Q: So Nico, many congratulations, you’ve taken it down to the wire then. Pole position trophy won yesterday and then an important win today. Is this one of your best? How good does it feel to have delivered today under pressure?
NR: Yeah, it was a great weekend all in all. Austin was a tough day for me on Sunday, so yeah, it was important for me to just improve, because just didn’t do a good enough job in the race in Austin. Today I managed to do that, so that I’m happy about. I learned from Austin and did better so that’s a big step in the right direction. One race too late but, y’know, there’s still all to play for. Now I’m just hoping for [Abu Dhabi] and need to try and keep this going now. Really feeling good in the car and everything. And it was a great race with Lewis. He had a great race too, just behind me all the time. I always needed to make sure that the gap was always such that there was no chance for him to go for the overtake – unlike Austin. And managed to do that, so that was good.
Q: Lewis, with a 17-point lead the numbers still favour you going into that title showdown – but at the end there we heard your team say to you on the radio “sorry for the stop”. You tried to do two hot laps coming into your second stop, you were fastest lap of the race on the first one but then you spun on the second one, dropped seven seconds to Nico. You managed to close it up – but do you think that spin cost you chance of a victory today?
LH: I think ultimately it cost me the win, yeah. I mean, I was much quicker up until that point and on that lap I’d gone a second quicker whilst Nico pitted and I thought I was going to pit at the end of that lap so I used everything of the tyres. The next lap, I had nothing left. Either way, at the end of the day, I made a mistake, I locked the rears into Turn Four and with the under-rotation, just spun me around. Second time it’s happened this weekend. So, no-one’s fault but mine. Still, great result for the team. Nico drove really well, great, defensive, no mistakes and ultimately we got a one-two. I really was pushing right to the chequered flag, which is what motor racing’s all about. So I really enjoyed it.
Q: It is a record, 11 one-two finishes, beaten the record of Senna and Prost from 1988 – just a quick word from the two of you on another one-two.
NR: It’s fantastic. The team is doing such an awesome job, all-in-all. Just keeping on pushing, development rate through the year also. It’s so great to be a part of that movement. And you can feel it in the team. Everybody is really, really pumped and just fully head-down focussed all the way. Because it’s also… it’s a change now. We used to be always hunting and now we’re the hunted, and that’s a big change. It’s great to see how the team has adapted and not slackened off because that is always difficult, when you get to the front to then stay there. It seems at the moment that we’re really going strong and that’s fantastic.
Lewis, nice bit of history?
LH: Absolutely incredible. This year as a team we’ve broken a couple of records and it’s just an unbelievable job by the team, obviously for us to be able to finish one-two, great reliability and ultimately the car has been the best car I’ve ever driven so big thank you to all the guys at the factory.
Q: Felipe, great response from the crowd here to you today. It’s like a win. Obviously you managed to survive quite a lot of things in that race: a penalty you had to serve for speeding in the pitlane; you went and paid a visit to another pitbox on your way to your own – but you managed to recover from that and get the podium you so badly wanted here this weekend. What made the difference for you today?
FM: I think the race was amazing. Everything that happened in my race today. So, I think the most important thing was that the pace was there, the car was quick. I’ve been so happy with the car during the whole all weekend. The car was so competitive – unfortunately not enough to beat these guys here, which is winning all the races. I’m so happy with the race, not happy with my mistakes today. Just got a problem when I braked for the pitstop, I pressed the pit-limiter but for whatever reason the pit-limiter was not inside, and then just past the speed I brake, I press again and it was a problem I had today. And then I managed to catch the guys trying to put the gap again. The car was fantastic. I managed to overtake many cars, catch Button as well, that he was in front. Then I stop. I was opening the gap compared to Jenson for about five, six seconds, maybe even more. Then I stop in the wrong garage. I stop in the McLaren because they change our garage this race and we are a lot more in the middle and McLaren with the similar colour – not white but y’know – I thought it was our garage. They were ready. Then I just stopped there and lost a lot of time because of that. But anyway, it was not enough to… pushing again, doing quick laps all the time and managing the tyres and just opening again compared to Jenson. It was really a fantastic race, and these people… they’re still here, singing and screaming. It’s amazing. The whole energy that I had this weekend, it’s difficult to explain. Difficult to explain the emotion – so thank you very much for all of our Torcida [fan club] that was pushing the whole weekend, every day. It was amazing.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Rodrigo Franca – VIP Magazine) Question to Nico and Lewis: of course, there are double points for Abu Dhabi, the chase for the title. Would you guys, if you had the chance to change it for a single race, not double points, would you do that and why?
NR: Well, I find it artificial and I don’t like it in general. Of course, now, with the way it is, it’s great for me now, at the moment, but you know that’s just because of the situation but in general… There are other sports which have tried the same sort of thing, like NASCAR and they’ve done this very successfully. The fans love it and everything, so we need to keep on reviewing it. It’s good to try something and we’ll see how it goes this year. The important thing is that the fans are happy, that’s the most important thing, and we need to see if we keep on doing it or change or whatever.
LH: The same as Nico.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Nico, you must win in Abu Dhabi but Lewis has to finish third for you to win the championship. Who could help you? Do you think somebody…
NR: He’s the man (indicating Felipe). I need some Felipe Massa help.
FM: I hope I win!
NR: No, that’s not so much help. Not so fast, in between.
Q: (Vladimir Rogovets – SB – Belarus Segodnya) Felipe, here you were really quick today. You were first after the champions, Mercedes. You are now 36 years old, for example, Max Verstappen will be 17 for his first Grand Prix. How long will you be staying a Formula One driver?
FM: Me? I don’t know. I will stay while I have this type of results, while I am competitive and while I enjoy it, what I’m doing so I’m really enjoying my moment, even if I want to have better results like we’re having today. So I want to keep this moment until I am enjoying myself. I don’t see the point to stop. I’m driving for a fantastic team, they really like me, they really support me, respect me, so I’m here and I think Verstappen is doing a good job. He’s young but he’s quick, he’s won everything he could until now so he has a talent. We cannot forget that we got our opportunity to get into Formula One, we show our talent and we need to understand… It’s true that he’s a little bit too young. If I need to chose, I would prefer to wait a little more, but you have maybe one opportunity in Formula One so you need to be ready. I would say that maybe now it’s a little bit easier with the car, with driving now, how it is with all this technology. Maybe it’s a little bit easier compared to when I started for example. The car was a little bit more difficult to drive, so it was a little more physical as well compared to now. Now it’s so easy to race. I think that in this aspect, it’s a little bit easier for a young driver to start but it’s important to have the talent and to have everything inside his brain so he can do a good job.
Q: (Felipe Siquera – globoesporte.com) Massa, when you came into the McLaren pits, when you pushed the wrong button, did you think you could lose the podium at that moment?
FM: Yeah. I think I could lose the podium because of the first mistake with the five second penalty, speeding in the pit lane. I think I could have lost the podium there. So disappointed that that thing happened and then I was pushing even harder. The problem is that you cannot push so hard because otherwise you use the tyres too much. I managed to take care of the tyres and I managed to put a good pace straightaway, but I was worried by the first mistake. Not the second because Jenson was behind me and it was not enough to lose the position, but the first one, yes.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Lewis, when you locked the rears in turn four, was it because of the graining on the rears? We also saw you had a blistered right front; did that have anything to do with it?
LH: No, literally because I took too much… when they told me to push, I was under the impression that I had only one lap to do, so I used all the tyres that I had left, that I had saved and when they told me to go by, I kept pushing but I think the rears were grained, the rears were dead and I just lost a little bit of the grip, but up until then it was looking great. Overall, I’m really happy. I came back, I clearly had a lot more pace than Nico today. I know that he would have seen that, obviously, by closing down the seven seconds (gap) but he did a good job to not make any mistakes while I was there, so I’m looking forward to the next race.
Q: (Ted Kravitz – Sky Sports) Nico, it’s been an immaculate weekend for you. Were you confident that you would have been able to keep Lewis behind you even if he had not had that spin? And you didn’t look particularly happy coming off the podium, what was that about?
NR: No, I am happy, very happy. I don’t know; that was a wrong impression. No, I was confident, yes, definitely, because already in the first stint I could see that I could control the gap and could just make sure that Lewis didn’t come into the region where he could launch an attack, so from that point of view, once I saw that, I was very confident that I could keep on controlling the gap for the whole race. Also, when Lewis had the spin and was further behind, I saved more tyres than I normally would have done and so that I could just make sure that at the end of the stint I had enough, because it was so critical on tyres today and that worked out really well too.
Q: (Leandro Alvares – Auto Esporte) Lewis, Senna was the last champion with a turbo engine; now you have the chance in this new era. As an Ayrton fan, does it mean anything to you?
LH: That he won? I mean winning this championship at the moment has no relation to Senna. No, this is something me and my family have worked very hard to do but of course, for me, Ayrton was my favourite driver of all time. Whenever my name is mentioned in the same sentence, I feel very honoured, very proud and naturally, he was a genius and a perfectionist at what he did and that’s what I aspire to be like.
Q: (Claudio Nogueira – O Globo) For both Lewis and Nico, is it more difficult to fight against your teammate or against a driver from another team, driving for the title?
NR: That’s a difficult one. I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s… I think it’s the same you know. Lewis is a really strong competitor, and OK, he has the same car as me, that has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that the car is the same, so that, for example, today I know that he didn’t have more top speed than me so I know exactly what he has. I don’t know, it’s difficult to answer, but of course it is a great challenge, it’s a great battle, fantastic also that the team is always letting us race, letting us battle, and also treating us 100 percent equally at all times. That’s really important. We’re both very lucky to be in that situation and that’s awesome.
LH: They’re both completely different. I would imagine it’s probably harder with the same car because only you can make the difference whereas when you’re racing another team, they will be races where one is quicker, the other is quicker as you saw in the championship with me and Felipe. There were tracks where he was quicker and there were tracks that I was quicker at. It’s a different championship, for sure.
Q: (Renan Couto – Warm-Up) Felipe, are you confident that you keep this pace at the next race in Abu Dhabi?
FM: Yeah, I am. I’ve been confident that we will have the car to fight for the podium in most of the races, as we saw in the last race where we were fighting for the podium. Unfortunately I lost the podium in the last race but we’ve had many podiums in the last races as a team and I really believe we can fight and we can have the possibility to be on the podium again in the next race. The car is good, competitive and I don’t think anybody will have different pieces so whatever things that will make the car quicker than this track, so I really hope we can be very strong on that track as well.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Universo OnLine) Lewis, the last two times you arrived at the last race of the season with the chance of being World Champion, here at this circuit in 2007 and 2008, you were starting Formula One and you made small mistakes. How do you feel yourself for the next race in the same condition? You are very close to being World Champion; do you feel more prepared, the chance of making small mistakes are maybe reduced? If you remember, you also made a mistake today.
LH: Not really. I think today…. I think it was a lot different back then and obviously today I recovered from it, much better than perhaps I did in the past. Today wasn’t racing to win the World Championship as I was obviously trying to get points. The next one is a different one and as I’m approaching it, I guess I would decide how I approach it.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, you were very fast in the first and last sector but you were always losing quite a lot to Nico in the middle one. Was it because there was a little bit of a difference in the set-up? And do you think you had a chance at some point to attack or in the last few laps you were happy with it?
LH: When I was close to him or in general? In the middle sector it’s all downforce. Due to being right behind him, I couldn’t get the exit of turn nine so I would lose out through that middle sector and I couldn’t stay close in the last sector. Obviously if I was in clean air it would be different.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) And to both of you, after Abu Dhabi, when the championship is over, do you think that you’re going to sit together somewhere, go over the season, discuss what happened, about the hard times you had and get over it?
FM: I think they will move to the same apartment.
LH: Well, we live in the same building so…
FM: You’d spend a lot less money living together so it’s easy.
LH: I don’t think so.
NR: Well, we’ll see. At the moment it’s very neutral, the relationship, and that’s where it always comes back to. Of course we’ve had difficult times and then better times. I think it’s always going to be like that. It’s just very competitive, you know? It’s a great competition, exactly the same as it was 15 years ago all over again. Now I just hope that we have a fantastic last race. It’s going to be exciting, that’s for sure and we’ll see who wins.