me and it was kind of going downhill and I was all over the place, locking up, going wide, but I knew I had good pace in the car so I had to get my head down and try to get past Perez when he got a five second penalty and yeah, I was fairly aggressive with my overtake but I had to be at that point and then Lewis had a five-second and I only managed to get him on the final lap of the race. I think it was 5.8 onto the final lap and I managed to get it down to 4.8, so I wasn't in the position I was in and if I didn't put in the fastest lap of the race, which I'm very proud of, I wouldn't be here. I just want to say big thanks to the team. I'm probably rambling on a lot but I'm just super happy.