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FIA post-Sprint press conference – China

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Sprint winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull

DRIVERS

1 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), 2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), 3 – Sergio PÉREZ (Red Bull Racing)

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Many congratulations Max, it was a thrilling Sprint race today and it looked like you had your work cut out early on can you just talk us through the key moments?

Max VERSTAPPEN: Of course some people around me they started on new Mediums and of course around here it was a bit more of a peak in the tyre because they deg off quite a bit. So the first two laps I had to really defend but at the same time also my battery ran out. It was not charging basically. So I had to do some changes on the steering wheel. And then of course it also takes two or three laps before you have a bit of battery back in the pack and then my pace started to pick up, because before that I was just clipping a lot and losing a lot of top speed. So once I had that all under control and then also the peak of the new tyre was a bit gone, basically, I could ease up to Fernando, get him, then ease to Lewis and just rely on the pace of the car. I think also, you know, the deg we had today looked very strong. I could really look after the tyres how I wanted to, even though I do think with the wind direction that we had today, of course completely different to yesterday, made it definitely a bit more tricky in some corners for the balance of the car. So we also had to get used to that at the same time. But yeah, once I got in the lead the car was handling pretty well.

Q: How much of a concern is the battery for the rest of the weekend?

MV: No, once I did the changes on the wheel, it was all good. So from lap four or five I guess it was all good again.

Q: And your pace in clear air was very strong. How much confidence do you have going into the rest of the weekend?

MV: Well, I mean quali of course is again a bit different. Of course I would like to start as far forward as possible for tomorrow that will make it a bit easier than, you know, starting P4 it's always a bit more of a risk in Turn 1 to come together with someone. And then, race fuel, full tank might be a bit different as well with the car. But today was of course very, very positive, so I'm very happy with that.

Q: Very well done. Good luck for the rest of the weekend. Lewis coming to you now. Very well done to you. How encouraging was this performance and how sweet was it to be leading as well?

Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, I’ve forgotten what it felt like to be up ahead and it felt good for the short while that I had it. But I was grateful for the moment. Yeah, really fortunate obviously with the rain yesterday to be able to capitalise on that. I think our out and out true pace was not strong enough to qualify up as high as that but I made the most of it. Great start and then just managed to hold off Fernando for a while and bridged a bit of a gap but lots of deg today. But honestly, I found out a lot about the car today. Not that it's telling us how to fix it, but at least it gives us lots of direction and things we need to improve. And fortunately we can make a few changes in the next couple of hours. So I will try and improve the car for qualifying today but yeah, so happy to be up here honestly, I just feel really grateful.

Q: If there's one area where you think you can improve the car ahead of qualifying where is it? Is it low speed?

LH: Yeah the low speed is where we are struggling the most, medium and low. Fernando was all over me through most of the low-speed corners and I think I could just about hold my own through the high. But I was losing a lot in the medium and low and then when… I mean these guys are obviously in a different league, but he was also killing me in low speed. So, if there's a way to improve it we'll try to. I think that's probably characteristics of the car that we need to actually work on through the rest of the year.

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Sprint winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Q: Lewis, can you just talk us through your battle with Lando Norris at Turn 1 as well? It looks like you hung him out to dry a little bit.

LH: No, I mean I obviously got a great start and I was obviously on the inside line. He tried to hold the outside line and we were both just pushing to the maximum. I used obviously everything to try and hold position and eventually I think he just ended up on the dirty bits on the outside and then lost it. There’s a point when you go a bit too far, then there's no grip out there and I think that's what he eventually found. In that scenario, he should have just conceded and just parked in behind me, he probably would have had the pace to overtake me, because the McLaren is very quick. I know he lost a lot of ground there, but that's racing.

Q: Alright. Very well done to you. Thank you. Sergio, great race by you. Can you talk us through lap 16 first of all, when you took P3 from the battling Spaniards?

Sergio PÉREZ: Yeah, the Spaniards got a little bit too close. I saw the opportunity, so I dived in and got both of them. It was really difficult, you know, we were in a DRS train. It was really difficult to get by and yeah, basically the whole race, I was pretty much stopped. And at some point I had to defend as well from Charles. They were very strong on the straights, having good exits out of 12. So it made life a little bit tricky to hold position at some point. And then when I saw the opportunity, I just went for it and it worked really well. Unfortunately, we got by too late in the race. If we could have got by a lap or two earlier we could have [passed] Lewis.

Q: What did you learn in these 19 laps that will help you in the Grand Prix tomorrow?

SP: I think there is a very different track. I think the wind has changed a lot. So it seems like we’ve got some work to do into the low-speed sections, the traction, it seems that everything has gone more to the rear. So we have to see how things are this afternoon, but I do expect to do some few set-up changes for the rest of the weekend.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Jon Noble – Motorsport.com) Lewis, how much is this result so far this weekend a sign of the genuine progress you've made since Japan and how much down a little bit to circumstance, that you had grid position that you perhaps wouldn't have in a dry session and the benefits of clear air against a battling in a pack and looking after tyres.

LH: I think it's over 90% due to the scenario, the rain yesterday, if I'm really honest. We've not made really a step from the last race, the car is exactly the same. And we're battling the same issues that we had in the last race. And I think position-wise, we are probably pace-wise in a similar position. I think today is going to be interesting to see if we can wing it a little bit and try to get as close to the top five, but we're currently not top five qualifiers. And so just getting to Q3 will be important today. Fortunately, I've got extra tyres, so if I can utilise that today I will try and maximise it.

Q: (Joe Cash – Reuters) Yesterday, Pirelli said that when they'd been analysing the track, the new surface, it might be difficult to find other lines. Lewis, in particular, do you feel that that was a factor in your overtake around Lando into Turn 1, that it's difficult to find grip outside the racing line?

LH: No, this track is has always been one of those circuits that is quite wide on a lot of the corners and provides lots of different lines. There are other circuits where you can't do other lines. But I think this is why it's such a great race track. And honestly, I don't think the track surface has really made much of a difference at all in that respect. I mean, you could see Fernando behind me on a much different line to me and he was catching in certain places and losing in others, so yeah, that's the bit I love about this track.

Q: (Erwin Jaeggi – Motorsport.com) A question for all three. We've got the Sprint part of the weekend out of the way now. Have you been able to enjoy more with revised format. Thank you.

MV: I do think that the format there is a bit is a bit better than what we used to have, you know. So I guess in that sense, I definitely enjoyed it a bit more. LH: I've always generally enjoyed the Sprint format. I think there's a lot of time wasted on these weekends. And we could either shorten the weekends, or pack the day more so that the fans have more of an experience. There's literally hours and hours… There’s at least 10 hours wasted during the day where we could be entertaining the fans on track. And of course sustainability has to come into that. And otherwise I think also, the ability to be able to make a change right now and potentially try and close the gap to the Red Bulls or at least whoever's up ahead of us tomorrow I think is great for the race weekend. Before, if you were just stuck in it right now, you would already absolutely know the end race result but today we've got something new and exciting.

SP: Yeah, I think we've got improve on the on the timing and like Lewis says, I think there's a lot of time wasted during the days and the weekend, so there's something to improve. I don't really like the fact that you can change your car from now on, because I felt like sometimes on the Sprint weekend, it will leave you vulnerable if you didn't took the right decisions and stuff like that. So now it kind of gives a little bit more time to the team so to extract the maximum and yeah, I think tomorrow you will see a very different race as well. So in that regard, it's going to be quite different tomorrow. And obviously going into qualifying I think the fact that the wind has changed so much for today is going to make things a lot trickier.

Q: (Henry Clark – Daily Mail) A question for Lewis. Obviously big smile on your face out there after a strong performance. Even for a driver of your pedigree and experience, how significant was that performance [how big] a confidence boost for you, to help lift your spirits? It's been a difficult start to the season and even beyond that I guess.

LH: I mean, anytime you have a good result is always a confidence boost. That's the way of life. You have a good day and it lifts your spirits, for sure. I think, as I said, the circumstances are special with the rain yesterday but obviously you had to do the job yesterday put that lap in. And then today, to be on the front row, I don't remember having that view for a long time, or it feels like a really long time! I don't know if we've had it in the last couple of years. To be able to fight into Turn 1 for the lead was just reminding me of why I love what I do and what we do. I know we've got to work incredibly hard to get back to a more consistent placing like this. But I think you saw… Max, I didn't even put up a fight for Max because he was coming at a serious pace advantage that I knew he would he would get me and I really wanted to make sure I didn't lose time to the cars further behind so I could retain second. So yeah. grateful for it.

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