Nico, a strong pole position, just as things are really hotting up with just three races to go – how important is that?
It’s a great day – I’m very happy and it worked out really well. Together with my engineers I really arrived with a car at the end of qualifying that I was happy with. The balance was very good. It was quite a challenge because the wind was changing and then this morning the conditions were quite different, a lot colder, so the track was evolving all the time. It wasn’t that easy to get everything right but in the end we found a great set-up, so I’m pleased with that. Pole today is of course awesome but you know the race is what counts, so I need to focus fully on tomorrow and to bring it home.
Where did you find those final few tenths in Q3?
I finally got there on setup, together with my team. We just continued to improve the car all the time and just got it right at the end, so I felt comfortable with the car. I was able to push and it felt a good balance. Then I got the lap hooked up well and it all worked out.
Historically, one of the characteristics here at the Circuit of the Americas has been the difference between the clean side and the dirty side of the grid. You must be pleased you’re on the right side of that tomorrow?
I haven’t thought that far yet but yes, that’s great, another extra advantage from the clean side of the grid as well as starting first. Of course, the start is going to be important – I need to make the most of that and stay ahead.
It’s the sixth Mercedes front row lock-out in a row, which is certainly a positive, but the car hasn’t been immune from problems this weekend. Is this worrying at all, going into the race?
We’ve had a few issues in general on the car this weekend, on both cars, so we need to try to get it all right for tomorrow. Personally I’m not worried about that at all because if I started worrying about that, it’s not going to be good for my performance. I’m very confident the team’s going to get the job done and I can just concentrate on what I can influence with my driving. I’m not worried.
When you have troubles like you did today, small niggles, does it frustrate you or does it motivate you in a way, to say “I’m going to beat this and get on top of it and go even faster!”
Neither of the two really. It’s always a bit frustrating to have something like that in the moment. But you learn to move on, accept it for what it is and concentrate on the things that you can influence. You have to just keep on it. That’s what I tried to do today and it worked out well.