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Bahrain Grand Prix: Post Race press conference


Today's post-race press conference with Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz.

Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Q: Max Verstappen, congratulations! Back-to-back victories and your 55th Grand Prix victory.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, unbelievable. I think today it went even better than expected. I think the car was really nice to drive on every compound and I think we had a lot of pace. And yeah, it was super enjoyable to drive today. We really stayed out of trouble. And yeah, great start to the year. I mean, it couldn't have been better.

Q: No, absolutely. Clean sweep. You led every lap, fastest lap by a sizeable margin. It looked like play time for you out there.
MV: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I felt really good in the car. And yeah, it's always very special to have these kinds of days because they don't happen that often, you know, that it just all goes perfect, then you're just at one with the car and everything just feels great.

Q: You had to be quite defensive into the first corner. We can always expect that here. But thereafter, no issues?
MV: Yeah, I think the start was good. Of course, the first corner is a very tight hairpin. So naturally, you want to defend the inside just to be safe, so that's what we did. And basically, from there onwards, we just focused on our own race.

Q: You don't get long to celebrate this victory, because in a few days we're heading to Saudi for Round 2.
MV: Yeah but that's fine, you know. It's a long season. And it's a great place in the world to be anyway. So for me, yeah, a couple of days' rest and we go again.

Q: OK Max, congratulations on your victory. Thank you. And now Checo Pérez, same result is last year, but great comeback from your fifth place in qualifying. Satisfied with your race?
Sergio Perez: I think it was the maximum we could have achieved. It was a quite a tricky race, you know, with the management of the tyres - I think there's plenty we will learn from tonight's race, which will be important for the championship. But overall, I think it's a great way to start the season.

Q: So just expand on that. What were the issues you were managing on the tyres and was it compound to compound?
SP: it was really compound to compound, the amount of sliding we were having, we would have some issues with the engine braking, the driveability, which is not easy around here, because there is plenty of low-speed. But like I say, you know, I'm sure we will analyse all of that tonight and make sure we learn for Jeddah.

Q: Less than a week away, so you don't have long to come back and then try and build on this result.
SP: Yeah, definitely. I think it's a good team momentum and we've got to keep it up for the coming weekend.

Q: Finally, our third-place finisher. Carlos, you were feisty out there, you were really, you know, looking like you wanted that podium result. Great drive.
Carlos Sainz: I felt really good out there today. The start wasn't ideal but from then on I just managed my tyres well. And then from there, I could do my pace, overtook two or three cars on the way to the podium and then keeping up with a Red Bull there at the end, which was a pleasant surprise. Still not enough, not where we want to be, but a good step forward compared to last year and a solid start to the season.

Q: Good start indeed. Different compounds at the end of the Grand Prix there. What were you learning? This is the first race of the season so you're sizing up your opposition?
CS: Yeah, we had a very clear plan, using Soft and then two Hards. With the Hard on our car we feel a bit more comfortable, because it overheats less, it degrades less. It is a bit of a trickier tyre with warm-up and with front locking but then once we get it working in our guard, you can push on it. In the Red Bull you can see different traits, different strategy choices, but I think also that's the beauty of F1. And yeah, we could play around a bit with strategy today.

Q: Now the beauty of Formula 1 is it's the race that never ends. In one week we'll be in Saudi. Is that a circuit that will play to the strengths of your car, do you think, or how do you see it looking forward?
CS: Let's see. It's the first different circuit that we go with these new 2024 cars, so it will be a bit of a surprise for everyone to see where we are. I expect the cars like the McLaren and the Red Bull that last year they were very good in high-speed circuits to be competitive there. But you know our car has also improved in the high speed so hopefully we can be also stronger.

Press Conference

Q: Well, Max, first race of the season, your first win of the season. Was progress on track as straightforward as it looked?
MV: I think today was probably better than expected. The thing that changed was the wind and the intensity of it. So yeah, it just felt a bit better. I just had a better feeling with the car and I could look after my tyres quite well at the same time. So that was very positive. Probably a bit more how it was in testing as well. I just felt very comfortable with the car. That really showed today, so I'm very happy to kickstart the season like this, but also as a team, to have a 1-2 is just fantastic. But I also think that in general other teams are closer. I just think that today everything just worked really, really well, and I of course don't expect that to happen every single Grand Prix in the near future but still, we'll take it, we'll look back at it, of course, we'll analyse it and we'll try to improve further.

Q; George Russell said after qualifying yesterday that he thought you had half a second a lap over everybody else. What did you make of the gap to everyone?
MV: Of course, I don't know how they approach their long runs, you know, with fuel loads and whatever. But from our side, it was definitely not expected to be a half a second ahead, for sure not. But yeah, it was probably a bit better than I thought today.

Q: And you say the car feels more like it was in testing. Is it still a bit of a relief to come out of the first race, having had the domination that you had?
MV: Yeah, but also at the same time you could see in qualifying it was very tight and yeah, there are things that we can do better and that's what we'll focus on you know for the coming races.

Q: Well, let's throw it forward to the next race. how much confidence do you have going to Saudi Arabia?
MV: It's a completely different track layout, a lot more high-speed corners. The tarmac, of course, is completely different to what it is here, so less degradation. Naturally, probably that will help other teams as well compared to us. It seems like for us always it's better to have these kind of tracks, so I don't expect that to be easy.

Q: All right, very well done today. Thank you, Max. Checo, coming to you, great race from fifth on the grid. Just how satisfied are you with your progress?
SP: Yeah, I think starting from P5, it's always nice to make good progress. There were a lot of battles on track, which around this place, you just go into a very different strategy once that happens. You are sliding a lot more in traffic. And I think overall, it's a very good team result. Yeah, it was quite close with the Ferraris, with the Mercs early on. We were fighting with the DRS, obviously, being a lap earlier. It just changes a few things out there.

Q: And you were on the Soft tyre in that final stint. You had Carlos just behind on the Hard tyre. Were you concerned going into that stage of the race?
SP: Yeah, I knew that it was just about managing, you know, because he obviously pushed us to stop early and we just stopped quite early, actually. And it was going to be a very long stint, so we managed to progressively build a gap, keep that gap between us consistent and I think it worked well. We had a few other issues with the car towards the end of the race that meant that our degradation was getting quite a lot worse towards the end of the race.

Q: Even without that degradation, just how comfortable are you in the RB20?
SP: Yeah, I think today was a very nice surprise. We were expecting definitely the people around us to be a lot stronger. I think, like Max says, you know, this is probably the worst place for degradation. So I think the better it is, the closer you will get. So Jeddah will be a very different challenge, so it will be interesting to see where we are there.

Q: How much are you looking forward to Jeddah, of course, scene of your victory there last year?
SP: Yeah, a lot. You know, I think also I believe that the car will be strong there with the high-speed content. So I think there should be another strong weekend for us.

Q: All right. Well done today. Thank you, Checo. Carlos, coming to you now. Fourth in the opening race last year, third this year. Given everything that's happened to you over the winter, just how important is this podium?
CS: I think it's just important to start the season well, start the season with a strong race, not just for my future, just for myself, you know, because last year I spent a lot of the races, you know, looking in my mirror, saving tyres, defending my position. And I remember at the car launch saying, yeah, this year I wish we had a car to go racing, you know, and attack people and don't care too much about the tires and make some overtaking moves and look forward rather than look backwards. And it's exactly what we got. You know, I got an attacking race, a really good race pace and from there everything felt really good to finish P3. It wasn't a straightforward and an easy race, but yeah, I enjoyed it a lot.

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