Nico, we’ve seen the statement from the team in the last week; what was it that persuaded you to apologise in the end?
NR: With time during the week, I had time to think about it and then discuss with the team on Friday. In the end I decided that it was me that needs to take responsibility for it. It was a decision that came from me after hearing other people’s opinions and after looking at it again, I felt that it was my responsibility.
Lewis, in your mind is it a racing incident?
LH: There isn’t much on my mind about it. There seems to be a lot of interest but for me, I’m really excited about moving forwards. I had a good break for a couple of days last week and it now feels great to be here. This is one of my favourite circuits and I hope we can have a good weekend.
How do you move forward? Have you found a baseline of trust and understanding to help in the future?
LH: Trust is a big word and it’s not really something I would apply to racing on track. Me and Nico have been racing for a long time and we have set a good foundation a long time ago, so that’s what we work from.
Nico, this duel has been compared to some of the famous duels in Formula One history. Are you aware that the two of you are making history this year and do you feel the responsibility for that?
NR: Definitely, yes. In Spa I was not proud of the way it went because I really want to contribute to the sport and make it the most entertaining in the world. If I am able to contribute to that in many ways throughout the year then that’s great, and I think this year we have.
Lewis, do you feel the hand of history on your shoulders?
LH: History is with us every day. I just love racing and love to be amongst the drivers here. I just try to enjoy each day as it comes. Everything becomes history eventually.
There have been some comments suggesting that both sides of the garage would now be divided and favour one or the other. Is that true?
LH: I don’t feel like that’s the case; we’ve got a very professional team, they just want to win and will be working as hard as they can. Also, the guys in the garage work collectively for pit-stops, so that thought doesn’t even cross my mind. The guys will be working flat out this weekend as they know we have the chance for 1-2 finishes and to win both championship’s and they will be giving it their all.
NR: In general throughout the whole season there has been a healthy rivalry within the team and that is why we are where we are. We have the best car and we are the best team at the moment because we work well together as a team. If you don’t work well together as a team you can’t dominate the sport as well as we are and I think that’s the best proof.
Nico, do you think you will be at a small disadvantage because you will need to avoid close contact for the rest of the season?
NR: It’s been very clear from the beginning that we must not have contact between us teammates, so from that point of view the approach doesn’t change for the future, it’s still the same.
The tension in the title battle is getting very intense; have you prepared yourself for certain witch-hunting?
NR: I really respect the opinions of everyone but for me I just focus on driving my race car fast and working together with the team to get the best out of the situation. Also, importantly, we need to enjoy the moment because I’m very lucky to have such a good car that has a chance to get pole and win the race. The team is doing an unbelievable job, also with the development, pushing further and further. The other guys are not getting closer, so that’s great; my focus is on that and making the most of it.
Lewis; after Nico was punished by the team for the incident in Spa, did you get punished by the team for the incident in Hungary when not accepting the ‘team orders’?
LH: We always have meetings and get a slap on the wrist but in Hungary I didn’t say no to the situation, I said if he gets close then I’ll let him by. Afterwards we sat down with the management and they said I made the right choice. As human beings we have the right to question decisions if we feel that something isn’t right and it turns out that one wasn’t right, which the team said to me.
Nico, how did it feel when you got a bad reception on the podium in Belgium and are you worried that it will happen again?
NR: It was not a nice feeling to hear the reception towards me and I understand because they had travelled a long way to watch an exciting race and a big battle between Lewis and I and they didn’t get that, so I understand and accept that.
Lewis, there have been reports that you’ve ‘frozen’ contract discussions with the team; is this true?
LH: I haven’t said that I’ve frozen anything; we are constantly talking with the team but the priority at the moment is to win the championship. I still have a contract for another year after this so there is no rush but I would like to say that I see my future with Mercedes and I’m happy there.