Hamilton and Bottas at the post Styrian Quali Press Conference

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Here is the transcript of the Post 2021 Styrian Grand Prix Qualifying track interviews and press conference featuring Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.


(Conducted by Johnny Herbert)

Q: Valtteri Bottas, second, a bit of a difficult weekend for you. Of course you have that three-place grid penalty, but the performance in qualifying, were you happy with that?

Valtteri BOTTAS: Yes. Shame about the penalty as obviously that means I’m starting fifth tomorrow. I would have preferred to start second. It was a strong qualifying. If I look at practice two and practice three I still struggled a bit but with the set-up we found the right direction and it was a much better feeling. I really felt good in the car and I got the most out of the car. Just the first run in Q3 I had traffic with Tsunoda, so I lost a couple of tenths there so I don’t know maybe there was a bit more to come.

Q: What about the race? Obviously you are on the right tyre with that medium one. Is it something that you feel race pace-wise you can really get in the mix?

VB: Yeah, of course we knew I am going to have the penalty, so we though the medium was going to be the best option so we used two sets of mediums in Q2 to try and start the race with the medium and hopefully at least on the soft runners we can have a bit of an advantage. It’s a new day tomorrow, a long race ahead, so anything is possible.

Q: Do you think you can attack the Red Bulls, because…

VB: Yes, definitely.

Q: Lewis, a bit of a frustrating day for you. It just seemed as if the car just wasn’t quite underneath you during that final lap you had?

Lewis HAMILTON: Firstly, well done to Max. They have been so fast this weekend and I’ve been giving it absolutely everything and it just wasn’t the greatest of sessions. But nonetheless we’re still on the front row, obviously after the penalty. I did everything I could and we go into the race tomorrow for a fight.

Q: What about the race tomorrow? You have the right tyre with the medium. Can you really attack Max? I think when we saw on the long ruins you weren’t that far away at all. You seemed to be really close. Do you expect that tomorrow?

LH: They’ve generally had a quarter of a second on us all weekend. I think we managed to eke closer in qualifying but in race trim yesterday they were 0.25s ahead of us most of the time so it will be interesting to see whether or not we can manage it. I don’t think we have the raw pace to overtake them that’s for sure but we might just be able to keep up.

Q: So this is all going to be about getting as many points as you can tomorrow, because you don’t think you’re going to be able to attack Max then from what I can understand there?

LH: Well, I’m going to be giving it everything obviously but I’m just talking about pure pace. But maybe tomorrow we’ll be surprised. Maybe it rains. Who knows.

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Q: Valtteri, well done, another great qualifying for you. How pleased are you with the job you did today?

VB: I honestly think it was  good qualifying. I think I’ve been a little bit lost with the set-up during the weekend so far. But being able to go in the right direction with the set-up, we’ve been working closely with Lewis as well to try to find the optimal set-up and definitely got some guidance from his side of the garage this weekend because I was definitely lacking a bit of pace on Friday and was a bit confused about which way to go and yeah, we were working as a team and found the right direction. I think thanks to that I found the confidence in the car and felt good. That last lap, there were definitely not two-tenths on the table so I think Max and Red Bull were faster today. It was a good lap and I’m pleased for that. Of course, it’s a shame I have the penalty but obviously the job today was to try and maximise the situation.

Q: Can you shed a little bit more light on the work that you and Lewis have shared this weekend? What information was particularly useful for you?

VB: It’s nothing new, to be honest. It’s always very open in terms of what kind of set-ups we’re running and what are we planning to do etc., so it’s nothing unusual. I don’t want to go into the fine details but I think we’re discovering a lot about the car now, that it can go so many different ways with the set-up and it’s actually quite easy to get confused, which direction to go. We keep learning and we keep optimising and yeah… we need to keep learning because it is a tough battle ahead still this season.

Q: And, as you say, you’ve got that three place grid penalty tomorrow. You’re going to start fifth. How easy is it to move forward around the Red Bull Ring?

VB: I don’t think it’s the easiest. I think the middle sector, the high-speed corners and the last two corners is a tricky part to follow closely but there’s long straights and, if you have the pace, if you have the right strategy for sure we can move up – and that’s of course going to be the aim. In terms of strategy we’re starting with the Medium tyre. I think there’s some guys I’m battling with who are starting on the Soft, so that can play a part.

Q: Lewis, coming to you, clearly pushing very hard throughout that session. Just how tough was it for you out there?

LH: It was a difficult session for me. I’ve generally had a really good weekend so far. Of course not as quick as Max but I did a lot of work before the event and then the car was feeling great all day yesterday. We’ve just been chipping away at it. Each change is just trying to eke-out 10ms or something. And then I got into qualifying and the car just didn’t feel as great as it did in P3. I don’t fully understand it. I wouldn’t say I was particularly that quick in qualifying but nonetheless I’m really happy to be where we are. As Valtteri said, the next two-tenths is a little bit difficult. They’ve had straight-line speed again this weekend, which is hard for us to compete with. But I’m really proud of the team for just continuing to push hard, not leave any stone unturned.

Q: What were your expectations coming into qualifying?

LH: I don’t really have any expectation. I just expected to have – I wanted to have a good session, I wanted to deliver decent laps and in P3 I did a lap I was like ‘that’s the one that I need for Q3’ and I got nowhere near it. But these things happen. We gave it everything and we’ve got a long race tomorrow so I hope that the balance works for us. It’s going to be a tough battle with these guys. I think they’ve generally had the edge throughout the weekend and the analysis last night was that they are a quarter of a second ahead on long run pace. I hope through work we’ve closed that gap.

Q: Max referred to the queue at the start of that final run in Q3. You jumped ahead. Did that in any way cost you on that final lap?

LH: Definitely. Yeah, in hindsight… I mean, I knew that everyone was just going so slow and I was worried about not having the tyres up to temperature but I went on all the dirty lines, so I was just picking up all the dirt on the tyres and then a poor exit out of the last corner so already by Turn 1

I was a tenth down and already by Turn 3 I was two tenths down, so no hope in that respect and then naturally tried to over-drive to gather that pace, that time lost, back and it didn’t work.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Valtteri, can you give us a little bit more explanation as to what happened with your incident in the pit lane yesterday. You were using second gear, it said on the stewards’ report, presumably to reduce wheelspin because of the problems that you both had in France, so why did you have so much wheelspin? What happened? Why did it go so wrong?

VB: It definitely caught me out. I never imagined that would happen in the pit lane but yeah, we decided to try something different, launch with the second gear, because sometimes with a higher gear you have lower revs and maybe you can manage to wheelspin or the initial part is not so aggressive but then once I got the wheelspin, it really caught me out and I don’t know, perhaps the line in the pit lane was still slightly damp from the drizzle. I just couldn’t hold it. Obviously quite a different behaviour in second gear than first gear. So that happened.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Lewis, we saw you doing three runs in Q3. I just wondered if you could explain the thinking behind that and then did it work out as you hoped?

LH: Just I was told that I had three tyres and I could use them all so I said yes, I threw everything at it, give it three shots in the hope to close the gap of two tenths to Max but yeah, as I said, the last one not great when there’s all those people out there and you’re not able to get the temperature in the tyres. But, you know, as I said, we did everything that we could.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) To Valtteri and then Lewis please. Valtteri, just on the penalty that you’ve got, do you think that’s a fair punishment for what happened and then to Lewis, were you trying the pit box exit in second gear as well?

VB: My personal view is [that it’s] quite harsh. I never imagined after that that there would be a penalty but of course other teams, when they see the opportunity, they complained that it was dangerous etc so that we would get penalised. That’s how it goes, so everyone is always trying to screw you over in this sport. I mean yes, it can be a dangerous situation if there’s many people in the pit lane but…

LH: No, I haven’t tried that.

Source: FIA.com

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