(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)
Q: Valtteri, that was a pretty epic lap – right at the end. I was watching the sectors all the way through and you nipped it right in the last sector. What does that feel like?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, it feels good. I just love qualifyings and especially when it goes well it’s a good feeling. Really nice to get everything out of myself and out of the car. I thin set-up-wise we made good steps from last weekend and that’s why I think the qualifying performance from me was better today then last weekend. Really pleased with that and proud to drive this amazing car, it’s so quick.
Q: It’s been a pretty good week – new contract from Mercedes to continue on from after the difficult race you had last week. How has that changes you mentally? Do you think you have come out of stronger because you’ve got that stability and the championship goes on?
VB: Well, of course mentally, when you’re starting from the pole, you can only aim to win the race and obviously the starting point is good. I think the race pace is good. The first job is to get a good start off the line, as I had last weekend, and go from there. But the mentality is to try to win it.
Q: Lewis, it was a pretty close battle with Valtteri. Obviously he just nipped it at the end. Your first lap was very good and your second just improved. What can you say about it?
Lewis HAMILTON: I wasn’t that great! Valtteri did a good job and deserved the pole I guess; for me it just wasn’t a perfect last lap.
Q: Obviously ahead tomorrow. It was difficult to do a one-stop last week, do you feel it’s going to be harder tomorrow with the softer compounds or do you think because you’ve that experience you can manage it differently?
LH: I don’t think many people will be managing with a softer… I was already managing last weekend and the tyre didn’t make it to the end. It’s highly unlikely I think many people will do a one-stop tomorrow.
Q: Valtteri, great lap at the end, just six one hundredths of a second faster than your team-mate. Where did you find the time on that final lap?
VB: Thanks. Very good feeling to be on pole. I love the qualifying and especially here in Silverstone. It’s pretty good fun. The feeling was from the practice sessions that the medium could be even faster than the soft tyre so that’s why in Q2, when we had both compounds, I knew that there would be still good opportunities to improve on the second run and yeah, the first run was OK, but I knew there was a bit missing and I could find more. There was no one key place, it was just about getting a nice clean lap and putting sectors together. It was a good lap, no doubt, so good feeling.
Q: And looking ahead to tomorrow’s race, can you give us any thoughts on strategy?
VB: To be honest I think one stop could be quite difficult here with the compounds we have here this weekend. So I think things are going to be a bit different than last weekend in terms of strategy. I’m sure the guys will be looking at all the options overnight and obviously myself the expectation tomorrow, there’s nothing more than to win the race when you start from pole.
Q: Lewis, coming to you, this is the 67th front-row lockout for Mercedes, but the roles are reversed from last weekend between you and Valtteri. How was your car at the end of the session?
LH: It was good. Valtteri did a fantastic job today; he was just too quick for me. The first lap in qualifying was fairly decent and the last one wasn’t spectacular. Ultimately he did a better job, so I’m happy though for the team to have a 1-2 and to see another great result for Racing Point.
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Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Question to the two Mercedes drivers. Last weekend when Red Bull were so far off the pace, they admitted they didn’t have an answer to the way you were able to step it up through the weekend. Can you just talk a little bit about the progress you are able to make through qualifying. Do you have extra engine modes you can go to in Q2 and Q3 or is it just natural evolution in the track and yourselves?
VB: I think, of course from last weekend to this week we’ve been just really working on everything that we can improve with the car, and also for us, me and Lewis, driving-wise, we’ve been trying to find more. I think we’ve been able to in terms of set-up and – at least for me, driving-wise – find a bit more. The same process goes throughout the weekend. So I think we’ve been able to go in the right direction from the beginning of this weekend until the qualifying and in the qualifying session, obviously car set-up-wise there’s not much you can do. There’s obviously tyre temperatures that we are run-by-run learning more and then we tried to nail it in Q3 when it comes to out-laps and all that. And the same with the engine. We know that with the quick car we have, we don’t necessarily have to use the highest engine modes in Q1 and, of course, if we can save the engine, we save it and yeah, obviously towards the end of the quali, we are going to be running the full power, so for sure there is a lap-time difference as well but I think also us drivers, we’re learning throughout the session and the tyre and out-lap performance is pretty important and that improved a lot during the qualifying as well.
LH: I haven’t got anything to add. I think Valtteri answered it pretty well.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Question to both Mercedes drivers please. Could you explain the thinking behind the run plan in Q3. Was it a case of going out, getting a banker lap on the Softs and then switching, both of you, to the Mediums or did the team allow you individually to chose what to do – and what was the reason behind the switch in the middle of that session? Thank you.
LH: I think we decided as a team. We both, Valtteri and I, agreed that the Medium tyre was better, so that’s why we saved it for the end.
Valtteri, anything to add?
VB: Yeah, like I said, we saw in practice that there’s not much in it. When it came down to the decisions, we decided the Medium was most likely going to be the faster. That’s why we saved it to the end, because normally at the end of the session the track is the fastest, so wanted to maximise everything.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) Question for Valtteri please. Can you just run through a little bit the process of what you went through since last week to find the car improvements? Roughly, what have you done, what characteristics have you dialled in or dialled out that have allowed you to do this today?
VB: Of course I can’t go too much into set-up details but we’ve been able to improve the car set-up, I think, for me. I think I had a slight deficit last weekend in qualifying, just in terms of the direction I went during last weekend. I don’t think it was a bad race car but I hope now it’s optimised for both. Always between the races we analyse everything from the race weekend set-up, from my driving in qualifying and in the race and I try to be better. At least today I managed to do some things better than I did last weekend. It is a pretty standard process, to be honest. I don’t want to go into details of the set-up, just I feel better in qualifying today than a week ago.
Valtteri, have you been on the simulator this week back at the factory?
VB: Yes, I have.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) A question, again, back to the Mercedes drivers: Max Verstappen will be starting the race from fourth place on the hard tyre; how is that compound in terms of the base? Is it a better race tyre and if so, does that give him an advantage over you guys earlier in the race?
VB: Yes, the hard this weekend is obviously the same tyre as the medium last weekend. I think it’s a good race tyre. For sure, it can go longer than the compound everyone else is pretty much starting on in the top ten, so obviously there is a small deficit at the race start itself but then it’s a bit more robust, less overheating, more durable. I think everyone learned quite a lot about that tyre already last weekend. I think we have two new sets of hards.
Q: Were you tempted to try and get through on the hard?
VB: Not really, no. That was not in – at least, didn’t come into my ears in the discussions. I hope we made the right choice. Obviously we managed to get the front row, so that’s always good.
Q: Lewis, what’s your take on the hard tyre, Max being on the hard tyre tomorrow?
LH: I think it could be good. Gives a bit of a difference, it will make it more interesting. We’re not doing it this weekend, last weekend. It will be interesting.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) Lewis, you’ve spoken a few times in the past at the frustration when sometimes other drivers can learn from your tricks and your data etc and in more recent times you’ve spoken how that keeps driving you to continue, but it seems this is a case were obviously Valtteri’s been able to put the effort in, do his homework, learn from everything he did and you did last weekend and find more gains, whereas you’re probably closer to the – last weekend, obviously you were closer to the ultimate ceiling. Although Valtteri’s done a great job, is there a little bit of you that’s thinking it’s part of the… your advantage being eroded by that whole process and the fact that you can’t keep some of that to yourself in competition?
LH: No. At the end of the day, we driver, we go out and we continue to push. I was in the sim too, although we weren’t particularly working on this race but no, I improved this weekend also so Valtteri just did a better job right at the end. I don’t feel any way about it. Still got a long race tomorrow and I will bring everything I can to try and beat this guy.
You can watch the conference video below.