Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing), Daniil KVYAT (Toro Rosso), Pascal WEHRLEIN (Sauber)
Q: Lewis, four-time British Grand Prix winner, looking to equal the record of five. How have you spent the last few days in the build-up to the race and are we set to get a strong statement from you on track here, as so often in the past?
Lewis HAMILTON: It’s good to be here. I tried to prepare in the best way I can, quite relaxed the past few days and I’ve come here excited for the weekend, as always. You’ve got the championship, which is obviously the most important thing, but a very close second, if not tied, is the British Grand Prix, being a home grand prix, the home of motorsport, such an incredible, intense weekend. Every year it is a must-win for a British driver, so yeah I tried to prepare the best way I could.
Q: Daniel, you looked like you were having fun in London yesterday evening, but you’ve also been having fun on track with 70 points from the last four races I think it is, second best tally in the field. What does that say about your competitiveness now?
Daniel RICCIARDO: It’s certainly getting better. The season started slow but we’ve found some good momentum the last few races. I think Austria was a bit of a breakthrough in a way. It was a third, obviously not as good on paper as Baku, but in terms of actual performance we finished six or seven seconds off the win and there were no safety cars and it felt like really for once this year had genuine pace and we could run pretty much with the pace of the leaders. So that was super encouraging. Last few laps it was looking like it was going to get tight. I’d held that podium spot the whole race and I could see Lewis closing in, so I was relieved to have stayed on the podium when it looked like he was going to come past pretty easily at some point. It felt like from one lap to the next he was in my mirrors. I didn’t really have to look in the mirrors most for the race but then I saw a car and I was hoping it was a car that had come out of the pits, out of sequence, and it stayed in my mirrors for a few corners. Then I had a proper look and it was a silver car and I knew it wasn’t Valtteri, so I knew we would have a bit on the last few laps but it’s been a good run, so we’re building.
And last night?
DR: Oh last night, yeah, it was a good event. Look, I’m sure that would have been pretty difficult to organise and get that all going but I felt like it was a success and you know, we had a bit of time on track to try to give the fans what they wanted to see. I doubt they left disappointed.
Q: Daniil, we had a big discussion in part one about the idea of using street promotions and the kind of thing we saw yesterday. What do you think of the idea of putting events on like that and reaching out to fans, in a place like Moscow for example?
Daniil KVYAT: I think it would work – not in January! But in summer yes, I think why not. I mean if every year, once a year, they could rotate this kind of event between one of the biggest cities of the world to promote the sport, then I think why not. Like Daniel said it was a good success yesterday I think. A lot of people there in the city centre of London. It was a cool and enjoyable atmosphere and I think it was nice for sure.
Q: Pascal, coming to you, how are you finding life at Sauber without Monisha Kaltenborn, but with the prospect of Fred Vasseur arriving as the new team principal.
Pascal WEHRLEIN: I’m looking forward that Fred is coming. I respect him a lot for what he has done in motorsport so far, like in junior categories and last year in Formula One. So, looking forward to working with him and let’s see where he can bring Sauber.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Just repeating a question from a colleague from the previous session. Lewis, Copse corner this year? Do we think it will be flat in eighth and if so what is that going to be like and if so how will it compare with Becketts in terms of fun factor?
LH: I think Copse is going to be flat this year. I would imagine quite easy, yeah. I would imagine probably eighth, you should get to eighth by then. It’s going to be rapid. I don’t think any of us are prepared for how quick Silverstone is going to be compared to previous years. It was awesome in the last race. Maggots and Becketts, again, are going to be the same. It’s going to be a physical race for us, being that it is mostly medium and high-speed corners. The G that we are going to be pulling is definitely going to be one up, maybe two, who knows, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Daniel, you’re nodding and smiling, as if you’re looking forward to this?
LH: It’s because he’s got an upgrade package!
DR: Ha! We’ve got more coming later. It’s going to be fun. I love high-speed corners. From Turn 9 to 15, Copse to Stowe, it’s some of the coolest sequences… probably [the best] mile of race track we go on all year. We got a taste of it, as Lewis said, in Austria. The second, third sector we were carrying some serious speed, so it’s a sign of what this weekend is going to be like I think.
Q: (Jon McEvoy – Daily Mail) If they organised an event such as last night’s again in London, would you all go?
DK: You mean every day or what? Probably no. But next year again? Why not. Wednesday? Yeah I think why not, of course.
LH: I guess I’ll decide when the time comes.
PW: Yeah I would and I would do more donuts, as Daniel did.
DR: That was controlled sliding.
Q: Is that what you told the council?
DR: It’s alright… arrest me.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, just in your words, why were you the only driver not there when your colleagues were there and you were missing?
LH: I don’t why I was the only one. Everyone had the right to make their decision for themselves. For me, I felt that it’s been a pretty intense season so far and I felt for me, I needed to prepare the best way that I could for this weekend. The season’s the most important thing for me. That’s really it.
Q: (Rachel Brookes – Sky TV) Lewis, just following on, from what you saw of yesterday’s event and the crowd that turned out that was there, you’re someone who talks a lot about what you get from the fans and how much it helps you. Looking at those pictures and what happened, do you feel that actually being there yesterday might have helped you coming into this weekend and given you a boost a day early even, coming into the British Grand Prix?
LH: I generally haven’t been on my phone the last couple of days, I tried to switch off, I switch on a couple of times just to receive a message but otherwise I’ve tried to stay away from it. Personally, I feel I prepared the best way for this weekend and that’s really all I can do. Of course, there are people who have other opinions about it but I’m trying to do the best… it’s a very intense season, I’m trying to prepare the best way I can. Other people will have different ways of doing so. I love this Grand Prix, I love this race so I feel yesterday, personally, plays any role in how great this weekend is for me. Every season, for the last years has been incredible, it’s been growing every year. You get people who have saved up so much through the year to come up to this Grand Prix and I think you will have seen over the previous years how much I appreciate and respect that and tried to give and enjoy the weekend with the fans and that doesn’t change.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Lewis, on the same topic, there’s suggestions that there has been some sort of disagreement over the use of your image for this particular event, that you wanted to be paid or something like that. Can you refute that categorically?
LH: Yeah, that’s… No, I mean I told the organisers last week that I wouldn’t be going. I spoke to Toto, informed the team which was very understanding and understood and respectful of the decision. Yeah, I think they used my image so that wasn’t a problem.
Q: (Rob Harris – AP) Lewis, first of all, how is flying for what, seven or eight hours round trip to Greece better preparation than staying in the UK? And you were booed by the fans in London, they obviously are unhappy with you, this was a big event, used by the F1 owners to try and engage with fans. You are the biggest British driver. What were your thoughts when you heard they actually booed you?
LH: To be honest, I didn’t really know about it. In terms of flying, I don’t live here so I wouldn’t have been here anyway as I was back in Monaco first, but I fly a lot longer than that for trips and I usually arrive pretty good. But you know, right now my focus is on this weekend, making sure I put every bit of energy into this great weekend that we have and I received incredible love from the fans every single year that I’ve come here. Yeah, looking forward to seeing them.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, sorry to keep harping on about yesterday, but do you still stand by your decision and do you think it was the right decision, given you were the only driver missing? You’re the home star, you’re the home favourite. Do you think you got it wrong?
LH: Well, I mean, like I said, I think I’ve felt like I’ve answered as much as I really want to. I’m solely focused on this weekend now, I feel great, being here, I feel the best prepared I could be.
Q: (Stephen Camp – Paddock Magazine) I was just wondering, I asked the last four drivers if there was anything that Liberty had come to you about, what you would like to give back to the fans. Are there any ideas that you would like to give back to the fans, anything that you would like to do to widen the audience of the sport?
DR: Not anything right now, off the top of my head. Yeah. You’ve kind of got me. I don’t know. I wasn’t expecting to be asked the question. We’ll come back…
DK: Well, I just drive the car, you know. I think that’s what I should be focused on. I think there are other people who know how to do their job a bit better for that.
LH: I don’t really have all the ideas. I think there are people who make those decisions.
DR: Probably more locations, where we go. I think we can keep expanding in different parts of the world perhaps. I guess put F1 on the map in places that it’s not currently. That can always help to raise awareness of our sport and give people an interest. Yeah, that’s something that comes to mind.
PW: I think that after yesterday some louder engines again. It was really nice to hear the old V8 engines, that was great. Hopefully we can have the same in the future again.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Lewis, I’m not going to ask about London! This weekend – it’s obviously been very close between Mercedes and Ferrari all season – but with the different characteristics between the two cars, do you feel that this might be one of the tracks that’s more suited to Mercedes and it could be a particularly strong weekend for the team?
LH: I hope so but I think that being that we’re (indistinct) on the car you would have hoped that it would have worked better in the medium and high speed corners but if you look at previous races, the last one, the Ferraris were very strong, the Red Bulls were very strong in all sections but there is also that balance of the high speed as well and drag. I think it will be very very close but I’ve heard that these guys have brought a big upgrade. He’s always smiling anyway so he smiling a little bit more…
DR: I’m good at bluffing, I always smile because you never know. We’ve got more.
LH: You’ve got more. They did a great job in the last race so to see Red Bull up there I think is great, to see a three way team challenge competition and I think this weekend’s going to be… you know, they were very very strong here last year, particularly on intermediates, in the race, so I think it’s going to be a spectacular British Grand Prix in that respect.
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) Daniel Ricciardo, you seem to be really getting into the shoey business on the podium and the podiums are becoming more and more regular. You are persuading the interviewers to drink but you’re not having very much luck with your fellow drivers. Can you think of any way to encourage them to join you, and to the other three: should you be up there with Daniel, would you be partaking of the amber nectar?
DR: Well, most of the last ones have actually come from the others wanting – not the drivers – but the interviewees if you call them (he means interviewers) – they’ve been wanting to do it. I honestly didn’t plan on doing it in even Baku – I was ‘ah, I won’t do it.’ But DC took my shoes off and then Austria, Martin was like frothing for it. So I feel that there are some really sick bastards around here. I never thought it would continue like this. Even yesterday, people were shouting it. I’m just walking along, minding my business and they’re like shouting ‘do a shoey.’ I don’t actually just take my shoe off while I’m walking in the street and drink out of it. I feel like I’ve dug a hole for myself with this one. On that note, I feel like it’s been fun. I want to say it’s run its course. We’ll see what happens but I heard that the Finns drink, I really heard that. But Valtteri did not carry his flag well last Sunday. I mean shame on him! He needed vodka in it, so Valtteri Bottas – disappointed. And that’s it. No more shoeys.
Lewis, you’ve avoided it so far…
LH: Absolutely. I still stand firm on… I told you… the juice from the foot is not something that I wish to drink, especially someone else’s!
DR: It’s risky with back-to-backs. It is! We put – all the podium guys could end up in hospital for a week. Yeah.
Q: (Ralf Bach – Sport Bild) For all of you: we heard that Red Bull has a great update on the car. What are the updates of Toro Rosso, Sauber, Mercedes, Red Bull here and in the future; what is planned?
DK: Well, it’s probably not as much as these guys but we also try, we try hard and hopefully there will be some, maybe Budapest. I think we’re working on it and I think that it will be efficient so let’s see.
PW: We expect a big one in Budapest. I was in the factory two weeks ago and I was told in Budapest there’s a big one coming, hopefully.
Q: Any particular reason why there?
PW: I don’t know. As soon as possible, hopefully.
So you’ve obviously got a massive upgrade this weekend, Daniel, another one coming…
DR: No, I do believe we’ve got something significant for Budapest and this weekend it’s usual bits and pieces which we kind of bring now nearly every race but Budapest is probably more of an advertised update as opposed to this weekend.
Q: And the reason why it’s there?
DR: I think mostly it seems it just takes time, but yeah, it’s a high downforce package.
LH: We had a small upgrade in the last race and I think we’ve got some small bits here but nothing major. Similar to what Daniel was saying, and I think in the next race there will be some small parts as well. I think after the break there will be more substantial bits coming.
Q: (Jon McEvoy – Daily Mail) The day before the hearing, the FIA hearing into Sebastian Vettel and his accident with Lewis, the boss of Mercedes, Toto Wolff, went to a birthday party to celebrate the thirtieth of Sebastian Vettel. I was wondering, from all drivers, would you be surprised most relevantly for Lewis, but would you be surprised and see it as maybe an act of loyalty or otherwise for your boss to go to a birthday of a rival with whom you’ve just had an accident before the hearing?
DR: Free alcohol. Doesn’t matter how much money you make, you don’t turn that down.
Unless it’s out of your shoe.
DR: Yeah, actually, good point.
LH: All I can do is laugh at that one. I don’t really have an answer for that one to be honest. That’s the dumbest question I’ve had so far.
PW: I think Seb is a really nice guy so I would also go to his birthday.
DR: Why weren’t you invited?
PW: I don’t know! Maybe he doesn’t think that I’m nice.
Q: Daniil, were you washing your hair that evening or did you go as well?
DK: I was hoping you’d forgotten about me already. I don’t have an answer for you. I cannot even imagine.
DR: There was an invite for the torpedo. I saw it. Not so cool.
DK: You have a good memory.
Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Lewis, sorry to return to this but it’s quite a big issue: you’ve always tried to connect… you’ve made a point of trying to connect with your fans. Do you think it was a missed opportunity not attending yesterday, given that a lot of people who were there, who were attending, would be kids and people who can’t afford to go Grands Prix, so this was a really good chance to connect with those people who just can’t make it to Silverstone?
LH: Like I’ve said, I feel like I’ve said everything I want to say on the subject but I like to think that I do everything I can to connect with the fans. I do have the biggest following in Formula One and I communicate with them as much as I can. The fans mean everything to me and they always have. I’ve made no secret of that. I think hopefully my commitments to the sport over the last ten years and what I do actually outside the sport, things that perhaps you don’t comment on such as when I go and visit the hospitals and spend time with young kids who can’t come to a Grand Prix. That’s not something you report on but that’ s actually very important to me and that’s where I put my energy mostly. I think lots of us have decisions to make and you have to stand firm with the decisions you make and feel proud of the decisions you make and I personally do and this weekend, as I say, coming here and give everything to shine as much light and raise the flag in the best way I can, and try the best I can. The goal is to win the British Grand Prix for my home crowd. I’ve been very fortunate the last few years to do that and the yearning and the need to do that again is greater than ever.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) To the three non-Mercedes drivers: you’ve heard what Lewis said; do you guys feel that you’ve prepared any less intensively for this race by being in London and not being on a beach in Greece, for example? And just because you’re not leading the championship or up there, do you feel that you haven’t prepared as well for this weekend?
DR: Each to their own. We’re all adults now. Obviously the spotlight’s on Lewis because he was the only one that wasn’t there, out of all of us, so I understand that but yeah, he’s been doing it long enough to know what he needs to do. For me, personally, I thought it was a good event. I thought it was a good opportunity to reach out, obviously, to a few more fans but it also gives Liberty some more encouragement. They’re trying to start something now so just to get behind that and see where we can take it.
PW: Nothing to add.
DK: I think Lewis justified it very clearly. I think everyone has different preparations. I think it’s enough said on the topic.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing ) Daniil, this year Toro Rosso has shown some real pace on occasions but it seems to be quite difficult for the team to have a consistent weekend from Friday morning to Sunday night, Austria being a good example: very quick and then it fell away in qualifying. What is your feeling about that, why did it happen in Austria, for example?
DK: I think in Austria we know really what happened in qualifying, and we dropped a bit out of the working window in the important session. Coming to the year, I would say that for my personal case, Sundays, for one reason or another, on the good days the races were not finished and I think it’s very important because that’s when the points are given on that day and I think that’s what I’m looking for really. I’ve had really good Fridays, really good Saturdays, good Sundays until the car stopped but now what we’re looking for is to put all three days together and that should bring good things to my side of the garage.