Track Interviews - Conducted by Jean Alesi
Max, what can you say when you see so many fans cheering behind your lap-time, which is unbelievable.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I mean first I want to say a big thank you to all the fans, supporting us already the whole weekend, everyone being so passionate about Formula 1. So thank you very much for coming. From our side, an incredible weekend so far, and especially in qualifying, where you can really push it to the limit, it felt really, really nice.
After Singapore, you arrive here and the car, from day one, you were driving like a top hero from Suzuka. You feel so good on this track?
MV: Yeah, we had, of course, a bad weekend in Singapore but I already felt from the progression we had that this was going to be a good track. But, of course, you never really know how good it's going to be but from lap one it's been really, really nice. Of course, you try to find little improvements here and there, and I think we did that. To be on pole here is fantastic.
Have you seen the gap in between you and the second?
MV: I still need to double-check. I walked here...
It's quite a lot.
MV: Alright. Thanks!
Oscar, congratulations Oscar, I mean you are here on the front row in front of these amazing spectators and the lap you made beat your team-mate. Tell us about that?
Oscar Piastri: Yeah, the first lap was pretty solid. I was quite happy with it. The last chicane I could have done a better job but yeah, it was a good lap. On the second lap, my first sector was good and the next two sectors not so good, so no, happy to end it in P2. It's been a really good weekend for the team so far, got upgrades on the car, and yeah, here they're quick and we thought we might have decent chance around here but no, still got to make it happen. So, happy to be second, for the team to be second and third. Very, very happy.
And the situation for the turn in on the start - but on your position, you know how much you can gain at the start. Are you ready for that?
OP: Yeah. It's the first time I've started on the front row for a while. So, it'll be cool. There's only one car ahead to overtake, so I'll try and make that happen.
Lando, well, you know, as a fan, part of our excitement is to watch the competition for the top three positions, today it was just amazing. Can you tell us about that?
Lando Norris: Sure, first of all, a quick hello to everyone watching. Yeah, it's been a very good day for us. As a team, a P2 and a P3, a great job by Oscar today and, as usual, by Max, but a good day for us. To be P2 and P3, I was pretty happy with my laps. Tricky, it's not an easy circuit to put everything together always, but it's so quick around here, the smallest mistake can make a bit amount of lap time, you know? I'm happy. It's been a good day, good positions for tomorrow.
You are part of the comeback of McLaren. McLaren is very famous here in Japan, and we are really pleased to see again McLaren fighting for the top position.
LN: Yes! Some of the most amazing McLaren stories come from here in Japan. We are of course hoping for a good result tomorrow. We want to continue that tradition but it's going to be difficult. Max is doing a very good job, Red Bull are always doing a very good job, so we'll do our best to make their life difficult and have a good race tomorrow.
What a session Max. In fact, what a weekend it's been for you so far. Just how sweet were those laps in Q3?
MV: Yeah, to be honest, the whole weekend has been really good. As soon as we put the car on the track, it's been very enjoyable to drive, very predictable, which I think is the most important. And, yeah, lap after lap in Qualifying as well, it was getting better. I mean, I only had three new sets of tyres, so I had to be a bit careful with using them, basically. So, in Q2 I had to run the scrubbed. But then, once I put on a new set again, in the first run in Q3, it was just super nice. I mean, these high-speed corners, if the car is very well balanced and you can really push it to the limit, it's just really enjoyable to do to drive.
Max, the pole gap is point six of a second. Have you even surprised yourself today?
MV: It's always difficult to judge but after FP3 I was like, 'they're quite close'. But then luckily, I think yeah, we made some tiny adjustments and I think it helped the car a little bit. And then probably Sector 1, once you feel very confident with the car, you can push it a little bit more and that's what happened in qualifying.
Had you set yourself the goal of getting into the 1m28s? Because there was that radio message, radio conversation with your engineer afterwards?
MV: Yeah, he told me a '28 would be nice. I said, "don't worry, I'm going send it," and then he was like, "yeah, but don't shunt the car, right?" I was like: "yeah, well, obviously, that's not what I want to do." I knew that there was still a little bit left in a few places, and that's what I tried to tidy up, which worked out quite well.
Max, the lap times would suggest not, but have you suffered any recurrence of the problems you had last weekend in Singapore?
At no point in the...
MV: Singapore didn't happen for us?
Let's look ahead to the race tomorrow. Just how confident are you?
MV: Yeah, I mean, the car is quick, over one lap, I think also on the long run it's quick. It's still a decent amount of laps and quite a bit of deg on the tyres. So just need to look after them during the race. But yeah, the car normally should be quick.
And how happy would you be to win the Constructors' Championship here in Honda's backyard?
MV: That was the aim, especially coming from Singapore. I wanted to have a really strong weekend. And of course, we know that this is the first proper opportunity to win it. So we also want to do that.
Alright, very well done. Thank you, Max. Oscar coming to you. Now you've put together some sensational laps today to take your first front row in Formula 1, at Suzuka of all places. What does this mean to you?
OP: Yeah, very, very happy. You know, I think yesterday, we thought we could be in for a solid weekend. And then I think this morning we made some good changes. And the car looked quick in FP3. And I was getting more used to the track too. So yeah, very, very happy to be on the front row. Of course, the gap is a little bit or a lot bigger than I would prefer. But yeah, I'm happy to be in second.
How much more time was there, because you say you messed up that final lap in Q3 in particular.
OP: Yeah, there was a bit, I think I was about two tenths up after the first sector, but I wasn't going to find six. So yeah, in the end, it didn't make much of a difference. But of course, you know, when you're up on your lap before, of course you want to keep going that way and yeah, just a little bit frustrated that I didn't manage to improve on the second lap. But in the end it didn't matter.
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