The Boss discusses a Sunday defined by tough calls and sportsmanship in Budapest…
On the radio malfunction:
TW: Our whole comms and data systems broke down. We didn't have any communication on the ‘fantasy island’ – that's the middle thing we have – and on the pit wall. No radio comms, no data, no TV feed. It was a local hardware issue. We found a crack in a fibre optic cable that made us fly blind. We somehow managed to get it back occasionally but it obviously penalised us strongly. There were communications at times that you heard, then there wasn't any communication. A difficult one.
It was an incredible team play (to work out the strategy). We had lots of people in Brackley and in Brixworth who were our redundancy systems, feeding massive amounts of information over to us on the radio. At times there were six or seven different people speaking to James (Vowles, Chief Strategist) and we were trying to make the right decisions. That was a really great team effort.
On discussions with Lewis re; letting Valtteri past:
TW: Lewis’ pace seemed to be quicker and we weren't quite sure whether Valtteri was managing the gap to the Ferraris because the moment you come close you just ruin your tyres and it's very difficult. So he stayed away. Then, Lewis said “I can go much quicker. Give me a shot and I let him by.” We had a long discussion internally on how we would make the move because Verstappen was coming much closer and we didn't want to lose the podium or P4 under any circumstances.
We advised him about the gaps and discussed where the right place would be and decided it would be probably last lap into the last corner because that would limit the overtaking opportunities for Verstappen. So, he backed up. We discussed the risks of Max being too close and us potentially ending up looking like fools. That was a long debate with all the pros and cons and finally we decided for the procedure we went for with the support of Lewis.
There wasn't any discussion – it was just a very sportsman like behaviour, similar to what Valtteri did before. It was clear that when we did the swap we would invert the cars if he wasn’t able to overtake. So, there was no need for an instruction. It was just what we agreed before. Certainly a very difficult call for the team. Extremely difficult for the team – and very difficult for him.
We could have had the discussion a couple of laps earlier [without the radio issue] because he told us that he could have gone much quicker. He even said his tyres were still in good shape the first set we could have probably tried to leave him out. That could have had a potentially massive outcome on the race because we were so close to the Ferraris at the end. But if's and when's don't win you races…
On the team’s approach to the Driver's Championship:
TW: These values made us win six Championships and are going to win us even more Championships in the years to come. It cost us three points and it could potentially cost us the Championship and we are perfectly conscious about that. Nevertheless, it is how the drivers and the team operate. We stick to what we say and if the consequences are as much as losing a Championship we’ll take it. But long term, we will be winning many more Championships and races with that approach than doing it the other way around.
Saying I wouldn’t regret the decision [if the driver’s title were lost] would be very naïve. The truth is, if you miss out on the Championship by those two or three points, everyone would say it was because of Budapest and I would be the first one to shoot myself in the knee. Nevertheless I think, long term, standing by what you say and standing by your values is going to make us win more Championships. It was a tough call to make – believe me. Probably the most difficult call we have had to make in the last five years because we weren’t sure how close Max would come in the end. I am not in a happy place at the moment but if you are not fast enough at least you are sportsmanlike.
We don't drive in circles because we enjoy it so much. We drive in circles because we hope that it promotes our brand and makes us sell cars. It's a very long term project. If you come here and you think this is was counts only you are wrong. We have seen the backlash of decisions that were ruthless and cold-blooded and the effect it had on the brand. Now, you could say “Screw it, it's still won them the Championships. Who cares? They are down in the history books.” But I don't think this is the right spin. If I come back to what I think the purpose of us being here is, it is doing the right things and winning in the right way. Sometimes doing it the right way and standing by values is tough. And it was today, believe me.