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Italian GP: Post Sprint press conference

NEWS STORY
11/09/2021

Today's post-Sprint press conference with Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Track Interviews - Conducted by Davide Valsecchi

Wonderful performance Daniel, you've been waiting a bit long to be honest. Great show. Congratulations!
Daniel Riccirado: Grazie, Davide. Yeah, it's been a long time to be in this position. It's good to be back. Tomorrow is the important one but we gain a position from Valtteri's problems so we are on the front row, and that's been a long time, so very happy for that.

Tomorrow, start and first corner can be the key of the race. Are you scared or are you going to be full attack?
DR: Full attack. Full attack. I mean today that's what gave me the chance. A good start... I thought maybe I would get Max in Turn 1 but he had the inside, so I look forward to tomorrow.

Max, tell me please about the race? How is the feeling to be here in Monza and how is the feeling to be starting tomorrow in pole position?
Max Verstappen: First of all, it's amazing to be here to see all the Italian fans again. They are incredibly passionate about motor sport in general, so great to see you. Of course, the race, a little bit better than expected. We had a good start and got up to second, so we scored some nice little points. Starting on pole for tomorrow. Nevertheless they still seem very quick but I was giving it all to try to stay close. It's going to be an interesting battle tomorrow.

About the maximum speed. McLaren is very high level, Mercedes are very high level and the straights are very long. How is it going to be tomorrow?
MV: I have to say we did trim our car to have decent top speed so I am not too worried about our top speed in the race. But we also know that Mercedes they have very good pace over the whole lap. But nevertheless we are going to try to have a good race tomorrow.

Valtteri, extremely happy for you, wonderful race, great start, incredible pace. How is your feeling because you deserve it today?
Valtteri Bottas: Thank you. I feel good. It feels like it's been a while since I finished first in a race. Unfortunately, I'm starting from the back tomorrow, but the speed is there so I will be fighting and I will be coming as high as I can tomorrow. But today, I enjoy. It was a very clean race and we had good pace and yeah, very good.

You are doing a wonderful weekend. Tell me please about tomorrow. It's so easy to overtake cars that are slower than you? Because today Hamilton struggled a bit. How is it going to be tomorrow?
VB: It's not going to be easy, that's for sure. When there is a train of cars with DRS it's not easy but obviously strategy-wise we still have free choice of tyre at the start so let's see if we can do something. I will give it all I have, I can promise that.

And are you enjoying this medal, because that was the Olympic champion?
VB: Yes, very nice. Very cool.

Press Conference

Well done Valtteri, that seemed to be the perfect Sprint for you?
VB: Yeah it was good, a good sprint. Everything went smoothly. I had a good start and that was of course the first important thing in the sprint. A good start and the car was very consistent throughout that sprint qualifying race thing. I didn't really do any mistakes. I knew Max was trying hard behind. The gap was pretty consistent. I was just pushing flat out really and at the same time avoiding mistakes. No dramas.

One potentially nervous moment might have been the re-start after the Safety Car, but you managed that well.
VB: Yeah, the re-start can be a bit risky here being in the lead, it's a long main straight but luckily I had quite a good jump through the last corner and all through the straight and I could hold the gap.

Is there a tinge of frustration knowing that you will start from the back tomorrow owing to the grid penalties associated with the change of the power unit.
VB: What can I say! It's been a perfect weekend so far and then I have a grid penalty. But that happens. But it's good to see that we have a strong car and we have good pace, so I'll be fighting tomorrow to come as high as I can tomorrow.

What do you think you can do tomorrow?
VB: Podium is possible. Anything is possible, to be honest, if you look at the race last year, what happened. You never know. I'll keep pushing.

Max, coming to you, that must go down as a good day at the office for you?
MV: I think it was a good day for us. Good start and from there onwards I tried of course to follow Valtteri around, even though I think we lacked a little bit of pace to really mount a challenge but I just tried to stay in the tow a bit. Yeah, from our side, it was good. Two points scored and, of course, starting first tomorrow. Still, I don't expect it to be a very straightforward and easy race because Valtteri coming from the back but also, of course, Lewis starting in P4, they have a lot of pace. Yeah, we'll see what we can do against them.

As you say, you're starting from pole. How important is pole position here at Monza?
MV: If you get cleanly through Turns 1 and 2 of course it's very good. It's still quite a decent run to Turn 1 - but overall if you just have a good start it should be enough to defend. So, yeah, let's see tomorrow.

And Max, with one less practice session this weekend, are there more unknowns going into the grand prix?
MV: Not really. We had FP2 where we did long runs and of course we did the race now, so I think it's pretty straightforward. We know what we have to do, we know where we are lacking but, of course, you know, you cannot change that, so yeah, we'll just try to do the best we can in tomorrow's race.

Daniel, coming to you, many congratulations. A front-row start for you tomorrow. Big moment.
DR: It's been a while. It's been a while since a front row, so thanks to Valtteri for that - sorry about it! But I guess I have to thank you.

VB: No worries!

DR: ... It's cool. First time obviously up here in the Sprint as well. For sure I'm happy. Yeah, we've got the big one tomorrow. I think I've done the job today, ticked the box to get me in a better starting spot, front row. Maybe Mexico was the last time Max and I were on the front row? You're nodding your head, so I remember. Yeah, looking forward to that and hopefully we have strong pace like we did today. It's not enough, it wasn't enough for Max and Valtteri today but I felt like I was able to hold on to third pretty comfortably, so we'll try to learn a bit from today and use that for tomorrow to keep us up in this room.

Talk us through the opening 10 seconds of the sprint - because it got pretty tight down into Turn 1.
DR: It did. It was a good start. I knew I had a good launch. As soon as you drop the clutch you just know. It just bites and grips and tells us 'we're on here'. And then I had a good tow and I had also a clear line braking for Turn 1. So I was able to go quite deep and through maybe I could get Max for a second but then he had the inside for one and I think, if I stayed there, and tried to keep the inside for two, I don't think there was enough room for two cars, so I... somebody just today I think because then maybe Gasly went into the back of me in the apex of two, so I don't know. It was just tight but that's the first chicane. It was just good, hard racing and obviously I got Lando and Lewis so it was still a good first lap for me.

And you were on the soft tyre. How did they hold up over the 18 laps?
DR: They were alright. They were pretty good actually. Obviously we had a Safety Car, which took a few laps out of the race but generally it was pretty decent. It's just hard because these guys pulled away and you don't know if there's any tyre in that's just their car speed. It was comfortable enough for me out there so I think it was a smooth Saturday. Yeah, Saturday!

Check out our Saturday gallery from Monza, here.

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1. Posted by kenji, 12/09/2021 1:53

"Nice one Daniel...although it's early days for a complete comeback, at least it's an excellent improvement, and has to be good for Daniel, McLaren and all the fans."

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