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Las Vegas Grand Prix: Post Race press conference


Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Checo Perez. That was an incredible battle, incredible race. You picked up some damage at the beginning of the Grand Prix but the Safety Car brought you back into it. Take us through your race and of course, that incredible battle with Charles Leclerc.
Sergio Perez: Yeah, at the start it was really difficult, with a lot of damage initially. We broke the front wing, so we basically went all the way to the back of the grid. And then progressively we were picking [them off] one by one and things were going well. We had really strong pace in that first stint. So we put back ourselves in contention and then with the Safety Car that brought us into the race. I overtook Charles, but I couldn't pull away from him. I was just carrying a little bit too much wing on my in my car, so my straight-line speed was a little bit down, and I just couldn't pull away from him. And then Max came and he passed us both. With Charles he went straight and it was quite difficult out there with a gust of wind that we had a few times. I ended up locking few times. But luckily we kept it on track and then in the end with Charles, I wasn't expecting him. He was point seven but then at the braking zone he was he was there, so well done to him and to Max.

A very exciting Grand Prix for us to watch in commentary. This is one for you to watch back. Are you giving this one a take, Las Vegas. It really delivered some good racing?
SP: Yeah, I think it did, because it was good for racing. It was not easy to basically pull away from the people behind and it's like a little bit like Baku, being the lead car makes life a little bit harder for you out there. So I think it did deliver.

Thank you very much for that. Congratulations on your third place. And now our second place finisher. Charles, what we weekend, another fantastic pole position. Well, where do we start? At the start we saw a very close battle with yourself and Max. We know Max got the five second penalty for that. And then that amazing comeback right at the very end.
Charles Leclerc: I mean, what a race. Honestly, I enjoyed it so much. I'm of course disappointed to only finish second, but at the end, that was the best we could do. At the start it was very tricky because I think Max, on the inside, lost a bit the grip and brought me on the outside. But then we had the pace, we passed him back. And we were really strong overall. So that was a really good race. We got a bit unlucky with the Safety Car. We didn't pit because we didn't know what the others will do and we went for track position and keeping that first place, and that was difficult with the older tyres towards the end. But second place with a lot of fights, honestly, I enjoyed it.

We didn't know coming into this first Grand Prix in Las Vegas just how good the racing would be. The answer is that the racing was absolutely brilliant. It was brilliant entertainment from beginning to end and to get that re-pass to get second place on the final lap. It was non-stop adrenaline.
CL: Yeah, again, I really enjoyed it. I think we needed it. Of course the weekend didn't start the way it had to start. But I'm so happy that it ended that way. It's such an incredible sport. And I think today is... I mean, there was no better race for a first race in Vegas. The energy around the city is incredible. And yeah, just really happy... I mean, at least, I really enjoyed today.

And finally, just a quick message for all the fans around the streets here - having a Ferrari on pole and then having a podium.
CL: Yeah, well, I'm sorry about the second place! I gave it all. But on the other hand, I'm sure that everybody had an amazing time looking at the race. I really, really enjoyed it. And we should have more races like that, where the racing is like that, because it was really enjoyable.

Charles, congratulations on that second place. And finally, our winner, taking his 53rd victory he's dominating this season and his sixth straight victory in America. Max, what a season you're having, but you had to work very hard for that one?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it was. It was a tough one. I mean, I tried to go for it at the start but yeah, I think we both braked quite late and then I just ran out of grip and we ended up a bit wide, so the stewards gave me a penalty for that. And then, of course, it put us a little bit on the back foot. I had to pass quite a few cars and of course the Safety Car again. So, at that point, there was a lot going on in the race. And then once we had the to the end, we could go flat out. I had to pass a few cars to get into the battle with them. But then you could clearly see with the DRS around here it was very powerful. So even when you would take the lead, if the guy behind would stay in the DRS, he would still have an opportunity to come back at you, which I think created quite a lot of good racing here today. So it was definitely a lot of fun.

The racing was exceptional. And it was close at times as well. We saw the contact there with George Russell, your front-wing endplate was damaged. Did that affect the balance of the car? Did they do an offset on your final pit stop to compensate for that?
MV: I think we were happy not to touch it because it looked already quite broken. Of course, the structure was fine, but it's never ideal. Let's say it like that. There was always a bit more understeer in the car. But luckily we could we could still win the race.

Max, for us in the commentary box for the fans around the circuit, that was a really brilliant race. Definitely worth watching back on your 18th victory. There was so much action out there. So we can declare this a very successful circuit and Grand Prix.
MV: Yeah, it was a lot of fun there. Like I said, with the DRS as well, that helped a lot for very good racing here. Also, I think the low degradation with the tarmac you could really push on the tyres, which I think was good. So yeah, like I said, it was a lot of fun out there.

And finally, Max, just quickly, a message to our American friends here in Las Vegas.
MV: A great crowd. I mean, I hope everyone enjoyed it a bit. We definitely did. So, yeah, already excited to come back here next year and hopefully we'll try to do something similar.

Press Conference

Max, there was action from start to finish and given everything you had thrown at you today, how did you find a way to win?
MV: That's a very good question. By I just kept on going. I mean, yeah, it was a bit hectic, of course, in the beginning with five-second penalty and then when we stopped because of the deg - I mean, we're not very good on the Medium somehow - I got a bit into traffic, and I had to be patient, you know, going through the traffic ahead of me. And we were on a good track. Then, of course, I had my little get together with George. I think he didn't see me and then damaged my front wing. But luckily, the structure was still in place. So that was, of course, very important. And then, of course, the Safety Car came. So, we pitted again for the second set of Hard tyres. And then it was very fun. I mean, I had a McLaren and an Alpine in between, you know, Checo and Charles but once I cleared them I could join the fight and it was basically flat out to the end. And that was really cool.

Can we just go through it in chronological order, starting with the start and what happened at Turn 1. What was your take on what happened there? And what was your reaction to the five-second penalty?
MV: Well, I mean, the start was good. But then, we braked quite late to defend the position but I was a bit on the inside, on the dirt, I guess. As soon as you're a bit off-line here, it's super low grip. And that's what happened. I braked and there was no grip. I didn't mean to push Charles off the track, but I couldn't slow it down and I just kept sliding on four wheels, wide. So that's why we had to go wide. You know, at the time, you're also full of adrenaline and I was not happy with the decision. But, you know, looking back at it, it was probably the right call. And yeah, after that, with that five seconds it was definitely a bit harder to come back to the front.

You've already said that the car wasn't so good on the Medium tyre. Why was that?
MV: Yeah, I didn't know at the moment. We have to analyse why that was. Because in the long runs on Thursday, they were fine.

While we're talking five second penalties, there was the collision with George, as you say. Do you think he deserved a five-second penalty for that?
MV: That's always a tricky one. I mean, he didn't do that on purpose. I think he just didn't expect me to pass him into that corner. Because that's how it felt like, I put it on the inside and he just turned in like there was no one there, right. So I guess he just didn't see me.

You've already said that you enjoyed that final stint. But tell us a little bit about the circuit? Why do you think it provided such good racing today?
MV: I think low deg on the Hard tyre. A lot of slipstreaming, of course, with the long straights. And probably a bit of a headwind maybe on the straight as well. So yeah, I think, you know, the low-speed corners, I think when you're following you don't really lose that much time, because they are that slow, the corners. And then there's a lot of draught around the track, you know, after Turn 4 to 5, from Turn 9 to 12 and then, yeah, of course, all the way from 12 to 14 and then from 16 to Turn 1 is again, a draft-fest. So that made the racing much better.

Would you say it was the best race of the year for racing?
MV: I have to think about all the other races. It's a bit difficult to comment - but it was a fun race. I enjoyed it.

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