Full transcript from the press conference after the Mexican Grand Prix, Round 18 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, at Circuit Hermanos Rodriguez, featuring top three: race winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull), second placed Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) and third placed Kimi Raikkonen.
Parc Ferme Interviews conducted by David Coulthard
Max, you won your third grand prix. Impeccable start to that race, that’s really what made that opportunity. You won by a massive gap, you must be delighted?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, of course the start was very crucial, I went around the outside, so that worked out well. From there on I was just basically looking after the tyres and the car, which just performed brilliant in the race. Of course, a big thanks Red Bull, because of course without them this was not possible. After last week, this is a perfect race.
You don’t even have a sweat on your brow, just how good was that race, controlling it out from the front?
MV: Yeah, I was cruising. It was great.
And the start, that was crucial. It was oh, so close. Behind you, you had multiple world champions all touching each other.
MV: yeah, that was good to see for me, and from there on I just pulled away.
Great stuff, Max, enjoy that victory. Valtteri, 20th podium, steady race, but it didn’t really look like you had the car under you this afternoon, so what’s going on in the cockpit?
Valtteri Bottas: Well, first of all, I would say big congrats to Lewis and massive congratulations to our team for winning both titles. It’s been really nice to be part of it. And thank you Mexico. Red Bull was just too quick today. We tried everything we could, but we just couldn’t match them and this was the result
Kimi, you’re a model of consistency, this is your 90th podium. I know you don’t really care about that, because you’re all about victories but again the start compromised you and then it was just a question of damage limitation?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, actually the initial start wasn’t too bad but then all the guys… I was next to, I think it was Valtteri… but all the guys behind me got a massive tow and I was kind of left alone, and then the people behind me managed to tow past me. It was a disaster after that. But I just had some patience and once the guys in front of us stopped we had enough speed to improve but obviously not a lot happened after that.
Max, the third win of your career, and your second win in the last four races. It seemed it was crucial on that run down to the first corner and what you managed to get done there. Just talk us through the opening 20 seconds of the race.
MV: Yeah, so initially, I don’t know, with the pre-start limiter I was a bit too high and I almost touched the limit so my start was not great, but then actually because of that I was in a good position, because then I had a good slipstream from Sebastian. I went on the outside and I was like ‘I’m going to try around the outside and see what happens”. I just saw we had a little bit of a touch into Turn 2 but luckily nothing happened there. From there onwards I could do my own race. I was pulling away every single lap. The car had a great balance, I could look after the tyres and, yeah, I managed to bring it home like that. Very happy. I knew that the car was good but I didn’t know that it was going to be this good in the race.
Any nervous moments? You were the only Renault-powered runner still going at the end of the grand prix?
MV: Well, I think Pierre was also still going, but I could see a lot of cars blowing up and retiring, so I was definitely a bit worried but we looked after our engine and everything seemed to work pretty well.
Well done to you Max. Valtteri, turning to you, you end a three-race streak without a podium, so how good was the Mercedes car in Mexico this afternoon?
VB: Well, in summary, I think it was not good enough. We couldn’t keep up with Red Bull, with Max. We couldn’t fight for the win today, which is unfortunate. Of course it was a pretty straightforward race, there were no safety cars or anything like that to help us, to give us any opportunity. Handling-wise, it was all not too bad, but just missing grip, sliding a bit around, lacking grip in the corners. I think that’s where Red Bull is still at an advantage in places like this. But I really need to say at this point, massive congrats to Lewis for the world title. I think he really deserves it. And also big congrats for the team, winning both titles this year. Of course, for me it’s unfortunate it’s not me winning the drivers but it is good for Lewis and I’m happy for him.
Kimi, Valtteri says the Mercedes wasn’t good enough here in Mexico, how was the performance of the Ferrari?
KR: I don’t know really! It’s hard to say, because I was on my own most of the race. Again, in the beginning I was stuck behind a Force India and I couldn’t get past, but once he went to do his pit stop I had decent speed, but it was quite a handful the handling, it wasn’t the nicest. But I don’t really know as I was on my own since that point. The guys in front of me were so far [away], and behind there was not really anything. It’s hard to say. It wasn’t too bad but I kind of expected it after a difficult day yesterday. I think the biggest issue was not being very strong in the start. The initial start wasn’t too bad but then I was side by side with Valtteri and then everybody in the front formed one line and I was outside of it and behind me guys were towing me and I was left kind of alone and then I had a pretty disastrous first two corners. Anyhow, it was what it was.
Can we just a few words from you on the achievement of Lewis Hamilton, now a four-time world champion?
KR: I think you have to go and talk to him.
We will do, but the achievement?
KR: Well, it’s great for him, a lot of wins, a lot of championships. Good, but what can I say? I think…
MV: Basically, you don’t care, right?
KR: No, I don’t! Can we be happy about it? In a way yes, but…
MV: I think we’d prefer to be in that position, right?
KR: You can be happy for him but inside, you know, you…
Max, anything you can add about Hamilton’s championship? I appreciate you have won the grand prix and your time will come I’m sure, but just your thoughts on Hamilton please.
MV: Well, I think in general this year he has been the strongest and also the car was the most reliable between Ferrari and Mercedes and if you combine those two things you can achieve great things and that’s of course a world championship.
Max, your teammate retired with some technical problems. Did the team tell your or warn you about anything that might happen?
MV: No, but I saw on the TV screen that he retired and then I saw another Toro Rosso in front of me on fire and I was like “Oh, my God, don’t let this happen to me”. So we turned down the engine quite a lot and everything seemed to be fine. Luckily, I have quite a new engine, so maybe that helped out quite well, but then again Daniel was with a very new engine as well, so I don’t know. I had my bad luck in the beginning of the year, so I’m very happy that this time nothing happened to me.
Max, after what happened last weekend in Austin, what does it mean to have this result here for Red Bull and for you and how did it feel to celebrate your victory here in Mexico?
MV: After last week I was very fired up and very motivated to do well, so that’s why I was yesterday I think I was giving it everything. Of course I missed out on pole, but I was very determined to win this race and I gave it all in the start, in Turn 1 and it feels great. Of course it makes it very special also here in Mexico with a lot of fans. They are very passionate about Formula One and it’s a great podium to be on, which last year I think I should have been on already but I missed out at the very last moment but luckily now no penalties.
Max, do you think Red Bull can fight for poles and victories at every track now?
MV: Poles, it’s difficult to say, because we don’t have this power mode in Q3, but our car in the race has improved a lot, even in qualifying. I think we still miss out a little bit to really be comfortably fighting for pole position but if we have a track where we can overtake then I’m sure we can fight for victories, otherwise you don’t win a race like this.
Max, can you tell me a little bit about how you were in curves one, two and three. You knew that was probably the crucial part of the race, so you just said. Can you go into more details?
MV: So, I was in the two of Sebastian and then I went to the left and then I saw Lewis, I think it was, also pulling to the left. So I was just hoping that I had enough top speed and luckily it was alright. And then, under braking, I was on the outside so he can brake a bit deeper into the corner and yeah it worked out quite well, it was on the limit, because it’s quite slippery on the outside but then in the next corner you are on the inside. I just saw on the video that we did touch a bit but I didn’t really feel anything, so it was a very light brush, but it was very crucial for the race, for sure.
Valtteri you had a grandstand view of what happened in Turns 1, 2 and 3. How did you see it and did it affect your race at all, or just helped? For Kimi, once you were on your own, you sort of kept the pace with Valtteri, but were you just keeping the pace or was that as fast as the Ferrari could do today?
VB: Yeah, for me in the start I was going in the second row of cars into Turn 1 on the inside. Lewis was a bit ahead, so he managed to get ahead of me, so there was a bit of a train immediately after Turn 1, but then Turn 2 things started to happen and I could see a couple of cars, I think Sebastian and Max side by side, so personally I decided to go for a good exit out of Turn 3 for Turn 4. I cut the inside line, and for me that was worth it and at the same time I was cutting inside I could see on the outside of Turn 3 some carbon bits and that was it, it all happens quite quickly. After that there was not much action for me in the race. We had to save quite a bit the brakes, the power unit, everything, so it was a bit of a shame. But still, even though full power and flat out we could not have matched Max.
KR: Obviously we were far from anybody and if we really wanted to go faster, for sure we could go a bit but we were so far away that it really didn’t make any sense, we really didn’t have the speed to catch up 20 seconds, so what can you do? You just end up bringing it home and you try next time.
Kimi, you were closer this season to Mercedes. What is the biggest challenge for 2018?
KR: Obviously I think it’s the same for everybody. We try to improve, we try to do things better and make a faster car. Overall we made quite a big step from last year. I think it’s small details that made a difference this year, but for sure the aim is always to improve and make things better and you know we are not the only one, everyone is going to do the same and to be honest we are only going to see in the first race next year where everybody is, and who has made what. In testing you get some idea but we have still two races to go and we do them as well as we can and start preparing for next year.