Nico, another close battle with Lewis and so close to clinching the win against all odds: talk us though it?
Yeah it was a big battle all the way. I didn’t have the best getaway but I got a better run through Turn One, so I managed to keep the lead through there and from then on it was a big battle all the way through. I managed to stay ahead until the second pit stop but we had a slow one which meant I dropped behind. From then on I didn’t really know what was going on because I lost a lot of power so the car was very slow down the straights. Right up to the end I was just trying to hang on, trying to put qualifying laps in all the time, but it didn’t quite work out against Daniel (Ricciardo). Congratulations of course to him: it’s fantastic for him to get that first win.
You had quite a bit to deal with judging by the way your pace dropped off very suddenly: how hard was it out there?
What happened was that I lost the KERS. When you lose that the car doesn’t harvest energy anymore: all the braking on the rear is being done by the brakes themselves and they start to overheat. So it was one problem and then the next problem happened. That made it massively difficult. I needed to cool the brakes a lot and I lost a lot of power on the straights. At the same time, taking those things into consideration, I was just pushing flat out. Qualifying laps, one after another, trying to stay ahead of that pack behind me. I managed it until two laps from the end, so from that point of view it was a very good result and lots of points. Today shows that we need to keep pushing, of course. We had some reliability problems and we need to make sure that we’re bulletproof from now on.
What was more difficult to handle: the loss of power or the subsequent brake problems?
With the power, once I adjusted my braking points to fit the fact I was arriving with so much less speed, was actually okay. But the brakes, that was more difficult because I also had to run the brake balance very far forwards which made it difficult with front locking. At the same time I had to do qualifying laps to try to stay ahead, so I was pushing the front tyres really hard and that was very challenging too.
Are you disappointed at the lost opportunity for victory or is it a positive feeling with the points gained in the Championship today?
It was a very, very difficult day out there today, so to come home second was positive. I didn’t even know that I was second at the end: I saw this huge train of cars behind me and I only found out afterwards when I asked my engineer! In hindsight, of course, having lost the win is disappointing for us as a team. We have such a great car, so to not win the race and to finish with just one car is hugely disappointing for us, definitely. Our ambition is to finish one-two every time, so we need to make sure that we get back there again at the next race in Austria. Of course, I’ve extended my Championship lead, which is important. But we are fully aware that Red Bull are an amazingly strong team and are pushing like crazy to catch us. We are always making sure that our drive remains exactly the same as it was last year when we were half-a-second behind them. We want to extend the gap.