PARC FERMÉ INTERVIEWS
(Conducted by Naomi Schiff)
Q: Massive congratulations, George, your first win, a Sprint win. How was that?
George RUSSELL: Yeah, it was incredible. I wasn’t expecting to have that much pace but I think, you know, it goes to show all the hard work everybody’s putting in and the progress we, as a team, have made in these last three races since Austin. The car has been feeling really great. Obviously, you know, difficult to know how Max would have gone on had he been on the soft tyres. But nevertheless, you know, standing here is a great feeling.
Q: Well, there was plenty of action on track during the race. We had a great time watching it. Third time lucky on Max, you made it round, and then it seemed smooth sailing for you from there.
GR: Yeah, I think it’s a little bit difficult, because obviously, this is a Sprint race. And you’ve got to manage that risk, reward. So, even though I was dying to get that victory, I didn’t want to risk it too much and end up with no points and starting at the back. But you know, we made it stick third time lucky. Yeah. Well, it’s
Q: Well, it’s going to be a front-row start for Mercedes tomorrow, because Carlos has got a penalty. What do you guys think you can do for the team here in Brazil?
GR: I mean, it’s crazy to think we’re both starting on the front row and Lewis did a great job coming from P8, so it’s going to be exciting. And I’m sure Max is going to be flying tomorrow, coming through the pack. But we’re in a luxury position that we can maybe split the strategy and go for the win.
Q: Okay, well, I wish you the best of luck. Lewis coming on to you. Fantastic race today to come through the field. You’re going to have a front-row start here on what’s now your second home race.
Lewis HAMILTON: Boa tarde, Brasil! I’m working on my Portuguese. Obrigado. I’m so, so happy to be here. It’s been an incredible week. Difficult day yesterday, but what a crowd we’ve had today. Starting from eighth, making my way through slowly. Congratulations to George. This just goes to everyone back at the factory, everyone here working on the ground. They’ve just been working so hard this year. This is an amazing result. For us to be on the front row tomorrow is incredible. So from there, we should be able to work as a team and hold off, hopefully, the guys behind
Q: You were both unable to really show the full potential of the car in yesterday’s qualifying, so can we take this result as evidence of what might happen tomorrow?
LH: We’re going to try as hard as we can, yeah. If we can have some good degradation tomorrow, hopefully some good weather, we can have a good fight in our hands.
Q: So you want to give this crowd a win tomorrow, right?
LH: For sure. A win here for Brazil would be incredible.
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Q: George, what a fantastic race. You took the chequered flag for the first time in Formula 1, how sweet is this moment for you?
GR: Yeah, I think it’s a pretty big milestone for the whole team. When we look back at where we were at the very first Sprint of the year, I think I finished eighth, I want to say, And where were you [Lewis}? I think you were maybe ninth or something behind us. And here we are going to be lining up one-two tomorrow. I think it’s really exciting. And, you know, so proud of the whole team, to keep on delivering with the car. But it’s going to be interesting tomorrow. Obviously Max is the main man at the moment and those Medium tyres just didn’t seem to work.
Q: Well, George, let’s talk about you. The car seemed to come alive from the beginning. How confident were you coming into the Sprint?
GR: I think we were confident that we could finish second, and we thought Max would probably have quite an easy run to be honest. We knew that if we weren’t ahead of him at Turn 1, it was going to be very difficult to stay ahead of him. I started attacking in the early laps. And I thought once he gets some temperature in his tyres, he’ll be away. And it was a little bit tricky. You had to balance the risk and reward, because obviously, you know, there’s only one extra point… As much as I wanted to win this race today it’s only one extra point and obviously you’re setting yourself up for tomorrow. So you had to be a little bit careful. And you know, Max has got nothing to lose, really. So he was going to be driving aggressively. But you know, definitely, it was pleasing to get the move done in the end.
Q: You said you were waiting for Max to get some temperature into those medium tyres. Was it a clear cut decision for you to start on the soft tyre?
GR: I think it definitely wasn’t clear cut. I think we’ve all recognised that the soft was probably the best performing tyre this weekend in the race, which is quite odd. Obviously that means if you use the Soft today, you’ve got one less tomorrow. So even though Max and Red Bull didn’t have a strong race, they’re probably in a slightly better position than the three of us going into the race tomorrow as they’ve got that one extra set of new softs.
Q: So George, pole position tomorrow. You were on pole in Hungary as well. Does this feel different?
GR: I don’t really know, to be honest. Obviously, [there] we got pole position via a qualifying session. This is the first time we’ve crossed the finish line in first position in a race. It obviously is a little bit of a shame that this wasn’t the race tomorrow. But nevertheless, as I said, it really goes to show the work we’ve done and I think we’re definitely going to be very excited for tomorrow and obviously having Lewis and I one-two on the grid, is going to give us some options of the strategy. And I think we’re going to have to work together to do something different for one of us to try and get the victory for the team tomorrow.
Q: Lewis coming to you now, what a race by you as well, eighth to third. You love racing at Interlagos don’t you?
LH: I definitely do. It’s a beautiful place, São Paulo, and the track is just awesome. It’s so good for racing with that long straight. Definitely got to be one of the favourite circuits, I think for us, for us all. Congratulations to George, this is, as George was saying, such an incredible result for us as a team. We’ve all worked so hard through the year. Did we think that we would be at the front, you know, starting on the front row of the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of the year – not at all. But that’s what everyone’s worked towards. So I’m just really incredibly proud of everybody and thankful to everybody back at the factory for their continued efforts and for not giving up. Same with all the women and men here who’ve worked so hard, on their feet, travelling, being away, you know. This is a good day. Tomorrow, we’ve got to work hard to try and keep them behind us.
Q: Did you expect the car to be this good?
LH: No, I think we go to these different races and we get in the car and we… I think George and I, we don’t really know what we’re going to be expecting. And you can’t really read the team as well, the engineers, they’re kind of ‘this should be OK here’ and then it’s not. So they’re even cautious when they tell us whether we’re going to be good or not. So, yeah, our race pace was particularly strong today. So that’s what puts us in a really good position tomorrow.
Q: Going for the win?
LH: Yeah, we have to… We’ll work together as a team tomorrow. And, you know, this is about the team. We’ve got to get this result for the team. I think it’d be incredibly special. And obviously, we’re chasing the red guys. So it could be good.
Q: (Patrica Tarquini – Motorlat.com) A question to Lewis. This is your second home Grand Prix. People love you. Whenever you go out to the track, they go crazy. Do you think you can give them a victory tomorrow to celebrate with all of them?
LH: Well, firstly, this has been a very humbling week for me, being so warmly welcomed and I received my citizenship here, and the love that I received… My parents have messaged, and they’re just so grateful to everyone in Brazil for the love that they have given their kid, you know. So it would be the greatest dream for sure to get a win here. It’ll be tough to race George tomorrow. But we’ll hopefully have a bit of a battle. And, you know, either way, we’ve got to make sure that we get the points and one-two for the team.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) A question for both Mercedes drivers. Since the United States you’ve had the last car upgrade of the season. And since then, you’ve stood a chance of winning all three races, albeit Max had that bad pit stop in America. So how different does a car feel? And can you put an estimate on what that update has given you with performance?
GR: It’s difficult to put a number on it. Definitely the car is a little bit slimmer than it probably was at the start of the year. So that’s a bit of free lap time we’ve gained. Probably the characteristics of the car are a little bit better. So it’s definitely difficult to put a single figure on how much the car has improved. But I think the lap times speak for themselves. And, as you said, we’ve had an opportunity as a team to win these last three races. We were nowhere near that at the start of the year. And I think we all feel really confident that we’re on the right track to getting back to where Mercedes belongs. I think that’s really exciting for all of us.
LH: I agree.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) To Lewis and George. I appreciate you probably both want to win for Mercedes tomorrow. But George, individually I guess, you want to win your first Grand Prix. And Lewis, you want to obviously win in Brazil, You said it would be the greatest dream and to keep this record going of winning in every season. So do you anticipate you’ll be free to race each other? Or do you think there might be an element of team orders? How do you expect that to pan out?
GR: There definitely won’t be any team orders. But I think between the two of us we will definitely be strategic to try and get that win for the team. I think as we saw in Mexico that we both did the same strategy and ultimately it affected us both. Sitting here right now, we probably don’t know what the right strategy is going to be. So, you know, we’ll race each other fairly, for sure. And I’m sure we’ll probably be splitting the strategies tomorrow to try and cover all options. And, you know, hopefully one of us comes away happy tomorrow. But I think we, we both recognise based on recent experience, we’re probably going to have to go two separate ways.
Q: Lewis, anything?
LH: Yeah, I think I’ll just say that getting a one-two either way, I’m going to be a happy person, just because of how hard everybody’s worked. But of course, George has done an amazing job this year, and he’ll be pushing for that win – but we’ll, of course, drive carefully and clean. And, yeah, we’ve just always got to just have at the core of it, at the front of our mind, it’s the team. Getting the result for the team. But of course, individually, we’ll do our best to try and get the best result.
Q: (Matt Coch – Speedcafe.com) One to George on a slightly different topic. George, with the GPDA, Pierre, is close to a one race ban with a penalty points. He’s just been summoned for driving unnecessarily slowly, so potentially could pick up one today. What’s the GPDA’s position on that? And has there been any conversation with the FIA on that system, noting that the points system hasn’t changed since it was introduced in 2014?
GR: Definitely conversations have been had and I think the FIA will definitely review the points system this year. I think, if any driver was to receive a race ban, it needs to be for something pretty damn serious. And I definitely don’t put Pierre in the category of a dangerous or reckless driver. And a number of his penalty points have been through non-dangerous driving as such, and I don’t know what he did to be driving unnecessarily slow or whatever you just mentioned, but, yeah, it would be a shame to see him take a race ban. And even if he were to get those 12 points, I think we need to reconsider it.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Question to both Mercedes drivers again, I know we still have the race tomorrow. But after the performance over recent weekends, does it feel much more so now that this is a gap to the leading teams it’s possible to close over just one winter?
LH: Definitely I think it has given us… we’re taking a step. We know that there’s some real changes that we can make with the car to get us back to a better fighting position for next season. Don’t fully understand… like we’ve definitely taken a step forward but it’s almost like the other two teams have taken a step back. I don’t know if that’s right or not, but it definitely feels that way. But yeah, I think we definitely know where we’re going and what we need to do to put us in a fighting position for next year. So we’ll be super, super focused. Everyone I know is already ready to turn up this winter and put in the effort.
GR: I think the factory is going to be pumping on all cylinders across the winter and everybody’s going to be so motivated to come back. This result is such a morale booster for everyone, and what we really needed to keep on pushing. And yeah, I think if we can hit our targets, the targets we’ve set out are absolutely the right ones. And we just need to continue on this path that we’re on and see what we can achieve next year.