(Conducted by Martin Brundle)
Q: Lewis, still you rise. You didn’t have the ultimate pace today for you still managed to get up on the podium.
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, firstly, a big, big congratulations to Ferrari. So happy to see them doing well again. They are such a historic, epic team. So it’s great to see them. It’s great to see Carlos and Charles up there as well. So congratulations to them. I think yeah, it was such a difficult race, we struggled throughout practice. This is really the best result we could have got and of course it was unfortunate for the other two drivers. But we did the best we could and we’re grateful for these points.
Q: And have you got lots of new parts coming for this Mercedes W13 where you can get up there on that leading pace?
LH: I’m hoping! I know the guys are working really hard back to the factory and it’s not going to be a quick turnaround, but I know that… we all know as a team, I do feel like we’ve been the best unified team for so long. I know that we all know that just keep your head down, keep working. There’s a long, long way to go.
Q: Great damage limitation today so you’re going to go to bed satisfied tonight I think.
LH: For sure.
Q: Lewis, coming to you now. Fifth to third. The 183rd podium of your Formula 1 career. What were your expectations coming into this race?
LH: Well, firstly, big congratulations to these guys. It’s great to see them up here. It’s a lot of red. But really happy to see these guys shine and be back up there. It’s you know… With the national anthem, also just the team and the energy that they always bring. It’s nice to see. I know they had a difficult year last year but they kept pushing, so it’s great to see them back. But I hope that we can get in the battle with them at some stage. I had a moment where I thought for a second that I was going to have a little bit of a battle with Carlos but it was only for five laps and then after that they were gone. I definitely didn’t expect to be up here. Of course I woke up this morning and I was hopeful and we did everything we could, praying as hard as we could to get the best results, but ultimately it came down to just really hard work from the whole team both here and back at the factory. We have a lot of work to do. We have quite a big deficit in performance but this is a great start still.
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Q: You say you have a lot of work to do. But what did you learn about your car doing a race distance this evening?
LH: Oh, well one, we’ve got a reliable car and two they’re much faster. But we kind of knew that already.
Q: Do you think you’ll be more competitive in Jeddah next weekend on a slightly smoother circuit?
LH: No, I don’t think so. But of course we’ve learned a lot from this week. Their straight line speed as well as the Bulls were very quick in a straight line and their performance through corners is quite a bit different to us. So the car was very hard to drive but it could always be worse. So I’m hoping for the next race we manage to find some improvements but it’s a fundamental issue that’s going to take a little bit longer I think to fix.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, a few of your fans on social media, saying Red Bull’s double retirement is karma for Abu Dhabi. So, I just wanted to get your response to that and whether you agree with that.
LH: I don’t have a response to it. I just focused on our job. Obviously it was unfortunate for them today but, yeah, I just focus on positives.
Q: (Jesus Balseiro – Diario AS) A question to Lewis: when you see Max with no points today, do you feel this could be relevant for a championship fight later on this year if Mercedes gets faster?
LH: Look it’s such early days. Reliability of course is always a key player, but with the performance they have, they look strong. To be able to come back strong in the next races I think for us, we just keep our head down. We’ve got a lot of work to do, we’re not currently fighting them necessarily on track. So that’s what we’ll focus on.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Lewis, even as early as Friday the team were talking about this being a bit of a damage limitation job this weekend. I just wondered on the quality of that damage limitation job, how much of a lift do you think it is for the team to come away from a podium as a reward for that perseverance and focus in the circumstances?
LH: Yeah, huge, honestly. I think incredibly motivating probably for the whole team. Given that we have been faced with these challenges which we were not expecting, and but just no one’s been down during this phase where we’ve been struggling through practice. Everyone’s stayed positive, everyone’s just kept their head down and kept working. No one’s moaned. And that’s great to see. And so whilst we don’t have the performance of these other guys, I think, in terms of our processes, in terms of squeezing absolutely everything out of the car, I think that’s what we did today and for both drivers, and I think that’s a true showing of strength within.
Q: (Andy Dunn – The Daily Mirror) You’ve been on that top step over 100 times. I just wondered, obviously, it might have been a little bit fortunate, but how does it feel to get a third place against the odds? And how important can that sort of result, when you when you somehow get a third spot, not expecting to, how important can that sort of result be when the whole season plays out?
LH: Of course, it can. Every point can make a difference. I’ve lost world titles with just one point. Whilst we’re currently not necessarily performance-wise fighting with these guys, as I mentioned, this is you know, not damage limitations, but just really, it’s a really, really great result. Of course we were fortunate but ultimately we’ve done a better job, we have better reliability. So I don’t necessarily count that all… I wouldn’t say that’s luck, I think this is the hard work of everyone. But it is such a long season. It’s going to be such a hard battle but we love a challenge. I really do enjoy a challenge. And it is a privilege to work with.. for all of us to be able to work with large teams of people who are hungry, who are focused on a common goal. There’s no greater feeling when you all come together and you get a result like this. So yeah.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Lewis, how was the porpoising problem, the bouncing, over a race distance? Lewis, we saw you rubbing your neck there. Was it particularly uncomfortable in the car?
LH: Our’s was a lot better than it had been. Through testing it was killer, you could see for many of us jumping up and down but I think I was probably a little bit worse than perhaps some of the others but yeah, it’s a long race to be bouncing up and down. But I’ll take it with the performance that we managed to squeeze out. I hope in the next races we can try to reduce that.