Q: Lewis, maybe one of the key talking points was the pace on slick tyres on a damp track: over a second a lap faster than your competitors.
LH: Firstly, just a very, very special weekend for me. To see so many fans out this weekend, I thought that I’d seen it all here last year but I’m really just… I love those guys – thank you so much for coming. An amazing job done by the team back at the factory, such a large group of people, to make the car that me and Nico have to race as we have. The race was very, very tough. Very slippery off the start, I think for both of us – but it made it more exciting. I was chasing down the Williams. Very, very hard to get close and overtake but yes, very good. I got close enough on the first pitstop. Came out ahead after a really good out-lap. And then the rain came and I think I just lost temperature in my front tyres. It’s always trickier for the guy who’s out in the lead because you’re the first one to get to it and it’s questionable how much risk you take. But yeah, for the first time actually, I think the first time in my whole Formula One career, I made the perfectly right choice in coming in now. I could see the rain coming more and I’ve never had that before, so I feel extremely happy about that. And after that was just… I kept seeing as I was going around, Turn Seven, the last corner I could see in the crowd just cheering me on every time I came by and just spurring me along. I just didn’t want to drop it for them. And really I’m also very honoured just to be here representing the Brits, to have the British flag up there.
Q: Nico, not perhaps the start that anybody expected. It was a Williams 1-2 for the first 20 laps of this grand prix. You, obviously, weren’t able to get ahead of them – because you had second choice of strategy I guess at the first stop – so you found yourself behind them and you were then told, “right, we go Plan B, be aggressive”. Tell us a little bit about that phase of your grand prix.
NR: Yeah, that was not such a great phase because I had these two Williams in front and was completely blocked and couldn’t get close. So that was a bit annoying. And then I was very thankful when the rain came. I felt great when it started raining. I really was able to attack and pass both Williams and close in on Lewis a lot. I was hoping it would stay more or less like that, and I thought I could attack Lewis at some point – and then Lewis boxed. I was pretty sure it was the wrong call because it was still touch-and-go at that time. So I was actually quite happy that he boxed. But then it was the right call in the end. It started raining more on that lap. So, that was it. Anyways, I had to take that chance because just following Lewis into the box is definite lose for me, so I might as well take the chance, stay out and do one lap more at least. It didn’t work out. So that’s it. Gave it everything and didn’t work out.
Q: Sebastian, it’s fair to say it wasn’t looking too rosy up until the point at which it rained. You did the same timing as Lewis. Did you feel the same way as Lewis? Was it something that you motivated yourself? Were you slightly surprised by what was going on around you with the other cars? Did you think it was your birthday when you realised where you were?
SV: I don’t know. I had a bad start but then we obviously, more or less, came back to fifth and sixth – so where we started – but obviously the gap was too big to the cars in front. Then there was some rain around six-seven – so around Luffield. And, yeah, it was only there so it was quicker to stay out on dries. But then I noted… it’s a tough call to make. If it rains, yes, some cars are already pitting, you obviously think about it but if the majority of the circuit is dry, there’s no point. Then I came out of Chapel and down the Hangar straight, noticed a lot more rain. I was trying to look at the clouds, all the laps before and though, ‘well, that’s the lap to go’. Because it was significantly more intense, the rain. It wasn’t just drizzle, it was proper rain and I decided to box. Once I was in the box I was told that Lewis decided to – the leader – decided to pit as well so I thought, yeah, should have been a good call. And then it was a surprise because I had Kvyat behind me when I boxed, and I came out behind him – like I saw him when I came out of the box. I don’t know what happened to him in between. But I guess at that point already the track was quite poor.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Thomas Maher – formulaspy.com) Question for Lewis. Lewis, when you were following the two Williams drivers in front of you, do you think they might have compromised the their own strategy slightly by leaving Massa in front of Valtteri.
LH: I don’t know really. I think it’s too early on to say whether it compromised their strategy but obviously it’s a race. It was a race for them – but Valtteri was quicker, if that was him in second, but I don’t think… say it was me and Nico. It’s not for the team to tell you to let the dude past, because you’re racing. So, but I think Williams were doing a great job up until then.
Q: (Sean McGreevy – CSMA Magazine) Lewis, after a really action-packed exciting British Grand Prix, what’s your response to people and critics claiming that F1 is boring?
LH: Firstly, thank you. It was exciting for me. I think the start really made it exciting, obviously. I don’t know how the rest of the race went but you say it was very exciting. I think the English weather helped with that. I think there’s still some things… their views are probably still valid in many ways but also sometimes I guess it’s a bit of an indication for us not to throw our toys out of the pram and say everything’s wrong, that we’re not too far off the mark, hopefully and hope that we have more races like this.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Serra) Sebastian, can you make a final balance of this weekend, because we saw Ferrari struggling and now you’ve got a podium? Is it just like a Christmas gift or there’s something coming also from the team, your talent of course, from the situation? Can you make a summary, please?
SV: It’s not easy. It’s not a Christmas gift. Santa Claus wasn’t there waving me into the pits so he didn’t tell me which lap to dive into the pits. It was our own decision and obviously not a lot of people got it right but we did so that’s our choice and that’s what we achieved today. Other than that, obviously it was not a very good weekend for us. We expected to be stronger. I think we were surprised by the pace of Williams on Saturday in qualifying and also on Sunday. I think you could also see it was not a good weekend from ourselves because the gap simply to the top was larger than at previous events I don’t think that we did a step back but I think we just couldn’t find the right direction this weekend and obviously if you’re not P1, P2 it’s quite tight between us, Williams, the Red Bulls were very quick this weekend. I think they’d taken a step forward and that’s what happens.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, I know the trophy is about ten years old – or out of date, I should say…
LH: It’s not out of date. I’m pretty sure they have an extra slab underneath because they’ve run out of space so I think underneath – no it’s not there but like it goes here but it continues to go here, another pillar.
SV: Why did they give you the wrong one?
LH: It’s not attached though, it sits on top of it. I think so.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) But how good is it that rather than a cheap plastic one, compared to last year?
LH: It makes a big difference.
SV: But you need the bottom part.
LH: Last year obviously I didn’t get to have that necessarily on the podium but it’s a very proud moment to be out there and to receive it again. I remember the first time I had the privilege of having that experience in 2008 and the response from the crowd then, but just to see a sea of British fans out there today with the British flag and all the caps and stuff is just a huge day for me, really really special day. I can’t really find the words to explain how happy I am. Hopefully you see it in my smile.
Q: (Simon Cass – The Daily Star) Lewis, about the second stop, that was your call. The first one looked like a great call from your team. After Monaco, I suppose they owed you one with that one and it got you back into the lead. Is that right?
LH: Well, I think overall globally it was just great teamwork. I think the team were continuously speaking to me, the tyres were feeling good so I could have kept going for longer, but it was getting closer to the point that Williams hadn’t stopped and I was close enough… I was actually close enough on the previous lap but close enough finally… literally as I came round that last corner to say ‘guys, you know the tyres are perhaps going to go off quite shortly’ and so they said then ‘box, box, box’ and I came in that lap. It was a real quick decision after that. Then I pushed like crazy on the out lap and it really hooked up a real nice lap and to come back out in front was a great feeling. And after that was really trying to balance the… I know I had a long long way to go. Twenty or thirty laps here is a long way. You do ten and you think you’ve already done thirty. Then I could see the weather getting worse and worse and you’re thinking ‘please hold off’ because if it doesn’t rain, we’re good.. If it rains it makes it a lot harder and I tell you it was one of the trickiest races I’ve had here. Obviously 2008 was very very hard but still, very very tricky.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) To the Mercedes drivers: did the Williams have a particularly good start and or did you have a particularly bad start? If it was bad, what happened?
NR: Bad start, no explanation. We need to look into it afterwards.
Q: Lewis, you mentioned on the radio on the parade lap that you had poor traction off your burn-out.
LH: Yeah, just the grip is different from track to track but particularly on my side. As I did the burn-outs to the grid, the wheels were just spinning easily and in some places you try to do the burn-outs and there’s so much grip that you can’t actually get the wheels to light up. This one it was like so easy. As I dropped the clutch, just wheel spinning, I’m looking in my mirrors to see what’s going on but it just keeps on wheel spinning, so I’m thinking jeez, I’m going to lose my position to at least someone and obviously the Williams came past. I fought back and got second back but then I tried to challenge Massa on the restart and just went a bit too risky too early maybe. But anyways, you could see I was trying.