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Dutch GP: Post Qualifying press conference

NEWS STORY
04/09/2021

Today's post-qualifying press conference with Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Track Interviews - Conducted by Giedo van der Garde

Max Verstappen, pole position in front of your home crowd. It must be an amazing feeling?
Max Verstappen It's an amazing feeling of course to get pole position here. The crowd is incredible and today was also very enjoyable. The car was really nice to drive. This track as well, once the fuel comes out it's really cool.

Yeah, the crowd is crazy, you see all orange. It's enjoyable I guess for you, but what do you think about the race tomorrow?
MV: Yeah, it's of course the best starting position, we know passing difficult I don't expect it to be an easy race, a lot of laps around here and the tyres are struggling through the higher speed but yeah, today was good so I hope of course we can finish it off tomorrow.

Lewis, that was close in the end.
Lewis Hamilton: So close. So close! First I want to say a big, big thank you to all the orange fans here, the Dutch fans. What an amazing venue, what an amazing track and I really do genuinely love coming to this country. I really appreciate the welcome. There are great sporting fans here. It's just been good an I really appreciate it. Max did an amazing lap and I was so close to... I was trying to catch him but with obviously with yesterday's session missed it made it a little bit difficult of a day but I gave it absolutely everything, but he did a fantastic lap and he deserves the pole.

Obviously you were here 16 years ago in the Masters and you won the race, but what do you think about tomorrow's race?
LH: It's going to be tough, It's a difficult circuit to overtake but what a place for us to be racing. I think strategy will come into it a lot. But we are going to see a crowd like this. We haven't seen a crowd like this in a while. It's really great to see so many people here and I hope the track helps us provide a good race. It's a very, very tough circuit, which is what makes it so fantastic to drive.

Valtteri, P3, good result. Already since FP1 it looked quite. Looked like the car was handling quite well and you were already enjoying it here?
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, it's definitely an enjoyable track with a nice atmosphere as well, so it's good fun. The car has been feeling good. We are still lacking a bit in Sector 1, especially in Turn 2 and 3 compared to Red Bull and they were a bit out of reach today but we still got two cars into the top three, so all to play for.

Tomorrow, do you think you have some possibilities to overtake on this track?
VB: It's quite a hard track to overtake on but the race start is always an opportunity and of course the strategy, so I am sure we are still going to see an exciting race tomorrow.

Press Conference

Max, what a pole lap by you at the end of Q3. Just how good was it and how much did you enjoy it?
MV: It was already a lot of fun I have to say from FP1 but to drive this track in qualifying when you have got very low fuel, it was incredible, especially Sector 2 was really enjoyable to drive. Even the banked corners. OK, the last corner is flat but it's a nice sensation and Turn 3 as well, you really go up and yeah, it's been really incredible and of course driving at home, with all these fans, they were of course going crazy every time I was crossing the line, so to have a pole position is of course very satisfying.

How hooked up has the car been this weekend?
MV: Yeah, I think today again was a good step forward compared to yesterday. Yeah, very happy in general with how today went. No big problems, so very happy with that.

Looking at the race: how important do you think pole is likely to be here?
MV: Yeah, it's still very difficult to pass around here, even in qualifying you know everyone was trying to find the gap, not like some other tracks where everyone is trying to find the tow. I do think it's going to be tough, but also it's quite tough on tyres around here with all the high-speed corners, so it's not a very straightforward race. There are a lot of laps around here but of course it's important to up front.

You mentioned the fans a moment ago. Is this atmosphere even better than you anticipated?
MV: Of course, I already had a bit of a feel from Austria, Belgium, but of course I know that once you are in Holland and the fans don't need to travel that far, yeah, it's going to be even better, right? So to see so much orange, even with not even the maximum capacity allowed, yeah, it's an incredible atmosphere. You can ever hear it now! They are going crazy!

Lewis, it is an incredible atmosphere as Max said. Do you think there are many team LH fans out there?
LH: Well, I haven't really look necessarily too much at the crowds, apart from when we just came in there and we saw the whole pit straight completely full. But I know yesterday there was a plane that went up with a team LH fan. It was awesome to see so I definitely know that I've got team LH Netherlands here. But in general the response from everyone having me here has been great, even just driving in has been really pleasant, so I'm really grateful and what a track. Whoo! It is absolutely incredible driving this track, with the banked corners and today was one of the sessions that I have enjoyed the most, qualifying. Qualifying here is just phenomenal with a light car. So close at the end but obviously yesterday didn't help but I'm glad we got back to where we needed to be today.

Lewis, just talk us through Q3 specifically. You were just three-hundredths of a second behind Max in the end, so close, fastest in the final sector as well. Just how good was that lap?
LH: Max has been incredibly fast through the first sector and that's an area where we've really been working hard at improving with the car balance over the night and through P3 into qualifying, and just slowly chipping away at it. It's a circuit where you need to continue to chip away and build that confidence - but the lap was... particularly the second and third sector, the third sector was really on the edge, you saw the last corner, there wasn't any road left, so I was really, really happy with it. I think it's great that we were able to get that close, because obviously they pulled quite far ahead at one point pace-wise. I still think, if we had another session, again, we would all go quicker and I think there's more time to find.

And Lewis, just your thoughts on the race tomorrow. What opportunities are there out there for you?
LH: Well, I haven't done any long running, so I don't really know too much of what the track's like with heavy fuel. I only have my reference from 2005 and I don't remember that! No doubt it's going to be tough tomorrow. Just from watching these guys, I think Max and his team were quicker than us, I think, on the long run - but it's not a track that you can particularly overtake in, so it's going to be strategy tomorrow and how you can utilise the tyres. The start will be fun.

Valtteri, perhaps we could start by talking about the long-run pace of Mercedes. You got more running than your team-mate in the second practice session yesterday. What do you think you've got underneath you?
VB: I think, like Lewis said, Red Bull seem pretty quick in the long runs so, for sure, it's not going to be easy to challenge them - but of course we try, and we will have two cars against one of them, so that's always good news. There's always the start as well, so there will be opportunities, and strategy-wise, I don't know if it's going to be one or two stops, so anything is still possible and it's not like they're miles away, so looking forward.

And what about your qualifying session Valtteri? How clean was it?
VB: First run in Q3 was good. I was happy with the lap, felt like I got pretty much everything out of the package, that was the feeling. Second lap, it was going well until Turn 11. I braked a bit too late, collected a bit of gravel in Turn 12. I think I got a bit too greedy towards the end of the lap. But anyway, pole was just a little bit out of reach for me today but otherwise OK. It's good to be in the top three, and that opens up all the opportunities for good team-work for tomorrow.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Zandvoort, here.

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