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Spanish Grand Prix: Post Race press conference


Today's post-race press conference with Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton.

Track Interviews - Conducted by David Coulthard

Max Verstappen, your 61st victory. Your reign in Spain continues with your third straight victory. You had to work for that one.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I think what made the race was the beginning. I took the lead in lap two, and that's where I had my buffer. Then, in that first stint where I could eke out the gap a little bit, because I think after that we had to drive quite a defensive race. Lando and McLaren, they were very, very quick today, especially on deg, you know, it seems always the last few laps of the stint, they were very, very fast. But I think we did everything well. We drove quite an aggressive strategy, but luckily it paid out at the end. It was quite close until the end, but very happy to win here.

Now, we could see when you celebrated with the team just how much this victory meant to you. This is where you got your first victory in 2016, so this track has been kind. Now, the start of the Grand Prix, you got up alongside your friend, And then we had George Russell come around the outside. Did you know he was there, or did that catch you by surprise?
MV: Yeah, I mean, I had to do a bit of rallying on the straight. I had to go into the grass a bit, which lost me a bit of momentum. So then, of course, we were quite late into Turn 1, but then, of course, I was quite determined to try and get the lead. Once I was in the lead, I could look after my tyres a bit better, and that definitely made my race today.

That was crucial, getting that pass on George so early in the race.
MV: Looking at it right now, absolutely.

OK, well, we heard you saying that there was some inconsistency in the middle part of your Grand Prix. We saw you have a little high side in Turn 7. So how close were you to the limit throughout this race?
MV: Yeah, just managing the tyres. You know, they get very hot around here with all the high-speed corners, so you're sliding around naturally quite a lot. So it was, yeah, just a management race throughout.

Well, congratulations on your victory. Thank you. Go and enjoy the podium. And as our race winner steps away... Lando, what's two seconds between friends? Well, it's the difference between victory and seconds. We heard on the team radio there, this is a race that you feel you could have won.
Lando Norris: Not could, should have done. I got a bad start, simple as that. The car was incredible today. I think we were, for sure, the quickest. I just lost it in the beginning. So, yeah, disappointed. But a lot of positives, one negative, and that kind of ruined everything. I know that. I can just work on it for next time. But apart from that, a good amount of points and a big thanks to the team because the car was amazing.

Well, you have had a brilliant weekend. Your pole position was one of the laps of the year so far. So there's a lot of positives to take away. But it sounds to me that are you taking it on you, the start? Or was it just one of those things? Or did you do something off the line that you're not satisfied with?
LN: I'm not sure. I need to look back and review. I don't know what I did wrong or if I was just slightly out. it was only a little bit to Max that I lost. It wasn't like he was completely alongside. It was more that George was on the outside and kind of had me over. So, yeah, fair play. Well done to Red Bull and Max. Another job done for them but a shame that we lost it at the same time. So bit frustrating but we'll work on it for next time.

It's great that you're frustrated with a second and you don't have long now to reflect on that before we go into what is the second of a triple header.
LN: Yes. I mean, Austria and Silverstone, two of my favourite tracks in terms of performances and where we've performed well at. So I'm excited. You know, we're on a good roll. We're doing well. We just need to, I need to just tidy up a few little bits and we'll be on top.

OK Lando, great weekend for you. Enjoy the podium. And finally, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the podium, Lewis Hamilton. Lewis, the crowd appreciates seeing you here. Amazingly, Mexico was the last time last year that you had a podium. But this weekend, you were on it, and your passing at Turn 1 was pretty special today.
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, it's been a good day, been a good weekend, a solid weekend. I have to say a big thank you to the team, because they've been training so hard in the pit stops. The strategy in the pit stops was really on point. Unfortunately, a bit like Lando, I got a really bad start and obviously lost ground to the Ferraris. So it was a bit of a battle to get back to where I am now. I think ultimately, with a better start, we would have... I don't know if we could have really held on to the guys ahead, but I don't think we would have been as far behind as we are today.

Strategy, of course, was a big part of today. We saw two different strategies from your team. George went on the Hard. That didn't appear to be the tyre today. Were you driving that strategy decision to go with the Soft tyre at the last stop, or was it just open play?
LH: That was the plan from the beginning. It was never an option to run the Hard tire for me today. So I drove the race to a Soft, Medium, Soft.

OK. And then just take us to that first corner. I mentioned about the overtakes. It got pretty up close and personal with Carlos Sainz.
LH: Yeah, I think all the overtakes were super close. That's how it should be, right? Nice and close. I think we bumped wheels, but it was fair. I left him space. And it was right on the limit, but, you know, piece of paper between us.

Press Conference

Many congratulations, Max, on what looked like a very hard-fought victory, but how straightforward was it from your point of view?
MV: Well, it wasn't straightforward. I mean, at the start, I think it was quite critical to get ahead of Lando, looking at it now. Of course, at the time, you just tried to do what you think is best and how it works out. And then I think also what was very important was getting ahead of George, so that first stint that I could eke out a bit of a gap. And I think that all worked well. Then I think we were quite aggressive on the strategy as a team with our pit stops. So I think as a whole package, performance, we had a good race. We really tried to maximise everything. But I do think that we're struggling a bit for the optimum pace, lacking a bit of tyre deg towards the end of every stint. So it wasn't a very straightforward, easy race. I mean, Lando was catching quite hard at the end. But luckily, it worked out that it was just enough.

As you say, Lando was catching you at the end. Do you think you or Lando had the fastest car today?
MV: From my side, I can only, of course, speak about myself. And I think we are, of course, struggling a little bit for that outright pace, it felt like. Plus, I feel like we didn't have the best tyre life today compared to Lando. It just seemed like he could push a bit more in some corners. Of course, we were a bit upset at one point with the tyres as well, because he went a bit longer in the first stint. But yeah, we still optimise everything. I mean, I can't really say that we did something wrong in the race, but we just need to try and find more performance.

Can you talk us through the opening 10 seconds or so of the Grand Prix, getting away from the line, the dice with Lando down to Turn 1, and then, of course, George Russell's move on both of you?
MV: It was good. I think the first launch was quite OK, and then I got a little bit alongside. I had to go a little bit on the grass, but then I think George had a double slipstream and had a good run around the outside, which he managed really well. And I think the three of us managed everything really well into Turn 1.

So, Austrian Grand Prix coming up next. You have a great record at the Red Bull Ring, but do you expect this coming race to be another really tight battle between yourselves and McLaren?
MV: Yeah, I mean, you know, looking at records doesn't really mean anything there. You know, you need to have a good car, strong car to be able to keep those kind of performances up. And I think at the moment we just need to try and find that little bit more, you know, to comfortably win. Because I think if you look at our last few wins, it's been more about just being there at the right moment, at the right time, making the right calls and being quite strong as a team, you know.

Alright, very well done today. Thank you, Max. Lando, let's come to you now. Big picture, first of all, how would you sum up your race to P2?
LN: The race, not good enough, simply because we should have won today. I think to answer the question you asked Max, I think we had the quickest car. But I just lost it at the start, you know, and then I couldn't get past George for the first stint. I think we were quite easily best car out there today. I just didn't do a good enough job off the line. And then that one thing cost me everything. So from Turn 2 onwards, 10 out of 10, I don't think I could have done much more. And I think as a team, we did the perfect strategy. And I was very happy with what we did. But yeah, the one part at the start, the 1% elsewhere wasn't good enough.

Well, talk us through the start, Lando. Was it too much wheel spin? Or what happened on the run down to Turn 1?
LN: No, I mean, my initial launch, I think, was better than Max. The second phase, the drive out, was not as good. I don't know. I don't know anything more than that, apart from Max got alongside me. And let's say, if George wasn't there, I think I still could have kept on to first around Turn 1. But George had a run on both of us, so even if my start was one or two metres better, which I think was all I probably could have done, just the long run down to Turn 1, the slipstream from the Mercedes, on both Max and myself, was more than anything that I could have done. I almost think George would have led no matter what, even if my start was two metres better. In some ways, that's what happens in Barcelona. George got a good start and I couldn't do anything about that. I settled in. I had to take third in Turn 2 because if I break two metres later, I think I would have taken everyone out with me. I made the correct decision of backing out and letting George have it. I don't know. I need to sit down with my engineers and talk.

Lando, you were saying something similar after the last race in Montreal, that that was a race you should have won. I'm quoting you there. You've said the same after this race. Is this more frustrating given the pace of the car here than what happened in Montreal?
LN: Yeah, for sure. Because that was more a decision, an incorrect decision or lack of decision-making. We were definitely not the quickest car in Montreal. Mercedes was easily the quickest car. But today, we were the quickest. We had the best car. I had the best car out there. And I didn't maximise it. The start's down to me. doing what I get told and executing that. And without that, or with a good start, we easily should have won.

You gave us plenty of edge-of-the-seat racing to watch today, particularly, I think it was lap 35 when you did five corners side by side with George Russell to take the position. Can you just talk us through that battle?
LN: Yeah, I mean, I made George defend Turn 1, which kind of won me everything from that point onwards. He defended into one. Then I could kind of get the cut back. And you can do that on all of these corners. They're quite wide. And once you kind of defend, you can easily get a cut back onto the following corner. So, I had him on the outside of three. I was quite surprised in Turn 4. But I had so much understeer in Turn 4 all day. And the Mercs had a lot of front end in Turn 4. He could carry a lot more speed in four, get back to the outside, but then I could cut back on Turn 5 on the exit and get him into Turn 7. So it was a good fight. It cost me a lot of time and hurt my gap to Max in the end. But yeah, it was pleasant, you know, it was on the edge, was close, bit disrespectful.

Austria next. It's the venue where things started to turn around for McLaren last year. Just how confident are you going to the Red Bull Ring?
LN: I mean, I'm confident. every weekend we go into now, the car's performing extremely well. We're always there or thereabouts within a couple of tenths of pole, and that's all we can ask for. I think we need to bring something a little bit more just to make our life a bit easier. It's close, and now we have, what, four teams who I think can easily fight for pole positions and fight for wins, potentially. So it's a very different layout again. High speed, I think we have a bit to work on, comparing to Red Bull. Red Bull seem definitely a bit higher, better in high speed corners than we are. Potentially we're lacking a touch in that area but the rest of it is strong. It's been one of my best tracks in terms of my own competitiveness and my most successful tracks so excited to see all the papaya and the grandstands and have a good weekend.


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