1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes), 2 – Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing), 3 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
(Conducted by Martin Brundle)
Well done Nico, fantastic. Your 200th grand prix, your third victory in four weeks, you now lead the championship again, but it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Nico ROSBERG: No, but it’s been an awesome weekend here in Singapore for me, already yesterday with the pole lap and then today, a great start, had a good car in the race. Of course Daniel tried to pull one up on me with the pit stop in the end there. We knew it was going to be tight at the end, but it worked out, so I’m really, really happy.
They were going to call you in to cover him off and then they made a late call, and it was the right call, but then you were under pressure all the way to the flag?
NR: Yeah, we couldn’t come in because I had traffic, so I was very slow on that lap and he would have beaten me. It was a cool ending.
We heard you were managing your brakes for more or less the whole race, tell us about that.
NR: Yeah, the whole car was on the edge, it always is in Singapore, so it’s all the more satisfying with a race like that.
Daniel Ricciardo, it’s your third consecutive time on this podium, but you needed just a few more centimetres for the top step.
Daniel RICCIARDO: Yeah, we’ve come very close this year on numerous occasions but you know, I’m not going to stand up here and be disappointed. I think we gave it a good shot. We tried something at the end with the strategy and we got within half a second. It was close but hey, we’re up here again; it feels great. There are a lot of Australian flags, every year I see more and more, so thank you very much.
You were on schedule to be on his gearbox with one or two laps to go and then he got a bit of traffic but it just fell away. One more lap and you would have been there.
DR: Yeah, it was close. As soon as we did the pit stop we thought Nico was going to come in, so I pushed really hard on those tyres and by the end they were a little bit dead, but at least we close and made it exciting.
The champagne pouring off you is boiling hot – a tough race.
DR: It’s a physical race, absolutely.
Lewis, it’s your 99th podium but it’s not the sweetest one I suspect.
Lewis HAMILTON: No, definitely not, but first of all, big congratulations to Nico, he drove fantastically well all weekend and fully deserved the win. Very tough day today, as always it is here in Singapore. This weekend has just been a bot of a tricky one for me, but I’m still glad I could get back up on the podium and get some points for the team.
The first half of the race you were a bit frustrated with the tyres and your own pace and wondering what was going on and then suddenly you came alive.
LH: It was my brakes. I was struggling with my brakes, they were way overheating, so I just had to slow down, so I just had to watch the other guys pull away and I was just looking at different ways to try and get them back under control. Eventually once I did my second or third stop, all of a sudden my brakes were under control. But of course, towards the end I still got a bit of heat in them. I have a lot of support here this weekend and I just want to say a big thanks to everyone for coming out and we’ll keep pushing.
Eight points behind in the world championship now, is that a big concern for you?
LH: Well, it’s a lot different to when I was here last year, but in all in all, with everything that’s gone on this year, I’m still in the fight, there’s still a long way to go and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.
Final word then Nico – six races to go in this championship, you are leading it yet again now, so you must be thinking ‘I can win this, I can take this’.
NR: No, I’m not focused on points. As I always say, I’m just happy with the win today. Thank you very much for coming today, you’ve been awesome this weekend, I hope you had fun and see you all again in Malaysia, soon.
Q: Nico, many congratulations, you’ve won your 200th Grand Prix, it’s your 22nd Grand Prix victory and you’ve now got an eight-point lead in the World Championship. It was a brilliantly judged race – but were there a few nervous moments as the man on your right was closing in?
NR: Like with ten laps to go, or 15 laps to go, just after the pitstop, the team said he would be with me at the end of the race, which was the case, so for sure I had to be on it in that last stint and get everything right and nail all those laps. It really worked out, with the management, all the way to the end. The tyre lasted just right, so very, very happy, of course. By the time I started the last lap I knew it was going to be enough because Daniel also, his tyres weren’t as fresh any more, so by that time it was OK.
Q: Daniel, coming onto you. It was a brave roll of the dice at the end in terms of strategy. What are you feeling now? Just one more lap – or do you think you could have done anything differently?
DR: No, I don’t. I’m sitting here pretty happy because I felt I did all I could. The perfect race. If there was anything that could have been more perfect it was the start but Nico got off the line well. So, even with an amazing start we wouldn’t have got the jump. It looked like his was near-perfect. From that point we just tried to do what we could. Team put me on a three-stop at the end. It was fun. It was good to push the whole race and I knew I would get close to Nico at the end. So even if the track’s difficult to overtake, it was nice to be able to push to the last lap and know that I was at least putting some pressure on him and giving the crowd still a little bit of hope.
Q: Lewis, coming on to you. It was nip-and-tuck between you and Kimi throughout the race. How surprised were you that they called him in after you made your final stop?
LH: The team suggested they would do the same. To be honest we were both struggling with… we were both pushing quite hard in that stint and we both would have not made it to the end at the pace we were going, and so I kinda knew I was just pushing on my out-lap to see if I could undercut him, which fortunately we did.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Lennart Wermke – Bild) Nico, first of all congratulations, brilliant drive. There was a little incident with an over-ambitious marshal on the track at the very beginning of the race. I think you were driving towards him. Can you describe to us what happened and what did you see in this moment?
NR: Yeah, that was pretty hairy, for sure. I think just as we didn’t expect the restart, he didn’t either, I think, because the restart was somehow pretty abrupt. But he got out of the way just about in time so it was OK. Of course we all had to drive a bit carefully through there.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action / Speed Sport) Nico, a couple of days ago you told us, 200th race, not that big a deal. Is it now – or will it be one of your big deals?
NR: Yeah, winning the Singapore Grand Prix today is awesome. I’m really, really happy about that. The whole weekend went perfectly, so yes, today it’s a big deal. Tomorrow, not so much.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) To the Mercedes drivers, we heard over the radio your team was giving you warnings because of the brakes. Can you tell what happened and did these brake problems accompany you the whole race?
NR: Yes, the brakes were just on the limit. But we know that, it’s expected and it worked out fine. Yes, it’s right on the edge so it was not easy to manage throughout the whole race.
Lewis, do you have anything to add?
LH: Same as Nico. I guess the things that pops to mind is how much worse it’s going to be next year when we’ve got a heavier car. It’s a shame the cars are as heavy as they are because we can’t push, you can’t race very well when you’re behind people here – but that’s maybe just the circumstances of this race.
Daniel, can I follow up on that. Did you have any brake problems?
DR: Nothing in particularly. You do get… towards the end of the race you feel sometimes the pedal get a bit longer, so you know the brakes are wearing but we never got into a critical phase or I never really had to manage it. We came in expecting a few issues but it was actually pretty good.
Q: (Lim Say Heng – The New Paper) Nico, seven times in the last eight year the overall leader from after the Singapore race has gone on to win the drivers’ championship. How do you feel about that and how confident are you going into the last few races of the season.
NR: A statistic like that, it’s not something that I focus on, at all. It doesn’t have any importance to me. Today I’m just happy to win the race because that is what I came here to do. And now I’m going to celebrate after this. I can’t wait to get home. Next up is Malaysia, where I want to repeat that because feeling good at the moment. On a good roll so I’m going to try to win Malaysia next.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, could you explain to us what happened when Kimi overtook you? Was it just a bumpy situation or were there no tyres left
LH: Yeah, it was just a mistake. Locked up on one of the bumps and ended up going almost straight on. Costly, but fortunately I was able to not lose anything after the next stint.
Q: (Ian De Cotta – The New Paper) Lewis, question as a follow-up of the statistic about the Singapore race, drivers going on to win the championship; how do you feel going forward to Malaysia? Do you think Mercedes could solve the problems that you had?
LH: We have a good car. We’ve got to have a good weekend. We’ve come from 43 points down so theoretically eight points isn’t anywhere near as steep as that but still, Nico’s been performing fantastically well. This weekend he’s done an amazing job. I expect him to continue like that so I’ve got make sure that I do the same..
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Lewis, at the end of the race, you seemed quicker than at the beginning. Was it because you had fresh tyres or because you were allowed to push to maximum attack?
LH: It was partly because of the fresh tyres but mostly because the car was getting lighter, the brakes became a lot easier to control. Once my signal of brake overheating reduced, I was able to start to pick up the pace. I was still getting the warnings towards the end but like the last ten laps, I just kind of just let it continue flashing as a warning and hoped for the best. Fortunately the pace was better.
Q: (Berk Serioglu – Motorsport.com) Nico, it seems like you have changed your strategy in the race. Did it happen as the race went on or was it planned before the race?
NR: No, everything went according to plan, just it was they (Red Bull) who didn’t go to plan that caused a bit of a challenge at the end. But for us, everything was to plan.
Q: (Don Kennedy – Hawkes Bay Today) Nico, you’ve won Spa, Monza and now Singapore, races you hadn’t won before and you’ve taken the championship lead again. Surely that must excite you or do we start giving you the nickname Mr Cool?
NR: No, I’m just excited about winning the race today. I’m not excited about any of those other points. Sorry. Just awesome to win here in Singapore, first time out there. I don’t have the best of memories here, this track hasn’t treated me well here in the past so today is a good one.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Daniel, just before you pitted for the third time, you had reduced the gap to Nico to three seconds, I think. With hindsight, do you think you would have had a better chance even to beat Nico if you had stayed out?
DR: I don’t know. I felt pretty good on the soft tyre, so I think our pace was more or less there but to overtake around here and a Mercedes isn’t easy, so to do it on the same tyre, even if I was half a second quicker, maybe if I caught him, you still need a pretty big advantage to pull something off here unless a mistake is made by the guy in front. Yeah, I think we did the right thing in the end. Obviously it still didn’t give us victory but I think staying on the same tyre probably wouldn’t have given us any better chance.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action, Speedsport) Daniel, this was, as you said before, one of the best chances to win. Where will the next one come?
DR: With some rain, yeah. I think in dry circumstances this was our best shot. We got within half a second but after the race I said on the radio to the team that we will win this year. We’ll get a downpour somewhere and that’ll hopefully throw a few curved balls and we can middle it and get the victory we’re after.
Q: (Wojciech Paprota – Swiatwyscigow.pl) To Nico and Lewis, yesterday Toto said that it was one of the highlights of his life to see you being competitive during the Singapore Grand Prix after last year’s race. Do you also see this year’s result as a milestone?
NR: It really shows that not only do we have the best car but also we have the best, most competent group of engineers, to extract the potential from the best car, from every weekend, changing the car, adapting to the new circuits, to the different circuits and understanding, because last year we were absolutely nowhere here. We got destroyed by Red Bull and Ferrari and we understood what we did wrong and came back this year and beat them on their strongest track. That’s really awesome to see that.
LH: I think Nico just answered it perfectly well.