PRESS CONFERENCE – Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez)
Press Conference (From left to right) – Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Sergio Perez (Force India)
PRESS CONFERENCE – Azerbaijan Grand Prix (After Race)
Question: Lewis, many congratulations, win number 63. You’ve already said it wasn’t the easiest – but are you happier with the car this weekend than in China last time out?
Lewis Hamilton: “A little bit, yeah. In all honesty, I think I struggled throughout the weekend and I’m definitely struggling to extract, I think the car’s potential but also my potential so it’s definitely been a little difficult, particularly the last two races but also with the tyres in Bahrain. But I have to be happy with today.”
“I have to be thankful and grateful for today because it is such a tricky race and you don’t know what’s going to happen: Safety Car comes out and you can lose out and lots of different things happening within this race but what’s important is just to keep your head down and keep going and live to fight another day.”
“I came out in the lead and honestly I couldn’t believe that I was where I was, that I had a Ferrari behind me and I was just praying that I could keep it together, stay focussed and bring it home. So, we’ve definitely got a lot of work still to do, we still are behind, whilst we finished ahead today that was due to, as I said, lots of different circumstances getting in the way. But Kimi was nearly on pole yesterday, two-tenths ahead of Sebastian, their pure pace is a lot ahead of ours at the moment.”
“Then, within the race, I’m sure Sebastian was managing but I’m sure their pace also in the race is a little bit up on ours. We definitely are there in the mix and we’ve not got a terrible car at all, by any means.”
“We’ve just got to refine it a little bit and make it a little bit easier to drive. She definitely isn’t as easy to drive as it was last year. So yeah, that’s what we’re going to continue to work to.”
Question: And a sense of relief to be back at the top of the Championship?
Lewis Hamilton: “Hmmm… I definitely don’t feel relieved at the moment. I have really mixed emotions. Obviously, I could hear constantly I was battling with my team-mate over time, over the pitstop window and ultimately Valtteri had done an exceptional job.”
“Obviously, I did a good job in qualifying and put myself in a good position – but there were a lot of faults in the race, which is rare for me – but I struggled with the car, struggled with the tyres and that’s something I don’t take lightly, so I’ve definitely got to go away from here and work even harder to make sure that there’s not a repeat performance-wise of today for myself.”
Question: Kimi, so close yesterday, so close today. Is there a sense of frustration building inside you now, of what do you have to do to win a grand prix?
Kimi Raikkonen: “No, not really, yesterday I can only look in the mirror and the reason is easy to know. Yeah, it was frustrating, as I said earlier, I was taking it easy into the corner and I still managed to throw it away, so that is more painful that just if you happen to know that you have to try something to be fast enough – but that wasn’t the case.”
“Yeah, pretty eventful race today. Got a destroyed front wing and tyre in the first few corners. I had a good feeling sometimes but was struggling to switch the tyres on. It was kind of on and off.”
“I had a great many close moments. Even on the way to the grid I was pretty certain that it’s in the wall already but I managed to get it away from it. Too many close calls. The feeling was there but not consistently.”
“I thought, OK, I just try to go as fast as I can and a little bit safer and the Red Bulls, looking at what they were doing earlier in the race it was pretty certain something will happen later on when they get close to each other. Everything changed after that and once put the other tyres on and again it felt OK and it all played into our hands.”
“Very definitely a better day than yesterday but it still… second is not what you want but looking where we were earlier, you take it and we go from there. We know we have the speed. We just have to put things together, and I’m sure it will come.”
Question: Checo, great to see you and Force India back on the podium. It’s been a dramatic turnaround by the team over the last month. How confident are you that you can stay where you are going forwards?
Sergio Perez: “Well, obviously, this result is a coincidence of so many things happening but it’s not a coincidence that we are always there to take anything that is offered to us. I think our battle is not here, to be honest, it’s the midfield and finally we got plenty of points today with this podium, that we can close up the gap to the cars ahead, to the Renaults.”
“I think we were definitely the fourth-best team this weekend. In two weeks’ time, we have a very important challenge. Barcelona is where really the car is… you show all of your potential there.”
“It will be very interesting to see where we are. I believe that we are making good progress. Up to now we only had one point as a team. It’s definitely a massive motivation for all the boys that are doing a fantastic job.”
“They did an incredible job with the stops. With the strategy. Yeah, what else can I say? Amazing job.”