(Conducted by Christian Klien)
Q: Valtteri it seemed like a better Sunday afternoon after Saturday was pretty tricky looking for Mercedes. How happy are you with P2 today?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, for me personally, of course one place better than last week, and I started from fifth. I think as a team we got some decent points considering the gap we have to Red Bull in terms of pure pace. For me, it’s nice to be on the podium in second place. I think it was really the maximum we could get today.
Q: Yeah, you seemed pretty racy on the hard tyre at the end. Was the balance just better or did you just feel better on it?
VB: Actually, they held on pretty well. They were starting to drop towards the end, but also with Lando… I have to say, surprisingly, McLaren was really quick today and actually putting some pressure. There’s two weeks to Silverstone and we have some work to do but now I’m just keen to have some champagne.
Q: Valtteri, coming to you, your fifth podium of the season. How smoothly did things go for you in the race?
VB: I can’t say it was really smooth. It was not an easy race for us and starting fifth and ending up second, I think we really had to fight to get to the place we were. I didn’t think there was much left on the table for us for today. Max had a really straightforward race. He was quick, their car was quick, so I think second was ultimately what we could get from today and yeah, it was not so easy to do the one-stop. Definitely suffering a bit with the tyres but we knew that would be the case anyway.
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Q: Were you surprised by the pace of the cars around you? Let’s start with Red Bull. Were you surprised by their pace this weekend?
VB: Red Bull’s pace, no surprise. We saw last week that they were fast and of course we expected them to be fast again, no doubt. I think McLaren made a good step. They were definitely putting some pressure to us in the end and it was quite surprising considering there was quite a few tenths of pace difference last week. So, I don’t know, maybe Lando can tell me later what they found from the week before and then we can improve.
Max VERSTAPPEN: I think he found out that you have to press the throttle pedal 100%…
VB: I told him, yeah. So now he went…
Lando NORRIS: Yeah, I was at 100… It helped.
Q: Valtteri, can you describe the challenge that Mercedes has ahead of it if it’s to win the World Championship this year?
VB: It’s a challenge but, you know, but we’ve been racing on the same track for two weeks and it is clear Red Bull is faster here – but it could be different on some other tracks. I think this track suits their car pretty well, but they’re not slow anywhere else. Silverstone is completely different. There are a lot more high-speed corners and so, we’ll see. We have something planned in terms of new bits for Silverstone. I think after that it will be quiet in terms of new parts but we’ll keep pushing as hard as we can – but we know it’s going to be tough.
Q: So does a lot rest on Silverstone?
VB: I think it would be promising if we can make a step forwards and close the gap but honestly if we look at these two weeks as a whole, I think we’ve made some good damage-limitation against Red Bull considering they’ve been clearly faster.
Q: And what about the incident with Sergio Pérez after the Safety Car period. Can you just talk us through it from your point of view?
LN: From my point of view, I think if I want to compare it to anything, it’s the same as Max and Lewis in Imola. Did you get a penalty for that? No. Same thing as that. It’s lap one, or it’s a restart, and I think Sergio, I expect…. maybe he doesn’t know there’s gravel on the exit of that corner and it’s downhill, easy to run wide and it was just what happens. You watch Formula 2 or Formula 3 or any category and people who try to go around the outside there and don’t commit to it end up in the gravel. That’s just the way that corner runs. So, he took the risk, and not me. He didn’t commit to his overtake the way he should have done and yeah, he put himself in the gravel, so I don’t feel it was my mistake but I don’t make the penalties.
Q: Valtteri, while we’re on this topic, Valtteri, did you get a good view of that incident (between Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez after the Safety Car period)?
VB: Yeah, I had a decent view.
What was your reading?
VB: I’m not the steward. I saw them fighting and Checo going onto the gravel. That happens.
MV: That’s an honest assessment. Straightforward.
VB: That’s how it is!
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Valtteri, there was a period early in the first stint when you fell back from behind Lewis and you were on the radio about driving to Plan A. Can you just explain what that was all about?
VB: Just trying to play the long game and trying not to kill the tyres. I saw Lewis was putting quite a bit of pressure on Lando without really trying to be close and sliding around and just decided to back off slightly and yeah, knowing that most likely it could be one stop and try to have good tyres at the end of the stint, so that was the thinking and I think in the end that was the right thing but yeah, it review everything but that was the plan.