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Nico: “I just closed my eyes and went for the gap!”

Nico: “I just closed my eyes and went for the gap!”

Back-to-back podiums and the championship lead! What are your thoughts after yesterday’s race?

It was an incredible day for our team and for Mercedes-Benz. Everyone back at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth and all employees of Mercedes-Benz can feel very proud. For the first time in the modern Silver Arrows era, we have achieved a one-two finish which is an incredible result. The team did a phenomenal job over the winter and my thanks once again for that. I also want to thank our partners PETRONAS. They have given our team so much support, along with the best products for our Power Unit, so we are proud to be associated with them and I hope they enjoyed the celebrations. Congratulations also to Lewis for his win. I really look forward now to next weekend in Bahrain.

It was another great start from you but it looked a little tense at one stage: talk us through it?

I had a great start, even though it was tight with Sebastian. I was very close to the wall so I just closed my eyes and went for the gap! My heart skipped a beat for a moment but I kept right on it and it worked out ok. A big thanks to my engineer: we’ve worked hard together on the starts and I’m happy with both that I’ve had so far because it’s not so easy this year. The rear tyres are harder and we have more torque so it’s very difficult to get it right. But it felt great again.

Talk us through your race from there: one moment on the first lap stood out in particular…

Yes, I got a bit of a tank-slapper through Turn Three and that allowed the others to get a run on me but it all worked out. Conditions were quite difficult out there: the track seemed really poor and the car was sliding around quite a lot. Later I was able to control the pace and defend my position against Seb but Lewis was out of my reach.

Talk of a championship charge is already circulating: what are your thoughts at this stage?

Things are looking good so far but there’s a long way to go. I’m not thinking about it: I’m really just taking it race by race and enjoying the moment. We have to make the most of these early races: to stay on it and keep pushing. If you look at Red Bull, just four weeks ago in testing they seemed to be struggling but now they’re pushing us all the way. We have a slight edge right now but the way they’ve ramped up their pace shows how quickly things can change. It’s important that we keep pushing to maintain our advantage right to the end of the season.

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