Following Lewis Hamilton’s exciting win in the United States Grand Prix this morning here’s the full text from post-race press conferences. As usual you can read the thoughts from the first three drivers. And with the two men still in contention for the drivers’ championship on the podium, the transcript makes for good reading.
Next weekend’s final race in Brazil will be very tense. One minor mistake could be all it takes to lose the title.
UPDATE: Here’s Mark Webber’s explanation on his retirement from the race:
“I had to stop with an alternator problem. We had low battery voltage for a few laps before and then I lost gearbox sync and KERS, something was happening on the battery side. It’s frustrating; as we had a reasonable start to the race and a good fight with Lewis. We had issues to manage, but even when I knew we had them we tried to keep going and get something out of it, but we had to stop.”
United States GP – Conference 4
1 – Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren)
2 – Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing)
3 – Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari)
(Conducted by Mario Andretti)
Lewis, I know you really tormented Sebastian for most of the race but you have the resolve and did a fabulous race. What I’m interested in, give me some reaction, your reaction to the circuit. Obviously everything’s new, first winner, first time winner and all of that.
Lewis HAMILTON: First time winner, yeah, I’m so happy. The fans have been amazing this weekend, so thank you so much. The warm welcome we’ve had has been fantastic and I think this is probably one of the best, if not the best grand prix we’ve had all year. Especially for me and my team, this is so special. It’s been a long, long time since I had a win and I’m just so proud, so proud of the work the guys did, so grateful for the support we’ve had.
Sebastian, obviously you did everything you needed to do to protect your lead in the championship and as usual you were fantastic with your qualifying and so forth. The obvious question again is your reaction to the circuit.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I mean first of all thank you very much. As Lewis said, it was incredible. Actually I did my first race five years ago, the last time we were racing in the United States, so it’s a very nice comeback today, it was my 100th grand prix, and amazing y’know, the amount of people we had all weekend. It’s great for us to have so much support, very happy today for the team in particular. We won the Constructors’ Championship so, yeah, thanks to all of you, it’s been a great year, now we’ve got another station coming up in Brazil and as you said, in terms of the Championship it’s looking a bit better after the race today. Obviously it was a close fight with Lewis, he had one chance and he took it. After that I tried to stay with him and maybe pass him again but he was probably as quick as I was and there wasn’t much in between us. All in all, a great race and a great result for us.
Fernando, as usual, you’ve been brilliant the entire season, fantastic start, as usual again, you’ve always done your very maximum and here again you’ve kept this championship fight alive, fighting to the end obviously. The same question to you, how about this circuit? You like it? You enjoy the ride? What’s your reaction?
Fernando ALONSO: Yes, as Sebastian said, the circuit was fantastic but the fans were fantastic all weekend. We really enjoyed and we really have to say big thanks to all the fans coming here, all the Americans, the Mexicans and all the South Americans that came also to support us. So the circuit… basically the layout is challenging for us, challenging for the engine as well. As I said we enjoyed racing here thanks to the fans, thanks to the fantastic facilities and I hope we put on a good show for everybody and people will enjoy even more next year.
Lewis, an absolutely fantastic drive and victory in a straight fight with Red Bull Racing and with Sebastian. How much satisfaction does that give you?
LH: A huge amount. It’s been a great weekend, to be able to beat Red Bull and Sebastian is definitely a tough challenge but we managed to do it today. I don’t know, we weren’t so bad in the first stint but it was very difficult to follow and to get past. In trying to do so I locked… my tyres went off. We pitted maybe two laps before Sebastian, so then he came out quite far ahead but traffic really worked out quite well for once. Traffic usually catches me out, so I was glad that it worked slightly in my favour at some points. But yeah, what a great feeling to win the first grand prix here, back in the States, I won the last one here as well, so I’m massively proud.
Where was the Red Bull so strong? Because it did take quite a few DRS efforts before you managed to make it.
LH: It was everywhere, they’re pretty strong everywhere. I think it was more so… the first sector is very difficult to follow through Four, Five, Six, Seven, such high speed it’s quite difficult to follow through there. The place where he really extended his gap was the exit of Nine. That was really where, in the most important part, where he made over a second gap, so I was struggling to really get… to remain close. As I said with traffic it all worked out really well. He kind of… I knew that lap would be the lap that I would have a chance, so I turned the engine up and got close.
Sebastian you did all you could and you’ve extended your championship lead. What are your feelings after second place?
SV: I think, as Lewis said, obviously it was close between us, there wasn’t much between. I think very quickly we noticed that Lewis is the one we are racing. Obviously, for the rest, I don’t know what happened to Mark – he was quite a while in third place. After that, obviously, there was a big gap down to the Ferraris, so yeah, it was clear that we were racing Lewis. Everything seemed to be in control. As Lewis touched on, with traffic it’s quite difficult depending where you get it on the track. Surely it didn’t work in my favour. Lewis was then close enough, after he tried many times before, to open his rear wing and then down the back straight, it was a bit of an invitation really. It didn’t matter which side I would have picked, they were quick enough on the straight and he took the lead fair enough. After that I tried to be as close as I could but, as he said, it was difficult to follow, difficult to get in range. So, bit of a shame to lose first place but as you said I think we did everything we could. Fantastic job for the team today to seal the Constructors’ Championship against Ferrari who are now in second. I’m very happy with that and the guys can be, for sure, very proud of themselves. I think we will have a drink tonight, enjoy the time here. All weekend has been incredible, I think, for all of us, for the whole Formula One paddock here. The last race [in the US] obviously, as Lewis said, he won it. It was my first race in Formula One here in the United States and to come back and get so much support, so may fans… The signing session yesterday was absolutely crazy and full grandstands, so full house. It was really, really nice to race today in front of the crowd.
Fernando, really a fantastic start and then it was just a matter of holding station.
FA: Yes, we know our championship keeps alive maybe thanks to the first laps. We always qualify around seventh or eighth and we finish the first lap in the first three or four positions normally and then after that the race becomes a little easier when that happens, when you are in the leading group, and today we knew that was a good chance, try to overtake people at the first corner, and then the pace on Sunday normally improves so we knew that if we are in the leading group we can more or less keep the pace. Today not possible to keep the pace with these two guys, that they were too far ahead but enough to keep for the guys behind. And then I think this podium, after all the difficulties we went through this weekend is like a victory for us. Losing three points maybe was in no-one’s thoughts I think yesterday night or Friday night after seeing the practice, so we are really happy again to have a very good Sunday and score again good points.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Sebastian, your teammate stopped with another alternator problem, you probably heard that over the radio. To what extent is that a concern? It seems to be an unsolved problem.
SV: I don’t know what happened to him, so I need to check, obviously. The first info I only get now, so it’s hard to comment but in case it was the alternator, it’s not good news but I think we’ve managed the last couple of races pretty well so I’m sure it should be easy to explain, to find the problem. After Monza, I think we learned the lesson and we should be prepared enough for next week.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov – F1 Live) To all three of you: with what feelings will you go to the last race in Brazil?
LH: For me, it’s excitement that we have a good car and hopefully we can try to compete again with these guys. I’m obviously not fighting for the championship. It’s maybe more exciting for these guys but for me, I’m just having fun.
SV: I think pretty much the same as Lewis: excited because the car seems to work very well, good enough to fight for a win. We’ve been very quick in Brazil the last couple of years so plenty to look forward to. On top of that, we increased our lead in the championship today so I think we are in the best possible position.
FA: We will try to go to Brazil with the possibility to fight for the World Championship which is something that we fight for all through the year and we arrived in that fantastic position. Only Sebastian is in a better position than us but we should be proud of ourselves so try to enjoy the Brazil race and do our best, fight all the race and see what is the outcome at the end.
Q: (Adam Hay–Nicholls – Metro) Seb, what were you complaining about when Lewis overtook you?
SV: I think you misunderstood. I wasn’t complaining about Lewis, obviously. I wasn’t too happy send a nice big invitation to Lewis when I obviously had to go through Karthikeyan and he was basically right behind at the DRS zone; to do a big difference within one corner is hardly possible and then he took that opportunity – fair enough – down the straight and passed me. I tried to defend, I moved to the inside but I knew that he would have so much more speed that he can pick either side, so it didn’t really matter what I was doing and after that, I was obviously not too happy, because on all the laps before I tried to manage the gap to him, tried to manage the tyres until the end of the race, to be able to attack towards the last couple of laps. We had, I think, something like 20 laps, 15 laps to go at the time. It was not targeted at Lewis, it was more targeted at the backmarker which, as I said, gave a nice big envelope with an invitation to Lewis.
Q: (Sarah Holt – CNN.com world sport) It was a similar question, actually, but we don’t often see you, Sebastian, being very emotional but we heard you being emotional on the radio there. A question about the pressures you’re feeling. You’ve been in this position twice before, is it harder third time around?
SV: I don’t think it had anything to do with that in that moment. I was really thinking about the points that could make a difference today or next week or the championship. I wanted to win today. I had a fantastic race, I was very happy, enjoyed the fight with Lewis a lot and obviously through that lost the lead. Equally knew that we can get it back but as it turned out it was extremely difficult. We had the same pace so I think I was probably in the same boat as Lewis, the first half of the race where I was just trying to get close enough to try and get the move done but that didn’t happen until the end. I think many times it’s difficult for you to judge what’s going on because not all the messages get broadcast so we do communicate quite a bit during the race – sometimes calmer, sometimes not so calm so at that moment, obviously, I wasn’t too happy to lose the lead.
Q: (David Estrada – Port Arthur News) Lewis, welcome to the United States; you had celebration champagne. Are you going to have a celebration barbecue tonight?
LH: I had a few burgers last night so I was nice and heavy today! I tell you what, I’m so happy to be here. We’ve had such a great weekend. I actually don’t really drink. I had a little bit of champagne, it doesn’t really taste that good. Fernando said it was 7-Up or Sprite at the last race, it wasn’t the same this time. Tonight, hopefully I can get together with the team tonight. We already did last night but I’m sure we will celebrate tonight.
SV: He said earlier he… and I saw him exchanging phone numbers with the girls on the podium. He said earlier we’ll have a good time tonight!
LH: I think it was the other way around actually! He stayed behind. That’s why we were late here.
SV: He was first, you know, not just in the race but also picking up the girls.