Q: Congratulations, go and enjoy this amazing crowd. Seb, I’m sure it’s not quite the result you were after. You looked really exciting in the first stint. You were able to put in some really good lap times. I thought you were going to pop out behind Lewis and make it happen but you didn’t quite have that?
Sebastian VETTEL: Not really. I think surprisingly the hard tyres worked really well. It was a very intense race, because there was no break and obviously I had Valtteri behind me giving me some pressure in the final stint, before I could focus on Lewis in the front. But yeah, I think Lewis, he was just cruising for most of the second stint, up to the point that the attack was arriving and then I guess he had enough tyres left so… Yeah, I’m happy, because I think it was a good race, but I think here and there maybe with strategy we could have been a bit sharper. But overall, it’s a great crowd.
Q: It’s amazing, the support these guys give you must really mean a lot?
SV: Yeah… I didn’t hear what you said!
Q: I said that these guys give you so much support. It must mean a lot.
SV: You can tell! I didn’t hear what you said. It’s incredible. It’s one of the best races for that, so looking forward to the podium.
Q: Sebastian Vettel, our second-placed finisher. Great race by you, Seb. Couple of things: first of all, at the start we saw you flexing your muscles on the run down to Turn 1 to Lewis?
SV: Not really. I didn’t see him. He came after the race as well and asked, but no intention to push him or anything. Obviously, as soon as I saw, I obviously got off and I tried to get in Charles’ tow and I checked the mirrors on the right and the mirrors on the left and that’s when I saw Lewis and then, you know, I tried to go right but before that point I didn’t see him. We see quite well in the mirrors but there is still obviously an angle that you can’t see.
Q: You said a little bit earlier to Jenson Button that you could have been a bit sharper on strategy today as a team. What did you mean by that? You pitted at half distance, do you think you left yourself too much to do?
SV: Not really. I think in the end… after the race it’s always easy to say but I think we were confident that we split the cars, we covered both options. Obviously in Lewis’ shoes and Mercedes’ shoes they had nothing to lose so they might as well from that early to make it. And Lewis did well managing his tyres in the second stint, and just cruising up to the point where we arrived. It worked finally but neither them nor us expected the tyres to last that long. We saw a lot of graining on Friday and so did they actually, they saw a bit more than us, so it was a bit of a surprise that today we didn’t have any and that made the difference. You might as well try, so it’s a brave call. In the end if it works you look great, if it doesn’t then you’ve tried. I think if it was so straightforward for them, the thinking of fitting the hard so early and easily making it to the end, then they should have pitted Valtteri as well, but you can see that obviously he stayed out with me, long, to try and make sure that you make the one stop work and you don’t fall off any cliffs. As I said, we tried everything but ultimately… yeah, maybe we could have been a bit braver, but then it’s a lot of unknown and you don’t want to do anything stupid at that point. And second, I think you could see that in the race trim we were just missing a little bit of pace. Valtteri was closing in at the end of the first stint. Lewis was fairly easily closing in during the first stint as well. So I think it’s also fair to say that they were just a bit quicker than us.
Q: You said you were expecting a bit of action from Max early on in the race. Talk us through those opening corners?
LH: I actually got a really good start, so I was pulling up to Charles and Seb is coming across, coming across, coming across and I’m thinking ‘I’m on the white line, I don’t have anywhere further to go’. And he just keeps coming. So I had to avoid crashing with him, going on the grass. Avoid his wheels as well, otherwise I could have caused a big collision for him. Then I was surrounded by a bunch of cars, I braked into Turn 1, and all of a sudden Max is alongside me. If you’ve seen races before, I always leave Max a lot of space – it’s the smartest thing you can do. But there wasn’t a lot of space to give him space. I think he had an oversteer moment or something and then I got a massive hit from behind. Then I nearly took him out…
SV: He hit you?
LH: Yeah. We were going through the corner, you were about to go into Turn 2, my back end came out and I nearly took you out and then we went straight over the grass. It was hair-raising.
SV: Ah, that’s why there was such a big gap and there was Albon all of a sudden…
LH: Yeah, me and Max went through the grass together, came out and there were other cars coming by. I thought I was going to get hit by other cars. But I managed to get my bearings and keep my head down. I was not expecting to have that pace and to be able to keep up with the Ferraris but it worked and even with a damaged car. Obviously Seb went a lot further and I think so did Valtteri, he did a fantastic job to come from sixth. I thought I was going to struggle at the end with Seb, with 10-lap younger tyres.
SV: More than 10. Was it just 10?
LH: Maybe more than 10. But I just managed to save enough in the early phase while he was doing that long run, which I was able to utilise. Particularly those last seven laps were the important ones and I kept him behind.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frédéric Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to Sebastian. We heard you during the race questioning the strategy of the team two times: about the Plan C and going to box. Do you think afterwards that one of these two strategies could have been better for the victory?
SV: I think, as Lewis said as well, obviously before the race we were quite sure that you need to get to a certain lap to make the one-stop work and when Lewis pitted, that wasn’t the case yet. Obviously, you know, we were one and two and the two-stop looked like the better strategy and faster strategy so we split the cars, and obviously if you go for the one-stop, you might as well go for the one stop properly and not, sort-of, half-hearted, so when Lewis pitted, I think it was borderline and probably a bit too early but, as he said, he made the tyres last well and had enough towards the end. Plus, I think we didn’t see any graining in the race, which we did on Friday, which I think made the biggest difference. So, then, after that, you can argue maybe we could have taken more risk – but at that point you’re really driving into the unknown. I think what they tried to do is fit the Hard, see if it makes it. If it doesn’t make it, you might as well fit another set at the end and there’s your two stops. When you are sitting in P3 and then having the option to finish, maybe, first or fifth. I think you may as well try. So, that’s one. The second one, I think is just the laps when Valtteri was closing through traffic. Maybe we could have boxed one lap sooner because I hit that traffic quite hard and there was Sainz – or Norris, I don’t know – one McLaren and a Toro Rosso fighting each other very hard and I lost, like, three seconds just on that lap. That didn’t help but obviously it’s also difficult to foresee that these two guys on that lap will have a major fight. So, I think nothing big. As I said, I think we tried everything. Two and One stop, and you have to give it to Lewis, he drove well, he made the tyres last and I think Mercedes in the race was maybe just a little bit quicker than us.
Lewis, you touched on this earlier. Do you treat Max differently to other drivers?
LH: Err… yep. I think every driver is slightly different. Some are smarter; some are like very smart, aggressive and some are silly with it. And so, through those experiences of racing with people, you give some more space and others you don’t have to. They’re quite respectful. But yeah, Max, it’s very likely you’re going to come together with Max if you don’t give him extra space, so most of the time you do. But as I said, in my experience, I didn’t have a lot of space to give him extra space. But I don’t think it was intentional or anything like that. It was just… he’s a magnet for those kind of things but yeah, nonetheless, I managed to keep the car together and in a straight line, fortunately.
SV: Yes and yes.
Can you put a bit more flesh on the bone?
SV: No, just copy-paste. It’s true.
Sebastian, I feel we should give you the right of reply. What do you feel you’ve been lacking on Sundays?
SV: Well, if you want to be just pure and honest, then I think our car is good in a straight line: one because we have an efficient car, so that’s credit to us; two because I think we’ve done a really good job on the power unit front, so compliments to Maranello. But we are lacking downforce which leads into maybe a weaker race pace, leads onto struggling a bit more on Sundays when it’s about managing the tyres and successive laps, whereas in qualifying I think we can extract a bit more from our car, cover our weakness a bit more with fresh tyres on the car. With new tyres you can mask a little bit the problems here and there. So that would be just the straightforward, technical answer. To do better, I think we need to put things a little bit more together. I think we have all the ingredients; we have the people; we have the intelligence. So I think we just need to make sure things fall into place and once they do, I think things will start to click. Obviously Mercedes have proven in the last years that it is possible. I think they just got stronger and stronger throughout, which is credit to them as a team, credit to obviously Valtteri and Lewis, and in particular Lewis over the last years. They have shown what is possible, they are the benchmark and it’s up to us to do a better job in the future. Easily said, not so easily done but yeah, I think you also have to give credit where credit is due and both Mercedes and Lewis have been too strong in the last couple of years.
Q: (Jonathan Chora – First Drive Mexico) Seb, what do you think was the main mistake for this race? And also, were you expecting a more exciting race here in Mexico?
SV: I don’t think there were any major mistakes so as I tried to explain earlier I think we’ve done well. We tried everything so I don’t think it was a mistake that we are not as quick to make things happen and force things to happen. I think it was quite exciting. Obviously we always knew that it’s difficult to pass and have a lot of overtakes because of the nature of the track and being so critical on downforce, up in the altitude it’s very difficult to follow, sliding the tyres is what hurts us most and then to get closer is really really difficult. But I don’t know… the top four cars at the end, within four, five, six, seven seconds I believe. It definitely was very tense, I was hoping that in the last 15 laps to go, I was hoping that in the next five laps to close the gap and start a fight; ten laps to go I was hoping that in the next five laps I’m closing the gap. It was definitely tense but obviously Lewis drove well and didn’t make any mistakes and managed his race. I enjoyed it but would have obviously enjoyed more to have a bit of a fight at the end but we were just not quick enough to do so.