(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Lewis Hamilton, a man knows well how good the crowd in America can be. We just heard Max reference it. You’ve been using that power of the people to bring Mercedes into a really strong qualifying and a strong result today.
Lewis HAMILTON: I didn’t hear a single word you just said.
Q: I said you were amazing!
LH: It was because the crowd were sounding so great. So, thank you everyone for the amazing support. That was a fun race. Good start down to Turn 1, and a good battle with Charles. And then I was trying early on to get closer to Max. But their pace is just undeniable at the moment. But I’m happy we’re a little bit closer. We’ve still got a long way to go to be able to eke the pace that he was doing throughout the race. But nonetheless, I’m really happy to be back on the podium.
Q: Well, this is Sprint Saturday, that’s a good podium result and you can use this for knowledge for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. And of course, you’re going to have Max behind you.
LH: Yeah, I think that will be helpful for us at the front. I mean, ultimately, I think he will be breathing down our necks before too long, with the pace that he had today. But I think that will open it up for a good fight with Charles and Lando, we’re all quite similar in pace. So hopefully we get to have a good battle tomorrow. And if we can all keep Max behind that’d be awesome. But if not, no worries.
Q: Well, there’s your challenge for tomorrow, but congratulations today.
LH: Thank you. Thanks, guys.
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Q: Lewis, coming to you now, your first Sprint podium of the season. You looked pretty racy out there, Lewis, especially in the early laps. Just talk us through the pace of the car, first of all.
LH: Yeah, it started… I didn’t get that great a start but obviously quite aggressive Turn One and had a good battle with Charles. But then, after that, yeah, the car was feeling pretty good so I was just attacking from the get-go, trying to get as close as I could while the car felt like that. I just couldn’t bridge the gap enough to Max. And then once I was out of his DRS, then he just started eking away and cruising. So, it was a really… not that I haven’t seen it already this year, we haven’t seen it, obviously, but it was a good position to be able to watch what the the Red Bull’s car what Max’s car was doing, how it was behaving. So, I got to watch for a while and see where they are particularly strong, which we can obviously see that on GPS or something like that, but still, least to know where we are, if there’s any where we’re stronger, and where we’re weaker, so I can download that to my team. And at the end, I think everyone’s tyres was struggling towards the end of that stint.
Q: Download it to us, Lewis, come on, what did you learn following Max?
MV: Needs a USB drive on my car!
LH: That’s what we need, is a USB! I was trying to get close enough. Next time I’ll get one of those GoPro sticks! But… that we have a lot of work to do. Everyone behind these guys have a lot of work to do. And it’s no small feat for us to truly catch them for next year. They will be progressing at a steep rate as they’ve got an amazing development team. And to make it even steeper for us to be able to close that gap. But I’m going to put 100% faith in my team that we can do it
Q: Lewis, just a few more words if we could on the battle with Charles on that opening lap. You must have enjoyed seeing him being squeezed on the left-hand side.
LH: Honestly, I couldn’t see him, going into the corner. I had one of the McLarens alongside me. So that’s all, I was just trying not to have a repeat of last race. And then all of a sudden, I seem to come out of the corner and then I saw Charles there – and I was just hoping I was able to pull-up alongside him, and race him, and we were racing all the way down to Turn Three. He was like in my blind spot, so I was a little bit worried at that point. And then, once I was past him, I was just trying to get onto… it was really good, just to be up at the front with these guys. They’re incredibly talented, and both still have such bright futures ahead of them, so to be out there racing against strong drivers like this is what every driver dreams of.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Lewis, question for you. You said that Max was cruising out there. Do you see any realistic chance to keep him behind, for him not to win tomorrow, even with him starting sixth on the grid?
LH: Anything’s possible. It depends. I mean, he’s got at least half a second on all the cars ahead of him per lap, pretty much. So that should be enough to get by. But there is degradation and those sorts of things and strategy, I assume he will be climbing relatively fast. So, we will have a job on our hands up ahead to try and hold him back. But it’s a track that you can overtake, so it is likely that he will be finishing high up tomorrow.
Q: (Mark Cipollone – Autoracing1.com) A question for both Lewis and Max. Brazil, the last two years, Lewis you’ve been strong, your team has been strong. And Max you lost that race. Well, your team couldn’t beat Mercedes last year. Lewis, do you think you could win that race this year? And Max. What did you learn from last year? And do you think you can win this year?
Q: Lewis, Brazil?
LH: With the pace they have, as I said, they’ve got half a second here, they’re going to have at least three tenths by that race. We’re not in the same league as them at the moment so we’re not in shooting… I mean maybe to get second or third but if Max is on form, there’s no chance.
Q: (Fred Ferret – L’Equipe) Can you have some pleasure driving on that kind of sprint race with nothing happening? And have you had some pleasure in previous sprint races?
Max VERSTAPPEN: Love it. It’s fantastic! If you want my honest opinion about the sprint weekends, I don’t really get excited by it. In qualifying, I just feel like once you complete qualifying, you’re a bit lost. I feel like we only need one qualifying in the weekend where you really put everything on the line and it feels great. This morning as well, like you put it on P1 but I’m like it’s a Saturday, there’s not many points anyway for the race. And besides that, like now, we’ve done this race, everyone more or less knows what’s going to happen tomorrow between all the cars in terms of pace, so that takes a bit the excitement away from it. If we wouldn’t have done today and we only had that qualifying that we had yesterday, you don’t really know what’s going to happen before the race, so everyone is very excited, turning on the TV because you don’t know and also we didn’t know. Now we know, a little bit. So…
LH: Sounds like you’re a bit bored.
MV: I’m not bored but if I would be a fan, I would just be disappointed because then you more or less know about the picture. If nothing crazy happens, you know what’s going to happen tomorrow so I find that a bit… it takes away that magic of waking up on a Sunday morning or whatever, Sunday afternoon, and you turn on the TV and you’ve had qualifying but you’re not sure which car is going to be quickest in most of the years and yeah, it takes that magic away, I find
LH: It’s a slightly different perspective when you’re chasing so for us it’s fun. For me, it’s fun. I like having the extra opportunity to get out there and try to squeeze everything, every little bit and more out of the package that we have. Can it be better? I’m sure we can learn. I think it’s been exciting for people so I personally quite like the sprint weekends, particularly a Friday I really like where you only have one practice session and then you’re straight into qualifying.