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Qatar GP: Post Race press conference


Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Lando, you've just poured the water over your head. That was a tough race physically, but a great result for the team. Second and third. Put us in the cockpit.
Lando Norris: Yeah. Just a mega race from start to finish. A good opening lap, I learned from my mistake yesterday of going wide. I told you I'd go tight, and I did and it worked out. So, good start, good pace throughout the whole thing. Probably the best pace out there today, so I'm happy. Stressful, hot sweaty, little bit tired but a great job for the team. Three in a row now. 1.8s pit-stop as well by the boys.

That was very, very impressive indeed. The physicality of this race track, and it was also very busy out there as well with the different pit-stops, the limit of the 18 laps. You had to make some passes as well on track to make it stick.
LN: yeah, I think the three-stop made it a lot harder, just physically. You could push a lot more. Even the last stint, you could pretty much push flat-out. One of the hardest races I've done, in a way, but it's a nice challenge and congrats to Oscar. No mistakes. And, of course, Max once again.

You're standing, your other buddies are both sitting down on the job. I think highlighting just how tough this race was.
LN: They need it, I guess.

To our Sprint race winner yesterday, Oscar, catching your breathe. I believe you've been given Driver of the Day as well, so it's been a really good weekend for you.
Oscar Piastri: I thought you were going to say I got given a five-second penalty again for track limits! Scared the crap out of me! No, very, very happy obviously. Turn one was nice. That was definitely in the game-plan before the race. But yeah, really impressive pace, definitely the hardest race I've had in my life. I would say that Lando was just standing because it's compulsory - but he's still going.

He's still standing - but you are a rookie. Just explain to our fans around the world what it feels like. We heard Fernando Alonso, one of the most experienced drivers, talking about the heat in the cockpit - and he was asking 'pour water over me at the stop'.
OP: Yeah. It was hot. I think also, like Lando said, with the three stops, it was basically flat-out. It was 57 qualifying laps which I definitely feel I have done. Really good race, happy that all the tyres stayed together. It was good, obviously.

For the first time as a three-time World Champion, Max Verstappen, it's been a great weekend for you in Qatar. We didn't see a lot of you this afternoon. You were controlling the race pace, you obviously slowed it down just in the end there, the McLarens were only a few seconds behind you. A very well executed victory.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I think what made the race was my first stint. After that I could just manage my pace, making sure that the tyres were always in a good window - but the McLarens were quick again today. I had to push for it. It was definitely a tough race out there.

We just heard from Oscar. He's young in his grand prix career. He said it's the toughest race he's ever done. Where does this rank for you?
MV: One of. Yeah. Top five probably.

It's been a very strong weekend for you. This is a great way for you now to be able to properly celebrate your third world title. There's no race tomorrow, so you can go for it.
MV: Yeah, I'm already sweating quite a bit, so I wonder what happened last night - but we'll enjoy a little bit but y'know there's still quite a few races out there that we want to win.

We heard from Oscar saying there, with three mandatory pitstops, it meant it was like qualifying laps. Is that something we should be actually be looking at going forward? Was that fun to be in that situation?
MV: I prefer weekends where we push just as long as we can on a tyre and not force pit-stops. We design cars to be good on tyres. Today, we couldn't optimise that fully, because that's normally our strong point - but we'll see what we can improve in the future.

Press Conference

Max, your first victory as a triple world champion, very well done. This seemed to be a pretty untroubled run to the flag. How was it in the cockpit?
MV: Yeah, I think it was, overall a good race. I think what really made my race was that first stint, where I think we were quite strong and good on the tyres. After that, because we had a bit of a tyre offset, compared to the McLaren, I could drive a bit longer on most of the sets, which maybe in some places, then cost me a bit on the out-lap and stuff. So then sometimes the gap looked a bit closer than it should have been. Then on the Hard tyre, I lost quite a bit of time, I think, in the last two, three laps, because I had to get through some traffic. And then I had to slow stop as well to the end. So, then they were very close behind me. But yeah, overall, of course, they have been really quick all weekend. So, I think especially with the fuel coming out, it looked like they were again picking up more and more pace, compared to me. Plus, of course, that three stop that was mandatory, I think was not ideal for us, personally. Because our car is good on tyres. So, when you need to do longer stints because that's the fastest way around here, it would have probably been a bit better. But yeah, it was same for everyone at the end that we had to do those stops. We had to deal with that. And yeah, made it also probably bit harder to drive. We had to push quite hard out there. And yeah, as you could see, after the race, a lot of people are quite tired, I think.

Tell us a little bit more about the rules of engagement today because of the 18-laps limit on the tyres. How different did it make it from a strategic point of view, and more physically as well?
MV: Yeah. So, pushing-wise for sure you could push a little bit more on the tyres, because you were just limited to those laps. And yeah, besides that, it's of course, a bit of a shame that we had to do that. But yeah, luckily, I think nothing really happened. And I think that was, of course, the most important.

What about the track surface here in Lusail? It's new this year, did it grip up as the race went on?
MV: I think it did grip up a little bit. Probably if we come back next year it will be again a bit better but it depends on how much it will be driven. I think it's important that other kinds of categories come back, or come here and race a little bit more, because you have to take, a bit, that oil out of the tarmac when it's new, and also a bit more like a wider grip line. At the moment, I think it's still too much like one line. But it seemed to really ramp up. I think next time that we get into a situation like this, I don't think F1 should be, like, the first one to drive because it looks a bit silly. And, like, FP1 with cars, you know, sliding around having no grip, I think is important when we go to a track where they've put new tarmac, that at least it's run in a little, y'know? That will then help a lot. Also, for understanding the tyres, for example, what we had now. That's why we had these forced, of course, limited laps. So yeah, a few things I think to learn out of this this weekend as a whole.

And Max, you said after the Sprint yesterday that you feel the chasing pack is getting closer. Was today evidence of that?
MV: Yeah, I do think so. I mean, I mentioned before why I think it was that close. But for sure, yeah, I mean, McLaren is making great steps forward, throughout the whole year. And from our side, yeah, for sure, we'll try to improve maybe a little bit this year, but of course mainly for next year.

Oscar, let's come to you next, your best result in a Grand Prix following your win in yesterday's Sprint. Can you start by just summing up this whole weekend?
OP: Yeah, it's been pretty exceptional, to be honest. I think Friday was difficult. You know, obviously a bit disappointed after Qualifying on Friday, but yesterday went as close to perfect as it could have. And today, I think second was probably the most we could have done. So, yeah, very, very happy. Exciting weekend, a lot of progress made. And yeah, I think you know, just very proud of that. As a team and also for myself personally, that we've managed to get the most out of what our car's been capable of.

And what was the key for you to get from sixth on the grid to second today?
OP: Hit the brakes at the right time, and watch everyone else go off! Yeah, honestly, it was as simple as that. I don't really know what happened. Obviously, saw some cars spinning and whatever else but, yeah, the heavens kind of just parted way for me and through to second I went.

You spoke after Japan of lacking some pace in the race. Were you happier with how things were today?
OP: A little bit. I think still some improvements to make. I think this race was very different to Japan, obviously with three stops, I think we were basically pushing flat out for the whole race. So, it's a very different kind of race. But, I think, still some work to go.

So a different kind of race means that perhaps you didn't learn as much as you could have done in terms of tyre strategy and looking after tyre deg?
OP: I mean, it was just a different kind of tyre deg. I think it was much more front limited this weekend. I think the front left and trying to protect that was by far the biggest thing. So yeah, just a different learning experience, I guess. But still good to have it in the bank.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Lusail here.


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