FIA post-race press conference - Mexico City
DRIVERS 1 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing) 2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes) 3 – Sergio PÉREZ (Red Bull Racing)
PARC FERMÉ INTERVIEWS
(Conducted by Marc Gené)
Q: Hello everybody. Hola todos. Max Verstappen, you are unstoppable. Tell me, first, on the race, which was the key point, because everybody spoke about the start. And you did great. You know, do you think that was a very important key to win that race?
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, of course, that helped me out a lot for the rest of the race, to stay in the lead after Turn 1. Of course, we were also on a different strategy to the cars around us. But yeah, again, an incredible result. The pace of the car was, again, really nice. We had to look after our tyres, because it was a very long stint on the medium, but we made it work.
Q: You've been to many, many podiums, but have you ever seen something like that with such a big crowd?
MV: It's amazing. It's an incredible atmosphere and we love to come here.
Q: And finally, Max. I don't know how much you look into numbers or how much you are into history. World Champion and now you are the first driver ever to win 14 grands prix in one season. How do you feel about that?
MV: Yeah, it's been an incredible year so far. So yeah, we are definitely enjoying it and we'll try to go for more.
Q: Well done. Enjoy. Lewis Hamilton, second place. You were pushing all the way. You were pushing Max at the beginning of the race. Did you think at some point that you could win the race?
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, well first this has been an amazing crowd and definitely a bit awkward this time rounds, boos all day, but nonetheless I have so much love for Mexico and for the people here and what a great race and event they have put on this weekend. I was so close, I think, in that first stint, but I think the Red Bull was just clearly too fast today and ultimately maybe they had the better tyre strategy.
Q: About the tyres and the strategy: you tried the Hard compound, we could hear you on the radio that it was difficult. What was the problem? Do you think the Hard was not the right tyre at that moment of the race?
LH: Yeah, not sure it was the right tyre the end. I thought we should have started on the Soft but obviously we had the opposite tyre. It was OK in the first stint but that Hard was just offset, so congratulations to Max and it's great to be up here and separate the two.
Q: Still well done, you kept the pressure on Checo, so well done for that second place. And now Checo. Well done. What do you feel? What are your emotions? What are your emotions to be in front of 70,000 Mexicans here in the Foro Sol?
Sergio PÉREZ: Yeah, I mean I gave my best you know today at the start. I really, really pushed hard. Unfortunately, we had a little bit of a bad stop, which prevented us to undercut Lewis. Overtaking is so difficult. As soon as I got behind him it was really difficult to follow so I had to stay in third.
Q: But still, I think a key point was the start, when you overtook Russell to be on the podium. Do you think that was very important in Turn 4?
SP: Yeah, definitely. You know, given how difficult overtaking was today I think that it was key, you know. I thought we were going to be a little closer but unfortunately it didn't work out for us today, but still it's good a good podium in front of this crowd. I really wanted more today but third place, it’s still a good.
Q: Well done, Max, that was a brilliantly controlled race, and one that sees you take the record of 14 wins in a season. Another incredible milestone in an extraordinary season.
MV: Yeah, I mean, another great race, I think. We knew that the first stint was going to be the crucial one for us, to keep that Soft tyre alive long enough, which seemed to work. I mean, I did struggle a bit towards the end but luckily the gap was big enough to extend a few laps. And yeah, once we put on the Medium tyres, everything was working quite well. And I think quite early on we figured that we could make it to the end. So yeah, another great race, but also it's just an incredible season for us as a team. Never thought I would be able to win 14 races in a year. But yeah, of course, I’m incredibly proud.
Q: Can I throw another stat at you? With 416 points, you've also broken the record for the number of points scored in a single season. How high can you go?
MV: I mean, we have a sprint race in Brazil and (laughs)… Hopefully we can score a few more, but I mean, it's not about that. At the end of the day, it's all about trying to win a championship and it doesn't matter with how many points you do it, but it does show that we are having an incredible year.
Q: Can we talk a little bit more about strategy? Did you consider the Hard tyre at that pit stop?
MV: No. I tried it in FP1 and it just didn't really feel great. So I think that's why we never really wanted to use it.
Q: You seemed to be managing a fair bit during the race, not just looking after the tyres. We heard you talking about bouncing. We also heard you comment on the gearshifts. Just how many issues were there?
MV: No, no real issues. It's just that the kerbs here are quite aggressive and I was trying a few different lines and some worked and some didn't. And with the gears, I think it was just after the pit stop, I think the clutch was a bit warm. And after that it was OK.
Q: A final word on the podium. We can hear the music in the background now just how special is it here in the Foro Sol?
MV: Yeah, I mean they put on a great show. I mean the atmosphere in general is incredible. The fans are super passionate about Formula 1 but of course about Checo. But it also helps a lot… You know you have that whole stadium and it makes it look incredible. It's a great atmosphere.
Q: Max, many thanks and many congratulations as well. Lewis, we're coming to you now. Great job. Your second, second place in as many weeks, although you didn't seem totally happy with your strategy after the race. What would you change if you ran the race again?
LH: Well, firstly I'm really happy to be up here and to be able to split the Red Bulls, I think, is a huge result for us. Brought an upgrade into the last race and to have kind-of close the gap a little bit - they still have the edge I think - but I don't know, I think it was amazing for us to be fighting in qualifying and have the second and third. I was speaking about in strategy about us taking a risk with one of the cars at least doing something different. I had a gut feeling that they will be on the Soft to start with and when everyone took their blankets off, everyone around us was on the Softs and we're on the Mediums. At that moment. I thought that we may be in trouble. But then again, it's a long, long race, so I thought maybe they'll be on a two-stop. But that Medium tyre just had no drop-off. So ultimately, I think they were on the right tyre strategy. But I am grateful I was able to just about keep up within that first stint. That’s huge, to be able to keep up with a Red Bull.
Q: You said during the race, that you weren't happy with the Hard tyre. Did you consider going longer on the Medium and then going straight to Soft?
LH: I mean, I kept telling them the tyre was fine, but I'm assuming that they were coming into my window. Sergio had already stopped. So I'm assuming they… they were going much quicker than me perhaps. So, if we stayed out longer, I would have come out behind Sergio and it would have been all over. So, I think that's the reason. Unfortunately, at the beginning, obviously had a good battle through Turns 1 and 2 but obviously my team-mate got jumped by Sergio, so I was basically tag-teamed by the Red Bulls. It’s very, very hard in strategy when you don’t have both cars there. I think Sergio was able to come in and pull me in, which definitely hindered our strategy.
Q: We're talking a lot about strategy – but what positives do you take from this weekend? I mean, was this the most competitive the car has been this year?
LH: Yeah, it's so, so many positives, to take from this weekend. And, yeah, this is definitely the most competitive and the best the car has felt all year – and that is truly down to the amazing work from all the women and men back at the factory, who have just been doing such an amazing job. And not giving up. I think it's just been a real showing of resilience, and perseverance. And I'm so happy to be kind-of back in that fight. We saw in the last race, kind-of, almost having a chance to win. And I don't know what the car will be like in these next races. I'm hoping in Brazil, something special may come of it. But we'll see.
Q: Checo, coming to you now. Another third place for you at home. How sweet was the podium this time?
SP: It was always very sweet. Unfortunately, I think today, we could have been a bit higher, you know, we had a better stop. But at the end, I think second or third doesn't really matter. As long as I'm on the podium. It was great to have all these people. They have been amazing the whole weekend. And it was just nice to finish off the weekend with a podium.
Q: Let's go through the race in chronological order. Can you describe the opening few corners? How crucial was it for you to pass George Russell at that point?
SP: Yeah, it was quite important, to make some progress on lap one. So, I managed to get George early on and then just stay with Max and Lewis throughout that first stint. And we boxed relatively early for the Medium, which was going to be an undercut on Lewis, but unfortunately, we had a bad stop. And we just came behind the Ferraris, a bit too far, and that meant that we were just… we lost too much time going through them. So yeah, that was, I think, what really prevented us getting Lewis because I could see he was struggling in the early laps with the Hard tyre, and that was our opportunity. Once you get them going, he seemed to pull away a bit. And yeah, unfortunately, there was not much I could do because every time I was getting close to him, things were overheating: brakes; engine; tyres, so I have very few chances to attack him. I use a few times ERS but no more than that.
Q: And you've retaken second place in the Drivers’ Championship, five points ahead of Charles Leclerc. Do you feel you've got the momentum in that battle now
SP: It can change, race-to-race. For now, I just want to go into the next two and aim for the win. There’s nothing more to lose, so we will try everything. It’s been a very difficult weekend with far too many issues, so we need to put everything together and then I believe we can do the next step.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Tom Cary – Daily Telegraph) A question for Max. Congratulations on the win. We understand that you took the decision not to speak to Sky Sports after the race and after taking pole yesterday as well, I think, and not just you, but also Christian and Helmut and Checo as well. Could you just explain a little bit about why you've taken that decision? And how long you might keep that up for?
MV: It had nothing to do with this weekend. But this year, it's been a constant… kind of like digging, being disrespectful, especially one particular person. And at one point it's enough you know? I don't accept it. You can't live in the past, you just have to move on. At the moment, social media is a very toxic place. And if you are constantly being like that, live on TV, you make it only worse instead of trying to make it better in the world. You keep being… You keep disrespecting me, and one point I'm not tolerating it anymore, so that's why I decided to stop answering.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Another question to Max, please. Max, we've seen in the past how critical the start can be for the outcome of race results. How did that go from your point of view, to stay ahead of the Mercedes cars? And also, how hard were you finding it as the tyres were giving up on the Soft in stint one? Thanks.
MV: Yeah, start was crucial. I mean, my start itself, I made a small mistake with the release, but it was still good enough. And then we had good top speeds. I mean, that probably helped a little bit to Turn One, to fully stay ahead. I was never worried that they would fly past me. But, of course, if you are fully side-by-side, it can be a bit difficult. But yeah, we managed to hang in there and it was all okay. And first stint, yeah, the last few laps was a bit tough with the Soft tyres. So, it was all about just getting to that certain number of laps. And we managed that. So, it was just good enough.
Q: (Jose Jesús Santoyo – Forbes México) Question in Spanish relating to lessons learned during the season.
SP: Well, I think the lesson from this year is that you know, it's been a great year as a team. I do need to step up a bit my race pace, mainly. Where last year was more the qualifying, I think. With these cars, you are able to race a lot closer, so I think we need to step up that race pace. The understanding with the team, with the car, I think that has come better in the last few races. So, I believe we are heading on the right track.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Max , this is another question regarding breaking the single season win record. When you equalled it in Austin, you mentioned it's different eras, you have more races now that you're competing in. I know you said you're incredibly proud earlier but I just wondered why you’re not more outwardly excited about something like that? It's never been done before in Formula 1. Is it just like a tactic to avoid losing focus?
MV: I don't know. I was never really interested in stats. I just live in the moment. I just try to - of course - do the best I can every single weekend. I try to win the races and that, for me, is the most important. Every single weekend when I go home, and I can say to myself that I maximised or close to that I'm happy. But of course, a lot in Formula 1 depends on your whole package , right? And we are having a great package and I'm just enjoying the moment and I'm not that interested in keeping in touch with every stat. But of course, it is an amazing season and of course I'm very happy with winning so many races.
Q: (Erwin Jaeggi - Motorsport.com) Max, how are you viewing the last two races of the season? is the main focus shift towards next year already? Or is the main focus still to achieve more next year?
MV: While the focus has, for sure, already shifted to next year with the car. But we also focus on the car we have at the moment that we try to win the next two races, that's for sure.
Q: (Lawrence Edmonson - ESPN) Slightly off topic, Max you mentioned the toxic comments on Twitter that you get this year. Do you think there's more now or do you think it's amplified now? And what do you think the reason is for that?
MV: I think it's just the sport is more popular so there are more people watching, so more people are writing. I think it's just that. It's not great that they are allowed to write these kinds of things so I hope we can come up with a kind of algorithm that stops people from being keyboard warriors, because these kind of people… they will never come up to you and say these things in front of your face, because they're sitting in front of their desk or whatever at home, being upset, being frustrated, and they can write whatever they like because the platform allows you to. Yeah, that can be really damaging and hurtful to some people and it's not how it should be.
Q: Lewis, can we have your thoughts on this place? Just your thoughts on the toxic culture on social media at the minute?
LH: Yeah, I think social media is getting more and more toxic as the years go on. I think we should probably get off it, ultimately. So many people… mental health is such a prominent thing right now. I know so many people reading their comments and the stuff that people say and it is hurtful. Fortunately, I don't read that stuff but the media platforms definitely need to do more to protect people, particularly young kids and women. But at the moment, they're not doing that so I think it will just continue.
SP: Yeah, it's a shame how are these people can feel how they feel, because you are just a public figure and they feel they can insult you, insult your family and just sitting behind the desk, they don't understand that we are also human beings. And I think this has got to stop. And, obviously, as a sport, we need to also be responsible of what we post, by ourselves. We all have a lot of followers so it's very important that we try to get the sport in the right way because Formula 1, it's a great sport and has great values, but has to do more in that regard. And just in general, the social media world is getting far too toxic.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Lewis at one point in the first stint, Red Bull told Max to push to break the tow back to you. How hard were you finding it to stay in that position, a couple of seconds behind because it looked like the pace between the two of you was swinging around a little bit?
LH: I think at the beginning, tyre difference was the issue. I think the soft tyre naturally is a little bit faster in the early phases. It definitely was surprising to see how consistent he was able to keep it. So in the early phase I'm sure he was managing a little bit, but I could tell that they had the upper hand in that first stint. But then towards the end I started to close up a little bit and I was hopeful of some sort of a bit of a battle but yeah, as soon as we migrated onto that hard tyre, it was kind of over from that point.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, just reflected on a post you made on social media yesterday on Twitter. It was a thumbs up with a picture of you and Fernando; I think it was when you beat him at the US race in 2007. I guess that was in reflecting on an interview that he gave where he made some comments about you and the titles you’ve won. I just wanted to know your thoughts of the comments that he made? Do you think they were unnecessary? Did you feel a bit let down by them, just your general reaction?
LH: I gave you it. That's my thumbs up. I don't really have a lot to say about it. It does make me giggle a little bit to be honest, but I have tried to be really respectful over the years and for example, when you've ever asked me about who has been the better driver for me I've always tried to give praise, but it's definitely interesting to see the comments that are made, but it doesn't really matter. So that's why I just kind of put the thumbs up.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) One for Lewis and one for Max, please. Lewis, do you think this was a winnable race if you started on the softs, and why didn't you? And Max, how much pressure were you under in that first stint and were you always planning to one stop it: soft to medium?
LH: I think ultimately they still have the upper hand. They're still a little bit quicker. Maybe today we were the closest that we've ever been and perhaps if we were on the same tyre maybe it was a couple of tenths a lap perhaps. But they're quite quick in a straight line and not losing through the corners. I was in his tow and I was struggling just to keep up so they’ve definitely got a little bit more in the tank than we do. But we're getting closer. I think if we had started on the soft, maybe I would have been the same distance behind in that first stint. I don't really know what else… what different we would do. Perhaps we would have tried the undercut and ultimately that would have been much more enjoyable to try something like that. But, yeah, hindsight is a great thing. I'm just grateful for the progress we have made as a team and the fact that we are now in between the Red Bulls. I think that's huge.
MV: What was the first bit like if I was under pressure? Well, about the stops, we left it open. It was more like we will see how the deg is going to be throughout the race. That's why we chose to start on the soft and the tyre was holding on surprisingly well, let's say like that, until four or five laps to the end of that stint. But I never really felt like I was under pressure, I was just managing my tyres to get through that number of laps. And then it was still a question mark, of course, when I went onto the medium to see how long they were going to last but within a few laps, it felt really good. And then we felt like we could go to the end.
Q: (Jose Antonio Cortes - ESPN Deportes) Checo, do you enjoy to be Max's teammate. And how difficult is it for you to be his teammate this season?
SP: Well it's a great challenge to be his teammate. Max is operating at a very high level from FP1 through the whole weekend so just had a little learning and trying to beat him and trying to do the stuff he is doing. So it's obviously not an easy task. I don't believe there's anyone that can come and just beat him straightaway. He's very solid with the team. He’s been here a while so I think I'm just getting closer and closer with the year so yeah, I will give another shot for next year and see what happens.