Track Interviews – Conducted by Jenson Button
Q: Congratulations Max, that was a hard-fought victory. It looked at the beginning that it was looking a bit easier for you, but that Safety Car at the end put you under a bit of pressure from Carlos.
Max Verstappen: The Safety Car didn’t help. I think, overall, they were very quick in the race, so it would have been really tough for me to close that gap to the end, even on fresher tyres. But yeah, it was really exciting at the end. I mean, I was giving it everything I had. Of course, Carlos was doing the same. You know, following is tricky around here. I could see he was pushing, charging, pushing. But of course, naturally when you’re under DRS it’s a bit easier to charge. So yeah, the last few laps are a lot of fun.
Q: I guess you were very thankful for the straight line speed of the Red Bull round here?
MV: Yeah, luckily, this year, we seem pretty quick on the straight. So that helps a lot.
Q: The strategy, it looked very tricky out there to really understand what you should do with the Virtual Safety Cars. Obviously you stopped very early in the race and were looking towards the two-stop. Were you ever worried that you weren’t able to catch up with Carlos?
MV: Overall, I think that we’re very strong in the race. So yes, it would have been tricky to catch up. But then of course, the Safety Car came out, so they had fresher tyres. So then I was like… Well, I think I would have preferred attacking instead of defending, but luckily it worked out.
Q: Great job, Max. Carlos, obviously you were gunning for the victory there and it was so close. It looked like the hairpin, one lap to the end, you got really close ad went a little bit deep. But you must still be happy with this result.
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, I was pushing flat out. I wasn’t leaving any inch to the walls under braking. I was pushing everything with the battery. I tried everything to pass Max, but today we just didn’t have enough pace delta, you know, to get him close enough in the hairpin to then get him a bit out of line into the chicane. But yeah, the positive thing is that we were quicker, we were faster all race, it’s just that little bit more to overtake around here.
Q: It must give you confidence, though. The last couple of races haven’t been the easiest for yourself or Ferrari, so to come here and have that speed and be fighting for a victory…
CS: Yeah, I’m particularly happy with the race pace with the way we managed to put pressure on Max during the whole race and you know, the timing of the pit stops I think was right. Honestly, we tried everything and we were very, very close to winning today. So I will take the positives and yeah, keep trying in the next one.
Q: Lewis, it’s great to see a smile on your face. I know it’s not been the easiest year for you. After years of dominance, it must have been tough. But today, this is a good step forward for you, isn’t it?
Lewis Hamilton: How are you going Montreal? We’ve had such an awesome crowd here this weekend. It’s quite overwhelming, honestly, to get this third place. It’s been such a battle this year with the car and as a team. But we continue to stay vigilant and focused and never giving up. And that’s something I’m so proud of and inspired by my crew. So thank you to everyone that’s here and back at the factory. They’re a little bit too quick for us at the moment but I was giving everything. But we’re getting closer, so we’ve just got to keep pushing, keep pushing and eventually we hopefully will be in a fight with these guys.
Q: But even the shift from Friday until today seems to be big. I mean, Friday, you were saying it’s undriveable and it looked like it, especially on entries. But today, you had them in your sights. Obviously they had a bit of pace on you, but you could still see them at the end.
LH: I could just about see them in the end. Thanks to the Safety Car but honestly our pace was quite good particularly in the second phase of the stint, and we did a lot of work back in the simulator but also here to get the set-up right, so honestly I’m ecstatic. I think, as I said, I didn’t expect this coming into the weekend. It’s my second podium of the year. So this feels really special, especially here where I got my first Grand Prix win. I love it here in Montreal. So, a big thank you to all the Canadians.
Q: Lastly, how’s the back feeling?
LH: It’s good. I’m back to being young!
Q: Many congratulations to the top three finishers of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix. In third place, Lewis Hamilton, In second place, Carlos Sainz. And taking the 26th win of his career, and his sixth of this 2022 campaign, our winner, Max Verstappen. Max, pressure from Carlos in those last 16 laps, but it seemed like you had it all under control. What a way to win your first race in Canada.
MV: It was a tough race. I mean, I expected to have a little bit more pace. But we seemed to lack a little bit compared to Carlos. That’s of course the only one I could compare to, with the Ferrari. And, yeah, it was a bit more difficult than I expected. But I think, you know, we did our strategy and I think for us it worked. Like that was the right one to do. And I think at that second stop, of course, I had the fresher tyres, I was closing in on Carlos, but I was not sure if I actually would fully close that gap to the end of the race. But then the Safety Car came out. And I was also not very happy with that, because then I knew, of course, that he had fresh tyres behind me. And already with a little bit more pace compared to me and it’s difficult to defend. But yeah, the last 15 or 16 laps we were flat out, pushing to the limit. And I knew, of course, that I couldn’t make a mistake. But it was good racing, you know. It’s always more enjoyable to be able to really push in a Formula 1 car instead of just saving your tyres.
Q: Did Carlos have a go at any point?
MV: I mean, not a go in terms of overtaking, but it was super close all the time. He was constantly in my DRS. I think not once he dropped out of it, you know, so the pressure is always on.
Q: And talk us through the start? It seemed like it made a very good getaway, more than a second in the lead at the end of the opening lap.
MV: It was very low grip out there, of course, because of the rain yesterday. So I knew it was always going to be a bit of a tricky start. But I think we managed that well.
Q: And was there a radio issue? On your slowdown lap we couldn’t hear from you.
MV: Yeah, I think it didn’t work anymore. It decided to stop.
Q: But did it work during the race? Were there any issues?
MV: I have no clue when it stopped. But at one point GP told me that, yeah, it was not working anymore. I think the in-lap, after the line. I guess it must have been working before or maybe it already didn’t work before, which probably they don’t mind! As long as I can hear him, that’s the most important.
Q: Max, you’re 46 points ahead of your team-mate in the championship. You’re building that slowly race by race. How comfortable do you feel at the moment with your car, your team, your position in the championship?
MV: It’s still a very long way and I know the gap of course is quite big, but I also know that it can switch around very quickly. I mean, race three I was 46 behind, so we just need to stay calm, we need to focus, we need to improve, because today we’re not the quickest. It swings a bit, like last weekend it looked good in the race, now it didn’t look as good but we still managed to win and that I think is also a quality and we just have to work together with the whole team you know to try and just find little improvements in the car.
Q: Carlos, coming to you now. So close to winning this race, just talk us through those last laps?
CS: Yeah, it was a tough, intense battle with Max. I knew I had a bit of pace delta on him from the whole race and I think it was five, six laps fresher [on] tyres, but I think to overtake around here you need to be more than those two or three tenths, you know. I gave it all. I was risking everything, you know, over the kerbs, close to the wall and having a few moments out there in the dirty air. I got close a couple of times but not enough to really throw a move down the inside anywhere. But I can tell you I was pushing.
Q: Now, had you put Medium tyres on at that last stop, what difference might that have made?
CS: We… I was thinking about it now. The Safety Car stayed out for a bit longer than maybe what I thought or what the team thought. By time it was green flag, there was only 16 or something laps left, which was the right number of laps to maybe try and put on a Soft, and try to overtake Max on the warm-up phase of the hard. Now, it’s easy to say. At the time, with still 20-something laps to go, the hard was definitely the fastest option to the to the flag, especially knowing that it was a bit of a fresher Hard to Max. It’s a shame. I felt like also without the Safety Car, as Max said, he wouldn’t have caught me easy. I think it would have been a good battle at the end. With him catching up on me, I was ready to hang it out there until the chequered flag. I was in good pace, I was still doing 17.3s. And I think we could have made it to a flag.
Q: But when you were behind him, how was the pace of the car? Was the DRS the only thing keeping you within reach?
CS: I mean, without the DRS it’s impossible, because the DRS is still affecting you quite a lot, especially at this track that you cannot do different lines. It’s all chicanes that you have nowhere to put your front wing to avoid the understeer and the overheating of the tyres. But, even like that, I was happy and confident to be in the dirty air and managed to stay even in overheating, 16 laps in DRS. I could close, I think in lap three, as soon as the DRS opened, and it was all about cooling the tyres, and regaining the battery to try and really drain it when catching him. As I said, I left everything out there. But compared to a Red Bull today, we were quicker, I think the whole race. First time the season that I think I can say that I was fastest man on track, which gives me some confidence and hope for the next races. But two or three tenths is not enough to pass a Red Bull, you need more like five, six tenths of pace delta if you really want to have any chance of passing Max.
Q: Lewis coming to you. Welcome back. Your first podium since the season-opener in Bahrain. After what’s been a difficult run of races for you and Mercedes, how much satisfaction does this podium give you?
LH: It feels great today, to be in amongst the battle. And for a second, at the end there, I was just about keeping up with these guys – but then they pulled away at the end. But it’s given me and the team a lot of hope. I think that there’s more to come from this car. The potential is truly there if we can get the set-up, right. And I think that’s been the most difficult thing this year, is really trying to optimise the set-up. The window for this car is much, much smaller than any other car we’ve experienced. And yeah, I’ve not been on the podium for a long time. So, especially as I had my first one here 15 years ago, to be back up there and get to experience the energy from the crowd was very reminiscent of that first year here and yeah, I’m so, so happy with it.
Q: Lewis, you mentioned set-up, and the last time you drove this car in the dry on Friday, you seemed at a loss to explain the lack of pace. So, what did you change between Friday and qualifying and today?
LH: I wasn’t really lost. It’s just we tried two different avenues and the avenue I was down was dreadful. So, we collated all the data we had and we made drastic changes to the set-up. And it was much, much, much nicer today. More in line with what we anticipated and it was good. When you get a full race distance in, you find a lot of things out about the car and the relationship you have with the car and data, etc. So, there’s a lot to take from today. One really great thing is we’ve got really good reliability, which I think is a real tribute to all the great work all the team are doing at both factories. So, we just got to keep our heads down, keep working and hopefully I know where I’m losing to these guys, so that’s where I’m going to go and try and focus on attacking, to improve.
Q: Lewis, we’re heading back to a more conventional circuit next, your home race, Silverstone. Just how confident are you at track like that now?
LH: I think we’re better in medium and high-speed corners probably, than we are in the low-speed corners so I… but we have bouncing, so I don’t know how it’s going to be through Copse and all those places. Max doesn’t know what I’m talking about – but Carlos knows what I’m saying. So, it’ll be interesting for us there. But yeah, really excited to get back to the UK, the weather’s incredible right now, so I hope it’s the same next week.
Check out our Sunday gallery from Montreal here.