FIA post-qualifying press conference – Canada
1 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), 2 – Fernando ALONSO (Alpine), 3 – Carlos SAINZ (Ferrari)
(Conducted by Jacques Villeneuve)
Q: Well, Max, amazing. World Champion leading the championship, always fighting at the front and you're on pole again under very difficult conditions. Your next two rivals in the championship are at the back, your cars quick on the straight. Is it a dream for tomorrow or a tough race?
Max VERSTAPPEN: I mean, of course, I still expect it not to be a straightforward race but I think today with the tricky conditions we stayed calm, we didn't make mistakes and we had the right calls in Q3, so of course super happy with that, to get pole position here and also, you know, to be back here in Montreal. It's been a while and it's great to see all the fans.
Q: A good race tomorrow, does it mean a good time in Montreal? Because we know that teams and drivers always love coming here. The track is fun but also the town.
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, you know, you really get that kind of go-karting sensation, back with like real proper kerbs around here. So we always enjoy driving here and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
Q: Have fun tomorrow. Wow, young man, so you left F1, you came back, it’s been a bit tough. This year, super competitive but the results didn't come. This year, here in Montreal, on the front row. You almost had it. How does that feel?
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, it feels great. I mean, it was an unbelievable weekend so far for us. We've been competitive in free practice, which normally we are on Friday, but then on Saturday, we seem to lose a little bit of pace. But yeah, thanks to the wet conditions today, the car was mega. You know, I was so comfortable with driving this car and yeah, I think the fans also pushed me to make an extra push.
Q: Quick today, tomorrow, dry conditions maybe?
FA: Let's see. I think we'll attack Max on the first corner.
Q: Carlos, it looks like you could fight for pole until the last chicane. You've been competitive all year in the dry, you're competitive in the wet today. It's been a few tough races. You don't have the points you should have in the championship. Tomorrow can you get back in the fight with Charles and Pérez behind?
Carlos SAINZ: Yeah that's the target. I mean today I was feeling quite OK with the car, especially in the full wet. As the track was drying I felt like the others did a bit of a step and maybe I was lacking a couple of tenths. In that lap I was coming, I think, purple one and then Sector Two I knew I had lost a bit to Max and in the last corner I just tried to do a very quick last corner but it didn't pay out and it cost me half a second. Yeah, just trying to go for it, you know, for the pole and in the end I ended up P3 for that mistake. But for the rest, I think we're in a good position for tomorrow. I think it's going to be a good fight with Max up front. Let's see what we can do with Fernando, because he's been very quick all weekend so yeah, let's see how it goes.
Q: You know, there are a lot of Ferrari fans here, so pressure tomorrow?
CS: Everywhere we go, we have an incredible amount of tifosi. But here in Canada for some reason there's an extra number of tifosi that come to see us. Yeah, I will try to put on a good race tomorrow and see if we can fight for that win.
Q: Many congratulations to the top three qualifiers for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix. In third place, Carlos Sainz. In second place, Fernando Alonso. And taking the 15th pole position of his career and his second of the 2022 campaign, our polesitter, Max Verstappen. Max, that was a hugely impressive performance by you. First of all, how much did you enjoy it out there?
MV: Well, it was just very tricky out there. You know, just especially in Q1, like visibility, and of course, people trying to find a bit of a gap, you have to slow down, your tyres cool down and you are really on the edge with the grip. So for me, Q1 was not the easiest out there. But then it started to be more and more enjoyable when the track started to dry. You started to have a little bit more grip in the wet. And yeah, then in Q3, of course, it's all about trying to put a banker lap in, but also then you have to try and follow the track and be on the track at the right time. But yeah, luckily, it all worked out.
Q: Your first time in the wet at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. How much were you having to get experimental with lines and finding the grip?
MV: Yeah, a bit. Yeah, the first time you always try a few different things, where you think the grip is, and especially also trying to get the tyres to work. That was the most important thing, not even the lines. But like I said, as soon as it started to dry out, then the tyres started to work finally a little bit and then it was fun to drive.
Q: And we saw George Russell try to go for a run on slick tyres there at the end of Q3. How close were we to that crossover point?
MV: It was just too wet in some places, like Turn 1, Turn 2. I think out of 4 all the way into 5, into 6. So, for me, it was never on. Of course, it was only like two and a half seconds, but of course you cannot take that gamble in qualifying. So, for me, it was never on. But, yeah, the other places on the track it was quite dry. Also to manage your Inter over a lap was, you know, quite a handful.
Q: Let's throw it forward to tomorrow. It's expected to be dry. How was the long-run pace yesterday?
MV: The long-run pace was alright. It was quite close I think with Ferrari. So it's going to be an interesting race tomorrow.
Q: Thank you, Max. Fernando, welcome back. You've been strong, it was a very strong session for you. But before we talk about your lap, can you just tell us what your expectations were coming into this qualifying session?
FA: I don’t really know. I mean, we were P1 in FP3 this morning. So it seemed that we were OK in wet conditions, but it was not really wet. From Q2 onwards it was nearly dry at the end. So, in a way, I was thinking ‘why should it not be a little bit wetter and rain a little bit now’ as maybe that was the best thing for us. But yeah, eventually at the end it was not necessary and we were also OK in the semi-dry conditions. But the car was fast yesterday, on dry, fast on the long-run pace as well, fast on wet conditions this morning and now as well. So, so far it has been a very competitive weekend.
Q: How clean was Q3 for you? Can you visualise where you might have lost time to Max?
FA: First of all, I don't know how far apart we are. Do you know the times?
Q: Just over half a second…
FA: That's a lot! I think they are in a different league, for sure. It was not our in our wildest dreams to be on pole position. And so we take the first row, for sure. And that's maybe better than any expectation. But let's see, I think we still missing a little bit of downforce, a little bit of total grip in the car. We've been working a lot on the tyre degradation. Also, yesterday a lot of set-up changes. So yeah, I think we are better prepared than any other race so far this year. So let's finish the job tomorrow.
Q: Fernando, how sweet is it going to feel tomorrow lining up on the front row?
FA: It’s… OK.
Q: So, what are the goals then, going into this race? What's the car like in the dry? What was your long-run pace like?
FA: Well, the goal is to lead the race in Lap 1. So that's Turn 1, maximum attack. And then after that, they can go and they can fight – but it will be nice. Sweet to lead the race.
Q: Carlos, coming to you now, very well done to you as well, properly in the running for pole position. First up, just sum up the session. How satisfied are you feeling right now?
CS: Pretty okay. I mean obviously I would like to be in the first row at least. But in general, I felt like… in the wet, I've been feeling quite good all weekend. Or FP3 and Q1. Then, when the track started to dry up, I felt like Max started to get a get a bit away from us. Especially there towards Q3, already in the first set he looked particularly competitive, and I knew that going into Q3, run two, I need a very, very good lap if I wanted to steal pole position from him. I think Sector 1 was quite okay, I think I did purple, but then Sector 2, I knew I didn't just find the grip that I was expecting to find. And then into the last corner I said, okay, I'm probably not in pole position already. So I'm going to try and send it. Sending it was probably not the right call and it cost me probably P2. But yeah, a couple of tenths we missed there, I think, for pole position – but overall, a decent feeling with the car.
Q: Carlos, this race hasn't been won from outside the front row for nearly a decade. How confident are you of changing that tomorrow?
CS: I think anything can happen in Formula 1 racing. It doesn't really matter if… the positions today, it's all about the race tomorrow. I think we get a good start and we put pressure in the guys in front, then anything can happen. I think Max seemed very quick on Friday, he's been on it all weekend. We've been chasing a bit that last tenth, compared to them – but I think tomorrow, with a good start and a good strategy, we can put some pressure.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Max, congratulations on pole position. You said earlier that it's important to manage the Intermediate around the lap. I just wonder, could you expand on how exactly you were doing that? And also, how did that change, particularly throughout Q3 as that real dry line appeared? Thanks.
MV: Well, I mean, that was mainly in Q3, just because the track was dry in some places. And I felt like actually, on the first lap, the tyres were in the best condition. But of course, the track keeps on drying. So that's why on the second lap, you improve. But tyre grip was not perfect, so you just try to not kill the front tyres, basically in the beginning of the lap, and make sure that towards the end of the lap, you still have that little edge on the front to make sure that the car turns.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Another question to Max please. Max, in recent races, you talked about not enjoying the understeer that was in the Red Bull on those particular street tracks. Is that still an issue this weekend? You've looked fairly controlled throughout practice, and obviously topping all the qualifying segments. Thanks.
MV: Yeah, yesterday, I think we had a good balance in the car. It can also be a little bit more track dependent, on street circuits in general: you need more front end – or it would be nice to have a car which has a very strong front end, which I think was not the case for me in the last two races in qualifying. But then in the race, it was always quite okay. Because then you're chasing a little bit of a different balance. So yeah, let's see tomorrow. I am looking forward to it. The whole weekend so far has been good. We have to finish it off tomorrow.
Q: (Jesus Balseiro – Diario AS) Question for the two Spanish drivers. To Fernando, what's the real goal for you tomorrow apart from leading the race in the first turn? What’s the real result you’re looking for tomorrow? And to Carlos, how do you think you can race the Red Bull tomorrow? I mean, is it the real goal for you to fight for victory tomorrow?
FA: I'm not sure about the classification right now. Who is fourth-fifth-sixth etcetera? So, I'm not sure about what are the possibilities tomorrow realistically. I will say that top five is what we should fight for. We have a very good starting position. But we know our limitations. And we saw in many races already that Ferrari or Red Bull are starting at the last, or having a puncture in lap one or whatever, they still finishing with good margin in front of us. So, I think the top four places are locked. So yeah, fifth is like a win for us. And that's probably the spot that we should aim for.
CS: I think it will all depend a bit on the start. If we can get a good start and get the straight behind Max, then I think we just can try and follow and put some pressure. If you lose a bit of time in the first five-ten laps, maybe Fernando does a good start, then the gap could be big enough that then you're just a bit too far behind for the rest of the of the race But, yeah, the target, as I said, is to get a clean start, a good one, and then race from there. Will we have the pace to fight Max? According to Friday, it should be close – then obviously we know in the race, they’re always very strong on tyre management. But I think we can still be there.
Q: (Fred Ferret – L’Equipe) Fernando and Carlos, could you think of a Spanish strategy for the two of you to make one of the two of you beat Max tomorrow for the race?
FA: Don't think that we are in that luxury position, at least in our case. I think Ferrari has been very strong fighting for wins but you know, for us we've been fighting for eighth, ninth, 10th so far. So it's good starting in the first row has been a very competitive weekend. The car keep kept improving in the last few races with new parts but I think our realistic position is not - as I said - in the top five so let's try to have a clean race, execute a good strategy, good tyre management and score as many points as possible but to think about winning is completely unrealistic. I don't know. I hope they can have a good fight for you guys on TV.
CS: I think we can both try and pass Max at the start and that will make things easier for both for sure. But I think it all depends - as I said - in how the first and laps go and then if no safety cars, strategy, degradation will come into play no but I think we can go for either from where we are and yeah, it's not a long run down into turn one. It's not like you can do a lot but still, there's anything can happen, I think, into Sunday, like always.
Q: (Andrew Benson - BBC Sport) Fernando, watching you out on track this weekend you've looked really at home, you’ve been throwing the car around like a go-kart. Has this been the most competitive performance from you since Australia? Has there been a particular breakthrough from the car or is it just you and your synergy with this track? And I know you diminished the importance of this a minute ago, but it's your first front row position since you were on pole in Hockenheim in Germany. What does that mean to you? And Max, sorry, long question but it's been clear for a while it's been a lot of mutual respect between you two, what's it like… what's it feel for you to start on the front row alongside Fernando for the first time?
FA: So yeah, this weekend, I don't know.. the car was good straight away. We didn't make huge setup changes, we didn’t experiment too much because the car felt good from the first laps in FP1 so that was a help to build the confidence. It's also a circuit that I think you need some rhythm into it. You use a lot of curb riding here and it's quite bumpy. There are a few things that, you know, are there for many, many years. And I guess for half of the grid it’s either the first time they come here or the second time because after the pandemic it was not many races hosted here in Canada. So I don't know, I've been racing here 16 or 17 years so as I always said, age and experience is always a help, it’s never a downside.
The front row importance? Yeah, I mean, it doesn't mean much. I know what I'm capable of. Sometimes I do a better job, sometimes not so good and I try to improve. I’ve been working a lot in the last two years but yeah, I mean, it feels good, but it doesn't mean anything. The race is tomorrow so we need to do a good race tomorrow.
Q: Fernando, what will this mean for your team then?
FA: I mean, they are very happy now. So they are drinking a few beers, I guess. So that's always a good boost of motivation for everyone and I think they've been working flat out like everybody to bring new parts to the car. In Baku we introduced a new significant update on the side pods and rear wing as well so to get a nice result is obviously a bonus for later in the year because they are working day and night for this.
MV: Yeah, it's been a while. To be on the front row together with Fernando I used to look at F1 as a little kid, seeing Fernando being up there and winning his races and championships and putting it on pole so to be sharing the front row is a nice thing. Of course Fernando is getting a little bit old, but he's still very fast. So I know he starts very well, you know, so I have to be ready.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race): Fernando, did you take kind of a normal approach to that session, particularly in Q3 in terms of the risks you were willing to take? Or did you perhaps go a little bit more aggressive because you knew a good result was on? And how good was that final lap that you put in?
FA: Honestly, it was very difficult to execute qualifying because we were a little bit blind on what are the times and which position we were. We were not informed because every lap you were improving one or two seconds so I think it was too much of a change constantly on the times. So yeah, it was all in for sure, on the last lap. As I said they will lap you, you went through, you improve one second so it was completely unexpected, the grip that you will get on the following corner so you have to guess and you have to go for it. And yeah, I wanted to put in a good lap and everything was fine.
Q: (Omar Alejandro Alvarez – Motorlat.com) Fernando, in your opinion, why do you think Alpine and Fernando is in P2? What is the main reason to have Alpine and Fernando in P2? Is the car working better in the wet, the driver is working better in the wet?
FA: I think it was a combination of things. For sure it was not a normal qualifying or not a normal day. FP1, we had a very dirty track. Very clean track. FP2, it was getting grippier and more normal. FP3 was wet and qualifying was just semi-dry. So we never had two consecutive sessions with the same conditions so you really had to adapt very fast to those new conditions that you are facing. So it seems that we had the right confidence in the car, and a good set-up. So I think it's down to the team 50% and down to the driver that - you know - everything was okay today but it doesn't mean anything because I said the race is tomorrow and you make a mistake and you have zero points. There are no points on Saturday.