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Sao Paulo Grand Prix: Post Race press conference


Track Interviews - Conducted by Mark Webber

Max Verstappen, another victory, the 17th victory of the year. It was relatively straightforward, built off a beautiful Qualifying session, which was tricky, got the pole with that on Friday. Run us through your afternoon, mate.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I think the starts were very important today, both of them, I think, were very good, and after that, the whole race was about the management of the tyres. We were good on any tyre but I think especially that middle stint, we could create a bit of a gap and I thought that was very strong there.

It must have been quite lonely at times though mate, it's a long-old race here, 71 laps, any mice in the machinery? Did your mind start to drift on other topics, or did you manage to keep it all together?
MV: It all looked quite good, but with the high deg around here, you were constantly correcting the car - so your focus always needed to be there. But luckily, it worked out great today.

So, a few weeks off now mate, Vegas, you must be looking forward to that one. First time there, street race, racing at night...
MV: Very different to this one. I mean, a lot colder. Let's see what the track grip will do. Street circuit, new for everyone, and I think it will be full of surprises for sure.

Lando Norris, another podium mate, well done. Yourself and McLaren, absolutely on fire. You executed that beautifully. The starts were tricky, obviously, two different starts. Run us through your afternoon, mate, how do you think it went?
Lando Norris: Very good, couldn't have gone much better, to be honest. Good pace, similar to yesterday, which is the main thing, and a much better start at the beginning to get from sixth to second, which was a nice surprise. But my start yesterday was not so good, so I tried to work on it, and it got better. But then, the second start, I was just a little bit aggressive on it. Still happy. P2 is as good as we can get nowadays and for the time being - but very happy for the rest of it.

Absolutely. Was there any part of the race where you felt there was still a chance that Max might leave the door open for you?
LN: Not really! I mean, there's little bits where the tyres come back to you a little bit and you can push on - but Max always seemed to have an answer to everything, which is a shame. But fair play to him, he drove a good race, so yeah, tough, with the wind conditions and everything but P2 is a good result.

Cometh the man, cometh the hour, here he is. Mate, there's no doubt about you, you just never give up. That was an extraordinary last few laps. You're under so much pressure for so long from Sergio in obviously a far quicker car behind you. DRS, he was trying to manipulate the move here and there, so run us through those last two laps mate, that was absolutely special?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, for me it was like 30 laps that I had the pressure from Checo, but yeah, when he passed me, two laps to the end, I thought OK, going on the podium is not possible any more - but then he braked a little bit late in to Turn 1 and I said, 'OK, I go for it into 4'. And yeah, this is a phenomenal result for the team. We've been struggling for a couple of months already, especially the last two events with two retirements. So, this podium is for them, for everyone in the factory, and yeah, we keep fighting until the last lap.

Some of the developments have been a bit tricky but this race, it looks like, you've been strong in all conditions - and it's a big result for the team.
FA: Yeah, obviously we're still learning about the car. These cars are so complex aerodynamically, so, yeah, we've been experimenting a little bit to find the direction for next year, without forgetting this year that we're still competing. So, happy for the result and now to Vegas!

Press Conference

Max, very well done. You've extended your record tally of wins in a season to 17. You drove beautifully. How much did you enjoy this one?
MV: Yeah, I think it was good. I mean, also, maybe it looks fully easy from the outside, but I think for most of every stint, Lando was matching my lap-times. It was always like the last five to ten laps when it seemed like then, of course, we had better tyre deg. But yeah, the beginning of every stint, I definitely had to focus a lot and I couldn't afford to make mistakes. And around here with the high deg as well, it's not the easiest to drive. It's not like you can just relax and let the car just roll into the corners without any consequence. You had to be really on it. And yeah, luckily, everything we did today, also strategy-wise, pit stops, were good. So, very happy about that.

You talked about the beginning of each stint. Well, we saw that, just after the restart, when Lando was very close to you for a lap. How hard were you having to defend just then?
MV: He suddenly closed a lot. I didn't expect him to have a run into Turn 1, but yeah, I had to use my battery a bit. And for one lap, into 1, into 4, I had to defend. And then I had to, of course, try and maintain that gap. But I think what also was very important at that stage of the stint was to really look after the tyres. To make sure that you have a good lap to pit.

You say you're having to look after the tyres. Was the situation better today than it was in the Sprint yesterday, with the soft tyre in particular?
MV: Well, I mean, with the high fuel loads, normally, of course, it's a bit harder, you have to be more careful, which I think we did, especially in the beginning. But I guess also the track temperature being a bit lower helped. So, I guess pretty similar at the end.

And can we talk about the original start? No Charles Leclerc alongside you? How does that change your outlook at that particular moment?
MV: I mean, you could still have wheel-spin and still lose positions but, of course when the nearest car, like, it's not there, you can afford to maybe have a little bit of a worse start. But, at the end of the day, once the lights go on, you're focused on trying to do the best start you can do.

Final one from me, Max. Next up, Las Vegas, it's a new track, a street track. How much are you going to relish that challenge?
MV: Yeah, well, I'll deal with that once I arrive to the track. I mean, there's still a lot to do. I still need to go on the simulator. I still don't even know the track, to be honest. So, the last time I tried it on the F1 game, I think I hit more walls than I was going straight. So, let's hope that's not the case when I start driving there! But yeah, I mean, it's going to be very different to here: very low temperatures, of course in the night there. Street circuit. We have no experience there. We don't know the track grip. All new. So maybe it will give you a few surprises. I don't know.

Lando, let's cut to the chase. Was that your best start in Formula 1? Sixth to second in just a few metres.
LN: In terms of position changes? Yes. I don't think it's the quickest one but it's all relative at the end of the day. So, it was a pleasant surprise to come out in P2 already after Turn 1. I was expecting, and we planned a lot for, like, you know, 20 laps in traffic and some overtakes and a bit of fun. And I still had fun, but from P2 already. So, it was a good step up from yesterday. Obviously, that's where I lost out to Max. Not because I had a bad start, I still had one of the best starts on the grid. It's just Max's - especially with that second phase - was extremely strong. So more just comes and goes and today we did some more homework on it and tried to get everything in a better window, and it all paid off. So yep, a good surprise and a good step up from yesterday.

Second start didn't look quite as sharp and it got pretty close with Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1 as well.
LN: Yeah... but I held onto second, so it was fine.

Now, we've just heard Max's analysis of Red Bull versus McLaren today. Do you agree with it, in that your pace was similar at the start of each stint but then he then pulled the gap?
LN: Yeah, I think similar to what we saw yesterday in the Sprint. I'm not far behind for the first 10-15, 17 laps but that final phase, I just drop-off a bit too much. I don't know if it's just we're a bit slower and I'm pushing a bit more to try to keep up, and then I pay the price or it's just a little bit of our tyre degradation is not quite as good and we suffer in the slow speed quite a bit with the rears, and that's where we struggle then with the lap time in the end. So, yeah, clear things to improve on, like I said yesterday, but still a very positive day for us.

And do you think an overtake was genuinely on, on that lap when you were very close to Max after the restart?
LN: Was it on? I mean, I tried. I just wasn't... we struggled too much in Turn 10, Turn 12. It's where the Red Bull's extremely competitive and where we struggle, have struggled all weekend. Apart from when we're on new tyres, and of course on that restart, I used my new tyres and Max didn't. So, I thought if I was going to have one opportunity, it was going to be there and then. So I used all of my battery, and of course, had DRS and then you do start catching them very quickly. I had a good line in Turn 1, Turn 2, but Max also had a lot of grip. So, you know, if it was maybe later on in the stint, his line in Turn 1, Turn 2 would have been a lot more compromised and a bigger penalty, but because the tyres were still fresh and provide a lot of grip, he got a good enough exit that I then only got alongside him, just before the braking zone for Turn 4. So, I mean, I tried, I would have tried to get past him if I could, and I wanted to, but just a couple more metres would have been lovely.

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