Full transcript from the FIA press conference following the 2021 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, won by McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo.
Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), Lando Norris (McLaren), and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes).
(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Valtteri not a bad weekend for you, first in the sprint yesterday and third today from the back of the grid. Talk us through the race?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, starting from the back it’s never easy. I told the team that I was going to be on the podium today and that’s what we did. I’m glad that we got more points than Red Bull and yeah, otherwise we maximised from where I started. Obviously a shame with the crash between Lewis and Max, we lost some points there, but from my side it was good fun.
Q: You mention that crash. Did you see it at all on the big screens?
VB: I didn’t see really what happened.
Q: We’ve got a replay for you if you want to see it for the first time. Any initial comments?
VB: I don’t know. It’s unfortunate.
Q: I understand it takes time to digest. Ahead of the next race weekend I guess you now just focus on finishing out your career with Mercedes with the best possible results?
VB: Yeah, thanks. A strong weekend from my side, the pace has been good, so it will be nice to have one week of rest and then we’ll go again.
Q: Lando, big smile! A very important day for McLaren, and amazingly McLaren is the only team to get a one-two this season. I know you would have preferred that you were winning it but it’s a big moment for the team and your journey with them.
Lando NORRIS: Yeah, first of all big thanks to everyone, all the fans, all the team. We’ve had a pretty awesome weekend. I don’t know, what four years I joined the team and we’ve been working towards this and we got a one-two finally. A good step for us. I’m happy for Daniel getting the win and me in P2. Just happy for the team.
Q: That’s great, but you are a racer and we heard you on the radio giving Daniel the hurry-up. Was there a moment where you were hoping that maybe it could be like earlier in the year, in Imola, where Daniel moved to one side and could come through for the victory?
LN: Of course. You’ve been in that position before, where you want to go for it but I’m also here for the long-term, I’m here for the team. I don’t know, it could have ended up like the other two ended up. I’m just happy. I’m happy finishing second. I’m happy for Daniel in first place. I’ll have my chance in the future, It’s all good.
Q: Daniel Ricciardo, you’re a winner again?
Daniel RICCIARDO: Can I swear?
Q: No, you can’t.
DR: About [blank] time!
Q: This is crucial. This is where it really happened for you at the start. Talk us through it.
DR: Yeah, i mean obviously it worked well for me yesterday and I knew… To be honest, even if we got the start there was never a guarantee we would lead the whole race, but I was able to hold firm out front during the first stint. I wouldn’t say we had mega speed but it was enough to keep Max behind and then, I don’t know, there were safety cars and this and that. To lead literally from start to finish, I don’t think any of us expected that. But I don’t know, there was something in me on Friday. I knew something good was to come. Let’s just say that.
Q: Whatever that was that was in you on Friday, you want to keep some of that for the next events. This is a big day of celebration for you as a driver and for McLaren as a team on the way back. We’ve been waiting for you to show this kind of pace and performance. Put us in the car. The last couple of races have been strong for you.
DR: Yeah, I’ve just been sandbagging the whole year! You know, thirds, fourths, fifths, you might as well just win. That’s what I did! You know, honestly, the August break is good, just to reset. I’ve felt better the last three weekends. To not only win, but to get a one-two, it’s insane! For McLaren to be on the podium is huge, let alone a one-two. This is for team papaya. For once, I’m lost for words.
Q: Huge congratulations Daniel, just give us an idea of what this means to you?
DR: Umm… It’s… Phew… Probably that! I don’t know. I’ve done a few interviews since the race and I probably said something different for each interview. Like, today was something but the whole year has been something. Something like a little foreign for me, something that’s been more challenging I think than I’ve had before. Obviously everyone sees. We’re an international sport so everyone has been aware of some of the struggles I’ve had this year. I think to come back from that, not only to win but as a team to get a one-two… I don’t know. It’s crazy. I think after Friday… even before Friday, but I knew after Friday that we had something this weekend. I think that’s why I was so kind of like just fired up because I knew it could have been a little bit better and I just didn’t want to waste that opportunity and obviously I haven’t had that many this year, or put myself in that position, so yeah, I think from that moment on it was pretty much on.
Q: How important is this win for you?
DR: It means everything. I definitely try not to, like, make or dictate my life happiness around the sport, because it’s been three and a half years since I won, so I’d be pretty miserable most of the time if I just based my happiness on winning races. I think, like, through it all and a lot has happened since Monaco 2018, so to be back here in this moment that’s why we love the sport. It makes all those crappier days worth it and it’s as simple as that. There’s a high that you get from this moment right now that… I’ll probably watch this interview in a few days and I’ll be like: ‘Oh, I actually said that?’ I’m still floating right now to be honest. That’s what it does. And that’s what draws you back. It’s wild.
VB: It’s the wine.
DR: Ha! Valtteri thinks it’s the bubbly. There is probably a bit of that. It’s just wild but I certainly… There have been lows this year but deep down I never lost faith or the belief. I think I also just needed to step back and I think that’s where having some time off in August helped. I truly think that helped this weekend get to this position.
Q: Tell us about the pace of the car in the race? How comfortable were you early on, in the lead, when all of the frontrunners were still in the race?
DR: I think once I knew Max was… There were some laps where he pushed up closer but I never really had to properly defend. He was there but I knew if I didn’t make a mistake it was going to be hard for him to… Unless he kind of sent a little bit of a Hail Mary, it was going to be tough for him to pass. I think where I felt I was a little vulnerable was at the end of that stint, where the tyres were going off, but I believe the others were suffering as well. So in my head I was thinking we were going to be vulnerable in that moment. I pitted and I think everyone else pitted as well, so I think we were all struggling at the same moment. And it was then, when we came back out in the lead, then I was like ‘alright, we’ve got this today’, like unless something unfortunate happens we can really win this race. From that moment on it was like… I think that’s when any last bit of belief you need you top it up and you’re like ‘alright, someone is going to have to take it from me today, because otherwise we’re winning this thing’.
Q: Very well done, Daniel, thank you. Lando, many congratulations. Your fifth podium ion Formula and your best result in F1 so far. Give us a flavour of what this means to you?
LN: I don’t know where to start. I think it is incredible. To be honest I don’t know what it means to me. The main thing it means to me is our resolve as a team. Whether I’m second, third or first, I think the best thing is having that one-two for the team and securing maximum points and it’s just such a cool feeling to be part of this. A bit lost for words in a way but I’m happy for myself, to be here again, to have executed the race the way we did, with the overtakes and the strategy and the defending. But yeah, happy for Daniel and the whole team because it’s a pretty awesome achievement for all of us.
Q: Well Lando, tell us about some of that defensive driving you had to do. Particularly against Lewis Hamilton early in the race.
LN: Yeah, I think I had a good warm-up for that yesterday with 18 laps trying to defend from him. I could figure him out quite quickly, where he was going to strong and weak and so on, and he was on the hard tyre, so for the majority of it, I could hold him off reasonably easily but the last two or three laps of the stint, the hard tyre started to come back to him quite a bit – or the mediums started to drop away so he actually got past me, he then boxed and we overcut him straight away. So, it was… just the whole race was stressful, not going to lie. There was not one moment where I thought I could relax and just chill-out a little bit. But that definitely makes it a bit more special, more worthwhile to kind of have to really work for it, and end up in this position to get past Charles as well on the restart, and so on. Yeah, definitely makes it more worthwhile, so a tough race, maybe made a little bit easier in the middle after the pitstops with what happened – but it still wasn’t easy with what happened but still wasn’t easy from that point on, we still had to work quite hard for it. Yeah.
Q: Lando, you say you’re hugely proud of the team result, and rightly so, but when you got the radio message to hold station, what was your reaction? Was there even a little bit of you thinking of disobeying that order?
LN: No. I got a bit closer on one lap and I just kinda… I don’t know why… I had a few flashes seeing the incident between Max and Lewis – because I saw it quite well in my mirrors, so when I thought maybe I’ll try, that was flashing up in my head and I thought naaah, maybe this isn’t the wisest decision! So, I would have loved to but, like I said, I’m just as happy in a way, like as much as I would have loved to go for the win, just finishing first and second, I’m just as happy with. The feeling I get for the win is the priority over my own feeling in a way. I’m here for many years, I hope, especially with McLaren and with the whole team, so I feel like I still have an opportunity in the future to try and go for it but in this moment and instance, I was happy just staying where I was.
Q: And Lando, you had your first experience of a shooey up there on the podium…
LN: …and, last. I hope.
…can you understand why it’s become a bit of a thing?
DR: It was delicious. Tell the fans what they want to hear. It was delicious! Make them envious…
LN: It was… yeah… tasted alright. Not a big fan of that kind of drink anyway, so I wouldn’t… when you have the addition of it coming out of a shoe. From Daniel. Where his sweaty foot’s been for the last two hours. That’s really not something I advise for other people to try ever, and I hope I never have to do it again. But I did say. I think we said, at the beginning of the year or sometime that if we were on the podium together I would do it, so I stood by it and was happy to do it. Zak did it as well. I think he really did love it. It was cool, a cool experience. It’s a good memory for everyone. As much as I hated it, I did enjoy it.
Q: Valtteri, no shooey for you up there on the podium?
DR: He’s done one before.
VB: No! Never done it! Always managed to dodge it.
LN: Sneaky guy.
DR: Didn’t you do it in Baku?
VB: No, I managed to…
DR: No way! I thought you’d done it! That’s why I didn’t give it to you.
VB: It’s not my thing!
DR: Ah c’mon, you’re dating an Australian now! You have to have some sort of…
VB: We don’t have shooey’s at home, y’know!
DR: Aw, I’m sorry.
VB: Don’t be sorry! I’m happy!
DR: Next time!
Q: Well Valtteri, that was a huge race for you. When was the last time you went from 19th to third?
VB: Never, I think. I think it was probably the most positions gained, maybe in my career. I don’t know, I’m not the best with statistics but yeah. And honestly, although some people might think it’s easy to overtake here in Monza but actually it isn’t. When there’s a few cars in a row it’s not that easy, so I’m happy at the progress we could make today and, of course, we did have a good car, good pace and good strategy, starting with the hard tyre in my case was definitely the right choice and could go along and take the opportunities and then, once we went to the medium it was time to attack and push. Just at the very end the medium started to push a bit but by then things started to stabilise but overall I did everything I could today and this weekend overall. So, for that, I’m happy.
Q: Was there ever a moment on the medium tyre where you thought the win was on?
VB: When I was progressing quite quickly, in the beginning of the medium and then I could see both of the McLarens were actually pretty close and I was catching. Then once I was behind Pérez and really in the train, of course I was trying everything I could – but of course the last few laps, the tyre started to drop and that was it. But I think it would have been tricky to get past the McLarens. Honestly, they’ve been strong all weekend and they have their strengths, especially on the straight line and, like yesterday, Lewis, he was trying everything he could but couldn’t get by so I honestly think it was the maximum today we could reach.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Daniel, first of all congratulations on the victory. First of all, at the start of the race, getting alongside Max, how good was that start, what was key to getting alongside the Red Bull. And also, the moment just after the Safety Car restart where the team asked you to increase your pace. What had you been doing before that? Was it just a case of trying to keep the tyres alive at that stage to ensure you made the finish?
DR: So the start, I mean obviously it worked well. I don’t want to say I did anything different. Obviously every start you do, you try to have the best start possible. I think I made a really good start yesterday and yeah, I guess I just took confidence from that. I tried not to think about Lewis’ bad start from P2 – because sometimes you do get a grid offset, like left side is better than right, or something – I just used everything I had yesterday and that knowledge of executing a good one. And it worked today. It didn’t feel that great off the line but I guess having the medium tyre today was maybe not as good as a soft yesterday so that was that, and I saw once I got momentum on Max it was crucial. From that point I wasn’t sure if I could keep him behind, or what. But just tried to settle into a rhythm. Then, like the race pace, yeah, we knew it was a one-stop. I think there were definitely laps where I was going too slow, so then I would pick it up and just try to find that balance. Because you… yeah… I’m not going to say any more. It was in control.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Daniel, I wanted to ask you about that number three car, that Dale Earnhardt car that Zak promised to let you drive if you got on the podium this season. How excited are you to be given that chance? Where are you going to do it? And do you get any bonus for actually winning rather than just being on the podium?
DR: I’m like, maybe he gives me the car? I think it was always a podium, I get to drive it. We never talked about a win, so I gave him my shoe that he drank out of, so maybe he gives me the car. It’s a good trade. Yeah, there’s like a couple of things today, like two heroes: Dale Earnhardt, big hero of mine, and to have a chance to get behind the wheel of one of his cars is crazy. That will certainly be a ‘pinch me’ moment. The other one… I’m sorry if I sound a bit self-absorbed now but when I think of McLaren I think of Senna. That’s the early memories and I’ve seen you know, like the trophies in the cabinet at the MTC and to have a winning trophy now with my name in pretty much the same cabinet is crazy. These are like two little things today that I certainly appreciate and they are two little surreal moments that I guess have hit me.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) Question for Daniel. Obviously you’ve talked about how hard this season has been, but have you cracked it with this car now? Is it coming properly naturally or is there still a little bit more to come and it still will vary a little bit by circuit? How far along are you in that process now?
DR: Closer. Definitely closer. I think there is still more to come. I don’t know if you will ever find anything but that’s obviously the way the sport is. The sport evolves and changes and you are trying to keep up with it. Just inside myself I’ve felt better since the second half of the season and that doesn’t always need to translate into lap times. It’s just me throwing the car round, feeling a bit more comfortable with it, that’s stuff I know. I don’t think all of it has translated yet into the stopwatch but there is certainly a bit more comfort and confidence that’s coming through from myself. I just look to keep building on that. I think we will get tracks that suit, some that don’t, but I would like to think the second half of the season there will be some more consistency and hopefully more of these type of results.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Daniel, you talked a bit there about how beneficial this is and where it’s come from. Competitively as a driver, I just wondered what this performance and the win means for you personally because it’s obviously been a difficult first half of the season. I can imagine it must have been quite mentally and emotionally taxing at times. So how does it feel from that regard?
DR: Yeah. It feels… I don’t know what the word is. It feels not good… or it feels good, but it’s like… It’s reassuring, I think, for me and things like… I like believe in myself obviously. I think everyone does to get to this point, but I’ve certainly been challenged this year. The sport is like a tricky one, it’s not so black and white, I guess and sometimes you do struggle to find some answers but I think you have to like stay on course and stay true to the course and it’s like… you can easily get lost as well, but I think, you know, deep down I would have moments of frustration or moments of yeah, dropping my head, but I kind of made a point never to let that last. I also made a point to try and gain something from it and learn from it. Yeah, there’s been days this year where I’ve definitely haven’t loved it but I’ve had those days pretty much every year you know, like they happen. I think there’s probably just been more this year but that’s… I don’t resent those feelings either. I think like those things make you definitely appreciate the good days but also they make you understand some internal questions within yourself and how much you want it and how much it means to you. Yeah, for like moment you fall out of love with the sport but actually the clarity you get afterwards it kind of makes you realise how much you do love it and how much you want it. I think that’s been the biggest thing this weekend and you would have it…. To fight for a podium and yeah, like the want really kind of shone through and I that’s… when it gets to that point and that level it’s, yeah, I would back myself to the hilt.
Q: Various journalists have asked about Emma Raducanu’s victory in the US Open. She’s a Formula 1 fan and can we just get your thoughts on her achievement in New York, and perhaps Daniel we could start with you because she has gone on record as saying you’re her favourite Formula 1 driver?
DR: Thank you Emma. I feel very confident answering this question because I watched the whole game last night. I can say it now, I’m not going shy away from it. I went to bed at probably quarter to one because I couldn’t turn it off, it was awesome. I was like ‘ah, I’ll watch the start’ and then I watched it all, so it was amazing, it was phenomenal and it’s awesome that she’s a fan of the sport, I think more than anything. I appreciate the love for me Emma, but I think also like seeing her last night (she) was not like overwhelmed by the stage and just kind of taking it all in and like playing with aggression and I think just backing yourself, as I touched on before. That’s so powerful and it was cool. That’s why I’m a fan of sport, I love all types of sports because you can gain knowledge from it, you can learn from other sports and the mindset, whether it’s the way to play or… I don’t know. It’s pretty awesome, so congrats to you Emma. You killed it.
LN: I can also confirm I fell victim to a late night of staying up to watch the tennis. I would never have watched ever, a full game of tennis until last night. It was actually just a lot more enjoyable than I thought. It was pretty cool. I watched it from start to finish, maybe that’s why we had a good day, maybe we need to watch a tennis game, she has to play every Saturday night! I think she’s obviously done the country proud as well. I guess it’s relatable to me in a way from just my age, coming into Formula 1, for her age, going into the big stage of tennis. The confidence and ability she showed on that stage to perform and do such a job that she did against so many of the world’s greatest, I think, is a pretty incredible achievement from her, so congrats to her and I’m sure she’ll continue to create many more records.
VB: I haven’t seen the game. I didn’t actually know it was on, but it sounds good. Congrats.
DR: (Laughter) I love your honesty.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Daniel, just what you said earlier about the feeling you have with the car after qualifying on Friday night. I know you said you were internally frustrated to miss third place but what did feel so good? Why did you think the package was strong and why did you think something really good was possible?
DR: I guess a combination of factors. I think this circuit seems to suit the McLaren well. It did last year. I wasn’t driving it last year but I obviously witnessed the result the team had. So I knew that we could come into the weekend with some confidence with that alone and then probably two things with me, like just loving the circuit. I’ve always loved this track, it’s always been a fun one, it’s one that I typically gelled well with and then that combined with feeling better, you know, with the car, more recently and feeling a bit more comfortable and confident with it, so kind of all these things created that and then yeah, I think with Friday being so close… I don’t know, sometimes I just get angry, like it’s top three was so close and I think my lap was OK but there’s always parts where you’re like I could have done better. I don’t know. Sometimes I just flip. I certainly have a bit of rage and as I said at the time, I think it will be a blessing in disguise and I think I used it to my advantage for the rest of the weekend.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) Daniel and Lando: obviously McLaren’s been kind of the strongest midfield team over the last 18 months or so. We have seen some of the midfield teams which are generally behind McLaren picking up some wins in unusual places, so how frustrating was it that perhaps McLaren didn’t get its reward when that was happening and how satisfying is it that when it has come, it’s come with a one-two in such style today?
DR: I think that that makes it feel worth it. You know I’ve only been a part of this team for four/six months. Obviously Lando can speak more about his time here, yeah, like the growth with the team but you know for me it was obviously… Lando’s had podiums this year and it was all about me just trying to improve my results and get up on the box, you know. Even like personally Monza, as I said, it’s a track I’ve always done well on but never been on the podium and it’s one of the coolest podiums on the calendar so to like do it all and then like go straight to the top with a win and then to get a one-two. I know last year Carlos finished second and second was huge for the team but he was… you know, there was kind of frustration because it was like a few more laps we would have a chance to win so like the team probably held on to a bit of that and then to come here a year later and get a one-two it’s unreal. I think like more than anything us as drivers and us as a team need to just enjoy today, enjoy the next few days. I’m glad we’ve got a week off to actually embrace the moment. I think it’s been maybe like a decade or something since the last one-two so yeah, if you’re going to do it, do it properly!
LN: I think Daniel’s said it well. I think a lot of times you’ve seen other people win, it’s because of a bit of luck here and there and so on but I think all weekend we’ve just done a very good job. We were in the right place at the right times, we’ve done a good job of the strategies like yesterday. We put ourselves in this better position and with my side, getting out of Lewis, with Daniel getting past two of the cars then he put himself in that position and that was just because we did a good job. We had a fast car and we maximised everything we had so I don’t think there was any luck with what we did this weekend. I think from the beginning we knew we could have a good one. We bounced back well from Zandvoort, from one of our worst races of the season, to probably the best we can have so… actually it can’t actually get any better than this. Yeah, I think we bounced back well and we just did a perfect job this weekend, from the team’s side, from our side as drivers, I think we worked pretty well and there was no luck with it, which I think makes it definitely a bit sweeter because it’s just deserved and it’s that hard work and effort that everyone’s put in, here and back in MTC as well and that definitely makes it sweeter for everyone. Yeah, it’s cool to be part of it, like Daniel’s said, I’ve been part of McLaren for a bit longer so to be on this little journey we’ve had together already to go from one podium a few years ago to a few more this season and now a one-two it’s pretty insane to think of but it’s such a cool feeling that get inside, to be part of a team like this and to win something like that as well, so I’m happy for them and happy for everyone to be part of it.
DR: sorry. I know I’ve talked a lot… this last thing. I think like as Lando said, it’s like that’s where I think we as a team can take so much fulfilment today is that we earned it today. We were leading and… well, we were one and three I think to go and we were like putting ourselves in a great position, the team made good pit stops so like we put ourselves in a winning position and it wasn’t circumstances or… I think that’s where we can really sleep tonight knowing that we earned every bit of this today.
LN: I’m sure many people will think we’re lucky because the other two crashed but Daniel was ahead from the beginning and lead the race so I think he deserved it we still had to do a bit of overtaking and defend the whole race. Yeah, deserved by everyone.