Full transcript from the FIA hosted top three press conferences after qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix, Round 15 of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship at Circuit Zandvoort.
Featuring pole-winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing), second-placed Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and third-placed Carlos Sainz (Ferrari). Post-qualifying Parc Ferme interviews conducted by Dutch racing driver Giedo van der Garde.
Q: Max, for the second time in a row, pole position. That must be feeling great on your own soil.
Max Verstappen: Unbelievable, especially after yesterday as well. We had a difficult day but I think we worked really well overnight with the whole team to turn it around and today we had a quick race car again, but it was very close and a lap around here, a qualifying lap, is insane.
Q: Did you make a lot of changes from yesterday to today?
MV: We changed a lot because yesterday it was a bit rushed in FP2 to get the car together but yeah, today it was again enjoyable to drive.
Q: Charles, that was close!
Charles Leclerc: Yeah, very, very close. I mean, Max did a great lap in the end. Our car was getting better and better through qualifying. At the beginning I was pretty scared, because Max was much, much quicker than us on used tyres. But then in Q3, the car came a bit more together and I managed to do that lap, which was close enough for P2. But tomorrow is the race and we’ll give it all.
Q: I mean the car is working much better this weekend than last weekend, obviously. There’s much more downforce needed here. What do you think you can do tomorrow?
CL: Yeah, I mean we are much stronger here compared to last weekend so that’s good to see. And for tomorrow, I think our race pace looks quite strong. It’s going to be close with the Red But but we just need to do a great start and then we’ll see.
Q: Carlos, were you happy with that lap?
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, it was a clean lap with no mistakes, just missing that last half a tenth to a tenth to beat Charles and Max. It was on the limit out there, every little metre of track that you could use and that you could push was counting. It wasn’t an easy quali from Q1 to Q2 to Q3, but I think in the end we did a decent job.
Q: How is this track physically? Because you don’t have a lot of straight line to recover yourself. Is it hard?
CS: It is very tough out there, especially with these heavier cars. The track is especially demanding on the tyres. We have a lot of overheating during the lap, even in the long runs, a lot of degradation. I think tomorrow is going to be an interesting day. There’s going to be a lot going on even if it’s a difficult track to overtake. There’s going to be still many options with the strategies.
QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE
Q: Max, pole for the second year in a row here at Zandvoort. You heard the roar from the crowd as you crossed the line, just how special is this qualifying for you?
MV: Yeah, it was a special qualifying, especially after yesterday, you know, it was really tough, and we had to change the car around quite a bit, because we didn’t really have any information. So, basically, this morning was still about learning quite a bit of the car and all about just trying to fine tune it a bit towards qualifying. And yeah, we were quick in qualifying, but it never really showed, because sometimes I went a bit early then didn’t go for another run. Q2 was on a scrubbed tyre only, so yeah, really happy of course with Q3, it was really fine margins. And also the last run was a bit compromised with the out lap because of just getting one extra car in front of me and then I had to slow down a bit too much in the first sector. So when I started my lap, I felt like the tyres were not really switched on, but I managed to recover a bit in Sector 2 and that was just enough for pole.
Q: And it was Sector 2 on that second lap that got you the pole?
MV: Yeah, I knew that I was losing a bit of time there. So yeah, just full risk of course in Q3.
Q: Max, what does it say about you and your racing car that you can take pole in qualifying on two such different race tracks as Spa last weekend and Zandvoort this weekend?
MV: Yeah, that I think we have a complete car. I mean, you can see how quickly it changes though because in Spa we were dominant. Here, it looked a bit tricky initially and now it was very close in qualifying. So, you can clearly see on the higher downforce tracks that we seem to, let’s say, struggle a little bit more to extract the best out of the car. But it’s still a quick car and also after last night you see that the whole factory and also here at the track we made the right choices with the car on how to make it faster.
Q: You’re going to be starting the race in the best possible place on the grid but how close is it going to be with these guys in red tomorrow?
MV: I think it will be close, but basically for most of the races this year it has been like that, so I’m looking forward to it and I hope that we can have a good race.
Q: Alright, very well done to you, thank you. Charles, coming to you now. Fastest in two of the three sectors in Q3. Are you frustrated not to be on pole?
CL: Well, frustrated? Obviously you always targeting to be on pole, and in looking at my lap, in Turn 10 I did a mistake but yeah, apart from that, to be honest, looking at the gap with Max today, I did not expect that coming into Q3, after the Q1 and Q2 that we had, which was much more much more tricky… But at the end of Q3 the car felt quite good, I could push. I haven’t been completely at ease with the balance of the car since a few races on the quali runs. But today felt a bit of a step better, so it’s good and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
Q: Why did the balance come together in Q3? Did you change anything on the car or did the track come towards you a little bit?
CL: I don’t really have the explanation yet. We tried different things on the out-laps and at the end it was a little bit better. A bit of a stronger front, which I struggled with understeer since a bit now. So, we need to work on that but for the race instead I felt confident in the last few races. So, I’m a bit more confident for tomorrow.
Q: So, I was going to say, you’re confident over your long runs. Do you think you can challenge Max, even if you don’t get to Turn 1 first tomorrow?
CL: Let’s see. I mean it’s a track where it’s very difficult to overtake. I hope that we will be as close as we were today, and hopefully we can play a little bit with Carlos and I to put Max under pressure.
Q: Carlos, coming to you. We saw a big improvement on that second run of Q3. It seems your car improved during the session just like Charles.
CS: Yeah, very similar to Charles actually, after Q1 and Q2. It looked like we were quite a big chunk behind Max and the Red Bull. They looked like they clearly had the upper hand – but then I was surprised at how much grip we gaining in Q3. Probably that first banker lap in Q3 wasn’t very strong, or should have been a bit stronger to give me better references for the last attempt in Q3, which I was maybe chasing a bit too much. And yeah, I improved a lot. I improved, I think, three-tenths but I’m pretty sure that a better banker lap would have could have given me a bit of a better run for pole at the end.
Q: Right, so what about the long run pace of the car and the battle with Max Verstappen tomorrow?
CS: I mean in Quali we’ve been within a tenth of each-other, so in the race, if it’s like that for 70 laps, it’s going to be a tight a race. Normally, the Red Bull tends to… lately on Sundays, together with a Mercedes, they seem to have something there that we haven’t had recently, but if we go back to France and Austria, we had something on Sunday, no? So yeah, hopefully, it is more like those two races and we can challenge Max during the whole race.
Q: And do you expect Mercedes to join the party at the front tomorrow?
CS: Yes, I think they’re going to be at least as quick as us in the race. And I think they’re going to be in the mix around the pit stops. And yeah, it’s going to be a good fight with the other five cars.
Q: Do you expect the increase in the length of the DRS to make overtaking easier tomorrow?
CS: A little bit easier. I think there’s a combination that these cars should be a bit better to follow, compared to last year, plus a couple hundred metres extra DRS, for sure it’s going to be easier than last year. It’s still not going to be easy, because it’s still a very difficult track to overtake. But it’s not going to be as tough as it was last year, hopefully.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) It’s a question to Max, just on the extreme turnaround. Just how big were the changes you made, compared to the set-up you started with yesterday. And secondly, did you find the solution yesterday evening straight away? Or was it still about making changes even during FP3 this morning?
MV: Two things. I think, because we had to rush the car in FP2, some things were not as we expected them to be in terms of set-up, so that didn’t help. So that’s why FP2 was also not really representative at the end. And then a few things to fine-tune as well. In the evening, overnight, but yeah, most of the changes were made in the evening.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Charles, you mentioned a mistake in Turn 10 during qualifying, could you just talk us through that please – and do you think that cost you pole today? Thanks.
CL: Well, I mean, I’m sure nobody did the perfect lap, especially in these conditions. Turn 9 and 10 are two extremely tricky corners with the tailwind there, and they are much more affected than anywhere else on track. So it was very, very tricky and with the balance of my car, I struggled quite a little bit in Turn 10 and, yeah, and I lost the rear and I lost like a tenth or something. So, yeah, looking at it, if you do the perfect lap then you can get pole but on the other hand, I’m sure Max and Carlos didn’t do the perfect lap either. So, the end result is that we are P2 today.
Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport-magazin.com) Question for you Max. How much of an unknown is the long-run pace for tomorrow, because you changed so much? And second part, correct me if I’m wrong but I think you used one set of soft tyres less than the Ferrari drivers. How big of an advantage is that for tomorrow?
MV: I did a long run this morning and it looked good, so I was happy with the car. And yeah, with the tyres, yeah, I think we have an extra new set for tomorrow for my car. I don’t know how we look, compared to Ferrari but gives us a few more options for ourselves for tomorrow.
Q: (Marijn Abbenhuijs – AD Sportwereld) Max, Dutch Grand Prix, you in a winning mood, everyone’s in heaven because of your performances. Are you able to enjoy the moment yourself as well?
MV: Yeah! I mean, I am enjoying it, of course yesterday I was not enjoying it as much on the track – but everything besides it. I mean, it’s just great to see, you know, the atmosphere everyone is having fun, having a good time. And then, of course, when we are driving, they love Formula 1 cars as well. So for me, it’s definitely a very special weekend.
Q: (Jesus Balseiro – Diario AS) Question to the Ferrari drivers. What can you do to beat Max tomorrow? I mean, would you be happy to split the strategies, if that was a possibility to try to beat the Red Bull?
CL: Well, I mean, we haven’t done the strategy meeting yet but for sure we can maybe… well, let’s see after the first few laps, but probably splitting the cars is a good thing to do when we are in this situation, but we’ll have to wait and do obviously the meeting altogether and speak about it.
Q: Carlos, please.
CS: Yeah, we have the strategy meeting in a couple of hours. I think that’s where we’re going to discuss the options available. To be honest, I haven’t looked at all the possibilities completely. Obviously Max with a new set of Soft is going to be strong whenever he uses it because here from a scrubbed to a new, at least for our car, is quite a bit of a difference as the degradation is very high. So, we are going to need to check how we can do it.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Max, qualifying Q2 was stopped because a flare was chucked onto the track. I think at the start of Q3 it looked like there might have been another one at the pit exit. It’s orange smoke, it’s your home country’s colours. What was your reaction to that? And is there anything you can say to discourage anyone tempted to do it again tomorrow?
MV: Yeah, it’s just very silly to do. To hold flares already, it’s nice, but of course, there’s a limit to how much but to throw it on the track is just stupid. And I think also the person who did that got removed. So yeah, just don’t do that. It’s not good for anyone. You get thrown out so you can’t see the race and for us the session is stopped because it’s dangerous when there’s stuff on the track, so you shouldn’t do it.
Q: (Carlos Miguel – Marca) Carlos, do you think it could help you on the clean side of a track to attack these two guys in the first metres?
CS: Well, we will see what is the difference left to right. Normally the left should be a bit cleaner but at the same time this year, we’ve seen very little difference across the whole season, left to right. It’s a very short run down to Turn 1 so I don’t think it’s going to be key to the start. It’s all about nailing the clutch drop and the traction phase and then see what you can do breaking into Turn 1.
Q: (Fred Ferret – L’Equipe) To the three of you, are you worried about the pace of the Mercedes in the long runs?
CL: I think they will be closer in the race but I still believe that if we do everything perfect we will be stronger.
CS: Nothing to add.
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – AP) Just to follow up on that question about the flares during qualifying, the flare that was thrown, I’d like to ask the two Ferrari drivers for their reaction and whether you think it’s a positive sign that security intervene quickly and got it dealt with?
CL: Well, it’s exactly the same comment as Max. It’s dangerous so don’t do these type of things. It’s good that there was a reaction from… I don’t know who is taking care about it, the security guys, and this shouldn’t happen, so I don’t know if in the future we can do anything to avoid that. So I don’t know exactly when it was thrown but obviously if a car is passing at that time, then it can create unnecessary risk. So yeah, hopefully won’t happen again.
CS: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s also important to let the fans know when it’s possible to use the flares and when it’s not. I think it was good that in the in lap when Max took pole they used them but not use them in the middle of the race or in lap one when we are in the middle of fights, at 300 kph with these cars you don’t want any kind of distraction from smoke, so I think that hopefully the organisation can do a good job in warning when it’s the time to use them and when it’s not and of course, even more important when not to throw it into the track.
Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) Max, immediately after you jumped out the car you said like a qualifying lap around Zandvoort is always epic. Just in terms of the feeling, how does this one with a new generation of cars compared to last year and that generation of cars?
MV: Different, due to the weight of the car, the car’s moving around quite a bit more. We still have a lot of downforce in the high speed but you can feel in the low speed it is all a bit more tricky to be perfect. And then when you go through Scheivlak, that area, even with the downforce you have and then the weight it is a bit more difficult to really nail a lap this year, I think. But it’s still pretty impressive what a Formula 1 car can do around here. So yeah, one lap performance here at Zandvoort is pretty incredible.