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Saudi Arabian GP: Post Race press conference

NEWS STORY
06/12/2021

Today's post-race press conference with Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas.

Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Max, well, I don't know where to start. That was an incredible grand prix and in the end second place. Give us your thoughts on this race?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it was quite eventful. A lot of things happened that I don't fully agree with but it is what it is. At least I tried it on track, to give it all. I'm not sure that the tyres were lasting to the end. I think it was good for the beginning of that end of the... the last stint basically, but yeah I was just lacking a bit of rubber towards the end. But nevertheless, still second.

We have to talk through, ultimately, where you lost this grand prix. The instruction came from your team to slow down. Clearly there was a miscommunication or a misunderstanding with Lewis on track and then there was contact. Talk us through your point of view on that incident?
MV: I slowed down. I wanted to let him by. So I'm on the right but he didn't want to overtake and then we touched so, yeah, I don't really understand what happened there.

As to the championship standings, it's all square going into Abu Dhabi.
MV: Yeah, it all will be decided there. Hopefully, of course, we will have a good weekend, but let's see.

Valtteri, your 67th and pretty hard-fought and late-coming podium.
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, it was not an easy day. There were many obstacles and obviously with the red flags and everything made it a bit tricky and with the first red flag being on the hard tyre that was a mistake I think. Some of the guys with the medium tyre got me but then I got the medium after and it was OK. I just kept pushing. It wasn't easy to overtake today but finally on the last straight I got third.

You have definitely got a healthy glow about your face, which suggests you were fighting hard all the way. Put us in the cockpit, how was this first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?
VB: It's a nice track. It's a big challenge physically and mentally. Yeah, a good grand prix and I look forward to coming here next year.

Lewis, your 103rd grand prix win and I think your hardest-fought victory in Formula 1.
Lewis Hamilton: I don't know, I've been racing here a long time, but that was definitely incredibly tough. I tried to be as sensible and as tough as I could be out there, but also sensible, and with all my race experience over the years and just keeping the car on track and staying clean. It was difficult but we persevered as a team. We have had all sorts of things thrown at us, particularly in this second half of the season, so I'm just proud of everyone. And also, I am really grateful for the crowd we have had this weekend. It has been nice to be here.

Lewis, there were so many incidents during that grand prix, so many restarts, but the one we have to talk about is the contact with Max. Tell us about it from your point of view?
LH: Yeah, I didn't quite understand why all of a sudden he hit the brakes quite heavily and then I ran into the back of him. And then he moved on, so I didn't understand exactly what was going on, but then I got a message that he was going to let us pass, so it was a bit confusing.

We're all square going into Abu Dhabi. This championship can go either way.
LH: Well, they have got some raw pace. They have been so quick and it was very hard to overtake them here. We have done an amazing job with what we have. Valtteri did a great job today to get the team points as well, so it's great points for the team. This is for all the guys and girls back at the factory.

The emotions were running very high with the team during the race. You seemed a lot calmer in the cockpit. Some closing thoughts on this victory and this first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?
LH: Well, it's been an amazing event. As I said, I have felt very welcome here. The people have been lovely and the track is phenomenal to drive. Very difficult, physically and mentally, but we wouldn't want it any other way, so onto the next one.

Press Conference

Max, if we can come to you first, what a wild race. Can you just sum it up from your point of view, please?
MV: Confusing! Third, then starting first, dropped to third, third to first, five-second penalty, second, finished second, touches... yeah, I don't know, I mean, I don't agree with all the decisions, but I also don't want to talk about it too much, because I don't think we need to talk about it, they don't deserve any mentions.

You are going to the stewards to discuss the incident on lap 37 at Turn 1...
MV: At Turn 1?

And the incident after that of course, when you and Lewis made contact...
MV: OK.

Can I ask you about that run to Turn 1. What is your take on what happened there?
MV: Yeah, so of course he had the run, a bit like Brazil, and of course I braked late and I think I got a little bit off line at one point I guess and I had a moment, so I went wide, but he also didn't make the corner so we both basically missed the corner and I don't think it's fair to then just say that I get a penalty but, yeah, it is what it is.

What happened after that? Just in terms of the communication with the pit wall?
MV: Yeah, so then at one point they told me I had to give the position back. That was I think just before 22. So after 22-23, I went to drive to the right side and I slowed down and I was braking and downshifting and he just stayed super close behind me and I don't really understand why. I was just trying to let him by. I'm just going slower and slower, pulling the downshift. We had a... oh I don't know, a miscommunication or whatever and he ran into the back of me and that was it.

Was there much damage to your car?
MV: I haven't checked my car. When I jumped out.

How did it feel?
MV: It felt alright - but I think also, well, I was on the Medium tyres and I think just the last few laps the Hard tyres may be a little bit better.

I was going to ask you about that decision to go on the Medium tyre. It got you into the lead of the race at the start, didn't it, but then do you think you would have been able to hold on, had there not been all the incidents? If you'd been leading with Lewis second, do you think you had the pace?
MV: It was a virtual safety car, so you don't really lose time, you know, I think it was actually alright, yeah. It was just difficult. They were very quick, and, you know, especially when you have good pace, and then around here when you're all the time in the tow, the clipping becomes a bit less and you can stay in the DRS, you get more energy, so it's quite efficient.

Final one from me Max. You're level on points going into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi - a race that you dominated last year. How confident are you?
MV: Yeah, let's see. It's very important to have a good Saturday, the car is working well, get the long runs in, and then we'll see what happens - but of course it's exciting. Basically, we start again like we started the season.

Valtteri, coming to you now, well done, a great race by you as well. First up, that was very tight with Esteban Ocon at the end. How satisfying was it to pip him right on the line.
VB: Thank you. I mean, definitely it was an exciting finish, and it was really close, obviously. It was, to be honest. It was harder to get by him today than I thought it would be. He actually was driving really well and they were quite fast, and also before that I was stuck behind Daniel for a long time, which made me consume my tyres quite a lot, so actually my front-right tyre was pretty finished, so that made it even more tricky but yeah, once I dropped to fifth on the first restart, I knew that it was going to be all about being patient and eventually getting there, whatever is going to be possible. It was a bit closer than I thought, but made it.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Jeddah, here.

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