Shanghai F1: Driver's Press Conference
The historic Driver's Press Conference after the 1000th F1 Grand Prix
The 1000th Formula 1 Grand Prix would have had to be a spectacular event to come close to the expectation set. As it was, it was far from the best of race of the season – which is saying something since we have only had 3 of them. It was a pretty straight forward 1-2 for Brackley based Mercedes due to the fact that Lewis Hamilton pretty much sealed the a record 6th victory in Shanghai by the first corner through his lightning reaction at lights out resulting in a straight forward pass on Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1. However, due to the fact that Ferrari was off the pace and had issues with team orders once again, the press conference was worth attending.
The Press Conference itself started after a 20 minute delay as protocol was broken with the top three drivers – Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel – heading to the TV station interview pen first of all. Whilst waiting, discussion was had between the press of Ferrari’s team orders and the lead Mercedes have built in the Constructor’s Championship: 130 to Scuderia Ferrari’s 73. Almost double the points with 18 races on the calendar still to come. Also, the timing screen showed that Hamilton had lapped every driver in the field except for the top 3 teams. Hopefully 2021 regulations will end such an outcome in future.
In the present, the top three entered the Press Conference Room with a request from Sebastian Vettel to the media to ‘keep it brief lads’. Possibly, all the media commitments, photo shoots, nostalgic interviews and selfies with fans had taken its toll on these giants. One thing was for sure, they deserved a rest.
Lewis Hamilton himself stated at the conference that they did not expect these three 1-2 consecutive wins. Seeing that his weak point in previous years had been in qualifying, Hamilton admitted that it is still an area with which he has to work.
Vettel celebrated, in a way, as this was his first podium. But the car didn't go where he wanted it. He recognized that The Scuderia have a competitive car and that there is nothing wrong with it, but they are not able to extract the best of the car, especially the same.
Vettel would say ‘’We Have to unlock this car and the next few weeks will be critical to it." Finally, Sebastian would declare that the pace of Mercedes does not surprise him and that they have a competitive engine and car.
To close this brief (as on request) press conference, the final question went to Motorlat.com and Lewis was asked about the fact that yesterday he told the press he has been struggling with the car all weekend so how long did it take him to realise he had the car under him for a strong performance today.
I would say that I knew I had to have a good run because Valtteri was very fast all weekend.
Once Hamilton passed Bottas he knew he had the rhythm in 1 or 2 laps and that he could deploy the planned strategy of a pit stop, which then changed to 2 – to respond to Ferrari and the double stack was a thing of beauty.