Q: Max congratulations, your second win of the season so far and after the disappointment of Melbourne last time out, how important was it?
MV: Yeah, well, I mean, of course, Melbourne wasn’t great for us. And the start of the season in general wasn’t amazing. So we needed a good weekend. I didn’t expect it to be like this, but of course, when you have a weekend, at the end of the day, like this, that’s incredible. I mean, a one-two for the team, but also maximum points scored. And also, the way I think we handled the race. You know, we didn’t really make any mistakes, I think we made the right calls with switching from the inters to the slicks, and from there onwards we just controlled the race. And of course, it seemed probably easy on the TV, but you still have to be focused, especially also with backmarkers. It’s easy when you’re off-line to lock up or go through a wet patch and go off track. So yeah, just manage that. But the car was handling really well. Of course, we saw that yesterday already in Sprint Qualifying that we had good pace in the car. And we could look after our tyres probably quite nicely. So, yeah, a very positive weekend.
Q: As you say, the car has good pace. Do you think Red Bull now has the fastest car in Formula 1?
MV: It’s always difficult to tell. Every track is different. If you looked at Melbourne, definitely not. But it’s all about… At the end it’s details, you know, you have to always make sure that you have a good balance in the car, and you can have the fastest car, but if you have a bad balance, it’s not working. So or you have to look after your tyres, you know, and these kind of things are very crucial with these new cars. And Miami, again, will be a big question mark, and it will probably be a bit hit or miss for some people. Hopefully of course, we will do well, but you don’t know at the moment.
Q: As you say, it’s harder than it looks on the TV, but what were the nervous moments, if there were any today? Track conditions, reliability concerns?
MV: Passing back markers. Some of them stayed on the dry line, and I had to pass them on the wet patches. That wasn’t amazing, but it is what it is. I mean, just have to deal with it. But again, it’s easy to then go off the track.
Q: Checo, coming to you now. Great job by you, your second consecutive second place, giving Red Bull their first one-two finish since Malaysia 2016. Just talk us through your race and what was a great day for you and the team?
SP: Yeah, it started really well with the start. I think we both had a really good start. And it was just about making sure those inters lasted, because I could feel the deg coming. I tried to manage the tyre a little bit. But it didn’t make any difference. It still died towards the end. And really my race started there. And Charles was just pushing quite hard towards the end of all the stints, so we were racing always on to the stop. The race felt under control, pretty much towards the end of the race, but then he boxed and tried the undercut on us, so we did box again, and yeah, managing to make sure we didn’t have any mistakes. It was pretty challenging out there. You know, it was so easy today to make a mistake. So to come away with a one-two today, it’s great, a great team result.
Q: You were exchanging blows with Charles for so much of the race. It must have given you a good insight into the strengths of the two cars, both yours and Ferrari. What did you learn?
SP: They were extremely quick through the chicane. I think that their low speed was quite good. And yeah, I mean, you saw with Charles he had the mistake there, so he was certainly pushing extremely hard through there and he was just taking quite a bit of time out of me at each lap you know. But overall a good weekend for the team.
Q: Lando coming to you a bit of a lonely afternoon here at Imola, but what a result – another podium.
LN: Yes. Surprised I guess to be here, but feels amazing. So, from where we were, what, three weeks ago, four weeks ago, a month, in Bahrain to be on a podium, I genuinely didn’t think we would be on the podium all year after Bahrain. So it’s quite a shock. Maybe not surprising after the kind of progress we’ve made over the last month but yeah definitely not a podium you know, with how much quicker the Red Bulls and the Ferraris are. It’s hard to ever imagine yourself on the podium and a great result today would have been P5. But a few good things throughout this race, you know, an amazing start to be ahead of the Ferraris, to stay out of the chaos which happened behind, just I guess a lonely but a great race. You know, just managing the gap to George, looking after the tyres for the whole stint, everything just went well all weekend to be honest. Not just the race today, but qualifying P3 already was a pretty good achievement for us. So great weekend. Nice to see the improvements we’ve been bringing and to reward everyone with a podium is even better.
Q: Do you think you had the third fastest car, here at Imola?
LN: Hmmm… I mean, if I want to be like George, I’ll say I had like the seventh fastest car!
MV: You should say it’s all the driver, mate! All the driver!
LN: It is!
MV: You had the worst car!
LN: Yeah, we’re ninth or tenth – but my driving this weekend has been pretty amazing!
MV: I agree!
LN: He agrees!
MV: This will be a nice headline.
LN: I don’t know. It’s too difficult to say. It changes every weekend. The Mercedes wasn’t so bad this weekend. I think we were a little quicker than them, probably throughout. The Alfa Romeo was maybe quicker. He was off at the start, I think: quicker yesterday, maybe quicker today – just couldn’t get past George. Doesn’t really matter, we beat two cars who are probably a second a lap quicker than us: one ended up in the wall and one ended up in the gravel, so doesn’t necessarily mean, if you have the third or fourth or fifth best car. I think we just executed a great race from our side. The car was good, and I had good confidence and that’s all I needed.
Q: What were the stressful moments in that race for you?
LN: Just every lap really! The start already is always a bit more stressful. I had such a good one, I kind of got behind Sergio I think, and got a bit squeezed by Charles onto the kerb, so I had a bit of a moment there. But just kind of choosing when to go onto the Mediums, you know, you put one wheel slightly wide or tight or whatever and you lock-up, you’re in a gravel, you’re out. So, every lap in these conditions, it’s hard to describe, I guess, to the viewer but inside, you have to push so much, you have to manage the tyres but then your line has to be perfect and if you put yourself a little bit wide or you hit a kerb wrong – like you probably saw, you’re spinning and you’re in the wall or something. So it’s just stressful, every lap like this. It feels like such a long race as well – makes it even more rewarding when you cross the line at the end.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ronald Vording – motorsport.com) Max, you seem to have the edge over Ferrari in terms of race pace. How much of that do you feel is just down to just finding a better balance in the car? Or do you feel Red Bull made a significant step over the last couple of weeks with the upgrades and also losing weight?
MV: It’s the driver! I don’t know. Of course, we brought upgrades but I don’t know, of course, how much that actually gave us because of just the hectic weekend with, you know, rain, dry. It’s very difficult to judge but we definitely were on top of things a bit better than Australia. So, I’m just very pleased with how we executed the whole weekend. We were just on top of everything and that’s sometimes more important than actually bringing something new. I guess time will tell now in upcoming races how much the upgrades are benefiting us.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Again for Max. Were there any overnight fixes to the clutch and gear sync issue off the line? And also, do you have any reaction now, or in the race, to lapping Hamilton?
MV: No, there were no fixes to the clutch, it was just we had a poor execution of procedures and I think we did a better job today. I mean, there is still room for improvement but in the wet, it is a bit hit and miss. I mean, last year I had an amazing start here and in the wet these things are a bit more difficult to nail. About the lapping part, I mean, they’ve been slow all year so it’s not really a surprise or I feel happy lapping Lewis compared to anyone else. But it is what it is.
Q: (Joost Nederpelt – nu.nl) Question to Max and Sergio as well. Charles Leclerc went to the soft tyre in lap 50 I think it was. So he sort of forced you to go to the tyre as well. Were you happy about that, or were you going to easily make it on a Medium tyre to the end?
MV: I just heard that they were both boxing, so I was like, ‘can I have some new tyres as well please?’ But it was already all planned anyway, so I mean if they’re boxing anyway I have the chance to do as well, right? Because I was upfront. And it’s always nicer to drive on newer tyres and then the old ones we had. I could have gone to the end but it’s just not as nice to go to the end.
SP: Well for me, I felt it was more comfortable to go to the end on that tyre because Charles was under my control. But when he boxed, it was like another race and going through that warm-up phase with those conditions, especially Charles, because I think he had a lap of warm up on his tyres, so he was, again, the racing was back on and we were flat out with cold tyres. I think any of us could have done a mistake.
Q: (Aaron Deckers – RacingNews365.nl) Question for Lando. We’re talking a lot about details here but it seems like McLaren, as you said, made big steps. Can you tell us more about how you made the improvements? Did you also advise the team? Could you and Daniel say to the team where you wanted to have the improvements?
LN: Yeah, if I wanted to speak in simple terms, we need the improvements everywhere. High speed, medium speed, slow speed, maybe more bias towards the slower to medium speed. But as a package, everything needs to be just that next level, you know? I think as we’ve said, in the past, the balance has been good. And we’re happy with the balance, it’s just, you do a good lap, you do something that feels good, and you just slow because you go around every corner, slower than the others. So it’s not easy: you want to focus on everything but over this long season, you got to focus on certain things first. We’ve not brought anything big. I know there’s been big steps but it’s not like we’ve brought a new floor or new things or whatever. So, just smaller things. But those smaller things seem to be having an effect when you put them all together on a weekend like this. But a lot of Daniel’s and my comments are in line. We have different slightly different driving styles, so they’re not always identical but in how we want to improve the car and get quicker, they’re pretty much exactly the same. So, that’s a good thing. The guys and girls are focusing hard to come up with these new paths. And yeah, I’m confident over the length of the season, we can continue to bring more and try and get closer to these guys.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Max, first I wanted to get your reaction to Charles making his error, but then a wider question to all three of you about the new rules. Do you think they’re working the way they were intended? It seems sometimes that you can either not pass at all, or only pass because of DRS. And then are the tyres allowing you to push in the way that they were meant to allow you to push this year?
MV: The mistake, yeah, it’s easily done. Of course, he was pushing hard to try and fight Checo but… It is painful but I think he knows that himself, you know, he doesn’t need to hear that from anyone in here. But it’s still such a long championship. You can still gain a lot of points. But yeah, it’s not great. But you can’t change it now. I mean, he doesn’t do it on purpose. I do think that the cars are better to follow. At least you don’t have these weird moments anymore of like, big oversteer, big understeer. The cars… are all the time when you get within a second are… it’s hard to follow because of our cornering speed in a Formula 1 car. That will always be like that. But yeah, I do feel it’s a bit nicer. Just the problem we have is that the tyres. When we get close, you do burn your tyres a bit more than you would like and they overheat a bit more. But yeah, we consistently work with Pirelli anyway, about what we would like and what we would like to improve. So it’s also very hard for them because it’s a completely new concept. We haven’t really done a lot of testing so I’m sure now in the coming months or maybe for next year, we can improve things.
SP: Yeah, I think certainly they have improved. If you take as an example today, it was really hard to overtake we could do only one line, basically one racing line and you had to make sure you were on that. And that was the same case with backmarkers, you know, trying to get through them on the wet side was difficult. Yeah, pretty much like Max covered, he did a good job there.
LN: I think they’ve they both explained it well. It’s 100% better. It’s what they intended to do and the reason for the changes are working. I think you have been seeing better races this year than for many years. Sergio has pointed out the point of the racing being harder today is just because of a dry line and you never want to go on overtake on the wet parts so that always makes it a lot more difficult. But yeah, there’s only so much you can do and only so many corners and times you can get close enough. I never got to the point of… I don’t think I’ve ever had DRS this weekend when I’ve been behind someone so it’s difficult to know how quick that’s working. But I’m happy. I think the changes are good. The thing which doesn’t allow you to get even closer is the tyres, you know, like I’m managing pretty much every single lap in the race – even in qualifying, you have to manage a bit. So when you have these couple of oversteers when you’re following, when it gets a little bit harder you pay the price very quickly and that’s what limits you to get that final bit to really overtake and maybe race as close as what you can in Formula 4 and things like that. So yeah, like Max said, Pirelli are working hard to improve this. It’s the first year on the tyre, they know what they need to work on and I’m sure they’ll come up with better tyres for next year.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Question to all three drivers, again on tyres. How much have the cooler temperatures played a part in five red flags we had in qualifying? And also what are your opinions on basically being pretty much a sitting duck coming out of the pits because of how hard you’re having to work to heat those tyres again?
LN: From the second point, because I forgot the first: that’s life. I know they’re a bit colder than what they’ve been in the past but it’s always difficult on a track like this when the conditions are cold and you have one line. You can’t kind of push past the corner and warm up the fronts as easily and, and things like that. Of course it’s more difficult, but yeah, just you have to deal with it, you have to take that into account with this strategy and trying to overcut and undercut and things like that. Makes it a little bit more of a challenge for us. I don’t think… like yeah, there’s any problems with it let’s say. I think what can be an issue is when you get to certain tracks, maybe when you’re behind safety cars and stuff, to keep temperature in the tyres, especially if it’s a wet race, like keeping the temperature in the inters or the wets you know, like in P1 and things like that, when is a lot more wet, and you can’t carry good cornering speeds and stuff. That’s when it’s an issue, when it is for us because we can’t get around the corners as quickly as these guys. So it’s tougher for us. But yeah, that’s the only issue, if that one thing could be improved then I’d be happy with that.
MV: Yeah, the only thing for me is that the wet tyres, extremes, you would only want to use them when there is a lot of water because as soon as that starts to clear, they are actually very slow, because then you very quickly want to swap to an intermediate, but they don’t really clear the water as well naturally. But even when there’s just a tiny bit of standing water, because of the warm-up is quite poor at the moment, it’s just super hard to drive. So again, I think it’s like on the dry, like we can work also on our wet tyres and try to find in general just a bit more grip from them, even with the colder working range. So we just need a few wet sessions, I guess, with Pirelli to try and see what we can do with these bigger tyres because for them it’s also a bit of a question mark with the amount of downforce we create and it’s the first year with these tyres. What can we make? What softness can we use, and I’m not even a tyre expert but I can understand of course where they come from so it’s not easy.
SP: Similar on the tyre side, just on the red flags, I think it was pretty intense with all the red flags and I feel like we should review the rules because I feel like if a driver makes a mistake and causes a red flag he should be penalised somehow, so I think when we go to other tracks like Monaco or places like that, it can actually be an advantage, you can have a mistake and still be on pole so it will be nice to review. I know Lando did a mistake, I was one of the drivers that did it. Just going forward, I think it would be good to make sure that if you make a mistake you pay for it.
MV: Bad boy! (laughs)
LN: Hey, everyone’s done it at some point. I’m sure Max has… have you caused a red flag, Max?
MV: Never, mate.
LN: That’s a lie.
SP: Once in Baku last year when you went wrong around the main straight, crashing around on the main straight.
MV: Ah, that one.
LN: When you pushed the hard tyres too hard.
MV: I pushed my tyres too hard.
LN: Karma. I don’t know what you want me to say. Of course after this weekend I would say no but yeah, you wish there was until it happens to you and then you wish there wasn’t so it’s kind of simple.
Q: (Ronald Vording – motorsport.com) Max, we you actually surprised to see Ferrari struggling a little bit in terms of race base? Charles, he told us Friday that the layout of Imola should suit their car pretty well. So were you surprised to see them struggling and what does it tell you going forward?
MV: I mean, they were still very quick yesterday. He was actually pulling away from me initially, he just had more graining which we encountered in Melbourne, you know, so it’s a bit of a hit and miss. So they are still very fast and Miami can be again, very different.