Three consecutive wins… how about that?! It looked easy but how was it for you?
Ni hao! The fans have been incredible all week so I really felt a lot of energy but I really couldn’t do this without all the hard work from the team. It’s incredible. Honestly, I just can’t believe how amazing the car is and how hard everyone has worked. The results we’re getting are a real true showing of all the hard work.
You were radioing in and saying “my tyres feel good” while everybody else was screaming to come into the pits: the first stint looked just beautiful for you?
Surprisingly yes! After P2 I had to make a lot of changes in anticipation of the race: even though qualifying was wet. But it worked perfectly and I was able to look after the tyres. After that I was really just racing myself. I did lose a lot of time after the first stop but still it was great. I am really happy that Nico was up on the podium alongside me too: it’s great points for the team and they really deserve it.
The car was good enough for pole in the wet and then good enough to win in the dry: how perfect was it this weekend?
The car was really good. As I said, we made lots of changes overnight on Friday and obviously it was wet for qualifying. I didn’t know what it was going to be like in the race but all that hard work sitting down with the engineers to make those steps in anticipation for Sunday worked perfectly. I couldn’t really have asked for more.
You’re now a three-time winner in China too: How does that feel?
It feels incredible. I just have to shout out a big thank you to the team: firstly for embracing me into the team last year and then for all the hard work to continuously push us forward since. I really hope that the guys back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth are enjoying this and really have a great week. I’m so, so happy. I had such a great race. I really enjoyed it: particularly the last few laps where I was trying to keep temperature in the tyres by pushing a little bit more and the car was just great.
You mentioned the support of the Chinese fans on the podium: have you seen an increase in support over the years in Shanghai?
Every year I come here it feels like the fan base is growing. Growing up in Stevenage, I never thought that I would fly halfway round the world and have so many people who choose to wear my cap, to wear my top, to have my flag and really support me. It’s absolutely phenomenal. It’s maybe the second year, I think, that from the moment I arrived at the airport there were fans there showing their support. It’s almost like they radio to the guys at the hotel – I don’t know how they know I’m at that hotel! – but they’re there every morning, every evening, day and night and that’s why I always say we win and we lose together. On the way to the track for the race, one fan gave me a digital photo frame with a special video for me from my fan base in China. It’s touched my heart so much so I want to say a big thank you to all of them.
The only real surprise must have been seeing the chequered flag a lap early!
That was very strange! I was thinking “am I seeing things?” I looked up, I was coming across the line expecting to do another lap and all of a sudden I looked for a split second and I saw the flag. I lifted briefly but then saw that there was no-one on the pit wall, so I just kept going. I did lose a second or so. I asked the team, they said no, so I just kept going. Very, very strange. It was good to do another lap though!
Surely you can’t keep improving this car?
Well, this team is on a roll that’s for sure! Everyone has done a great job, as I said. We’re going to keep pushing hard, moving forwards, developing and improving the car and the engine. That’s what Mercedes-Benz always wants to do. The others are pushing to catch us up so I hope our progress continues.