Full transcript from the Austrian Grand Prix top three press conference, Round 9 of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship, at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, featuring top three: race winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari).
Track interviews conducted by Mark Webber
Max Verstappen, your fourth grand prix victory. It felt like your first win, with Kimi Räikkönen closing you down, maximum pressure. A Red Bull victory here on the Red Bull Ring. Massive amounts of Dutch fans, it must feel amazing?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it was amazing. It was very hard to manage the tyres as well. We really had to look after them, a little blistering, but we managed to hang on until the end. Of course it’s amazing to win here with a Red Bull at the Red Bull Ring and also so many Dutch fans around here. It’s incredible.
So what does this mean for the future, mate? You’ve got Silverstone around the corner, in terms of it being a back-to-back, we’ve got this triple header, you’ve had this great run of results off the back of a tough Monte Carlo, so now you’re on fire buddy?
MV: Yeah, I needed to catch up with the points. Today was definitely a very good day for me and I just hope we can continue like this.
Well done Max. Kimi, very solid second place there, buddy. It was a very interesting grand prix with tyres, I think there were a few unknowns, a lot of people weren’t sure what was happening. Double Mercedes retirement which was very interesting. Unbelievable start – if it had been Barcelona or Monza you would have led into Turn 1, right?
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I had to back off a little bit because we were squeezed together and my decision was already gone there – I was scared that we hit. After that, a bit running wide and that and lost some places. But the car came good but we just run out of the laps and I think we took it easily too long. It’s a shame. We had a great car today and in some points it was a little bit difficult but I think it was a good result for the team.
Well done, Kimi. Sebastian, together with Max here. He did a pretty good job, didn’t he?
Sebastian Vettel: I told him, very good race, very consistent, no mistakes. We were chasing him down at the end but couldn’t quite make it.
So tell us about your race, Sebastian? It was a difficult qualifying, after a good start. Tough first corner got pushed out and then you had to come back from there. One point in the championship, a very interesting day for the silver cars, so not a bad day at the office for you?
SV: No. Obviously it would have been nice to start further up. I tried to get some back at the start, in Turn 1, but it didn’t quite work. I was left with no place to go and then lost momentum. And then it was the same thing a little bit in Turn 3. I had to fight with the Renaults and the Haas in the beginning of the race and I lost a little bit of ground. Obviously we lost a little bit of time at the stop. So for us it was pretty much damage limitation but I think the pace was very good, the tyre management was good, so a positive day, it could have been better but a well deserved win for Max.
Question for Seb. I think you said on the pit radio, when you came behind Lewis, after his stop, that they should have informed you a bit earlier that he’s stopping because you had something in your pocket still. Can you describe the situation?
SV: I was aware that we were fighting him but I was of the opinion that we were ahead, and I didn’t expect it to be that close and to be on the back-foot, so I think, if I look back, and I was thinking about it in the race as well, I was told enough. So, I can’t blame the team. Yeah. I thought I was taking it a little bit easy in the beginning because I was anyways a bit further back. There was no point. I didn’t understand in the beginning obviously the necessity to close as soon as possible. So maybe it’s also a bit my fault. But I think I had a bit of pace in hand – but, you know, I looked down, I saw the pitboard as well and there was 55 laps from the time the VSC… well, it doesn’t really come it, but was turned off… so yeah, I tried to save tyres and make sure we make it to the end, not knowing what happens because the first stint was not easy – but yeah, I thought we could have done, I could have done a bit better with a bit more information – but nothing dramatic. I think overall the pace was really good. I mean, I was obviously losing a lot with the pitstop, the double-stop that we did, which was the right call – but I probably had to come back from the longest way. I think the speed was good so I’m happy with the race but obviously it could have been better today. So I’m not entirely happy.
Max, congratulations, you’ve got almost 20,000 Dutch supporters here in Austria. Do you have any special message to your fans who stayed in the Max Verstappen village during the weekend?
MV: Yes, of course…
SV: You have a village here?
MV: Yeah! On the other side…
SV: You need to pay tax here then…
MV: No, we skip that bit. Yeah, it’s great to see. I mean of course we’re not playing in the World Cup so it’s a bit easier for them to come over here, but in general, great support. I mean the whole weekend. It was amazing to see so much orange. And then if you win the race and see all the fans lining up there. Yeah, it’s incredible. And this is in Austria, which is still 10, 11 hours away from Holland. So, yeah, amazing that they all came over here.
Max, before the Max it looked like you had to overtake a lot of odds but during the race, the advantages occurred and you took them to the maximum. According to that, do you feel that this was your perfect race? And also explain how you underwent the process I just explained, getting all the advantages.
MV: Yeah, so I think it was a bit unexpected, especially after our Friday pace and in the long runs. I think in the first stint we could actually keep up quite well – and then yeah, I just tried to do my own race. I saw Valtteri disappearing with a problem, and then I think we made the right call when the virtual safety car came out, that we pitted. The team, again, great call on that, and then yeah, virtually I was in the lead, and I just tried to do my own pace. Initially from behind there was no pressure. I think I could build up a gap, and yeah, at one point, when Lewis pitted and Kimi started to put Daniel under pressure, and he started to struggle with his tyres, and then once I think Kimi was in second, and I tried to manage the gap – but at one point, yeah, I could see my tyres also opening up a bit on the rears and the fronts, so, yeah, I just had to drive around the issue and luckily I could manage it until the end of the race.
Max and Kimi; although the race was 71 laps long, it was effectively decided by the move at turn seven on a frenetic opening lap. Can I just get your respective thoughts on the move – we don’t normally see overtaking there? It looked like a little bit of wheel-banging as well.
KR: I think there was a lot happening on the first lap. I think a little bit sideways into… or lost the line a little bit into six and then Max… obviously we were pretty close to each other, I think the car in front of me, the Mercedes, disturbed a bit… like the downforce and then obviously it got the run and I tried to hang on on the outside but I got a little bit sideways because I guess we touched a little bit and lost a place but I think we got the best out of it and not taking each out and still fighting in that kind of corner that is fast speed and not very easy to stay next to each other when you try. That’s what happens sometimes. Not ideal for me but it was still fair enough.
MV: Yeah, it was hard racing but good racing. I think Kimi is experienced enough to handle the situation well. We had a little touch but I think it’s also good for the sport.
Kimi, it seems to me that this one race every week really suits you fine. Can you improve as much as you did from France to Silverstone in one week also?
KR: I don’t know. Obviously Silverstone is a lot different circuit, layout and I think if you purely take it it wouldn’t probably be the best place last year so maybe there for us but I think I’m looking forward and I think we have certain things that we are trying and probably will help there. Obviously it depends a lot on the conditions there but I think the last two weekends have been quite similar so I will keep pushing and trying and try to do better all the time and obviously try to do better than today in the next races but there could be a slightly better end result but I think as a team we got solid points and we go to the next race.
Max, you had the first six races of this season very difficult and then from Canada it started to change…
MV: No, Barcelona already.
… so tell us about how it works inside you, coming from one extreme to the other one, what you are living now?
MV: I think it’s just racing, you know? Sometimes you have difficult moments and then you try to work hard and you keep working hard even when it’s difficult and you overcome the situation. Yeah, it’s as simple as that. It’s racing.
Sebastian, you are the only driver on the internet who has not a social media account, Twitter, Facebook, whatever. Even Kimi has Instagram now this year and he’s doing very well. Why are you not present on the internet?
SV: I rather spend my time on something useful. It’s a shame that I lost Kimi. It was nice to be alongside. I don’t know what happened. I don’t blame anybody, people are free to do what they want. It’s just not my thing, I don’t have the need to share. If there’s anybody who has a question, obviously ask but I don’t find great motivation in telling people where I go, what I do. I find it’s quite boring so yeah, it’s not my thing.
Max, could you hear the Dutch fans on the final lap and secondly, how would you rate this win among the others?
MV: No, I couldn’t hear them, I think I was…
SV: Say yes.
MV: Nah. You always have to be honest.
SV: You have to say yes though.
MV: No. OK, Sebastian says yes.
SV: I heard them!
MV: But I could see some orange smoke, I could see them cheering so I think that’s good enough. Special moment. And I think this was one of the nicest victories but I keep saying that so I think at the moment they are all nice. But maybe hopefully, at one point, you just say yeah, it’s just another one. But at the moment I’m really happy with it.
Max, we heard how emotional your celebrations were with the team over the radio after the race. Can you just explain when you thought that it was actually possible for you to win the race, when you felt under control, and how much does this win mean to you?
MV: Yeah, it was difficult to tell because Kimi was catching, Sebastian was catching and you were not sure maybe they had another half a second in them at the end of the race, so it was just difficult to say. I think with three or four laps to go I was more comfortable and it was not going to happen but still, maybe from one to the other lap my blister opens up even more and then you’re really in trouble. Probably three laps. My fourth victory, I think it’s a good one, very unexpected one so I think they are always good.