1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing)
3. Daniel Riccardo (McLaren)
Interview on the track
Q: (Davide Valsecchi) Daniel, impressive performance, you’ve been waiting for this for a long time!
Daniel Riccardo: Thanks! I haven’t finished in the top three for a long time! It’s great to return to this level, and although the most important day is still tomorrow, but we will move one position up because of Valtteri’s problems, so in the Grand Prix we start from the first row. I have been waiting for this for a long time, and now I am very pleased.
Q: (Davide Valsecchi) Starting and fighting in the first corner will be important success factors. Are you going to proceed with caution, or are you intending to attack?
Daniel Riccardo: Tomorrow I am going to attack with full force from the very start, because today I got the chance to succeed precisely thanks to this approach. At the start, I thought that I might even be able to get ahead of Max in the first corner, but he was driving along the inner trajectory. In general, I look forward to tomorrow’s race!
Q: (Davide Valsecchi) Max, how is it for you to compete in Monza, and what do you think about the prospect of starting the race from pole?
Max VerstappenA: First of all, I want to say that I am very happy to be in Monza and to see the Italian fans who are overwhelmed with a passion for motorsport.
As for the sprint, it went better than we expected. I started very well, moving up to second place, and earned some points. Tomorrow I will start from pole. Nevertheless, Mercedes are very fast, but I did my best not to let Valtteri go too far. An interesting race awaits us tomorrow.
Q: (Davide Valsecchi) If we talk about the maximum speed, McLaren and Mercedes have it very high, and the straight lines here are long. What do you think?
Max Verstappen: I am not particularly worried about our top speed in the race, but we must take into account that Mercedes has a high pace throughout the entire lap. In any case, we will try to do everything to have a good race.
Q: (Davide Valsecchi) Valtteri, great start, amazing pace and absolutely deserved result! What do you feel?
Valtteri Bottas: Great emotions, I haven’t finished first for a long time! Unfortunately, the race will have to start from the last row, but the car has speed, so I will fight and try to win back as many positions as possible. I liked how everything turned out today, I drove very clean and kept an excellent pace.
Q: (Davide Valsecchi) You are very competitive this weekend. How easy will it be for you to overtake cars that are much slower than Mercedes on Sunday? Lewis had difficulties with overtaking today …
Valtteri Bottas: The race will definitely be difficult. When everyone has DRS activated in a tight group, it is difficult to break through, but in terms of strategy I have the opportunity to choose tires for the first segment – let’s see if we can come up with something. I will push myself to the limit!
Q: Valtteri, it looks like the sprint was perfect for you!
Valtteri Bottas: Yes, everything went smoothly. I had a good start, which is always important in the sprint, and then my car went very stable, and I had no errors. I know Max tried his best behind him, but the gap between us remained the same. Of course, I also attacked at the limit and tried not to allow the slightest mistake.
Q: The restart could have been a tense moment, but you performed it flawlessly …
Valtteri Bottas: In Monza, restart is always risky for the leader because of the long straight lines, but I managed to break away from Max before the last corner, which helped to maintain the advantage.
Question: How annoying is it for you that after winning the sprint, you will start the race from the back rows, as you received a penalty for replacing the power plant?
Valtteri Bottas: What can I answer to this? The weekend is going great for me, but I have to serve a penalty for replacing the power plant. It happens. It’s good that we have a good pace here, I will try to break through as high as possible.
Question: What result do you expect?
Valtteri Bottas: The podium is quite possible. You never know how everything will turn out, just remember the results of last year’s Italian Grand Prix. I will attack at the limit, and then we’ll see.
Q: Max, good day for you and Red Bull Racing, isn’t it?
Max Verstappen: Yes, not bad. I had a good start, and then I chased Valtteri the entire distance. It seems that we lacked the speed a little to impose a fight, but I still tried to keep up with that to be able to use the slipstream.
Everything went well, I earned two points and I will start the race from pole position. But I don’t think it will be frankly easy for us on Sunday. Lewis starts fourth, Valtteri will break out of the last rows – Mercedes are very fast here, but we’ll see how we can answer them.
Q: How important is pole position at Monza?
Max Verstappen: If you manage to cleanly go through the first and second turns, it will help a lot. There is a rather long segment before the first turn, but with a confident start there is every chance of repelling the attack. Let’s see who works and how.
Q: This weekend the teams have one less training session. Does this mean that there are much more unclear moments before the start of the race?
Max Verstappen: I do not think. In the second training session, we worked in long series, and now we had a sprint – now everything is obvious. We know what we are missing, but we cannot change it now. We will try to work as much as possible with what we have.
Q: Daniel, congratulations! You start from the first row!
Daniel Riccardo: Yes, I haven’t started from the first row for a long time, thanks for that Valtteri! (to Valtteri) Sorry, but I thought I should thank you.
Valtteri Bottas: Everything is fine.
Daniel Riccardo: This is the first time I’ve finished so high in a sprint and, of course, I’m very happy about it. However, the main task is still ahead. Today I did everything that was necessary and secured myself a higher starting position. It seems that the previous time Max and I started together from the first row in Mexico in 2018, and then he was ahead of me, and I remember!
Hopefully in the race my car will be as fast as it is today. Yes, her speed was not enough to keep up with Max and Valtteri, but I finished third without any difficulties. I will try to use the experience gained in the sprint tomorrow to finish in the top three again and come to the press conference!
Question Tell us about the first ten seconds of the sprint. At the first corner, the battle was tight!
Daniel Riccardo: Exactly! I started off perfectly – you understand this immediately, as soon as you release the clutch, it grabs and as if tells you: “It worked, let’s go!” I managed to take advantage of the slip-stream from the cars in front, there was no one in front of me during braking, and I could have entered the turn very late and attacked Max, but he had already shifted to the inner edge, and if I had headed there, there would be room for two cars simply would not be found.
It seems that Pierre Gasly got me a little hooked at the apex of the second turn, but I’m not sure. The battle was tight, as it always happens in the first chicane in Monza. I was able to overtake Lando and Lewis, so the first lap was clearly a success!
Question: You sprinted on Soft tires. How well did they do the eighteen laps?
Daniel Riccardo: They did very well! Yes, for several laps we drove behind a safety car, which helped to save the rubber resource, but in general the Soft line-up worked well. It was difficult to assess the effectiveness at a distance, because Valtteri and Max immediately rushed forward, and I did not know if the tires played any role in this, or if the rivals’ cars themselves were so much faster. But I myself felt quite comfortable, so it was a nice Saturday!
Questions about video calls
Q: (Alan Baldwin) Daniel, it’s been nine years since McLaren’s last victory. Do you have a chance to win the upcoming race?
Daniel Riccardo: Perhaps I will dream of winning tonight, and on Sunday I will do my best to turn dreams into reality. McLaren hasn’t won a race for a long time, neither have I, so it’s nice to get close to success again. Of course, to win in our favor, many factors must work, but for our part, we will do our best.
I look forward to the battle with enthusiasm and will try to achieve an excellent result. Last year at Monza at McLaren was the second place, on this track we are again very close to success. I was so hungry for wins that anyone who saw me after yesterday’s qualifier was hardly surprised by my performance today!
Question: (Alex Kalinauskas) Max, was there a moment during the race when you put up with the second place, knowing that you would start the race from pole, or did you always attack at the limit, trying to catch up with Valtteri?
Max Verstappen: I attacked within reason to gauge my own pace. Valtteri, after a couple of laps, created a sufficient gap, I sometimes added to understand how fast the RB16B is, but I never had the feeling that there was a real chance of overtaking. Moreover, I tried to go close enough and watched how the Mercedes car copes with curbs and turns – this can be useful in working on our car. Of course, I knew that it was enough for me to finish the sprint second in order to start from pole in the race.
Q: (Edd Straw) Valtteri, this weekend you are performing impressively, in two days you won pole position twice in Monza, but this will not be taken into account in the statistics. How annoying is this for you?
Valtteri Bottas: Of course, it’s a shame when you perform perfectly for two days, and then everything is reset, and you have to start the race from the back rows. But the situation is not in my control, so I will not waste time, attention and energy on it and be so upset. The only thing I can do is give my best in the race, and so I have already earned three points. Each point is very important both for me in the individual competition and for the team in the Constructors’ Cup.
Question: (Christian Nimmerwoll) Daniel, what if on Sunday you start on Soft tires and win back the position in the first meters? Sounds like a good strategy! Tell me, how well did the softest of the compounds presented here perform today, and how good is it for the race?
Daniel Riccardo: The Soft composition worked very well. We understood that in the sprint it was possible to take the risk of riding Soft, but did not know how the rivals would act. I didn’t expect everyone around to opt for Medium! We spend only the second weekend in a new format, everyone is trying to find the best approach, they act by trial and error, but for me the Soft tires worked perfectly today.
Question: Valtteri, Max, did your teams consider the possibility of sprinting at Soft?
Valtteri Bottas: Yes, but in the end we preferred Medium, although the choice was not easy.
Max Verstappen: A similar answer.
Q: (Alan Baldwin) Valtteri, after Friday qualifying, there was a lot of talk about team tactics and the fact that you will probably miss Lewis Hamilton in the sprint. It was not destined to come true, but tell me, what did you think about it before the start and already during the sprint?
Valtteri Bottas: It would not be the first time I had to miss Lewis, the situation in the championship is known. Ideally, both of us should have had a good start and safely change positions, but Lewis was not the best way to get off the ground. This was not the most pleasant news for himself and our entire team, but moreover, I had the opportunity to fight at full strength and win the sprint.
Question: (Alex Kalinauskas) Daniel, I would like to clarify, did you really feel the impact from Pierre Gasly’s car in the combination of the first and second turns? After qualifying, you were annoyed that you did not manage to work better – can we say that today the rage inside helped you on the dash to the first corner, when you immediately played several places?
Daniel Riccardo: After the sprint, I was told that Gasley hooked up with my car in the first corner, but I myself did not notice it. And yes, I felt the rage!
Max Verstappen: Trashed your room?
Daniel Riccardo: No, this time she was not hurt! Max knows I’m not always so calm, but today I used a little rage to my advantage and use the rest of it in the race! As already mentioned, I am hungry for victories and podiums, I want to return to the top three and never leave it!
Translation: Valery Kartashev