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Japanese GP: Post Race press conference


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

Parc Ferme Interviews - Conducted by Johnny Herbert

You didn't get the championship but a great race win here in Suzuka, in front of the fans, you've got to be happy with your performance anyway, especially with the limited laps.
Max Verstappen: Exactly. I mean, I was just very happy that we had a race because leaving here without the race would have been terrible. And I mean, the championship, of course, it would have been great to win here but we have a great opportunity of course for the next race.

Sergio, good to see you. A bit of a battle for those last few laps. Tell us a little bit about what happened going into that final chicane?
Sergio Perez: Yeah, it was a little hectic as always with Charles, you know, good racing. We were fighting each other really hard. I tried to make a move at the end. I think he locked up and went off, which was fair race.

It seems Charles has got a five-second penalty for going through the chicane. Max, I think that's maybe a change for you. Come back in. Charles has got a five-second penalty there after the race he had with Sergio. You're World Champion.
MV: Very special to do it here in front of all the Honda people, the Japanese fans. Incredible!

He's off. I've lost him as well. I'm going to get Charles to come in here. Charles, a bit frustrated obviously in that last part of the race. How are you feeling?
Charles Leclerc: Well, from lap five onwards to be honest, it was all downhill, really struggling with the tyres. A bit like the last race, no. We are very strong warming up the tyres but then after three four laps we just destroy them. So yeah, a struggle this time. A huge congratulation of course to Max for his second World Championship. And yeah, we'll keep pushing until the end. It's obviously frustrating today. The pace was not quite there after four laps. But it's like this.

Yeah, but I think there's a lot of people supporting you, Charles, and especially Ferrari. It's been a battle with Max, you know, so far through this season, until this point, but you're going to be stronger coming into next season for sure. You're going to finish off the year strong, yeah?
CL: Exactly. That's the goal. I mean, I think Max's title this year was just a matter of time, really. So we expected him to win the world title. Now we need to use those last races in order to become a better team and hopefully, yeah, put him a bit more of a challenge next year.

Sergio, I'm going to get you back in again. Second place. How does it feel to get second place? One-two, obviously with Red Bull.
SP: Yeah, certainly a great result here for Honda, for all the Japanese fans that have been amazing. It's a great day for our team, you know, now that Max becomes champion, it's certainly a massive day for all of us.

But it must be really personally good for you as well with that race win you had in Singapore and a great race, a great fight to the end of the race today to get that second.
SP: Yeah, it was certainly nice and we have to keep the momentum going until the end of the season.

Max Verstappen Podium Interview - Conducted by Jenson Button

Max Verstappen, you are a two-time world champion. How does it feel? I mean, your emotions must be all over the place? You know, you won the race, it was so dominant today, you didn't think you'd won the championship until after the race. But how are you feeling right now?
MV: It's crazy. I mean, very mixed emotions, of course, by first of all winning the race, but you know, looking back now, winning the championship, what a year we've had so far, it's been incredible. And something I could have never imagined happening after last year already, you know - fighting until the end, and having such a good car again this year. So, you know, I'm so thankful to everyone who has been contributing to the success, of course, the whole team who is here, but also back at the factory who is constantly working flat out, and they're never missing any motivation to try and make the car faster. And so yeah, and besides that, I mean, that's, of course, from the car side, the work we've done together with Honda, all the way through, every year just constantly improving rapidly and, you know, to win now twice with them, it's very emotional, especially also here, with everyone watching. It gives you a little bit more pressure, but it's good pressure, it's positive pressure. And so that's why I'm very proud, you know, that we could do it here.

So the last two years, 2021 and 2022, two very different ways to win a world championship, which one stands out for you?
MV: I think the first one is always a little bit more emotional. But the second one is probably even more beautiful, just the way that we... Well, the season we've had with the wins and just the great races and the teamwork, the 1-2s we have had and of course, we're leading the constructors, so we really want to focus on that as well, to try and secure that. So it's been a pretty special year and I think, yeah, it's something you really have to remind yourself of, because these kinds of years you don't have very often.

Top Three Press Conference

Let's welcome our race winner and the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen. Max, describe your emotions right now.
MV: Yeah, of course it's a great feeling. Of course when I crossed the line I didn't believe that we would have won the title right there because I also didn't know if we were going to get full points or not but nevertheless, great day. At the end, we could race and the race itself we could manage really well with the car, with the tyres so of course very happy to win here. But then of course I found out - due to of course the five seconds of Charles as well - that would give me the title, but then I was yes? No? I think not everyone was 100 percent sure. At the end it was so yeah, very pleased but it also makes you reflect on the whole season and we had a lot of very special moments, of course. But it's also very important to look back at what the whole team has achieved and something that is, I think, pretty special and doesn't really happen that many times. And that's why I think you really have to enjoy the moment and really appreciate the whole team around you, as well. We're all travelling a lot and everyone is working very hard towards the same goal. And yeah, I'm pretty sure that it will be very hard to try and replicate a season like this.

Max, it's been a fantastic season and we're going to talk more about it in a moment. For now, can we just work through some of the key moments in the race? Talk us through the original start, it was very close between you and Charles on the run to turn one.
MV: Yeah, I had a terrible start but I already had terrible starts to the grid, so I knew it was not going to be amazing and that's exactly what happened but then I think the outside line into turn one/two is a little bit better because there's quite a bit of grip on the outside so that's where I could break a little bit later. But yeah, it was very close but that's, I think, what people like to see.

And can we get your thoughts on the conditions? What were they like when we stopped the race and equally restarting the race?
MV: That first lap I think was really the limit on an intermediate but it kept on raining quite heavily at the time so once the Safety Car came out because of the crashes, yeah, it was too wet even for an extreme tyre. If you would have continued like that it's impossible to drive and I'm in the lead, you know, the cars behind you can't see anything. So yeah, it was very difficult and they made the right call. Then the first time they tried to restart it, I think that was definitely not right because it basically just kept on raining harder and harder and there was no real sign of the track being dry or dry enough to drive and I think once we actually got going it was fine. There were a few rivers but we very quickly switched from the extreme to an intermediate anyway so that was definitely the right call.

And final one for me on the race: you were utterly dominant, pulling out 27 seconds in 28 laps. Just how good was the car?
MV: Yeah, the car was very good but it was also... we were looking after the tyres I think quite well. We could keep the front tyres alive which around here is quite tough on these intermediate tyres. And that's basically I think what gave me such a pace advantage because in that first sector if you have a bit more front grip that helps a lot, but yeah, it was it was very enjoyable. But anyway this track in that kind of condition, with the intermediate it's also in the wet a really nice track to drive.

Checo coming to you now, it's your seventh second place of the year. You had a great battle with Charles. How much did you enjoy those closing laps?
SP: Yeah, it was a nice battle again. I think it was really tricky to overtake without DRS. I had to place it into 11 and out of 14 on the way to 17 on the back straight but those places were where Charles was actually strong. I could see that he was managing well his race, his tyres once he ran out of them. And he was making it really hard, you know, so I knew that the only way I could get him was if I push him into a mistake, and yeah, towards the end, I thought there was one more lap left so when he went off, I thought that was going to be the opportunity. But it didn't happen and we managed to get a good result for the team. And a great one-two.

And Checo, just a word or two on Max winning his second world title.
SG: Well, I think Max has had an incredible season: a lot of respect for him. I've said it before: I don't feel like Red Bull have had a dominant car, to have won the championship the way Max won it, so I think he definitely pulled a gear or two compared to anyone else. I think in the beginning I was a lot closer to him; once he got quite comfortable with the car and I was more uncomfortable with it, he was driving at another level compared to everyone you know. The races that he did were sometimes incredible, incredible to watch so yeah, a lot of respect for him. Very happy for him and for my team. You know it's a massive achievement to have won the championship here. One-two for Honda as well so it's definitely a very special day for the whole team.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Suzuka here.


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