Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa faced the media in the wake of Sunday's Italian GP…
(Conducted by George Lucas)
Q: This is amazing, simply amazing. Congratulations Lewis, you did a great job. You told me earlier when I was kidding you about these close call races of one or two seconds, I said ‘why don’t you win by 20 seconds?’ and you said ‘I could do that, I think’. Well, you did it in spades; I bow to you, you did a great job.
Lewis HAMILTON: Thank you. Today… look at this crowd, it’s incredible. Unbelievable fans here. I couldn't have done it without my team. I couldn’t have done it without my team. I don’t know if anyone can hear us. This team is just remarkable and what we have achieved together is so special, so I’m incredibly grateful to them for really working so hard through the weekend, through the last weeks, through the whole year to give me the car I had today. These guys also did a great job.
Q: Sebastian, I’ve been to the factory a few times and everybody has been talking about the new engine. Did the new engine live up to your expectations?
Sebastian VETTEL: Well look at this. I think this says it all. Grazie a voi! Grazie tifosi! Questo anno è incredible… Grazie, a tutta la squadra dico ancora grazie.
Q: Felipe, how did it feel when you were coming up to the finish line there and your team-mate was only inches away from you?
Felipe MASSA: It feels very tough! I’m getting old for that! I even said to the team I’m getting old! The last three laps of the race I was fighting with my team-mate. It was very difficult but we managed to be here. Grazie mille a tutti. Sono molto contento di essere qui con voi. Questo podio é meraviglioso. Questo rettilineo è fantastico. Grazie davvero. Siete tutti nel mio cuore.
Q: So Lewis, one last question: Do blonds have more fun?
LH: I hope so! Thank you everyone. Thank you to all the fans. You are the greatest fans here. Grazie a tutti.
Q: Lewis, the technical delegate has referred the team to the stewards saying that “the minimum measured tyre starting pressure of the left-hand side rear tyre of car number 44 was 0.3 PSI below the specified minimum tyre starting pressure” and a representative of the team is asked to go to the stewards. Do you have any comment to make on that?
LH: Not really no.
Q: You’re not aware of it?
LH: I wasn’t aware of it, so…
Q: The team was asking you at the end of the grand prix to build a gap. You weren’t sure what that was for, presumably that was linked to this issue?
Q: They still haven’t told you?
Q: Lewis, your 50th grand prix start for Mercedes, your third win here in Monza, seventh of the season, 40th of your career, now one short of Ayrton Senna, who I know was an idol of yours growing up. Really, obviously, the start was always going to be decisive. You took a defensive line, Sebastian had to go round the outside and from there on you seemed to be completely in control of the afternoon. Tell us about that and also the emotions of the afternoon from start to now?
LH: Yeah, this weekend has been just fantastic. It has been a perfect weekend for me. I don’t know if I have ever had a weekend like this. This circuit is such a special one for… I think it’s the same for all the drivers. When you stand on top of that podium you feel incredible pride and incredibly proud to be amongst the greats that have stood up there and when you see a sea of fans – a lot of them in red – but the sea of fans is just unlike anything I’ve seen. It’s very emotional when you are up there. The race was fantastic. I got a good start. I think we all probably got a difficult start and managed to hold ground. Sebastian was really fair into turn one and after that it was really just chipping away, looking after the tyres, trying to look after the tyres whilst chipping away… trying to take time away, increase the time, the gap behind. I was generally able to control it really after that. I felt comfortable. The car balance I really got perfect for the race. Perhaps not so much for qualifying but perfect for the race. It was actually one of my favourite balances I’ve had through the year, in the actual race. The last few laps I was told to push and I’m thinking I’ve got quite a big gap already, so, for me, I was a little taken aback by it, but nonetheless I still managed to pull it out and do what they asked me to do. Big congrats to Sebastian and Felipe. I know these two have been pushing hard for a long, long time, so I feel proud to be up here with them as well.
Q: And you were 29 points behind coming here last year. You’re 50 points ahead going away, over 50 points ahead going away this year.
LH: I don’t understand…
Q: Rosberg retired
LH: I wasn’t aware of that. Oh. Wow. I think our performance, my performance today, I have to really take my hat off to my team: they’ve done a remarkable job the last two years and I can’t thank them enough. The constant attention to detail. Improvements they’ve been doing back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth is just… I’ve never seen it before. Incredibly grateful for everything they’ve done.
Q: So Sebastian, you “were very fair in Turn One,” says Lewis. You gave it a go. Did you think it might be on?
SV: I had to! Obviously I was on the outside so it was going to be difficult. I was a bit deeper on the brakes but yeah, I mean I have to give way, he’s on the inside, the first corner goes to the right. It’s a tricky one. We’ve seen across the various years you can get it wrong so I was quite happy. Tried to focus on the exit. He got a magnificent exit out of Turn Two so I couldn’t really get a run on him. I was trying – but I couldn’t get a run on him into Turn Four. After that I though, after the first couple of laps, I think at some points we were similar in lap time, he was only a tenth quicker for one or two laps, I thought that maybe now we get a chance to close the gap but then he just seemed to… in football you call it the second lung. I don’t know – that’s a German saying, it makes no sense in English – but he just seemed to find an extra switch and he was pulling away. I think myself, Felipe and the cars behind, we seemed to struggle with tyres, so we’re losing pace whereas Lewis just kept doing what he was doing in the first couple of laps. So it was quite incredible to see and no chance to stay close to him. After that our race was pretty isolated but I knew I had to keep pushing. Seeing the pace that Lewis had, I knew that Nico eventually will have the same pace. He did in the end, he was closing the gap, it was getting quite tight but I think we could have managed and get the place even with Nico not retiring. So, in the end, to sum it up, it’s fairly simple, it’s the best second place I ever had. The emotions on the podium is incredible. If we take this away from the calendar for any shitty money reasons I think you are basically ripping our hearts out. We are here, we are racing and this makes it so much more worthwhile. It’s what we’re here for. You stand on the grid, you look to the left, you look to the right, people are just happy to be part of it and it makes our day. So, simple as that. It’s incredible. So, thanks for this emotion on behalf of all the Ferrari team. Thank you.
Q: Felipe, on the podium here in Monza, second year in a row. Start obviously decisive for you as well because Kimi just didn’t get away, you were very, very quick on to that and at the end you had a little bit of a tussle with your younger team mate once again, which you seem to be enjoying.
FM: Yeah, it’s really emotional to be here. It’s a fantastic race, very difficult from the beginning to the end, just trying to make the gap and then, the start was OK. It was not really that fantastic a start I had but it was really good to overtake cars and to manage to be in the position compared to the guys behind, so happy for that. But also, just the pace. Trying to open the gap against Valtteri. I went to the pitstop a little bit early and he stays on the track for a few other laps which helps a lot his tyres for the end of the race. Maybe I opened the gap anyway and we were doing good lap times to maintain the gap but at the end I started to lose performance on the rear tyres and he was catching me with better tyres as well. So, in the last three laps it was pretty difficult. He was catching me a lot, he was quicker than me. The only problem was the traction: he has better traction. So, I managed to fight, and getting to the podium was tough, three laps but I’m so happy for the position, so happy for the team. I think we managed to score great and fantastic points today. And also in this amazing place. Being on the podium here, with the whole straight of people so we cannot even see any asphalt, y’know. Even in Corner Three, from the podium. So it’s really, I mean, definitely the best podium and very human. A very hot, human feeling when you see all these people.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Sebastian, as you have said, there was a phase early in the race when you were just a couple of tenths slower than Lewis but then it has increased quite a bit. Why do you think this was? Was it just that your tyres didn’t hold up so well because it was the end of the stint or was it because you weren’t able to use the same engine modes as yesterday in qualifying?
SV: No, I think it’s pretty simple. I was falling asleep! No, I was pushing as hard as possible and Lewis, I think, to some extent, did the same and yeah, I think you could see on my lap times also Felipe’s – I got updated by radio that the lap times kept dropping so I guess we were struggling more with the tyres than Lewis was because he was able to do the same lap time on lap 22 as he did on lap four which is quite impressive. Obviously we had run down some fuel but tyres are 20 laps older. I think he said he felt well with the balance of the car which makes a huge difference so that’s that. They were quick on race pace, quicker than us but potentially they had a bit better tyre wear or tyre degradation, let’s put it this way, so I think that made the difference. On the first three laps I had a bit of hope and then, to be honest with you, I saw them going away, so yeah, that was that.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, have you already received an explanation, either before or after the podium, because you had to push, because there was a problem with the investigation of the tyres. Had they already explained to you or was it something else?
LH: As I just said, I don’t even know about it.
Q: What was the second question? There wasn’t one.
FM: He’s amazing, he never asks one question, always two! I think he has a fever.
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Lewis and Sebastian, what kind of help could you get with lower tyres pressures?
LH: 0.3 lower? Not really a huge amount on one rear tyre.
SV: Well, it’s difficult to judge now because I don’t know what was going on. I think it’s not fair to hand that question to Lewis because he doesn’t know what’s going on, so that’s that. In principle, the tyres last a bit longer, but as I said, I don’t think… In a lot of respect and fairness he did a very good job today and you have to accept that.
Q: (Barna Zsoldos – Nemzeti Sport) To all of you, after such an emotional podium ceremony, what are your feelings when you hear that the future of Monza on the calendar is uncertain?
Q: Well, Sebastian has already made his feelings very clear on that one…
LH: I think we all have really. As I said on the podium, I said at the beginning here, this is one of the best tracks in the world. This has to stay here for moral reasons. As Felipe is saying, all those fans out there who come every single year. Are you going to take this Grand Prix away from us and put on another one, that would not have the same feeling, or would not have the special impact so we definitely have to keep this.
FM: I don’t think they can take it out. The history of Formula One, this is history here, here is part of what is Formula One… everything that Formula One grows is a lot thanks to these races as well, to these people. We race for the people and when you see the podium with a lot of people like that and they’re screaming and crying, I don’t think we can lose that. This is part of our blood and we cannot lose this type of races. I really like to go to new countries, we go to amazing countries, countries that I even didn’t know what they meant before and then I love to go there, many different countries and I’m really in favour to go there but you cannot lose something which is inside the blood as well.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Sebastian, I think it’s highly unlikely because Lewis finished more than 25 seconds ahead of you so even if he gets a penalty I don’t think it will change the order but if he would lose the victory and you would win the Italian Grand Prix with Ferrari like that, what would be your emotions?
SV: Well, it doesn’t change anything, emotions. I was second on the podium and that’s the emotions I got and I’m grateful for them. I had a great car today, not good enough to win but good enough to just finish second.