Today's post-qualifying press conference with George Russell, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
Parc Ferme Interviews - Conducted by Naomi Schiff
Charles, maybe not the result you wanted today but do you take any satisfaction in the fact that your main rival in the championship is only 10th?
Charles Leclerc: Yeah, I mean, mostly we are focusing on ourselves. So today, it's not been a great day. I've been struggling massively with the tyres and just had a lot of inconsistency to put the tyres in the right window with those conditions. And so I struggled to put a lap together, but we'll look into it. I'm pretty sure we've got the pace in the car to come back a bit more at the front tomorrow. So we'll focus on that and hopefully we have a better Sunday.
Your overall pace in the Ferrari garage this weekend has been pretty impressive. So does that give you comfort for tomorrow's race, which seems to be in your favour?
CL: Yeah, the pace is there. So we just need to understand what went on with the tyres today and I'm pretty sure that we can come back tomorrow.
Good luck for tomorrow. Carlos, congratulations. It seemed to be your qualifying today but just at the last minute, George got the pole position. You seem to be much more comfortable in that Ferrari at the moment.
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, definitely. Feeling better and better every race and every qualifying session. Today I felt like I had a base to do a pole position. It went away from us there in the last sector with a few snaps through the lap. But congratulations to George because he must have done a pretty good lap there in the Merc. And yeah, we will race from P2 tomorrow.
Well, we saw you come through the field in France, so we know that you know how to battle. This track is not easy to overtake on, but do you have the hope that you can win the race tomorrow?
CS: Yeah, I think we have the pace. Obviously the start and the tyre management will play a key role like always. The Mercedes race pace is a bit of an unknown and we will have to see how the race plays out tomorrow. And if we can get them on the start then better but I think it will be an exciting race.
Okay, well, we wish you the best of luck. George massive congratulations. The fans are obviously extremely happy for your first pole position in Formula 1. How are you feeling?
George Russell: Over the moon, absolutely buzzing. I mean, yesterday was probably our worst Friday of the season and everybody last night was working so hard. We didn't really know what direction to go in. And then that last lap, got round Turn 1, mega Turn 1, went round Turn 2, Turn 2 was mega. And the lap time just kept on coming and kept on coming. And I came across the line, looked at the screen and saw we went P1. And that was an incredible, incredible feeling.
Well, it's obviously an incredible personal moment for you. But it's also an incredible moment for Team Mercedes. So are you telling us that Mercedes is back?
GR: I don't know, to be honest. We need to look into it and understand where that came from today. There's a few ideas we have. At the end of the day, there's no points for qualifying. But we generally have good race pace, but the Ferraris looked very fast on Friday, but we're going to be absolutely going for it. But either way, that was a pretty special day, no doubt.
A very warm welcome to the top three qualifiers for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix. In third place, Charles Leclerc. In second place, Carlos Sainz. And taking his first pole position in Formula 1 our polesitter, George Russell. George, as I say, your first pole in F1. And at such a demanding and technical racetrack as the Hungaroring as well. Very well done. You've had a few minutes to reflect now. First of all, describe the significance of this moment for you and for your career.
GR: For me, I'm not really thinking about myself to be honest, but for us as a team it's massive. Yesterday was probably our toughest Friday of the whole season. We were all here until 11pm last night, scratching our heads and morale was pretty down. And we felt pretty lost. And to come back and grab pole position 24 hours later, it's just such a [good] feeling, because I know what we went through last night. And there are no points for qualifying but I guess getting this result for all of us is pretty, pretty huge.
How different is the car you've been driving today compared to the one you had on Friday?
GR: I think today, we just got it perfectly in the window on that last lap. I went round Turn 1 and I was a tenth and a half up. I went round Turn 2 and I was three tenths up and everything was just perfectly in the window. And when you're on one of those laps, and you're in the groove, in the rhythm, it just keeps on coming and keeps on coming. I think everybody struggled quite a lot with tyres. A lot of people struggled this morning in the wet with the tyres. And we've been going all over the place to try and get our heads around it. But fortunately, we sort of nailed it on that last run.
George, you've driven some mighty qualifying laps in your career. How good was that one?
GR: Dare I say better than the Spa one, I don't know! I don't think the feeling of this pole and the feeling of that Spa lap, I don't think I'll ever have qualifyings that will ever come close to these two feelings. Because obviously this was my first. As a team we've struggled so much. At Williams we were so far behind so to get that second was massive. So you know, this is what racing is about. This is why I wake up every single day and I want to be world champion, because feeling like this is something you can't really dream of.
No dry running this morning, a difficult day yesterday. So how much of an unknown is your long-run pace going into tomorrow's Grand Prix?
GR: It's a total unknown. We've turned the car upside down since yesterday. Conditions are changing and it's going to be much cooler tomorrow. Our high fuel pace was probably the worst it's ever been yesterday and Ferrari look pretty exceptional. But you know, we're behind the curve at the moment, but we'll be absolutely going for it. And, you know, victory is what we're going for.
Carlos, coming to you now. So close to another pole position for you. How good was the car today? How good was that final lap?
CS: Yeah, it was good. I felt like today I had everything more-or-less under control through the whole Qualifying. We keep making steps in the right direction, which keeps getting me more comfortable and more together with the car, and today there were some good laps over there. But yeah, probably that Q3 Run 2 lap was nothing special. And it was not good enough for pole. So, a bit disappointed, because with a perfect lap for sure I could have been up there. But I guess George did a very good lap today in the Merc and he deserves that one. So congrats.
And given the problems that George has just described, that Mercedes went through yesterday. How much confidence do you have going into this grand prix?
CS: Well, clearly the track conditions, as they've switched, especially particularly on Soft tyres, maybe they haven't gone in our direction because yesterday we seem to have a pace advantage that we certainly didn't have today, even Q1, Q2. Going through those two sessions, we were not... we didn't have the margin that we had in other races this year. And we had to make sure we put on a set of new tyres and do it at the right time because the midfield was certainly closer to us than where they were yesterday. And for us, we've been struggling to get the tyres into temperature over one lap here. We are certainly not particularly happy about today, the way the car and everything was handling, but with a perfect lap, I could have put it up there. So, that's why I'm a bit disappointed.
Charles, coming to you now. It wasn't the smoothest of sessions for you but you chipped away at it. How good was the car on that final run?
CL: No, today I struggled massively, especially in Q3. Q1, Q2, I felt quite good. We were doing good steps in the right direction but then in Q3, I don't know what happened. The track changed a little bit, the sun came out, and suddenly the tyres were definitely not in the right window. So, I struggled a lot with inconsistency. I did the first lap in Q3, that was quite slow. And then the second lap that was more or less okay. But yeah, we paid a little bit the price of not having the tyres in the right window. But yeah, congratulations to George. It's a special one: the first pole, and he did an amazing job.
Tell us a little bit about the track evolution during the session. It was pretty breathless. How difficult was it to keep a gauge on that?
CL: I mean, on my side, it was quite okay Q1 and Q2, but then Q3, for some reason. I Don't know what we did; we need to analyse because there was something that was feeling a bit weird. So yeah, we'll look into it because the feeling was just not good.
Tyres have dominated qualifying today. Give us a little indication of strategy tomorrow. How many pit stops?
CL: Between one and three! We'll see. I think the performance is there. We are quite quick, so hopefully we can gain some places tomorrow.
Check out our Saturday gallery from the Hungaroring here.