Lewis Hamilton admitted after his botched Qualifying that he would be in damage limitation mode at the Austrian Grand Prix, and the Mercedes driver delivered on his goal by finishing second to teammate Nico Rosberg in an enthralling contest. Here is his version of what went down at the Red Bull Ring.
A good recovery after a tough Qualifying… at the end of the race did you have to manage any issues and could you fight Nico?
Lewis Hamilton: I don’t know. I have to have a look at the feedback and just see what the team say about the stops. Maybe my positioning is not right, you know obviously in those situations you’re just pushing. But the guys have done a fantastic job. To get another one-two here is just incredible. This track has been fantastic and the fans have been insane this weekend, so thank you all for the support.
The platform for your result today was that stunning start, off the grid from ninth into fifth on that opening lap. Tell us about that and then also about how you made your way through the field. Clearly that second round of stops was important for getting in front of Valtteri.
LH: Yep, it was a good start. We’ve been working very hard on our starts throughout the year and the team have done a great job to help out with that, and yeah, so I got one of the best starts I’ve ever had really and positioned the car in the correct places. It would have been great if I’d started where perhaps I should have started this weekend – but damage limitation. To get from ninth to second and be pressuring Nico at the end of the race really shows the pace that I had this weekend.
Can you tell us more about the final five laps, about the chance to overtake Nico?
LH: There wasn’t an opportunity to overtake.
Now there are 29 points difference between you and Nico…
LH: Well, Nico’s done a great job. He’s finished every race and fortunately hasn’t had any car problems so it’s inevitable.
After one your stops we actually saw some flames coming out of your front right. To what extent was the braking problems that you suffered hampering your ability to really take the fight to Nico in the final laps?
LH: Yeah, I think it was probably the same for both of us, maybe, I don’t know. I need to check later but it was constantly an issue during the race. Obviously I was following people all the time so that’s not always the best but I was being told to back off quite a lot, unfortunately. The last couple of laps I tried to eke it up a little bit more but still I had to be cautious, but I’m just grateful I finished. I didn’t finish the last race, that’s really got to be goal for the next few races, trying to actually finish.
You lost 1.9 seconds across the two stops to Nico, very evenly split in each stop. Is that frustrating, because for a long time you were running about 1.9 seconds behind Nico at the end and did the team tell you the reasons for it?
LH: They haven’t yet. I didn’t even know I lost that much time, they didn’t feel that fast. Could be my positioning. I don’t know. I’ll obviously investigate… obviously it is frustrating when you lose time because you’re constantly doing everything you can to gain a tenth here, a tenth there, so when you lose quite a chunk…two seconds over two pit stops it’s tough but the guys… at least we haven’t really made any mistakes. If we step back a little bit and look, we’ve had so many one-twos this is just incredible this year so I’m hoping in the future we won’t have those problems.
You seem to have a brake problem; this problem is coming back since Montreal or maybe even before. You’ve had this problem during this race. What can you do against these troubles, to get over it finally? What can you do together with the team?
LH: I don’t know. Going into the race I wasn’t aware that we had a brake problem, so it was news to me when we started to…when they started to speak to me about it. We had the problem in the last race but the last race was the rears and in this race it was the fronts, a little bit different perhaps. I’ll be guessing what’s gone wrong but it didn’t look like it was the same as Nico; maybe it was, I don’t know. I think they said maybe it was. We just need to make improvements.