Full transcript from the top three press conference after qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, Round 6 of the 2022 Formula ! World Championship, in Monte Carlo.
Featuring pole winner Charles Leclerc (Ferrari); second-placed Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) and third-placed Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing)
Grid interviews conducted by Giedo van der Garde
Q: Charles Leclerc, pole position on your home soil, that must feel very, very special? Charles Leclerc: It is very special. I’m so incredibly happy. It’s been a very smooth weekend until now. I knew the pace was in the car, I just had to do the job, and it went perfectly. That last lap before the red flag was really, really good. But anyway, it didn’t change anything for us.
Q: But the last lap, I think you were two tenths up compared to the lap before. That looked really, really strong? CL: Yeah, and it was really, really on the limit. I had quite a bit of oversteer. I struggled to put the tires in the right window in the last sector because there was a bit of traffic, but at the end the rear was a bit loose, but still the lap time came and I was improving quite a bit. I think I was four tenths faster before I stopped, so it was a good lap. But to be honest, the car felt amazing and it’s great to also have Carlos with me on the front row.
Q: I think that must be very good, a front-row lockout for Ferrari of course. Tomorrow there’s a chance of rain. What are you hoping – rain or dry? CL: I think dry is a bit more predictable. But whatever comes I think we are competitive so it will be fine.
Q: Carlos, how was that? What happened before in the last lap? Carlos Sainz: Pérez crashed in front of me. And I was in my flying lap. I saw that yellow flag just coming into Turn 8, and I had to hit the brakes and obviously try to avoid him the best I could. But it’s a shame. Another year that red flag causes the end of our session that we cannot go for pole position, but it’s typical Monaco.
Q: Would you think that it was a possibility to go for pole position? CS: I think so, yeah. We had a really good pace on all days. I was just building it up for quali. We will never know, it’s impossible to say but I was feeling good with a car today.
Q: Obviously, last year you had your first podium here with Ferrari. What are you looking for tomorrow? CS: Yeah, let’s try and finish the job tomorrow. I think we are in a great position to score a great result for a team. The car has been amazing all weekend. So we’ll go for it.
Q: And you hope for rain or dry? CS: I don’t mind.
Q: Welcome to the post-qualifying press conference here at the Monaco Grand Prix. Just to start things off, Sergio Pérez has gone to the medical centre for a check, it’s standard procedure. We’re going to be joined by him shortly. In the meantime, a very warm welcome to Carlos Sainz, who will be starting second, and taking the 14th pole position of his Formula 1 career and his fifth of the 2022 campaign, our polesitter Charles Leclerc. Well done, Charles, your second consecutive pole here in Monaco. How sweet was that first lap in Q3? CL: Well, the first lap was good, obviously. I waited for Q3 to start and push. And it was a really good lap. But the one that I’m particularly happy about was the second lap in Q3 that I didn’t get to finish. Yeah, this one was really, really good.
Q: Where was that second lap better, in the amount of the lap that you’d actually completed? CL: A bit everywhere. The first corner was quite a bit better. I got a snap… Basically, I got snaps everywhere but the lap time was coming really, really good. So yeah, I was surprised by how much pace there was, because the balance was really, really tricky on that lap, but yeah, it felt really good.
Q: We saw a big lap time jump in each of the three qualifying segments. How much of that was down to the track and how much down to improving the car? CL: I think it’s both the track and the drivers, because of course I think especially Red Bull and ourselves, we’ve got a bit more margin compared to the others in Q1 and Q2, so we don’t push as much as other drivers. And then for Q2 you push a bit more and then obviously for Q3 you put everything, so yeah, it’s a combination of both.
Q: You’re going to be starting in the best place tomorrow. What is the long run pace of the car like, in the dry first of all? CL: Good. It was good. I mean, we only did like three or four laps, but it looks good. So hopefully it will be the case tomorrow. There’s a bit of a chance of rain too. But yeah, that’s fine. We were strong in the rain in Imola, so whatever comes we’ll try to make the best out of it and finally have a good result at home.
Q: What sort of a challenge does Monaco become in the wet? CL: Well, I don’t think I’ve ever driven in the wet here. Not that I remember. So it’s going to be tricky. I mean, city tracks are very tricky. Monaco is probably one of the most challenging tracks of the season and in the wet I’m sure that it’s even tougher. But yeah, we are ready for it. And I think again, the last two years have been difficult for us in the wet but this year we seem to have finally a bit more than the right window to make it work in the wet, so we’ll see but we’ll be fine.
Q: Many congratulations Charles and good luck tomorrow. Carlos coming to you now. Huge congratulations to you as well. You’re on the front row in Monaco. We’ll talk about what happened at the end in a moment. First of all, how was your lap? How was the car throughout the whole session? CS: Yeah, well first of all congrats to Charles and Ferrari for a one-two lockout here in Monaco. I think it’s great news for the team, first of all. Second, yeah it wasn’t bad. I think it was coming along nicely with qualifying. Unfortunately, in Q3 run one we had the two Mercedes in the middle of my first lap that they were doing a build-up and I was in my push and yeah, I found one Mercedes in the middle of Sector 2, the other one in Sector 3. Anyway, it was a bit of a scrappy first run at the beginning of Q3, but then I was looking forward to that final showdown here in Monaco. That is where you give that extra bit, and to have a clean run, but again, every year in Monaco now seems to be a tradition that someone crashes in front of me or whatever and you cannot complete the lap that is normally the most exciting lap around Monaco. Anyway, it is how it is. We start P2. I think it’s a great position to start and tomorrow anything can happen – the rain, whatever comes comes – and we’re in a good position.
Q: And Carlos, what about the end of Q3 and what happened to Checo. What could you see as you approached Portier? CS: Well, coming obviously from a blind corner that is Turn 7, you do Turn 7, you go full throttle, and as I was entering Turn 7 on my left hand side I see a yellow flag coming out. And immediately as I see a yellow flag, I realise that the car in front of me had crashed. You don’t see where he has crashed, so you enter the corner without knowing where he’s going to be. So I just hit the brakes. I tried to do the corner radius as tight as possible. And just as I was going to manage to avoid him, I hit the brake a bit harder and managed to clip his back with the back of the car. It would have been a pretty good save if I would have saved it, but because there was basically no time to save it, but it’s what happens in Monaco.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Charles, it looked like conditions changed a fair bit throughout the session, with the clouds being there and then the sun coming out again. How did you and Ferrari cope with that? And also, we heard you on the radio a couple of times complaining about where you were in terms of the traffic position. What was the thought process there? What was going on? CL: Yeah, the track conditions changed quite a bit, but I think we followed the track evolution very, very well. And the balance was actually pretty good all the time. So yeah, we followed the track evolution nicely. And then for the traffic, obviously, in Monaco, it’s always a very, very difficult, especially in in qualifying, but I always found myself with fast cars behind me when I was on the out laps and this is the worst situation you can find yourself in, because you obviously don’t want to get a penalty for being in the middle, so I was just trying to make the best job possible, but in some places, it’s very, very tricky, because you just have no place and you cannot push that much because the tyres are completely new, and you have no grip. So it was a very tricky situation I was in and I just wanted to make sure that the team understood that I didn’t want to be in that position again, because I was scared of getting a penalty, just being in the middle. But at the end, we managed it well. And I was out of trouble.
Q: Checo, you’ve just come from the medical centre. First question, all OK? Sergio PÉREZ: Yeah, all okay. There was a technical issue, apparently, because the g I got, was something like 20-g but it’s quite a low-speed section and there are TecPros there. Just a shame what happened, because I think we had more pace than that – but we just couldn’t challenge, I think, the strategy with the tyre, especially that final set: it wasn’t up to temperature, and it was just too peaky. I nearly lost it already into Turn 1. In hindsight, I think we didn’t get it right today.
Q: Checo, can you just talk us through what happened at Portier? SP: Well, basically, I was, I think, quite close to my time, trying to make it up. Turn 8 has been a difficult one for me, throughout the qualifying section. So I was trying to anticipate and get quite early on throttle. But as soon as I touched the throttle, I could feel like the rear tyre was not gripping in. And I was playing with it a bit, until I lost it. And then it was quite… I was actually surprised that Carlos hit me at the time. And it was just a shame, what happened? And I feel sorry for Carlos, and for the rest of the guys. But, you know, this is Monaco.
Q: And first assessment of the car. How much damage do you think there is? SP: Yeah, certainly, it looked bad from the rear. And what made it worse was the hit we got from Carlos. So, we have quite a bit of damage. But we’ll see. I think it should be okay for tomorrow.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) For Charles, where were you on that final lap when the red flag flew? And how far up on the dash were you? I know you’re on pole anyway but is there any frustration not being able to finish that lap? CL: I wouldn’t call it frustration but I definitely wanted to finish that lap. I was a bit a bit more than four-tenths quicker. So, it was a really, really good lap. And also, I think the onboard is pretty oversteery, so I think it’s a nice onboard. But yeah, it was a great lap until then. But yeah, as Checo said, it happened to me last year, and it happens in Monaco. So it’s like this. No frustration.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Another question to Charles, please. Could you explain what happened with missing the weighbridge in Q2? How were you alerted to the fact that you had to stop in the pit-lane and then get pushed back? Thanks. CL: It’s a very tricky one here, because we get into the pits. I actually don’t even know where the panel is, whether it’s on the right or left but it’s very far, far right or far left, and so you don’t look in that direction. So actually, I didn’t see at all that I was called to the weighbridge. But luckily for me, the team saw the alarm and just told me to stop and they pushed me back. It wasn’t great for being into the same sequence of the others after that, but again, we got out of this tricky situation.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Again, another question to Charles. And I just wonder, could you compare your feeling and sensation in the cockpit to this time last year? You said again on Thursday, the crash in 2021 was down to just trying too hard. You know it’s perhaps your only chance to get a win in 2021. This year, you’re fighting for the title, you already have wins. So how was the feeling in the cockpit throughout qualifying here today? CL: It was good. It was all about building up to this Q3 lap. I knew the pace was there. I think we were in the right place with the car. And yeah, 2021 wasn’t in my head when I was doing qualifying. You just want to erase it. And obviously it was also quite a long time ago. So yeah, I wasn’t thinking about it. And I just went all in as always in Q3 here.
Q: (Seitanidis Panagiotis – Car Magazine Greece) Question for Charles. I don’t know how superstitious you might be but given the fact that the Monaco Grand Prix hasn’t been so kind to you the previous times, would you change any procedures you might have preparing for the race? CL: No. No, no, no. I mean, I don’t believe in… I’m not superstitious at all. So, no. I mean, we’ve had a smooth weekend until now and we’re starting in the best place possible for tomorrow’s race. So hopefully, we have a clean race tomorrow. And we finally have a good result at home.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) One for Carlos and one for Checo. Carlos, you’ve been talking all year about having to adapt to the Ferrari. You’ve looked better this weekend, but quite very close to Charles a lot of the time. Do you feel like you’ve made a step forward? And Checo, you’ve looked really, really competitive all weekend? Can you just talk a little bit about your weekend, how you’ve been feeling with the car and how the team have got on generally? CS: Yeah, it’s true that this weekend, I felt more comfortable with the car. Maybe it’s a feature of just, that I’ve always been good around Monaco and I’ve always been quick around here. So that’s a factor for sure. And that the car setup is always very different in Monaco to what it is for the rest of the season. So, it might be track specific, it might not. What is true is that I’ve been better and more comfortable this weekend. This, I agree. SP: Yeah, we’ve been competitive all weekend. Since FP1, we’ve been always top three. We were fastest in FP3 but, as always, to get the pole, you have to maximise everything. And I felt that we could have done better. Especially on those out laps. You know, at the end, I was stuck with one of the Ferraris and on my final Q3 lap the tyres were too cold. But in general, I felt that they were a bit ahead this weekend, the Ferraris, but we’ll see. We’ll see tomorrow. It’s a long race ahead. Obviously the starting position is very important here but yeah, overall it has been a competitive weekend.