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Las Vegas Grand Prix: Post Qualifying press conference


Today's post-qualifying press conference with Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen.

Track Interviews - Conducted by James Hinchcliffe

Max Verstappen P3 for the race tomorrow, but it looked a little tricky out there - low temperatures, low grip. How tough is it to find that ultimate limit when the consequences are so high with all these walls?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, exactly that. I mean, of course, it's quite cold out there, it's quite slippery. And of course, being on the street circuit as well, you're trying to get as close as you can to the walls. But that's not always very straightforward. But it was enjoyable out there. I do think that we maximised the day, I think already the whole weekend. So far, we've been lacking a little bit of one lap performance. And that was also quite clear in qualifying. I hope, of course, tomorrow in the race that we are good on the tyres again and then we can work our way forward.

Obviously, no historical data to go into the race with, so how confident are you in the race car that you guys have for tomorrow?
MV: It felt good yesterday. Of course, I would have liked to have a little bit more pace today. But of course, we know that the points are tomorrow and it's going to be a tough one. First one here. You never know that might be Safety Cars. And it's a very long straight. A lot of racing will happen there. And then, of course, I hope we are good on the tyres.

Carlos Sainz, here we are, front row. What a comeback after what happened to you yesterday. Just talk about, first of all, your session and then the team doing such a great job to get you back on track and a nice recovery.
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, well, first of all, an outstanding job by the whole team. We've dominated the qualifying together, you know, after a tough Friday yesterday, to put together the whole car. Again, to get a front-row lock-out, I think it's incredible. Obviously, I would love to be on pole because it would mean I would start 11th instead of 12th. But I think yeah, we did the maximum that we could today. I'm still disappointed to yesterday. I'm not going to lie. I'm still in a very bad mood. I'm trying not to show it too much. But it is what it is.

You're hiding it well and you certainly hid it well behind the wheel. Like you said, that penalty is going to put you back a little bit but you've run well on the last street circuit that we ran here. What do you think is realistic tomorrow, starting from P12?
CS: Let's see. It depends, obviously, how they start goes, how the graining on the tyres is and then how easy it is to overtake? I think the pace, clearly it looks like we have it this weekend. I would love to be fighting for the win tomorrow with Charles and Max, but unfortunately I'm going to be on a comeback mode or a comeback race. And hopefully I can get to the front at some point and battle with them. But I think it's going to be tricky.

Well, unfortunate for you, but it's going to be fun for everyone to watch because we know the car is fast. Best of luck. Charles Leclerc. For the fifth time in the season and the 23rd time in your career on pole position once again. Charles, just tell us about your ride and how happy you are to be P1.
Charles Leclerc: Of course happy. Yeah, for the first time in Las Vegas, obviously, it's an incredible event and to be starting from pole tomorrow is great. However, I'm a bit disappointed with my laps in Q3, I didn't do a good enough job. But it was enough for P1. So that's all we need. And now full focus on tomorrow to try and put everything together in the race. Normally, that's where we lack most performance. So I hope we can put it all together and win here.

Based on the gaps that we saw in Q2, and then the gap we saw in Q3, from what you said was a bad lap, you must be pretty confident that you have enough in hand to really take the fight to Max and Red Bull tomorrow.
CL: Yeah exactly. I think my best lap was in Q2. The track evolution is big here, so I should have done it in Q3, but I didn't. But again, it's like this and we are starting from pole so I cannot complain.

Just finally. talking about the atmosphere here in Las Vegas, the fans that have sat through everything to be here today to watch you qualify on pole. How's this event treating you?
CL: I mean, I love it. I came here once in Vegas in the past and it was to party, so very different to what I'm doing this weekend. But hopefully we work hard enough in order to win tomorrow and then have a good party to celebrate that win. But apart from that it's amazing to be here and see so many people in town for Formula 1, which is a sport that I love, and to see that how much work has been put into such an event. And I hope it will be a successful one with a good race tomorrow.

Press Conference

Charles, very well done. It's been a very dominant performance by you throughout qualifying and the weekend. Just how good is the Ferrari around this racetrack first of all?
CL: To be honest, I felt confident from the first lap in FP1. So the car has been great. Having said that, we are always very strong in quali. But then we obviously know what our weaknesses are in the race. And this is still to be seen tomorrow. But the car has felt great overall until now. So I really hope we can, we can have a good race.

You were fastest in all three segments of qualifying. You did just say a moment ago that Q3 didn't pan out as you'd hoped. Tell us a little bit more about those last two laps.
CL: I'm not happy with Q3, but at the same time, you can only be happy when you're on pole. So I think in Q2, it was probably the best laps I've done in a while. Both of them were really, really good. Then in Q3 I didn't put things together and I was always losing a tenth here and there. But at the end, I managed to do more or less the same lap time as Q2, but I think there was quite a bit of track improvement. So I should have gone faster. The car felt great again. But yeah, it's the way it is. It's always tricky on street tracks, but I enjoyed this qualifying session. I mean, how can you not enjoy when it's going all well like this and the car felt really good again. So it was a good session for us.

How difficult is it to drive the car on the limit around this track? How easy is it to overcook it?
CL: Well, I think what was most difficult was to put the tyres in the right window. As soon as you were a little bit out then the first sector will be miles off. So that was the most tricky part with qualifying. But at the end, I think we did a good jump forward on that. And we prepared qualifying well, because in FP3 we were struggling a lot with the first lap on the tyres. And then in qualifying, we did it well, so we did a really good job as a team.

Alright, let's throw it forward to tomorrow's race. Today's race actually. How much confidence do you have for this Grand Prix now?
CL: Well, the confidence is high because we are starting first. So it's the best position to start from. On the other hand, we know that Red Bull is going to be very strong, and Max obviously is going to be very strong in race pace. But I feel like we've had positive signs this weekend on the high fuel, more than other races. So I hope we can convert that pole position into a win.

And you are the first pole sitter here in Las Vegas this time around. Just a word on the track. How satisfying is it to drive on low fuel?
CL: I think street tracks are my favourites. When I first saw the layout, I was like, this is going to be a boring track. But then from the first laps on the simulator, it felt good and I like the kerb riding there is in 6, 7, 8, 9. Yeah, I think it's a good track. I hope it will produce good racing. Yesterday it wasn't as easy as I would have expected to overtake but let's wait and see tomorrow.

Carlos, coming to you now. What a 24 hours it has been for you. Tough Friday but have you had the same confidence in the car that Charles has?
CS: I think it's fair to say Charles maybe was a step ahead in confidence this weekend. But coming into Q3 I felt like I did a good step. I think, as a team, we didn't, I think, deliver maybe the maximum lap time that the car had available today. I think if I put my all my corners together definitely a 32.5 or something like that was available in the car... Thirty-three or 32? Thirty-two is too much. Thirty-three. What lap time did we do? Something like that. But yeah, look, we're not going to complain. We're first and second in qualifying. We've been flying all weekend, we've dominated every session and yeah, I just wish I could fight for a win tomorrow but unfortunately I'm starting 12th.

Are you surprised by Ferrari's pace?
CS: No, I think when I saw the layout, I think I said it at the beginning of the weekend: except for Turns 1 and 2 everything else is a mix between Monza and Singapore which has been our strongest tracks this season, where we've been on pole and winning. So when I saw it, I said we have a good chance of going for pole. Then the race pace, like always, is a question mark for us.

Tell us a little bit more about your expectations in the race with the grid penalty. I mean, how good a racetrack is this?
CS: As Charles said, we all expected maybe overtaking to be a bit easier, I think the track itself has been very tricky, you know, to follow people just because of the walls, the confidence you lose under the braking with a car in front, you cannot see the braking markers as well. And it's a bit more difficult to follow the cursor. So, yeah, I think I'm expecting to move forward for sure tomorrow, how much or at what rate will I move forward? I don't know. Let's see also the strategy, the graining on the tyres is quite bad. So let's see how that affects the racing and if it can give me a chance to get to the front tomorrow.

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