2024 Spanish Grand Prix  – Victory for Max Verstappen

Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), Lando NORRIS (McLaren) and Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes) photo by FIA.com

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: Lando, you were saying something similar after the last race in Montréal, 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 Montréal?

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 Montréal. 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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

Q: Thank you, Lando. And Lewis, coming to you now. Many congratulations. Great to see you back on the podium for the first time this year. How much of a boost is this result for you and for the team?

LH: Yes, big boost to finally get a good result. It’s been a minute since I’ve been up here in the race. So a huge, huge thank you to the to the team who have done an amazing job to… Just with all the processes through the race weekend but particularly everyone back at the at the factory for working so hard the extra-long hours to bring components to the car. and we’re slowly getting closer. I mean last year we were very fast here but so you have to take it with a pinch of salt, but obviously the last couple of races we’ve also been relatively competitive. So I think we have closed the gap a little bit but we still have a good couple of tenths to try and find. So we just got to have all hands on deck and keep pushing.

Q: Are you still fine tuning this new package or do you need more upgrades to close the gap to these two guys?

LH: No, I think that’s the maximum it’s got at the moment. But I mean, we’re always fine-tuning it with subtle changes that we make. So we are always fine-tuning it when we continue to tune it through the year. But we need to bolt some stuff on, some extra bits to be able to compete with these guys.

Q: Now, you had to overtake Carlos Sainz twice today. He was unhappy about the first of those moves, saying that you should have given the place back. Can we just get your take on what happened at Turn 1 there?

LH: I mean, look, it’s never a a good feeling when you do get overtaken. And I think we had a nice tight battle into turn one. I left him some room, so I think he was still on the track. Ultimately, he left the door open on the inside, didn’t fully close it. And so I went for the inside and tried to make the corner. I think he came around. I think we touched wheels equally and nothing major. It was like a small scrub. Gave him some room on the exit and yeah.

Q: Let’s throw it forward now. Do you feel Mercedes are building some momentum now?

LH: We definitely are. We definitely are. We’re definitely getting more consistent. And if I can just get my qualifying to be like this weekend, then it makes the Sunday so much easier. Also, if you get a good start. But my Saturdays have been so bad for the last, like, 15 races. So it’s good to have a clean weekend. And hopefully, this puts us in a good position to challenge in the next few races.


Q: (Kevin Scheuren – Motorsport-Total.com) A question is to Lewis and Lando. Of course, I don’t want to discredit you becoming driver of the day today, but Max is bringing in victory after victory, and there were slight boos at the podium as well. So would you say that there is a lack of appreciation for the accomplishments that Max has in the general public from time to time?

LN: No. It’s difficult to say, I think. I mean, it’s never a nice thing, honestly. People are always going to boo, I think, no matter what. You have it in every sport. You support people and you don’t support other people. I think it’s happened in sport for years and years and years. And Max is winning every race, so people are not going to like that. And it definitely makes the sport less exciting, but that’s just because he’s doing a good job. There’s a fine line. I think everyone within the sport appreciates it and respects it. You have to. And I think everyone does. But people who don’t know the most about motorsport are probably not going to be able to appreciate as much because they don’t know what really goes into it and what it takes to be in a position and do what he’s doing. So… Yeah, I don’t know. You’re always going to have boos is my thing. And I think there’s a level of disrespect and respect in any version of disrespect. I don’t think that’s OK. But yeah, I mean, I’m trying to not dig a hole for myself here. I just think, whatever. I would say no. I think people appreciate what Max has done. I think people maybe should appreciate more. But every driver is going to get boos at some point.

LH: What was the question? Well, I mean, honestly, I’m not really a lot on social media or reading the news. So in terms of being like, I don’t really, I’m not tapped into that to know exactly. But on the race weekends, he always has a huge crowd always. So he’s always got amazing support. And at the end of the day, he does a fantastic job. Every weekend, he delivers. And he’s got a great team and obviously a great car. But you can’t fault him.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Lando, can you give us your perspective of the squeezing Max onto the grass at the very start? Do you agree with him that that perhaps slowed you both a touch? And also, is that a sign of the hard racing to come between the two of you? Thanks.

LN: I mean, it’s always difficult to judge in that situation. I can’t get a tape measure out and measure it perfectly. I’m not going to make his life easy. There was enough space, I think. What? I’m just going to stop talking. I think it was just racing. I gave him enough space. I don’t think at any point there wasn’t enough space for him to stay on the track. What? Do you want to answer it?

MV: No, no, no.


Q: Max, let’s bring you in. What did you make of it? Do you think he gave you enough space?

MV: I think I know his birthday present already. So it’s either like a big mirror or some glasses, and it will be fine! It’s OK. No, listen, I mean, it’s hard racing for sure. If you turn it around, would I have done the same? I probably would have done the same. No, listen, you always try to squeeze it to the limit. I also really wanted to avoid potential contact, because you don’t want to rub wheels and potentially damage your suspension. So you naturally leave probably a few centimetres extra. And that meant those few extra centimetres meant that I had to go a little bit on the grass. And also, luckily, with doing that, nothing happened. So it’s all good. I mean, we still had a good run to Turn 1.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – l’Equipe) A question to Lando. You said that the team had a perfect strategy. Don’t you think that maybe covering Max on the first stint instead of staying longer on the first stint would have been better for you at the end?

LN: No. I mean, I gave myself a good four five four laps of tyre advantage. It’s impossible to know. No one can say whether it’s the correct or incorrect thing. It made my life much easier to overtake George, you know. I  still had to overtake George is my point. I was racing George until halfway through the race. And once I kind of passed him, then I was in my own race and trying to race against Max. So, no. I know people had the same comments about our strategy last weekend in Canada on the second pit stop onto the slick tyre. I think our strategy was better. I overtook George. I overcut him. And he got past me because he was quicker, not because of any other reason. So… No, the team did a good job. The strategy is very strong, has been for a lot of the year. We made a couple of mistakes here and there, but no, I think today we’re probably the best strategy, so I’m happy with that.

Q: (Taylor Powling –  Motorsport Monday) Question to Lando. You said earlier this week that the margins between Red Bull and McLaren are now down to small matters. The last two races have shown that. Do you think that nailing the incremental steps is as important as having a quick car?

LN: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Max is not making any mistakes, really. So I think as soon as you make one little mistake, they’re going to be ahead. I think, honestly, if you look at it yesterday, they probably had a slightly quicker car, in my opinion. Could be wrong. But in my opinion, I think they had a slightly quicker car. Today, we had the quicker car. But obviously, I still managed to finish second. So it’s about the smaller things at the minute. But every track is a bit different. Like we’ve seen Red Bull struggle a little bit more a few races ago. I think we’re still proving to be one of the most consistent teams at every track that we’ve been to. Mercedes were quick as last weekend in Canada, and now probably a little bit behind here. So it’s a little bit up and down. And I think we just need to stay doing what we’re doing, because it’s good enough for the time being. But it’s just trying to eliminate a couple of those small, little mistakes.

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Max, we saw coming into this weekend I think we saw this as being more representative of how the gap would be to you compared to the other teams. This is a track that has gone very well for Red Bull in recent years. Has it brought home to you just how close McLaren and particularly Lando are right now that this was such a close run race where you’ve gone so strongly here in the past?

MV: for one year, because I think in 2022, we were not the quickest. Ferrari was the quickest. And last year, I think we were quite good. But I think Mercedes was actually quite decent at that time of the year. So yeah, that’s been good for us, but nothing particularly amazing. So I always knew that it was going to be very close. And McLaren is just doing a really, really good job. They have brought a lot of good updates to their car, and it really just seems to work. And from our side, we have brought things to the car, but probably not as much lap time as what others have been bringing to their car. So now it’s up to us to try and find a bit more, try to get that little jump ahead again. Because I think clearly today, we just lacked a bit of that outright pace, but also just when we had to push, we just couldn’t look after the tyres like Lando, for example, could. So these kind of things are quite crucial on most of the tracks where you have a bit of deg. So yeah, we need to try and be better on that.

Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) Max, yesterday you said that you have to drive basically 101% to compensate for lacking some pace. How was that today from your perspective in the car? And secondly, given that Barcelona is usually seen as a perfect test circuit, how much of an indication do you think this will be for the remaining races of the summer break that are coming so quickly?

MV: Yeah, it’s just fine margins that define the outcome of a weekend. Naturally in the race, of course, you can’t drive like you do in qualifying. But I think the fact is that we would like to be a bit better because I think today we did everything well, but it’s tight. We just won again from all the last races that we’ve won. So yeah, we just need to look into the details what we can do better.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, you’ve obviously said that Mercedes are building a bit of momentum. Do you think that that victory is on the horizon? And how important is it to you to sign off your Mercedes career with a win before the year’s out?

LH: I mean, it’s not the… It would be nice. But I think considering where we’ve come from, I think… Yeah, I think just having consistency and seeing if we can put the team further up in the points, I think it’s got to be the target. But I think right now, let’s just try and have more consistent weekends like this and then we’ll see. But we aren’t yet currently in a position to be able to fight them for wins. You would say that maybe Montréal… I mean, George probably should have won that one, but if I’d qualified where I feel I should have, there was potential also there too. So we’ll see in the next few races. I think we’ve got these high-speed circuits. You know, the McLaren’s always been quick and the Red Bull has been quick in A1 Ring. Silverstone,  they’ll also be very fast there but I’m hoping that we are able to eke a little bit closer to them and give them a bit more um trouble in the next four or five races. And then we’ve just got to keep bringing upgrades. We’ve got to keep improving the car. There’s a clear improvement and there’s just clear areas where we need to bolt on performance so that we can be in the fight with them.

Q: (Don Kennedy – Hawkes Bay Today/New Zealand Herald) Lewis, great drive today. Obviously, you’ll be pleased Mercedes is moving closer to the front. But how does that sit with you in terms of your decision to move to Ferrari next year? And does that give you some second thoughts, given that Ferrari now seems to be falling behind the car you’re currently driving?

LH: No, not at all. I mean, firstly, I love Mercedes. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13 and I’ll always be a fan and supporter of Mercedes. And my job this year, right now, is to work as hard as I can with the crew that I have, with the people back at the factory to try and move and develop the car in the right direction. And so ultimately, whatever course and trajectory the team is on for next year, for example, there are things that I’ve hopefully been a part of and be proud of being a part of. My job will start next year at the other team who I think are doing a great job. I think they’ve had a couple of difficult races, but let’s not forget they had a race win in Monaco. I can’t tell you. what is wrong with their car and why they are in the position they’re in today. But they did bring an upgrade here, and I think they are definitely progressing. So yeah, but it doesn’t make me second guess my decision at all.

Q: (Pilar Celebrovsky – The Paddock Magazine) A question for Lewis. You have mentioned that you are struggling a little bit on qualifying. What do you think is the key to start improving the results? Is it because of the set-up or more about the pace of the car?

LH: I mean, our pace is where we were basically, third and fourth to this weekend. But I think our car has generally been very, it’s quite peaky. And that means that it’s often out of balance. It’s very rare that it’s in balance and it’s nice and smooth through a corner. And so set-up has been… I’ve obviously experimented a lot with the set-up over the last couple years but the car doesn’t really like any of the set-ups but one, and it’s slowly starting to get just become nicer to drive. And then ultimately, tyres. The tyres have been a huge issue for me. I think we got it half decent this weekend. If i can make some improvements over the course of the next races I think there’s more performance there.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Lando, can you tell us how were you feeling in the car when you were charging up behind Max with the Medium tyres in the second stint once you built that offset and then again you just got out of the pit set ahead of George and set off after him. How were you feeling at that point and what were you thinking?

LN: I was feeling good at that point. It was more… could I close the gap in the amount of laps that I had? Which was always the bigger question and the question on my mind while driving. But I was good. I was comfortable. And the pace was very strong at that rate. It wasn’t the longest final stint, so I didn’t know if we were going to get to that time in the stint when I really start to catch. I think really like the last three laps, the gaps were pretty big in terms of how much it was coming down. Yeah, it’s a hard one. I don’t know if maybe I pushed a bit too much in the beginning and struggled a little bit more at the end. It’s very difficult to judge these things. Difficult to describe, but I was feeling good. And I think… yeah I was confident in the car which was the main thing. I understood how to drive it and get the most out of it. So I think I’m still improving in that area. that’s something I’ve not been super comfortable with and the knowledge of how do I extract the most out of this car. This weekend’s been a very good step forward I think and hopefully I would have to carry that on into the next few. But yeah, I’m confident and those parts of the race I’m like, ‘OK I have clean air’ I can kind of push and as long as i hopefully get a couple DRS’s from back markers and hopefully they could help me out a little bit to try catch.

Q: (Kevin Scheurer – Motorsport-Total.com) Lando, given the overall performance and the development of your car and of your team do you think you can take a shot at the world championship this year?

LN: I mean, I think so. I think we should have done better today. We should have got some points back on Max. Potentially, there was a chance to beat him in Canada. So two races that I finished second and he’s won. But Max needs to stop winning in order to achieve that. Yeah, even though I moved into second in the championship, that doesn’t matter. I couldn’t care if I was second or tenth. It’s more about the gap to what Max is and he’s still extending it at the minute and that’s something we can’t afford to do or can’t afford to kind of let him run away with it at this point of the season. But we can do. You know, if I just made some better decision in Canada and if I had a better start today, we could have won two races. And I know there’s a lot of, and there kind of always has been a lot of ‘shoulda, woulda, couldas’, but we have what it takes. It’s just about putting it all together.

Q: (Gerard Bos – Formule1.nl) A question for Max. Max, we all focus on McLaren and yourself, of course, but how much of a challenge do you think Mercedes and Lewis can bring later on this year, maybe?

MV: It all depends on what the teams are going to bring to their car. I mean, I cannot look into what they’re doing at the moment. The only thing that I can control is within our team what we are going to bring. And that’s what I’m focused on. Of course, you can dream about potential improvements from other teams, but that’s just a waste of energy. So I’m just very busy on trying to optimize my package and try to make it better, discussing a lot of things with the engineers and try to find solutions to stay on top. By FIA.com

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