Q: Valtteri, wow! I mean the pressure on you through that race. One safety car, fair enough, but two and the tyre changes for people behind you, but you held it together man. Congratulations.
Valtteri BOTTAS: Thank you, yeah. There was definitely quite a bit of pressure all through the race. I mean one safety car was still OK, but with the last safety car, I was like: ‘Come on, again?’ There were so many chances to get the lead if I made even a small mistake. He was really quick today, but I managed to keep it together and I could really control the race from my side and obviously no better way to start the season.
Q: Yeah, it’s such an important way to start the season. Having Lewis bearing down on you for most of that race must have been so, so tough. Especially because you had warnings from the team over sensor issues. We saw so many failures out there, I think because of the gearbox, that must have added even more pressure?
VB: Yeah, we had to manage the car quite a lot, so couldn’t really use4 all the kerbs and at some point I was slightly worried that everything would be OK, but I’m glad, both of the cars managed to finish and in the teams standings we’re leading and that’s a very good sign.
Congratulations on an epic win.
Q: Valtteri, many congratulations. You led every lap but it looked far from easy. Just talk us through it?
VB: Well, winning a Formula 1 Grand Prix is never easy but today definitely come easy at all. In the first stint Lewis lost a bit of time getting through the Red Bulls, so there was quite a bit of margin. So the first stint actually wasn’t that bad, because I had a decent gap, so I could really control and really make sure we could get to the target stop lap. And I tried to do the right things with the tyres and maintaining the car. The second stint, there was never like massive pressure because I was in front and I could really make sure that we could make it to the end. But there were all these variables in the race. We had some issues with some sensors that were getting damaged by the vibration of the pretty harsh kerbs here, so I had to avoid kerbing. So that costs quite a bit of lap time. And whe4n you’re in the lead, safety car after another, and by the last one I was like “come on”, because in the lead you just want things to be constant and trouble free. So there were many variables. I managed to dodge many bullets today and get the win.
Q: And the re-starts each time, you nailed them?
VB: Yeah, I think I’m starting to master the re-starts on this track soon, because we had so many today. But you always try to do something different each time., I think the last one was a bit on the limit with safety car line one, crossing with the safety car, but otherwise they were good.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) Question to Valtteri. When you had the instruction to back off a bit and keep off the kerbs, how difficult was it to adapt your style while still maintaining the pace, while driving effectively a narrower track – especially knowing you had Lewis behind you and unsure about much he was moderating his speed and keeping off the kerbs when there was a race-win at stake?
VB: Initially it was a tricky one because I was watching in the mirrors and I could see Lewis still pushing pretty hard and making use of all the track – but obviously you want to prioritise the reliability. It took a couple of laps to really optimise the new way of driving and avoiding the kerbs. At least… the kerbs here, the more you go onto them, the vibration just kind of ramps up. So you get a feel what is still OK and what is too much. There’s only a few places where you really need to take care, so after one or two laps, we got used to it. In the end, when I tried for the fastest lap, I think a couple of laps to go, I still was off the kerbs. It didn’t feel right but I had to do it.
Q: (Laurence Edmondson – ESPN) Question for Valtteri. You had a problem in FP2 with the gearbox – was that the same issue that emerged in the race. And then also, were there any calls from the team to stop the racing at the front between you and Lewis – and where you aware that you were actually backing him off the podium at the end, when he caught up with you and obviously had the five seconds penalty?
VB: At any point, there was no call from the team that we would stop racing each other but I got the message that Lewis also has to avoid the kerbs, so in that sense we were in the same boat. For me, the whole race was… I could really control and make sure we get safely to the end with a good amount of tyres left and so on. There was no massive trouble at any point. I got the message that he’s got a five second penalty but there was a double yellow, so obviously you have to slow down quite a bit so then I feel like some drivers maybe slow down a bit less so they could catch-up. At the same time, we were still not using the kerbs. So, I tried to compromise making sure I really get to the flag and win the race, not risk too much, but also I tried to go as fast as I could within those limits. It’s not really my fault that he got the five seconds penalty.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Question for Valtteri, slightly off-topic compared to what the other guys are taking about. I want to talk about pancakes. I’ve noticed on your social media that you’ve been having pancakes on Sundays. Is that the new replacement for porridge. Is it a lucky little thing you’ve got going on – you seem to be doing quite well for it?
VB: You know the porridge is hidden in the pancakes. I still use the power of porridge but in the pancakes. My girlfriend always makes them on Sunday. We use oats in them – it’s kind of porridge as well. On top of that, I have a bit of porridge before the race. So, that’s the best thing to have. Lots of power.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) All three of you. You all had great races but it’s the first race that we’ve had without spectators and also with these special conditions. I just wondered if you could say how it felt racing without the crowd and how hard it was to restrain yourselves afterwards given the necessary self-distancing?
VB: During racing, no difference. Obviously you are fully focussed on your race and the driving.
Lando NORRIS: Do you not ever see the crowds?
VB: Not really! So yeah, during the race your full focus is on the thing. So, no difference but I have to say, what I’ve really enjoyed in the normal F1 is before the race, when we do the drivers’ parade, really seeing the support to all the drivers, seeing the spectators, all the fans, all the flags of different nationalities. It really brings a nice atmosphere before the race, as well as after the race, especially if you have a good result like I had today, it would be nice to share it with that atmosphere that we, for sure, are lacking a little bit now, and to celebrate with the spectators. But, I know there are many loyal fans to me watching at home and I know the most important people to me, my family, they’re watching, they’re supporting and they’re living in the moment with me. But no doubt we’re lacking a bit of atmosphere – but it is what it is. Better to be racing like this than not racing at all – I’m sure we’re still making many people happy that are able to watch the racing. But like post-race, all the procedures, how it goes. I think we’re all still learning but I think, I have to say, FIA, FOM, F1 has done a really nice job with setting everything up, and all the teams as well. It feels very pretty bullet-proof, nicely organised, pretty clear and everything – so we all feel the risk of anyone really getting ill is very minimal. That’s good. I think everyone in our team, we feel very safe racing here.
Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport-Magazin.com) Question for Valtteri: you were talking a bit about the last lap. That must have been a pretty strange feeling because in the end you’re fighting or you’re helping your biggest competitor for the championship by risking your own result when you go that fast. How strange was that situation and was it ever considered to swap this position?
VB: It didn’t feel strange to me, these kind of situations, sometimes in racing, you just get into these situations and you have to deal with them and I was just trying to calculate the risk. I really wanted to win the race, obviously, and think about the points for the team but with the circumstances and the issue we had with reliability concerns obviously you don’t want to take too much risk by trying to find two tenths every lap by hammering the kerbs and then I get a DNF on the last lap, that would not be ideal so I tried to do the best I could really and there wasn’t for sure no discussion, at least, that I know about swapping position and in that way securing more points or anything. I don’t know, I wouldn’t think so.
Q: (Mark Hughes – The Race) Valtteri, I just wanted to ask you about the end of that first stint. The safety car came out (lap 26), what sort of shape were you in at that point because Lewis was pulling… How far away were you from your planned stop and what shape were you in with tyres?
VB: Ah yes, we stopped at that point, yes. Actually we were not that far from stopping, I think, less than ten laps from the planned stop lap so just about to try and lift the pace. Obviously with the big gap I had at the beginning I could really manage the first stint and make sure that… but from my point of view, the best thing to do for me to win the race was to go as long as possible, so I tried to manage quite a lot in the beginning and middle of the stint and towards the end I would have slept. I would have had a bit more margin to raise the pace so everything was pretty much under control, like I felt really towards the end of the race but just (unclear) every single safety car there’s always a risk. You only need one lock-up or a poor restart and you can lose everything. But at that point, yeah, everything was still OK.