1 – Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing)
2 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)
3 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
(Conducted by Mark Webber)
Daniel, that national anthem was getting to you – great win mate.
Daniel RICCIARDO: Thank you. I was a little but… firstly I’m exhausted. It’s such a hot race here. It was a race of challenges. Obviously Lewis got the lead and had his problems, so I feel… I’m not really one for believing in a whole lot, but obviously it went the other way in Monaco, so I’ll take this today. No hard feelings to Lewis, but I’ll definitely take the win. It’s been a pretty emotional two years since the last win and we’ve come so close this year. Two weeks ago after the race I said… well, we won this year, and here you go, we got there. Big thanks to Red Bull Racing and everybody who supported me through this journey – my mum, dad, my sister, I’ve got some family here, there are numerous people here. So, I’m extremely grateful for this. Thank you for all the support. It’s overwhelming to say the least.
Congratulations, sensational drive, another big win. Max, Driver of the Day voted by the fans, charging drive, strategy was key obviously out there for everybody today? A long fight at the front in those hot conditions, in those trying conditions, how do you feel?
Max VERSTAPPEN: I have to say after the champagne a lot better, it wakes me up a bit. But of course we were pushing the whole race. Definitely Daniel and I were pushing each other so we were going flat out so definitely after the race we had to take a break.
Well done, buddy. A sensational 1-2 for Red Bull. Nico, a very, very important third place for you today. Little bit of misfortune for your team but you fought back after an unfortunate first corner with Sebastian tagging the back of you in Turn One. Twenty-three point lead now. What are your thoughts and emotions right now?
Nico ROSBERG: First of all, yeah, Turn One, I though it was all over, so I’m really happy to be able to fight back in such a way all the way to the podium. That’s been great. Thank you very much to all of you here in Malaysia, you’ve been amazing all week and the support has been incredible. It’s been amazing to see that. In general, I wished for as better day today, but that’s the way it is sometimes.
Five to go, how do you feel?
NR: At the moment a bit tired after that race! Apart from that it’s a good moment in general and looking forward now to the next one of course, of course full attack.
Congratulations Nico, a big points haul. Daniel, just finally with you: overdue in my opinion, off to Suzuka now which is a cracking circuit as well, so celebrations tonight or is it a short turnaround for the race next weekend?
DR: Ah, a few of us are flying tonight, so maybe a few little whiskies on the flight and sleep well and we’ll be in Tokyo tomorrow. There’s some fine Japanese whisky over there so we might have to have a day off.
Congratulations Daniel, I know how much that means to you. First of all, your view of the start incident involving Nico, Sebastian and Max. Then into the race obviously you held off Max in that crucial battle, that brief battle between the two of you, which I guess turned out to be critical from the point of view of winning the race after Hamilton dropped out.
DR: Yeah, what a day. I’m still… I realise what’s happened but a lot went down in the last two hours so it’s a lot to take in. It’s been an interesting two years since my last victory so it feels awesome for sure, I’m very grateful for it. The start was interesting. I didn’t get a great launch off the line. I saw Seb, I think it was on the inside of me, got a better run. I think Max also had a decent start from memory and it seemed like everyone went to the inside and it didn’t look like there was a whole lot of room and Seb went even deeper. So it looked like he went a little bit deep and it looked like the inside sort of washed out. Everyone sort of tried to out-brake each other, at least from what I say. My average start and more cautious approach into Turn One actually worked out but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Yeah, got into P2 and then was just trying to do my thing in the race. The long run on Friday wasn’t very good, we made a lot of changes, so after Friday if I would have said I’d win the race today in dry conditions… nothing is ever impossible but it was looking like it was close to be. Just tried to do our thing. Max pitted under the Virtual Safety Car at the beginning, put the soft on and at that point it looked like his strategy was working out very well for him. So then I had to hold him off towards that mid-part of the race, just as Lewis had his problems. It was a good battle. Max was on a little bit fresher tyres and I knew he would come at some point, but obviously I was trying to do everything I could to hold him off. It was fun. It was hard racing and for sure we’re both determined to win and we want to beat each other, but I think we did it today very fair and with a lot of respect. So I thank him for that and I think it goes both ways. It was good fun. At the end I tried to hold him off again. It was tough. It was very hot today. Normally Singapore is the most physical race but I thought today was just as physical as last week. I’m not sure still what happened to Lewis. Obviously we got that one today. Obviously we have him that one in Monaco, so I like to think it’s evened out today, so I’ll definitely take the win today.
Q: Moving on to Max, obviously your view of the start line incident, you were a bit more involved in it. Tell us a bit more about that. And, as Daniel just said, you had a better-balanced strategy than he did, so tell us how that was evolving, how you thought the race was going to pan out. And then, obviously once Hamilton dropped out, you were both pitted together, you stacked behind Daniel. Did you think you would have a chance to win the race from there?
MV: Well, finally I had a good start, so I was happy with that but then into Turn One, yeah, I braked late but I was still behind Nico and then Sebastian just dived up the inside, just went really deep and there was definitely no space for that and he T-boned Nico, so I had to avoid all the debris and the two cars. I lost three or four positions because of that which, of course, was a shame because we were in a good position after the start. But then, yeah, after the Virtual Safety Car, I saw the green flag so I immediately passed, I think it was Kimi, so I was of course happy with that. From there on the pace was good. I passed the other cars and I was closing up to the guys in front and then we tried a different strategy and, when I was driving on the hard tyres it seems to be the right one, so I was closing up to Daniel and we had a good fight, a fair fight, and I think it shows a respect between us. And even after that little fight it will looked like it was going to happen – but then unfortunately the virtual safety car came out again. So we pitted again. I had to go on Used Soft, I think Daniel had new ones but still it was a great battle, we were pushing each other in the heat. Normally you can cruise a bit at the end of the race, or at least it’s a bit less physical but until the last lap we were pushing really hard. Yeah, today that’s second but it’s a great result for the team, scored a lot of points. The car was working all weekend, I think it showed already on Friday in the long run that it was working really well. I think we can be really pleased with this.
Q: Nico, a third different perspective on the start line incident from you please. You were 21st at the end of that first lap. To go from there to finishing on the podium and leaving Malaysia with a 23-point championship lead, does that feel almost like a win for you today?
NR: Well, it doesn’t feel like a win because it’s only third place and today was a tough day – because after Turn One I thought it was finished. Of course I’m happy with the comeback; to get all the way back on the podium, I definitely didn’t think that was going to be possible. For Lewis, I’ve been in his position, I know how terrible it is in that moment, so I’m sure he’s totally gutted.
And your view of the start?
NR: Oh, I just got T-boned by a four-time World Champion out of control!
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action / Speed Sport) For Max and Daniel, tell us about that battle a bit earlier in the race where Max got by Daniel and you fought back and got ahead of him again. Run that by us please.
DR: There was just the one was there? Where we went side-by-side?
MV: Turn Five and Six?
DR: Yeah, I was defending. I could see Max coming, I think it was into Turn Four, I went to the inside but I knew he’d probably switch back and get a good exit into Turn Five, so yeah, out of the corner I had a bit of wheelspin and thought he’d probably get me quite easily into five – but I just had enough drive to stay on the inside and, yeah, he gave me room, we both stayed in it. So he had the inside at Six but I held around the outside and fortunately there weren’t too many marbles, so you could run two cars side-by-side through there, which was fun, which was nice. So held that, then into Seven we tried to basically out-brake each other. I was a little bit on the cleaner line so could just go a little bit deeper into Seven and held off that time. It was cool. To race Formula One like that, high-speed corners, to be inches from each other. It’s fun. You’re in the heat of battle, you’re seeing red but at the same time you’ve got to smile. You know the guy that’s two metres to the right of you is having the same amount of fun and you’re both trying to take what was eventually the lead of the race. So it’s a good shot of adrenaline.
Max, your view
MV: I think it’s always fun when you give each other enough space. We were not trying to squeeze each other or anything . That’s great racing at high speed. And then, like Daniel said, into Turn Seven, we tried to brake as late as we could – but at one point I decided to give up because I was a bit in the tighter line so, in case you clip the kerb, you bounce to the left, we both have nothing. It’s better to be one and two.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Max, lap number 52 you have 1.1s behind Ricciardo, probably next lap you could get DRS, then suddenly 1.2s, 1.4s and two seconds. It was naturally consequence of the race or did you receive any orientation to stay in second position?
MV: No, I was pushing. Also, when you get very close it overheats the tyres and I was already on older tyres, so it was just very difficult to get into the DRS. And like I said, if you are on old tyres, before with the hard tyres I had a few laps advantage so you can do a few laps within a second but if you are on older tyres, to try to get within a second is very hard.
You were free to compete to the end?
MV: Yeah, for sure. The team said we were free to race – but of course in a clean way. I think that’s what we did.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nico, can you tell me something about that situation with Kimi when you overtook him and got a penalty?
NR: Well, I went for it and we touched and that’s it. I can’t remember the details. For sure it was an aggressive move and they judged it to be a bit too aggressive and that’s it. I didn’t think I was going to get a penalty at the time but….
Q: (Chris Lyons – AP) Daniel, before, whilst Lewis was still out there, what was the thinking on the pit stop strategy in terms of how it would play out going on to that final set of new softs?
DR: I’m still not too sure at the moment how it would have worked out. I guess, at the time, because Max was the tail car, I think they thought they would just try something with him, I guess. I was still in a good… obviously I had good track position and my tyres were still fresh so I guess it didn’t really make sense to pit me. My engineer was asking me how my tyres were and I said they were holding on OK. At the time, I didn’t see any reason to pit either but then as the race unfolded it looked like probably what Max had done… it was looking like it was probably the stronger, the strongest strategy but I don’t think it was that obvious at the time. I think, as I said, him being the tail car there was a bit more freedom to probably experiment with him and then split the strategy. I’m glad I was able to hold on but I think that was the reason for that.
Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS.NL) Daniel, what was the moment you realised ‘I’m going to win this one’ and Max, what was the moment you realised ‘this will be P2’?
DR: For me, the first sign was holding off the first real attack from Max. I thought, when he came and got within DRS, obviously I was going to fight for everything I had, within reason, but I was thinking it was going to be quite hard to hold on for the next 20 laps or so, but sure I was going to try and do everything I could, and when I held on the first time, I thought OK, I’ve just got to do this probably twenty more times so if I can do it once, maybe I can do it repeatedly. So that was the first sign and then obviously with Lewis going out and then us putting the soft tyres on, I knew if I sort of drove a clean last stint, mistake-free, I should be able to hold on but you know Max has been quick all weekend, so there was no guarantees ever, but I think the last four or five laps looked like I was able to sort of stabilise my pace and keep out of the DRS so that was the moment of realisation, I think.
MV: Yeah, I think four or five laps from the end. It’s just very hard – like I said before – to get within one second. It’s a bit like you’re playing a cat and mouse game so if the car behind you… It’s a bit like how I did in Barcelona, you know? If the car’s coming close to you, you just play with it, you keep them under control, you let them slide a bit more and then as soon as you see the car behind you is struggling a bit more, you can push a bit more yourself. I think that’s what Daniel was doing.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Nico, are you surprised that Mercedes didn’t get the Constructors’ championship here and to all the drivers, Suzuka is a very chassis-orientated circuit. What are your predictions for that race?
NR: For sure, yeah, we were hoping to get it here. It would have been great ‘cos it’s our home away from home here in Sepang, in front of all the Petronas people and all the Malaysians who are supporting us. It would have been awesome. But you know, we’re really looking good on that side so if it’s not here, we hope to be able to do it soon on another track. And then I must say also congratulations really to the people who have done the track here, the new surface and everything, because really we see such exciting racing here, it’s possible to overtake. The last corner, what they’ve done also has been very good because you can do a couple of different lines when you’re following someone close in front. That really helps with the battling and it really has produced a great race today so really, compliments.
Japan? I think I will go very well.
Q: Daniel, how do you think Red Bull will go in Suzuka?
DR: It’s a good circuit for us. It’s a circuit I personally enjoy a lot. I’ve always loved going there, especially with the car we’ve got. As you say, it’s a circuit where a chassis can really make a bit of a difference. It’s a lot of fun. I think the package we have we can definitely fight for a podium there. The way I see it, if we both finish here on the podium today I think we obviously have a good chance next week, so looking forward to going there. The team’s in very good spirits at the moment. We’ve had a really strong season particularly of late, a bunch of podiums, so it’s a good time to go to a circuit where we’re strong.
MV: I prefer not to say anything. Like Singapore, you say we’re going for the win… I think we hope for a bit more in qualifying, here we were like it will be difficult to get a win or at least be on the podium and here we are first and second, so I’ll just wait and see how it goes, but normally it should be alright.
Q: (Chris Lyons – AP) There must have been a lot of sweat in that shoe. Can I just get an opinion how it tasted?
DR: I love the taste, personally. Yeah, I thought today it was quite fruity. There was… sure you’ve got your salts but I was hydrating quite well today with a lot of sugars and stuff like that. It had a… I don’t know, it was sort of like a dessert, rather than a main course. It was more like a dessert. I don’t know what these boys think. Nico told me he didn’t like it very much.
Q: You certainly pulled a face on the podium, Nico, when you drank it. Is that the first time that you’ve drunk champagne out of another man’s shoe?
NR: I hope he does not win any more races this year!
DR: I haven’t made many friends actually from this.
MV: Nah, it’s alright. It was good sweat.