Today's post-race press conference with Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc.
Parc Ferme Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard
Charles, that was a great comeback for you. The Safety Car obviously brought you back into the race, but when you had some good battles out there with the Red Bull, the pace just wasn't quite there to keep them behind. But you must be satisfied overall?
Charles Leclerc: Yeah, satisfied in a way because we started P12, so a podium is a good achievement. But looking at the race, it's obviously a little bit disappointing. We had the pace, but then we had a little bit too much deg towards the end of the race. And yeah, but we'll work and at the end, P3, starting on P12, is not that bad.
Yeah, we're seeing behind you on the screen that there was some good overtaking, some good racing out there. You're quite red in the face. So this is one of the tougher races, isn't it?
CL: Yeah, it is, definitely, especially the first sector with so much G forces. And with the tyre deg you keep working with the steering wheel, which makes it even more difficult, but it was quite a nice battle with Checo and then later on with Max. But yeah, we need to keep working in order to challenge them a bit more towards the end of the races.
So we're still waiting for number two and number one to come out and join us. So let's talk a little bit about Ferrari, racing for them in America. You have a huge following here.
CL: Yeah, I'm extremely lucky to be a Ferrari driver and I know it's but we need to keep pushing. It's great to be here to see so many people and so many red shirts. So yeah, we'll keep working and hopefully next year we'll win.
And you have a short turnaround now before the Mexican Grand Prix. Any upgrades coming for that race? Any upgrades, any more performance coming?
CL: No. It's not planned that way. But yeah, we'll try to maximise our package.
Okay, Charles, thank you very much. Lewis, you have a great following here. For a moment. It looked like the victory was on. You gave it everything. We heard you complimenting the team on the strategy, but just the underlying pace wasn't there.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, firstly, I want to give a huge thank you to the crowd here. We've have such an amazing crowd. This is the biggest crowd we've had here in the whole time we've been here, so a big, big thank you everybody. Secondly, I want to give a big shout out to my team. We came here with upgrades and we closed the gap a little bit. We were so, so close. I did everything I could to try and stay ahead but they were just a little bit too quick today. But great strategy. Great race by Red Bull. And again, my condolences to the team.
Beautiful words Lewis, great respect there. Put us in the cockpit, as you can hear the crowd cheering for you there, this was a tough race. You love this race circuit but how far did you have to dig deep to get yourself into that lead?
LH: I'm shattered. The car was a handful today. It felt amazing, firstly, to be in the lead. That's something we've been working so hard on as a team through the year and I felt so much hope. But it's OK. We'll hold on to that. We'll keep pushing, we'll try and give it everything we can in these next three [races]. It will come to us at some stage so...
OK, well, enjoy the podium, enjoy the champagne and get a rest before Mexico. Ladies and gentlemen, your race winner, Max Verstappen. Wow, you worked hard for that one. It looked at a certain moment it was slipping away, the pit stop. very uncharacteristic. There was an issue clearly with the wheel gun. But then you got your head down. You had to fight harder with Lewis. How does this victory feel?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it was a tough one. I mean, it was all looking good. But then of course the pit stop was a bit longer than we would have liked. So I had to fight my way forward again. But yeah, we gave it everything out there today. And of course it's a very difficult weekend for us. So this one is definitely dedicated to Dietrich himself, what he has done for everyone. The only thing we could do today was win and even though after the pit stop it was not looking great, I gave it everything out there and I pushed to the limit to come back.
So we saw you embracing Helmut Marko as you got out of the car. He has been instrumental obviously in so many drivers' careers. A great moment on reflection, on the life of Dietrich Mateschitz to win the Constructors' Championship here as well. So along with Checo, a great team effort this year.
MV: Yeah, of course, we had a big chance to win the Constructors' here. And of course, you want to do that in style. And I think we did that today.
Yeah, we're seeing behind on the screen the battles that you had, first of all with Charles and the Ferrari, and then of course, Lewis here on the brakes. You had the DRS, you had to make it stick, and the battle continued to the next corner.
MV: Yeah, it was a few corners, but this is a great track anyway for battling, like if you pass one corner, you can come back in the next and it's really enjoyable to drive here.
Does this victory mean more to you, because of the emotion of the weekend, because of the passing of Mr Mateschitz, than other victories?
MV: It definitely means a lot to me, to the team, because he was so important for the whole team. He was so instrumental and, of course, it will continue, but we really wanted to have a good result today and yeah, this is of course amazing.
Max, what a way to honour Dietrich's memory. It was a thrilling Grand Prix. And this win gives the team the Constructors' Championship. Just how special is this moment for you and for the team?
MV: Yeah, I mean, obviously for us it's been a tough weekend and we really wanted to win today. And I mean, everything was looking great, but with that final stop, that 11-second pitstop that was not the best, after, of course... The field was quite close because of the Safety Cars. So yeah, we had to recover quite a bit . Initially I had a good battle with Charles and once I got ahead I felt like I damaged my tyres a little bit too much in the beginning of that new tyre set, so the first few laps I was not really catching like I wanted to to Lewis. But then I think once I recovered with the tyres then I could close in a bit, step by step. And then of course, yeah, I went for the move into 12. And it was a tough few laps to get him out of the DRS. In general, I think throughout the race, you could see it also when I passed Charles, he could stay in the DRS for a few laps around here. And it seemed like it was quite powerful. So it was not made easy for us, but at the end, of course, extremely happy to win on this difficult weekend for us. I think this was actually a race he would have loved to see. So yeah, of course, I'm sad but I'm also incredibly proud of the whole team and also the way they've operated all weekend. Of course apart from the pit stop but that was a gun failure and these things unfortunately can happen. But yeah, we kept it together and we won also the Constructors'. I'm very proud of everyone also... You know, the people who don't even come to the track, back at the factory, you know, the effort they have put into this car as well this year has been enormous. And I'm very proud of everyone, you know, to secure this.
After that 11-second stop, what was going through your mind?
MV: A lot of swear words. I was very upset. But immediately when you press the pit limiter off you have to keep your head down and go for it. But it wasn't made easy. But luckily this track is amazing to race at as well. So it's not like some other tracks where then your race is over. This is a proper racetrack where you can pass. And also you see the first time I tried on Charles, you know, this Turn 1 is so wide but then, you know, if he opens up, there are different lines to come back at you. And it's quite tough because the corner is so wide that when you go for the move, sometimes you can't even really picture where the other car is going to be again. But that makes great racing because it gives you so many like different opportunities, pass on the inside or open it up, and then maybe have a cut back. It's a good track.
You put on the Medium tyre in the final stint. Was that a clear cut decision for you, or with Lewis being on the Hard tyre did you think 'oh, have we got the right rubber on?'
MV: They kept asking me throughout the race what I thought between the tyres? And yeah, I think through my feedback I guess they chose the Medium. And I think it was right. I don't think at the end of the day, it would have mattered a lot, because I think we were quick on the Medium and the Hard. But the Medium just lasted long enough to the end.
And Max, this is race win number 13 of the season for you, equalling the record. How does that feel? Do you reckon number 14 is in your sights?
MV: I mean, I've said before that we are also doing more races a year. So they are not always justifiable. I mean, I think, yeah, we are having an amazing season, but of course when you have a great car, you can win a lot of races. But of course I'm proud of winning a lot of races, but I don't really look at these kinds of stats. I'm just happy winning races.
Alright. Very well done to you. Many congratulations on the Constructors' Championship as well. So Lewis, let's come to you next. So close to your first win of the season. Just looking at the bigger picture, how good did it feel to be back out front?
LH: It felt amazing. It felt amazing to even just be in shooting distance of Max for some points of the race. We really didn't know what our pace was going to be like today. I think in the first stint he was controlling the pace and it was very difficult to hold on to him. But in that second phase of the race, where after the safety car I was able to keep up with him and we did such a great job with strategy today. We were aggressive. I really am proud of the team. I think everyone worked so hard to bring upgrades here this weekend. And yeah, for a second I thought maybe we might just be able to hold on to it but I think that extra Medium tyre they had was just a little bit too strong compared to us.
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