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Qatar GP: Post Sprint and Champion's press conference


Track Interviews - Conducted by Nico Rosberg

Max Verstappen, three-time World Champion, consecutively, how does that feel?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, of course a fantastic feeling. It's been an incredible year. A lot of great races and of course super-proud but also super-proud of the job of the team. It's just been so enjoyable to be part of that group of people. To be a three-time World Champion is just incredible.

Do you think you're going to keep this going - or is it just so, so hard to keep this kind of level going for much longer in the future, do you think?
MV: We'll keep on pushing. We'll try to do the best we can. Also, today was, I think, quite an exciting race. I think it was a bit of a shame with the Safety Cars but overall, yeah, it was good, it was fun out there and of course, incredibly happy at the moment.

Maybe a quick word also for Oscar? I mean, he got his first win...
MV: He drove a great race. It was not, I think, that easy, because we were on the Medium tyres and there was some Soft starters around us and they had a bit more grip in the beginning but he did very well, I tried everything I could to try to catch up but we came up short at the end. So, well done to him.

Do you have a target in mind? Like, 'hey, I want to win a fourth one in a row, or a fifth one. Is there anything there for you or you just enjoying the moment?
MV: We'll just see what happens. I'm enjoying the moment and hopefully we can keep this momentum going for a while.

Oscar, what a fantastic race, you just won that race out there, the first win. How does that feel?
Oscar Piastri: Thank You. Yeah, very happy. A very stressful race. When I saw all the Soft guys come through at the start, I thought we were in a bit of trouble and yeah, then their tyres fell off pretty quickly, so yeah, that was good. Safety Cars were my friend today, definitely once Max got behind me but the pace was reasonable and I think, in a race where you had to manage a lot the tyres, cars on other compounds, I think we did a really good job, so very happy.

You said the pace was 'reasonable'. Actually it was a pretty awesome pace because Max was giving it everything at the end there and he barely came closer to you - so that's also important for you, isn't it?
OP: Yeah, definitely. I think anything you can try to learn for tomorrow is going to be important as well. I thought once he got through into second, I was going to be in a bit of trouble - but the pace was good, managed the tyres well, and yeah, first Sprint win sounds pretty cool.

Lando, you've been saying it's been a little bit of a difficult weekend for you so far but can you still be happy with that comeback and that P3 there.
Lando Norris: Yes. Of course. First of all, congrats to Oscar and congrats to Max. First win - earlier than mine - so a big well-done to him. Tough race for me, just a bad start made everything much trickier, but we fought back well. Some fun racing, good overtakes, all the way to the last lap on George, so, tough, but another podium for us and for our team it's been a mega day.

After that start, was it, like, mentally tough, or did you still keep the hope up and think 'no-no, we can still make this work today'.
LN: I think from the beginning we could, especially with them on the Softs. The Softs were obviously a lot better for lap one and the opening stages of the race, but I mean, they were lucky there were so many Safety Cars. If there weren't so many Safety Cars I think easily the Medium would have been a better choice, so, it was a tough fight. Not the best of beginnings but a good ending.

If Oscar can win a race in that car, then obviously you can too. Do you feel your win is coming very, very soon?
LN: I hope so! I mean, I've been trying a long time, but Oscar's done a mega job this weekend. I've made a lot of mistakes and he hasn't and he's capitalised and he's done a better job, so just hats-off to him.

Press Conference

Oscar, you were second in the Sprint in Belgium, you're the winner here today in Qatar, how sweet is this moment for you?
OP: Yeah, very happy. I like Sprint Saturdays, apparently! It's been a really good day, started off well, in the Sprint Shootout, and yeah, pretty crazy Sprint this evening and I'm happy to come out on top. Also, I think it was really exciting for everyone to watch as well, with the Soft guys at the start - I thought I was in a lot of trouble with how much pace they had but they dropped-off just as quickly. So, yeah, very, very happy.

As you say, it was a very eventful race. You also described it as 'stressful' a little bit earlier. How confident were you that the race would come to you and your Medium tyres?
OP: I think at the start it was a bit difficult to judge with the Safety Cars. That wasn't helping the Medium tyre at all, because it would cool-down way too much. I think it was when Carlos, or whoever was in the Ferrari, was behind me, tried to overtake and... yeah, after that, they dropped back very quickly. It was like from one lap to the next, George lost a lot of pace, so at that point I knew I was in a good rhythm. It was just how quickly Max was going to come through, how quickly Lando was going to come through as well. So, it was stressful at times, but glad we could see it out.

At what point in the race did you become wary of Max rather than George Russell, for example, on the Soft tyre?
OP: It was just before the last Safety Car really? That last Safety Car was pretty nice for me, I'll be honest. So yeah, I knew that I had to try and get as much of a gap whilst Max was behind George, as quickly as I could. Which... managed to get out enough and then the pace at the end was also pretty good too. So yeah, but once, I think was about 10 laps to go, or eight laps to go at that point, I thought it might be a tough ask to the end. So, I'm thanking the Safety Car drivers today.

And Oscar what does this mean for the Grand Prix tomorrow, in terms of what did you learn about the car? What did you learn about the track?
OP: I think we learned a lot. I think the Soft at the start was obviously extremely strong and dropped off. Everyone's tyres stayed together, so that was a bonus. I think it was more or less as we expected, the wind dropped a bit. And with so many Safety Cars, it gave you a lot of restarts and different tyres temperatures and stuff. So yeah, obviously, tomorrow's going to be a very different kind of race. But yeah, a lot of interesting things to learn.

Max, very well done to you. So much for you to celebrate this evening. Can we just start by talking about the race, because you had to fight today. How much did you enjoy it out there?
MV: Yeah, I think Lando and myself, we got eaten up a bit in the start. And, yeah, we lost quite a few positions there because of the Soft runners coming through. And that made it, of course, a bit more difficult. Plus, I think in general, we're always quite strong on tyre deg, but with two Safety Cars in the Sprint, it's not ideal, let's say, for us. So, that definitely worked against us. And also, I was about to pass George just before that Safety Car came out, so, yeah, I had one more lap behind him where I lost a lot of time, because in high speed, he had no front tyres left, or left front. So, it was a bit of a shame. But overall, I mean, it was all about just making sure that we would win it today. That would always be nice for tomorrow. And yeah, I think we had good pace but just a bit, let's say, unlucky in the race with the Safety Cars.

You say that your car is good on its tyres. Were you tempted to start on the Soft this evening?
MV: No, not at all. I was very surprised when I saw it. Of course, you know, the first few laps, they were flying, but I was like 'okay, I'll see you in a few laps'.

And what about the performance of your car relative to the McLaren at the end?
MV: I think it was OK. Yeah, just needed a few more laps, I think, to really see where the deg would go.

And Max, we will have a Champion's press conference with you immediately after this one - but I did just want to ask, were you aware that Pérez had gone off and the significance of that moment?
MV: Yeah, I mean, I saw that of course but I was focused on trying to win the race at that point.

Lando, a hard race for you out there, down to sixth at the start, you fought your way through. How tough was it?
LN: It was very tough. Any chance to go backwards I pretty much took! Just, from the right-side of the grid, which was a lot worse than the left, on the Medium, was just always going to be very, very tough. But yeah, I hung on, the first few laps and then just as soon as you got in the rhythm, had the Safety Cars and so on, the same as the others. As soon as I caught the Ferrari then he had DRS, so I couldn't get him the first lap, so I was just a little bit like out of rhythm in a way, to get past and keep up with what Max was doing. And then I caught the wet patch in Turn 2, where the guys crashed, so I went backwards again! It's just not been my weekend in a way, and just made some mistakes here and there, but still fought well and I didn't think I would get George, to be honest, but the DRS was pretty significant. So I managed to get him into Turn 1 from a long way back and yeah, finish with another double podium from McLaren, which is great. But obviously a big congrats to Oscar and Max. I feel like Max has stolen Oscar's limelight a little bit, but both deserve it today.


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