Autosport (UK) - - RACE CENTRE - Mercedes driver

Valt­teri Bot­tas fin­ished third at Monza after qual­i­fy­ing fourth, 0.362 sec­onds off team-mate Lewis Hamil­ton. He took third place after Max Ver­stap­pen was given a 5s penalty for his il­le­gal de­fend­ing against Bot­tas.

Any ex­pla­na­tion of where the dif­fer­ences were to Lewis Hamil­ton this week­end?

In the wet it was all fine. In prac­tice two, I just didn’t get enough clean laps – I had a few mis­takes here and there. Prac­tice three def­i­nitely was lack­ing pace. We made set-up changes from FP2 to FP3, to try to im­prove off the cor­ners and the bal­ance, but that set-up made brak­ing much more dif­fi­cult. We had to change the set-up again for qual­i­fy­ing, to go back to what I had on Fri­day. It was get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter through qual­i­fy­ing, and in the end in the cor­ners – all the cor­ners – I saw no dif­fer­ence between me and Lewis [im­ply­ing the time loss was due to Hamil­ton get­ting a tow].

You played your role in Lewis’s vic­tory, and you seem to be play­ing your role well…

Be­fore the race we went through all the sce­nar­ios strat­egy-wise, and hon­estly there’s a min­i­mal dif­fer­ence in terms of where you stop be­cause the tyres can last so long. So, it wasn’t re­ally like I was sac­ri­fic­ing my race, as long as I was keep­ing Kimi [Raikko­nen] be­hind – if he over­took me then for sure I would lose time. I was happy to do it, be­cause I knew I’d still get a chance to at­tack Ver­stap­pen, so I don’t think we com­pro­mised my re­sult.

Were you sur­prised Ver­stap­pen moved un­der brak­ing?

I was try­ing to race him hard. I was try­ing ini­tially to go on the in­side, which was maybe a bit far [back], but he locked up, went straight, kept his po­si­tion. I know he is one of the more ag­gres­sive in terms of de­fend­ing and at­tack­ing, but I still wanted to race hard and ex­pected him to race fair. He cov­ered the in­side, I braked on the out­side, we were pretty much side by side and he just started to drift to the left. The rule is very sim­ple – when you de­fend on the in­side it doesn’t cost you any­thing if you leave a car’s width, and it’s for the guy on the out­side.

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