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Russian GP: Post Qualifying press conference

NEWS STORY
25/09/2021

Today's post-qualifying press conference with Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and George Russell.

Track Interviews - Conducted by Johnny Herbert

Q: Lando Norris, your first pole position, how does that feel?
Lando Norris: Oh boy! It feels amazing. I don't know what to say. It was quite a manic session but it was also going well and obviously made the decision in the end to go slicks. But I don't know, you never think you are going to get a pole until you get it and now I've managed to do it. Yeah, extremely happy and big thanks to the team as well, they did an amazing job.

Q: And what about the circuit? That must have been so tricky to get the lap you needed to get that pole?
LN: It was tough. It was tough. I'm mostly going to make myself sound good! It was tricky you know because it was really that crossover section and the lap before I was two seconds down and I wasn't very confident we were going to improve on the previous lap. But I kept the tyres warm and prepared the final lap and I risked quite a bit I'm going to admit and it paid off, so I'm a happy boy.

Q: And what about tomorrow? Starting on that pole position, lovely clear track in front. How much are you looking forward to it?
LN: I'm not really looking forward to it! I'm not looking forward to being first down to Turn 1 tomorrow. But you never know, it's going to set us up well and we are in the best position we can be in. I'm happy, it's my first pole position, hopefully the first of many. I don't know, I'm just really happy. I don't know what to say.

Q: I see you got your team manager there. What did he say to you?
LN: I don't even know what he said to me! He just hugged me. I guess coming off Monza this is not something we expected but in these kind of conditions we can take opportunities and that's exactly what we did today. Yeah, after Monza this is an awesome way to start and hopefully we can continue it that way.

Q: Carlos, how was that for you? Second place; tricky conditions. You have to be happy with that?
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, very tricky. To be honest it was right from the beginning a very tricky qualifying but right after Q2 I could see that there was a chance that the slick was going to come into play. We did a very good strategy pitting two laps to the end, getting the slick up to temperature and then I pulled out a pretty strong lap. Unfortunately I was one of the first ones across the line, which didn't allow me to exploit the whole track conditions, but it was still a good lap, on the limit.

Q: What about race pace? It didn't seem too bad yesterday, so this is going to put you in good stead for tomorrow. Hopefully it will be a dry one.
CS: No, this weekend we are looking a bit stronger. Probably our weakest conditions has been the inter. On the inter we were like this to go into Q3. We still have some issues there to solve. In the dry we have been competitive. Obviously there is the two Mercs and the Red Bull of Perez and we expect them to go through but we will put on a fight and we will try to have some fun.

Q: How much are you looking forward to the scrap down towards Turn 2?
CS: It's going to be fun. Hopefully I can get Lando at the start and if not just get a good tow. Starting P2 here, the dirty side, is really penalising so I'm going to need to make sure I do my homework overnight to make sure that we don't lose too much of the line on that dirty side and then see if I can get into a tow or why no pass him into [Turn] 1.

Q: George, how did that feel, getting third place today?
George Russell: It's crazy, you know. It's my second time in the top three in three or four events. The team have done an amazing job once again - pitting at the right time and putting the right tyres on. It was tricky out there. There was one dry line and if you were just a couple of centimetres too wide you would have been on the wet stuff and you would have been off. Well done to Lando and Carlos and excited for tomorrow.

Q: That's going to be thing. Starting as high up as you are again and with dry conditions coming, how much are you looking forward to the battle tomorrow, especially with these two guys?
GR: Yeah, really looking forward to it. Yesterday our high fuel pace was one of our best of the year. It's still a long way behind these guys and the Mercedes who will be starting behind us. We will have a battle on our hands but we are pretty slippery on the straights, we have some nice straight line speed, so we've got to go for the podium again - nothing to lose.

Press Conference

Q: Lando, we heard a yelp of delight from you over the radio. Has it sunk in yet?
LN: I don't know. It's just an awesome feeling altogether. I don't know what to say. It feels like you have just qualified well, but it's a pole position, which doesn't come around much. It's my first in X amount of races and it could be my only pole for a while. It feels amazing, especially in these conditions. It's tricky and you have to put a lot of risk on the line and just try to see if it pays off and it did. An amazing feeling, my first pole. Probably the only place I wouldn't want to be pole is here, especially with the straight down to Turn 1, but I'm still very happy.

Q: How tricky was it to hold it together on the slick tyres at the end?
LN: We kind of did the first couple of laps. I did one on the inter and the first one on the softs and from those two you can gather a decent amount of information of where it's dry and where it's still damp and so on, but a lot of time it's just hope. You go into the corner and hope it sticks and it did. That's the kind of level you have to push at in Formula 1 when it's so high. You never know what everyone else is going to do, when everyone is pushing as much as they can to also go for pole, because everyone knows there is this opportunity when the conditions are like this. A lot of pushing but we made the right decisions I think pitting when we did. I think most people did a similar thing. Yeah, not easy at all and I'm sure the other guys will say the same.

Q:You're starting first tomorrow, what's the goal for tomorrow? You have to go for the win don't you?
LN: After last weekend what do you expect? Another race win for McLaren would be lovely. I don't expect so, I think Mercedes are a long way up the road from us and Red Bull probably similar. I think we have decent pace. We saw yesterday that the cars are in a good position, in the wet now and also in the dry. A long run down to Turn 1 or Turn 2, whatever you want to say, so I have to look forward to that and make sure I prepare for that well. But I think either conditions I look forward to, we can score some good points tomorrow, we can have a good race, because we are in the best position possible.

Q: Carlos, great result for you as well, your first front-row start in Formula 1. Just describe what this means to you?
CS: Well, it's a good result, definitely. I was so close to pole position that maybe the second place doesn't taste as good as it should - but I think it was a well-executed session and a good lap there at the end. Unfortunately I was one of the first ones across the line once on the slick, which obviously you always are left wondering if you would have gone a bit later how much quicker could you have gone? But it was a good lap on the limit. Good battle with these guys out there, so yeah, got to enjoy it and it was tricky conditions that you enjoy more honestly in a Formula 1 car.

Q: And Carlos, what about the dry pace of your car over the long runs tomorrow? I think the forecast is dry. Do you think you've got the pace to at least finish where you start?
CS: We will see tomorrow. It's a strange circuit this one - because obviously race pace is important and we need to see how easy it is to overtake. Normally in the past it has been quite tricky. Obviously we have the two Mercs and the Red Bull that are going to be pushing us a lot. They are clearly, around here, half a second to a second quicker than us - so at some point they will put pressure on us and we will need to see if we can keep ourselves ahead. Obviously the target is to finish ahead of them, try to get Lando at the start - although I am starting on the dirty side, he is at least starting on the clean side and see from there if we can race hard and have some fun at the front.

Q: And Carlos, you know Lando well from your time at McLaren of course, how does that change things for tomorrow in your battle down to Turn 2?
CS: He keeps looking at me! Let's see. Let's see. I think there's two options. I either get a good getaway and it's a direct race into Turn 2, or if not, obviously I'll need to try to find a slipstream, because we know we are not the fastest on the straights and we are doing to need to find some tow, some draft, because if not, it's going to be a long run down into Turn 1. Exciting. I've been sharing rows with this this guy pretty much the last two years in Formula 1, so we know very well each other and yeah, hopefully we can have a good start, both and keep pulling away because there's going to be the guys behind coming, and that's going to be when the fun starts.

Q: And coming to you George, huge congratulations as well. Now, you were the first car to swap to slick tyres. Was it clear cut, that decision for you?
GR: Well I came on the radio to say to the guys, let's get the slicks ready, because it's definitely going to go slicks, and they replied saying 'OK, let's box this lap', so I thought they may have misunderstood what I meant by that radio comment. I said 'let's go for it'. We've got to go for it in these sessions. High risk, high reward. Especially in these conditions. When I came out of the pit lane on the slicks, almost crashing straight out of the box. It was only that last lap, I kept getting a bit of traffic here and there. I couldn't complete the laps so that was a bit frustrating, but as it was for everybody, I knew that last lap was going to be the killer lap, so we saved it all for them and here we are. It's a bit surreal that it's our second top three in four races now.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Sochi, here.

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