Parc Ferme Interviews - Conducted by Danica Patrick
Carlos, great job out there. How was the track? The drivers have been talking about how slippery it is. And it looks like it's been challenging. Your team-mate spun again in Qualifying. Is it really tough out there?
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, it was a very tricky Quali for all. I think it's very difficult to find the right feeling with the tyres around this tarmac and it was a fight the whole way through Quali and very easy to make mistakes. It was getting windier and windier, which for our cars and for our car in particular is quite tricky to drive. But yeah, in general, a decent outcome. P3 is more or less where we were targeting to be, but I think today we would have been even better.
Do you think that the tyre degradation is going to play a big role tomorrow with the heat and being able to stay where you're at or move forward?
CS: Yeah, it's the big unknown going into tomorrow. How is our car going to perform in the heat and in the race runs. Normally, it's our weakness, but I think this weekend we should try and make a better job than in the last one. And I think that could bring us to the podium, which would be a good result.
Do you think that the changes with the DRS zone being shorter will be an advantage for you guys against Red Bull?
CS: No, I think the Red Bull is the Red Bull. They are just very quick. But then everyone else, it's going to be a good fight with Fernando, with Mercedes that are a bit behind. The other Aston. I don't know. I think it's going to be an exciting race.
Did you have anything left out there?
CS: Yeah, plenty, actually today, yes, because obviously with the red flag I think we all had a quite a lot of lap time to come in the second run. I was actually doing a very good first sector when the red flag came out, but it's how it goes. We're P3, which is more than where we were planning to be.
Okay, good luck. Fernando, well that was exciting. Tell me about your Qualifying?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it was a good qualifying. I think FP3 was a bit messy for us. We tried different set-ups and they didn't work, but the team obviously put the car in a more known place after the first four races and the car came alive in Qualifying. So yeah, certainly happy with P2 obviously, first row of the grid. Let's see what we can do.
How's the balance of the car?
FA: Perfect. I did enjoy every lap, you know. It was so enjoyable to drive, especially the low-speed corners here are quite tricky, you go quite close to the walls between Turns 11 and 16, so you need to have that confidence in the car to really attack qualifying and I had the confidence today, so I was very pleased.
How hard is it here, where it's been very slippery for everyone, to be able to push really hard and still get the most out of the car. Do you think that's going to be really difficult tomorrow and you'll see mistakes?
FA: Yeah, probably. I think it was difficult the whole weekend. It is a very narrow racing line that we are cleaning and it gets quite grippy but offline it gets quite slippery. Yeah, we need to have an eye on the weather as well. There are some forecasts that says rain tomorrow. If that comes, obviously it's going to be a new thing.
You've been having an excellent season. Tell me, give me a reason? What is it? Are you inspired? Is it the new team?
FA: I think I've been always motivated, I mean always working hard, but I didn't have probably, you know, the team believing on my performance, on my ability to set-up the car as well and to move forward. And also, I never had as fast a car as I have now, so you know I think that's the reason. I didn't change anything but Aston Martin changed everything on me.
Checo, they're excited here! How about you? Great job.
Sergio Perez: I think it's been my worst weekend up to qualifying really, I just couldn't figure out how to pull those tenths that I was missing all the time to Max and to the Ferraris. I mean, I was just re-setting everything, we did a small change into Qualifying and everything became more alive. And I think with this tarmac we were just playing a bit with the tools and we put the lap in when it mattered.
You've been a little hard on yourself. You said it's been a bad weekend. Why is that? What is it that you were missing?
SP: Just everything. It wasn't coming together. It's one of those weekends where I was just struggling for balance, confidence. This tarmac is very sensitive to temperature, so thank you to everyone.
You're racing hard against Max for the championship and we're already talking about it so much in race five. Tell me about that? Is that already stressful and distracting? Or are you thriving?
SP: No, I'm enjoying it. I'm just thinking race by race. I will go out and cheer for my team because they've done a tremendous job and, yeah, just see what happens tomorrow. You know, tomorrow. It's a new opportunity. Starting from pole. We are the ones that have some effort to lose, but we will just go out there and try to enjoy this amazing crowd.
Checo, many congratulations. What a session for you. Just how pleased are you with that first lap in Q3?
SP: I'm very pleased, you know, because it's been a very difficult weekend for me up to Qualifying. I think this tarmac is just very different to anything else. And I was just trying to figure out how to get the maximum out of the car, out of the balance, because even on my final lap, I was still finding things out that were working better. So we haven't had a straightforward weekend. So it tastes a lot better once you deliver under such a bad weekend.
Just as a reference point was Max finding things easier on the other side of the garage, and were you worried about a repeat of Melbourne?
SP: No, it wasn't as bad. I think if things turned to bad, probably I will be P4 or P3. But no, Melbourne, hopefully never again. But I was just far and literally far with balance with confidence. And I think it's one of those weekends where if things don't go in your favour, then you just start to lose confidence and you start to overthink things. And yeah, I'm just so pleased that I delivered when it mattered, because I had a pretty good idea through Qualifying. I think I managed to learn a lot. And yeah, just put the lap when it really mattered.
It seems like you're still learning. So how many question marks do you have going into the race tomorrow?
SP: I think the race it's a lot easier. And already yesterday I had a very good pace, although I was struggling for balance. Straightaway, we put fuel in the car and things come more naturally to me. The problem was putting the tyres up to temperature and taking that little 10th, you know, of peak grip, I was struggling with that massively.
Now with mistakes from Max and from Charles, it's a slightly unusual front of the grid for us tomorrow. How do you see it panning out? Who are who your main challengers?
SP: Well, at the moment these two guys obviously. I'm mainly focusing now on getting a good start and being able to manage our first stint. I think it will be really helpful for all of us to be able to do that. You know, it's a very long race and still a lot can happen tomorrow.
Fernando, coming to you. What a session for you. Your best qualifying of the year so far. The trend remains upwards for you and Aston Martin.
FA: Yeah, it was a good qualifying. I think we've been up and down in the last two events. I think Baku was very difficult with only one free practice. Here, with a more normal weekend, we've been experimenting a little bit with set-up and different options on the car. And yeah, I think we put it all together for Qualifying, the car felt good. And yeah, obviously the Q3 was stopped with a red flag at the end, so we don't know what lap time, at the end, everyone could achieve. I think there was a lot of pace in the car still because the Q3 lap was made on a used tyre on the first attempt. So up to the yellow flag I was a few tenths already better than the lap before. So yeah, I think that it was something more than the car, but obviously we take the first row of the grid and let's see what we can do.
Well how much confidence does this give you going into the race tomorrow?
FA: A lot. I think Sunday is our day, normally. I think the car take care of the tyre normally very good, and we have a very good race pace and we struggle a little bit on Saturday. So, when we start higher up normally things are a little bit easier. But yeah, we have a strong opposition behind. Ferrari has been very strong this weekend and in Baku, some upgrades also on their car. Max obviously will come, eventually in the race, quite fast. So yeah, a lot of things to take care of in the mirrors. But we will do our race, we will score as many points as possible and our main competitors, Mercedes, they had a difficult weekend so far, so we need to keep outscoring them.
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