FIA Post-Race press conference – Austrian Grand Prix
DRIVERS: 1 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari), 2 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), 3 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Max Verstappen, not the result you would have wanted, but a nice little battle with Charles, Talk us through your race and put us in the cockpit, because you never seemed that comfortable with the balance on heavy fuel.
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, it was a tricky day. It really seemed like we were struggling quite a bit with the tyres and basically that continued on every single compound. So yeah, too much degradation to really attack Charles, especially. But nevertheless, still, second place is a good result for us on a difficult day.
Q: Now you've had amazing home support here… The orange, that sea of smoke on the first lap was pretty impressive. Not too distracting?
MV: No, it was nice. I mean, it's a great colour anyways, so I don't mind driving through it. But you know, it's great to see so many fans coming here to Austria. Of course, unfortunately I couldn't give them a win today but I think second is still a decent result.
Q: Very respectful racing between you and Charles, just standing here to your left. The battle will continue all season.
MV: Of course, like it has been already the whole year. So I think that's great to see.
Q: So our race winner, welcome back, Charles Leclerc. You had to fight for that one. That was a real racing victory and some fantastic wheel-to-wheel action with Max Verstappen.
Charles LECLERC: Yeah, it was a really good race. I mean, the pace was there at the beginning and we had some good fights with Max and the end was incredibly difficult. I had this problem with the throttle, and it would get stuck at 20 or 30% throttle in the low speed. So it was very tricky. But we managed to make it stick until the end. And I'm so happy.
Q: Now. It was a fantastic race, a fantastic victory, so congratulations for that. We saw your team-mate had some reliability issues. Was that in your mind when you started to experience those throttle issues towards the end?
CL: Yeah, weirdly, it was more or less at the same time. So of course, I had it in my mind. I knew it was not a problem with the engine, because it was really the pedal that was feeling weird. First at pick up and then at the end it would not come back to zero. But yeah, luckily it went until the end of the race.
Q: You needed this one. Do you feel this will now put you back on track for this championship battle?
CL: I definitely needed that one. I mean, the last five races have been incredibly difficult for myself, but also for the team, obviously. And to finally show that we've got the pace in the car and that we can do it is incredible. So yeah, we need to push until the end.
Q: Well, that was a great Grand Prix, congratulations on the victory. And moving on to Mr Consistent for another podium result. Lewis, maybe not as close as you were a week ago at Silverstone, but that was still an important result today.
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, no, thank you so much. And what an incredible crowd we've had here this weekend. Definitely wasn't expecting that, but of course, yesterday was a bit of a difficult day. It's been a bit of a rough weekend. But I'm really grateful. As a team, we got a third and fourth. That's great points. And we move forward from here.
Q: Well, you say a rough weekend. You saw you were in amongst the action at the start there but you were able to pick your way through and find your strategy. So does this get some light at the end of the tunnel? You got a couple of weeks off now before the French Grand Prix.
LH: Well, firstly, I do really want to say a big thank you to the guys, the men and women in the garage, who worked so hard to rebuild the car. I had a brand new car on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, something I don't do too often, but so thankful to them for working so hard and we made some improvements this weekend, so we just have to keep chipping away.
Q: Charles, very well done. It's been a while since you last stood on the top step How much did you need this win?
CL: I definitely needed it. I mean, of course whenever I get to a new race since five races I have a smile on my face and I kept being optimistic, but obviously hard race after hard race, it just felt like everything was against me. So, finally we had a breakthrough good race today and it really feels good to have a win again.
Q: A good race today, but it sounded a little stressful in those closing laps. So when you had that throttle problem, how difficult was that to manage? And what were you having to do inside the cockpit?
CL: Oh, not only a little bit stressful, very stressful! The throttle was really inconsistent and in the middle of the corner it would get stuck to whatever percentage, so in Turn 3 it was very, very tricky because that's where you don't want any more speed in mid-corner, so yeah, it was quite tricky to manage not so much in the high speed but mostly in the slow speed but at the end we managed to get the car to the end, which is great.
Q: And the pace of the car seems stronger today than in the sprint yesterday. Can you explain that for us?
CL: Not completely. We've been working quite a lot on my driving yesterday night and I knew that I had a bit more pace on the medium. But yeah, it was a surprise to do that much of a step forward. So we will have to analyse well to understand that.
Q: Max coming to you, very well done as well. A good amount of points on what looked like a more difficult day in the office than yesterday?
MV: Yeah, it was a bit more difficult than I expected it to be. Basically on any tyre I was just struggling a lot for pace after a few laps, just a lot of deg. It’s something I cannot really explain right now, why it was so high. Because I think normally we are quite okay on the tyres. And I expected it to be tough today, but I didn't expect it to be like this. So it's just something we need to analyse and understand why this happened today. But even on a bad day, let's say an off day, to only lose five points over the whole weekend is I think still good.
Q: Was the deg bad across all of the stints or was it a specific one?
MV: All of it.
Q: Now the relative pace of your cars, and I mean Red Bull and Ferrari, continues to ebb and flow. Were you surprised by the pace of Ferrari today?
MV: I expected them to be strong. I just didn't expect them to be this good. And I think we were just a bit down on what we expected today.
Q: Alright, thank you and Lewis coming to you, great job by you. Your third consecutive podium finish, your fourth of the season. Given your starting position today, how satisfying was this race for you?
LH: Massively satisfying. So happy to… I was a bit lonely once I got… These guys were like 30-something seconds ahead of me. So I was just watching their race on the TV, So, down the straights I was just watching where they were. I could see them coming through like Turn 6 as I was coming out Turn 1. So I was getting a bit of a fan view of what was happening. I saw some of the overtakes they were having. I think they did replays and stuff. But after such a difficult weekend, you know, with the crash, with a monumental effort from the team to rebuild the car this is a really great result. So I'm very grateful.
Q: Now, you had arguably the fastest car at Silverstone last weekend. How competitive was the W13 here?
LH: I would argue that we've not yet been in a position where we've been the fastest car. These guys still have had the edge. I think we've sometimes been able to match their times. But, yeah, to the point where we're actually ahead of them, we're not quite there yet. So we've just got to keep… I think we've made some improvements this weekend to the car once again, but for some reason at this track it just wasn't the same, as they were a little bit further ahead, particularly in race pace. Hoping that when we go to these next tracks it's a little bit more favourable to us, a bit more like Silverstone. If that's the case I would really love to be in the battle that they're having at the front.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Question for Charles, you just said that about working on your driving overnight. Could you go into a bit of detail on that? Were you just looking at the data and throttle, steering… was were you looking at? What were you changing?
CL: Yeah, I don't think it makes sense to go so much into the details but yeah, just the driving. I think there was two, three corners where I was struggling yesterday, which was especially Turn One and Three and Ten. And I've been working on these three overnights and today was much better.
Q: (Péter Vámosi - Racingline.hu) Question is to Lewis and Charles. How troublesome is the orange haze in reality. Because Max says it's okay.
CL: The formation lap was quite a lot but yeah, but nothing too bad. I mean, you could still see so it was fine.
LH: I would say the same. Just on the formation lap, you couldn’t see the apex of Turn 7, and at the end of the race, you couldn't see anything through Turn 6! So fortunately, it wasn't necessarily the case during the race but maybe they should just save them more so for the end? Yeah. I can't believe they're already good environmentally either. So…
MV: I saw one flare, like they threw it onto the track or into the grass. I think that's the only thing they shouldn't do – but as long as you keep it on the grandstand. I mean, the wind blows it over the track for like one lap, so it doesn't arrive within the track, I think it’s OK.
Q: (Ronald Vording – motorsport.com) It's a question Max on the on the tyre deg. At Red Bull it was quite extreme but I guess for everyone out there it was much higher than anticipated. Pirelli predicted a one-stop going into the race. First of all, do you start the race on the one-stop strategy as well? And secondly, as it was higher for everyone that you feel it’s related to the track conditions? The track maybe being more green after the rain this morning?
MV: No, we always wanted to do two-stop but I have no explanation why it was like this today. We need to analyse it.
Q: (Carlo Platella – formulapassion.it) Question for Charles. How much the car has changed since your last victory Melbourne?
CL: Well, quite a bit. We got a package in Barcelona. Then we had another upgrade in Silverstone. And it always went in the right way. I think the performance has been great since Australia. But apart from Miami, maybe, where we were a little bit down compared to Red Bull, it's been strong in the last five races, but we just couldn't put everything together. So yeah, it's great that we are now finally having a normal race on my side.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Just to all three drivers. There's been some reports this weekend of fans abusing other fans, suffering from verbal abuse and that sort of stuff. I mean, how concerning is it to hear that and how much of a problem do you think that is in Formula 1 at the moment?
MV: Yeah, of course it's not good. All the things that happen anywhere. These things shouldn't happen. I read a few things, a few shocking things. So yeah, that's clearly not OK. And I mean, I shouldn't even need to say this. I think this should be a general understanding that these things shouldn't happen. A normal human being, I think, should think like that and should behave like that.
CL: Yeah, it's horrible to see that. I've seen the statement of Formula 1 just before the race and yeah, I just hope that Formula 1 can do something for that. I don't know how it can be tackled but obviously it's unacceptable to see that anywhere, but obviously if we can do something we should and need to do something.
LH: Yeah, I arrived with a really positive mindset this morning and then I heard some of the things that had been said and just in a bit of shock and just really sad and just to know that people arrive on the weekend to have a great time, to celebrate, to enjoy their time off and enjoy a great experience. And you know, if you go to the UK, we've got a obviously a wide range of fans that go there. Here of course you've got a lot of the Orange Army, and so when we do the parade lap, you have to look quite hard to kind of see the neon caps, they stand out a little bit better but there’s, of course, not as many as the orange here, but just to notice someone sitting in a crowd supporting someone else is receiving abuse is… It's crazy to think that we're experiencing those things still in 2022. So, we have to continue to do more. It just highlights that it's still an issue all over. And it comes down to education, and, of course, ignorance. So, we all have to work together, with our platforms to spread that positive word, with all of our platforms, to all those people that are watching, because people should come here, should feel safe, should feel included. And you should be able to follow whoever it is you want to follow. Doesn't matter. And it shouldn't matter, your gender, your sexuality, or the colour of your skin, you know, it should just be everyone here to have a great time.
Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Question for all three drivers. Just to follow up on what you've just said. Formula 1 has said the abuse that some fans have received is unacceptable. But what would you like to see the sport do to try and combat it? And secondly, is there anything you can do as drivers collectively to make a difference to fans’ behaviour, such as you did quite effectively with the We Race as One initiative?
LH: I've not given huge amount of thought in terms of coming up with solutions for what the sport should do. It goes back to some of the messaging that we talked about in terms of the stuff that we also need to do here within the sport, which is commit more to diversity and inclusion within our industry. Because that then reflects the direction we’re going and it also often does reflect what our fan-base looks like. It's time for action. We Race as One was all good and well, but it was just words. It didn't actually do anything; there was no funding towards anything; there was no programme to actually create change and spark that conversation. So, definitely need to utilise our platforms, as I just mentioned, but we really have to step up and actually really start actioning some of the things we're saying. Just saying… it’s not enough. It’s unacceptable. It's not enough.
CL: Yeah, well, first of all, I believe that as a community, people that are witnessing any type of harassment, should act and actually, yeah, do something. And of course, as Formula 1, if we manage to find these people, we need to take hard actions, they shouldn't be allowed to be anywhere close to our sport, I believe. And then, as Lewis said, as drivers obviously we have a lot of followings all over the world, we should speak about it. And so people, obviously listen to us a little bit more and do these type of things.
MV: Like they said, I think one thing can be improved, maybe with security around places, you know, to keep people more in check, supervisors. And also don't forget, it's not an excuse, but of course, they watch the races and then they go back and party and have fun and drink alcohol. And sometimes when you drink alcohol, you can do stupid things. I don't say this as an excuse but also these things can be regulated: there's a certain amount of alcohol maybe until it's time to maybe go to bed and wake up again next morning and be sober because if you start to go really crazy, you can do also stupid things.
Q: (Fred Ferret – L’Equipe) To Max and Charles, your two team-mates suffered from failures, is it something that bothers you for the battle for the championship, happening for the two of you?
MV: My teammate got taken out so he just had damage. He got run into so his floor was damaged, he had puncture so I think they decided to retire the car because there was no pace in it, like I had an in Silverstone, so then it's no point to continue and just save the rest of the car.
CL: On my side it’s totally different, so yeah, it is definitely a concern, so we need to look into that and make sure that it doesn't happen. Obviously it happened twice on my side in the last five races and now Carlos again. So yeah, we need to get on top of this as quickly as possible.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Max, there were a couple of side-by-sides with Charles and Lewis at Turn 3. It was very fair, very clear and perhaps not as aggressive as it could have been. I just wondered was that in respect to your situation, maybe not having the pace to fight for the win outright?
MV: No, no, I think it was just good racing, you try to defend, you try to attack the other person? It depends where you are. I think it was just very good racing from all of us. Of course, sometimes you're on different kinds of tyres or age of tyres. But I think everything was good. Of course, this year, I think also this weekend, in terms of like the moving and stuff with breaking the tow has been a bit updated. But overall, I think it was good, good fighting.
Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) This weekend, we've heard quite some talk about consistency or maybe even the lack of consistency in the stewards. And we'll hear from two race directors. George Russell said it would be better to have one race director. Do you agree with him? And what do you think of the level of consistency this year compared to last year?
CL: I think consistency has always been a thing that we've searched for and you can always be better, obviously, two race directors, it makes it probably a bit more difficult. Whether it's impossible to achieve a good level of consistency? I don't think so. So, yeah, I don't really have any solutions for now. But I do believe that probably with one race director, it might be a little bit easier to manage.
MV: I don't think necessarily it depends on one race director, I think it's more about working with the drivers instead of just keeping your stance and just being stubborn. You know, we want to make it better for everyone and it's not like we're fighting for ourselves. We have good conversations between the drivers and at the end of the day, the more or less, on most things we agree. Of course everyone has their own opinions about certain things, but like track limits, I think track limits debate this weekend has been a bit of a joke, not only in F1 but in F2 and F3. It's easy to say from the outside, yeah, but you have to just stay within the white lines. It sounds very easy, but it's not because when you go that quick through a corner and some of them are a bit blind, if you have a bit more understeer, tyres are wearing, it's easy to just go over the white line, but do we actually gain time? Maybe yes, maybe not. And to be honest, there's only two or three corners where you can really just go a bit wider. And yeah, I don't think we should have this value on one mill over that's a penalty or whatever. Then just add a wall or put some gravel back where we… like Turn 6 on the exit. I think that's great because there is gravel, you punish yourself if you go wide. So these are things where we have to look into how we can make it better because also for the stewards and just the people involved with checking these track limits, I mean it's almost impossible to check these kind of things because you need what… almost like one guy on one car the whole race to check the whole lap if he's not going outside of the white line, where on this track, at least, in some places, you get naturally penalised if you just you know go a bit wider and you touch the gravels. These kind of things, I think it just doesn't look good for the sport as well and this is just one thing. Then the other thing is racing incidents and stuff. Yeah for sure we can do better. I think we will work on it we'll try to make it better.
LH: Nothing to add, nothing to add. I agree with what they said.
Q: (Tom Morgan – The Telegraph) Lewis this one is for you. I notice you’re still wearing your mask. Sport obviously returned to normality over the last six months, rates going up again. I just wondered really how you feel about where we are really in terms of sport, relaxations and whether you feel we've gone back too quickly.
LH: No, this is personal choice. I just noticed a lot of people around me are getting sick and definitely don't want to get sick again. I've already experienced it twice. But just I notice a lot of people around me, a lot of my friends messaging me that they've got COVID and some of them are much worse than others. And obviously I didn't have Bono with me this weekend. No one's wearing a mask so I'm definitely wearing my mask. I urge people to do what they want to do and it's your health at the end of the day. But yeah, I want to go home healthy. I want to be able to get up and train and do the things I love doing. And I try, if I can, to keep the people that I love around me also safe when I can, when I'm around them. So yeah, that's it.
Q: (Edd Straw - The Race) Charles, can you explain a little bit more about how you adapted when you have the throttle problem? You mentioned it was inconsistent so how much was reacting to when it kicked in? How much did you have to change the way you were approaching certain corners, particularly the slower ones?
CL: While just quite a bit of lift and coast, to understand how much throttle would I have going into a corner. Not much more than that, to be honest, than just playing with the throttle on and off to try and… whenever it felt too bad, to have a bit less throttle in the corner, so yeah, it wasn't easy, but yeah, it's fine.