On the Podium with Martin Brundle
MB: Lewis, well done. Finally, 44th victory, your favourite number, what a race.
LH: Thank God that today went the way that I hoped. Big thank you to the fans that came out today, you really made the weekend. Big thank you to my team for providing me with a great car to see it through to the end. Honestly, I’m kind of lost for words really. I prayed for a day like this and it came through, so I feel truly blessed.
MB: You got the wet tyres a long way so that you could put the slicks straight on but you had a long way to go on those tyres from lap 31?
LH: I’m telling you that was the longest run to get there before I stopped for those tyres. It was crazy how long it was and really difficult to understand how much wheel spin you’re allowed, how much you can use the tyres because you don’t know to what end they’re going to go and I think the last lap was the time they were literally just about to drop off, but as I say thank God they stayed on.
MB: Daniel was chasing you hard, especially on the re-starts?
LH: Yeah. Firstly, big congratulations to this guy [Daniel Ricciardo]. He drove phenomenally all weekend. Just one of the best drivers I’ve raced against, really he did a fantastic job today. That was a lot of pressure I was under and it was incredibly close, particularly on those re-starts but he did a phenomenal job. So I’m looking forward to many more battles with him. I’m sure he’s not that happy, since he started pole and it’s never great to start pole and come second, but he should feel proud of the way he drove.
MB: Just 24 points behind in the world championship. Game on!
LH: Yeah. I haven’t even thought about that just yet. I forgot to congratulate Sergio today – he did an amazing job today to come up from where he was. Of course we’re in the battle. We’re still going. There’s a long, long way to go and just when you feel like when it couldn’t get any worse it gets better, so I think the message from today for everyone is ‘never give up’.
In the FIA Press Conference
Q: Lewis Hamilton, what a win, one of those Monaco Grand Prix people will talk about for many years to come. Your first win of the season, in fact 24 points behind Nico Rosberg in the world championship, less than a win, he lost a place on the line. The key, clearly, was the decision to delay the pit stop and go directly onto the slick tyres. Just talk us through that whole communication process, because ironically it was a communication process here 12 months ago that did for you the other way and it’s totally come your way this time.
LH: Yeah, I’m massively overwhelmed. It’s been a long time coming to get this win, not only in this season but to get the grand prix win here. This is one the toughest, if not the toughest, races of the year for us. Just so much pressure on all of us. Honestly, yesterday didn’t go well and of course I could only come here today hoping for the best and just making sure I was focused. But as soon as it rained it just opened up all the doors of opportunity. Fortunately I was quick enough in the wet, as I usually am here.
I think with the strategy it was really just about that the track was drying so quick, but unevenly across the lap, so the first and middle sector were drying up really quick and the last sector was going quite slowly. So it was really kind gauging that and I noticed other people when they came out – Nico I heard had pitted and Sebastian and they weren’t lapping much faster than me, if at all. My tyres weren’t really degrading, so I was like “I got to stay out”. The team were saying we should move but I knew I would drop behind Daniel, so I eked it out as far as I could and luckily right at the end… I switched just at the right time.
Coming back out on those slicks, I tell you, it was so slippery for us all. Trying to get temperature into those tyres and quick reflexes for the big snap oversteers you have, so incredibly exciting. And Daniel drove just phenomenally, as I said before. He was all over the back end of my car. I couldn’t really see a huge amount out of my mirrors, because when it rains it gets so dirty. So trying to defend from him and not always knowing exactly where he was probably one of the toughest if not the toughest races I’ve had for as far as I can remember. Huge respect for him and for the way he drove today and a big, big thank you to the team, especially the new guys on my side of the garage that have taken such a…. it’s been a hard five races to be here, six with yesterday and I think today can take a huge amount of weight off them, knowing that they’ve been doing a great job.
Questions from the Floor
Q: I would like to hear your point of view about what happened at the exit of the chicane, when Daniel tried to overtake?
LH: Hard to remember exactly. I think I remember that point. I think I got stuck behind a backmarker or something like that. Got poor traction out of Eight, and Daniel was all over me, so I had to be on the inside line for Turn Ten, I think it was, and being on the inside, it’s a bit more damp than being on the dry line, so locked-up and just missed. I was aware I wasn’t going to make the full turn and as I did I went off onto the wet patch, with Daniel on the dry track, and coming out I was just on ice. Wet tyres basically, so I was wheel-spinning and sliding on the exit. By the time I’d gained traction, I realised Daniel was kinda… I was ahead but Daniel was right-side of my mirrors, behind my right-rear tyre, so I knew it was close. I don’t feel that I particularly gained an advantage.
Q: What is the most satisfying for you today? Winning? Winning in Monaco, or winning with Nico very far behind you?
LH: I honestly don’t know what happened to Nico today but something must have gone wrong because he backed off for a second, or went slow and I went passed him, as far as I can remember. So he obviously perhaps had something up today. I don’t know what that is yet. But I’ve not thought about Nico until you just mentioned it. Honestly today, I’m sitting here I just can’t believe… whilst being able to brush off the negative of the feeling of the season so far, knowing that we’re that far down and… when you keep falling it’s hard to always come up with innovative ways to keep yourself motivated, to keep yourself… to keep believing. I’m only human so I think that for everyone we always have battling those demons and those thoughts in your mind and then coming out with a day like today, it just confirms the thoughts, the positive thoughts that I had. To never give up. It’s the same thing my Dad told me when I was seven years old in the boxing ring with some kid punching the lights out of me. Just never give up, keep pushing and eventually you get there. I think today’s just proved again that my Dad was right. So I’ll continue to go with that motto.
Q: It was quite exciting to see that all three of you were on three different types of tyres – slick tyres. You were on the UltraSoft with Daniel on the SuperSoft and Sergio on the Soft – and yet the pace seemed to be quite similar between the three of you. Could you elaborate a bit on how you chose the tyre for the last stint?
LH: Me personally, I didn’t chose the tyres. It was my choice to stay out on the Extreme tyre. I believed that I could eke it out just be able to do one stop, and when I stopped I assume they thought, being that it was damp, the softer tyre would be the quickest to heat up, to warm-up. As I had Daniel behind me on the SuperSoft, I knew that tyre goes a lot further and I tell you, it was 50 laps, 48 laps or whatever it was and, from the readings they showed us before the race, I didn’t know if it was going to last, particularly with the pace that Daniel had. So to be able to eke that tyre out. There were lots of ups and downs. Lots of times when you had to push, lots of times when you backed off. Daniel dropped back for a little bit so I could look after the tyres, he picked up the pace so I had to use the tyres. So, for me in the car, incredibly exciting, because it was, like a game of chess. It really was like a game of chess against a fantastic opponent.
Q: After another difficult qualifying, after another mechanical issue, what or who helped you the most to keep your head up and basically, how did you spend the rest of Saturday?
LH: Honestly, for me, just God really. I just said my prayers. I’ve had my great friends around me yesterday, watched a movie, I just had good company but honestly it was just in my thoughts. I never pray to win, I pray for everyone’s safety, I pray that I’m able to be the best that I can be and today I think I honestly feel super-satisfied and happy with how I drove. To be able to drive at your best and to be able to do what you come out to achieve is a wonderful feeling inside, so that’s what I’m feeling now and carry that on for the next days, that’s for sure.
Q: In the beginning when you saw Daniel disappearing in the wet, did you get nervous that he might get away and did you ask the pits to ask Rosberg to let you pass? And was it actually a real passing manoeuvre or do you think he let you past by himself?
LH: I really don’t know. I don’t remember if... I didn’t ask to be let passed, I had the pace, obviously, on Nico but it’s very hard to overtake but it looked like he had a problem for a second, he pulled to the left and I went by so... I guess I’ll find out afterwards. Honestly, when I was behind Nico I was only thinking about either finishing where I was and thinking this is a long race, either finishing here or getting past Nico and at least getting some more points than him but then obviously once I got past it was hammer time. I had to try and catch Daniel and he was clocking about three or four tenths, between two and four tenths, slower than me so I was reining him in gently but not quick enough and then he pitted and I was in the lead and after that it was really nerving because the track was drying, I didn’t know if my tyres were going to burn up really quick and he was on a fresh set of intermediates which were for sure much quicker but I managed to just hold him off.
Q: Should we salute the marshals who have done a fantastic job, so you could race, removing all the debris and lifting all the cars? I honestly don’t think you could have done it without them and I think they were very very brave.
LH: I personally appreciate you mentioning that. I’ve been racing for such a long time and seen thousands and thousands of marshals that turn up every year to look out for our safety and for sure it’s not mentioned anywhere near enough. So I would like to take that from you and absolutely thank them. I think today they were risking their lives getting on the track with all these cars coming by but they do it for the love of the sport and I’m massively appreciative of them. And also being able to go on the track knowing that if something was to happen to me in the car, I’m confident that these guys could get me out to safety in the best way possible.
In the TV Pen
This might be the best place ever to have win number 44 - it's been eight years since I won here! What a special day... truly one of the hardest races I can ever remember having. To stay in the zone, not make any mistakes and come out on top is just unbelievable. I walk along here every day and think about the greats who have won this race - the likes of Fangio, Moss, Hill and Senna - and it's a truly amazing feeling to have my name added to that list again.
It's very unusual that I'm able to take any credit for a strategy decision - but when the team first asked me to box, I could see the track drying and my tyres still felt pretty good. So I told them all that and they said to stay out, which worked out great. I just carried on looking after the tyres - picking up the pace a bit when I saw what times people were starting to do on the intermediates as it dried out. I was matching their times at that stage so I thought "I could actually hold onto this until it's dry".
Staying in that window was really tricky, though, as the first two sectors were almost dry. When I came out on the slicks it was like driving on ice. It was tough knowing how hard to push and we came out very close together. If he hadn't had a bad stop I wouldn't have been ahead. But these things happen for a reason - and today the reason was that 44th win.