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Monaco Grand Prix: Post Race press conference


Today's post-race press conference with Charles Leclerc, Oscar Piastri and Carlos Sainz.

Track Interviews - Conducted by Jenson Button

Charles, congratulations. You haven't just won the Monaco Grand Prix, you've won your home Grand Prix. How are you feeling right now?
Charles Leclerc: No words can explain that. It's such a difficult race. I think the fact that twice I've been starting in pole position and couldn't quite make it, makes it even better in a way. It means a lot, obviously. It's the race that made me dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver one day. So yeah, it was a difficult race emotionally because already 15 laps to the end, you're just hoping that nothing happens. Already the emotions were coming. I have to say that I was thinking to my dad a lot more. It was a dream of ours for me to race here and to win, so it's unbelievable.

Everyone always talks about Monaco being the jewel in the crown, but they also say Saturday is the most important day. It's not, is it? I mean, today, there's still a lot of work to do out there on the track, 78 laps, the pressure from behind. You have to be a mathematician when it comes to deciding how hard to push, how easy to go. It's tough out there.
CL: It's really difficult. At first, I thought we were... I mean, we had quite a lot of margin, but we knew there were 78 laps to do on the same tyres, which was very, very difficult. But yeah, we did a great management of the tyres. There was a big part of the race where we had to manage the gap with George. And then in the last 10 laps, I could push a bit more, and the car felt amazing. So I just want to thank the team for having done such incredible work over the last few months. giving me the opportunity to finally win this race is, again, a very special feeling.

Well, when you crossed the finish line, the crowd just erupted, and to see so much support for you here, have you got words for the fans here?
CL: Just a huge thank you. The parade laps already were special, on the bus, and seeing so many of my friends on the balcony, so many people I know on the balcony, and it was just very, very special, so... Yeah, this one means a lot. And the support that I've had over the weekend means a huge amount. So thank you. Thank you so much to everybody.

Oscar, you have to be happy with that. A podium in Monaco. It's the dream race. Obviously, so close to the win. How was it out there for you?
Oscar Piastri: Yeah, tricky race. You know, the pace at the beginning was incredibly slow and I had one little half look before the tunnel, but yeah, I didn't have... Well, I didn't have a small enough car to fit into a gap. So yeah, thanks to the whole team. It's been a great weekend all round. And yeah, nice to finally put a result on the board. We've been very strong for the last few weekends, but didn't really have the results to show for it. So nice to have a podium, and what better place?

Yeah, it was really fun watching you at the first start, having a go at a few places around the lap, and your aggression showed there. And we thought you were going to have a good go, but it didn't quite come off. But it's been a great weekend for you, hasn't it? Does it make you think, 'oh, those little things in qualifying would have made a big difference'?
OP: Yeah, I mean, it does. But to be honest, Charles has been mega all weekend. And, you know, they've been quick from the very first lap. And I think it would have taken something pretty special in quali to outdo him. The opportunity was almost there, but it would have taken probably the best lap of my life. So I'm happy with P2. A good result for the team again and yeah, very, very happy.

Congrats. Enjoy the celebrations.
OP: Thank you. Cheers.

Carlos, that must be mixed emotions. After the first start, it looked like it was game over. You got a little lucky being able to start again and you came away with a podium.
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, it was a tight one and obviously a very bad feeling there in lap one that very quickly turned into a very good feeling after getting reinstated at P3. From there on, really, the race pace was good, as we expected. It's just impossible to get past through the streets of Monaco. But I'm extremely happy to see Charles win his home Grand Prix. The way he's been driving all weekend and managed to share this podium with him in P3. It's a great feeling for the whole team. I think they all deserve it. And yeah, it looks like we're getting stronger and stronger every weekend.

It looked like towards the end of the race you were getting closer to Oscar. I don't know if his tyres started opening up or he was struggling with him a bit, but you were given the pressure there.
CS: Yeah, once I was sure that Lando behind didn't have a gap to pit for Medium and attack me at the end, I focused on doing some fast laps. I went down to the 1m14s, which was really quick at the time, and I said, OK, maybe I have a chance at putting a bit of pressure on Oscar, and maybe I can get him to do a mistake, because obviously I knew that passing him was impossible. And, yeah, we got him under pressure. I saw him lose the rear a couple of times and getting a bit loose, but it was not enough to pass.

Press Conference

Oscar, let's start with you. Many congratulations. Your third podium in Formula 1. Just how much did you enjoy those podium celebrations, first of all?
OP: Tell you what, I think I slept longer than I did last night, waiting for Charles just now. No, I'm very, very happy. Yeah, third podium in F1 certainly doesn't get old. So, no, very happy to have it here in Monaco, especially, you know, if there's one podium apart from your home podium that you want to stand on, it's probably here. So, very, very pleased for the whole team. I think especially for our side of the garage, it's been a promising few weekends now and nice to finally get a good result out of it. So very, very happy.

And in terms of your battle with Charles, was there any moment in the race when you attempted to send it?
OP: I had an attempt about 10 or 15 laps in, into Turn 8. We were going pretty slow. I think at one point we were going slower than Formula 2. You know, when you're going that slow, you've got a fair few options. But I kind of knew that once I showed my hand in where I was going to try and overtake, that he would probably be wise to it from there. So I managed to get very close in Turn 7, one lap. I tried to show the nose in Turn 8 but he reacted just quick enough, so after that point I knew I was going to be very limited on options.

And how was the performance of the car? You were carrying a bit of floor damage after your moment with Carlos at the original start?
OP: Yeah, I mean, it was OK. I think for the first half of the race, it was impossible to tell what the penalty of that was. I think towards the end, probably a combination of trying to keep the pace of the race reasonably quick, plus the floor, yeah, just struggled a little bit towards the end, but overall pretty happy with it. And yeah, the last 10 laps or so, I was pretty happy we were in Monaco.

And you said a moment ago it's been a good few races for you now, but can we throw it forward? What does this weekend say about McLaren's competitive position in Formula 1? Do you think now you're a factor? You can win every race going forward if the cards fall for you?
OP: I think so. I think it's been three very different circuits in the past three races, and we've been competitive at all of them. Miami was probably one of our worst circuits before this year. Imola has always been kind to us, but we had a very strong weekend there, and here's been... Let's say our car's never been the strongest in the slow corners, and this weekend we've been very quick again. So I think we can be confident wherever we go. I feel like we don't have to rely on the high-speed circuits like we did last year to get our results, which is a very exciting thing to have going forward. And, yeah, I think the pecking order is as tight as it's ever been, especially this weekend. Going into qualifying, I think we thought that there could be any one of four teams on pole, which I don't think we've been able to say for a while. So, I think we can definitely be in the fight every weekend.

Alright. Thank you for that. Carlos, let's come to you now. Your third Monaco podium in the last four years. What does this one mean to you?
CS: I think it means more for the fact that being a Ferrari driver, being P3, but especially seeing your team-mate that is Monegasque standing on top of the podium in front of his home crowd, in front of all the tifosi and all the mechanics, I think it's one of the best images I've seen in Formula 1 and extremely happy for him, for the team. He deserves it because he's driven at an incredible level this weekend and he's put together a really solid weekend. And yeah, it was coming for him, I felt, because he was driving really well recently. Yeah, it's a really good day for Ferrari and Charles.

Can I take you back to the original start now? Oscar touched on the incident between the two of you. Can we get your thoughts on what happened at the original Turn 1?
CS: Yeah, I got a really good start and I had kind of an opportunity going into Turn 1 and I arrived a bit long, with a lot of understeer in the car and trying to keep the position with Oscar, as it's pretty much your only chance to pass. Then I understeered off a bit into him on the exit and yeah, we had the slightest of contacts. For some reason, Oscar and I, we seem to have a magnet recently between each other, for some reason that I don't understand, because we get on well and everything is okay, but we seem to always find each other on track. Yeah, I didn't even feel the contact. It was so slight or it was so small that I didn't even see it or feel it. But as soon as I exit Turn 1, I could feel the puncture. And yeah, it looked like my race was over there at one point. And then I was really lucky to get the P3 back and race from there the rest of the race.

Was there any lasting damage on your car or were the team able to completely fix any issues in the break?
CS: No, even when you see the tyre, it was such a slight cut that the tyre got from the contact that there was no issues with the car, no damage. It was just the smallest of contacts. A bit unlucky to get the puncture in a way, but then lucky to get the position back. From there on, honestly, it was a new race and we had our opportunities, but never really a clear one.

How frustrating is it, Carlos, to be in a train of cars like that, lapping slower than you're capable of going? Did you get tempted to send it down the inside of Oscar?
CS: I got tempted a few times, but after lap one and obviously knowing that Monaco is a bit of all-or-nothing, you know that when you go for a move, the most likely outcome is contact between the two cars and a potential DNF for the two cars. And I felt like that was too much to lose for both Oscar and myself, you know, and my team. So unfortunately, Monaco is like that. I did have my opportunities and my temptations, both in the first 15 laps and in the last 10 laps, but never really a clear chance to see how we could get out of the corner untouched. So, yeah, as I knew from Friday, my race pace was going to be good. I was the fastest on Friday practice in terms of race pace. Again, today, when I could show the pace, it was really, really good. But Monaco is track position and we lost it to Oscar yesterday.

And let's throw it forward now. Ferrari are just 24 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors' Championship. Do you think this is a genuine title fight now? Do you think you have the car underneath you to challenge every weekend?
CS: I think my common sense tells me that on normal tracks Red Bull should still be favourites. Domination, like we were seeing, hopefully not. But favourites, yes. And then it will be a very tight fight with both McLaren and us. I think we are all three at a very similar level. Our last reference of a normal track is Imola and Miami. And if I see those two tracks, we seem to be half a tenth behind McLaren and maybe a tenth or two behind Red Bull. And yeah, it still means that that any small progress, any small upgrade, any small thing that we bring to the car might switch it to a potential race victory or a winning car. Monaco, we've always been strong. Street circuits like Singapore and last year in Monaco, it shows the strengths of the Ferrari. And at the same time, being within 24 points of the Red Bull in the Constructors, you see that when you put them under pressure yesterday, Max did a mistake in Q3 run two, Checo was out in Q1. We all just need to be there, you know, to show that these things can happen to Red Bull too. And yesterday is the best example.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monaco here.


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