Nico: “I’m disappointed but Lewis drove a great race and he deserved it”

Nico: “I’m disappointed but Lewis drove a great race and he deserved it”

Nico, you got a perfect getaway, you were leading in the first stint, but the talking point has been those two moments into Turn One. Were they your mistake? What can you tell us about it?

No, it wasn’t my mistake, it was the other guys’ fault… just kidding! It was just that Lewis was so quick coming from behind. I needed to up my pace and then as a result I made a mistake. That was very bad and it lost me the lead in the end. It’s definitely very disappointing from that point of view. But then, at the end of the day, it was a great result for the team. After the recent difficulties it’s the first one-two we’ve had in a long time and we’re back to where we need to be, so that’s awesome. For me personally, of course I was disappointed straight afterwards. But second place is still a lot of points, so it’s not a complete disaster. It was a pity it didn’t work out but Lewis drove a great race and he deserved it, so it’s OK.

Did the second mistake affect you in the immediate aftermath? You lost two seconds in the next two laps…

I don’t remember what happened. I think it was traffic? Lapping somebody or something like that. That was the biggest problem but I’m not quite sure. Either way, Lewis was very quick in that phase, so it didn’t really change that much. There was nothing in particular beyond that.

Can you tell us more about the difficulty of braking into the first chicane?

Monza is one of the most difficult tracks for braking because of the low downforce and the fact we reach the highest speeds of the year. That isn’t any excuse or anything, that’s just the way it is. It is one of the challenges of the weekend there. Unfortunately I got it wrong. Two times in the race.

At the end of the race that you were managing brake temperatures. Was that the problem at the first corner as well? Were the brakes a problem throughout the race?

No, the brakes were no problem at all up towards the end when you first heard it on the radio and it wasn’t a massive problem – just something that you have to manage a little bit. That’s always going to happen, because by opening up the front brake ducts you lose quite a lot of aerodynamic performance. You always try to bring that to a certain limit and that may then put you slightly over in the race. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time that something like that is going to happen. I think it was pretty much optimised for Monza.

Was a one stop marginal for you?

Not really, no. Of course, there was quite a lot of degradation on the softer tyre but it was fine. It would be better to have two stops for more exciting racing. But then again, for the fans and those watching on TV, the one-stop is much easier to understand because it’s very straightforward and simple. As soon as you get into two-stop, it becomes about different tyre strategies and can be near impossible to understand in front of the TV. But also it has some advantages, of course.

Considering that Monza is such a fast circuit, with so much of it taken at full throttle, were there any issues with regards to fuel usage during the race?

No problem. That’s the Mercedes-Benz engine, I suppose!

You didn’t look particularly downbeat after the race – despite coming second to Lewis. Is it fair to say that the balance has not been completely restored after Spa or does that have nothing to do with it?

Spa is behind me – I put it behind me before the weekend. In yesterday’s race, it just came down to a mistake. That’s it – there’s nothing unusual or anything. As for not being downbeat, I am very, very disappointed inside. But there’s no point to around with my head down or anything like that. It’s still a one-two for the team and that’s a great day, plus it wasn’t a disaster for me – that is a fact. I need to quickly look at the reality. There’s a lot worse than second place. I only lost seven points to Lewis, so that’s the frame of mind I’m trying to take.

Unfortunately for you there were some more boos on the podium. Was that disappointing to hear again and how do you try to move on from that?

It’s obviously not nice but what can I say? I hope that with time they forgive and forget. That would be great. I have apologised, I can’t really do anything more than that.

There are six races to go and you lead by 22 points. When do you think it might be time to start considering the Championship instead of winning races?

I don’t know. For me the approach that works best at the moment is just trying to win the race that I’m at. That’s the way I feel most comfortable. We will see. Maybe I will tell you when I change my thinking.

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