17 places and the fastest lap of the race – even with a damaged front wing! How much fun was that for you as a driver?
First of all, congratulations to Nico on winning his home race – it's a special feeling and I am very proud that we could put both cars on the podium for Mercedes-Benz in Germany and represent for all the Mercedes employees here this weekend. From a personal point of view, I can't be too ecstatic about the race because it has been a tough weekend for me and I've ultimately lost more points to Nico in the Championship battle. But I had great fun out there and did as good a job as I could. To get the car from last to the podium was quite an achievement for everyone involved and I'm grateful that we could limit the damage after yesterday. It was fantastic to see how many fans we had here today too, so thank you to them for the support.
It was certainly an all-action performance! Were there any nervous moments?
When you are sitting on the grid basically in last place, with no other cars in your mirrors, it's very hard to imagine that you could be standing up on the podium two hours later. I'm so grateful to the team for this car – I really take my hat off to them for building a machine that can put in that kind of performance. To be honest, it was a pretty straightforward race for me – although I had some trouble following what was going on and where I was running at times! It was very hard to get through the pack safely but I had a nice battle with Kimi early on, where I was lucky not to damage the front wing. Then, the incident with Jenson was just unfortunate. He has been such a gentleman this year and not given me too much trouble getting past. I honestly thought he was opening the door to let me through – he did something a bit like that in the last race at Silverstone, for example – but it was my bad judgment on this one. I wasn't close enough to try and pass, but I was on the inside line and it looked like he had gone wide. Then he cut back across the corner and perhaps didn't see me there. It was a bit of a misunderstanding, unfortunately.
How badly did the damage hinder your chances of making further progress?
I lost quite a bit of downforce with the damage and it made it very hard to look after the front left tyre. I had a lot of understeer and the tyre was degrading fast, which is the reason we converted from a two-stop strategy to three. Then the team called me in early on the first set of option tyres because we expected a Safety Car to come out – and I was surprised that there wasn't one, to be honest. I caught Valtteri pretty fast in the final laps but he just had too much straight line speed to get past.
You have an incredible record in Hungary, with four wins from seven races. What is your secret there and what are your feelings in general heading into the next race?
I don’t really have any secrets there – I’ve just been very fortunate in that race and it’s a circuit I really enjoy. It’s one where you can really attack, which works for an attacking driver like myself, so perhaps it suits my driving style a little bit more than some others. I’ve always had great support there from the fans too, so I’m looking forward to it. I'm doing absolutely everything I can to get back on level terms with Nico in the title battle – I can't focus more or work harder than I am doing right now. This Championship is proving a big challenge for me but that's how I love it – and I wouldn't have it any other way.