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Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Post Qualifying press conference


Today's post-qualifying press conference with Max Verstappen, Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris.

Track Interviews - Conducted by Davide Valsecchi

Max, pole position. Incredible performance. Tell me, please, how you could pull off a performance like this? The atmosphere was amazing, but everyone was pushing for the Ferrari drivers. But you, with a difficult Friday, you could pull off an unbelievable lap. Talk us through your lap, please?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, really difficult weekend so far, even this morning. So I'm incredibly happy to be on pole here. I didn't expect that, but we made some final changes before qualifying. They seemed to make it feel a bit better. I could push a bit harder. And this track is unbelievable. One a qualifying lap, you know, to be on the limit here, close to the gravel... I touched the gravel in the last corner. Yeah, I'm still pumping. The adrenaline is very, very high.

Do you know that you are writing history? Because with eight consecutive pole positions, you are equal to a legend of our sport, Ayrton Senna. How does it feel? Because this is history for motorsport.
MV: Yeah, it's of course a great start to the year, but also very special. It's 30 years since he passed away at this track. So, of course, very pleased to get pole here. And in a way, it's a nice memory to him. He was an incredible Formula 1 driver, especially in qualifying laps as well. So, yeah, great day for me, great day for the team. So I'm very, very happy.

MV: Thank you.

And in second position, great performance from Oscar Piastri. Oscar, how was your quali? Because it seems like you were struggling a bit, and then you became a bit more performant in the first try in Q3, and then in the last try, you were up there. You are going to start in first row. How was your lap?
Oscar Piastri: Yeah, pretty good. A little bit of a scruffy last corner, but I think around here it's so, so difficult to do a perfect lap, so I'm really happy. I've been really comfortable with the car from the moment we put it on track yesterday, and so, so close to pole, but very happy. It's been a little while since I've been back up here, so I'm very happy with how this weekend's going so far.

And since your McLaren is so improved, tomorrow, do you think that you can fight for something more?
OP: I think yes. I think normally in the past we say no, but yeah, I think with our recent performances, we've learned to say yes. So we'll see what we can do. I think, you know, we've definitely been on the pace all weekend. You know, you can never count out Max and Red Bull, of course, like we've just seen. But I don't know. I think the confidence is high. Of course, it's not the easiest track to overtake on, but yeah, I think the confidence is high that we can do something good.

Congratulations for your performance.
OP: Thank you.

Lando Norris. Well done, mate. You're just a fresh winner in Formula 1. Great qualifying today. All the grandstands and the people were cheering a bit for you because you are so great in Formula 1. How was your lap? How was your quali?
Lando Norris: Thanks. Yeah, great. I mean, P3 is not a bad job at all, and yeah, within a tenth, both of us for P1. So, tiny, tiny margins, but I think for us as a team, we've had a very good day, a very good weekend so far. Oscar's done a great job, and so did Max, so it's exciting. We're close, and I can't wait for tomorrow.

Looking for the podium or looking for something else now that you can get used to it?
LN: Yes, we still need to get used to it, but we're getting closer. To be ahead of Ferrari is also a nice result for us. But it's going to be close. It's going to be a good race tomorrow. Hopefully it's an exciting one to watch, also an exciting one inside the car. But tough, especially when the lap times are so tight. A lot of it is down to Turn 1, lap one, the strategy, the pit stops. So it's going to be a tough race.

Press Conference

Max, very well done to you. It's been a stunning turnaround by both you and Red Bull after what was a difficult opening day yesterday. Just tell us, how have you done it?
MV: Yeah, we kept on working. Even this morning it was not good. We just kept on trying to improve the balance of the car because it was shifting a bit all over the place yesterday and this morning. So yeah, I mean, I honestly went into qualifying and I was like 'well, if we can get a top five, I would be happy' because this weekend has been really difficult. There was really no reference going into qualifying. But yeah, it felt straight away a lot a little better. I felt more comfortable. I could attack corners finally a bit more and it all started to come together and it really came together in Q3.

Just where did the car come alive?
MV: It was just following the track, to be honest. I mean Q1, Q2, Q3, just you know where there's maybe a bit more time to gain. You try to hook up the corners a bit better. Then, of course, the final lap is all out. You try to risk it all, which I think you could see in the final corner. I had a bit of a moment there, but yeah, just really trying to get everything out of it.

You've got the one-lap pace. You've proved that. Just how good was the car in the long runs yesterday? Just how well prepared do you feel for the race?
MV: Not at all. I mean, yesterday was terrible in long run and short run. This morning we wanted to do a long run, but then we only did like three laps. But also there it didn't feel good. But I also had no balance in the short run. So then it's quite normal that in the long run it's not good. So naturally, I think with the balance that I had in qualifying, it will be better. But I have no clue against McLaren. They looked very strong yesterday in their long run. So hopefully, yeah, we can do something similar.

So, in short, do you think you might have your work cut out tomorrow in the race?
MV: Yeah, for sure. I mean, the whole weekend we have been on the back foot. We managed to be on top in qualifying, but that's qualifying. You know, the race can be again a bit different. And normally I would like to be a little bit better prepared with a bit more information going into the race. So I guess, yeah, we'll have to wait and see what happens in the race.

Final one from me. You've got a busy weekend this weekend because not only are you racing here, you're doing the virtual 24 hours...
MV: That's why I stopped talking.

Just tell us about your schedule between now and the start of the race?
MV: Well, I mean, the race is already on, that one, as well. So, yeah, a few more things to do after this, of course, and then I'll try to head back and do my stints before I arrive to the track here tomorrow.

Any night stints?
MV: Not too late, no. I mean, I need a good sleep for sure.

Look, very well done today. Good luck in that as well. Oscar, let's come to you now. Brilliant job by you. Just how good was the car in Q3, first of all?
OP: Yeah, I mean I've been happy with it all weekend to be honest. From the start of P1 all the way through quali I think a couple of scruffy laps in the middle of qualifying but in Q3 it came together a bit more and I was happy with the last lap. So yeah, it's been a really strong weekend for us so far. There's been no points yet of course, they are tomorrow, but yeah I think we've been pretty happy all weekend.

The first time that you've had all of the upgrades on your car. Just how much confidence do they give you?
OP: It's a better feeling, of course, and having parts that you know are going to make the car faster on the car is always a confidence boost. It doesn't change the world in terms of how we drive, but yeah, anytime the engineers tell you they're going to make the car faster, it's always a nice little boost. So yeah, it's been feeling good and nothing unexpected, which is always good.

What about the track? This is your first time racing at Imola. Just how challenging is this place, particularly on a Q3 lap?
OP: It's really, really tough. I think, to be honest, one of the toughest tracks of the year in terms of how old school it is and having gravel everywhere. I think as drivers, these are the kind of tracks that we really enjoy. You don't have to worry about track limits, or at least we didn't today. Yesterday we did. But you don't have to worry about that. You know if you've gone over it because you're in the gravel or you're off. So it's a really exciting lap around here and a lot of fast corners, a lot of corners in general, we don't get much time to rest. So it's been a fun weekend.

Oscar, I don't want to put a dampener on what you've just done, but you are off to see the stewards shortly to discuss what happened with Kevin Magnussen in Q1. Can you just talk us through what happened there from your point of view?
OP: Yeah, I mean, I need to see it back a bit more. When I looked in the mirrors, I didn't see any cars coming. And yeah, then he was right there. So we need to have a look and see what the stewards say.


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