Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard
Fernando, what a Grand Prix. Have you ever experienced the likes?
Fernando Alonso: Probably not. I mean, we had a roller coaster of emotions today. And yeah, many things going on at the beginning. But then also at the end now, you know, the last half an hour it was difficult to understand what's going on. But the race itself was good for us in terms of pace. I think Mercedes were very fast and Lewis did an incredible job today, so I could not match the pace or not get close enough. But we take P3.
Yeah, that's what we were wondering, in the Grand Prix, whether you were just pacing yourself and saving your tyres, because early on it looked like it would be a straightforward run to the flag. But all of that changed. And then of course, I guess your heart was in the mouth at that red flag restart when you were spun around?
FA: Yeah, I mean, the first red flag did help us, because George and Carlos came in. So we took those places for free. And the second red flag probably didn't help, obviously, with the incident there. But then we got lucky again and we had another opportunity now to just see the chequered flag in P3 and as I said, P3, P4 for the team is just amazing Sunday.
Well, you've started with three races and three podiums, what can the rest of the season bring you?
FA: I guess a little bit higher up on the podium, because three third places, let's go for a second place at least.
Lewis, welcome back to the podium. That was a crazy race!
Lewis Hamilton: It was! I've got to say a huge thank you to everyone here in Australia and Melbourne for having [us]. I've had the best week here, this week. And the weather has been amazing today and this track, this town continues to put on a great show. So yeah, it's very unlucky for George today and on our side we've got to look into... Our reliability has generally been really good, so that's really unfortunate. But otherwise, to get those points is really amazing today. I definitely didn't expect to be second. So I'm super grateful for it.
There's so many questions, because you've been saying you feel a bit disconnected from the car but yet come race day that pace was good. Maybe not enough for Red Bull. But you looked 'fighty'. You really pushed Max into Turn 3 on that opening start and you looked up for it.
LH: Yeah, I still feel uncomfortable in the car, though. The car... I still don't feel connected to it. So I'm driving as best I can with that disconnect. And I'm working as hard as I can to try and create that connect. But I think it's a long project. But still, considering we've been down on performance, we're clearly down on end-of-straight pace compared to the Red Bulls, for us to be up here fighting with Aston is just amazing at this point in the season. And we've just got to keep on fighting. Big, big thank you to all the people back to the factory. Let's keep pushing. We can close that gap. It's going to be tough, but not impossible.
I just want to pick up on a moment when you were on the radio quite early on the Grand Prix, saying that I don't think the tyres will make it. I wasn't sure if that was you kind of bluffing to put the opposition off?
LH: No, no. I definitely wasn't bluffing. I think, honestly, I was having to push a lot to keep... Right at the beginning, obviously, to keep Max behind. And then Fernando was pushing, you know, they're very, very quick. So I think ultimately, he was a little bit quicker today behind me, but I just managed to hold him off. So, for that I'm really grateful and also just... What a legend. We've got a World Champion up ahead. We've got two World Champions in the top three or three World Champions in the top three. That's pretty mega.+
Indeed, Formula 1 2023 is excellent. Well done on your second place. And finally, our race winner. Not really straightforward to get that victory, was it?
Max Verstappen: No. We had a very poor start and then lap one, I was careful, because I had a lot to lose and they had a lot to win, you know. So, yeah, after that I mean I think the pace of the car was quick, you could see that straightaway. We were always there waiting for the DRS to open up, to have a chance to pass. But yeah with these red flags... I don't know, the first one maybe you can do it, but that second one, I don't really understand it. So, it was a bit of a mess. But yeah, we survived everything. We had good pace in the car today again, and we won, which of course is the most important [thing].
The battle with Lewis at that first start, down at Turn 3. There was maybe a little bit of contact there. It was hard but fair?
MV: From my side, I just tried to avoid a contact. It's quite clear in the rules what is allowed to do, what you're allowed to do now on the outside. But clearly it's not followed. But that's OK, you know, we had good pace and we passed them anyway. But it's something for the next races to take into account.
OK, well, let's take it a little bit farther into the race and coming into the second-last corner you decided to go a little trip to the grass.
MV: Yeah, I think I did the city a favour. I just cut the grass a bit more so they don't need to do that anymore in that area. So yeah, I don't know. I locked up a bit and didn't want to flat-spot the tyre completely, so I ran a bit wide but we had a good margin.
And in the end, you had to wait a little bit there before you could do that final lap to get your 37th victory in Formula 1.
MV: Yeah, I mean, it's great to win here. My first win [here] as well. It's been a while for the team as well. But yeah, very, very happy. But also, it's still great to see that the fans are having a good time even now. You know, they had a long wait, for the whole day. I'd like to say a big thank you to them as well, you know, for sticking around.
It was a long afternoon's work, just how do you reflect on everything that went on out there?
MV: I mean, of course, very happy to win the race. But I think the race itself towards the end was a bit of a mess with all the calls. Yeah, I don't think we needed that second red flag. I think that could have been done with a Virtual Safety Car or a Safety Car at worst. [To the others drivers] but yeah, OK... short. You see, he wants to leave. You need to go? But yeah, we'll talk about it. I think it left a lot of drivers confused, why we needed a red flag. Okay, well talk in Baku!
Max, just in all of your racing career. Have you ever experienced a race like that one?
MV: Yes. I don't know, today was quite messy, yeah.
Well, let's talk about your starts. Can we go in chronological order - that first start in particular?
MV: Yeah, the first one was not good. Just didn't really get well off the line. And I think, actually it just got better and better, my starts. So at least that's an improvement!
And the run on that opening lap down to Turn 3 with Lewis. You touched on it a little bit earlier with David Coulthard. Do you feel Lewis overstepped the mark?
MV: I think I was also quite careful. I think I could have been a little bit more aggressive. But on the other hand, I didn't want to have any damage on my car, because I knew that we had a quick car, right? So even losing one or two spots was not the end of the world.
Final one for me. I'm sure there'll be plenty from the floor. But do you feel these guys were closer to you this weekend in terms of pace?
MV: I think it was also the nature of the track, with the very low deg. So, I think that all made it a bit closer. The warm-up was also quite tricky. Some teams probably nailed it a bit better than others. So yeah, difficult to say. I think we need to go to a few more tracks to have a full understanding.
OK, very well done. Lewis, coming to you now. You seemed elated after that one. Just how unexpected was this result?
LH: It was very unexpected. Obviously just coming into the weekend, but obviously, also getting a second and third and qualifying yesterday really blew us all away and a huge boost of energy throughout the team. So that meant today we had a shot at, you know, trying to at least overtake Max for a second. And so, we both got ahead, which was amazing. To have a Mercedes one-two for a second. And obviously he came sailing by at one stage, but it was a really entertaining race and I had a really good battle with Fernando, which was awesome.
Can we touch on that overtaking move with Max. Just talk us through the rundown to Turn 3.
LH: I thought it was pretty decent. I mean, he braked early and I braked late and I was fully up the inside and I think we both left space for each other. I didn't run him off the road and he didn't turn in on me. So we didn't touch and that's racing.
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