Transcript from the parc ferme interviews and top three press conference after the German Grand Prix, Round 11 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at Hockenheim.
Featuring race winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing), second-placed Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and third-placed Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
Track interviews conducted by Martin Brundle
Tell us about the race…. Max Verstappen: I had a little moment, but I made a nice 360, so that was nice. I enjoyed that. Of courser to come out on top here it was all about trying not to make too many mistakes. Yeah, really tricky conditions but amazing to win.
Q: It’s a day for a wise head. You’re such a young man but you still you’re wise head on young shoulders. You really kept your head in the most treacherous conditions when others didn’t. MV: Well you learn, isn’t it, over the years. Of course very happy with the whole performance today.
Q: Congratulations. Sebastian, well done, you must be so pleased with that, 20th to second. Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, thank you. It was a long race, at some stages it felt like it was never-ending. But it was a lot of fun. It was very tough with the conditions. It was very tough to read what was the smartest move, but yeah, I’m just happy.
Q: Did we hear that you had a little turbo problem early on? You seemed to be struggling for pace and then it really came good. SV: It took a while. I don’t think there was a problem but in the beginning with the intermediates I really couldn’t get the hang of it. Eventually then I got going so it was good that the afternoon took so long. Obviously I stayed tidy for most of the race but yeah, it was a long one. I don’t know if I can recap the whole race now but congratulations to Max, I think he drove superbly, but for us it was just go and get the next car and the next car and the next car.
Q: When did you first smell a podium? SV: I think before the last safety car, when I realised that I was quite a bit quicker and happy to pass people, it was quite straightforward. I was a little bit faster and could time it right. I saw a lot of people being cautious into the first corner and that’s where I was really giving it everything and it worked to get really into DRS range and I had good moves down the back straight but I don’t know, this race was so long…
Q: You need to watch your back. SV: Yeah, exactly.
Q: OK, thanks a lot, Sebastian. Daniil, well done, a podium. Not your first podium but a very enjoyable podium for you. Daniil Kvyat: Yes, it is amazing to be back on the podium. Incredible for Toro Rosso after so many years to bring as podium to the team is amazing and the race was crazy. Finally I managed to put everything together to get this podium and I’m really happy.
Q: Any big moments? Any scary things going on out there? DK: It was a horror movie with a black comedy. At some point I thought the race was done for me, but then it came alive again, it was an incredible rollercoaster. A bit like my whole career!
Q: And you’re expecting your first child soon as well. DK: Yeah, she was born last night…
Q: Oh, fantastic, congratulations. DK: Thank you very much.
Q: Many congratulations Max, what a bonkers race. How does it feel? How does it compare to the other six wins? MV: Are you going to keep asking me that question: ‘how does it feel compared to the other ones’? I don’t know. It’s always different. It’s always a different feeling, but this was really good, because it was very tricky out there. We had to stay very focused; we couldn’t afford too many mistakes. I mean now, after the race, I can say I did that 360 for the crowd, but at the time it was a bit tricky out there with the medium tyre, very low grip. I think the information between myself and the team was crucial today. I think we made the right calls and that gave us the victory also. Once I was ahead of the Mercedes cars you could really see the pace we had, because I was stuck in the dirty air in the4 first few laps behind Valtteri but once you are ahead you can basically save your tyres a bit more and everything was a bit more under control. But yeah, good victory.
Q: Great victory. Congratulations. Sebastian, your 50th podium for Ferrari. It’s been a bit of an emotional weekend for you if you think what happened yesterday and you’ve charged through from the back today. Just describe how it feels? SV: Well, obviously after the disappointing day yesterday, where everything was ready: the crowd was ready; I was ready, the team was ready. Obviously we didn’t have qualifying, so starting last today I was very excited about the race in these conditions. Anything can happen. Obviously the racer turned out a lot crazier than I thought beforehand but yeah I’m very happy obviously. I’m very happy for the team first of all. It’s a tough period for us. We are pushing very hard, we are doing mistakes, we are not where we want to be, but we need to keep believing in ourselves, in our abilities, our strengths, and I’m confident that our days will come. Obviously today very happy for myself, at my home race and it was great to see the crowd, especially at the end, every time I passed in the car they were really excited. I really did enjoy that. A crazy race, a lot of decisions to make, a lot of communications between the car and the pit wall, but I think we stayed calm and tried to do the best at the time. Most of the time we were right, sometimes we were wrong but we kept it clean and I think that was the key and in the end I really started to come alive in these mixed conditions on dry tyres, we were quite comfortable and able to make good progress, because I think two safety cars to the end I was still not even in the top 10 and I was thinking ‘what happened?’ But it was a day like that and a race like that, so I’m quite happy.
Q: Well done. Dany, what a huge race for you. The birth of your daughter last night and what a way to celebrate that. At what point in the race did you realise the podium was on? DK: Yes, thank you. It was an incredible race for myself, a lot of things going on. I guess it was the same for everyone. The beginning of the race was so-so, I think, I was always around the top 10 and I thought some points were possible today. The first when I chose to go on slicks, it was the wrong moment. The second time I think it was the perfect moment and when I saw that others didn’t pit for slicks when I did i thought that’s our moment and I was right and I exited in P3. I had to overtook Stroll forP2 and then from there I just had to hope that quicker cars would take time to catch me at the end of the race. So yeah, I’m very happy with this podium. It’s fantastic also for the team – 11 years since the last podium, which Sebastian did in 2008. I think everyone is very happy today and we have to be happy. From my side of course I would dedicate this podium to my girlfriend Kelly and to my daughter.
Questions from the Floor
Q: (Luke Smith – crash.net) Dany, your career’s been on a bit of a rollercoaster over the past couple of years. To now have this result and this breakthrough, how good does that feel over everything that’s happened the last couple of years, and repaying that faith Toro Rosso have shown in you. DK: Yes, you’re right. It was an incredible few years in my life. A lot of realisations in my life because it was sometimes tough times and I thought maybe Formula 1 was over for me, and maybe I thought, especially podium, I would never ever have it again, but life just proves that if you work hard and never give up, things are possible. I think that’s exactly what happened today. Even the race was tough for everyone, I managed to keep it cool and just… all these three difficult years, just felt like they crashed from my shoulders finally. I lost these chains today. It was hard work to reach this moment and hopefully I can send the message out there that I’m ready now to fight for this kind of moment on a consistent basis – and there is no stronger message than a podium like this.
Q: (Arjan Schouten – AD Sportswereld) Question for Max. Big drivers, big champs crashed today. Christian Horner just told Sky that under these chaotic, difficult circumstances, you always stand out, don’t lose your head. Can you explain why you are always so talented under these circumstances? MV: A lot of practice I think, from when I was young, in the wet. Working many hours together with my Dad who, I think, was also pretty decent in the wet. So he always gave me good tips. And not only driving in the wet. It’s also making decisions as well, while driving, and paying attention to what’s happening around you. And, of course, experience. In life, in Formula 1. I think if you do over 90 races, you have experienced a lot already and, based on that, of course, you can also make better decisions, I think.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport-total.com) To all three guys. I guess this is a special result for each and every one of you – but it’s probably even more special for Dr Marko because, at some point in your careers, you went through his hands. Can you probably remember a couple of stories with him? Tell us what he meant for your careers and sort of give us some thoughts on that. Sebastian, why don’t we start with you? SV: He’s calling on a regular basis. Not any more for me so regular. I don’t miss the early calls at 7am! “How are you?” MV: “I’m in the gym!” DK: “Running!” SV: It probably pops up on your phone as a pre-select message: ‘I’m in the gym’. No, I mean, obviously he has a great talent for spotting young drivers early on and certainly he’s very tough and very straightforward – but I think you can learn to cope with that. I’m very grateful for the support that I had throughout my career from his side. I think it’s the same for these two. Yeah. I have too many memories; too many stories. Some to share, some not to share, better not to share. He’s always been very funny and we still keep in contact and I appreciate him now as a friend very much.
Max, Dr Marko? MV: Yeah, of course, we are dealing with Helmut every day still, so for me, of course he took the gamble of putting me in Toro Rosso when I was still very young. I’m still young – but back then I was very young. SV: You’re not very young any more… MV: Getting old? SV: Older. MV: Older, yeah… DK: You look quite old… MV: Already? I should retire in five years than I think. I look older than you? DK: I don’t know. SV: I look older than you two. MV: It’s fine. OK, so back to this story. Helmut is a real racer and he has a good eye of what’s happening still, at his age. So, it is quite impressive still, to see that. But it’s also no nonsense. If you make a mistake, you make a mistake. If you do a good job, you do a good job. I think he prefers when you come up to him and tell him honestly if you made a mistake, or like something went wrong, than make a whole story – because that’s what he doesn’t appreciate. Basically I grew up like that because my Dad was the same – or maybe even worse than that. So… yeah. It’s good to have people like that in the team, of course, and in charge as well. For me, he is still very important and yes, of course it’s great to have him around and experienced a lot of stories with him still – and hopefully many more to come.
Dany? DK: Helmet yeah, so many rollercoasters he organised for me in my career! Maybe more than them. Yeah, a special person in my life, of course our lives now, I guess. And, well, thanks to him very big time we are who we are and the personal improvement, the professional improvement I made thanks to him is huge – and obviously I appreciate what he’s done for me. And I’m here thanks to him. Obviously stories, like Sebastian said, many to share/not to share. I think the most relevant today, it was raining I think once, again 7am, at a test and I was maybe three or four seconds off in my first wet test in Formula BMW at the time and he said: “So, you’re quite useless in the wet,” and just hung up on me. MV: You’re imitating him really well! DK: Lot of practice! Lot of hearing. So yeah, there was that – and many others. He is always tough on you but he’s always – most of the time – he’s right. And maybe at first it’s hard to take but then you analyse and you improve, simple as that. He always give you the opportunity if you deserve it and I’m very thankful for him. MV: You still picking up the phone at seven? DK: Yeah! I started to wake up at seven every day now, thanks to him. MV: I just turn my phone off, pick up after nine… better. Anyway now, you have to wake up at like… well, you wake up every three hours, go to bed, wake up… DK: Well, now that you’re doing so well, you can even sleep until mid-day.
Q: (Joe van Burik – Racing News 365) Many congrats to all three, especially to Dany with being a father now. Question to Seb and Max though: you’ve shown today that Mercedes can be vulnerable, in their home race in fact. Do you think this has in any way blown open the championship fight again? MV: I don’t know, they are so miles ahead in the championship. Q: You’re 62 points behind. MV: Yeah, still quite a lot, isn’t it? It’s more than two victories, and they are still the dominant team, I think. Today was just very tricky out there and it’s easy to make a mistake, as you could see. Yeah, today was not their day. We managed to do a good job but we still have to work very hard to close that gap and actually really fight for the victory every single race so still a lot of work to do. But of course when you can, it’s good to score more points than them. SV: Not much to add. We still have a lot of races to go, a lot of things can happen but it’s not like we can expect them to score no points for the rest of the season so pretty much the opposite – they will be up there. We need to make sure we improve and give them a much harder time and naturally if you put people under pressure then things start to move. So it’s up to both of us, I guess, or us as Ferrari and them as Red Bull.
Q: (Daniele Sparisci – Corriera della Sera) Seb, do you consider this second place almost as a victory from what happened yesterday, from what happened today? You did a fantastic job, congratulations. SV: Well, I know that Max finished first so it’s not a victory but starting last, I think, with the race that we had, I think we can certainly be very happy recovering and I think it was a very tough race, easy to lose focus or momentum but we kept it throughout. I’m very happy, especially also racing here. I hope that we don’t lose this race. I think not only for me and Nico as German drivers, I think for the German crowd that we saw today and yesterday is very passionate, a lot of people turning up. It was sold out today despite the weather. I think we had a great race and it would be a shame to lose it. Obviously I’m not quite sure what’s in the future, whether there’s a chance to keep it but certainly when it comes to passion and effort that people put into this race it’s pretty high up, so I hope that it’s not… People make some decisions on common sense and not based on how much the wallet is opening. I think we have Grands Prix that we just mustn’t lose such as Monza, such as the race at Silverstone in the UK. I think Germany and Spain have a long history of racing so it would be a shame to lose those and instead go to a place where they pay millions for the race to turn up but nobody is sitting in the grandstand. For us it’s dull, as drivers so I think we rather enjoy here, close to the Netherlands with a lot of Dutch people coming… MV: It was a bit tricky today because it was orange against red, you know those colours don’t really match. SV: Well, they’re similar. I was taking the orange as well on my side. MV: When they were going up, right? SV: No, but I think it’s great to see. Obviously for the Germans and the Dutch in particular it will be difficult to go to… I don’t know… overseas. Anyway, to come back to your question, it’s certainly a tough time for us as Ferrari with days like yesterday because it shows that we have things that we need to sort out, we have things that we need to do better but I think in this period it’s very important that we keep the morale, we keep supporting the team. From the inside that is happening, from the outside I hope it’s happening as well. I know the tifosi are behind us but sometimes the headlines can shift in either way so it’s important that we keep the support because I think things are moving, we are pushing very very hard and when it comes to passion I think we put a lot of effort and a lot of hours in; the people are very determined. I’m as impatient as everyone else to get the results finally but it will take a little while. We know what we can improve and that’s where we are working on but in the meantime I hope that people are a bit patient and give us that freedom in that time. But yeah, so in that regard it feels like a small victory today.
Q: (Lennart Bloemhof – Volksrand) It was pretty spectacular over there all day, where does this race rank in your top five of craziest races? DK: I think it was clear enough how crazy it was. I think it was the first wet race in a while – and especially this year, so new tyres for everyone, no one knew how to use them very well at the beginning. The spray in the beginning was very high, then the track started drying, then it was on the borderline with slicks and it was very important not to make any mistakes. It was very easy to lock up the wheels under braking or just go a bit wide in some corners and I think today was just about avoiding those costly mistakes and making the right calls at the right time, so it was all about that but the race, I think, must have been quite spectacular to watch from outside. Lucky you. MV: Yeah, bit like Brazil 2016 was also quite crazy, all the time switching between extremes and intermediates. Of course we didn’t really get to try slicks, I think. Maybe some tried, I’m not sure but maybe not SV: Not in Brazil, no. MV: I don’t think so. So it’s maybe a little bit different to here but it’s definitely been one of the most challenging ones. SV: Well I’ve had a lot of races, also a lot of great crazy races but it was certainly among the craziest for a while. Max mentioned 2016 in Brazil. Always when the weather is really funny and you have all sorts of conditions it’s very challenging. Today we had between three and five stops for everyone or some even more. Obviously I had a crazy race in 2012 in Brazil as well, Korea 2010. MV: Malaysia in 2009? Q: Red flag after 36 laps wasn’t it? SV: I had stopped a bit earlier than that, actually! I was out before, I spun out so it wasn’t that crazy. As I said, it’s mostly when the weather is up and down and you have to make those decisions. It’s very tough, you are on the fine edge but it’s also very exciting because you know you can make the difference very quickly. Sometimes you have laps and laps and laps and you’re fighting for half a second that you can make up and other times in these conditions you can gain or lose five seconds and five places.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – Motorsport-total.com) Seb, a couple of drivers lost it in the stadium section today: Lewis, Nico, Charles as well. Does it make you feel any better one year after that the world kind of sees how quickly that can happen in conditions like this? SV: Not really, no. I think that the answer is no. To protect them, I think they know what they’re doing and mistakes happen so I don’t think you should give them a hard time. It was very very tricky out there. I think we all had small mistakes here and there. Obviously some had a bit bigger ones in the wrong places but that’s part of racing so obviously nowadays a lot of people tend to judge everything very quickly but I think as much as they, I am not listening to all of those people. It happens in these conditions, it’s part of racing, as I said.