1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 2. Lando Norris (McLaren), 3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

(Conducted by Vicky Piria)

Q: Max, what a race. A great start but Lando really put pressure on you. Were you under pressure at the end?

Max VERSTAPPEN: I mean, the whole race I had to push flat out. Maybe we had an issue. On the Medium tyres, we were quite strong. On the Hard tyres, it was just a bit more difficult to manage, and especially the last 10 or 15 laps, I had no grip anymore. I was really sliding a lot. I saw Lando closing in. So the last 10 laps it was just flat out. It’s very difficult when the tyres aren’t working anymore and you have to go flat out. I couldn’t afford to make too many mistakes. Luckily, we didn’t and super happy of course to win here today.

Q: Friday, you look like you really didn’t like the car, you weren’t at home with a car. And you really switched things around, you know, you and your team, and you just completely changed page, you know, from day to night. How do you do that with your team? Like, how much are you a leader there?

MV: I mean, we changed a lot on the car. Of course we didn’t have a lot of information going into the race. Maybe that’s why on the Hard tyres it was a bit more difficult for us. But I think from where we started the weekend to now, I mean we can be incredibly pleased with the pole and the win, so I will take that.

Q: Lando, that was close! Do you think with a few extra laps you could have got Max?

Lando NORRIS: Yeah. It hurts me to say but one or two more laps and I think I would have had him. Tough, A shame. I fought hard right until the very last lap. We just lost out a little bit too much to Max in the beginning. He was he was much better in the first stint and obviously in the second stint we were stronger, but yeah, just was a tough first half and a much better second half. One or two more laps would have been beautiful, but just not today.

Q: But you must be so happy. You stepped into Miami with a complete different car. I mean, back then do you think that you could be battling with Max here in Imola?

LN: Yeah, I mean all weekend, yes. I think we’re at a point now where we can happily say we’re in the position of Ferrari and Red Bull. So yeah, it’s what we have to get used to. But the team are doing a good job. I think we’re all doing a very good job. So it’s business as usual. It’s focusing on doing the same things, it’s just we’re fighting for first or second now. So yeah, it’s still a surprise to say that it’s frustrating not to win. But after last weekend and the improvements we made it’s what we should start to expect.

Q: Charles, your first podium in Imola, you must be happy?

Charles LECLERC: Yeah, at least it’s a podium. Of course I’m only very happy when I win. And today we didn’t quite make it. We were very fast at the beginning of the stint with the Hard. I started to push to try and put some pressure on Lando but later on they were they were incredibly quick. But all in all, I think the race pace today was quite strong. We lacked yesterday in qualifying. After looking, we missed on the first straight especially, which we will look into. On the rest of the lap we were quick so it’s looking good for the for the rest of the season. But yeah, it’s incredible anyway to be on the podium with all the tifosi here in Imola.

Q: Is it looking good also for the next race? Obviously it’s your home race.

CL: Yeah, Monaco is going to be a very special of course, as special as here in Imola. Obviously there’s a lot of reds and yeah, it’s always amazing to see that.


Q: Well done, Max. What a performance by you. It was very close in the end. Just how tough were those last few laps in particular?

MV: Yeah, I think first of all, in the race, like on the Mediums, I think it was very good. I didn’t expect that kind of pace after what we did so far in the weekend. But we could have somehow keep the balance together. So that felt really nice. But then as soon as I swapped to the Hard tyres, it was definitely… I mean, maybe not the first five to 10 laps, but after that I was like, I’m not sure I can bring this to the end, you know, because the tyres just fell out of the operating window and yeah, it was just like driving on ice really snappy and just you can feel when the tyres are not gripping up anymore like Turn 7, I almost ended up in the grandstand for my feeling, at some point. Just very difficult, really weird lines that I had to take. Those last 10 laps you know I was really trying to survive with the tyres and then suddenly Lando really picked up pace. So, yeah, I could see him, of course, catch up. I was not sure if I could keep him behind, but I was just trying to do the best I could, pushing as hard as I could with the grip that I had. And, yeah, luckily, it was just enough laps.

Q: How concerned were you about Lando? And at what point in the race did it become a reality that he was going to threaten?

MV: Well, I mean, as soon as it was like half a second a lap, I was like, whoa, that’s a lot. But the other hand, you can’t do anything about it. So I was just trying to do my pace. You cannot suddenly try and force a half a second out of it when you don’t have the balance. So I was just trying to really not make mistakes, really try to drive around the balance issues that I had and be quick on the straight. So that’s basically what I think helped me a bit at the end. Also, with the rear wing that we had, we were quite fast on the straight. And yeah, that probably helped a bit in the last few laps to defend.

Q: Given where the car was on Friday, were you overall pleased with its performance today?

MV: Yeah, Friday we were nowhere in the long runs. I had no good feeling at all. Even on Saturday morning, we tried another long run and that was also severely off, so not happy at all. But then I think already going into qualifying, the car felt a lot better. So I knew that today was going to be better, but I had no clue how much better. And we also didn’t have a lot of tyre data, so maybe we did something wrong with that, you know. Maybe it worked quite OK for the Medium, but then it didn’t work at all for the Hard tyres. So this is something that we need to understand and analyse.

Q: What does all this mean for Monaco next weekend?

MV: Nothing, because Monaco is again completely different. But you can see, of course, it’s clearly very close now. I think I had a bit more pace on the Medium, but then I didn’t have that pace on the Hard. And at the end of the day, we basically came over the line like we almost started the race. It was incredibly close and Monaco is always very hectic. You need to really nail all of qualifying to get a lap together there, get the tyres to work as well when it matters, it’s always very tricky. Monaco is very special, I would say, in that sense.

Q: And Max, this is your second victory this weekend following your win in the virtual 24 hours at the Nürburgring. Have you ever done the double before?

MV: Well, not in a day. And definitely not also a virtual. But yeah, that’s great. I mean, we prepared a lot for it also. So of course, I’m very happy with that result as well.

Q: Do any night stints last night?

MV: Well, I mean, evening stints. Not in the night. In the night, I had to sleep.

Q: Alright, look, very well done today. Thank you, Max. Lando, let’s come to you next. Just seven tenths of a second behind Max at the line. What were you thinking in those closing laps?

LN: I was just praying for one more lap. I was just praying for someone to say one more lap. I don’t know why. But yeah, I mean, I just did everything I could. I was pushing like hell to get there and catch up and have a chance. But as soon as you get within two seconds, you start to lose downforce and grip. The tyres start to overheat again. I kind of struggled for a couple laps, but once I understood how I had to drive again, like the last lap I managed to get there, and seven tenths, like one more lap, at least he would have had to defend into Turn 1, and maybe something could have come from that, but one lap too late. It’s a shame, but it is what it is, and we just struggled too much in the beginning of the race.

Q: Well, I was going to say, if you could run this race again, is there anything that you’d do differently? that would give you a chance of beating Max?

LN: Yeah, I would probably take out like four holes of front wing and do the same again. Like Max said, once the tyres are where they are, you can’t actually do a lot. So, I mean, we were expecting it to be a little bit colder today than what it was. So we kind of set up the car more for colder conditions rather than hot. And I think I paid the price in general. So that’s why I had to do so much of an introduction to the tyres and kind of bring them up so gently and look after them. Because if I didn’t, I just would have fallen off a cliff like the others did. So my only chance was to drive my race. And that meant being under pressure from Charles for more laps than I would have liked. But as soon as I kind of cleared the traffic and got back into my own rhythm, then I felt good with the car. The tyres kind of came back to me and I could push and I was happy. So from then on, the pace was amazing. And so it’s a good sign. It’s always a good thing to have is good race pace. But clearly when it’s hotter and there’s more degradation to the rear tyres, we start to struggle a lot more. And this is something we know. And maybe we could have prepared for a little bit more. But nevertheless, I’m happy with the outcome.

Q: Same question that I asked Max. What does all this mean for Monaco next weekend?

LN: Yeah, nothing. It’s such a different circuit, so not a lot, really. I mean, for the team, it’s very good. It gives them a good amount of confidence. We’re on the right track. We’re fighting against Ferraris and Red Bulls and that’s the expectation now. This is where we are and this is what we have to do. So if we were anything worse than second today, I think we didn’t do a good job and we would have been disappointed. So, yeah, I think we want to do the same again, but it’s such a different track. We kind of need to say how we are on Friday and ask me again then.

Q: You said coming into this weekend that you thought McLaren had the third fastest car. Do you still feel that?

LN: Maybe the fifth or sixth now. It’s close. Like, I don’t know what I’m going to say. It depends on your driving. Honestly, I think we’re all very close. In quali, maybe you would have put us a bit ahead of them yesterday. You know, without Max’s slipstream, we would have been ahead. And without Oscar’s penalty, like, we would have had a 1-2 on the grid for today. So probably in quali, you had the best car today. I think… It’s more down to driving than car. You know, I think if you push a bit too much, you deg off. If you go too slow, you’re too slow. It’s all about the driver judging it and driving to the correct limit. I don’t think you can just say this car was quicker, this car was slower today. So I think it’s tight enough. And when you’re split by one-tenth in qualifying, you can’t really say this guy was way better than the other one, you know. So hopefully it continues like that because it’s exciting, it’s tough, and it’s… Yeah, it gets you excited every weekend, so I’m looking forward to the next few.

Q: Thank you, Lando. Well done. And, Charles, well done to you. You’re the first Ferrari driver in the top three here at Imola since Michael Schumacher in 2006. Let’s start with that. Just how sweet was it up there on the podium?

CL: I mean, it’s always very special to be on the podium here in Imola. However, obviously, I’m never satisfied with a P3. You always want to be on the top step of the podium. But considering everything, I think we have lost mostly what could have been yesterday in qualifying. And this we will analyse. But today in the race, as Lando said, I think we were all very, very close. And it was all about who was pushing when exactly in the race. And then the podium was very special, as it always is when we are in Italy.

Q: When you look at the weekend as a whole, how have the upgrades performed? Have they done what you were expecting them to do?

CL: I think, first of all, it’s not the best track to judge upgrades, mostly because kerb riding is such a thing here that if you have a good car on kerbs, then that could hide a bit more what is the real order. The good thing is that everything we expected from those upgrades, we had it. In terms of data, it did exactly what it was supposed to do, which is always a good thing. And then looking back at yesterday, re-analysing qualifying, I think we basically lost everything at the launch. For some reason, we had a slightly different power strategy compared to McLaren and Red Bull, and we lost everything on the run down to Turn 2. Max, on top of that, had the slipstream. But this is something we’ll have to look into, because especially on a track like this, track position is absolutely everything. And when you only have a tenth in between Red Bull, McLaren, and ourselves, we need to do everything perfect. And the third place today cost us maybe a better result in the race.

Q: OK, final one from me. You’ve been working with a new race engineer here, Brian Bozzi. How was your first race together?

CL: He has done very well. I mean, it’s always very tricky whenever you change, especially in the middle of the season, like it was the case here. So there was lots of new things that he had to get up to speed to. I also had Johannes, who was my performance engineer, who was new on track. So I had two persons in my team that were new in their role and that was quite difficult at the beginning, but actually they’ve done an incredible job and it went really well. Now we’ll work on that and try to get better, but it’s a really good start.


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