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French GP: Post Race press conference

NEWS STORY
25/07/2022

Today's post-race press conference with Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

George Russell, a very hard fought third place on the podium there. Put us in the cockpit. That was quite a battle with Checo Perez.
George Russell: Thank you, I'm absolutely sweating, I'm a bit knackered now to be honest. It was a long race, a tough race. The pace was strong but we really struggled with the warm-up on that restart and Checo was all over me. But I was glad to see that chequered flag and come home P3.

We just see behind you on the screen here the initial contact you had at the chicane. You were quite vocal to your team, and we heard Toto saying "right, get focused, get on with the job" and then the opportunity came to you late in the race.
GR: Yeah, I mean, I saw him struggling when Sainz got past and I knew that that one opportunity. For me, I was down the inside. The rules are pretty clear: it's front wheel to rear wheel when you're on the inside. That's what I had, he didn't really leave me much space. But nevertheless, glad I carried on, bringing it home P3 and two podiums for Mercedes. It's great.

Yeah, it's been a while since we've had two Mercedes drivers up there together, so it will be welcome to see you up there beside Lewis. Congratulations on the podium and we'll see you in Budapest. So Lewis Hamilton, congratulations, second place. We didn't see a great deal of you during that race. You were running alone for most of it. But that's a really strong result.
Lewis Hamilton: Well, I have to always give it up to this big crowd we have here in France. This is the biggest crowd I think we've had here. Merci beaucoup. What amazing weather we've had. That was actually a tough race because my drinks bottle didn't work. But what a great result, considering we've been so far off these guys all weekend. Reliability is one thing that my team has been amazing at, so a huge congratulations to the team back of the two factories, the team here who without them, we couldn't get this podium and George did an amazing job today as well.

Explain to the viewers at home: no drink bottle, how much weight would you have lost during that Grand Prix, one of the hardest of the season?
LH: I don't know. I didn't see my weight just now, but I would imagine probably around three kilos. So, yeah, it's enough. I'm looking forward to downing the rest of this drink. I wish everyone back home well, I hope they've had an amazing Sunday.

Okay, just one more quick one: qualifying pace didn't seem like you'd moved forward, but the race pace once again, very strong. What can we hope for Budapest and the next Grand Prix?
LH: Budapest? Well, firstly, I love it in Budapest, I'm super excited to see the crowd there. And I think, I mean, it's going to be hard to beat the Ferraris and the Red Bulls. You see they have their pace advantage still. But I'm hoping we will bring some sort of upgrade to that track and hopefully take a step forward closer to them. And you know, you can see us in the race, we can at least lean on them a little bit. So hopefully in that race even closer.

OK Lewis, go and get yourself a drink. Thank you very much and well done on your podium. And ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the French Grand Prix, Max Verstappen. So that was kind of a race of two halves for you. We had that first half where you were battling hard and close with Charles, putting pressure on him. He was handling that very well. And then once you made that early stop, we now know that Charles lost the rear at Turn 11. So talk us through those two phases of the race? And we also heard you very sportingly ask your engineer was Charles OK.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I mean, I think we had really good pace from the start. I was putting pressure on Charles. But following around here with this heat, you know, the tyres are overheating a lot. So I could never really like go for a move, only once, into Turn 11. But yeah, we just tried to stay calm, tried to stay close. Of course we pitted a bit earlier. And yeah, from there onwards, you never know how the race is going to go. But the car was quick today. And of course, unlucky for Charles, I hope he's OK. From there onwards, I just did my race, looked after the tyres. Because of the pit lane being so long you couldn't do another stop, so you had to stay out, but the tyres were wearing a lot. So it was all about just looking after the tyres to the end.

Well, you obviously managed the race extremely well. I'm just fascinated by the psychology of your battle with Charles. He's the man that's running you closest in the championship so far. Does it feel like any other victory? Does it feel slightly less when you know that your main competitor wasn't there battling with you right to the end?
MV: I always just try to get the most points possible. And of course, you know, some moves, you see they are on, and sometimes you have to just back out and wait, maybe for the end of the race. And that's what we did. And I mean, there are plenty more races to come where you have to score points, so yeah, in that aspect, I think today was a great day.

It was a great day indeed. If we can maybe just throw it forward, not long until we go to Hungary before your summer break. Who do you think the characteristics of that race track will suit?
MV: We still have a bit of work to do over a single lap especially, so we'll just keep working.

Press Conference

A very warm welcome to the top three finishers of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 French Grand Prix. In third place, George Russell. In second place, Lewis Hamilton. And taking the 27th win of his Formula 1 career and his seventh of this 2022 campaign, our winner, Max Verstappen. Max, very well done to you. In the end, it was a relatively comfortable victory for you. Is that how it felt in the cockpit?
MV: Well, once Charles was off, I knew that it was all about managing the tyres to the end, because a two-stop was just slower because of the length of the pit lane unfortunately, which is a bit of a shame, because otherwise, you know, it opens up a bit more opportunities in terms of racing. But yeah, I just gradually increased the gap and I knew of course, the car was good today, we had good pace. So yeah, all about managing tyres to the end.

So, comfortable in the second half, but tell us more about the first half of the race and your battle with Charles. Who had the faster car at that point in the race?
MV: We will never know because we cannot swap cars, but it looked good from our side. I was very happy because I wanted to see immediately if we could follow or not compared to Austria where it was the other way around, where you know, I was in the lead, but I could barely hold on. But this time I think we were a lot more competitive. Of course, our straightline speed was very beneficial, but because of that, of course, in the high-speed we had to be a bit more careful. And yeah, I stayed in his DRS for quite a while, but of course around here even driving on your own the tyres are already getting really hot. So I think by doing that, towards the pit stop, my tyres were a bit too hot. That's why I think he pulled away a little bit. But it wasn't anything, like, drastic, the way he was pulling away. So I still had good hope that we would have had a good fight on the other compound as well.

Were you surprised by his pace in the very early laps of the race?
MV: I thought he would be faster, yeah. I thought it would be very hard to follow. But immediately, I could see that our balance was not bad. But again, it can also be just managing a bit, but it looked like we were very competitive. And that's of course what we like to see.

And Max, this has been a very good result for you in the championship. You've extended your lead from 38 points to 63 over Charles. You are sitting pretty at the top.
MV: Well, of course, I mean, it's a great lead. But a lot of things can happen. And I just want to stay focused. We need a lot more good results. We still need more one-lap pace. And I also think, you know, the next race, Budapest, I think that's going to be a bit more of a struggle for us, where I think Ferrari is going to be really, really quick. But we'll see. Again, it's all about scoring points, every single race even when it's not your day.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Le Castellet here.

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