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Monaco GP: Post Race press conference


Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Q: Max Verstappen, your second victory around the streets of Monte Carlo, your 39th victory in total. It looked like dominance, but that was not an easy race today?
Max Verstappen: No, it was quite a difficult one, because we were on the Medium initially. And of course, Fernando was on the Hard tyre, so we didn't want to go that long, but we had to stay out because the rain was coming. So we didn't know really what was going on. And yeah, the tyre was graining and then it took a few laps to get through that graining phase and then the pace picked up a little bit, but it was still very tricky to drive. Then it started to rain, lap by lap a bit more than more. So at one point, of course, we had to make the call to go on to the Inters, but it was incredibly slippery. When you're that far in the lead you don't want to push too hard. But also you don't want to lose too much time. So it's quite difficult, you know, in that scenario. I clipped the walls a few times. It was super difficult out there, but that's Monaco!

Q: It's Monaco indeed. You say you clipped the wall. It looked like you were trying to run down the barrier between Portier 1 and Portier 2, before entering the tunnel. That must have been a heart-in-the-mouth moment?
MV: Yeah, I locked the rears and I couldn't get out of it. So it's just trying to control it with a bit of drifting. But luckily, the wall, in a way, stopped it from sliding even more.

Q: How important is this victory in Monaco? We talk about it being the jewel in the crown of the Grand Prix season.
MV: Yeah, it's super nice to win it. It is also super nice to win it, I think, in the way we did today, with the weather and everything, to stay calm and bring it home. And yeah, again, a lot of points for the team as well. So it's great.

Q: And further extending your lead in the World Championship.
MV: Yeah, exactly that.

Q: Well, go and enjoy the podium ceremony. Now, Fernando Alonso, your fifth podium in six races. You are Mr Consistent this year. We thought that you were really going to try and get around Max into Turn 1 but you stayed true to your word, you just focused on consolidating that second place in really difficult conditions.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it was difficult. Also, we opted to start on the Hard tyre. So we gave up a little bit the possibility into Turn 1, due to the short run. And we thought to play a long game with the strategy but Max drove super well on the Medium tyres to extend that first stint. So we didn't have any chance. Then at the end the rain, made things complicated out there. And it was not easy to drive around.

Q: You are one of the most experienced Grand Prix drivers out there. You are the most experienced driver out there! Put us in the cockpit in those sorts of conditions. You know, I remember doing a warm-up here where I couldn't get full power around the lap.
FA: Exactly, exactly. Not full power around the lap. Braking was extremely fragile into Turn 5, into Turn 10. So yeah, it was not easy and I was surprised that there was no Safety Cars, no incidents. So I think everyone was doing an amazing job today to keep the cars on track.

Q: And now we have a third place finisher, Esteban Ocon. What a timely moment for you to have your third podium in what is the 50th race for Alpine. You drove beautifully all weekend in incredibly difficult conditions. Where has this turn of form come from?
Esteban Ocon: Esty Besty's on the podium, baby! Yeah, I mean we've done it. It was superb weekend from everyone at the team. You know, from the first day, from the simulator to really all the practice sessions, we improved the car from beginning to end and yeah, we didn't make a wrong foot any time, even when we put the Inter tyres, it was the perfect lap to do so. And yeah, I'm just enjoying the moment now. It's been a while since I've been on the podium and I hope this is the first of many.

Q: We heard from Max Verstappen that he touched the wall a few times. We saw him ride the barrier between the Portiers. Did you have any contact during the Grand Prix?
EO: I've touched the wall enough yesterday! I didn't have today. So yeah, it gives less of a heart attack to the team.

Press Conference

Q: Max, what a race, what a win. Monaco in the wet. How tough was that?
MV: Yeah, it was quite hectic towards the end. But also, I think the whole race was all about like management. Because, Fernando starting on the Hard made me do a very long stint, probably almost double to what we would have liked, but because of the rain in the area, we couldn't really stop. I mean, if it would have been nice and sunny, I would have stopped, put the Hard tyre on, and you catch up and you wait until Fernando does his pitstop, but we couldn't do that because the risk of rain was around so I had to stay out. The tyres were graining, I had to go through that graining phase, which wasn't that easy. But then luckily it picked up a little bit but then of course, it started to rain. And with really worn tyres, to go through there was not really enjoyable. Clipped a few barriers, especially on my in-lap, I think. It was very, very difficult. But even on the Intermediates after that, it was still very slippery through the second sector. It was quite wet there. And yeah, the hard bit is that, you have a good lead, but of course, you don't want to risk too much, but also you don't want to drive too slow, because then you have no temperature in your tyres. So, just trying to find a bit the middle ground initially was a bit tough, but then after a few laps, I think I settled in and felt quite comfortable.

Q: What was your reaction when you looked across and saw Fernando on the hard tyre at the start?
MV: I mean, I wasn't really shocked or anything, but because of the weather, I knew that my first stint could be a long one.

Q: And, of course, this is your 39th win for Red Bull, surpassing Sebastian Vettel's tally for the team. What does that mean to you?
MV: If you have a good car for a while, you can break these kinds of numbers. But yeah, it's great. I mean, I would have never thought that I would be in this position in my career. When I grew up, I wanted to be a Formula 1 driver and winning these races is amazing. It's better than I could have ever imagined, for sure.

Q: Fernando, coming to you now. Great job as well. Second place your best result of the season so far. How would you sum up your emotions after today's race?
FA: I'm very happy. I think the race was not easy to execute. When the rain came, made things a little bit difficult for everybody. Especially when you are on a podium place, you don't want anything strange to happen, any choas. And yeah, I was expecting a lot of Safety Cars and things, which didn't come. I think everyone was behaving really well and controlling a very difficult car - between [Turns] Five and Eight especially. So yeah, I have been few times third this year; today second, so we only miss that one step.

Q: Did that extra stop for the Medium tyre cost you a chance of winning this Grand Prix?
FA: I don't know. I heard this question in the TV pen as well. Which, I was surprised a little bit. I didn't leave the race from the cockpit, as you probably saw on the outside. For me, it was very clear that the track on that lap we stop was completely dry, apart from Turn 7 and 8. So, how will put the Inters? It was completely dry, 99 per cent of the track. So, I stopped for dries. The weather forecast, it was small shower, and the small quantity of rain as well, what we had, as a team, and we had a lot of margin behind us, to put the dry tyres and, if necessary, the Inter tyres, so, you know, maybe it was extra safe, I don't know. But that minute and a half that it took to go through Turns 5, 6, 7 and 8 again, it changed completely, so the out-lap on the dry tyres, it was very wet when I go to those corners, but the lap that we stopped, it was completely dry.

Q: How would you think it would have played out had the race stay dry?
FA: I think we didn't have a chance, to be honest. I think we were brave on the strategy: it's not normal that you start on the first row of the grid and you choose the Hard tyre, trying to do the opposite of the leaders. And that shows the commitment from the team and how aggressive everyone was in Aston Martin, trying to get the win. We knew that it was some downside that the strategy we could have ended-up maybe P5, P6 or something like that, out of the podium. But this morning, we discussed it and we said we've had couple of podiums this year so we go for all or nothing, we start on the Hard tyre. And we didn't have the pace. That was the only problem we had in the race. I think the strategy was good. The Medium tyre was behaving surprisingly good in our opinion. We were hoping for more graining or bigger degradation and Max was able to drive 50 laps on an amazing pace, and that was the reason why he won the race. Not because the strategy: he was just faster than us.

Q: Esteban, the first Frenchman on the podium here at Monaco since Olivier Panis, in 1996, your first podium since you won in Hungary, of course, what does this one mean to you?
EO: It's been a while, feels good, I can tell you that! I'm speechless at the moment. I'm a little bit on my cloud still. You know, before the weekend, if you told us that we are going to be in the top 10, we would have been happy. It would have been a strong weekend. But we are not in the top 10, we are not in the top five, we are on the podium this weekend here in Monaco. And yeah, that shows really that never stopped believing. You know, we had a difficult start to the season but from the first session, I felt strong in the car, felt confident at the wheel. I was able to push, session after sessions, closer to the limit than I'm usually doing in Monaco. And, and yeah, I mean, that allowed me to do the lap I did yesterday, which is obviously 90 per cent of the job - normally - in Monaco. But it was not really the case today! Today has been a little bit of a harder race. We hold that podium for a while, we had it secure but you know, I got a touch from Carlos at one stage, got damage on the on the back of the car. And then the rain shuffled everything again, and we had to choose to take the Inters at the right time. And we did so. And from there on I was under a huge amount of pressure from Lewis. We seems to be always the two fighting together when the conditions are like that! So yeah, we know each other well in those conditions. And yeah, until the last lap, he was pushing flat-out. He was quicker in the wet section from Five to Eight, and I was quicker on the dry sections. But yeah, it's been an incredibly tough race to get under control but the reward is immense. So, I'm extremely pleased.

Q: Have you been surprised by the pace of your car this weekend?
EO: Yeah, I have been. I think, as soon as we put it down from the simulator days, really to all the practice sessions, we've been improving step-by-step and never stopping doing it. And it's been a very different weekend compared to my usual Monaco weekends, where I was not afraid to go close to the walls very early. And that's what we've done. And yeah, extremely surprised us for sure. I think we should keep feet to the ground at the moment. Obviously, we're on the podium here, we will enjoy all together. And yeah, I want to thank all the team, obviously Enstone, Viry, the team on-site here. That podium, not win, not yet! That podium is all for them. But yeah, Barcelona is going to be a very different characteristic. A track that everyone knows and a good test for us to see where we are exactly.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monaco here.


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