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Styrian GP: Post Qualifying press conference

NEWS STORY
11/07/2020

Today's post qualifying press conference with Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

Track Interviews - Conducted by Paul Di Resta

Max, I know you're not going to be happy with P2 but it's a front row start and just talk me through the session and how difficult it was and did that car put you off at the second-last corner on your final attempt?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, well, I think overall it was a good qualifying but in Q3 it was raining a lot more and it seemed like we were struggling a lot more in the really wet conditions so I was just aquaplaning a lot more and I couldn't really put the power down in some combined corners. It was not easy and I tried to be a bit close to the guy, I had to try to stay in his tracks to have a little bit less water. But anyway I think P2 is still good. It's just very tricky out there and of course the last lap would have been better. I don't think it was enough to beat Lewis but the pace overall was good.

We heard you talking about visibility, was that on your visor or was it just the sheer spray coming up? And last point, do you think you've got a better car in the dry to fight Mercedes?
MV: Visibility is horrible. First of all, from the tyres you can't see a thing. So even when you are six seconds behind, it's very hard to see the braking zones, so it's not very enjoyable out there, but it's the same for everyone, so we had to deal with that. In the dry I think we can have a good shot at it. We'll see how it's going to go. I think our car, in general, is better than last week's so I'm looking forward to it.

Lewis, that was a dominant lap on the last attempt. We watched your onboard and you were fighting all the way to the end, so you must be pleased with that?
Lewis Hamilton: All I could hear was 'I must be pleased with that'. Honestly I am. What a tricky day. The weather was obviously incredibly difficult out there for all of us. A lot of the time you can't even see where you are going. I had one big moment I think the lap before the last, big aquaplane, which definitely had my heart in my mouth but it was able to improve on the next lap, nice and clean. I love these days. You remember back when we used to race back in Larkhall and those places when it was like but obviously a hundred times a worse when you're in a Formula 1 car.

I know you had a difficult weekend last week with the penalties and obviously right at the end of the grand prix... Are you confident for tomorrow, because yesterday looked like it was a tough day in the dry?
LH: Yeah, yesterday was a difficult day. It started off well enough in P1 but then P2 was a big issue for us but we discovered it overnight and nothing major. I think today would have been better for us if it had been dry. But I'm grateful for the rain always. But I've heard that tomorrow is going to be much more sunny day, so I think we prepare for both conditions. That's where I want to start. I'm glad it was a trouble-free session. I didn't make any mistakes you know; that's always a positive.

Carlos, congratulations, I think you must be happy with that to qualify third. We know you had a good weekend last weekend but McLaren showing they've still got strength, even in these conditions.
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, very happy to come back, back-to-back weekends and to put it in P3 for the first time in my career, second row it feels amazing, especially as this qualifying was probably one of the toughest I have done as a Formula 1 driver. To put together in the last lap a really good lap, it was so much aquaplaning, it was crazy on the straights, just keeping your foot down, sliding on the straights. It's something I enjoy, but I've been talking to Max and Lewis and they were also quite excited about it.

How confident are you for tomorrow, because we know the car was strong last week?
CS: Yeah the car in race trim has been better than we thought after Barcelona, so we are kind of confident going into tomorrow but at the same time we saw again on Friday the race pace of the Ferraris and Racing Points... I actually don't know where they are starting. Far back? Then it's good. But then I'm sure I'm going to have Alex, I'm going to have Valtteri behind. It's going to be a tough first few laps but then I hope I can settle into my own pace.

Press Conference

Lewis, that was an incredibly exciting session to watch. Just what was it like inside the car? How treacherous was it out there?
LH: Thank you. It was the worst conditions we could probably get these cars around in. It was an incredible challenge. I'm grateful that we go to do qualifying because we missed the morning session. It's a real challenge for everyone, naturally we're all in the same boat. Visibility was very, very... minimal. Making sure you get in the gap and putting the laps together when I counted was really the key. But the team did a great job in terms of the positioning, in terms of the information I was getting and I felt pretty much at home in the rain today. Grateful, that's for sure.

Well done, Lewis. Max, coming to you. Talk us through the session from your point of view. How good was the car and also, how much did Vettel on the apex of Turn 9 at the end of the session distract you?
MV: I think overall quali was good. Just Q1 was so busy. You couldn't see a thing. You always had to drop... leave a bit of a space so you could do a lap. In the whole of Q1 I didn't have a free lap. But still it was alright and also the track wasn't too bad to drive on. With these cars, with these big tyres as well, it's incredible, you can't see a thing when you are within six seconds of the car ahead of you. But yeah it was all going well, the same in Q2 actually, I think it was all pretty good. But then towards the end it started to rain a bit more and immediately sector two was becoming more tricky. So yeah, I couldn't really improve on my last two or three laps but it was good enough of course to go to Q3. Q3 was very difficult, for me at least. Just a lot of standing water. I lost quite a lot of grip and it didn't feel as good as Q1 or Q2 but still of course to be second is alright.

And just that final lap?
MV: I guess it was Seb going into the pits. You can't see even the colour of the car. I understeered because of it and then I went a bit wide, like I came onto the kerb on the exit and I lost it and had a four-wheel drift into the last corner but anyway it was not good enough of a lap to beat Lewis.

Carlos, the best qualifying of your Formula 1 career. First up, just how much satisfaction does it give you?
CS: Yeah, quite a lot, obviously. I'm very happy and a very good day for me. I'm quite pleased that my best qualifying of the year is coming in these conditions because I love driving in the wet and I've always enjoyed myself a lot. Today, I did enjoy myself but I must say it was quite stressful. It was a very stressful qualifying session. It would be good for you guys to see what we are actually going through in a Formula 1 car towards the end of Q3 with the amount of standing water, with the aquaplaning, not seeing anything and just keeping your foot flat, trusting that the thing is going to grip, and putting a lap together towards the end and risking everything. So, very happy, very stressful but at the same time really looking forward to tomorrow for my best starting grid position.

Video Conference

(Alex Kalinauckas - Autosport) Question for Lewis. Your team said after FP2 they were rather in the dark on your car. Just wondered, any potential issues? Have they been solved and are you confident in dry conditions tomorrow?
LH: Yeah, the guys did a great job last night, just going through it with a fine comb to understand... to just double check the car and then look at the data and we understood what may have been causing the problem and felt more confident going into today knowing that hopefully that wouldn't be an issue. So, there's no long-standing issues.

(Luke Smith - Autosport) All three of you have touched on just how difficult conditions were out there. Carlos said it was very, very stressful. Do you think big credit needs to be given to the race officials for actually getting this qualifying underway and in today? And how much do you guys enjoy it to make the difference as the drivers - because you seem like superheroes out there when it's that treacherous to get these laps in.
LH: Yeah, definitely. The officials definitely have a difficult job the majority of the time and particularly on a day like this, knowing when to go and when to choose not to let the cars run - but I'm grateful they did. Just as we came to qualifying. Obviously it was drying up - or it wasn't raining for a while - and just as everyone got in the car it started to rain again. And so we obviously had that bit of a pause. But once we got going it was fine for the first session. Then it did get worse - but I'm glad that they allowed us to stay out. It was definitely on the limit - but that's racing! I'm glad they didn't take that away from us because today, it's so special being out there, it's so difficult. I don't know how it comes across on the cameras but it is the hardest conditions that we ever drive in. Just one small lapse of concentration and you're off. And it can be big or small. More chance of it being a big one. So, yeah, I'm grateful for that.

Max?
MV: Well, not so much to add, to be honest.

Carlos?
CS: yeah, I agree with Lewis and with Max. I think towards the end of the session it was getting really, really tricky but I'm glad that they left us out there because these cars generate so much spray and we evacuate so much water that there was a very thin line where you put your tyres. There was actually a small amount of grip to actually run. I think if the session had been stopped, the track would have just got worse and worse and it would have been very difficult to get back out of track but yeah, these cars, they do a good job of drying out tracks and keeping the water out of it. So, pleased. Very, very difficult, as I said. A lot of front locking, a lot of rear locking, a lot of improvisation on the car. That is the conditions I think, as drivers, we enjoy the most because it's the most natural instinct, and what comes to you as the first thing to do.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spielberg, here.

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