Q: You said before the race that your biggest chance was probably at the start – what happened there?
LH: I clearly got a bad start. I had lots of wheelspin. But it was a good race, Nico did a fantastic job and I’m grateful that I could get on the podium for the team.
Q: Still your 75th podium and you’re still leading the championship…
LH: Yeah, but there’s a long, long way to go. This was a difficult weekend for me and now I’m just looking forward to Monaco. It’s going to be a very tough race for sure but I’m looking forward to it.
Q: A lot of talking points from your afternoon. Essentially you ended up where you started but the work you had to put in to get back to that second place was pretty phenomenal. Tell us about your race, your start and then the decision to switch to a three-stop strategy?
LH: Yeah, obviously I had quite a poor start. It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a poor start. I tried my best to recover – I nearly dropped back to fourth at the start so I was very fortunate to keep third – and then it was just trying to fight back. Unfortunately, this track isn’t very good for overtaking. Actually, it’s among the worst for overtaking. It’s impossible to follow here, which is a shame. It doesn’t matter what you do, you cannot get close enough even with the DRS, which is a shame. Nonetheless, I did everything I could behind Sebastian in the first stint but then I had a very long pit stop. But fortunately towards the end it was enough to get it done on a three-stopper and I was able to get by. If I was behind him in traffic I wouldn’t have got past. I’m grateful I could gain those points for the team and it was kind of damage limitation for me, so it’s not bad.
Q: What exactly happened at the start? Was it just the worse line you were on, that left you prone to Sebastian? And then, theoretically, would it have been possible to finish the race on the third set of tyres – the hard one – if you wanted?
LH: It was nothing different, just wheelspin off the start. I don’t know if the inside line got worse but mine definitely wasn’t good. And it wouldn’t have been good to stay out? No. We choose to do a three stop quite early on.
Q: Lewis, when did it become clear to you that you were in fact not racing Nico but only Sebastian and did you think in the last stint that it was still possible to catch Nico?
LH: Well, Nico was 22 seconds ahead by the time I got onto my last stint and I had 15 laps to go so that was a huge amount of time for me to try and catch up. I pushed very hard to see if I could have the pace on him in order to close it but it was than less than a second per lap really – on occasions sometimes a second. So I think I pushed right until there were six laps to go and I was still 13 seconds away, so after that I kind of realised that I should bring the car home and live to fight another day.
Q: You spoke yesterday about tinkering quite a lot with the set-up of the car for qualifying. Are you now very conscious that you have to do something like that in qualifying for the rest of the season? Is it something that you approach differently?
LH: Well, you can’t change the car in qualifying. But throughout practice I was tinkering, trying to get it ready for qualifying and ultimately it wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t bad in the race but today was just a very, very tough day because I had to make up from the bad start and perhaps I wasn’t really able to show my true pace compared to Nico as I was further behind.
Q: So will you be looking at practice more aggressively?
LH: No, I’m just going to do what I did in the previous races. This is just a hiccup, I guess, this weekend.
Q: Have you been able to adapt to all the changes that have been made this year in the regulations?
LH: Well, not very much changed in the regulations. The only things that we have really are the nose and the rear tyres. Otherwise it’s pretty similar to last year so now it’s really trying to improve on last season. We had such an amazing year – record-breaking as a team. For us it was hard to imagine trying to do that again or trying to beat it and that’s our goal this year. I think we’re definitely on the right route to doing that so I’m proud of everyone and very much enjoying the car.
Q: The next race is Monaco. What do you particularly look forward to for this Grand Prix?
LH: The girls!
SV: He stole my answer, there!