Top three press conference from the Monaco Grand Prix, Round 6 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, in Monte Carlo featuring: winner Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), second placed Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and third placed Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull).
Podium interviews conducted by Nico Rosberg
Sebastian, great weekend, first Ferrari win in 16 years, how does it feel?
Sebastian Vettel: Unbelievable. I think it was a very intense race. I was hoping at the start to have a bit of a better launch but Kimi had a good start. I had nowhere to go, so I had to be patient. Then, there was a phase in the first stint that was really tricky, The tyres started to slide, I think you remember how that feels, it was quite uncomfortable. I think Valtteri and the pack was catching up a bit; we were facing some traffic. But then I had a… I don’t know, a second attempt, a second set of tyres. I had a couple of laps where the car was really, really good. I pushed, everything I had, because I knew if there is a chance to win then that’s it. So I was able to use that window and came out ahead, so at that point I could control the race. After the restart it was really tricky with the cold tyres. I think every one of us was really struggling, Daniel said he brushed the wall in Turn 1 first lap. So it was really difficult but after a couple of laps I was able again to control the gap to behind, so fantastic job, the team has done really well, so great thanks to them and a fantastic weekend for Ferrari.
Was that planned, that when Kimi comes in, you stay out a bit longer?
SV: No, not really. I don’t think there… we couldn’t plan much. The plan was to try and pull away, which we did. Then, Valtteri had really good pace. I think we were struggling a little bit, both, with our rears and at that point the window opened. So as soon as Valtteri pitted, Kimi responded. For me, I think I still had a bit of a gap, nothing to lose in P2, so I tried to push as hard as possible and within two laps I was surprised myself to be able to pull a gap to be able to come out in front.
Congrats. Kimi, I think it’s fair to say the whole F1 community would have been very happy as well to see you get that win today. What are your thoughts? You lost it during the pit stops of course, what are you thoughts on that?
Kimi Raikkonen: It’s hard to say really. Obviously it’s still second place, but it doesn’t feel awful good but this is how it goes sometimes and we go for the next race and try to do better but it’s one of those days that you wish you get a bit more.
I know how it feels. It is not a good feeling. But great result anyways. Daniel, a great recovery after a problem in qualifying. You’re pleased with that?
Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah, happier today, for sure. Just yesterday I felt that we had so much more to offer and it was just a shame not to be able to really show our potential around here. I got my chance today when Max and Bottas pitted. I had the track to myself for a few laps and just managed to get some good times, good times in those tyres. I did some consistent laps and got in the overcut, so I was happy with that.
Turn 1 after the Safety Car looked like a bit of a hit, was it scary in the car?
DR: Yeah! I didn’t enjoy that. I wasn’t sure if I damaged anything and then I saw Bottas trying to get inside me. These tyres, man, when you get a Safety Car they’re like driving on ice. It was hard. That was not a fun moment, but happy to hold it.
Sebastian, back to you, the Ferrari car is looking good at the moment, do you think you are going to be able to keep it up for Canada?
SV: We hope so. Canada is a completely different track but to be honest, for now I am just going to enjoy the win here. You know yourself, it’s very, very special to win here. I think we’ll have a fun night and then we have enough time to prepare for Canada.
Where’s the party?
SV: I don’t know, you tell me! You won more times than me here!
Sebastian, there are wins and there are big wins. First Ferrari Monaco victory for 16 years, as Nico was saying, first Ferrari one-two since 2010 and more importantly perhaps a 25-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship, so what does today mean to you?
SV: If you want the honest answer, I think it’s most important that we had a very, very good day, a win. A supreme day for Ferrari; it’s been a long time. Yeah, I think it means an awful lot to the team. I will not find the right words but for me it was a pretty special race. At some point I was thinking, “there must be a Safety Car” and then it came at the end when I didn’t really need it but fine. I dreamt all night about how to get ahead of the start because I knew that would probably be the only chance I would get. It didn’t work. Kimi had a good start, mine was OK, so I couldn’t really go anywhere. Then, I think in the first stint I was just trying to pace myself, trying to stay within range. At some point I was really uncomfortable with the rear tyres, they were sliding quite a bit. I think when the gap opened again that’s when Kimi pitted. I knew that if I have any chance that might be it until I get the call because Valtteri was on fresh tyres so it’s likely that he will go quicker, so I just tried to push as hard as I can and wait for the call to box. When it came and then when I came out ahead of Kimi even, I was surprised myself. But for sure I take it. It’s a great win. Those couple of laps were really crucial, I was pushing flat out. I had better laps than in quali today in the race. I was very happy with how the race went. The car was great. So to sum it up, it’s just been fantastic, a fantastic weekend for the team and a great reward. This team is working very hard. Obviously this year is very different to last year but the people are the same, the spirit is the same, so it’s important that we keep pushing, improving the car. We had again a couple of new bits for this race. Yeah, the next race will be completely different but I don’t really care now, just looking forward to tonight.
Kimi, coming to you, obviously you lost the race in the pit stops. The normal wisdom in Monaco is that when you’re leading you’re not the first one to make a move. But just before you made your stop we heard a radio message exchange with your engineer in which you were asking about pitting. So to be clear, were you asking for the stop or did they call it?
KR: No, I was called in and that’s about it.
How do you feel about the first one to move?
KR: I don’t know, obviously it didn’t work out very well for me. But apart from that, I have no idea. I mean… that’s about as much as I can say about it right now. I got the bad end of the story today. I mean it’s still second place but obviously it doesn’t count a lot in my books at least.
Thanks for that. Daniel, the story today was that the overcut was more effective: Hamilton gained six places, Sebastian got the win because of it, and you picked up two place spectacularly through that pit stop sequence. Extremely fast once you got some clean air. Tell us about your approach today?
DR: Yeah I’m really pleased to be up here. You don’t often start fifth and get a podium here. It’s hard to make any positions. I was just frustrated yesterday because I knew we had so much more to offer here, so much more to give than what we showed. I felt like I didn’t really also get to show my pace around here. It was how the pit stops worked, the two cars pitting before me and that allowing me to show a bit more my pace. That was perfect and we got into a realty good rhythm, I think we were doing 16 dead, 16 dead and at the time I think that pace was really strong and I was able to do a good overcut. It was a good combination of obviously the lap times coming from me and the team leaving me out there and allowing me to run in clean air. That was fun. That definitely made my race. The Safety Car nearly ruined my race. At the restart I hit the wall in Turn 1. I hit it pretty hard, so I thought I had damage. I assumed I would have damage. And then I saw Valtteri. You don’t see much in these mirrors. I know Jenson has talked about it. Obviously he hasn’t been in the cars this year, but he has been vocal about it. You certainly see it here and I knew Valtteri was kind of there, in my blind spot but I just managed to hold on at the restart and then I was quite happy to see the chequered because the tyres after restarts are so tricky to get going.
Kimi, do you think it would have been possible to cover Sebastian if you are stopping later?
KR: I don’t know. Obviously, this is what we got today. The end results. And obviously for the team it’s a great result. Who knows? This is really the end, we can say ‘if’ as much as we want but it doesn’t change anything.
Kimi, when you pitted you came out behind some traffic and Bottas was also behind Sainz at the time. Have you had an explanation as to why they pitted you at that point?
KR: I don’t know. Obviously, I have just finished the race. I have no idea. Obviously they have reasons for whatever we did do. It doesn’t matter here or any other race. It’s not up to me to answer that.
Kimi, in the first stint, you seemed to have really strong pace in the early part and then from about lap 20 your pace dropped off quite substantially. Was there an explanation for that? Were you struggling with something in the car?
KR: Not really. I think the worst place was when we had lapped cars and got stuck behind them on quite a few laps but apart from that the car was behaving well. Not really having any issues. I think we had to take it a little bit easier here and there but nothing to complain really. The most lap time we lost behind the lapped traffic but that’s about it.
Daniel, yesterday you told us maybe you’d go for the overcut but was that a decision on the fly by the team – and how did the team decide whether to pit you first or Max first?
DR: I’m not sure what position Max was in with the tyres at the time – I don’t know if he wanted to make the pitstop and try to undercut Valtteri. I assume that was probably the thinking behind it. Obviously I was at the tail of that pack and we had pretty good communication with my engineer. We were going back and forth and I think he had a pretty good idea of what my pace was and what I could do. Yeah, then once we got clear air, I think probably a couple of laps before that I closed in a bit on Max who I think was closing in on Valtteri, so we seemed to bunch-up. And it looked like they were struggling more, probably, with the tyres at that time, from what I could see, so yeah, I was happy certainly to stay out there. Then it was pretty evident that I could keep going quicker and quicker. So, it was nice to push. Especially… if you don’t start on pole here you’re normally in traffic for a lot of the race and you can’t really get a time to feel the car on the limit on Sunday – but it was good to get that block of laps in. Even though the tyres were sliding around a bit with the rear, it was still quite fun in that session of the race.
Daniel, obviously really encouraging performance with the pace you had today throughout the middle sector of the track. How encouraged are you moving forwards? Also, can you take us through exactly what happened coming out of the Safety Car into Turn One?
DR: Yeah. Today I felt like, particularly that point of the race where we had clear track and were able to show our speed, I felt that was more representative of what we could of probably done yesterday. It was nice to at least show something this weekend and now at least get a podium for it. After the Safety Car… I knew getting behind the Safety Car, I could see Kimi in front of me trying to warm the tyres – well, keep them warm. I was trying to do the same: doing burnouts and trying to scrub the front tyres and get them going. They just turned to concrete blocks. They’re so slippery. So, I think we were all dreading the restart, to be honest. At one point you see it as an opportunity and I saw it as a potential opportunity to maybe jump Kimi but as the same time it’s… you see it as a potential risk. Coming into Turn One I didn’t feel like I came in hot at all – but as soon as I turned it, I just kept going straight and the wall got closer until I hit it. I think I hit it flush, which meant I avoided damage. Yeah, not fun.
A bit more about the same thing. There were several incidents at Turn One you may not have known about – several people, a couple of other people crashed there. The track was breaking up – did that contribute to your accident – or your smack of the wall?
DR: If I can use it as an excuse, sure! No, certainly not. It was in my control. The excuse I guess is just cold tyres. We can see the temperatures on our dash, so we’re aware when they’re cold. We can feel them, we don’t always need to see the numbers but I could see they were very cold. They just lose temperature really quick. We’re all aware of that but we’ll see. Maybe in years to come we can have a super, super, supersoft tyre for Monaco. I think will that be not only more fun in quali but avoid scary moments like that in the race. I guess it keeps it exciting for everyone at home.
Question for Seb. Seb, you looked very emotional on the podium. What were you thinking about in those moments? And what does it mean to have 25 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton at this point in the season?
SV: It’s a long way so I’m not really bothered about that. It was more the fact to stand up there and see the team. I think obviously, it’s a small part that we have here at the track but thinking of everyone else back in Maranello in the factory. We got a lot of hard times last year and this year everything seems to be upside down – but the team is the same, the people are the same so it’s really clear to them. I guess in these small moments you just realise that it’s a special group of people. If things go well, we’ll work hand in hand, we must make sure we keep the momentum up in the next couple of races – but I think we’re just having a great time. Obviously, we wanted today to have the one-two and we got it. So for the team obviously it means a lot. It’s been a long time – you know the numbers better than I do – since Ferrari won here and then to get a one-two is just fantastic. I think you can see when the guys are singing the Italian anthem. I think it’s impossible not to get goosebumps and feel very special standing up there representing them. For me, I think that’s what makes racing so special. I love driving, I loved driving today, I loved a couple of laps that I had where I could really, really push to the limit and I was so close to touch the wall, a couple of times I thought, ‘OK, I’ll lose the car’ and I just managed to get it back, so that’s obviously great fun. Big adrenaline around here because you don’t have any room for error – but then to have the rewards, standing on the podium, just send a message to base, to the factory, is what it’s made for.
Question for Seb. It’s a fantastic victory. But now, if you were Kimi, what do you think?
SV: Well, obviously I… we were right behind each other. In that case I think it’s normal that the lead car gets the priority because you go normally faster on the new set of tyres, and I when I got the lap times from Valtteri, he was doing 16.1, I think, and Daniel was a little bit faster with the old tyres with 16.0. I was, at that point, at 16.4, so I was a little bit slower, so I was assuming Kimi must do something like Valtteri. So I just… I knew that the team would call me as soon as we were really tight to Valtteri. We had a little bit of a cushion. I was just going flat-out, trying to go as fast as I can because for me it means that I’m staying ahead of Valtteri, first of all, and close to Kimi. I was surprised myself when I came out ahead. So, yeah, I think the warm-up on the supersoft was fine. Arguably you can say it worked for Daniel and for myself today, it worked well to stay out longer but I think if you were looking at it before the race then you couldn’t predict. We are racing, we get along well, I can understand that Kimi’s not entirely happy today. He drove well in the first stint and then obviously you get the message to go in. You do the pitstop and then you push. Obviously it’s a bad surprise when somebody comes out ahead. For me, I take it, there’s no reason to lie, obviously I’m very happy but I can understand obviously that he’s upset.
Seb, how do you feel to be the first Ferrari driver to win here after Michael Schumacher and compared to the other victories with Ferrari, does Monaco have something special?
SV: Well, I think Monaco is always something special, it’s just the nature of the weekend: a lot of attention, a lot of people which is great, a lot of support. Definitely I felt that with the beginning of the season that we had, Ferrari fans and Ferrari flags are increasing so that’s nice. A lot of people screaming, from outside, Forza Ferrari. A lot of Italian lines which in the recent years maybe I didn’t get so much so that was great to see. It’s obviously a great day for the team. I’m just… I’m pretty exhausted now, to be honest, so I’m very happy and it’s great to get the points, it’s great to get the win so it’s been a fantastic day for all of us. To be the first one after Michael for Ferrari – I don’t know, I wasn’t aware (of that). I think the most important thing is that we won today. I’m sure there were occasions more recently where Ferrari could have won but the most important is what happens today.
Seb, there’s nothing wrong with team orders, they’re not illegal and you are the leading driver in the championship and it wasn’t clear before the race whether the overcut or the undercut would be the best strategy. So was there a plan to give you a chance to get ahead of Kimi at some point?
SV: Not really. We spoke about the race before. It was clear that, as I said, I think they had the same plan to be honest so the lead car normally gets priority so if I had a choice at that point, sitting behind Kimi, if I was going in the pits first, that’s maybe what you like to do because you are sooner on the fresher tyres so I think it’s probably one of the rare occasions where the overcut turned out to be positive, so I’m really glad I made that work. From the team point of view, there was no plan of any team orders or anything and as I said, I can understand that obviously Kimi’s not happy, I would feel exactly the same, one hundred per cent the same, but as I said myself, I was surprised that the overcut… I don’t think Daniel had priority over Max going into the race. I don’t know where they are in terms of points and so on so I don’t think they look into that but I think the rule of thumb… the rule is pretty clear when you qualify ahead and you are ahead in the first stint, you get priority on the first stop and that’s what happened. As it turned out, obviously today it worked in my favour which, as I said, I will take it but we are a team at the end of the day and I can see that Kimi’s not happy.
To Kimi and Sebastian, obviously now it seems that Mercedes is sometimes very quick but at other tracks they have serious problems. Of course it’s early in the championship but do you think this consistency of the Ferrari car can really win you the championship this year?
SV: I don’t know.
KR: It’s quite an early part of the year so we’ll see. It’s very hard to know what happens in the future but we will keep trying and try to make the best out of every weekend and just do what we can do. We cannot control what the others will do but no, I’m sure everybody will have some difficult weekends during the year. We will try to minimise those. When you have a hard time, try to make the best out of it.
Kimi, talking about lapping cars, do you think the blue flag for Button came out a little bit too… not at the right moment? The blue flag which signals to let you past immediately?
KR: I don’t know. There are obviously rules and I’m pretty sure I was – I don’t know if it was one second or one and a half seconds but I was pretty close in the hairpin and I was told that I have to be longer inside their time, so it was not enough to be once, it was something that I’d never hard before but anyhow that’s what happened and it cost a bit but that’s how it is.
Kimi, given that your team will have known that when you pitted you would emerge in the vicinity of traffic, with those two slower cars ahead, do you feel that you could have gone quicker in those laps, before your pit stop, had you known this?
KR: I don’t know. We tried to figure out something that is impossible to know right now, at least from my side. No, obviously it wasn’t ideal to end up behind a lapped car and obviously it is something that definitely doesn’t help but the end result is what it is but we have to see. We just finished the race and I only know what happened and that’s it. Obviously I got second place but yeah, for the team good but not for myself, not so great.
Kimi, as a driver, could you reject the instructions? From a technical point of view, did you have enough information to decide by yourself or are you 100 percent in the hands of the engineers?
KR: Obviously I can stop the car if I want! I’m driving it. We have a team, we work as a team and if you start… if you don’t believe what you’ve been told or how we work then it will get very complicated sometimes because we always try to work as best as we can and today, as a team, we won it one-two, that happened, but as for myself it could have been better, but like I said, we just finished the race and who knows? We will talk about it and I guess there are some reasons for everything that happens in life but we will see. As a driver, I can obviously do what I want but that’s not how we work as a team. Simple as that.
Sebastian, did you expect that Kimi would stop on lap 33 before the first part of the race and then when you knew that, did you think this is my chance to overtake him? And were you informed of Lewis’s position during the race?
SV: Well, I was told at some point where Lewis was but I didn’t really care so… You have to do your own race around here. Daniel clipped the wall at the restart, I brushed the wall on the laps to the grid so it’s really close. You try to go as close as possible to the walls and you must not allow yourself to drift away… your thoughts to drift away for even one corner so you need to stay at it. Small mistakes, like Ericsson had yesterday in qualifying, they have a big consequence and this can happen to all of us. We all try to chase the limits, we all try to go close. I wasn’t too keen to know what others were doing. Obviously we have a plan before the race. I didn’t look down and count and say OK, we are getting to the window but when I saw that Valtteri pitted, I saw it also on the screen, and then I was told that Bottas is in the pits at the same time, then I knew that he would try to undercut, otherwise what was the point for him to pit. If he believes that it’s faster then he will stay out and try to put us under pressure once we pit, so he was obviously waiting for his chance, went for it and then I was told in the same lap that Kimi’s obviously getting the pit stop and I know that I can’t pit at the same time, we were too close behind each other to come in on the same lap, so I knew that at least I get one lap, maybe I get two, I don’t know, depending on the gap to Bottas which increased again to three, four seconds before the stop. At that point I was just trying to go flat out, that was my race, obviously it made my race today which, looking at the final result, it’s easy to say but at that point it was impossible to predict. When I heard the lap times of Bottas, the first lap, I think 16.1s, I was really… OK, I need to stretch myself. As I said, I was surprised that I could take so much pace from the car and I was going even below the 16s. At the same time, Daniel was lapping in 16.0s so there seemed to be a second tyre somehow, because the laps before I was struggling as much as Kimi was with the rears so yeah, I think there were a couple of laps where we weren’t comfortable at all, Valtteri was closing the gap, that was not the plan.
Kimi, when you look back at a race, do you feel that you were just unlucky with traffic and the way things fell or do you think Ferrari’s strategy just cost you the victory?
KR: I don’t know. Like I said, I haven’t seen… I only know what happened when I was in the car but I haven’t seen the bigger picture. I only know that we came second, Seb won, the team got one-two, obviously great for the team, but the rest… Until we have our meeting then obviously you can see all the graphs, I don’t know.