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Italian GP: Post Race press conference

NEWS STORY
12/09/2021

Today's post-race press conference with Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas.

Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Valtteri not a bad weekend for you, first in the sprint yesterday and third today from the back of the grid. Talk us through the race?
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, starting from the back it's never easy. I told the team that I was going to be on the podium today and that's what we did. I'm glad that we got more points than Red Bull and yeah, otherwise we maximised from where I started. Obviously a shame with the crash between Lewis and Max, we lost some points there, but from my side it was good fun.

You mention that crash. Did you see it at all on the big screens?
VB: I didn't see really what happened.

We've got a replay for you if you want to see it for the first time. Any initial comments?
VB: I don't know. It's unfortunate.

I understand it takes time to digest. Ahead of the next race weekend I guess you now just focus on finishing out your career with Mercedes with the best possible results?
VB: Yeah, thanks. A strong weekend from my side, the pace has been good, so it will be nice to have one week of rest and then we'll go again.

Lando, big smile! A very important day for McLaren, and amazingly McLaren is the only team to get a one-two this season. I know you would have preferred that you were winning it but it's a big moment for the team and your journey with them.
Lando Norris: Yeah, first of all big thanks to everyone, all the fans, all the team. We've had a pretty awesome weekend. I don't know, what four years I joined the team and we've been working towards this and we got a one-two finally. A good step for us. I'm happy for Daniel getting the win and me in P2. Just happy for the team.

That's great, but you are a racer and we heard you on the radio giving Daniel the hurry-up. Was there a moment where you were hoping that maybe it could be like earlier in the year, in Imola, where Daniel moved to one side and could come through for the victory?
LN: Of course. You've been in that position before, where you want to go for it but I'm also here for the long-term, I'm here for the team. I don't know, it could have ended up like the other two ended up. I'm just happy. I'm happy finishing second. I'm happy for Daniel in first place. I'll have my chance in the future, It's all good.

Daniel Ricciardo, you're a winner again?
Daniel Ricciardo: Can I swear?

No, you can't.
DR: About [blank] time!

This is crucial. This is where it really happened for you at the start. Talk us through it.
DR: Yeah, i mean obviously it worked well for me yesterday and I knew... To be honest, even if we got the start there was never a guarantee we would lead the whole race, but I was able to hold firm out front during the first stint. I wouldn't say we had mega speed but it was enough to keep Max behind and then, I don't know, there were safety cars and this and that. To lead literally from start to finish, I don't think any of us expected that. But I don't know, there was something in me on Friday. I knew something good was to come. Let's just say that.

Whatever that was that was in you on Friday, you want to keep some of that for the next events. This is a big day of celebration for you as a driver and for McLaren as a team on the way back. We've been waiting for you to show this kind of pace and performance. Put us in the car. The last couple of races have been strong for you.
DR: Yeah, I've just been sandbagging the whole year! You know, thirds, fourths, fifths, you might as well just win. That's what I did! You know, honestly, the August break is good, just to reset. I've felt better the last three weekends. To not only win, but to get a one-two, it's insane! For McLaren to be on the podium is huge, let alone a one-two. This is for team papaya. For once, I'm lost for words.

Press Conference

Huge congratulations Daniel, just give us an idea of what this means to you?
DR: Umm... It's... Phew... Probably that! I don't know. I've done a few interviews since the race and I probably said something different for each interview. Like, today was something but the whole year has been something. Something like a little foreign for me, something that's been more challenging I think than I've had before. Obviously everyone sees. We're an international sport so everyone has been aware of some of the struggles I've had this year. I think to come back from that, not only to win but as a team to get a one-two... I don't know. It's crazy. I think after Friday... even before Friday, but I knew after Friday that we had something this weekend. I think that's why I was so kind of like just fired up because I knew it could have been a little bit better and I just didn't want to waste that opportunity and obviously I haven't had that many this year, or put myself in that position, so yeah, I think from that moment on it was pretty much on.

How important is this win for you?
DR: It means everything. I definitely try not to, like, make or dictate my life happiness around the sport, because it's been three and a half years since I won, so I'd be pretty miserable most of the time if I just based my happiness on winning races. I think, like, through it all and a lot has happened since Monaco 2018, so to be back here in this moment that's why we love the sport. It makes all those crappier days worth it and it's as simple as that. There's a high that you get from this moment right now that... I'll probably watch this interview in a few days and I'll be like: 'Oh, I actually said that?' I'm still floating right now to be honest. That's what it does. And that's what draws you back. It's wild.

VB: It's the wine.

DR: Ha! Valtteri thinks it's the bubbly. There is probably a bit of that. It's just wild but I certainly... There have been lows this year but deep down I never lost faith or the belief. I think I also just needed to step back and I think that's where having some time off in August helped. I truly think that helped this weekend get to this position.

Tell us about the pace of the car in the race? How comfortable were you early on, in the lead, when all of the frontrunners were still in the race?
DR: I think once I knew Max was... There were some laps where he pushed up closer but I never really had to properly defend. He was there but I knew if I didn't make a mistake it was going to be hard for him to... Unless he kind of sent a little bit of a Hail Mary, it was going to be tough for him to pass. I think where I felt I was a little vulnerable was at the end of that stint, where the tyres were going off, but I believe the others were suffering as well. So in my head I was thinking we were going to be vulnerable in that moment. I pitted and I think everyone else pitted as well, so I think we were all struggling at the same moment. And it was then, when we came back out in the lead, then I was like 'alright, we've got this today', like unless something unfortunate happens we can really win this race. From that moment on it was like... I think that's when any last bit of belief you need you top it up and you're like 'alright, someone is going to have to take it from me today, because otherwise we're winning this thing'.

Very well done, Daniel, thank you. Lando, many congratulations. Your fifth podium ion Formula and your best result in F1 so far. Give us a flavour of what this means to you?
LN: I don't know where to start. I think it is incredible. To be honest I don't know what it means to me. The main thing it means to me is our resolve as a team. Whether I'm second, third or first, I think the best thing is having that one-two for the team and securing maximum points and it's just such a cool feeling to be part of this. A bit lost for words in a way but I'm happy for myself, to be here again, to have executed the race the way we did, with the overtakes and the strategy and the defending. But yeah, happy for Daniel and the whole team because it's a pretty awesome achievement for all of us.

Well Lando, tell us about some of that defensive driving you had to do. Particularly against Lewis Hamilton early in the race.
LN: Yeah, I think I had a good warm-up for that yesterday with 18 laps trying to defend from him. I could figure him out quite quickly, where he was going to strong and weak and so on, and he was on the hard tyre, so for the majority of it, I could hold him off reasonably easily but the last two or three laps of the stint, the hard tyre started to come back to him quite a bit – or the mediums started to drop away so he actually got past me, he then boxed and we overcut him straight away. So, it was... just the whole race was stressful, not going to lie. There was not one moment where I thought I could relax and just chill-out a little bit. But that definitely makes it a bit more special, more worthwhile to kind of have to really work for it, and end up in this position to get past Charles as well on the restart, and so on. Yeah, definitely makes it more worthwhile, so a tough race, maybe made a little bit easier in the middle after the pitstops with what happened – but it still wasn't easy with what happened but still wasn't easy from that point on, we still had to work quite hard for it. Yeah.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monza, here.

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