1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
2 – Jenson BUTTON (McLaren)
3 – Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren)
Nico, well done. You join an exclusive club of drivers who’ve turned their maiden pole into their maiden win. How do you feel?
Nico ROSBERG: Thank you very much. Well, it’s an unbelievable feeling: very, very cool. I’m very happy, very excited. It’s been a long time coming for me, and for the team as well over the past two years and a bit. Now, it’s finally here. It’s just amazing and it’s just nice to see how quickly we are now progressing. I didn’t expect to be that fast today. I expected that we had a good chance to be in front, but I was very happy today with the pace I was able to go in the race.
Jenson, a three-stop strategy for you today, but the third stop really cost you big time didn’t it?
Jenson BUTTON: Yeah, it did. But before that our race pace was good, especially on the harder of the two tyres. I had some really good battles out there. And then in my last stop, I stopped on the marks and we had a problem with the rear of the car, so I was stuck there for nine or ten seconds I think it was. It was a pity because when I exited the pits I had four cars in front of me; cars that I wouldn’t have been racing, and I would have had a nice clear track to hopefully hunt down Nico. It was a big gap but you’ve got to give it a go. But, all in all, a fun day. I really enjoyed today. It was a good race, some good overtaking out there and nice to eventually come away with some good points and second place.
Lewis, you started seventh and finished third. Were you surprised by Nico’s pace today?
Lewis HAMILTON: We knew that all weekend they had been quick and if we let these people get away it would be hard to catch him, so fantastic for him, congratulations. Your first pole and your first win is an incredible feeling. But I’m very happy to have made it up to the podium. As I said, I wanted to just go forwards and the team did a great job with the pit stops and with strategy. I think it was one of the best races so far this season, just because there was a lot of overtaking and there was a train of us – I think seven cars or something – it was incredible. Yeah, fantastic day.
Nico, there were a lot of questions marks about Mercedes’ race pace going into this race. What have you done to the car to improve it so much?
NR: Big thanks to the whole team, because all the engineers especially in the past few weeks have been working very, very hard also, as everybody else has also, just improving the set-up, because we really struggled in the first two races with race pace. Today it all came good. It’s great to see just how quickly we managed to progress. It’s just fantastic.
Jenson, a key moment for you was obviously the start, you went up from fifth place to third place. Tell us about it?
JB: Yeah, I got a good start. I think all year, so far, we’ve had very good starts, if not the best starts and [that’s] promising when you don’t qualify so well. Great job by the whole team for sorting out a special start out for me and great to get up into P3. But I think lastly for me, I’d like to congratulate Nico. We all know how special it is, your first win, and I’m sure there will be many more, just hopefully not too many more this year.
For you Lewis, a lot of battles throughout the race but a very exciting one at the end with Sebastian Vettel. Tell us about it?
LH: It wasn’t just with him. It was with everyone really. They [Red Bull] were massively quick on the straight, even when we had the DRS engaged. You had to use all your KERS to get right up behind and obviously you get to the DRS zone and try to use the DRS to catapult past. Finally, I got close enough to do so. I guess he was out a bit longer on his tyres. Nonetheless, he put up a good fight. So did all of them really. I think we lost a little bit of time behind, I think, maybe Pérez. But nevertheless it was still exciting racing.
Finally, back to you Nico. Your father Keke, of course, a grand prix winner and a world champion. What are you going to say on the phone to your dad tonight?
NR: We’ll see. Hopefully he’s very happy too and I look forward to speaking to him.
Nico, a bit of a packed weekend for you, what with setting records with Mercedes, your first pole, your first win etc. It’s all come at once!
NR: Yeah, I know. It’s been the perfect weekend. Everything’s gone [well]. It couldn’t be better. Very happy. It was a great race. It was impressive to see really how we’ve managed to progress so quickly. We’ve really had some difficult times in the races, the first two, but we’ve made a lot of changes, worked hard at it and all of a sudden it’s come good. That’s been fantastic to see today. I’m just so happy for all of us and I really look forward now to spending some time with the team later on.
Was everything perfect in the car as well, throughout the race?
NR: Perfect? Well, it’s never perfect but it definitely felt very good out there.
You didn’t seem to have any problems. It seemed to be a trouble-free race for you.
NR: It’s never easy, especially taking care of the tyres was a big difficulty and a big challenger today because there was a lot of tyre wear, but it worked out well.
Yesterday you gave the impression that, OK, you’re on pole but it was going to be a lot more difficult to win the race – but you won it, it didn’t seem to be that much more difficult.
NR: Of course I was a bit careful yesterday because yes, we were on pole but we’ve seen good qualifying performances all along this year and we’ve had more difficulties on high fuel in the race, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect – but fantastic outcome.
And the tyre strategy, you were happy with that as well, rather than a three-stop?
NR: I think we got it all right today, even tyre strategy. Everybody in the team did a great job, all the different people, my engineers at the start, the strategy, this and that – everything came together.
What you did miss was an incredible battle going on behind you…
NR: I was aware of a bit of that because every lap the name changed of the person behind me – I said ‘what’s going on back there?’
Jenson, you must love that little DRS thing, that was great, picking them off one after the other.
JB: Yeah, but we made it a little bit harder for ourselves in the last stint with a long pit stop – but hey, these things happen, and the first two were very good. A great race, we went for a three-stop strategy, which was different to a lot of people, it was good fun, even with the problem we had, and the possibility that we could maybe have chased down this guy [Nico]. Even though we didn’t have that possibility it was still a great race. I’m very happy to come away with second. I can’t remember how many cars I overtook during the race but it was a good fight and most of it was very, very clean, which is good to see. I think we put on a great show for all the viewers and especially all the fans here in Shanghai.
Your race was a little bit easier than Lewis’. Lewis had a little bit of a tougher time I think.
JB: Ah, I don’t know. I think when you’re in front for the first few laps it always makes it easier. You’re dropping the traffic better. Everything was going to plan, I knew I’d have traffic and we were picking them off nicely up to the second pit stop. But after the last stop it was a lot more difficult. Kimi was leading a train of about eight cars and everyone was DRS-ing at the same time, so, until Sebastian had a go at Kimi, I couldn’t have a go at Sebastian. It was good fun. Overtaking Sebastian was probably the most fun move of the race, down into the hairpin. Or maybe Grosjean, when I took him before the actual back straight, through the right-hander, that was quite nice as well.
A lot of satisfaction from that I can imagine.
Q: Lewis, I know it’s another third place, but you had a great race out there, a lot of people to overtake.
LH: Yeah, I had my work cut out today. It was a fantastic race, I really enjoyed it. As I said yesterday, I just wanted to see if I could move forwards: a good start, good pit stops, good strategy, but what an incredible race with so many World Champions and so many of the great drivers all in a train, just fighting each other. It’s great to see racing like that and to see cars so close in pace. It was a little bit unfortunate that there was quite a lot of traffic throughout the race but I’m sure that if we started a little bit higher up it would have been a little bit of a different result for us, but nonetheless, Nico did a fantastic job so congratulations to him. I’m glad we were able to get some good team points today.
Q: How much downforce were you losing in that train, for instance through the corner onto the straight?
LH: You try to stay out of the wake of the car in front, so you take a slightly tighter line which enables you to remain as close as possible. As I said, it just provides great racing. I don’t remember being in a race like that for some time so we’re doing something right.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederique Ferret – L’Equipe) Nico, you said you wanted to win with Mercedes, now you have done so, just like Fangio and Stirling Moss. What does that mean to you?
NR: Ah, it’s definitely very special, the whole thing, firstly just to win the race, to win my first race is special and everything that comes with it, with the Silver Arrows, with the team that I have, with everybody who has been working together for more than two years now. Yeah, it’s a very happy moment.
Q: (Yan Xiao Yan -Titan Sports) It’s your seventh year in Formula One; do you think that the champagne has come to you too late?
NR: No, I’m not going to say that, no. But I look forward to many more in the future, definitely.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Nico, you said that you have had incredible car development from the last race to this one. Can you give us some details? Is it mechanical, set-up? What exactly explains this?
NR: Well, it’s set-up really, really thinking about what’s going on in the race and why are we struggling and trying to improve that situation. Surely the conditions helped us today, I think, but even so, we’re just moving forward and that’s very nice to see. Already from the beginning of the year we’ve been very strong in qualifying, perhaps more difficult in the race. Now we’re still strong in qualifying – very strong, maybe even stronger – and also improving the race, so it’s good progress forward and I’m sure that we will continue this ongoing development. It was mainly set-up.
Q: (Frederique Ferret – L’Equipe) Jenson, you had to wait some time to win for the first time; do you think that Nico can take the same path as you?
JB: We were talking on the podium and yeah, he beat me by two races. I took113 and he’s on 111. It’s amazing how, with some people, it can happen very quickly if you can find yourself in the right situation. For others it takes a little bit more time. Which way would you chose? We’d all chose to win immediately, I think. I wouldn’t chose my career path and the mistakes that I’ve made and obviously the good things that have happened in my career – it’s just different for all of us. I’m sure that this won’t be Nico’s first and last win. They – the team – seem very competitive this year and Nico obviously hasn’t put a foot wrong all weekend. So I think we’re going to have a battle on our hands this year which is good to see.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Nico, when did you make the decision to stop only twice, and when were you sure it was the right strategy?
NR: Well, I think we’re very strong on strategy – just great people involved with that as well. We have a lot of competence in the team which is fantastic. Before the race, that was our plan. Of course you have Plan B if things don’t go well but things progressed exactly as we had hoped for. The tyres lasted for exactly the amount of laps that we were hoping for so it just all went to plan.
Q: (News Time – Yan Peng) Nico, who will you make the first phone call to? Your Dad or (girlfriend) Vivian?
NR: I don’t know. I will see.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Jenson, if you had come out in front of the train without the problem at the last pit stop, do you think you could have caught Nico? I think your tyres were five laps younger.
JB: That was obviously the aim but you never know if that’s going to be possible. It was a big gap to chase down but before the stop, we had very good pace on new and old tyres so I don’t know. That was our aim but it didn’t go to plan, but we had a problem at the pit stop which cost us a lot of time – it didn’t just cost us time, it cost us places as well, so it made it very difficult to have the possibility to chase down Nico. But that’s the way it is. Sometimes it doesn’t quite go your way but I must say that most of the pit stops that we’ve had this weekend have been fantastic. We’ve just got to get rid of that bad one.
Q: In a week’s time we will be in Bahrain, at what we would expect to be a hotter race; how’s that going to affect you? Do you think that you can do the same again – for both Nico and McLaren?
NR: Yeah. For sure we’re not where we want to be in the race. I had a great race today but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be like that at every race. We still need to push hard and continue progressing. Bahrain could be a little bit of a different story again. We need to wait and see. It’s difficult to predict. I couldn’t have predicted today so we’ll just take it as it comes, but for sure I’m looking forward to what’s to come because we’re looking much stronger.
JB: I’m looking forward to it being hot. We would hope to go even better. I’ve just struggled – I think everyone has this weekend – with trying to get the tyres in an operating window. It’s been so difficult. The change in four or five degrees has been massive difference in car balance. I would rather it to be a little bit more straightforward and we can really get down to business.
Q: (Frederique Ferret – L’Equipe) Nico, the last time you were leading in China, both of the McLaren drivers won that time. Are you enjoying the fact that these two guys are behind you now?
NR: No, I don’t think about that. Not really, no.