Transcript of the post race press conference organised by the FIA for the 2014 United States Grand Prix.
PODIUM INTERVIEWS (conducted by Mario Andretti)
Hello Austin, another exciting and beautiful race in the record books. Amazing, guys. All my deputies here. Lewis, if my math is correct it’s your tenth win this season, a 24-point lead in the championship. Oh my gosh. Three races, two wins and a second, is there anything you can tell me about your secret here?
Lewis HAMILTON: You know, this is an incredible place. I’ve got such great support here, so a big, huge thank you to the fans here. Again, I’ve been so fortunate – I’ve got an incredible team, an incredible and I had a great competitor today and I’m really grateful to be up front. I’m really excited. It’s such a privilege to be representing my country and to be at the top of the driver wins is really quite special.
A beautiful job, obviously. You had work to do. You’ve done that in the past. You made a beautiful pass on your friend here Nico and I think you might have caught him by surprise a little bit but after that in clear air it looked like clear sailing, because it looked like the car just worked perfectly for you?
LH: The car was great today, but you know what, where’s the Stetson? Can I use your hat?
MA: In a minute… I’m still on official duty.
LH: Oh yeah, you’re the sheriff.
Nico, great start, brilliant pole. It looks to me like you were caught a little bit by surprise on that overtake early on in the race and once Lewis got into clear air it seemed like you had a tough time. Nevertheless a one-two, many times this year, a brilliant performance by both of you and kudos to Mercedes.
Nico ROSBERG: yeah, it definitely kind of sucks to me today, but that’s the way it is (inaudible). It took too long for me to find my rhythm. Once Lewis got by I found my rhythm, but it was too late, so that kind of sucked. But anyways, thank you to all of you; you’ve been fantastic today. As I see, you’ve had a great time, that’s important and it’s great that F1 is in Texas.
Seventy-five points still available before the end of the season, so the fight is still open right. Daniel, wow! Eight podiums this season, you’re just right there aren’t there aren’t you? Keeping these two pretty honest aren’t you? That’s fabulous to see.
Daniel RICCIARDO: Yeah we’re doing what we can. We all had a great weekend. So, firstly, thanks to all the fans. It’s honestly a pleasure to come out here. Austin’s great – the circuit, the facilities, the town, everything’s good. So thanks to Red Bull for giving me the package to fight for the podium today and I’m really happy with third place.
That was brilliant obviously as I said. Some of your overtakes are textbook. As a young man it’s amazing. It’s fun to watch, honestly.
DR: Thanks. This place is great. You can overtake here, there are a lot of opportunities. I got Magnussen on lap one and then Fernando on the restart, so it wasn’t too boring out there.
LH: It’s been an incredible run. This whole season has been incredible really. Just an unbelievable job done by the team. Nico was very quick in qualifying yesterday. Obviously I said I had a couple of problems and I corrected them today and, never know how the race is going to go but I pushed as hard as I could, particularly in the first stint. And the second stint I seemed to be even quicker on that stint. Once I got past Nico it was really just about controlling it. Coming here today, just having that same determination and hunger to get that win. And, as I said, there’s not a better crowd really to do that in front of.
Q: Tell us about that overtake. How did that happen? How did you feel about that? Was it all DRS? How did it actually happen?
LH: It’s obviously a very good circuit to be able to follow but it’s not easy and it was very hard through the middle sector to try to stay as close to him as possible and get as close as I could to the DRS zone. And I was quite a bit back, I would say, but I felt very confident, there was a big headwind into 12, and I just felt like I was waiting for the moment really, to just be just close enough to throw it up the inside. And that’s what I did. There’s a kind of… you have to decide how much of a risk you’re willing to take. Nico wasn’t defending there really so almost caught him unaware. And after that, really I was just trying to maintain it. But what an incredible achievement. I’m so grateful. Big thank you to all my team and to my family because the results that I’ve had and the amount of wins that I’ve had wouldn’t have been possible without those people.
Q: You talked yesterday about brakes and also a little bit about a flat-spot. There was no sign of that during the opening laps?
LH: No, there was no problem. Fortunately it was a small one. But when the Safety Car came out I did have that big difference of around 100°C between the left front brake and the right front, so was trying very hard to keep it as high as possible but fortunately once we got going again it started to rebalance itself and I didn’t have too many problems. Locking was still there but it didn’t seem to hinder me.
NR: Yeah, the start was good so thanks to the team for that, that worked out really well. It’s pretty simple that I didn’t find my rhythm early on. It took a long time, like all the way until after Lewis passed me. In the overtake, I knew there was a chance. Maybe he would try or not, so I went kinda, halfway defensive but Lewis just did a good job and that’s it. Five or ten laps later I started to find a better rhythm and then I felt OK – but it was unfortunately just way too late.
Q: At one point, for something like five laps in succession, you were lapping so close, the two of you, within thousandths of a second of one another, I guess that when you’d found the rhythm.
NR: Yes. That’s the period went I started to feel more comfortable. I never gave up in this race, of course, I was just fully determined all the way to try and put the pressure onto Lewis, try and get a bit closer, but it just wasn’t possible today.
Q: And you radioed in that you hit a kerb at some point. Was there any lasting effect from that?
NR: No, it’s just that with these kerbs around the back there, if you take a little bit too much, they’re quite high and it was a little bit of a thump but everything was OK. Again, they’ve built a good car. Robust.
DR: Yeah. I think we had good pace. Williams were strong. I think we used good strategy to get ahead of them basically, and that paid off. But yeah, the first few laps were fun. We dropped a few places on the start but then got Magnussen into 12 and then Alonso on the restart so, couldn’t really hang with the Williams at first but it seemed like the longer the stint went, the more pace we had. Really happy with third. As we know, Mercedes are a bit out of reach, so third I think was the best we could do today.
Q: And when you had the Williams behind you, within the DRS capability as it were, a slippery Williams with a Mercedes engine, you must have thought it was all over.
DR: Yeah, Felipe was coming on strong at the end. I could see him. At the beginning of the stint I pulled but then he came back stronger than he expected. I don’t know if he had DRS or not but I was trying to do a little bit down the straights so he couldn’t get too much in my tow. But anyways, I think we held on pretty comfortably in the end but they had good pace and kept me honest until the last lap.
Q: So really happy to be on the podium.
DR: You betcha!
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Sef Harding – Zero Zone News) Lewis, you’ve been focused out there like a Jedi knight this season. Big numbers for you: this makes five in a row and ten wins through the season. Did everything just come together for you today, once you had the car hooked up?
LH: I like the Jedi knight reference! That’s cool. Yeah, today, just really doing my homework. Before the race there’s a lot you can do to really understand what opportunities could come up and in different scenarios, how you approach it and I felt very much on top of that as I have done for quite some time. Just went into the race with the belief that I could win it. Incredible support from my fans, even from when I was in New York this week. The support from my fans and the tons of flags out there and team tops and team caps, I really am so grateful for that support that I have here in the US. It’s amazing. I hope it continues to grow over the years. Great weather, the circuit’s just fantastic. I went into the race thinking I need another race just like 2012 and it was just like that. I was catching him through exactly the same points at which I was catching Sebastian. There wasn’t a moment in the race when I didn’t think that I would get him. Once I was past, as I said, I was able to relax for a second and really try to manage the tyres, because I knew that perhaps he would push at some other point. And so I was always having to respond. It’s such a great feeling when you have a race like that, it just feels great that you’ve really done it as best as you can.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action/National Speed Sport News) Daniel, as you said, a slow start. What happened at the start and also, looking forward to next weekend, the Red Bull is second best here, how will it be in Interlagos?
DR: I don’t really want to talk about the start! We’ll see. I feel that it was my fault today. It just didn’t feel like I got the procedure right but I will have to look back and see the ins and outs. But I think it was… for getting off the line poorly, I think we had good damage limitation. Yes. Think I picked a better line in turn one and then, as I said, got Kevin back in turn 12 so in the end we only lost one spot. I think it could have been a lot worse. Yeah, we’ll work on that and then Brazil, hopefully we’re strong. In the past, it has definitely been a good track for Red Bull but I think, again, it’s going to be that last step on the podium that we’re going to fight for. I don’t know. I would like to say that I could catch these two but I think I will be happy with third but let’s see how we go.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Universo OnLine) Nico, now there are 24 points difference to Lewis; do you go to the two last races with the same approach until now, or emotionally inevitable that it affects you? And Daniel, can you describe the manoeuvre to overtake Alonso and then Massa in the operation of pit stops?
NR: Same approach from me: fully committed, full attack, try and be on pole in qualifying and then win Interlagos and that’s it. There are still many points to be had and a lot can still happen. Same as all the time.
DR: Fernando on the restart; I don’t think that, from memory, the two Williamses didn’t get a great restart so it sort of bunched us all up. We were close and I saw Fernando cover a bit but it’s so wide at turn one, I knew there was a bit more room on the inside. I guess I committed to that, already out of the last corner when I knew I was close enough and that worked, so that was good but then Massa or Valtteri cut in late. I was very shallow on the apex and I nearly actually collected the Williams but I’m sure Fernando was watching me and saying ‘it’s all over here. He braked too late. Silly boy.’ It was close but that worked well and then I think just the undercut worked to our advantage. I don’t know if Felipe had a slow pit stop or not but yeah, that probably helped us out and I think our pit stop was pretty quick so that was the story there.
Q: (David Estrada – The Port Arthur News) Lewis and Nico, you guys had a very similar tyre- changing strategy today. Do you think it was done intentionally, to level the playing field between you two? And do you guys see that continuing in the future races?
LH: It wasn’t because of that. It was because if you look at some of the races, you have been able to offset. Usually the first driver will have the optimum strategy, but then the second driver usually has… say it’s option, prime, prime, the second driver would have a chance of doing option, prime, option but the option’s quite weak here so you had to run option, prime, prime. It was much much slower to run an option, so then we were both on that strategy and that’s why I had to push so hard to make sure I got by as soon as possible because I wouldn’t have that opportunity later on.
Q: (Matthew Walter – Bleacher Report) Lewis, now if you were to finish second in the next two races, no matter what Nico did, you would still be World Champion, so does this change your approach at all, in terms of maybe being a little bit more conservative, taking fewer chances or is it the same for you?
LH: It doesn’t really change, same as for Nico really, because we’re hunting for those points. I think during the year you have to be balanced in the risks you take and I think that so far I’ve not been taking too many risks. I’ve done what I’ve needed to do to get by in the safest way, in the cleanest way, which has worked all year, so I should just continue to do the same. Even in this race, I was looking after the car, trying to nurse it home and make sure that it had no problems, and I think really you’ve just got to keep going until the last chequered flag.
Q: (Steve Aibel – Drafting the circuits) Daniel, the atmosphere here in Austin and Texas, you seem to really have embraced. You’ve talked about Sixth Street, wore a cowboy hat but the thing that I think really embraces you to the State is that number on your hat. Is there any way you can talk about the three and the influence of Dale Earnhardt in picking that number?
DR: Yes, you’re absolutely right. I love this place. I’m definitely not alone but yeah, it is special, it’s cool. And then yeah, the three. I was a big fan of Dale Earnhardt. I’m a fan of motorsports but I’ve followed NASCAR since I was very young. It was follow Dale and it was my first go-kart number as well. When Formula One said you can pick your numbers this year, it was a no-brainer for me to chose the three and then once they agreed I could run it, I thought what better way to have the style of Dale on my helmet. Yeah, it’s been pretty cool. Dale Junior has seen that we’ve spoken via social media a little bit and it’s really nice that he’s supportive of that. So really quite honoured, obviously, to represent that in Formula One.
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) Lewis and Nico, no matter what the result is at the next race, the Abu Dhabi race will be the determining who wins. There’s fifty points on offer, various scenarios and mathematical computations can be played out. Any views on this, how you approach it?
LH: I think I just said I would do exactly the same. There isn’t much more to add to it, just going to be exactly the same as I approached this weekend and previous races: I want to win.
NR: For me, that’s great to hear of course, because then there’s a definite shot at the championship this year, even with the points that I’m now behind and anyways, there’s still Brazil to come so in Brazil it’s even possible to completely turn it around. You never know what will happen there so I’m sure it will be an exciting end to the season. I hope it’s going to be exciting for the fans, that’s the most important thing also, that we put on a good show which I think we managed to do today. I look forward to the last two races. With the car that we have, it’s awesome, it really is.