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Nico: “It’s been a great battle and it’s fantastic that the team lets us race equally”

Nico: “It’s been a great battle and it’s fantastic that the team lets us race equally”

What a fantastic race! Give us your take on it?

I’m very happy with the whole weekend. I’ve been feeling comfortable in the car, I was able to attack and control the gap also to Lewis in the race, so that worked out great and I’m very, very happy. Especially here in Brazil – the atmosphere is fantastic and it’s also great to see the support that the crowds give Felipe here. That’s awesome – and also for me, so obrigado to them!

With the pole position trophy won yesterday and then an important win today, is this one of your best weekends? How good does it feel to have delivered today under pressure?

It was a great weekend all in all. Austin was a tough day for me on Sunday, so yeah, it was important for me to improve because just didn’t do a good enough job in the race in Austin. Today I managed to do that, so that I’m happy about. I learned from the last race and did better so that’s a big step in the right direction. Of course, it’s one race too late, but there’s still all to play for. Now I’m just hoping to try and keep this going for Abu Dhabi. I have a really good feeling in the car and it was a great race with Lewis. He had a great race too, just behind me all the time. I always needed to make sure that the gap was always such that there was no chance for him to go for the overtake – unlike Austin. I managed to do that, so that was good.

It’s been an immaculate weekend for you. Were you confident that you would have been able to keep Lewis behind you even if he had not had that spin?

I was confident, yes, definitely, because already in the first stint I could see that I could control the gap and make sure that Lewis didn’t come into the region where he could launch an attack. So from that point of view, once I saw that, I was very confident that I could keep on controlling the gap for the whole race. Also, when Lewis had the spin and was further behind, I saved more tyres than I normally would have done so that I could make sure that at the end of the stint I had enough. That worked out really well too.

11 one-two finishes is a new record – beaten that record of Senna and Prost from 1988. What more can you say about such a fantastic season?

It is fantastic. The team is doing such an awesome job, all-in-all. Just keeping on pushing with the development rate through the year. It’s so great to be a part of that movement and you can feel it in the team. Everybody is really, really pumped, fully focussed all the way. It’s a big change for us now. We used to be always hunting and now we’re the hunted so that’s a big change. It’s great to see how the team has adapted and not slackened off because it is always difficult when you get to the front to then stay there. It seems at the moment that we’re really going strong and that’s fantastic.

There are double points for Abu Dhabi and the chase for the title. Would you change that if you had the chance?

Well, I find it artificial and I don’t like it in general. Of course, now, with the way it is, it’s great for me. But there are other sports which have tried the same sort of thing, like NASCAR for example, and they’ve done this very successfully. The fans love it so we need to keep on reviewing it. It’s good to try something and we’ll see how it goes this year. The important thing is that the fans are happy. We‘ll need to see if we keep on doing it or change it.

If you win in Abu Dhabi Lewis must finish third or lower for you to win the championship. Who could help you?

I need some Felipe Massa help.

[FM: I hope I win!]

No, that’s too much help! Not so fast - somewhere in between would be good!

Is it more difficult to fight against your teammate or against a driver from another team when you’re competing for a title?

That’s a difficult one. I think it’s the same. Lewis is a really strong competitor and he has the same car as me. That has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that the car is the same so that, for example today, I know that he didn’t have more top speed than me. I don’t know, it’s difficult to answer, but of course it is a great challenge. It’s been a great battle and fantastic also that the team is always letting us race, letting us battle, and treating us 100 percent equally at all times. That’s really important. We’re both very lucky to be in that situation.

After Abu Dhabi, when the championship is over, do you think that you’re going to sit together somewhere, go over the season and discuss what has happened?

Well, we’ll see. At the moment it’s very neutral, the relationship, and that’s where it always comes back to. Of course, we’ve had difficult times and then better times. I think it’s always going to be like that. It’s just very competitive. It’s a great competition, exactly the same as it was 15 years ago all over again. Now I just hope that we have a fantastic last race. It’s going to be exciting that’s for sure and we’ll see who wins.

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