Full transcript from the podium interviews and top three press conference at the British Grand Prix, Round 10 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, at Silverstone featuring: race winner Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari).
Podium Interviews conducted by Owen Wilson and Jenson Button
Owen Wilson: Congratulations, what an exciting race. You made it look easy out there.
Lewis Hamilton: It was not so easy. It’s never easy.
OW: How are you guys doing? Great British win.
LH: That was the feeling I can’t really describe. It feels amazing to be up here, so proud to see all these great flags everywhere. The support this weekend has been immense and I’m really proud that I could do this for you all. Thank you so much for all your support, pushing us, the team faultless this weekend. Valtteri did an exceptional job as well so it’s a perfect weekend for us.
OW: What’s next? Are you going to win the championship?
LH: That’s the plan. That’s the plan. And then I want to be in Cars 4.
LH: No, it’s been… I really… there’s a long long way to go.
Jenson Button: I’m actually going to move past you for a second, Lewis. Valtteri, well, starting back of the top ten is always going to be tricky but an awesome strategy and obviously a few issues from these boys over here: P2. 1-2 for Mercedes. How awesome.
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, thank you. You know I’m really happy for today. It was definitely not easy, the whole race, to start from P9 and there were many cars not easy to get through but the team did an absolutely perfect strategy and just get my head down, get going and in the end, also with the puncture with Kimi, we got a bit lucky but a perfect weekend for us and well done to Lewis and thank you guys for all the support, thank you.
JB: Awesome, good lad. But again, you got to make the best of a tough situation and you did that, you brought home some massive points for the team, so congrats, buddy.
VB: Thank you.
JB: Kimi, that was a tough race. It looked like you and Lewis were disappearing off into the distance, it looked easy although obviously it’s never easy but it looked it. And then you had the problem, but pretty awesome still to fight back to third position. How do you feel about it?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think we got more or less most of the part of the race, the car in the race. They were just a bit faster today. Tried at some point to go a little bit to go faster but then unfortunately there seemed to be an unlucky situation which keeps following us and for whatever reason the front left not really exploded but the canvas came off from the tyre. Luckily I could get back quite fast and the car stayed in one piece. Unfortunately, Seb had the same thing a lap later more or less the same place. Not happy but better than nothing.
JB: A strong weekend, which is nice to see. Lastly, Lewis, this is the first time I’ve actually stood on this podium so it’s great to stand here with this guy who did an absolutely amazing job. Look at what you’ve done. Look how happy all these people are with that awesome performance.
LH: It’s incredible, man. Thank you. You deserved to be up here so many times when you were racing here. But it’s great that there are now two Brits up here still. Thanks so much and again, just a big thanks to everyone. You guys, I’m coming over to crowd surf, just so you know. Be ready for me! And everyone who’s watching, thank you so much for the support, all the kids, Billy, you guys down here. I really want to say thank you so much for coming. You guys have inspired me this weekend, and this race is for you. Thank you.
JB: Awesome, well congratulations to you guys up here, especially you. And thank you so much for this. This is spectacular. The British fans are the best in world and Silverstone was a very special Grand Prix this weekend because of these guys. That’s it from here; see you in two weeks at the Hungaroring.
Congratulations; the win in numbers: your 57th career win, fourth successive here at Silverstone and fifth overall, tying the record with Jim Clark. And of course in the Drivers’ championship you’re now just one point behind Sebastian Vettel. A very dramatic Grand Prix; you seemed to be completely in control but it was all going on around you. How aware were you of what was going on around you and how in control did you feel?
LH: Yeah, I was very very fortunate, firstly the team did an exceptional job this weekend. The car felt great and really was generally faultless. So proud of everyone at the factory. Valtteri did an exceptional job to come back from way back in eighth, I believe. Perfect weekend for us as a team. I was up front, got a very good start and after that I was really able to manage the gap between myself and Kimi and just bit by bit, extend… We were planning on stopping on lap 19 or something like that so I was able to extend it by quite a bit and then at the end, I was… I had a decent gap and it was just about managing that 12-14s gap I had to Kimi. I could see on the TV screens at a few places around the track Valtteri’s race. I got to see a bit of the race. And then I heard at the end that there were some tyre blow-outs and I had some graining and some vibration on mine so the last couple of laps I took it easy because I knew that others were having trouble. But yeah, coming across the line, I could have kept going, I felt like I could have kept going. I think we really had the legs this weekend. You just saw the crowd… I’m sweating not necessarily because of the race but because I was just running outside and got to crowd-surf with everyone. The support has been immense this weekend. The crowd… I’m glad that the rain held off. The amount of flags, the amount of support, the energy was tremendous. I had some really great support from some Great Ormond Street children, Starlight Foundation children and Billy Monger has come down and given us… he really blessed the team and also a new friend of mine, Michael, who’s fighting cancer has come down from South Africa and he was down by the car as I was on the podium so really this is a dedication to him and to all those children who are fighting.
And just very quickly, you really extended either side of the pit stops; the gap went right out to Kimi either side… just very quickly, how did you do that?
LH: At which point?
Either side of the pit stops, the gap went right out to Kimi.
LH: Yeah, I’m not really following. Either side of it, yeah, sorry? Yeah, I think at that point once I got my tyres to balance and temperature, then I started to pick up the pace. I knew that I had three or four laps to go so I gave it everything and in that period of time, I happened to be just over a second up on Kimi per lap so that was really where I was able to make the difference. The pit stop was flawless and so I think overall the whole pit stop period of time was bang on. And then my out lap was great and those next few laps… because Valtteri was behind, it was important that I didn’t hold him up so I was trying to get away and get away enough that I didn’t also disturb his air.
Valtteri, from ninth to second, 36 laps on the soft. Tell us about that, did you encounter any issues such as the Ferraris did later in the race, towards the end of that stint and also you were looking for that gap to try and attack Vettel. Tell us about that?
VB: Yes, so for us, as a team, really perfect weekend for circumstances, how we started today, me in ninth place. It’s just amazing what we’ve done today. The car was so good to drive today. It was really quick and the team did a perfect strategy for both of us, I think, me and Lewis. I did start the race on the soft tyre and had to run really long and we actually had to extend the first stint quite a bit because everything was still looking good. Yeah, towards the end, when I went to the supersoft the pace was quick with the fresh tyre. Sebastian was closing on Kimi. I think realistically he would have been a bit too far away, definitely, for me to get P2 but then I got lucky, on the other hand, he got unlucky to lose his second place in the end but 1-2 is perfect.
Kimi, finally, Max Verstappen held up Vettel in the early stages creating a nice opportunity to build a good lead. Did you think at that point you were pretty comfortable in second place and then tell us about the dramas at the end? Was there any kind of warning before that left front went? Did you hit any debris?
KR: We were quite comfortable in second place, but it wasn’t the easiest feeling. We had a weekend in which it was quite difficult in some places. In the race it was similar to how it was on Friday so I tried to hang on to Lewis and tried to keep the gap but I just didn’t have enough speed today. Everything was going more or less smoothly and the gap was fine for us but then two laps from the end, I don’t know what happened, just before turn six, the left tyre didn’t explode but the rubber part came off suddenly in the middle of the straight and I don’t think I hit anything. Everything felt normal before that moment and luckily I came back quite fast. I think I destroyed the front wing after that because the tyre was flapping around but we managed to get a decent position. I was very unlucky but in a way lucky. I didn’t want to… the same happened to Seb a lap later. I think the same happened to him. I don’t know, I don’t know what happened. We could have been second today but we didn’t really have the speed against Lewis today. Obviously we have some work to be done. We had a decent start but once we fell behind, we had no real chance to beat them.
Lewis, warmest congratulations. You have now equalled Jim Clark and Alain Prost with five wins in this great race and we know how much you treasure that perpetual gold trophy. I was just wondering if you were planning to commission of your own, because you don’t get to keep it, if you haven’t done so already?
LH: I’ve been wanting to get a copy of it for a long time. I don’t know if I have one yet, to be honest I haven’t seen any of my trophies for a long time; I put them in storage! But one day I will see, but I definitely want to get a copy of that one, it’s a beautiful looking trophy, it has so many legends stamped on it. I’m proud to see that the Hamilton name is there, fully ingrained in it and will be there way beyond my time.
Lewis, where for the next race will the preparations be – Disneyland maybe, something like that? What does it say about you as a driver and this season that you can go on your controversial trip, as you did, and come back here and win so convincingly. What does it tell us about you that you are able to do that, please?
LH: I think it… there is no reason to question my preparations. I have more poles than most. I am obviously building up the wins that I have. My performance is second to none. If you don’t know now that my preparation is mostly on point, then I guess you never will. I will be training hard next week in different locations, as I always do. I have work, so I will be working and focusing all week and then I will be in the UK for at least two days when I will be at the factory and then I will go to the race.
Lewis, congratulations on your fifth win. Obviously the speed of the Mercedes indicates that a fourth world championship for you now is more than a real possibility. If you were to achieve that would you consider retirement, which has been mentioned in the media a few times or would you carry on for a fifth title?
LH: I think that’s so far ahead, to be honest. We’ve got so long to go in the season. At the moment I’m loving driving. I feel like I’m at my prime. I feel like I’m driving better than ever and I’m loving driving with the team. So I can’t imagine… there is no current reason to want to have to stop. I’m still enjoying it and I still have a contract with the team for at least a year so I plan to see that out at the moment.
Lewis again, two parts please: can you a) can you talk about the feelings of crowd-surfing out there and b) what it means to have cut the lead at the top to just one point at the half way point, and to do it today at Silverstone?
LH: Growing up watching the TV and seeing Nigel and seeing the greats, to see the reception they got from the fans, I had never seen it on TV at any other circuit with any driver, that kind of experience. It was always “how amazing that would be, I wonder what that feels like?” And every year for the last four years I have got to feel that and each year it feels like it has grown and got bigger, more accepted and like I just now went and did the crowd-surfing and they pulled me out into the crowd. The reception has just been amazing and so energising and really fuelling up the inspiration to go out there and put a weekend’s performance in like that. I saw that… I was constantly looking up where Vettel was and I could see that he was in third and hoping that Valtteri was going to catch him and then I saw the battle and I was like “yes!” I was super happy when he got past him. I was thinking: “we’ll take that”, firstly for the team and secondly it’s great for the result. But then I couldn’t have imagined or dreamed that he would have the problem at the end. So to have that close up this close at the British Grand Prix, that’s fantastic, so happy. Yeah, we just got to keep pushing, keep fighting. Clearly this weekend we have shown we are a team that is pushing. For the first time in history to come into a second era of car and still be in the fight I think it’s great. I think the fans are enjoying it. Kimi drove a great race and he was very quick today and I think it’s great to have this constant battle with the red cars.
Lewis, first of all congratulations and thanks for taking everyone on this wonderful Sunday drive through this beautiful English countryside. I want you to describe this weekend, how it felt to take this win, to equal Jim Clark, to do this in front of people who love. Your brother is here, you have people who supporting you. What’s that feeling been like to do that as a British driver and to keep that lineage of success for British drivers in representing your country?
LH: It just doesn’t feel… it does feel real I have to say. Not that it doesn’t feel real, it just feels… it’s hard to find the words. When I was racing here I just couldn’t imagine I’d be. I could imagine one day driving a Formula One car and maybe winning the championship but I couldn’t imagine having the poles I have, matching the likes of Jim Clark and Aytron Senna and having the Hamilton name amongst those stars. I’m really proud and I have to really take it back again to the incredible dedication from my family, my dad. The upbringing that I have had is obviously the reason that I’m able to do what I do. The opportunity that was provided by my dad. And then the love that I get here is pretty… It’s one of the most special, if not the most special thing that happens in the season for me. You don’t get it anywhere else and I don’t even think any other driver gets it in any national country like it is at the British Grand Prix. So there is no way we can lose this grand prix. There is just no way it is going to happen as far as I’m concerned.
Question to Kimi, at one point you said there was something in your cockpit that was moving around. What was it?
KR: I don’t remember which part, halfway through the race there was something going around underneath my heels, around the pedals and it moved… I don’t know, there was something. I haven’t looked and it didn’t bother me too much, apart from going under my heels a few times but then, y’know, we’ll find out later what it was. Maybe there’s some rubber than flew into the cockpit or stuff like that. It happens sometimes. It bothered me a few times and then flew somewhere into a corner and didn’t really disturb me anymore.
Two questions, one for Valtteri, one for Kimi. Valtteri, obviously the first part of the plan went really well when you got past the two Force Indias, Vandoorne and Hülkenberg very quickly – but then you started to close on Max and Seb as they were fighting. Was there a temptation to get into that fight – or you needed to give some space to keep your tyres alive. Second part of the question, are you happy with the way Sebastian defended on the second part of the race. And for Kimi, again, closer in racing then in qualifying – but not close enough as you said. Is this circuit-related or do you think Mercedes has taken an extra step here?
KR: I don’t know whether we’re closer or not. I think the first part, yes but around the pitstops, probably not, so I have to say, obviously we have to look and try to learn. For sure last few circuits hasn’t been ideal for us. I’m sure Hungary should be a better circuit for us, and our strengths – but we wait and see. Need to keep working hard and try to improve. Try to keep fighting as much as we can.
VB: For me, in the first stint, that’s when the start of the race was very good. Got through a couple of cars pretty quickly with the strong car that we had, that made it definitely easier with the good pace since lap one really. And when I was getting closer to Seb and Max, they were battling and it is always – even though you have pace – it is always difficult to get through if there’s two cars because one car between has the DRS. So, for me at that point, I knew I had to run long in that stint to make my strategy work. So it was kind of just managing the gap. Kind of hoping they would get themselves into some kind of trouble, by fighting that hard, and just waiting for my opportunity. The opportunity came later: they both pitted, I still had good tyres left and it was up to me to try to maximise whatever was left in the tyre. The fight with Sebastian for first time I tried to get past. I was going on the outside, he was defending on the inside, I think we were pretty much side-by-side. Yeah, for me there was no more space than to go off the track. Yeah, that is racing. For sure he was defending hard and I was trying hard from the outside, so no drama on that. Next lap, tried again, got a bit closer and managed to do the same move. That was OK.
Hi Lewis, five wins here now, going to Hungary soon, another track you’ve won many times at. These are longevity records but you’re still at the peak of your career. How many more years do you think you have in you? How many more wins around here?
LH: I still feel young, so y’know… I still feel young, still feel fit. I’m sure I can go for a long time if I really wanted but yeah, I really have no idea what the future holds. All I can do is make sure that I maximise every single day and every opportunity that I get that comes ahead of me, I continue to enjoy my life the way I want to enjoy my life, regardless of what people say. Yeah, hopefully continue to make my family proud and my team proud and my fans proud. Yeah.
Lewis, you were very down after Austria, understandably and you were good with us and explained why, saying you were disappointed because you care so much, you’d had bad luck. This race, you’ve had a great race, good fortune as well with seeing Sebastian go off – just wondered what it does for you mentally, psychologically – a boost in the title race, really. What this actually means, if you can just describe it.
LH: I personally don’t take much from the incident with Sebastian. More so just on our performance this weekend: through practice, through… even more so arriving with all the smoke and mirrors that was happening around, so much negativity trying to pull the weekend down but obviously it had no affect, and it didn’t affect… the fans were out-and-out loving and supporting all weekend, regardless. Yeah, and just to be able to go out there and perform. Just really proud of all the hard work that all the team have done, the engineers, our work ethic. As I said, in the last few races I think we’ve had the pace, it’s just unfortunate our hard work has really not shown in the results. So to come here and have that weekend, still not perfectly faultless but there’s more faultless races to come in the future. So, yeah, we’ve got Budapest… we didn’t even bring an upgrade here. We’ve got more coming hopefully in the future. It’s going to be a close race, I think. It’s going to go right down to the wire, clearly. But I’m hoping for a cleaner stint of races for Valtteri and I.
Question to Lewis for the first part and probably to you and Valtteri for the second part. Do you feel that now, at the halfway point of the season, the gap is now one point, do you feel it’s a turning point for yourself in the season – and second part to both of you, do you feel that Mercedes have perhaps maybe stepped ahead of Ferrari in terms of the competitiveness of both cars?
LH: I think it’s difficult to ever say it’s a turning point. I think ultimately there’s constantly turns and you guys about the pendulum, back and forth. Obviously the pendulum swung a little bit this weekend and I think that’s only good for Formula One, it’s only good for the fans, probably super-exciting for them to see the close battle that we’re continuing to have. Without a doubt we hope it stays the way that it’s swung this time but, as you know, a pendulum swings. We’re just hoping that we can be on our toes to react to whatever is thrown at us in the next races.
VB: Well, like Lewis said, we didn’t bring anything new really for this race. For sure it is always going to be track-specific. This seemed to be a strong one for us but as Lewis said as well, as a team we’ve been working really well together and the team has been flat-out since our struggles earlier in the year. That kind of is now paying off, all the hard work, and the car is feeling better and better, every weekend. So, can’t really still be too satisfied and say that we are ahead. We need to keep trying, try and get the car better, keep working on it, like we are doing now.