Nico, first time since 2012 no Mercedes on pole position here in Monaco. Red Bull and Daniel clearly pushed you very hard today, you brushed a barrier during Q2, but where did it get away from you today when it really counted at the end?
NR: I don’t think it really went away from me; it never was with me, because Daniel was just quick today and yeah, so they got a well-deserved pole and that’s it. I just wasn’t quick enough.
Thanks very much. Lewis, there’s obviously a story behind your qualifying today: the engine problem at the beginning of Q3 and dramatically being wheeled back into your garage. How much did that upset your rhythm? On your final run there you were on target for pole but the final sector was just no quite there.
LH: Yeah, it was a difficult qualifying; I don't really know what to say at the moment. The good thing is that I did get out to do a lap at least. It wasn’t as bad as some of the races have been in that respect, with the engine problems. I’m grateful to be up in third. Obviously pole was there for the taking I think, but nonetheless I will do what I can in the race tomorrow to salvage what I can from today’s result.
Nico, famously you’ve won here for the last three years running. You didn’t know that Daniel had done that Q2 time on the supersoft until you sat down next to him before the press conference. Now that you’ve had a few minutes to think about that, how do you see tomorrow’s grand prix unfolding and what do you think he’s got up his sleeve.
NR: Yeah, I was very surprised by his time in the first part of Q3. I thought I was looking good with my time but then I looked on the board and he was three tenths up the road, so I knew that was going to be difficult to reach. I gave it everything anyways but it wasn’t quite enough. For tomorrow? I don’t know. I have more grip at the start, maybe that can help me hopefully. Because I experienced that in China, starting with stiffer tyres, or harder tyres than everybody else – that was not good. Who knows, maybe that can play in my favour. And if not; strategy-wise no idea. Let’s see, we’re fine with our strategy for sure.
Thanks a lot. Coming back to you Lewis, you mentioned briefly in the unilateral about your engine situation. Do you know the problem was? Is there still in your mind a lingering question about it for the race or did they get across to you that they think it’s going to be fine, that they fixed it?
LH: I don’t know what the problem was, so I honestly can’t comment.
Be that as it may, what do you think you can achieve tomorrow?
LH: If the car keeps going I will be fighting as hard as I can with these guys. You can’t overtake here so… Daniel’s on a potentially better strategy than we will be on but, you know, hopefully it rains! That would be pretty amazing.
To Lewis. It’s not very clear, when you came to the pits your time has any relation with the problem you had? The time you registered, it has some limitation or not?
LH: In Q3? No, I had one lap to do it. Makes a big difference when you have a banker lap and work on it. I only had one lap so it was inevitable that I’d get P3.
To the Mercedes drivers, after the winter testing you expected Ferrari will be your main rival. It is a surprise or a shock that Red Bull is so fast now?
NR: They’ve done a very good job in recent races. They’ve progressed very quickly and now another big step with the engine. We always expected them to be a tough competitor but we did see Ferrari as our closest competitors and now we need to question that. Of course Monaco is a very unique track, so let’s not come to any conclusions here – but for sure it’s them, Ferrari and us. We all seem to be very close here and hopefully the next race we’ll be a bit further ahead again.
Any thoughts Lewis?
LH: Same as Nico.
Lewis, obviously a very frustrating day today. Tomorrow very crucial race for you in terms of the season. How will you balance control and aggression considering you need to score lots of points?
LH: Today was the crucial day so… tomorrow’s just another day. What will be, will be. I will do whatever I can. There’s many races still ahead. I don’t really expect too much from tomorrow. I’m going in with the goal, of course, of trying to overtake the two cars in front – but we shall see.
Lewis, you say that you need to try to overtake the two cars in front of you. After what happened in Spain, do you think that that can affect your approach at the start tomorrow or not?
LH: I don’t think so but there’s very little room into turn one anyway so I doubt that there’s going to be much room there. I think it’s more the long-term game, it’s a long race, so I’ll try and do the best I can with the time that I have.
To Lewis and Nico, what is the meaning of another team fighting with Mercedes, considering that for the last two years and a half we didn’t have it, if Red Bull confirms (it is competitive) from the next races ahead?
LH: What does it mean? Means we have a race. I think it’s great for the sport.
For you, in terms of the two Mercedes?
LH: It’s even better, because obviously that could enable the gap between the two of us. I look at it as a positive.
NR: Same, good battle, that’s it.
Lewis, just to draw a line under your problems today, the car was presumably was perfect in Q2, sitting in the garage, and then you drove out and the car just stopped? What actually happened?
LH: Yeah, I was just accelerating and then I had a loss of power all the way down the pit lane and I didn’t know if it would come back. They asked me to make an adjustment on the switches, which I did, but it was just not idling. Once I stopped, it wouldn’t idle very well, it was hiccupping all the time so I had to switch off, I obviously lost my first run. I’d already done three warm-up laps to get in sync with everyone else, so by the time I pushed, my tyres perhaps weren’t as good as the fresh tyres that they had had and then as I say, the banker lap is always super helpful in Q3, I did the best I could on that lap. Obviously I will go back and see if I could have done any better but anyways, it is what it is, as I said.
We saw wonderful laps, incredible laps today and in these days but I would like to ask Nico, we saw you so aggressively and nearly flying. Do you have time to enjoy these laps or under pressure you don’t have any time to feel what you are doing?
NR: Well, for sure, this is probably the most enjoyable qualifying in the whole season because the track is just thrilling, and to be on the edge with the most grip you have in the weekend with the most power, the most fuel, it’s really exciting.