Full transcript from the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix qualifying press conference, featuring top three: pole winner Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), second placed Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and third placed Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).
Daniel, your first Formula One pole and what a place to do it… Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah, definitely a special place. I knew coming into the weekend we’d have a shot at it and it looked good from Thursday. Yeah, I sort of had it in my mind the whole time coming into the weekend. I think also, after Barcelona I felt like… the last few races I feel like I’ve been driving well but haven’t go maximum reward, so I came into this weekend with a lot of a confidence and a lot of belief that I could be in this position now and yeah, I’m very happy to have fulfilled that. It feels good, I’ve always enjoyed this place, obviously the car is good, we’ve got a good package behind us now and it’s nice to be able to make the most out of it.
Nico, first time since 2012 no Mercedes on pole position here in Monaco. Red Bull and Daniel clearly pushed you very hard today, you brushed a barrier during Q2, but where did it get away from you today when it really counted at the end? Nico Rosberg: I don’t think it really went away from me; it never was with me, because Daniel was just quick today and yeah, so they got a well-deserved pole and that’s it. I just wasn’t quick enough.
Lewis, there’s obviously a story behind your qualifying today: the engine problem at the beginning of Q3 and dramatically being wheeled back into your garage. How much did that upset your rhythm? On your final run there you were on target for pole but the final sector was just no quite there. Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, it was a difficult qualifying; I don’t really know what to say at the moment. The good thing is that I did get out to do a lap at least. It wasn’t as bad as some of the races have been in that respect, with the engine problems. I’m grateful to be up in third. Obviously pole was there for the taking I think, but nonetheless I will do what I can in the race tomorrow to salvage what I can from today’s result.
Coming back to our polesitter, Daniel Ricciardo. You did your Q2 run on the supersoft tyre, so tactically and strategically Red Bull are trying something here, it means you’ll be able to run a longer first stint in the grand prix tomorrow than either of the gentlemen either side of you. Your thoughts on that; the part you played in that decision and what it will do for you. DR: Yeah, we’ll see tomorrow if it works. The plan was to go out on the ultrasoft in the first run in Q2 and at least try and do a good enough lap with that and then we had the time on our side and we thought ‘let’s try and see what a supersoft can do’. We just feel maybe it opens up a few more options for the race tomorrow. Yeah, we did a good lap on that, and then yeah it sort of set us up well for Q3, knowing that I had the ultrasoft and that step in grip and I think I was able to maximise that and do that lap, so let’s see. I think today were sitting pretty and hopefully it turns in our favour tomorrow.
We’ll start with our polesitter Daniel Ricciardo, just to say it once again. Do you think you’ll be able to sleep tonight and how much would a win mean to you, particularly after what happened two weeks ago in Spain? DR: Yeah, I’ll certainly be able to sleep tonight, I think. I’ll probably sleep easier knowing that I achieved what I set out to do. The whole week has been a lot of anticipation, a lot of excitement, so obviously the race now is hopefully the more controlled part, but anyways it’s cool to get my first pole. Monaco has always been a good track for me in previous categories. I’ve always loved it here. It’s a good day. I’m going to enjoy it while I can and 24 hours from now I’ll hopefully be back here.
Okay, very well done. Nico, famously you’ve won here for the last three years running. You didn’t know that Daniel had done that Q2 time on the supersoft until you sat down next to him before the press conference. Now that you’ve had a few minutes to think about that, how do you see tomorrow’s grand prix unfolding and what do you think he’s got up his sleeve. NR: Yeah, I was very surprised by his time in the first part of Q3. I though I was looking good with my time but then I looked on the board and he was three tenths up the road, so I knew that was going to be difficult to reach. I gave it everything anyways but it wasn’t quite enough. For tomorrow? I don’t know. I have more grip at the start, maybe that can help me hopefully. Because I experienced that in China, starting with stiffer tyres, or harder tyres than everybody else – that was not good. Who knows, maybe that can play in my favour. And if not; strategy-wise no idea. Let’s see, we’re fine with our strategy for sure.
Thanks a lot. Coming back to you Lewis, you mentioned briefly in the unilateral about your engine situation. Do you know the problem was? Is there still in your mind a lingering question about it for the race or did they get across to you that they think it’s going to be fine, that they fixed it? LH: I don’t know what the problem was, so I honestly can’t comment.
Be that as it may, what do you think you can achieve tomorrow? LH: If the car keeps going I will be fighting as hard as I can with these guys. You can’t overtake here so… Daniel’s on a potentially better strategy than we will be on but, you know, hopefully it rains! That would be pretty amazing.
Daniel, considering that the last race has been won by your team-mate, a new guy who has just been promoted to Red Bull just before that, how important was it for you personally to make you mark now and get your first pole position exactly in that moment. DR: I think every race I’m treating as as-important as the other. I think from the start of the season, obviously I started off with Dany as my team-mate and wanted to make my mark. I think the whole season I’ve been qualifying really well and I feel I’ve been maximising everything. The race, let’s say didn’t turn into my favour in Spain but obviously I wanted to bounce-back – not that I feel it’s anything I did – but bounce back and have a good weekend here. I’ve always said it: this is a real circuit; it’s a drivers’ circuit and, like any in Formula One, sure, you need a car to help you out – and I’ve got that, I’ve definitely got that here – but that extra bit of confidence and commitment I think goes a long way. From Thursday I’ve felt good in the car. Little tweaks throughout the weekend and I think it’s brought us to this pole position. So it’s definitely a nice feeling.
To Lewis. It’s not very clear, when you came to the pits your time has any relation with the problem you had? The time you registered, it has some limiation or not? LH: In Q3? No, I had one lap to do it. Makes a big difference when you have a banker lap and work on it. I only had one lap so it was inevitable that I’d get P3.
A question to Daniel. What was the main reason for the pole: the engine update, the chassis itself or the big Australian balls? DR: Big Australian balls!
Just continuing that theme Daniel – kind of – you’ve been saying for a while now that you felt very confident of Monaco – dare I say the ‘W’ word? – and that was the package you had then. You have a package now, Renault have brought forward this upgrade for Monaco, how different, how much better is the package, compared with, say, two races ago? And b) What is the most enjoyable part of the circuit on that lap from your point of view? DR: Enjoyable part of the circuit, I’ll start with that. I’ve always loved Turn 12, 13, 14. Tabac and the Swimming Pool. It’s fun. It’s got really really nice flow, skip across the kerbs. It’s cool. Even the second part now, 15 and 16, it’s a little bit more open and I think probably it’s grown on me over the weekend, it’s quite fun, you can carry a lot of speed through there. So, yeah , the last sector is what I enjoy the most. As for… yeah, I think the car has been working well from the start of the season. I think it’s getting better and better, which is really nice. Had the update here from the power unit. That was working well, I think. You can just feel it pulls a little bit more, so in some practice sessions we didn’t run, let’s say, full power, so it was more like the older spec and you can feel it pull a bit more, up the hill for example out of Turn One. So it’ll be interesting when we get to longer straights, Canada the next one, and Max will have it in there as well, so it’ll be interesting to see where we stand there.
To the Mercedes drivers, after the winter testing you expected Ferrari will be your main rival. It is a surprise or a shock that Red Bull is so fast now? NR: They’ve done a very good job in recent races. They’ve progressed very quickly and now another big step with the engine. We always expected them to be a tough competitor but we did see Ferrari as our closest competitors and now we need to question that. Of course Monaco is a very unique track, so let’s not come to any conclusions here – but for sure it’s them, Ferrari and us. We all seem to be very close here and hopefully the next race we’ll be a bit further ahead again.
Any thoughts Lewis? LH: Same as Nico.
Lewis, obviously a very frustrating day today. Tomorrow very crucial race for you in terms of the season. How will you balance control and aggression considering you need to score lots of points?
LH: Today was the crucial day so… tomorrow’s just another day. What will be, will be. I will do whatever I can. There’s many races still ahead. I don’t really expect too much from tomorrow. I’m going in with the goal, of course, of trying to overtake the two cars in front – but we shall see.
Daniel, you had the speed on whatever tyre anyway, so this Q2 on the supersoft, do you see it as a risk or a joker? Why did you go offset to somebody you could have beaten anyway? DR: I think we feel it’s not going to change too much off the start and then it just opens up… as we saw Q2, my lap was quicker on the supersoft than on the ultrasoft, so I don’t think there’s that much difference in the tyre. The pure performance. I mean sure, there’s a few tenths, but I don’t think as much as what we thought coming into the weekend. And then I think obviously it should have a little bit better tyre life. It just opens up maybe a few more windows in the race, and here it’s so important obviously to come out and be in clean air and not come out in traffic, so it could just open up a bigger window for us tomorrow and give us a bit more freedom when to pit.
Lewis, you said before that you needed to try to overtake the two cars in front of you. After what happened in Spain, do you think that that can affect your approach at the start tomorrow or not? LH: I don’t think so but there’s very little room into turn one anyway so I doubt that there’s going to be much room there. I think it’s more the long-term game, it’s a long race, so I’ll try and do the best I can with the time that I have.
To Lewis and Nico, what is the meaning of another team fighting with Mercedes, considering that for the last two years and a half we didn’t have it, if Red Bull confirms (it is competitive) from the next races ahead? LH: What does it mean? Means we have a race. I think it’s great for the sport.
For you, in terms of the two Mercedes? LH: It’s even better, because obviously that could enable the gap between the two of us. I look at it as a positive. NR: Same, good battle, that’s it.
Lewis, just to draw a line under your problems today, the car was presumably was perfect in Q2, sitting in the garage, and then you drove out and the car just stopped? What actually happened? LH: Yeah, I was just accelerating and then I had a loss of power all the way down the pit lane and I didn’t know if it would come back. They asked me to make an adjustment on the switches, which I did, but it was just not idling. Once I stopped, it wouldn’t idle very well, it was hiccupping all the time so I had to switch off, I obviously lost my first run. I’d already done three warm-up laps to get in sync with everyone else, so by the time I pushed, my tyres perhaps weren’t as good as the fresh tyres that they had had and then as I say, the banker lap is always super helpful in Q3, I did the best I could on that lap. Obviously I will go back and see if I could have done any better but anyways, it is what it is, as I said.
Daniel, obviously a career objective achieved today, highly emotion, highly elated, tomorrow how are you going to manage your emotions during this race? DR: No different. I think winning a race is a bit more than getting a pole. I’ve experienced that a few times a few years ago. I feel it’s been a long time coming, this, so it’s just more…I feel it should have come sooner but obviously I’m happy that I’ve done it but yeah, no other feelings or anything. Coming into the race, it’s just carry the confidence from the weekend into tomorrow and execute a good start and then pick a good window to pit in.
We saw wonderful laps, incredible laps today and in these days but I would like to ask Nico, we saw you so aggressively and nearly flying. Do you have time to enjoy these laps or under pressure you don’t have any time to feel what you are doing? NR: Well, for sure, this is probably the most enjoyable qualifying in the whole season because the track is just thrilling, and to be on the edge with the most grip you have in the weekend with the most power, the most fuel, it’s really exciting. DR: I can’t speak highly enough about driving an F1 car around here. The faster the better in a way. Sure, it can be a bit of a blur but we’re in control and yeah, it’s like the closer you get to the barriers, the more you want to keep pushing the limits then every time you think you’re going to touch but you don’t the next time you go now, I’m going to get closer, a bit closer so it’s fun. For sure the reason why we do it I think is to have this adrenalin that we have around here.