2019 Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying Press Conference
Today, we had a great qualifying session and when we thought it was Valtteri Bottas’ pole position, along comes Lewis Hamilton and sets a new track record – taking pole for the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix tomorrow.
It was a day for Ferarri to forget – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not sure what Ferrari are thinking (or doing) in terms of making the most of any opportunity which comes their way.
As we all saw, Leclerc had more than enough time to come back out on track and make sure he would be through to Q2, giving both their drivers the opportunity to bring back good points for the team tomorrow, however the team thought they were safe and Leclerc didn’t go back out on track to set another time.
In turn, Sebastian Vettel pushed (and hit the barrier lightly) before setting a good time and knocking his team-mate out of Qualifying.
Things like this put Ferrari on the back foot as what seemed to be a positive weekend for Leclerc is now under question however after qualifying, he did say that he “would do all I can” and even referencing some “risky” overtakes too.
In terms of racing, this is something which we want to see but in terms of strategies and trying to maximise both cars – it’s a big fault on Ferrari’s part.
Red Bull Racing on the other hand have proven to be strong – yet again. They’re always strong in Monaco and today, Max Verstappen was the driver who was putting the pressure on the Mercedes drivers – pushing Sebastian Vettel down to P4 and looking confident for the race tomorrow.
Lets take a look and see what teams and drivers had to say – along with the post-qualifying press conference with Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
Q: Lewis, your second pole position of this season, but you said you had to dig deeper than ever to get this one. Tell us what it means?
Lewis Hamilton: “Yeah, this is definitely one of the best poles that I can remember. We’ve had lots of success over the years, but I can’t really remember one that means as much this one, being that is has been such a difficult week for the whole team. Personally, it has been quite a difficult weekend, so… Obviously the goal here was always to get pole; it’s such a difficult circuit.”It’s amazing that we have turned up, as a team, continuing to take strides forward together, collectively, and get stronger and improve our performance weekend-in, weekend out, so I’m so proud of everyone. But to have a little bit of a cloud over us this weekend, we’re really, really trying to lift each other up and trying to deliver for Niki. Valtteri had been doing a sensational job. I think practice one and practice two were good for me and then today the car didn’t feel anywhere near as good as it did on Thursday, so digging deep to turn the car round. Valtteri did a great lap the first lap. I was struggling to get the first lap time out on the tyres, so I did a prep lap for my first lap and the second one was not very good. So I pushed for that first lap at the end, and naturally I had to gain two tenths because Valtteri was ahead and I thought Valtteri would be up, so I was just throwing the car around. I’m pretty sure I touched a couple of barriers along the way but there’s no better way of doing it around Monaco. I’ve not had a huge amount of success here over the years. It’s always been a track that I’ve been quick at, but never quite get that perfect lap. I think today was about as close as I could get to it, so this one is for Niki.”
Q: You mentioned how tough this weekend has been for the team. How difficult is it as a driver to then get in and have to put the helmet on and perform and put that all out of your mind when you get in the car?
Lewis Hamilton: “Ultimately we’re professionals so you get in and do what you love doing. Niki would just want us to get in and Niki and would always just say ‘give it arseholes’, so that’s what I try to do every time I get in the car. That’s honestly what he says all the time. We just try to walk around with a smile and really try to lift each other up, as I said, and do him proud. I think so far hopefully we are and we have to continue to try to pull out something special tomorrow. Max has been really quick this weekend as well, so anything can happen still tomorrow, so still got a good job to do tomorrow. But there’s no better place to start.”
Q: Valtteri you were on provisional pole at the end of those first runs, so where do you think pole position got away from you today?
Valtteri Bottas: “Well, first of all, congrats to Lewis for the pole, he definitely did a good job and as a team really proud again being one-two again. My feelings at the moment, I’m really, really disappointed with the qualifying. I really felt I had the speed today. I felt really good in the car all day. In the first run, I felt there were two or three tenths I could still improve, so I should have done a better job on the first run. On the second run I had quite a bit of traffic on the out lap so had to go off the line in a few places on the out laps and the tyres just didn’t work on the second run, so disappointing.”
Q: Obviously track position is king here, so how do you approach the start of tomorrow’s race alongside your team-mate on such a narrow run to Turn 1?
Valtteri Bottas: “Well, for sure we always aim for a good start but here it’s a super short distance from start to the first corner so normally not many position changes but obviously I’ll try to do a good start and as a team we want to be one-two again. Obviously for me then it’s going to be waiting for any opportunities that come up.”
Q: Max, you were quickest in Q2, heading into to Q3, what was the target, what was realistic and are you satisfied with third place?
Max Verstappen: “Yeah, all in all yes. I think in general, when you look to the weekend I think we were just missing that two or three tenths at the end but yeah, Q2 was a very good lap but also the tyres were switched on so around here, when your tyres work that makes quite a bit of a difference and in Q3, my first run, I went into turn one and the rear tyres were still not gripping up fully so I lost a bit of time there and basically from there on my lap was pretty stable compared to Q2 so it was not bad. And then in my final run in Q3 I had a bit of traffic on my out lap and when I started the lap, the tyres just felt cold, no grip and I was already 0.2s above it so I decided to abort. But in general I think we did a good job. I think coming into this weekend I already had the feeling we were not as strong as we were last year here but for myself I think it was a good qualifying. I think this is my first qualifying here but I’ve only done three now. It’s really good to be here.”
Q: What can you do in tomorrow’s race to try and put some pressure on the two guys ahead of you?
Max Verstappen: “There’s not much you can do but the funny thing is that two of my practice starts have been from P3 so I’ve rubbered in my own box so that’s good, so we will see what’s going to happen but normally in the race you need to be a bit lucky. I’m happy about today and let’s see what brings tomorrow.”
Q: Lewis, just returning to you, what are going to be the big threats in tomorrow’s race? Obviously starting from pole is the best place to start but what do you have to look out for?
Lewis Hamilton: “Hopefully the weather stays something like today. I heard that there’s a potential chance of rain tomorrow but it will be the same for all of us and if anything that makes it more exciting at this track but I guess ultimately, when you’re on pole, you hope it will be just smooth sailing, a dry, safety car kind of day but yeah, the tyres that we have, it’s a one-stop race generally, it has been for a long time here, so it’s really just about keeping calm, cool and collected and just delivering on what we’ve practised throughout the weekend. But you know, this race – as you’ve seen in the previous years – lots of things get thrown at you so we’ve just got to stay on our toes. But I honestly feel that were the best prepared, we’ve had a really solid weekend of preparation. We’ve had good years of experience too but that doesn’t mean that there are unknowns ahead but we’ll face it together. We always win and lose together so we’ll do what we can tomorrow.”
DRIVER & TEAM INTERVIEWS
Sebastian Vettel: “It was a difficult day for the whole team. I ended up in the barrier in the third free practice session, but the guys did a great job to fix the car and get me out for qualifying.”
“Unfortunately, we struggled to get the tyres to work properly in Q1 and that meant I had to use an extra set. I managed to get through, but Charles didn’t while he was in P15 which would have been good enough. Unfortunately, these things can happen in Monaco, if you don’t have a margin, you have to take risks and it doesn’t always go the way you want. We were not as competitive as we would have liked to be in qualifying, but the race is a different matter and in Monaco, anything can happen.”
Charles Leclerc: “It’s easy to understand how disappointing was this qualifying, as it significantly compromises my home race. The team was convinced that the time I’d done was good enough to get me into Q2, which would mean saving one more set of tyres, but unfortunately I was the first of those knocked out. It’s a real shame because I think that today I could have got a good result.”
“Clearly it will be very difficult to recover in the race, because it’s almost impossible to overtake here. There’s a chance of rain and that would make the race more unpredictable: that could give me a slightly better chance.”
Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen: “It was an exciting qualifying and I’m happy to be starting third as I think it was the maximum we could do today. Everyone on the team works so hard at this race so hopefully they can also be happy with this. Of course, as a driver and a racer, you always want to be on pole but you have to be realistic.”
“In Q2, we looked pretty good but I knew that they (Mercedes) were coming and that they still had some margin and speed. In Q3, we didn’t quite have the tyre temperature that we wanted on the final run which cost us quite a bit of lap time. Still, I don’t think we had enough for the front row but if we are able to stay close then who knows what can done with the strategy. Whatever happens, we’ll be pushing as hard for the best result!”
Pierre Gasly: “It was a good qualifying session and fifth is pretty good. I would have liked to have jumped Seb (Vettel) who was a tenth faster in P4 but I wasn’t super satisfied with my lap and I struggled with the sectors.”
“You can see things are getting better for sure and there’s still more performance to come. It’s all about the continuing work with the engineers to find a balance which helps to extract the maximum from myself.”
(Pierre Gasly will drop 3 grid positions in accordance to Article 31.4 of the Formula One sporting regulations)
Alfa Romeo Racing
Kimi Raikkonen: “We were just not fast enough, it’s as simple as that. We managed to do our fastest lap of the weekend in Qualifying but other cars have improved a lot more than we did.”
“We struggled with the balance of the car and when I had grip at the front, the rear went and when I sorted the rear, it wasn’t comfortable with the front….”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “I don’t really know what happened in Qualifying. We had showed potential with P6 in FP3 and we didn’t change anything with the car. The grip just was not there and we don’t know why. It is really disappointing because we were very strong in all the sessions and now, we are in P15.”
“It is quite difficult to overtake around here but the weather can be unpredictable so we will see!”