British GP 2021
JULY 18, 2021
Sunday Press Conference
1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)
3 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
(Conducted by Jenson Button)
Q: Charles, so close, so close, two laps too long for you for the win, but still an amazing drive from you today.
Charles LECLERC: Yeah, wow. It's difficult to enjoy 100%. Of course it's been an incredible race. I gave not 100% but 200%. I gave all of me, but it was just not enough in the last two laps. Congratulations to Lewis, he did an incredible job and it's amazing to see so many fans in the grandstand. It was fun in the car but I lacked just a little bit of pace towards the end.
Q: It's tricky. You are disappointed with second place but I bet before the race weekend you didn't think you would be fighting for the win right until the end of this race?
Leclerc: Yeah, we definitely did not expect it. We expected after qualifying to be quite competitive but no as competitive as now. We have been fighting for the win, which was incredible. Especially on the medium we were extremely, but then on the hard we lacked a little bit of pace compared to the Mercedes. But overall, it's much stronger than what we are used to.
Q: You must be very proud of the whole team, how much you have progressed and it's exciting for the rest of the season for you guys now?
Leclerc: The team is working incredibly well, so I am very proud of the team. Of course it's great to have these type of races, it cheers up everyone. There is a lot of work and it shows that we are doing something right and that we are working in the right direction. So we need to keep going like this. It won't be a smooth riding getting back to the top but we will give everything.
Q: Valtteri, a little bit hot out there it looks like?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, I had no drinks. My drinks system didn't work.
Q: Oh wow, that's a tough one. A good race though. A very different strategy to first and second but you were able to make it work pretty well and you were able to have a very long second stint?
Bottas: Yeah, I think the weakness today was the starts. On both starts I was wheel-spinning quite a bit, a bit like Lewis yesterday and that made it a bit more difficult, And obviously, I had to react to the stop of Lando in the beginning so we stopped a bit too early to be competitive towards the end but at least we got Lando and I helped Lewis to win.
Q: Considering the early stop, fantastic points, you must be positive and confident moving forward to the next few races?
Bottas: As a team, yes. Strong weekend from that point of view and yeah, we'll go again in two weeks.
Q: Lewis, eight times British Grand Prix winner. How does that feel?
Lewis HAMILTON: It's nicely overwhelming. It was such a physically difficult race. What great weather. We've got the best crowd. A home crowd is the best! Thank you guys so much. Honestly, there is nowhere we go where we see people like this. They ain't got what we got. I'm so grateful to the fans. I wish everyone to stay safe as always and to get home safely but this is a dream for me today to do this in front of you all. I couldn't have done it without the teamwork from Valtteri and the amazing effort from the team.
Q: I'm sure it's not the way you wanted the race to go, your battle with Max. It happens, but your fight back from there was fantastic. It must be very difficult mentally when you are fighting back mentally?
Hamilton: It is tough. You know I have been giving it my all this past week. I've been in the factory and just giving it absolutely everything trying to uncover performance with this car with the guys and I'm just so proud of everyone for just continuing to work, even though we have had a bit of deficit. Today of course, I always try to be measured in how I approach… particularly in battling with Max, he is very aggressive and then today I was fully alongside him and he didn't allow me enough space. But regardless of whether or not I agree with the penalty, I took it on the chin and I just kept working and I was like, 'I'm not going to let anything get in the way of the crowd's enjoyment of the weekend and the national anthem and the British flag'.
Q: Lewis, you must have experienced every emotion today. First up, describe how special it feels to win at Silverstone for an eighth time?
Hamilton: They are all so unique and incredible, each experience on its own. I can't even compare it to the others. It's been a really unbelievable journey with the British crowd here, my home crowd, since 2006 in GP2. The roar that I experienced in 2007 for my first pole here was something I will never forget and of course my first win here was incredibly special. But to come here again and be in such a close battle, there was so much riding on this race. The will to succeed for the crowd… It's different when we go to these other races, you want to do it for your team and that, but here you know so many people and particularly this one because no one has been able to leave their homes for such a long time, so everything compounded has made this a monumentous (sic) kind of event for us and so important. It was a real honour to be able to wave the Union Jack and to go round the circuit. I'm very grateful and very humbled.
Q: When you were hunting down Charles at the end at what point did you believe the win was on?
Hamilton: He did such a fantastic job today. I honestly didn't know at the beginning that we would be able to beat him. I thought I had good pace initially on the mediums but then Charles just started opening up the gap and putting in some fantastic laps. I could see that he wasn't really managing so I was like 'Jeez, he's surely going to blister at some stage', but he said they don't blister so… For us, I started struggling with our front tyres. I knocked out the left front, it was completely empty, so I had to pit. Obviously with that pit… I hadn't even considered at the time I was chasing him, I hadn't considered the 10-second penalty. If anything I actually thought that 10 seconds would be added on at the end of the race. I didn't realise it would be a stop and go 10-second penalty. That felt like eternity sitting there for those 10 seconds. And then coming out, honestly Charles wasn't on my mind when I came out, it was really trying to see if I could catch the car ahead, just one by one, and obviously I got the McLaren, I was chasing down Valtteri and he was so gracious today to work so well as a team-mate to allow me to pass, so I could chase for the win for the team. That's great sportsmanship, I really do appreciate it. And yeah, then I saw myself catching him but I was thinking 'by the time I get to him my tyres would be finished at this pace'. But then I saw the backmarkers and I realised that might create some opportunities, so I was like 'I've got to catch him as soon as possible' so that when I did catch him there would be opportunities to fight. Then my heart nearly stopped when I went up the inside of you in Turn 9, because I though the same thing was going to happen that happened to me and Max. I had to change my boxers after.
Q: You mentioned the incident with Max Verstappen on lap one. It's one of the biggest talking points of the race. Can you describe what happened from your point of view please?
Hamilton: I don't really know what good it does for me to explain. Obviously got a good start and I was chasing down Max similar to yesterday. Obviously I was alongside him into six but I had to concede and I got a great tow down to Turn 9. Yesterday I went down the left-hand side and I really regretted not going for the gap that was down the right-hand side and so I dummied him, moved to the left and then moved to the right for that gap. I was pretty far up alongside him but I then could see he wasn't going to back-out and we went into the corner and then we collided. Of course, that's never the way I ever want to win a race or just in general to race but these things do happen. I just hope he's OK and look forward to many more races.
Q: Lewis, do you think this will change the way the two of you race, going forward?
Hamilton: I would like to think that we should generally grow and learn from these experiences. There's never a… there's rarely an incident that's 100% someone's fault. It's always a mixture because there are two people – or more obviously – so I think there's things that we can both learn. I would say that Max is probably one of the most aggressive drivers here – just from my personal opinion – he does a great job of course – but I think we have to really try to find the best balance we can on track with space and respect between one another so that we can continue racing and have good races without colliding.
Q: Charles, Lewis has spoken about hunting you down. At what point did you realise the win was slipping away today?
Leclerc: When Lewis passed me! Until then I still believed I could win this race, and it's the way it should be. If I was thinking of being second before that, I think it will have gone even worse. I believed in it until the very last moment. Obviously I had my engineer telling me Lewis' pace on the hard tyres, and I was like 'that's quick'. I was pushing 200% but obviously it wasn't' good enough to keep that first position in the last laps.
Q: How frustrated do you feel now?
Leclerc: 50% frustration, 50% happiness. Obviously going into this weekend there was absolutely no hope of fighting for a win here in Silverstone. So, this shows how great a job we are doing as a team. It's not an easy situation for the team but the team is working extremely well. We are working extremely well as a team and we have shown that today with this second place. Now we need to keep on working because that's what we want to do consistently: fight for the win. So it's great to be fighting today with Lewis but we shouldn't expect to be in that position for the rest of the year – and for that we need to keep working.
Q: Charles, it's not a win – but is this one of your best podiums in Formula 1?
Leclerc: Yeah. Yeah. I was really on it every lap. So I don't think there is one lap where I did a big mistake – and especially in the first stint with problems we had with the engine, I thought my race was over. I had quite a lot of things to do on the steering wheel but yeah, I think we managed the situation very, very well and we managed to diminish these engine cuts for the rest of the race.
Q: You had a very good view of the incident between Lewis and Max. Can we just get your thoughts on it please?
Leclerc: It is very difficult to judge it from the car; we are very low. So it's difficult to see. Everything went very quick. Obviously I could see there was quite a bit of things going around in front of me. And yeah, I think it's a racing incident. It's quite difficult to put the blame on one or the other. Obviously there was space on the inside. Maybe Lewis was not completely at the apex but it's also true that Max was quite aggressive on the outside. So, things happen, so what is the most important today is that Max is unharmed and is fine.
Q: Valtteri, may congratulations on podium number six of the season. No drinks bottle, we know that, but how pleased are you with your race today?
Bottas: Pleased? I don't know. If I look at the whole picture, as a team, it was obviously a great day for us in terms of points – and for Lewis as well, being able to win the race. For me, what compromised the race and being able to fight for the race win was the race start in both occasions: the first race start and then obviously with the red flag. So, having wheelspin at the start and losing a place compromises. Lando stopped quite early and had a slow stop, so I had to react to that. That was the best case to get ahead of him, so we took the opportunity. At the same time I knew that it is going to compromise the end of the race. Still happy to get on the podium and get some good points.
Q: Final one from me. Your thoughts on that incident at the front between Max and Lewis on Lap One?
Bottas: Well, I saw them fighting through lap one, a bit like yesterday. I had a feeling something is going to happen – but they were fighting hard. That kind of thing, that happens, it's racing. It can happen. When you fight hard, you, when you don't give up. I'm just happy that Max is fine because it was a big shunt. Also, I really feel like Lewis fully deserved the win today.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Well done on the win Lewis. Christian Horner has been quite critical of your move on Max. He said it was 'unacceptable', 'amateur' and 'desperate' and said it must feel like a bit of a hollow victory given that Max is in hospital. Just wanted your response to that, please?
Hamilton: I don't really have anything to say to Christian. It doesn't feel hollow. There are 2,000 people who work incredibly hard in my team. It's not just about me, naturally. Of course, I have already said that this is not the way… anything I want to happen in the race. I think it's important for all of us to be quite… take a step back. I'm sure emotions are running high there and I know what it's like to lose points within a team and be in that position. So, I don't feel any way about it.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Two questions to Charles please. Find of all, what happened when Lewis came past you. What caused you to run off the track at Turn 9. It was only four races ago at the French Grand Prix that you had massive problems with front tyre graining at Ferrari and you ended up lapped. What's changed since then? What's different? What's been so good with the tyres this weekend? Thank you.
Leclerc: For the first question, I knew Lewis was in the inside, I left a space and unfortunately I think I had stayed in front but in the very end of the corner I got a snap and lost a little bit of time and then Lewis got in front of me. Then yeah, for the tyres, there's been a big investigation after France to try to understand exactly why we were struggling that much with those front tyres. I don't think we get that answer yet. So yes, we are much better here but I don't think it is because we found the complete answer of what happened in France. So, the investigation is still going on and we are still working hard on it. And even though we've had a good day today we don't forget about the bad day in France and once we understand the full extent of why we were slow in France then I'm pretty sure we will do a big step as a team and it will help us to reproduce this type of performance as we did today.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Lewis, what was going through your head as you were catching Charles on the run to Copse, obviously returning to the scene where you'd had the move go wrong on the opening lap? How did you convince yourself to go for it and do you think the fact that you pulled that move off showed that the move was also on during the opening lap against Max?
Hamilton: Well, firstly I think as Charles was saying, he was very respectful in terms of leaving a gap. I got relatively… somewhere alongside him so he knew that I was there but he stayed committed and just did a wider line and he nearly kept it and that was really great racing. I think for me in that moment, I backed out at one point just to make sure that we didn't come together but I think it was just a really nice balance and I think that's really how the racing should go and close. In a perfect world, that's what would have happened in the first attempt but different time, different place, different driver.
Q: (Christian Menath) Lewis, do you think there's a bit of a back story behind this accident with Max? You're in a title fight and Max has been quite aggressive at some points this season. You had this fight yesterday, so is there anything more behind it or is it just a normal battle?
Hamilton: I think it's a normal battle. I think I've generally… when I was younger, of course, I was probably as aggressive – maybe actually not as aggressive as Max is, but I was pretty aggressive as a youngster – and I think now, I'm a lot older now and I know it's a marathon not a sprint and so I think I have a better view in how I approach my racing. But we're in a battle and I think this year he has been very aggressive and most of the times I've had to concede and just avoid incident with him and live to fight on later on in the race. As you saw yesterday, once he's out in the clear, they're too fast so when an opportunity comes, I've got to try and take it, that's what we're out there doing, and racing, and this one moment, I got a great exit out of Turn 7 and I was really happy with the dummy that I was able to go to the left and then go to the inside and get up that gap. Fortunately he wasn't able to close it. But unfortunately the aggression stayed from his side and we collided. It's unfortunate but as Charles said it's a racing incident, these things happen.
Q: (Sandor Meszaros – AutoSport ES Formula) Lewis, the next race is in Hungary where you've won eight times in the past and you will have a very good chance to score your 100th victory. It's a track with a totally characteristic so after what happened here, what do you expect in Hungary?
Hamilton: Thank you. I think it's… this race here for us has been a step forward for us. I think that track is often very good for the Red Bulls can… I don't know, maybe they have more downforce. But this year they definitely lost less downforce from what we understand with the new regs and the floor, so I anticipate they will be very, very strong there and hard to beat. It's not a track that you can really overtake unless you have offset strategy but I hope that we… I hope it remains as close as it has been this weekend. I think this weekend was a little bit more reminiscent of the first four races and so fingers crossed that continues.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll) Lewis, I feel a bit sorry that all the negative questions take away some of the joy but I guess that's part of the game. The stewards decided, Lewis, that you are predominantly to blame for the accident and you've heard before how people at Red Bull are feeling. Do you feel the need to apologise to Max, because probably no one can understand better than you can in what situation and what sort of state of emotion he must be in right now?
Hamilton: Look, at the end of the day I've not really seen the footage. I saw a quick clip of it when I went back to the garage but I naturally will go back and have time to reflect on it. I don't think, from my current understanding, that I'm in a position to have to apologise for anything. We're out there racing. I heard that Max is in hospital and that definitely concerns me. None of us ever want any of us to ever get injured, that's never my intention, so I really hope that he's OK. I'll give him… I'll hit him up after this just to check that he's OK and we live to fight another day. There'll be a lot of tough races coming up and we have to learn to strike a decent balance. I don't agree with stewards but I take my penalty on the chin and get on with my job. I'm not going to whine about it. Everyone's going to have a different opinion. I don't really particularly care what people think so I just do what I do and I'm really grateful for today.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, win number eight here, in front of the fans. It's obviously put you back in the title race. I just wanted to, just to mention that really.
Hamilton: Yeah, thanks. Honestly it's been such a hard year. One I've thoroughly enjoyed. I've loved this battle but an emotional rollercoaster as it always is within a championship. I was really enjoyed those first four races where it was close as it was this weekend. Then we saw them take that step ahead and I would say we've definitely made some mistakes as a team but just also lost a bit of performance, so to see an upgrade come back and us get back in the fight and be relatively close and to even be able to qualify ahead was really, really amazing and it just felt I was inspired by what the team brought. Did I think that we would be back in the title fight? Jeez, I don't know. I prayed and hoped for it but I thought that it would be a long slog to try and regain any of the points but we're now closer; he's still got quite a few points ahead but the race is on.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Charles, just about how the car was feeling in that second stint. Obviously you said that the engine problem did go away but was there any sort of lingering problems with that and also just your pace on the harder tyre; was it just not as good as the mediums or was it just the case that Lewis was in free air to be able to catch you that way?
Leclerc: Yeah, on the medium we were surprisingly good. The car felt incredible there and we were very very quick. Then on the hard, it's not like something felt especially weak. It felt quite good but whenever I started to hit the traffic, I could feel we were on a bit more fragile tyre and we seemed to suffer a bit more, by being those guys, even though it was so quite far, I could feel the rear of the car was not as stable as I wanted it to be and this made us lose a little bit the pace that we had before, but overall, even when everything felt good, Lewis was just much quicker than us on those hard tyres.