FIA Post Sprint press conference – Austrian Grand Prix
DRIVERS: 1 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), 2 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari), 3 – Carlos SAINZ (Ferrari)
PARC FERMÉ INTERVIEWS
(Conducted by Naomi Schiff)
Q: Max, congratulations. This is your second sprint race win of the season, this time in front of the orange army. How much energy are they giving you?
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, it was great to see, got a lot of smoke at the end, all the orange. But it was alright, it was, I think, a decent race. We had a good pace in the beginning. I think after that, you know, we were very closely matched. So yeah, it was good. It was, you know, like a sprint should go, quite flat out.
Q: Now yesterday, the times between you and these two guys behind you here were really, really close. But today, they couldn't seem to answer you. So what did you pull out of the bag overnight?
MV: It was just the first few laps and of course they were also fighting a little bit, so I had a bit of a gap. And after that, I think we were quite similar in pace. So I do expect tomorrow that it's going to be a very interesting battle again. Of course, you know, the race is going to be quite a lot longer, so it's going to be quite tricky on tyres.
Q: Are you confident that your performance today can be repeated tomorrow?
MV: Well, we'll find out. I think the car is good. Just a few things to fine tune but overall we've been really competitive again this weekend.
Q: Well, congratulations and good luck with tomorrow. Charles, congratulations, you maintain your position today. I'm assuming your expectations were a little bit higher for today?
Charles LECLERC: Oh, it was tricky. Obviously. The first part of the race was all about managing, but Max was very quick. He was pushing quite a lot at the beginning, so I was trying to control my tyres to attack at the end. Then we've had a small fight with Carlos. And yeah, towards the end I started to push, I was gaining a little bit, but it was very close overall. So yeah, tomorrow is a race and hopefully we can have as good of a start as today and put a bit more pressure on Max.
Q: Now we saw that little fight between you and Carlos in the race and as much as we love to see racing. Do you think you guys can work together tomorrow to close the gap to Max?
CL: I really hope so.
Q: Carlos, congrats. Our most recent Grand Prix winner. You had a pretty good race today, you managed to take the challenge to Charles, but how can you turn that around tomorrow to bring the battle to Max?
Carlos SAINZ: Yeah, I had a good start then a couple of fights there at the beginning first with Max into Turn 3, then Charles into Turn 3 again a bit later in the race, which was good, it was good fun, like it should be, good racing. But then, yeah, probably I overheated a bit the tyres running behind Charles and I had to back off to recover them on and finish the race.
Q: Can you work together with three DRS zones to close the gap to Max tomorrow?
CS: We will see. I think first of all we will need to improve a little bit the pace because he looked to be very strong at the beginning of the race and then little by little it looked like we were starting to match him. Tomorrow it’s a long race. Tomorrow we will go through different compounds, so I think anything can happen. The important thing is that we are both in the fight and we will try our best to beat Max.
Q: A very warm welcome to the top three finishers of the F1 Sprint ahead of Sunday's FIA Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix. In third place, Carlos Sainz. In second place, Charles Leclerc. And our winner of the Sprint and starting in pole position tomorrow, Max Verstappen. Max, you're fresh from your lap around the track in a KTM crossbow. First up, how was it? What was the reception from the crowd light?
MV: Yeah, I mean, of course, it was great to see all the fans, you know there is a lot of orange around here, and you could hear them cheering. So that was very nice, for sure.
Q: And what about that race? You absolutely dominated it? Were you surprised by the gap to the Ferrari drivers?
MV: I mean, of course, they also had a little fight in the beginning of the race, so I could pull a gap, and basically then control the gap. But you could see towards the end of the race, we were very closely matched in pace. So I do expect tomorrow to be a tight race.
Q: So what have you learned today that's going to help you in tomorrow's Grand Prix?
MV: There are still a few things to look at for tomorrow. But overall, the car's been performing really well, so that's, of course, always a positive. And yeah, normally these tyres will be used also tomorrow. So it should be alright.
Q: Were you tempted to start this race on the Soft tyre?
MV: No, not at all.
Q: Max, very well done and good luck in the Grand Prix tomorrow. Charles, let's come to you. Now, it was an eventful Sprint for you. Let's start at the beginning. Can you talk us through your getaway from the grid?
CL: My start was pretty good. After that it was quite tricky with Max. And then I lost the place to Carlos, but I managed to regain the place in Turn 3. And then I was trying to manage my tyres for the end of the race, but it wasn't enough to catch Max at the end.
Q: Well, it was a cracking battle with your team-mate. Where were you faster than him? Where was he faster than you?
CL: Well, I think it was pretty close between us three, to be honest, in terms of pace. I was probably the one managing the most at the beginning and the one maybe pushing the most at the end. So yeah, I just tried something different. But it didn’t work out.
Q: How much time to Max did you lose in your battle with Carlos?
CL: Well, a little bit. Whether this was enough to get the win, I don't think so. Because Max was also managing then once he had the gap, as he was saying, so we'll never know what would have happened. But yeah, today is the way it is.
Q: And Charles, from what you've seen today, who has the faster race car, Ferrari or Red Bull?
CL: Again, I think it's very close. So yeah, tomorrow, tyre management will be a thing. And it will be an exciting race.
Q: Carlos, coming to you now. Talk us through the battle with Charles from your perspective?
CS: Yeah, there were a few battles going on there at the beginning. First, at the start, and then with Charles around… I don't know what lap was it - four or five? That was fun, and yeah, a shame that I couldn't get him in the end. I think he had a pretty good exit there at the exit of Turn 3 and it wasn't quite enough to get him, but yeah from there on I lost a bit of grip on the tyres, on the front and the rears, and I had to recover the battery, recover the tyres, and then get back into a rhythm. But good fun, like always here.
Q: Now, if you and Charles are together on the racetrack again, tomorrow, do you think we need to see you work together more than you did in the Sprint to stay with Max?
CS: I think today there was very little to gain or to lose by the fight, we're talking about one point more, one point less. Because there's not many points going on. And also Max looked very in control the whole race up front. So it's not like we lost out massively.
Q: And Max says that he didn't think about starting the race on the Soft tyre. What was the thinking at Ferrari?
CS: We both started on Medium. So you have the answer there.
Q: Was it even close? Did you even think about it?
CS: I’m not going to reveal what we think about or don't think about before the race.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ronald Vording - Motorsport.com) It's a question to Max. Checo said he had recently found it more difficult in the RB18 and he thinks that the upgrades are not really fitting to his driving style. How is that for you? Do you feel more comfortable in the car than let's say two months ago? And secondly, do you think that's related to the upgrades or just going to different types of circuit, completely different to Monaco, where you struggled a bit more?
MV: Well, I think in general, we always try to make the car faster and whatever they bring to the car you have to adapt to that. And that's certainly what I've been doing. I mean, of course I say what I would like for my car in general, but the upgrades on the car are not specifically designed around me. It's just more pace.
Q: (Fred Ferret – L’Equipe) A question to Charles and Carlos. Do you think for tyre management it would be useful to have a team order at the end of the first lap to let one of you fight Max? Or is it better to fight the two of you during the whole race?
CL: I mean, I think tomorrow is going to be a long race and tyre management will be quite a bit more important compared to today. So probably tomorrow we cannot afford to do what we did today, no.
CS: Yeah, no, I will see how the tyres feel, how the pace is in front of me and I'm sure with the team we will work it out for tomorrow.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Question for Charles. I know Carlos, you’ve declined to talk about the tyres, but it's very noticeable that you guys were doing 20-21 laps on the Softs in FP2. So, for you to not use them, did they behave different to what you expected?
CL: Not really, to be honest, but we had obviously a Medium that was 15 or 20 laps old from FP1, so we decided to do the long run on the Soft, which I think was a little bit better for us to understand things. So yeah, there were no surprises. We knew that the Soft was not a race tyre for the for the Sprint Qualifying.
Q: (Péter Vámosi - Racingline.hu) Question is to Carlos. Do you think that because you were a team-mate of Max, it would be better if Ferrari would support you in a fight between you and him?
CS: I think it has nothing to do with being teammates, ex-teammates. Is the situation we are in but I don't think that it makes much sense, what you asked there, because it doesn't matter if he's my teammate, my ex-teammate or not. We’re going to both try to make Max’s life as difficult as possible in the race, in the rest of the Championship, and we need to push flat-out, you know? Because he’s far ahead in the Championship and we need to try and make his life as difficult as possible. But he's driving very well and this weekend, he's looked very quick all weekend, so it's going to be difficult to beat him tomorrow.
Q: (Carlo Platella – formulapassion.it) Question to Charles and Carlos. In your first flying lap, you lost 0.8 and one second from Max. It was a cautious approach with spare tyres, so you were struggling with the warm-up?
CL: No, I think personally I was trying to take care about the tyres. Probably the first lap in itself I was quite surprised by how much Max was pushing on that first timed lap, but yeah, we were more on the cautious side.
CS: My normal approach to the race, managing the tyre in the first couple of laps like always but we were not doing – at least me – I wasn't doing anything special. It shows that Max is quick and that is going to beat him but yeah, I was doing my normal approach to the race.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Question for Max. Back in Baku, you asked Red Bull to give you more one-lap pace, that was the main area you were targeting, and yesterday perhaps wasn't your cleanest lap, but you still got pole, and it doesn't seem to have affected race pace. So, are you confident that the car has gained on the one-lap but not lost anywhere else?
MV: I think we are still a little bit… I would say not amazing in Qualifying. But that hasn't only to do with just the car, we are still a bit heavy. So, of course, when all the fuel comes out, that is just a limitation we have, so we still need to lose weight with the car, which we're working on. But that's why, I guess in the race, it's a little bit less of an issue because first of all, you cannot push like in qualifying so probably that helps a bit with the way we have the car and, yeah, that weight issue with a full tank is a little bit less visible.
Q: (Abhishek Takle – Midday) Question to the two Ferrari drivers. Did the battle between the two of you at the start of the Sprint cost you the chance to attack Max and, I know you said the team will work on scenarios tomorrow, but do you need rules of engagement? Something like whoever's into the first corner first gets the chance to attack Max or something like that? Thank you.
CL: I don't know for the rules of engagement. Obviously, we are not the one to decide. It will be more Mattia. Then for the first question, what was it?
Q: Did the battle between the two of you at the start cost you the chance to attack Max?
CL: Yeah, I mean, we've lost a little bit of time. But again, I think then when Max had the gap, he also managed his pace. So we'll never know again, but I felt like we were strong towards the end. Probably stronger than at the beginning. Whether it will have been enough, I really don't know.
CS: Nothing to add.
Q: Rules of engagement?
CS: Mattia will decide, and the team – but I mean, it's not like we lost a lot and it didn't look like Max was panicking too much upfront with our pace, but yeah, we need to make sure we stay closer at the beginning of a stint, and we are closer at the end of a stint. I think this is what we need to try and do tomorrow.