FIA post-race press conference – Australia

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Second placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari attends the


1 – Carlos SAINZ (Ferrari), 2 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari), 3 – Lando NORRIS (McLaren)


(Conducted by Guenther Steiner)

Q: Carlos, fantastic result. I mean, this was vamos, Carlos! This was vamos. This was the maximum you could get. First of all, how do you feel, because of your appendicitis? How do you feel? I see you're pretty fit, but tell me.

Carlos SAINZ: Yeah, thank you. Thanks very much. It was a really good race. I felt really good out there. Of course, a bit stiff and especially physically. It wasn't the easiest, but I was lucky that I was more or less on my own and I could manage my pace, manage the tyres, manage everything. And it wasn't the toughest race of all. But yeah, very happy, very proud of the team. Happy to be in a 1-2 with Charles here. It shows that the hard work pays off. And yeah, life sometimes is crazy, you know. What happened at the beginning of the year, then the podium in Bahrain, then the appendix, the comeback, the win. It's a roller coaster, but I loved it, and yeah, I'm extremely happy.

Q: Yeah, I'm sure it was made easier by leading out there, your appendix, your pain, everything. It's just a great feeling.

CS: I think I will recommend all the drivers to take it out this winter!

Q: If I were you, I wouldn't do that, because maybe they can go faster as well. But when you were behind Max at the start of the race, did you see that he had a struggle when you overtook him? It didn't seem that he was struggling. You just drove past once you got the DRS. So could you see something or not?

CS: I don't know. I felt like I could keep up with him on the first lap and try and take DRS, just to make sure that… DRS around here is super powerful. Then he lost the car into Turns 3 and there was my chance to get close and attempt an overtake. And then as soon as he was behind, I think he started struggling with the brakes and that was it for him. A pity because we would have had, I think, a very good fight for P1 today. But, you know, I'm happy to take the win. He's had plenty of them. So, yeah, happy to be back here.

Q: Absolutely. You won the race. He didn't lose it. You won it, you know. So, at what stage did you know that you are out there to go and win it?

CS: I think from lap two, when I was leading, I said with the pace I had yesterday, I knew I could get it done, especially in clean air, manage the tyres. I could get it done. Then obviously the risk of Safety Car and red flag here was always in the back of my mind. But luckily it was a clean race and not too much happened. Obviously, sorry for George there at the end. It looked like a big one. I hope he's OK. And yeah, I could finish the race, win it, bring it home. A great feeling.

Q: I'm sure you'll go out and party with the Ferrari guys after this one and two. Congratulations again, Carlos. Congratulations to you as well, Charles. Fantastic second place podium, a 1-2 for Ferrari, must be great for the whole team and you must be proud of what you achieved today.

Charles LECLERC: Yeah, it feels good mostly for the team, of course. I mean, first and second didn't happen since Bahrain 2022, which are very good memories we have. And it's amazing to be able to do that. Carlos has had an incredible weekend to come back after his surgery. He's done an amazing race. On my side, I struggled a bit more in the second stint with the first Hard. There, I don't know, I didn't manage the tyres well. But then the last stint was more positive. But first and second was the best we could do.

Q: Did you at any stage think you can attack Carlos or was it always pretty sure that you cannot get to him but you could hold off the McLarens?

CL: Not really, because in the first stint, we had to protect behind, so we had to stop a bit earlier, and then from that moment onwards, Carlos was very fast, and with my tyres, I was struggling. I think that as soon as we stopped at the first stop, then for me it was clear. But again, Carlos has done a better job all weekend. So, I mean, at least from qualifying to the race, and he definitely deserves that victory. So I'm really happy for him. I'm really happy for the team. It's really good points. We came into the weekend telling ourselves that we need to maximize our points, and there's nothing we could have done better. So really happy about this.

Q: I wish you a nice evening, parting with the boys.

CL: Thank you very much.

Q: Good job, Lando, congratulations on the podium. Must feel good to be the second force this weekend as a team, you know, and especially for the team, it's great. So, out there at any stage, did you think you can get to P2?

Lando NORRIS: No, it was a very good day for us. I'm very happy, proud of the team. P3 and P4 is a lot of points in the championship, so that's the first thing. We missed out on Charles. I think our pace was a little bit better. He undercut us in the first stint, so maybe a little bit of hope for second place. I think our pace was strong enough today. But Ferrari and Carlos did a very good job, so hats off to them. They've been fast all weekend. I felt good. I felt like I could manage the tyres very well today, and that was a good step. Probably wasn't expecting to be on the podium, so I'm very happy.

Q: I was expecting you on the podium, you know. I said McLaren would be on the podium. But you must be confident now for the team going forward to be in a good position always to fight for podiums.

LN: Yes. I mean, it's clear that this circuit suits us a little bit more. So we've been able to push and unlock a little bit of speed. But it's still another step to Ferrari and Red Bull, they're one or two steps ahead of us still, so we need to catch up. But it's clear that we're getting closer and a day like today proves exactly that. So, a big thanks to all in McLaren. We're getting closer to our target. It's nice to be back on the podium again and hopefully we can have many more.


Q: What a race, Carlos. Many congratulations. Given everything you've been through these past two weeks post-operation, what does this mean?

CS: Yeah, thank you very much. But yeah, and I think it's not only the last two weeks. It's the whole start to the year in general, how the year started with the news of the non-renewal. Then you get yourself fit. You get yourself ready for the start of the season, pushing flat out. And then you get to Bahrain. You do a good podium. You say, ‘OK, now the season is starting well and I can keep the momentum going’. And suddenly, boom, they're missing a race in Jeddah and the operation. Long days in bed, not knowing if I was going to be back in time. Obviously, a lot of unknowns. Am I going to be back fit? Am I going to be back feeling still good with the car? And then suddenly you come back and win. So, yes, what I said on the radio – life is a roller coaster sometimes, but it can be really nice and good to you sometimes. Just letting it sink in and enjoying the moment.

Q: How apprehensive were you coming into the race? About your fitness over 58 laps?

CS: How nervous I was? I was confident about the first half of the race that I was going to be OK because it's more or less the laps that I did on Friday. Obviously, the second half of the race was a bit of an unknown. But yeah, once I got up in front and I had a gap, you can manage everything. You can manage yourself, you can manage the tyres, you have less pressure. You can choose your places where to push and not to push you know, and everything becomes a lot easier. So yeah, I'm not going to lie, the last five or 10 laps I was a bit stiff and tired but nothing that was slowing me down too much.

Q: Well, tell us a little bit more about the race now and particularly those opening couple of laps and the moment you passed Max Verstappen for the lead of the grand prix.

CS: Yeah, I got a decent start from the dirty side of the grid, but obviously couldn't put Max under pressure into Turn 1, but from there on it was a kind of a very strategic first lap and a half where you are wanting to protect the tyre from opening up the graining. But at the same time, I knew this weekend and this race, I could have the pace to challenge Max. And I thought to myself, with how powerful the DRS is around here, if I get myself within the DRS range after lap one, we can put him a bit under pressure. I think he did a mistake into Turn 3 that allowed me to stay within the DRS and I could feel myself being pretty quick. And then, yeah, I don't know when his brakes started to go, but yeah, in dirty air, obviously, it's not the same than in clean air with a big gap.

Q: He said in the pen a little bit earlier that he had a problem with the brakes from the start. When did it become evident for you that he had a problem?

CS: I don't know. I saw him... obviously pushing on lap one and I was like, ‘OK, I'm going to push with him too and challenge in the car’. But obviously it could have been the brakes, as he said. So, yeah, I don't know, honestly, but it felt good to pass him, with brake issues or not, because it is tough, you know, to pass Max on track and the Red Bull, But it's what we've said from the beginning – if you are there and you can put Red Bull under pressure, you can sometimes get it done. But you need to be there, and we need to be there more often if we want to win.

Q: Do you feel Ferrari have got closer to Red Bull this weekend, or do you feel they weren't maximising their package? What's the feeling in Maranello?

CS: I think our car really worked really well this weekend. But I think it's going to be tough to keep it up there in every track until we bring an upgrade to close that gap that we saw in Bahrain and Jeddah. But around Australia, from lap one, it felt like a race-winning car. And even if Red Bull were also quick and were on pole, that 59 in quali wasn't out of reach for us. And I think we just… Yeah, there will be tracks where we are strong like we saw last year. And this year it seems like our race pace is better even on those tracks that we are stronger. And together with a good development programme, I hope that we can challenge Red Bull more often.

Q: Very well done today. Thank you, Carlos. Charles, coming to you now. This is Ferrari's day and it's the team's first 1-2 here in Melbourne for nearly two decades. How important is this result both for team morale and for confirmation that the SF24 is where it needs to be?

CL: Oh, it's extremely important, because it's been a long time since we have had the genuine pace to have Red Bull... I wouldn't say under control, because we don't know what was the real pace of Max today, but I will say that from FP1, we knew that pole position and the race win was possible because we had very good tyre degradation, very good pace, and that is a very encouraging sign. However, if you look at the first three races, two out of the first three races they had the upper hand in the race. So we still have a lot of work to do. But that's exactly what we need to do as a team. Whenever we have the opportunity to actually win a race we need to take it and this weekend we did it, Carlos did it today. On my side, second with the fastest lap, so there are not any more points that we have got. And looking back at the first three races, there is not one race where we didn't maximise the result. So we need to do that until we get the car that is consistently better than the Red Bull, especially in the race.

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Race winner Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari attends the press conference after the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 24, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Q: As you said a moment ago, you got fastest lap today. Was there anything more you could have done about your team-mate to steal the win?

CL: Just being better. I think in qualifying yesterday, I haven't been good enough. In the second stint today, on the first Hard stint, I had quite a bit of graining on the front left after the [Virtual] Safety Car. The last stint was really good, but it wasn't enough. So Carlos has just been better this weekend. But it’s been that in the last three years, where we basically will arrive at one race and Carlos will be better and then I'll push and then I'll be better at the next race and then we'll improve like that. And that's very exciting as a driver to have such a fast team-mate. And he's really been on it since the beginning of the weekend. So congratulations to Carlos.

Q: Charles, many thanks for that. Lando, coming to you, very many congratulations on your 14th career podium. Was this one unexpected?

LN: I think when you take the Red Bull out of it I would say, no. I think our pace has been good all weekend. We put things together very nicely yesterday. We showed a good long run and high-fuel pace on Friday. So I wouldn't have said we had no chance. I didn't expect probably us to be competing against the Ferraris today. I think our pace was not as good as Carlos, but probably better than Charles. So I think if I was being honest we maybe missed out a little bit on an opportunity to be P2 today. But yeah, for us to say that is a good sign. And I think it's a good positive for the whole team. It's a good boost. It's nice to be back on the podium. Whether or not the Red Bull was there or not our pace was good today and hopefully that continues for more races.

Q: What more could you have done about Charles? Perhaps the undercut at the second pit stop? You say you left it on the table, but what could you have done?

LN: I mean, we didn't leave anything on the table but yeah the lap we were going to undercut, he boxed. So then again you have to go off and do kind of a different strategy. We got close in the second stint. I got very close. If I boxed, I think I would have undercut. But he boxed, so I missed that opportunity. So you always think, what happens if we did it one lap earlier? But it's tough to make all those decisions at the time. And it can easily go wrong at the same time. There are always consequences of doing so. I think we still did a very good job today. Third and fourth for us, as a team, is positive and a good load of points. But they were clearly a better team, and they have a better car at the minute. So whether or not we could beat them, they have a better car, they have a quicker car, and we have to work harder until we can match what they're doing.

Q: Well, what about Suzuka in two weeks? Do you think McLaren can take a step forward again there, given where you were at that racetrack last year?

LN: Not really. I think if you look back to here last year we were not terrible considering the car that we had. We've now come back with a good car and we've shown what we can do but I think this was always going to be a good weekend for us. Suzuka proved that last year. I think they're kind of similar. You’ve got a lot of high speed. The problem is Ferrari have improved their high speed a lot and that's where they were struggling last year. So that's why they've been able to take such a good step forward. I think we can still have a good weekend. We can still look forward to it. And I would love to say that if we can get two cars on a podium again, it would be a lovely weekend. But I think we have two more cars this year that we're competing against on these types of circuits, not just Max.


Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Carlos, a question for you. Just what physically you've been going through in this race. Because I know you said you were holding up pretty well through practice and quali, but it's very different to a full race distance. So how are you feeling afterwards? And did you even have to think about little things like when you got out of the car, were you doing that a bit more carefully? And obviously you couldn't go jumping around with your mechanics to celebrate or anything like that.

CS: Yeah, I guess my body is still a bit in protection mode. So everything I do is a bit more slow and a bit more cautious because obviously when they go through your abdominal, it is a weird feeling, as I said. But it's what I said at the beginning of the weekend, without pain, even if I'm a bit in protection mode, I can drive no problem. Physically, what I felt towards the end of the race… Just very stiff. Obviously, spending seven days in bed is, for your physical fitness and for all the muscles, it's just not very healthy for an athlete. But as I said, only the last stint, I would say, I was a bit more stiff. Until the last stint, I was perfectly fine. Still with this weird feeling, but nothing that was slowing me down at all. I was confident with the car and pushing.

Q: (Ben Waterworth – Many congratulations. A question to Carlos and Charles. First Ferrari 1-2 here in Melbourne since Schumacher and Barrichello in 2004. Record crowd. I think all the Aussies, outside of Oscar or Dan winning, probably cheered loudest for Ferrari. Make it a little bit extra special and maybe jump up to Lygon Street to celebrate with the Italian community tonight?

CL: I mean, it's been crazy the whole weekend. The fan zone was probably one of the loudest fan zones we ever had. And we can really feel a very special support here in Melbourne. Lots of Italian people, as you said, and we can feel that special support. So it's good to have such a great result on such a track and with having so much support around the track.

CS: Yeah, it's unbelievable. The support that we get in countries like Australia, you know, from the tifosi, it's something really, really special. Yeah, it's just so many fans out there wearing red. It almost looks like you're in Monza, you know, at some points on the track. And it's really nice to see, and obviously all this makes a difference for us, for the team, having all this support and going to places where we feel so loved and supported. It's always a really nice feeling for the drivers, but also for the mechanics and all the team members.

Q: (Laurence Edmondson – ESPN) Question for Carlos. You said yesterday that you've been doing all sorts of stuff over the weekend to get yourself ready. Can you give us a few more details now of exactly what you've been up to and how you've made such a remarkable recovery?

CS: Yeah, I just, as soon as I got my appendix removed, I went on the internet and started talking with professionals and said, ‘OK, what helps to speed up recovery?’ And obviously from that point onwards, I started doing all the sort of things that you can do to speed up recovery, the wounds, the scar tissue, what you can help to be faster on that, talking to other athletes, talking to other doctors in Spain, internationally. And then I put together a plan with my team. The reason why athletes recover faster is because you can dedicate 24 hours per day for seven days to recovery. And that's exactly what I did. I started going to hyperbaric chambers twice a day for one hour, taking an Indiba machine, that is electromagnetic thing for the wounds. I was programming my time in bed, my time to go for a walk, my time to eat, the kind of food that you have to recover. Just everything is centered around recovery to try to be ready for Australia. Now, you ask me, nine days ago, when I was about to catch the flight to come to Australia, I was still in bed. Barely I could use my abdominal to move. And I was like, this is not going to happen. But I took the flight, and suddenly when I landed in Australia, the feeling was a lot better. And every 24 hours, I was making a lot more progress than the first seven days, which is actually what all the doctors and all the professional people told me. Don't worry, because the second week, every day is going to improve a lot more than the first week. And even Alex Albon told me this, I remember. So it just followed more or less what everyone told me and put together a good plan.

Q: (Jesus Balseiro – Diario AS) To Carlos. Do you think this win is a help for you, for your situation, for your next contract? I mean, are the team principals watching? Do you think this can improve your situation for next year?

CS: I don't know. For sure, it does no harm. That is 100%. But yeah, I'm still without a job for next year. So I guess this is going to help it. And yeah, I don't know. I think everyone knows more or less what I'm capable of doing. I do race for myself. I race to keep proving to myself that I can win whenever I get a competitive car and whenever there's an opportunity to win in a weekend. I don't race to prove to team principals or to prove to people my value. I race to prove to myself that if I'm given a car, I can get it done and I can be up there, you know, and that's the mentality and the approach that I have and I will keep having the rest of the year.

Q: (Scott Mitchell-Mahm – The Race, via email) First of all, to Charles and Lando, who know Carlos so well as a person and as a racing driver, do you guys think Carlos is underrated? And to Carlos afterwards, do you sometimes think you don't get the credit you deserve? Charles, perhaps we could start with you.

CL: I think everybody knows Carlos' worth in the paddock. He's one of the highest-rated drivers in the paddock. And he's been extremely strong every time he was in a Formula 1 car. And he has showed it multiple times. So I don't think he's underrated for that. I think everybody knows Carlos' worth. And that's why I've said many times that I'm not too worried about his future, because I'm sure that many, many team principals are… He doesn't say it, but for sure they are speaking with him! And I'm sure he will have many opportunities and he'll just have to make the best choice for his career.

LN: I think Charles put it well, to be honest. If anyone thinks he's... Yeah, there's no reason anyone should think he's underrated. I think for the people who know him, know what he's capable of doing, know his effort level, his approach and dedication to wanting to be one of the best, exactly like he's proved today, and over the last couple of weeks. I'm sure you have plenty of drivers who probably wouldn't have tried as hard and dedicated so much of their time and effort to trying to recover and get back in the race car. And I think that's just one example of it. But for the people who know what he's capable of doing, you would never ever say he's underrated. And yeah, of course, results are always a bit of a point to show and people on the outside just easily judge things from what you see on TV. But when you've worked with him, when you know what he's capable of doing, and when things click, they click very well and he has performances like he does this weekend. And I would say all year, he's proved to be a step up from maybe what he has been last year. Yeah, you're silly if you underrate him.

CS: I don't know what to say. I guess I agree here with my two favourite team-mates! There are some kind words there, but I agree with them. I think people that know me or have shared a team with me or people that have worked with me, know me and I don't feel underrated by people that know about this sport. Then other people that maybe don't have an insight and don't know as much about this sport, if they want to underrate me, I'm fine with that. I don't care honestly, but I care about the people that know the sport well and about my team-mates, the people that have seen my data, seen how I work, seen my speed, and that's the thing I care about, and I don't feel underrated by them.

Q: (Dominic Criniti – SEN Radio) Just a question for Lando. Congratulations on the podium first off. I just wanted to know what your level of sympathy is towards Oscar obviously had the chance to finish on the podium. Is it a bit of a bittersweet feeling for the team in that sense?

LN: It depends how you look at it. I was a lot quicker, and I would have overtaken him anyway. It's just you don't want to delay the process of that happening. And the longer I kind of spent behind him, the worse it was making my chance of catching Charles and trying to be ahead of Charles. So yeah, I don't think the result changed at all. He made my life easier and I think he helped us as a team which I thank him for a lot and we have a lot of respect for one another in these kind of situations. But I don't think the result changed at all. But yeah, for any driver who's racing in front of their home fans, you want to be on the podium. So I don't think, yeah, I would ever take anything away from that or for what Oscar has provided and helped for in the team. But I don't think the end result changed, no matter what.



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