Q: Welcome to the top three finishers of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix. In third place, Carlos Sainz. In second place Charles Leclerc. And taking the 23rd win of his Formula 1 career and his third win of this 2022 campaign, our race winner, Max Verstappen. Max, very well done. That was a beautifully executed race from third on the grid. Given how the weekend started on Friday. How sweet does this victory feel?
MV: Yeah, I mean, of course, it’s a very good comeback. I didn’t even do a start. So I didn’t know what to expect in the actual start. But we had a good launch. And I saw the opportunity to go around the outside in Turn 1 so I tried. And luckily, it worked, so then, I just tried to see the pace, of course, Charles in front of me, and I think already from the start, it was very close. I just couldn’t get into the DRS initially. But then, at one point, I think Charles started to struggle a bit more with the front tyres, and it seemed like our car was very good on the Medium compound. So once I got ahead, I think that basically made my race, because I opened up the gap. And basically, once we did the pit stop and put the hard tyre on we were actually very closely matched in pace. So yeah, that was very crucial, of course, to get that gap. But then, of course, I was not very happy with that Safety Car, but of course, fully understandable with what happened. And of course, I think you cannot be too disappointed about it. Because also in the past, I mean, it has benefited me in some other races. So I knew of course, it’s was going to be a tough one to the end already. Because it was quite physical out there. So I knew of course, well now the next 10 laps, I think it was, we have to be flat out, so on a track like this is not easy. I was struggling a bit initially with the tyre temps, like I was sliding around a bit too much for my liking, but then once the tires came back up to temperature, I think I had a little bit more pace and of course, pulled out of the DRS which was very crucial around here.
Q: You got out of that DRS. But how much pressure was Charles putting you under in those closing laps?
MV: He was trying everything to try and have a go. And it was not easy, of course, to stay ahead because it’s easy to make a mistake around here in certain places.
Q: And can you just elaborate on the physical nature of this race? Is it comparable to let’s say the Singapore Grand Prix?
MV: Yeah, pretty similar. It’s very hot in Sector 2 as well. And of course because this is a day race, with the sun out there, it makes it really hot. So I was very happy once we always got to the straight because that gave you a bit of air. Also in the Safety Car just clicking your visor one step up, you know to have a bit more air coming it was pretty nice.
Q: It’s been a good race for you and your team in the Championship. Do you feel you’re on a bit of a roll now?
MV: We’re still having a few issues we have to solve. I mean we are quick, but as you can see, my Friday was terrible, you know, which is not great if you want to have a good weekend. And also Checo had a few issues in the race, so we have to be on top of that, but clearly there is a lot of potential, we just need to make sure it’s reliable.
Q: Charles, coming to you, a great race by you as well, you look very racy in those closing laps just how good was your car today?
CL: It was good, especially on the Hard, I think we were we were strong. On the Medium, as Max said, we struggled a little bit after five, six laps with the front tyres and then… yeah, we struggled and basically lost the race on that stint, losing the lead and then losing quite a bit of race time there, because of the front degradation. We need to look at that and be on top of it for the next race. Apart from that, I think on the Hard, we were we were very competitive or at least as competitive as Max, and after the Safety Car I really thought that we will have a shot to actually take back the lead – but it wasn’t enough. But yeah, it’s like this again, I think we’ll have to analyse the end of the run on the Medium, which is the weak point of this race.
Q: Aside from tyre degradation, what were the biggest differences between your cars today?
MV: The colour!
CL: Yeah, the colour. The straight-line speed also a little bit. But again, I think it’s just the characteristics of both cars. Red Bull are quite quick in a straight; we are quite quick in the medium and high speed – but today I have to say that I was quite surprised that we were struggling quite a bit more than them in the slow speed corners. So, that was also a weakness on the Medium tyres, and we need to look at that.
Q: Charles, you’re still 19 points ahead of Max. But do you need to see a reaction from Ferrari now?
CL: In a race we need to, especially on the softer compounds, on the Medium, Soft, it seems that it’s been already two races that in terms of race pace, they seem to be a bit stronger and managing those tyres better. Then, in qualifying, we always managed to put those tyres in the right window, which helps us but on the on the long runs, we struggle a bit more compared to them.
Q: Carlos. You mentioned something about your neck to Willy T Ribbs a little bit earlier. Are you okay?
CS: Well, yeah. Obviously, I’m coming back from a pretty heavy crash on Friday. So, I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent today, but maybe also the fact that I haven’t done the last two races. So also, the neck feels that. And it’s a combination of those two things that maybe I was paying a bit the price and at some stages of the race I couldn’t push 100 per cent.
Q: After these last couple of races, when you didn’t go racing lap, how much of a relief is this podium for you?
CS: It’s not so much a relief – but it’s needed. I think I needed to complete a race distance, to get the body back to shape, and also get the feel for the car on used tyres, high fuel. I was still doing a couple of mistakes out there during the race, just because I was trying the car and trying myself out there. The important thing is that we got a full race in, but at some stages of the race I was pretty quick and also the battles and the feeling with the car in battle with Checo, you know what to do with the battery, with the tyres, I think it gave me a good understanding of what to do in the future.
Q: Just tell us a little bit more about that battle with Checo? It looked pretty tight.
CS: Yeah, I mean, on a new Medium, against me on a on a very used Hard, he had everything on the cards, you know, to pass me on, on the first two, three laps, in the warm-up phase of the tyre. And I was pretty sure that, once I got the tyres up to temperature, I could maybe stay, more or less, ahead. But yeah, I think we did a good job on defending, manage all the battery. They’re also pretty quick on the straight, which doesn’t help. I think it was a tough, tough defence, but it was good.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) The same question to Max and to Charles please. Could you just talk us through the rundown the pit straight where Max got ahead into T1? And Charles, in particular, was there anything you could have done maybe to defend a little bit harder there? Or is it just not worth it?
CL: Well, it’s always worth it when you are fighting for the lead. To be honest with the experience I had from FP1, FP2, FP3, inside there, it was a disaster, the grip on Friday and Saturday. So, I did not expect Max to have that much grip. But actually, I think it was much better for the race today. So, looking back at the race, you can always do something better but I thought that, at that moment, it was the right thing to stay on the racing line and try to optimise the braking point, which I did – but it didn’t work out.
MV: It’s just a decision that you make at the time, right? From both sides. I went right and Charles defends in the way he does. And then after the corner, you realise what is best, right? It could have worked for Charles; could have worked for me. It worked for me this time. It is just because… I mean we’re going at such high speed you have to make these decisions in like, milliseconds, so…
Q: (Laurence Edmondson – ESPN) A question to all three drivers. Can I just get your thoughts on the event this weekend? How spectacular you found it. And also, to Max, does it mean anything more to win the first race in Miami?
MV: I think it was an incredible atmosphere. I mean, it was really incredibly well organised. Really nice to see that. It’s not easy to put an event on like this. But yeah, they did an amazing job, and I had a lot of fun, driving around. I think track-wise, we can improve a few areas. But I have say in the race, I do think Sector 1 was quite fun. I do think Sector 2 can be maybe a bit… would have been nice if it could have been a bit faster and flowing for an F1 car like we have right now. You know: super long, heavy, wide. The 14-15 chicane is a bit of a tricky combination. And if it means more, I mean it’s another 25 or 26 points, right? It’s a nice venue, that’s for sure, but still you know you have the same amount of points what you can gain.
CL: Yeah, the atmosphere was incredible. And it’s great to see how much interest the sport has got in the last few years. And yeah, organisation was great. Loads of people, good weather. So yeah, it was amazing to be here.
CS: I think it was a mega event, put together… not easy on the first event to put such a well-organised venue. So many people coming, so many people in the paddock… for me the paddock was incredibly full!
MV: The helmet we had on the podium. We needed that in the paddock.
CS: Yeah, it was crazy. So yeah, congrats. I look forward to coming back here in the future. And I think, between FIA and ourselves, we can do a better job with the tarmac, we can do a better job with some corner combinations, and we can put together an even better show in the future.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Max, you’ve talked a little bit about this but I guess this season has been a case of you either have high peaks or high frustrations. At its most extreme it’s been you either win, or you haven’t finished. But this weekend, we’ve heard you talk a few times about things just not being quite right, need to make things a bit smoother. How urgent is that side of things? Because it’s obviously… the most dramatic element is the retirement issues but if you’re not having clean weekends, then obviously that’s going to add up if that continues.
MV: Well, yeah, it’s both, right? I mean, of course, now my side, I had a lot of issues on Friday, which compromises your weekend, and especially yesterday. And I mean, of course, the day everything went well with the start but it also could have been the other way around. And then you of course again, can say like, well, fair enough, because if you missed almost whole Friday, what can you do about it? So we just have to nail down a really positive weekend without issues. I think of course, Imola, we had that, but it’s still a bit of a hit and miss too much. So we just have to make sure that we are more reliable and more on top of things. But as you can see the car is quick. I’m very happy about that, I mean, if you would be slow and reliable, that’s probably also not a good thing.
Q: (Jesus Balseiro – Diaro AS) Carlos, did you consider changing the tyres at the last Safety Car? And if so, why did you stick with the used ones?
CS: No, because I would have lost position to Checo and in general, you want to keep track position, especially during the podium. I think you want to keep that position. I knew Checo was going to pit because he had a new medium. Our alternative was I use of soft or a new hard which for me, both of them were not good enough for 10/12 laps to go like it was the case. So we were better off staying out on our used hard which I think it was the right call because in the end we managed to keep him behind. But it was tight, I think as I said before, he had all everything, all the cards to actually pass me and yeah, a bit surprised that we stayed ahead because it was a tight, tight battle.
Q: (Jeff Gluck – The Athletic) What should they do about the tarmac, for all three of you? Does it need to be resurfaced before you come back next year?
MV: I think offline can be a bit better. I think it was a bit nice today. I was a bit surprised… like in the start, you know, going around the outside of the expected grip, but then actually, during the race, it got worse and worse again. And we had good examples lately with new tracks where we had good tarmac like Saudi actually, it was pretty grippy. So yeah, we have to just look at that, first of all that you know, racing line… of course, the racing line has a bit more grip than offline. But I think the difference here is a bit too much in places. So yeah, we’ll see what we can do there and of course, besides that, I think like Carlos and myself mentioned, with the layout, I think we can make some bits also a bit more exciting, especially Sector 2.
Q: (Safid Deen – USA Today) About the chicane under the highway do you guys feel like that was challenging from a race perspective? Or would you like to see that completely changed or adjusted moving forward?
CS: I think it’s a chicane that we this generation of cars that are heavy, that are wide, just when you go around those two apex kerbs, it almost feels like you need a bit of luck to get around it and you sometimes get it on a weird angle and the car bounces a lot, then sometimes you nail it and you gain a tenth or two. It’s a corner that is just a bit unnatural and it’s a corner that I think it can be easily manipulated to look a bit different and create a better combination, you know. I think it’s still needed because there’s not a lot of space there and you need to be quite slow approaching 16 because there’s no runoff. So we need something slow, we need something tight. It’s just the nature of the two curves there, the way they’re put together which is no issue. It’s a new track that you’re always going to go through these phases and we’re already in touch with FOM, with Ross and his team to actually sort it out and put together a better piece of circuit.
MV: Yeah, I think if I would have been in a go kart, it would be a nice chicane to take, but not in an F1 car like we have at the moment. Like Carlos said, I think the kerb combination…I mean, I remember in the four laps I did on Friday, I almost knocked myself out because I hit the first kerb and your head just bounced from left to right, like at least five, six times, but really bad. If you just take it a tiny bit too much, just because it’s so long, so wide, so stiff and super heavy that little kerb what it is, it’s just not made for it to be honest. So maybe we have to change the kerb layout already, that it’s a bit more of a progressive ramp and it looks a bit nicer to go over. Maybe that helps already. But yeah, it’s so slow and I think our cars look way better if it’s a bit more of a flowing combination.
CL: I think I’m the only driver on the grid that actually liked this chicane.
MV: And you liked the kerb?
CL: Yeah, I enjoyed it. But on the other hand, I agree that for racing action, I think we can do something better because following wasn’t easy on that part, also for visibility it’s quite difficult once you have a car in front because you need to be so precise on the kerbs, as mentioned already. That it makes it even more difficult to follow. But apart from that I actually quite enjoyed it.
Q: (Alex Kalinuakas – Autosport) Max two questions actually: first of all did you have any reliability dramas in the race, any engine problems like Checo had? And also how important during those last few laps ahead of Charles after the safety car, was it you to get a good exit from the chicane after he closed up through the twisty bits?
MV: No, I had no issues luckily. I mean, everything was running very smooth for me so that was very positive. I think I had all my bad luck on Friday. And yeah, during those laps, yeah, it was very tricky, I mean, I was struggling a lot with actually the cold tyres hitting the kerbs. So going through the chicane was not easy. I made a few mistakes there a few times. But yeah, so it was very important to get a good run out of the chicane and actually also turn 16 onto the straight but of course with the extra top speed we had today that of course also helps.
Q: (Jerry Bonkowski – Autoweek) Charles, quick question. Do you like being the hunter or the hunted? You and Max obviously are so close together in the points right now, which do you prefer, being ahead of him or behind him?
CL: Well, I think we have been in only one position since the beginning of the season, which means we are hunted for now. I quite like this position to be honest, because it means that you are doing something right. But it is also true that it’s two races that the gap is slowly closing down. But yeah, I don’t I don’t really mind to be honest whichever position I am in, I just want to be the most competitive out there. And at the moment, it seems that Red Bull has the upper hand in the in the races.
Q: Max your thoughts?
MV: I like the position I’m in at the moment, knowing that the car is quick. And for example, end of last year, of course, I was the one who was being hunted. And that was actually not a great position because I knew that we didn’t have the pace anymore. I knew it was going to be very tricky to the end. So yeah, just depends a bit of how competitive you are as well.