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Nico: “I don’t think you need more evidence that we’re here to race”

Nico: “I don’t think you need more evidence that we’re here to race”

Nico, that must be one of the most exciting Grands Prix for a while, would you agree?

It was a great battle out there this evening with Lewis and this kind of race is exactly why I am in Formula One; I love to race like today. Of course, it's very disappointing to have finished second in the end but I gave it everything and it just didn't quite come off for me. Lewis did a great job defending his position and, so often when I did manage to get past, I then couldn't see him in the blind spot in my mirrors. The positive must be that this was a great day for Formula One. The race was a fantastic show and hopefully it proves that the critics of our new technology are wrong. I can't wait for China now and I want to end up on the top step there.

Talk us through your race?

I didn’t have the best of starts. It wasn’t too bad but Lewis got away a little better. From there I was pleased with my pace and gave him a good run. I tried to pass him at the end of the first stint but couldn’t make it stick. Then, we tried to invert the strategies just to give me a shot at the end to overtake. I had to maintain good pace on the prime tyres, knowing that I’d have a chance to challenge for the lead again at the end on the option tyre. In the end, I was overheating the tyres a bit too much during the last three laps because I was pushing so hard in the slipstream where there is a lot less grip and the car was sliding a lot. It was a good battle but Lewis defended well and I couldn’t quite make it happen.

What was the thinking behind your strategy call?

Our strategy was good and to change it after the first stint was a decision that I made with the team. We discussed before the race: it was a slightly slower strategy but it gave me the best chance of catching Lewis at the end on the option tyres. The difference between the prime and the option was not as big as we expected however and that's why I didn't quite manage to get by. The team played it as fair as they possibly could today in terms of the strategy and it allowed us to race flat out.

What were your thoughts when Paddy’s message came over the radio?

The whole world were probably thinking “here we go with the team orders”’ but it wasn’t like that at all. It was simple: Paddy just wanted us to make sure that we got both cars across the finish line. To me the message was clear. Lewis and I knew that we were pushing each other very hard. But with the necessary level of respect we’re free to race all the way I don’t think you need more evidence that we’re here to race this year. There are no team orders: we want to put on an amazing show for the fans and I think we managed that.

Were there any points at which you thought it might end in tears?

No. We were pushing to the limit but at no point did I think we were going to touch. There was always the necessary margin. It might not have looked like it on TV but there was. It was great racing. I thought I’d got him about nine times but it didn’t quite work. He always got the run back on me and he did a good job. Lewis is a great driver and he made it work this time, so next time I need to do better.

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