Today's post-qualifying press conference with Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
Track Interviews - Conducted by Jenson Button
Max, we thought you would be challenging the Mercedes in qualifying. Q1 and Q2 seemed really good but it just fell away there in Q3?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I personally never expected to really fight them in qualifying but I think overall so far this weekend it has been really promising and I think we bounced back well from Monza where it was tricky. So at the end to be third here in qualifying, we can be very happy with that.
When you stand here, you really feel the wind and that's just stood here in the pit lane but when you're up in the hills when you are going through Turns 3 and 4 and out the back do you really feel the wind?
MV: Yeah, to be honest, I think it picked up a little bit in Q3, because my first run was not amazing but then the second run I think laptime-wise it was a little bit better but I think the track was not the same because of the wind. But it is what it is. It's really tricky anyway these cars with the wind. But the track is amazing to drive. In qualifying it was really something special.
Congratulations Lewis, you always seem to be able to, as we all know, pull it out when need be. That was very impressive.
Lewis Hamilton: Thank you. It's been a really, really tough weekend if I am really honest. Firstly, this track is phenomenal. Have you ever driven it?
Yes, 2005, a long, long time ago.
LH: Oh jeez, that is a long, long time.
LH: It's a really challenging circuit and as you saw Valtteri was quicker than me all day yesterday and even this morning, and even in Q1. I've been working so hard in the background to really try to improve on my lines, improve on my set-up and with the engineers we did such a great job. The mechanics as always did an amazing job. I finally got the lap I needed. At the end there I think the wind picked up so I wasn't able to go any quicker but nonetheless it was a job done.
It must feel extra special when you have to push yourself that hard, or Valtteri is pushing you that hard, and on such a special circuit?
LH: It's crazy. I don't know if people are seeing, I'm sure they are on TV, but you're going through Turns 6, 7, 8, 9 at like 170-180 mph, and the G-force we are pulling through there is just insane. It just gets more and more as you get through 8 and then through 9. Ten and 1 and 2 were the areas I needed to improve and I managed to pick it up once I got into qualifying. Valtteri did a great job in pushing me but I'm happy to be here.
Valtteri, you've been strong from FP1 pretty much all the way through to Q3. Do you think that yellow flag hampered you in that last run?
Valtteri Bottas: Definitely. Definitely. I still had more, more time in there. I was just waiting for the time to get it all right. Run one was OK but not perfect and I was just looking forward to it but I just didn't get the opportunity. For sure it's disappointing because the speed has been good all weekend.
We've seen. Tomorrow, everybody is thinking this is going to be a procession this race. I do disagree with that. Watching the junior formulas there is quite a lot of overtaking into turn one. Do you think it will possible tomorrow and you can have a proper race with Lewis?
VB: Actually, coming into the weekend we though it was going to be nearly impossible but what we experienced in the practice session, actually the track is so wide and there are so many different lines you can take in the corners so you can avoid the [inaudible] in the corner, so maybe. I really hope so. There's a long run into Turn 1 and I hope the headwind stays for the race start because that would be a nice benefit.
Lewis, many congratulations, what a qualifying session. It's been so close between you and Valtteri this weekend. How hard was it to beat him today?
LH: It's always incredibly hard to beat Valtteri and he's consistently improving and pushing to the limit. Straight from the get-go this weekend Valtteri has had the upper hand. It was difficult at the beginning to know where we stood, it looked like the Red Bulls, Max, was closer to us than perhaps the last race and yeah, Valtteri was quicker all day yesterday, quicker this morning, quicker into Q1. It was like nothing I did, I was making all these changes, I changed a lot in the set-up and again just really studying the kerbs and trying to make sure I improved in all the areas I was weak. And I went out in Q1 and I still wasn't quick enough. But I love that challenge and I really enjoy the battle with Valtteri. Once I got to Q2 I got quite a good lap and my Q3, run one, was a decent lap. I think there was still a little bit of time left on the table so I was hoping to get that for the last one. But I think the wind picked up. I could really feel it a little bit more gusty down the straight up into Turn 1 and the car was sliding around a lot more on that lap. So I ended up being a bit down. But nonetheless I really, really enjoyed qualifying today, this track is amazing. Max was saying we should come here again. Plus, we're in Tuscany, it's a beautiful place to be.
And looking ahead to the race tomorrow, do you think we are going to see overtaking, how many pit stops that kind of thing?
LH: I honestly don't know. I'm not quite sure: hopefully more than one. And in terms of following, it's a medium, high-speed circuit, it's not going to be easy to follow, particularly through that middle sector. But maybe tyre temps, track temp might mean there's more degradation maybe. The corners are very long and you can take multiple lines, which I like. Like through Turn 12 you can take a different line through there. You can take a different line through the last corner and even the first corner. So I'm hopeful that that means a little bit of racing.
Valtteri, coming on to you. You must have fancied your chances of pole position today?
VB: Sorry I don't understand you?
Did you think you were going to get pole position today? You were looking so good, so confident coming into the session?
VB: Yeah, for sure. It's been a good start to the weekend and good practice sessions, including today and after practice three I was still looking at all the things that had to be improved for qualifying. Everything was going nice and smooth, Q1, Q2. The Q3 first lap wasn't quite good enough so I also felt there's definitely time still to be found. I was confident of myself doing it, but obviously there was no chance with the double yellows in the second run. In the end I should have just done a better job in the first run. Lewis managed to find the pace ands his first run was better than mine and that's it.
But you pace in Friday was good. Are you confident going into the race tomorrow?
VB: I am, yeah. The long runs were good so it's still all to play for. Of course it would be nicer to start from pole but it's one of the longest runs of this season into Turn 1 and if the headwind stays the towing is going to be quite powerful into Turn 1, so try to turn my thoughts into the race.
Max, good to see Red Bull back up there again this weekend. Just how competitive was the car? How difficult was it to dial it into this race track?
MV: Luckily from the start I think the car was in a good window. Night and day difference compared to Monza, but of course at Monza downforce levels and everything is very different. So I felt very happy in the car. It was all about fine-tuning things and, of course, trying to do things better - but overall it's been a very positive weekend so far. We were reasonably close to them now, in qualifying so yeah, can be happy with that. Q3, I expected a little bit more from Q3 but my first run wasn't, let's say, the best lap of my life. It wasn't bad - but it wasn't the best. And then yeah, I wanted to push a bit more in the second run. Even when I was close to Lewis, so bit more in a tow but, like Lewis said, I think the wind picked up, so yeah, I think the track was just a bit slower. I still managed to improve a little bit, so it meant, I think, there was still a little bit more in it - but not four-tenths, I think it was, or whatever. Anyway, I didn't expect to beat them in qualifying but I'm pleased that we are back in third in qualifying and actually yeah, not too far away.
Didn't expect to beat them in qualifying but do you expect to be closer in the race?
MV: Well, for once we have quite decent top speed now this year, so I think that's quite good around here - but it won't be easy to pass but at least the track, the last few corners, they are a bit wide and long so you can do a few different lines - but it's all going to depend, anyway, first of all on if you have the pace to follow, and second of all, of course tyre degradation.
Check out our Saturday gallery from Mugello, here.