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Dutch GP: Post Race press conference

NEWS STORY
04/09/2022

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

Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Q: Max, what a way to win your home Grand Prix. What a difference a week makes. You had to fight, fight, fight all the way.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it was not a straightforward race. We had to push the whole race. Of course, with the Safety Car, Virtual Safety Car, making the right calls, it was always bit of a question mark, but it worked out really well. Once we got back to the Soft tyres we had great pace again.

Q: At any point during the race did you ever doubt? Because it looked like Lewis Hamilton, with track position, had Mercedes covered him off, then, you know, it could have been a different story.
MV: Yeah, I mean, before that Safety Car I thought it was OK to the end with the Hard tyres, even though we were a bit slower. But then of course, the Safety Car came out and I said 'I don't think we're going to keep it up if we just if we don't pit'. So we went for the Soft tyres. But then of course I dropped back to third. Then George pitted as well. I had a good run on the restart. We have a bit more top speed, so that helps to attack into Turn 1. And from there onwards we had a really good balance in the car again.

Q: That restart with the Safety Car was crucial. I didn't expect you to get the pass done at the restart, but that's what your full focus was.
MV: Yeah, we timed it really well out of that last corner into the banking and then you could see the draft was quite strong and we got ahead, so incredible to win again.

Q: Max on the slowing down lap, there are fireworks, there's a sea of orange smoke. Can you put into words just what this victory means in comparison to all others?
MV: It's always special to win your home Grand Prix. It was already last year. This year, I have to say I had to work for it even more. So yeah, an incredible weekend and I'm really happy we got the Dutch Grand Prix.

Q: Quick word for your fans.
MV: Unbelievable support. And I'm really happy that all of you guys came here to support me. So proud to be Dutch.

Q: Congratulations, Max Verstappen, the winner of the Dutch Grand Prix. George Russell, wow! You were a little bit out of place in qualifying but you never lost faith. You said you have a quick race car. Second place. Congratulations.
George Russell: Yeah, firstly a huge thank you to all the crowd here. It's been an incredible reception. It's a really special feeling for all of us drivers to come racing in Zandvoort and in Holland. So thank you very much.

Q: Now George, you're going to be happy with that second place but your team-mate will feel that he was maybe a little bit out of position. When you passed him, there was there was a little... What was going on there? It almost looks like you are going to hit the back of him?
GR: Yeah, we like to keep it close, you know, always. But you know, I think as a team today we showed incredible pace. I know the team result wasn't quite what we hoped for. But this gives us a lot of confidence and a lot of faith moving forward. So, I think it's incredible see three different teams on the podium and you know we, as Mercedes, are slowly getting closer to that top step so let's keep on pushing.

Q: Yeah, it shows just how competitive Formula 1 is. George, congratulations on your second place. Charles, congratulations. Third place, not, of course, the result you would have looked for today but the race just slipped away. Can you can you talk us through the key moments that saw you find yourself dropped from second to third.
Charles Leclerc: To be to be honest I mean much better was difficult to do. We were a little bit unlucky with the VSC. I don't know if this will have changed anything, Max was too quick today. And then there was the Mercedes that were flying on the Hard tyres. We struggled to find the feeling on those tyres. So we'll analyse that, but yeah, it's P3 for us today.

Q: The battle with Lewis? Fairly straightforward towards the ends?
CL: Yeah, I mean, Lewis was struggling a little bit. He was on a used set. I had a bit more grip. We managed to overtake him, but they were still managing to keep those tyres very well on the last lap. So it wasn't easy, but at the end, we made it stick.

Q: The gap increases in the championship. I know you take one race at a time and you never give up but what is your feeling now in the championship challenge?
CL: Well, as I said in Spa, now the gap is really big. So we'll take it race by race, try to maximise our potential. And let's see what's possible.

Press Conference

Q: A very warm welcome to the top three finishers of the FIA Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix. In third place, Charles Leclerc. In second place, George Russell. And taking his 10th win of this 2022 campaign and his 30th career win in Formula 1, our winner, Max Verstappen. What a weekend for you Max, another win from pole in front of your Dutch fans, just please sum up what this means to you?
MV: Yeah, it was not a straightforward race, you know. So then I think it's extra rewarding to win the race. We couldn't really do our preferred strategy to the end and that I think made it a little bit more difficult for us, up until the last Safety Car, because I think we were just a bit more competitive on the softer compounds. But then, of course, with that late Safety Car, we could switch back to the preferred tyre, the Soft one, and we could get back into lead.

Q: You've explained it all beautifully now, but how difficult was it to stay on top of everything during the race itself?
MV: Yeah, it was just difficult. I think I gave my opinions about what I wanted with tyres. Like, I said, don't use the Hard tyre. But we had to, because of the VSC. It came out a bit unfortunate. And then we went out and we were clearly lacking a little bit of pace on that Hard compared to the Mercedes cars on the Medium. I think the gap was still big enough to manage it to the end. But they would have definitely gotten a lot closer than I think the 11-and-a-half seconds it was at the time. But yeah, then Safety Car came out and then there's no way that you can stay out on a Hard tyre. So we had to box, but I didn't request it. You have to trust your team as well to make the right calls and they did. So they boxed me. We put a Soft tyre on. And of course, then we dropped back. But then also, of course, George also pitted for Softs and then we were back into P2. And yeah, surprisingly, we had a really good restart and then with the extra top speed we have over Mercedes, I could get a run into Turn 1.

Q: When you look at the race as a whole, were you surprised that it was Mercedes, ultimately challenging you today and not Ferrari?
MV: I was just surprised that they were that quick on the harder compounds. I have to say these tyres are very stiff, you know, the C1, C2. And they just didn't seem to really switch on for us as good as they did for them. That's I think what made it a little bit more complicated for us today. But then, once we were able to switch back to the Soft, we could counter it. But yeah, I expected probably them to be a little bit slower. And I expected Ferrari to be a little bit faster.

Q: Now, Max, this magical season continues for you. And in your seven years at Red Bull. Is this the most at one that you felt with the car and with the team?
MV: Yes, but I think that's normal because of just spending more time with everyone and of course, being part of the team for an even longer period of time. So, I think that's what you hope for, right? Like every year you continue, that you feel even more at one with the team. With the car it's a tricky one. Because, of course, when the regulations change then maybe sometimes you have to start over. And I have to say that in the beginning of the year it was a bit of adaptation, which is not fully to my liking. But also, like I've explained before, the car was quite heavy. And I think naturally with reducing the weight it all felt a bit more agile.

Q: George coming to you, great job as well. Your best result of the season so far from P6 on the grid. Do you feel you extracted the absolute maximum from it?
GR: Yeah, I think so. I think if you told me before the race, I'd be finishing P2, I'd have definitely been very happy with that. But I think we, as a team, thought we had a shot at victory today. And we roll the dice going with that one-stop strategy from the off. And, you know, the pace of the Mercedes today was just absolute flying. So really proud of the job we've done as a team to keep on improving and show how fast our race car is. But obviously, starting a little bit further down the grid, it's always going to be challenging, but no, for us, as a team, incredible race. Sorry for Lewis that he obviously wasn't on the podium with us because he did an excellent job and deserve to be sat here too.

Q: As Max just said, your pace on the hard tyre was phenomenal. Did that surprise you?
GR: Yes and no. I think the car was really feeling good this weekend from lap one. On Friday, I knew it was going to be a much better weekend than we had in Spa. I think Spa played against us. Zandvoort probably towards us. So, I'm not sure how our Monza performance is going to be I think it'll probably be somewhere between the two. Hopefully closer to what we saw this weekend, but I think it's really promising we have so much race pace.

Q: Do you feel got the car was back where it was at Hungary?
GR: I think there's no surprises there because these are two very similar circuits: high downforce; a lot of medium speed corners. And that's where the car really comes into its own. So, you know, we go into some very different circuits in the upcoming races. But globally, we're bringing a lot of performance to the car. And, as I said, I think we have a car that's capable of fighting victory, we just need to be able to start a little bit higher up the order.

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