Italian GP 2021
SEPTEMBER 11, 2021
Saturday Press Conference
1 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
2 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)
3 – Daniel RICCIARDO (McLaren)
(Conducted by Davide Valsecchi)
Q: Wonderful performance Daniel, you've been waiting a bit long to be honest. Great show. Congratulations!
Daniel Riccirado: Grazie, Davide. Yeah, it's been a long time to be in this position. It's good to be back. Tomorrow is the important one but we gain a position from Valtteri's problems so we are on the front row, and that's been a long time, so very happy for that.
Q: Tomorrow, start and first corner can be the key of the race. Are you scared or are you going to be full attack?
Ricciardo: Full attack. Full attack. I mean today that's what gave me the chance. A good start… I thought maybe I would get Max in Turn 1 but he had the inside, so I look forward to tomorrow.
Q: Max, tell me please about the race? How is the feeling to be here in Monza and how is the feeling to be starting tomorrow in pole position?
Max VERSTAPPEN: First of all, it's amazing to be here to see all the Italian fans again. They are incredibly passionate about motor sport in general, so great to see you. Of course, the race, a little bit better than expected. We had a good start and got up to second, so we scored some nice little points. Starting on pole for tomorrow. Nevertheless they still seem very quick but I was giving it all to try to stay close. It's going to be an interesting battle tomorrow.
Q: About the maximum speed. McLaren is very high level, Mercedes are very high level and the straights are very long. How is it going to be tomorrow?
Verstappen: I have to say we did trim our car to have decent top speed so I am not too worried about our top speed in the race. But we also know that Mercedes they have very good pace over the whole lap. But nevertheless we are going to try to have a good race tomorrow.
Q: Valtteri, extremely happy for you, wonderful race, great start, incredible pace. How is your feeling because you deserve it today?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Thank you. I feel good. It feels like it's been a while since I finished first in a race. Unfortunately, I'm starting from the back tomorrow, but the speed is there so I will be fighting and I will be coming as high as I can tomorrow. But today, I enjoy. It was a very clean race and we had good pace and yeah, very good.
Q: You are doing a wonderful weekend. Tell me please about tomorrow. It's so easy to overtake cars that are slower than you? Because today Hamilton struggled a bit. How is it going to be tomorrow?
Bottas: It's not going to be easy, that's for sure. When there is a train of cars with DRS it's not easy but obviously strategy-wise we still have free choice of tyre at the start so let's see if we can do something. I will give it all I have, I can promise that.
Q: And are you enjoying this medal, because that was the Olympic champion?
Bottas: Yes, very nice. Very cool.
Q: Well done Valtteri, that seemed to be the perfect Sprint for you?
Bottas: Yeah it was good, a good sprint. Everything went smoothly. I had a good start and that was of course the first important thing in the sprint. A good start and the car was very consistent throughout that sprint qualifying race thing. I didn't really do any mistakes. I knew Max was trying hard behind. The gap was pretty consistent. I was just pushing flat out really and at the same time avoiding mistakes. No dramas.
Q: One potentially nervous moment might have been the re-start after the Safety Car, but you managed that well.
Bottas: Yeah, the re-start can be a bit risky here being in the lead, it's a long main straight but luckily I had quite a good jump through the last corner and all through the straight and I could hold the gap.
Q: Is there a tinge of frustration knowing that you will start from the back tomorrow owing to the grid penalties associated with the change of the power unit.
Bottas: What can I say! It's been a perfect weekend so far and then I have a grid penalty. But that happens. But it's good to see that we have a strong car and we have good pace, so I'll be fighting tomorrow to come as high as I can tomorrow.
Q: What do you think you can do tomorrow?
Bottas: Podium is possible. Anything is possible, to be honest, if you look at the race last year, what happened. You never know. I'll keep pushing.
Q: Max, coming to you, that must go down as a good day at the office for you?
Verstappen: I think it was a good day for us. Good start and from there onwards I tried of course to follow Valtteri around, even though I think we lacked a little bit of pace to really mount a challenge but I just tried to stay in the tow a bit. Yeah, from our side, it was good. Two points scored and, of course, starting first tomorrow. Still, I don't expect it to be a very straightforward and easy race because Valtteri coming from the back but also, of course, Lewis starting in P4, they have a lot of pace. Yeah, we'll see what we can do against them.
Q: As you say, you're starting from pole. How important is pole position here at Monza?
Verstappen: If you get cleanly through Turns 1 and 2 of course it's very good. It's still quite a decent run to Turn 1 – but overall if you just have a good start it should be enough to defend. So, yeah, let's see tomorrow.
Q: And Max, with one less practice session this weekend, are there more unknowns going into the grand prix?
Verstappen: Not really. We had FP2 where we did long runs and of course we did the race now, so I think it's pretty straightforward. We know what we have to do, we know where we are lacking but, of course, you know, you cannot change that, so yeah, we'll just try to do the best we can in tomorrow's race.
Q: Daniel, coming to you, many congratulations. A front-row start for you tomorrow. Big moment.
Ricciardo: It's been a while. It's been a while since a front row, so thanks to Valtteri for that – sorry about it! But I guess I have to thank you.
Bottas: No worries!
Ricciardo: … It's cool. First time obviously up here in the Sprint as well. For sure I'm happy. Yeah, we've got the big one tomorrow. I think I've done the job today, ticked the box to get me in a better starting spot, front row. Maybe Mexico was the last time Max and I were on the front row? You're nodding your head, so I remember. Yeah, looking forward to that and hopefully we have strong pace like we did today. It's not enough, it wasn't enough for Max and Valtteri today but I felt like I was able to hold on to third pretty comfortably, so we'll try to learn a bit from today and use that for tomorrow to keep us up in this room.
Q: Talk us through the opening 10 seconds of the sprint – because it got pretty tight down into Turn 1.
Ricciardo: It did. It was a good start. I knew I had a good launch. As soon as you drop the clutch you just know. It just bites and grips and tells us 'we're on here'. And then I had a good tow and I had also a clear line braking for Turn 1. So I was able to go quite deep and through maybe I could get Max for a second but then he had the inside for one and I think, if I stayed there, and tried to keep the inside for two, I don't think there was enough room for two cars, so I… somebody just today I think because then maybe Gasly went into the back of me in the apex of two, so I don't know. It was just tight but that's the first chicane. It was just good, hard racing and obviously I got Lando and Lewis so it was still a good first lap for me.
Q: And you were on the soft tyre. How did they hold up over the 18 laps?
Ricciardo: They were alright. They were pretty good actually. Obviously we had a Safety Car, which took a few laps out of the race but generally it was pretty decent. It's just hard because these guys pulled away and you don't know if there's any tyre in that's just their car speed. It was comfortable enough for me out there so I think it was a smooth Saturday. Yeah, Saturday!
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Daniel, it's been nine years since McLaren won a race. Are you ready to dream tomorrow, do you think you've got a chance?
Ricciardo: I'll probably dream a little bit about it tonight, and I'm ready to make that a reality for sure. Also, for McLaren it's been a long time, for me it's been a long time so yeah, it's definitely refreshing to be back up here and yeah, we're close. A few things might have to swing in our favour tomorrow but we'll certainly put ourselves in the fight, in the hunt. So yeah, very excited to get going with that, and try to make some good stuff happen. Obviously they were second here last year so yeah, we're there or thereabouts. I'm hungry. Anyone who saw me after qualifying yesterday, I think they're not surprised about this outcome today.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Max, was there a moment where you kind of settled for second, knowing that you will start on the front row from pole tomorrow, or were you pushing through to try and get Valtteri today?
Verstappen: Just sensible pushing, just to see what the pace is at. Valtteri was already a bit up the road after one or two laps so just see what the car was at, but of course I never really felt like an overtake was on. Just try to keep close and see where we can improve with the package, and see how their car runs over kerbs, corners, cornering speeds and stuff, all these kinds of things. Yeah, I also knew, of course, even if I just would have stayed in second, I start first tomorrow.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) Valtteri, obviously you've done a great job the last couple of days. You've effectively taken pole position twice, yet obviously the record books won't reflect it. You can take personal satisfaction, but how irritating is it that there's almost no recognition in the record books of what you've done over the past two days and you'll always have that pole position or qualifying win, if you like, missing from your statistics?
Bottas: For sure it's annoying, you know, having done a good last two days and good performance and then you kind of reset completely for the day after and start from the back, but those things are out of my hands so I'm not going to waste too much energy or be too negative about it because there's nothing, absolutely I can do about it and the only thing I can do is try my best and go full gas tomorrow but at least I got three points. Every point counts for me personally and for us as a team.
Q: Points... and a medal!
Bottas: And a beautiful medal, yes!
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll) Daniel, to take the soft tyre, win another position at the start, that sounds like a nice strategy for the race tomorrow. How did the tyre hold up for you today and do you think it's going to be a good race tyre?
Ricciardo: It was pretty good. Yeah, we knew obviously that with the short race as well, just try to take what you can but you also don't really know what the others are going to do. I didn't expect everyone around to be on medium. I think most were so you just don't know and because it's a new format, it's only the second time that we've done this style of weekend, I think everyone's still trying to figure it out but look, personally speaking it worked well for me today so happy with that and I'll start on a supersoft tomorrow!
Q: Can I throw this to you two. How seriously did you consider the soft tyre today?
Bottas: Considered, yes, for sure but yeah, obviously ended up with the medium but it wasn't an easy decision.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Valtteri, the talk after yesterday's qualifying was all about team orders and how you would likely have to give the win to Lewis today. Obviously that didn't happen. Just how were you feeling about that, before the start and obviously as the race progressed?
Bottas: It would not have been the first time for me, obviously and the situation with the championship, for us… In an ideal world we would have both got a good start. Possibly we would have swapped positions if it was safe, for obvious reasons, but yeah, Lewis had a bad start and that of course is not great for him, not great for us as a team in terms of points but that gave me an opportunity to win the sprint which is obviously, for me personally, is nice that I could race.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Daniel, could you just clarify: did you feel the touch from Gasly between the first and second corners? And after today when you were so close to getting ahead of the cars in front, yesterday after qualifying you had some internal rage, were you able to release that on the run to the first corner?
Ricciardo: So, I didn't feel the Gasly touch. I was just told about it after, but no, I didn't. And then, yes, the rage!
Verstappen: Destroyed the whole room?
Ricciardo: This time I kept the room in one piece. Max knows. Sometimes I don't keep it that cool, but yeah, I would say I used some of that today and I will use the rest of it tomorrow. That's all. As I said before, I'm hungry, it's been a long time since I've been up in this position, so obviously, yeah, I just want to be back here and yeah, never leave.