Q: Many congratulations to the top three finishers of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. In third place, Max Verstappen. In second place, Carlos Sainz and taking his third win in Formula 1 and his first of the 2022 season our winner, Sergio Pérez. Checo, you looked very emotional up there on the podium. Of your three wins in Formula 1, where does this one rank?
SP: Well, certainly very high up there, winning Monaco, it’s a dream come true as a driver. When you come into Formula 1 and when you come to Monaco, when you drive it for the first time, you always dream about one day winning the race or racing here. So it’s just incredible. And it’s such a big day for myself. I was driving with Pedro Rodriguez’s helmet today, and I’m sure that there he will be super proud of what we have achieved in this sport.
Q: And you went from third to first after what turned out to be a strategic masterstroke. Was the timing of your pit stops obvious to you in the cockpit? Or were you surprised to jump ahead?
SP: No, it was quite obvious at the time that the track was ready for slicks, especially with the wets already overheated, but it wasn’t clear for me if we could keep going and do like Carlos did, going straight into the slick. But I think in that phase we lost such… Well, you could see with Carlos that he lost so much race time that I was already behind him, but again, we managed to stay out, pushed when we needed to, to make that inter work. And I think it was just a great combination, you know, the team was telling me what to do, how to get the maximum out of today’s result. And we managed to make it work. It sounds easy. But in these conditions, pushing but not making mistakes, and not putting a foot wrong is never easy to achieve in Monaco.
Q: Well, it was very intense. At the end with lots of pressure from Carlos. Describe what it was like in the cockpit?
SP: Yeah, I felt they had the race under control pretty, pretty easy. I felt like I was not really pushing. And then all of a sudden, I started to have a lot of understeer into [Turns] 3 and 4, lap after lap, and I could see that Carlos just was next to me. And I was like, well… I still had very good traction out of Turn 8, so I was still a bit comfortable with it. But going into Turn 10 I knew that it was very important to not make a mistake because if you cut the chicane then you have to be back to position. So Carlos was putting a lot of pressure. But then towards the end, I managed to clear up the graining a bit, and it was mainly Turn 3 and 4. And then once I managed to open a bit of a gap, I could do my normal line through 3, 4, 5, which already brought some lap time with it and we managed to bring it home a bit safer.
Q: Checo, you were very frustrated after qualifying yesterday. Look at you now.
SP: Yeah, this is Formula 1. You go from one end to the other in in a matter of seconds. So today it’s a day to enjoy. Don’t think too much about what’s ahead because today it’s a massive day for me.
Q: Many congratulations. Thank you, Carlos, coming to you – a second consecutive second place for you here in Monaco. You seemed a little bit frustrated when David Coulthard spoke to you earlier. Do you rue the timing of your pit stop? Or do you accept it was just bad luck to meet that backmarker on your out lap?
CS: No, I think that as a team we… There were some very tough calls to be made out there and a lot of communications going on on the radio to see what we could do. I knew that by staying out on the wets I would earn the race lead at some point and by the time I was on the race lead I saw that it was going to be very close to going on slicks. The track was drying up super-quickly and at that point we decided to go until the slick. We put on the slick, the hard tyre, and on the out lap actually the tyre felt really good after using a wet that is super slippery. On the hard tyre it felt pretty grippy, but with tough luck that we were in the gearbox of a Williams or a lapped car that did a very slow Sector 1 and 2 and in the end let me by. This cost me one or two seconds of race time that was enough for Checo to overcut me.
Q: Can you talk us talk us through the end of the race? Were you tempted to go for a move on Checo? Did you feel the opportunity was there? You were so close to him at some points.
CS: It was tempting. It was tempting into the chicane but unfortunately the track was still a bit wet on the inside. So if I go and brake late in there, it would have been a bit of a mess. And I probably could have taken Checo out with me. Tempting in a couple of other places. But realistically, with these big wide cars, the spaces are really narrow and even on a drying track, where there’s damp patches offline, It’s almost impossible. And I tried everything I could to nearly launch a move, but even when I did, I nearly took him with me. So yeah, I think I did everything I could.
Q: Who had the faster car in the different conditions: Ferrari or Red Bull?
CS:I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter really. Monaco is not, as you said, today’s not about who is the fastest, it’s about who gets all the timing of the pitstops right, and all the strategy calls right. Red Bull went for the Inters; we decided to stay out on Wets. I mean, I was on the race lead before this leg, so you could argue, I think today we did the right choices; it was the timing of that lapped car really that cost us a lot today.
Q: Max, can I put that question to you? Who had the faster car today in the different conditions do you think: Red Bull or Ferrari?
MV: Well, if you just look at single lap pace, I think they were they were faster than us. Long run around here is very difficult to say because nobody really pushes, of course, even in practice in the long runs, because it doesn’t really matter. It’s all about qualifying. And it doesn’t really matter if you’re fast in the race, because you can’t pass anyway. So difficult to tell. But yeah, today was really about strategy and making the right calls. And I have to say the team was very relaxed and on it with their calls. Like very straightforward. There was no doubt: it was like ‘pit now, we go on this tyre’; ‘pit now again we go on this tyre’. They did a really good job with that.
Q: Positions were made and lost on very fine margins today. You were right on the limit as you exited the pit lane on the hard tyre as well.
MV: Yeah, I needed it. I mean, otherwise he would have passed me because you would not have the traction. So, my pit exit was quite… probably that was the most fun I had in the race, just my pit exit, trying to stay ahead. Which summed up a bit my race. I mean, of course, after yesterday, not being able to do that final lap, you know you have to start fourth and you know, your race is going to be a bit compromised. But it’s all about just trying to maximise the result and I think, as a team, we did that today. We had good pace. I mean, all the laps I had in clean air, they felt right. And then the call to go with the Medium at the end was quite risky, I think, compared to just staying on a hard tyre. Especially also because I think we didn’t really know how many laps were going to be left. But I saw that the two cars in front of me started to grain a bit. Checo has quite a lot of front graining and Carlos was struggling a bit with the rear. And yeah, from my side. I mean, it’s just impossible to pass. But my balance felt all right, and I could actually be really close. If I wanted to, I could have bumped Carlos a few times in the hairpin. Maybe he would have liked it.
CS: I think I… did I bump you?
MV: It was so close.
CS: Because two times I said ‘I’m gonna make him spin’ because you were so slow.
MV: You were doing also at one point a different line, in the hairpin.
SP: I knew I could park my car and there is no room for anyone to go.
MV: So yeah, it was getting close at the end but even with getting close, the problem is always the acceleration out of the corner. Like you can be in the gearbox but you can never pass because they always gain two or three-tenths, and that’s just enough, of course, to then defend or whatever – drive in the middle of the track.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Well done Checo, it’s your third win, but your first at a classic, historic European track. Your other two have been obviously Baku and Sakhir. I wonder… you mentioned Pedro Rodríguez, I wonder whether you sort-of particularly feel the weight of the great Mexican drivers of the past and also the history in Europe winning a race like this.
SP: Well, certainly, in terms of history of the sport, I’m a big fan of my sport. So, certainly knowing what it means to win a race like this. I mean, they’re all very important, but certainly this is very special. And it goes very, very high in the list for my country. And yeah, I certainly feel like at the moment, I’m the only Mexican – or even Latin American – driver on the grid. So, it just shows how difficult it is for us – not saying that for European drivers, it’s easy – but it just shows how difficult it is for us to make it into the sport and to have successful career in this sport. It is quite hard, but I have to say I’m extremely proud of it.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) A question to the to Red Bull drivers, please. Max just called the decision to take the mediums for final stint ‘risky’. Can you just explained what did the team tell you both about why you’re were going to make that decision? And also Max, just at the end, how much in a better shape where your tyres? Were they completely fine compared to Checo’s? Thanks.
MV: Just because of course, I have a little bit better grip, and of course, because we already did a few laps on the Hard tyres, so they were a bit cold. But of course, at the end, it doesn’t really matter, because it was going to be a rolling start. A standing start, of course, it might make a difference but anyway, it wouldn’t have been fair, you know, if it would have been a standing start, just because of the difference in… well the left side was still quite wet. And that’s why it was a good call to do a rolling start. But then, yeah, when I saw my Mediums on the car, I thought ‘it’s going to be quite a tricky one to the end.’ But luckily, my feeling, I had still decent tyres to the end. I mean, of course, they’re not in the best shape, but they felt alright. But of course, when you’re following closely, you start wearing them more as well.
Q: Checo, how seriously did you consider the hard tyre at that point?
SP: Well, at that point, I think, like Max said, it was clear that we were doing a rolling start. So we thought that it was going to be a relative short, short race, but still there were plenty of laps. And I’m sure if we were to do the race again, we will have chosen a different tyre to do the race.
Q: (Jesus Balseiro – Diario AS) Question to Carlos. Where or when did you lose the chance to fight for the win today? I mean, you, the team, what could you have done differently today? And also, after this weekend? Do you feel even more confident coming from where you come this season, for the races to come?
CS: Where did we lose it? We lost it obviously with very good in-lap there from Checo, I guess, that you also need to give a prize to him as a driver and the team Red Bull that they did a very good in-lap – but we lost it in the out-lap. I mean to have to hold Sector One and Two behind a lapped car, a Williams that was on Hard tyres, struggling with warm-up. I was getting really frustrated on the radio because I knew this… Checo was going to be fast in the lap, with the Inter, and I was having a very poor out-lap on the Hard because of the traffic. This is how it is. We would have boxed one lap earlier, one lap later, maybe the track position would have been different at the time. And maybe, I wouldn’t have had a lapped car that would have been in front of us. But especially in the wet, it’s very difficult to calculate how long you’re going to be through the pits, because the pit entry and the pit exit are wet. So the team doesn’t have a clear indication or idea of where you’re going to come out. Because the pit exit and pit entry times vary quite a lot. We were relatively unlucky, I guess, to just come out in the gearbox of a Williams that was struggling with warm-up at the time. And this is where the race went away.
Q: (Aaron Deckers – Racing News 365) Another question for Carlos. During the race it seems like you almost lost it on the straight. What happened? And were you’re scared that your race was almost over?
CS: Yeah, I was. Actually when you tell me this, I’m in a good mood, because the race should have ended there. But, I think we were both lapping lapped cars?
MV: Where you went a bit off-line? Yeah, was that just before we had the VSC?
CS: Yeah, right before the VSC. I think they were obviously staying in the dry line. And if you wanted to pass them, you had to go on the wet, on a Hard tyre, on a cold Hard tyre. And the main straight turns right a little bit. So I went on the damp patch and suddenly the car gave me a massive oversteer moment that nearly made me… I think I did three or four counter-steers to control the car and I thought I was gonna crash in the middle of the straight. It just shows how on the limit Monaco is, with this kind of thing, especially on a race like this. You need maximum concentration, like Checo said, because any little mistake, any little off-line moment, you’re in the wall, or you’re on a damp patch and you you’re off.
Q: (Joost Nederpelt – NU.nl) Question Checo. Can you clarify your contract situation for next year? Because after the race, you seem to say something like ‘I signed too early’. Was that a reference to your contract?
SP: I meant about the bottle of champagne. We’ll find out.
MV: I think what you did today might help. Just a little bit.
SP: I hope.
Q: (Erwin Jaeggi – Motorsport.com) Max, Checo is only 15 points behind you in the championship now. Do you see him as potential title rival and you clearly have a good relationship? Do you think that will change when things heat up?
MV: I don’t think so, in terms of whether the relationship will change. We have a good…
SP: We are still going to be in love, right?
MV: Yeah, absolutely. Why would that change? We work really well as a team. We always try to optimise the car and work for the team and we can accept when somebody does a good job or does a better job and I think that’s very important because that’s how you are respectful to each other and yeah, may the best man win at the end, right? We always, of course, trying to do the best we can on the track but we also respect each other a lot and try to score the most possible points every single weekend for the team.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Sergio, just regarding the phase of the race where you put the inters on, your pace was really, really strong, you closed back up to Carlos. Could you talk us through that phase of the race and also before then, had you given any consideration to going straight from the extreme wets to the slicks?
SP: Definitely. When I was on the inters I was like… I think we screwed up because the track was pretty dry and it felt like it was just a matter of laps before we needed to go onto the slicks. Yeah, at that time, still like, it was just the crossover between the inters that were a bit quicker but because of the warm-up of the slick tyres and it’s where we could make the difference to Carlos when he boxed for that tyre, we were able to have a very quick in-lap, we pushed really hard and yeah, the tyre was there and the track was dry for the slicks tyres. Saying that, it was quite difficult the first laps because, especially on the hard, the warm-up felt a bit tricky. You don’t put in a lot of energy in Monaco so… It’s a day just to bring it home. We cannot be happy because we could have done a mistake. I was chatting earlier to Max, the amount of times that even Carlos, he was so close into 15, to touch the barrier. I was so close, Max, so we all had big moments today when the race could have been over.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Max and Sergio; we’ve got Baku coming up: good and bad memories for the pair of you from last year, obviously. I wonder if you would give some thoughts on that and also both of you are now Monaco winners so you’re a third of the way towards maybe one day the triple crown and we’ve got the Indy 500 today so I just wondered if you had any thoughts on whether you might do that one day?
MV: I’ve no desire to chase the triple crown, at least, not IndyCar. I appreciate what they do. It’s insane, these drivers… I have a lot of respect for what they achieve there but for me, especially not being in F1 for such a long time already and yeah, I don’t need to risk my life there and potentially injure myself, your legs, whatever or… it’s just not worth it anymore, let’s say like that. Maybe Le Mans. I do like endurance races, so I will probably do some, hopefully soon, but for me, it doesn’t really matter. I, of course, try to be good in F1, I try to be good in whatever I do, but that desire of the triple crown or whatever – not interested. And about Baku, yeah, last year was unlucky, simple as that. We had it all in control, it would have been a…
SP: …. Lost it on the main straight, right?
MV: I don’t know what happened. Probably ran out of talent! Yeah, it looked like all in control and also for the team it would have been amazing result and you know these kind of things actually might have cost us at the end also potential World Championship for the teams, right, so it was a very painful one, but that happens. That’s racing, it’s still a mechanical sport but you don’t really think about it. It’s different cars, different tyres and we go again.
SP: Yeah, I have no interest to be honest. In endurance, I don’t know if I’ll do that one day. I don’t think so. I think once I am done with F1, I need to look to go back and look after my kids. I already have three,. so yeah, I’ll be quite busy. I think that’s more for these two guys.
MV: He’s going to build a squad, so he can go along and play football with them.
Q: And Checo, just returning to Baku, the scene of your victory.
SP: Yeah, it was a very special moment to get my first victory with the team, and especially at the time that it was my start with them and it was just a bit difficult the start and that was great to get my first victory for Red Bull.
Q: Carlos, just before we’re done, I feel I don’t want you to feel left out. Triple Crown for you?
CS: No, thanks.