Track Interviews - Conducted by Martin Brundle
Charles, your 27th podium in Formula 1. Ferrari have been quietly very competitive this weekend, but difficult to have an answer to the Red Bulls.
Charles Leclerc: Yeah, exactly. I mean, we've had quite a positive weekend on our side in terms of pace. Of course, the race went well on my side, but a shame for Carlos, as I think we had good pace. So that is good. When you look at the Red Bull, we still have a lot of work to do, especially in terms of race pace, because degradation and everything they are quite far ahead still.
And Lewis was pushing quite hard behind you. Were you confident you had him covered off?
CL: Yes, until I've been told to do some fuel saving. And this was quite big at the end of the race. So there I was struggling a bit more, but the pace was there to keep Lewis behind. And then I knew that he was going to pit for the fastest lap, which made my life a little bit easier.
I saw you putting on the bands. Is there a significance to those bands that you were keen to get on?
CL: Well, actually, it's a brand from Monaco, and I'm very proud of wearing them so I always have them on me.
Congratulations, Sergio, second place today. How do you feel about that race?
Sergio Pererz: Yeah, it was a good race for the team, we deserved it really well. We had a great start. So I managed to get through Charles, which was one of the targets of today. And yeah, from then on, I was just doing my own race and then Max came through in the second stint pretty fast. So nothing I could have done there. And then afterwards it was just about making sure we brought it home safely without too much damage on the car.
You had a few difficult races, but a brilliant drive in Hungary last weekend, and another second place today. Are you getting back on balance and going well?
SP: Yeah, certainly. I really look forward to not leaving the podium anymore from now until the end of the year. It's been a bit of a rough patch, but I think we overcome and today we managed to score great points for the team.
And you head into the summer break with some confidence?
SP: Yeah, definitely. I really need the summer break. It's been really intense the last few races, so I look forward to it and come back very strong for Zandvoort.
Congratulations, Max, you've won the last 10 starts in Formula 1, including the Sprint races. You seem like you can win from anywhere, anytime, anyplace?
Max Verstappen: It's a new spot, that's for sure - P6. Yeah, I mean, I knew that we had a great car. It was just about surviving Turn 1. I could see that it was all getting really tight. I've been in that position before as well, myself, so I was like, 'I'm just going to stay out of that', and it worked out and then from there onwards, I think yeah, we all made the right overtakes, moves. I just got a little bit stuck at the beginning and in a bit of a DRS train but once that cleared, I could do my own pace. And again, it's really enjoyable.
Now we heard your great friend and your engineer Gianpiero Lambiase saying 'slow down, slow down, you're using the tyres too much', but you didn't seem particularly interested in that message?
MV: I did slow down. Of course, you know, we all look at the numbers, we look at the wear of the tyre and you know, this track is super hard on the tyres, so you don't want to do any unnecessary things. So that's what we did till the end.
You did have one fright, though, when it was raining a little bit, in Eau Rouge and Raidillon.
MV: Yeah, that's probably the worst corner to have a moment, but it was tricky in those laps when it was raining, because you could see that it was raining but not how much exactly and I had the little sideways moment. Luckily nothing happened but it's definitely a corner where you don't want it to happen.
Q; Max, brilliant job by you, your eighth win in a row, the 45th win of your Formula 1 career. You had to work for this one, just talk us through the various challenges you faced out there?
MV: Yeah, lap one, Turn 1... My start was OK, but then I could see Carlos lock up, so you had to go to the inside. But then of course, Oscar was kind of there as well and then they both went deep into the corner. So I knew exactly what was going to happen, because I have had the same thing happen to me in 2016, I think it was or something. So it's like, 'OK, I'm going to stay out of it, I go wide'. But then, of course, they had damage. And you have to wait and see what they're going to do on the exit, because I could see Oscar couldn't really steer anymore. So we lost a little bit of momentum there, but luckily, it was all OK. And of course, I also got Carlos into Les Combes. And yeah, from there onwards, basically, my race started. But I was a bit unlucky, because I got stuck behind Lewis, because he was in the DRS of Charles, and with them having the highest top speed, Lewis, this weekend, it was just impossible to pass. So I had to wait for him to drop out of the DRS and as soon as he didn't have DRS anymore, I could pass. And then I think two or three laps later, I could pass Charles. But with that, I think I hurt my tyres a bit too much. So basically, as soon as I had my stop on to the Medium, I could feel that the car was in a much better window and I could go a lot faster. So yeah, from there onwards that was really where it started to come alive. And really enjoyable to drive and once I got into the lead, also, I could really look after the tyres as well. But then, of course, the rain started to come down. So you had to slow down quite a bit in some places. And once that cleared, we went back to a Soft tyre set and, again, the car was well balanced. And it shows that, you know, once you're not in traffic, how much better you can be on tyres. So yeah, it was, again, a great race.
Given that this was the first heavy fuel running you'd done over the weekend in the dry, how many unknowns were coming into the race?
MV: There were a few unknowns. I think, also, the first stint [I had] probably a bit too much understeer in the car trying to follow. But honestly, if I would have to do it again, I wouldn't really change a lot on the car. So I guess we nailed it pretty much.
You nailed it. You took the lead on lap 17. What was your approach when you were sitting on the grid in terms of getting to the front?
MV: I mean, you just have to wait and see what happens in front of you. I mean, once you're clear through lap one, then basically you can just settle in and work your way forward.
Now, you touched on the rain: tell us what goes through your mind when you're sideways through Eau Rouge?
MV: Yeah, that's probably not the best place to go sideways but luckily nothing happened. Of course, also, with the new, like the changes through there, you have a little bit more run-off, but it's still not a nice corner to have a moment.
What were you thinking?
MV: A swear word.
Now look Max. You're leading the Championship by 125 points. Does the summer break come at the good time or a bad time for you? Would you rather keep the momentum going and have another race next weekend?
MV: I don't think it matters a lot, to be honest. I just want to have a nice time now. Have a bit of time with family and friends and we'll go to Zandvoort. It's a completely different track again to Spa but I'm expecting if we do a good job with the set-up, we will be quick.
Checo, coming to you now, your best result since Miami, seven races ago. What is the most satisfying aspect of this second place?
SP: I think just getting that form back. We were on the podium last weekend and now, and I think, having these sort of races in clean air, is where you learn a lot and you make those steps in the coming races, because my last few races have been a bit of... yeah, very hard to get a proper read on them, because the way you have to race with dirty air, and so on, so that to me I think is where we're going to be learning the most on that stint on free air and the second stint as well.
Very aggressive at the start. Just talk us through the opening lap and when you took the lead.
SP: Yeah, I knew that it was quite crucial for my race to get Charles on lap one. We had a good launch but he also had a good start so it was just about making sure we got him into Turn Five. It worked well and we were able to do, basically, our own race from that point on. I think we managed to do a good first stint.
Check out our Sunday gallery from Spa here.