F1 - 2024 Canadian Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference Transcript

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1 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)
2 – Lando NORRIS (McLaren)
3 – George RUSSELL (Mercedes)
(Conducted by Martin Brundle)  
Q: Max, a challenging weekend, a dramatic race, and through it all, you emerged with a great victory. That was a champion's drive. 
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, it was a pretty crazy race. A lot of things were happening, and we really had to be on top of our calls. And I think as a team, we just did really well today. We remained calm. I think we pitted at the right time. Of course, the Safety Car worked out nicely for us, but even after that, I think we were managing the gaps quite well. Yeah, I love it. That was a lot of fun. Those kind of races, you need them once in a while.
Q: You always say you love to race hard. I mean, McLaren and Mercedes really took it to you today. 
MV: Yeah, in different stages of the race as well, so it was a lot of fun out there.
Q: Any scary moments? You also talked about some kind of suspension issue.
MV: Yeah, not particularly an issue. We know what it is, so we just need to work on it. But nevertheless, we won. That's the most important, and we still have a lot of room to improve.
Q: Lando, brilliant. What a wild, wild race that was for you. 
Lando NORRIS: It was. Yeah, it was chaos. It was eventful. To be honest, I felt like I drove a good race, the whole time, from start to finish. The first two stints were very strong. I had an amazing pace. But then the Safety Car had me over. Just like it helped me in Miami, it's now had me back over. So honestly, I thought it was a pretty perfect race from my side. just a bit unlucky but that's what it is. But it was good fun. These conditions, so stressful inside the car but very enjoyable at the same time.
Q: You went a little bit longer on the Intermediates. As you say, earlier on the Safety Car picked you up, didn't it, and just cost you that time into the pits, but you're happy with how that all played out? 
LN: Yeah, I mean, the first stint I was in the lead by what 10 or 12 seconds, pulling away, probably two three seconds a lap, so things were going beautifully but of course it's Montréal, so there's always something that's got to come into play. But it was good. Fair play to Max. He drove a good race, no mistakes. But it's good fun. I'm happy with the second, good points for the team. So a good weekend for us.
Q: So you don't feel it's the one that got away?
LN: Yeah, I mean, that's what it is. It helped me out in Miami. So I'm not going to be the one to complain. It happens. That's racing sometimes. But I drove a good race. The car's been great all weekend. So thanks to the team. And we're close. It's nice to be so close once again and on the podium. So we'll keep fighting.
Q: George, tenacity is a word that springs to mind. I mean, you stuck with it. You had a few adventures during that race, but you're on the podium.
George RUSSELL: Yeah, it felt like a missed opportunity, to be honest. We were really quick at the beginning of the race on the Inters, and then obviously Lando came through really fast, and then we jumped back onto the slicks, made a couple of mistakes out there, just pushing the limits and paid the price for it. But nevertheless, first podium of the year, we truly had a really fast car this weekend, and to be back in the mix fighting for victory was really fun. That's what Formula 1 is about, and that's why we go racing.
Q: Before that little slip at Turn 8, did you think you might be able to catch Max? Do you think you could have?
GR: I think so. I mean, we had the pace. Max was very strong at that point of the race. But then when we put the Mediums on at the end, we were really, really fast. I think that mistake with Oscar when I tried overtaking him and I lost the position to Lewis cost us at least P2 and maybe going to fight with Max later in the race. But, you know, we'll take all the positives from this weekend. First podium, first pole position of the year and excited moving forward.
Q: Pretty feisty, side-by-side with Oscar. How did you see that one playing out?
GR: Yeah, it was pretty tight out there with Oscar and then obviously Lewis at the end as well. So I think it was hard, fair racing. So difficult when there's only one dry line. So you've got to be committed and trust your rivals.
Q: Very well done, Max. It was a breathless, spectacular race. How rewarding is a win like this?
MV: Yeah, it's for sure. It's very rewarding. I mean, it's never an easy race. It's easy to make mistakes, especially on the Inters when they were almost becoming slicks. It was very easy to go off because the track was drying in most places. But in some corners, it was still a bit too wet to go to slick tyres. And yeah, that made it just very, very difficult. Yeah, it's a lot of fun to drive these kind of races now and then. You don't want it all the time because that's too stressful, but I had a lot of fun out there today.
Q: As you say, it was stressful. There was a lot going on, but how calm was it inside the cockpit?
MV: I think, yeah, of course, you are very focused, but you try to remain as calm as you can be. And also, the communication to the pit wall and them to you, to ask what are the conditions. And I definitely think as a team, you know, we did make the right calls today. And yeah, that, of course, is also very important.
Q: You made the right calls, but I think the timing of the Safety Car helped as well. Do you see that as payback for Miami?
MV: Of course, it sometimes works for you and sometimes it works against you. So this time, yeah, it was working for us. So I guess in that sense, it's 1-1 now this year. But that's racing. It's a part of it as well.
Q: Now, even with this win, you haven't been completely happy with the car here. We go to Barcelona next. Do you think it'll be stronger there?
MV: I would hope so, yes. I mean, yeah, the last few races have been quite difficult, but not only just difficult, too many problems as well, throughout the whole weekend. So we need to have a cleaner weekend. And yeah, for sure, like even in the race now, we're struggling a lot with the kerbing and the bumps. So we definitely have an area we can work on and definitely improve the car by quite a big margin if we get that under control.
Q: Very well done today, Max. Thank you. George, we'll come to you next. Now, it was a great race, but you've said this is a missed opportunity. But when you think of the progress you and Mercedes have made in the last few races, there must be a lot of positives that you can take away from here?
GR: Yeah, absolutely, 100%. I think if you told us ahead of this weekend, pole position and P3, we may not have believed you, to be honest. But as Max said, it was such a tricky race out there for everybody. You put a millimetre wide and you're off. I think for me, it was just one too many mistakes at key moments that cost us a shot of fighting with these two towards the end of the race.
Q: The car seemed extremely quick in all conditions. Just talk us through the decision to give up track position to Piastri when you made that final stop for them?
GR: Yeah, I wasn't… I was pushing to pit because I thought the new Medium would have been really competitive at the end. I need to look at it because to be honest, in hindsight, I think we had really great pace. Were you two on the medium? Yeah, those guys were on the Medium and me being on the Hard, I think we'd have probably been in a really strong position to fight, but, There's a lot of changes you have made if you know how things plan out retrospectively, but I'm happy with the progress we've made. Really proud of the team because we've been pushing these upgrades through and it's really paying dividends.
Q: Happy with the progress, proud of the team. Can we say Mercedes are back?
GR: You know, I think Red Bull have had, you know… It's no secret they've struggled a bit with their car these last three races. So I think we need to see how their performance turns out in Barcelona, which is a little bit more of a conventional circuit. But this pace increase that we've seen from us this weekend, it hasn't been a surprise to us because all the numbers back at the factory told us we're going to be finding a big chunk of performance with these upgrades. So Barcelona is going to be interesting for everybody, but I'm confident we can be in the fight.
Q: Very well done to you. Thank you. Lando, very well done to you as well. You were fast all afternoon. A little frustrated not to win?
LN: Yes. We should have won the race today and we didn't, so frustrating. We had the pace. Probably not in the dry at the end. It turned out it didn't really matter too much. But yeah, we should have won today. Simple as that. We didn't do a good job, I think, a good enough job as a team to box when we should have done and not get stuck behind the Safety Car. So I don't think it was a luck or unlucky kind of thing. I don't think it was the same as Miami. This was just making a wrong call. So, it's on me and it's on the team and it's something we'll discuss after. We should have won today. I think we're at a level now where we're not satisfied with a second, like the target is to win. And we didn't do that. So, frustrating, but a tough race and still to end up in second when it could always finish and could be worse is still a good result.
Q: When you analyse this race, what hurt you more, the timing of the first Safety Car or staying out too long on the Intermediate time?
LN: No, staying out on the Intermediate helped me. It helped me have a chance against George, so I overcut him. I didn't do a good enough job afterwards, and he was clearly way quicker than us in the dry and even on the Hard tyres. So, no, that was completely the right call and a good decision from us to stay out. It gave me a lot of lap time, but... And it's not the timing of the first Safety Car. I had enough time to box and we didn't box. So this was a mistake on us as a team. And yeah, just something we didn't do a good enough job with.
Q: Well, Lando, you've been true to your word. McLaren were once again quick. Are you looking forward to Barcelona?
LN: I am. I look forward to every track now because every place we seem to be performing well. Yeah, I mean, it's good to see where Mercedes are going to be, because they've clearly improved a lot. Like the last two weekends, they've been pretty close to probably being the quickest car. This weekend, they've been the quickest all weekend. So I think it was a positive. we finished ahead of them, because they've been the quicker team. So to always beat a quicker car and a quicker team is a nice thing. It's a rewarding thing. But if they're quicker in the next few races, too, and they've kind of joined the fight of Ferrari, Red Bull, and us, then it's only going to make our life, I think, more exciting. More tricky and more stressful because now there will probably be eight cars which are fighting up there and challenging us all together. So exciting for us, exciting for probably everyone watching. And yeah, another opportunity where we can try and make up for today.
Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Lando, at the moment when you came out of the pits after switching from inters to the slicks at the end, you had a moment where you let up the rears and caught the snap pretty well. Did you think for a second that you might have had a chance to keep hold of that lead? Or were you always pretty sure that Max was going to sail past you? 
LN: No, I mean, it takes a lap, two laps to warm up the tyres. So yes, I overcut him and I overcut George, but you need a lap or two to warm up the tyres. So you're always going to have an overcut type of race in that situation because a cold slick is not going to be as good as, you know, the Inter at the end of the stint. So that didn't gain me or lose me anything, the little slide. And it was completely wet on the slick tyre. So it didn't lose me or gain me anything. But we were too far behind Max in the first place. I probably pushed too late on that Inter tyre in the middle stint. It's why we stayed out because I was so quick at the end of that stint, but I probably just didn't push early enough. I probably could have got past George basically one or two laps before the pit stops and closed the gap to Max to give myself a better opportunity of undercutting or overcutting him. And we didn't do that. So that's more of a hindsight thing and something I wouldn't change. I think we made the right call there, but that was all.
Q: (Stu Cowan – Montréal Gazette) A question for Max. Max, apart from winning on this track, which you're making a habit now, what do you enjoy most about coming to Montréal, and do you have any special plans how you might celebrate tonight here?
MV: Well, I'll be flying home. Yeah, I just like the environment here. It's pretty relaxed and the people are always very nice. They love motorsports. Yeah, it's a great place, honestly. And I always love the track layout. So, yeah, it's a great track to have on the calendar and a great city also to visit.
Q: (François-David Rouleau – Journal de Montréal) Max, this is your third straight win here in Montréal, which is a feat. Your name is now on the wall among only two drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, with three straight wins. What does it mean for you to put your name besides them here in Montréal?
MV: Yeah, I mean, there have been, of course, some drivers in the history that have done quite a lot of amazing things and have won a lot of races at particular tracks specifically. And, yeah, it's been a good track to us the last few years. So, of course, yeah, and actually it's great, you know, to have three wins in a row here. Of course, I hope I can add more in the future. But yeah, I enjoy driving here. It's a great track. It reminds me a bit of my go-karting days as well. So definitely always a lot of fun.
Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) It's another one to Max about the kerb riding. You said there's performance to be unlocked if the team can fix the issues. But do you think it can be done without weakening the strong points of the RB20? Or is it also a bit part of the DNA of the Red Bull car?
MV: I really think that we can solve this without influencing any other part of the car. Today, it's more like what kerb riding, because I felt that was non-existent in the race. We know that this is a weakness and I also know that we are flat out working on it to try and fix it, because I really feel like it's quite a big performance limitation for us at the moment. Then, of course, naturally, I'm also looking forward to some tracks maybe where we don't really need to take too many kerbs or too many bumps. You can see already, every weekend so far, it's been... Some teams are a bit stronger at particular tracks, and I guess that in a way, of course, makes it also very exciting.
Q: (Axelle Valliere – Motorinside.com) Max, congratulations for today. However, you have more and more competition lately. Does that ultimately make things perhaps more exciting for you? What are your thoughts about this?
MV: It's definitely more challenging. And I think also with, of course, how the race was today, it was very exciting in general. And it definitely keeps us on our toes. We cannot afford to make mistakes or tiny mistakes anymore. So, yeah, every little detail matters now.
Q: (Al Sciola – Daily Hive) Max, in lap 32, you seem to swerve around a groundhog. Do you have any recollection of that? And can you tell us. what kind of challenge that brings to you guys when you're here in Montréal?
MV: He was almost dead. Yeah, I started to get to the last chicane and I thought it was debris initially. So I started to close in and then I'm like, ‘Oh my God, it's an animal!’ So yeah, I swerved right at the last moment. I don't know what happened after. Did any of you touch him or you ran off?
GR: I saw him.
MV: He ran off?
GR: Yeah, he ran off.
MV: Yeah, good. Luckily, I mean, if that hits your car…
GR: I was quite happy because I caught you up by a couple of tenths!
MV: Yeah, I really had to slow down for it because I was a bit off the dry line. Yeah, last year, of course, a bird flew into my car. So I didn't want to have a groundhog stuck in my car as well. I call it a beaver, but it's a groundhog. I didn't know what it was exactly.
GR: If you hit a beaver, you'll have problems.
MV: Yeah.
Q: (Sahil Kapur – NBC) A question for George. How much of your strength this weekend, would you say, is track specific? Can we expect you and Mercedes to fight for poles and wins going forward? And could you talk us through those last few laps, the battle with Lewis? You seemed very determined to get that podium.
GR: I think Red Bull have struggled a little bit the last couple of races, yet they've still won two of the last three. So I expect them to probably take a small step when we go back to the European races on more conventional circuits. But I really think our performance step is true and it's real. And I think we can be in this fight with McLaren. Let's hope we can continue being in the fight with Max. And let's see with Ferrari, they obviously had a bit of an off weekend. But no, definitely those last three laps, I was so focused to get back on the podium because I felt like I let the team down a bit, just losing sight of Max and a few mistakes that put me in that position in the first place. And always with Lewis, it's really hard and fair. When you're racing with one of the greats, you know that you can trust them. And that was really great to see at the end.
Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) Max, you said that Red Bull needs cleaner weekends, less problems. But how encouraging is it then to see that today, a race that was all about the execution by you and the team, that that was still on the level that we are used from Red Bull the last couple of years?
MV: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think we are all very focused. We are still doing a lot of things right, but for whatever reason, we are not in that same flow as we had last year, where everything just seemed to be going really well for us at most places, no reliability issues. And I don't know, for whatever reason, it's all a bit more difficult this year. Some things are a bit hard to explain as well. Sometimes it almost feels like you're a bit in a spiral and it maybe takes a bit of time to get out of it. But yeah, we are for sure on top of everything. Of course, there are always things that you can do better. But yeah, we'll come out of this week and analyse everything again and try to improve.
Q: (Jake Boxall-Legge – Autosport) A question for all three. Obviously, we had that transition point with the Intermediate tyre when the Safety Car came out. Was that an opportunistic time for all of you? Do you think you could potentially have stayed out in the inters or was it just going to turn to slicks by the time the rain came? Thank you.
MV: When the Safety Car came? Well, it was good that we boxed because that Inter was almost slick. If you then stay out and it starts raining, you have no grip. I think I already mentioned it on the radio as well. I said, guys, if rain is coming, we have to box. Luckily, we did that because as soon as we restarted, it started to rain and you could see immediately the track was again quite wet. Then, of course, you definitely want new tyres.
LN: Yeah, same thing. But we just didn't do it. You wear the Intermediates out pretty quickly, so it was clear that as soon as it was... We were going to have to box for Inters anyway, disregarding the Safety Car. We wouldn't have been able to stay out on the tyres that we were on. So I think Charles went onto the slick, and it was shockingly bad. Yeah, that was, I think, a normal decision. And the one at the end was not to do with Safety Car. That was just boxing onto the slick tyre. And I don't think there was necessarily a correct one. I think within one, two, three laps, probably was all fairly similar in terms of boxing onto the slick. So, yeah, made it good to try and do something different to the others.
GR: Yeah, it's been the same the last three years that the track dries everywhere except the first two corners, which has been a bit strange considering it was resurfaced this year and that was sort of the limit coming out the pits. It was so, so wet. Turn 1 and 2 were so wet, but to be honest, the rest of the track was really dry. So yeah, whether drainage needs to be changed there or something, I don't know. But Turn 1 and 2 was really the limiting factor.
Q: (Sahil Kapur – NBC) A question for both of you. Max obviously won today's race, but McLaren scored the most number of points overall. How... with you in second and Oscar, I believe, in fifth. Scored more points than Red Bull, is what I mean. McLaren did. I just wanted to ask both of you, how competitive do you think the Constructors' Championship battle will be in the second half of this year?
LN: To be honest, at the minute, I think between Ferrari and us, Yeah, so we'll keep pushing and I think that's one of our biggest strengths at the minute. We have two drivers as McLaren who are up there not making mistakes and getting pretty much everything out of the car every single weekend. Yeah, it's rare that there's not many other teams on the grid that have such a thing. So for us, it's more out of what we can do against Ferrari. Again, we've been a more consistent team coming into this weekend. They've had some mistakes and just struggled a little bit more for whatever reason. But in the end of the day, I think two is going to be better than one, you know, in Max's case. So we're doing a good job, but we still need to keep pushing on and try and bring more upgrades and things like that. Because with Mercedes joining, it's only going to make it harder to score big points like we did today.
MV: Yeah, I mean, of course, I think the damage was done yesterday, of course, for Checo. You know, starting in the back, it's very hard in these conditions. Then, of course, I saw him retire with the damage. So I knew that I had to score big, of course, to not let the other teams catch up a lot. But I do think at the end of the day, as long as you keep winning, so you score 25 points, even if the others finish P2, P3, you don't really lose out too much. And then, you know, you kind of can afford sometimes these one-offs. But of course, naturally, we always want the two cars to be up there. And I also have no doubt that that will change very soon again. So, yeah, we just need to work on our car, to be honest, to make it a bit easier to drive also, probably, to feel a bit more comfortable. And then I'm sure that we have both cars back up there like we had in the beginning of the season.