Today's post-race press conference with Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Track Interviews - Conducted by Johnny Herbert
Max, second place. Interesting battle going down to Turn 1. You seemed to get off the line well but then Valtteri got in front of you. But of course then you had Daniel Ricciardo at your side and you decided to go through that penalty chicane. What was it like for you?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, just very low grip on the inside, so that cost us a bit but at the end it was quite interesting the first few corners. Of course I had to take that other chicane and luckily got through there without any issues. After that, after the re-start I was a little bit slower on the medium, I was having a bit of problems with the balance. But once we went on that hard tyre I think we were a little bit more competitive so pretty happy about that. At the end to be able to split the Mercedes cars again, I think we can be pleased with that.
Were there any worries at some point once you saw Lewis getting to third place. Did you think "now I've got a fight on my hands"?
MV: No, I was trying to do my own race there. If they are faster they will anyway pass you. I think we managed it well and I did everything I could.
You've got to be happy though, second place going into the Nurburgring next time out?
MV: Yeah, I'm very happy with second, especially after two DNFs. Again a good amount of points.
Well done. Lewis, what a frustrating day for you. What happened with the practice starts and of course then that 10-second penalty you got? What happened there?
Lewis Hamilton: First, I want to say a big thanks to all the fans that came this weekend. A big thank you. Spasiba. Yeah, just not the greatest day, but it is what it is.
How did that go wrong? I know there were some notes that had come out from the FIA; Michael Masi had mentioned about where you can and cannot start? Why is it you ended up so far down the end of the pit lane?
LH: It doesn't matter. It's done now. I'll take the points that I got and move on.
The race itself, though, great little comeback from you.
LH: Not particularly. I didn't really do much. I just held my position so congratulations to Valtteri.
Valtteri, race win but it was very tricky going down to Turn 2 where you tried to go round the outside of Lewis but you got stuck on that kerb. Just talk us through that?
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, obviously I tried. I knew the start would be the start would be the first opportunity but actually it was a bit compromised because there was like a massive bee or something that hit my visor just before braking, so I couldn't really see when I should brake, so that's why I went too deep. I knew it was going to be a long race after that and with the medium tyre I had there would be opportunities but obviously Lewis had the penalty so once I was in clean air I felt the pace was pretty awesome and I could control everything.
What about Max? He was obviously there a little bit earlier on and he was pushing you very hard. Were you a bit concerned in those early laps that he might challenge you?
VB: I wasn't concerned at any point, because looking at the [inaudible] for today I knew how many opportunities there would be and yeah, never give up, it's a good day.
Well, it's your ninth win and your second here in Russia, so going towards the Nurburgring you must have a lot of confidence to take there?
VB: For sure. It's nice to get a win again. It's been a while. Definitely good. I need to try and keep the momentum. Again I managed to squeeze a few good points against Lewis. There are still quite a few races to go. You just never know. I'll keep pushing and won't give up and we'll see how it ends up.
Man congratulations Valtteri. Your win in Austria seems a while ago. How good did it feel to hear the Finnish national anthem on the podium?
VB: Definitely. It's been a while ago but it's been so close many times and I feel my race pace, especially this season, has been quite a bit better than any season before so I can't say it's been frustrating but you know it's been a bit annoying that it's been close but nearly there. But things definitely did go my way today, as I have been saying that things can't go against you forever. So, definitely really satisfying today to get the win. It felt like it was well earned. Obviously I consider myself lucky as well with Lewis' penalty. But otherwise it was a strong race and really I feel that it can give me a confidence boost and good momentum for the next races.
Can you just talk us through the race a bit? Good start, you overtook Max and you didn't really look back from there from what it looked like?
VB: Yeah, it was a good start. I think Lewis has a good start as well. But obviously I had the tow. I went outside, braked, perhaps slightly too late so went a bit deep into Turn 2, so Lewis maintained the lead. But then I was just trying to be there because I knew that with the medium tyre I knew would have the advantage once Lewis had to stop. When I was in clean air it really felt pretty good and the pace was strong. Same with the hard tyre. I could really feel that I could control the race. I was actually pretty happy there were no red flags or safety cars this time around towards the end of the race.
Do you think you could have beaten Lewis today if there had been no penalties for him?
VB: Going to today I knew that there would be opportunities. I knew that one of the best ones would be the race start but I knew that even if I can't make it there it's now over, because obviously with the medium tyre it's quite an advantage in race time and in terms of strategy, so yes, of course I believed I could do it. But who knows. He got that penalty and that's it.
Max, after two difficult races in Italy, how satisfying is it to have a clean race and to come home on the podium?
MV: Yeah, I mean that's how it should be every single weekend. So, of course it was not good, the last two weekends and I think now, to be back on the podium and in second, I think for us is a great result on a track where normally we are not that competitive and we never scored a podium before as well. So, I'm very happy with that. The race itself, the start was pretty bad but it was just so low grip on the inside, the right-hand side, it seemed like everybody had a really poor start, so just felt like... Even then during the race, the first lap I had a bit of a battle with Daniel to get back into third and I had a nice off-road experience through the bollards so... nice. And then for there onwards, on the Medium tyre it was just not really having a great balance. A bit like I had in Q1 and Q2 yesterday where I just couldn't push the entries of the corners and I couldn't keep up with them. So, just tried to not lose too much time. Then once we pitted, put the hard tyres on, everything was a bit more stable and a bit better balanced. I was pleased with that. The second stint was pretty OK. Very happy with second.
You say the second stint was good but did you ever think you could challenge Valtteri for the win?
MV: No, because he was already too far ahead anyway. I think. Once we pitted it was 12 seconds or something. That's very hard to close - and anyway, following around here on the same tyre, more or less the same pace, I think it's very difficult.
Lewis, like yesterday, it was another eventful day for you. How do you sum it all up?
LH: Uneventful. It wasn't that eventful, to be honest. I started first, was in first, I came out third, so, not the most eventful day.
Well it looked eventful from the outside, particularly before the start. That's when it started to unravel, when you were doing your practice starts on your way to the grid. Can you just talk us through your communication with the team, and why you elected to do the starts where you did?
LH: Generally, if you look at probably every race that I've done this year, at least, I always start further down. Never, ever had a problem, done it for years. Here I haven't done that before, I would say, but it says you have to be on the right after the lights, it doesn't say how far, and so often... I don't like to be on the rubber, that's where everyone has done all their starts so it's not representative of what it's like on the grid, so I try to get onto the surface that doesn't have any rubber.
Did you communicate with the team, ask if it was OK to do it where you did it?
LH: I did, and as far as we were aware, it was OK. It's no different to Brazil. You drive to the end of the pit lane and you do your start. It's actually probably safer where I was, compared to Brazil, because there was a lot more space on the left... so interesting decision.
Check out our Sunday gallery from Sochi, here.