Transcript from the post-qualifying press conference at the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, Round 6 of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship, on the streets of Monte-Carlo featuring top three: pole winner Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing), second-placed Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and third-placed Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Daniel, the Red Bull has been very strong here this week, but just how good was the car here today and how were you able to harness the strengths of the package here? Daniel Ricciardo: It’s been good all weekend. Every session we’ve been quicken. It’s a bit like 2016; we came into this race knowing we had a legitimate chance to fight for pole. Just knowing how the car has performed in the first few races and knowing if it got hooked up around here then for sure we knew we could be here. We didn’t really change much on the car all weekend, it was kind of one of those pretty smooth ones and we could just build up to it and obviously find my rhythm and have some fun. I love this place and it’s obviously a pleasure to drive in a 1m10s, it’s a lot of fun. It’s been awesome, the boys have done a good job. The team. There are some girls in the team as well!
Daniel, what happened to Max shows how quickly this place can bite. Was that at the back of your mind or were you able to clear your mind and just go for it? DR: It’s always in the back of your mind here, I guess, because the risk and reward is very real and that was proven this morning. It’s one of those things… it’s there but it is at the back of your mind, because to be fast you can’t think about those things. Knowing we had obviously a great package all weekend… we need to push it but I don’t think we need to overdrive it. The car has been performing well. It’s just hitting your marks and just trying to keep it clean I guess. We’re all pushing each other, particularly Max and myself in the same time. It’s no surprise that these things can happen and, as I said, when we’re lapping 1m10s 1m11s there’s no room for error.
Daniel, who were talking to on the phone directly after qualifying? I was wondering who you were talking to there? DR: Do you know or not? No. OK. It was the boss, Dietrich. It was nice.
What kind of guarantees do you have for your tyres tomorrow? DR: Come on. Next question. They’re cool, yeah. We’ll be fine, there’s no rain tomorrow, we’re OK.
Question for Seb and for Lewis. Do you think it was the general DNA of your cars why you didn’t have a chance against Red Bull here or do you think if you had got everything right, the set-up, the perfect lap, you would have had a chance? Sebastian Vettel: I was pretty happy. I think there is always the feeling that there is a little bit but I don’t think we were a threat to Daniel’s time today. So, I think you always look back and think ‘here and there’, especially around this place, but well done to Daniel, he owned the qualifying session. For us, I think, we were playing around with the set-up quite a bit trying to squeeze out everything because we knew we had to if we wanted to have a word for front row and for pole. I think we put ourselves in a good position. I think they looked strong yesterday, they looked strong this morning, I think we got as close as we could and now we see what we can do tomorrow?
Lewis, your thoughts? Lewis Hamliton: DNA.
How was the session for you? LH: It was a good session. We knew we wouldn’t be quickest here. We did the best we could and the car was in a good place, just a little bit off them really.
Were you pleased with your lap? LH: My first Q3 lap… I was happy with my last one. I was 0.27s but I lost it in the middle and the last sector so naturally not happy with that. That wouldn’t have been enough anyways for pole but it would have made a difference, obviously I would have been second. Am I happy about that? No, but it’s a long race tomorrow. I gave it everything I could and you can’t always get it perfect. The good thing is the car is in one piece and I can live to fight another day.
A question for Seb and Lewis. Obviously, the unique characteristics of this circuit mean that it doesn’t necessarily translate from here to other places. With that in mind, does it make missing out on pole here today easier to take, knowing that it’s a special circuit and won’t necessarily be repeated elsewhere? SV: I think it was expected that Red Bull will be quick here. I think they have a strong car, they have more downforce than everybody else. I think in terms of drag or efficiency, maybe they’re not the best, so at this track, y’know, we knew that they will be strong. Other tracks, I think we have to look at ourselves, y’know? I think Barcelona we know we weren’t where we want to be. Going forward, Canada, will be different again. The think is, for us, that have potential in the car. We need to make sure we unleash it and we improve. Then, I think, I don’t need to answer your question, or these questions. For today, no doubt, Daniel was the best man out there. He deserves the pole and no matter whether his package was maybe a little bit better or a little bit worse, he did the job. That’s what it’s about here.
Lewis, the pace of the Mercedes elsewhere, does that make today an easier pill to swallow? LH: Like I said, we knew what was going to happen this weekend. So… it still doesn’t feel great but it’s just one race, so…
Question to Daniel and Lewis. On Thursday, there were some questions about the legality of the Ferrari ERS system. I just wondered if there are any feelings amongst you two, whether you think it’s legal. Are you happy with the investigation, the answers that you’re being given by the team? DR: Don’t know about it. Yeah. I don’t. Probably because I haven’t been reading anything. Particularly since Thursday, just been focused on trying to put myself here, in this position. So, I’m sure the team know about it – but they haven’t bogged me down with that information at the moment.
Lewis, anything to add? DR: Do you know about it? LH: I keep my ear very close to the ground, for sure. I know what’s going on.
To all drivers. Come back to the subject of tyres, changing the approach. What expectations do you have for the hyper tyre from Pirelli? And also, Daniel, having around 40hp less than your competitors, were you afraid at the end in the Q3 that you could lose your pole position? DR: No, I knew the first lap in Q3 was pretty good. I felt it was enough but obviously you never know – but it was a relatively clean lap. So yeah, for sure the chassis works well around here and we don’t have maybe as much power in qualifying but we’ve still got enough around here to get it done. So that feels good. The tyres. Thursday seemed mixed for everyone. Some people suffered a lot of graining with the front. We didn’t do a very long run but what we did, it was OK. So, I’m OK for tomorrow. I feel confident. I think we’ll still be able to one stop. I think everyone will make it happen. Yeah. It’s good.
Sebastian. Anything to add on the tyres? SV: Well, I mean this is a track where we put the least energy on the tyres. So, I think it’s normal the softer the tyres, the better it is for us. We have more grip. Yeah, we saw, as Daniel said, in practice that maybe the tyre’s not meant to last super-long. So, I’m sure if you put it on a normal race track it’s fun for probably half, or one lap – but after that it will be difficult. But I don’t know. The tyre choices now, going forward, when will be have the hypersoft next time, I’m not sure. Is it in Canada? Canada is quite smooth on the tyres so it makes sense. Yeah.
Lewis, your thoughts on the hypersoft tyre. LH: It’s OK.
You guys experimented with the ultra in Q2. LH: That wasn’t the greatest either.
Do you think a one-stop is possible tomorrow, as Daniel suggested? LH: I think that’s the target, which I think is not very good here. They should make us use multiple ultrasofts, or hypersofts. One stop is always a boring race. Especially on a track where you can’t even overtake. So, it adds more excitement to it. I’m sure we’ll do one stop tomorrow. The other tyres could probably go a long way.
Your thoughts on the hypersoft? LH: It’s OK.
You guys experimented with the ultra in Q2. LH: Yeah, that wasn’t very good.
Do you think a one-stop is possible tomorrow, as Daniel suggested? LH: I think that’s the target which I think is not very good here. They should make us use multiple ultrasofts… hypersofts. One stop is always a boring race, especially on a track where you can’t even overtake, so it adds more excitement to it. I’m sure we’ll do a one stop tomorrow. Yeah, I think the tyres could probably go a long way.
To Seb and Lewis, you’ve won Monaco outside the pole, what would your mind set tomorrow? Would it be a waiting game during the race? SV: Well, jump Daniel at the start. DR: Preferably don’t jump, like over me. That would hurt. SV: No, no. I mean it’s a long race. If you look at the race, then it’s nearly impossible to overtake, we know that, but it’s still one of the most fascinating races because things can happen. It doesn’t mean that they do happen but they can. Rain is not forecast, I guess, for tomorrow but who knows? It’s going to be a long race, a lot of laps, easy to do a small mistake which goes without noticing or can be very costly. I think the plan is to – as I said – make a good start and then settle into the race. Keep the pressure up until the end.
Lewis, tomorrow, do an even better start? What’s your plan? LH: To catch this one, to catch this guy, that’s my goal. Switch places with him.
Seb, the first lap in Q3, did you have any specific mistake there or was it just a bit easygoing, well, just to set a time on the board? SV: I don’t know what the others did but I did two times one lap and in Q2 I tried a little bit but it didn’t work so for Q3 I think I knew what I had to do and yeah, I was happy with the first lap, not so happy with the beginning or with the feel for the tyres throughout the lap. I think today I was – I would say sensitive but it was important for me to feel the car, the tyres switching on. In the last run I definitely felt it was a bit better so I had a cleaner lap and more trust and that’s where the extra time is usually coming from. The lap before wasn’t bad but I could do better, I knew it and I was pretty happy with the last one I had.
Daniel, do you look forward to a race when you don’t have to think about passing with your teammate? DR: I only heard passing your teammate, is that what you said? What was your question?
Do you look forward to the race more when you haven’t got to worry about passing your teammate? DR: I don’t know. It’s not a bad question. We’ll move on. At least you laughed, you got your kick out of it. No comment.
Daniel, because Red Bull’s been so strong this week, how much of it has been a mental, psychological battle between you and Max, just trying to get the upper hand before qualifying? Obviously, he ended up paying the price for it on his side but how important was it just to be the number one guy basically? DR: Obviously you’re aware of your teammate’s speed and everyone’s speed but for me, from the start of the weekend, I guess a battle with myself, wanting to be the quickest from the start and trying to reach my personal goals for the weekend. Obviously, yeah, we were close throughout all the sessions but yeah, I don’t know if it’s… it could be a psychological battle if an opponent sees it that way but for me personally I just wanted to see my name on top and just try to keep that momentum going from the start.