Full transcript from the FIA-hosted top three press conference after qualifying for the 2022 British Grand Prix, Round 10 of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship, at Silverstone featuring pole winner Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), second-placed Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and third-placed Charles Leclerc (Ferrari).
Grid interviews conducted by Billy Monger
Q: Carlos Sainz, your 150th Grand Prix this weekend here at Silverstone. Listen to that cheer! Your first ever pole position, sum that lap up for us?
Carlos Sainz: Thank you very much. Well, first of all, thank you to the whole crowd for cheering. Thanks everyone for staying out there with this rain. Spaniards, we struggle a bit more with this rain but you can tell that you guys are used to it, so thanks for being there. And yeah, it was a good lap, but I was struggling a lot with the standing water. On the intermediate there was a lot more standing water on the racing line and it was very easy to get snaps and lose the lap. Also it was more difficult to get temperature into these intermediates with this condition. In the end I put together a lap that I didn’t thought… it was nothing special but I just put it on the board and see how it how it is and it was pole position which came as a bit of a surprise.
Q: Definitely special enough for pole position here at Silverstone today. Obviously this season hasn’t always gone your way and you’ve run into a few issues, but after Canada which looked a lot more positive in the race – you got the fastest and you ran Max a close way all the way to the line – what can you do tomorrow? How are things looking for the race? Can you convert this into your first ever victory in Formula 1?
CS: I think so, yeah. The pace has been there all weekend, except for FP3 where we had some issues that we think we have corrected them for Quali, but if I base myself on my FP2 pace then we should be in a good position to try and hold on to it. I’m sure Max and Charles will put a lot of pressure, but I will try my best of course.
Q: Well hopefully Carlos, tomorrow goes well for you. Good luck for the race tomorrow. So, Max Verstappen, obviously today in qualifying there, second place, Carlos just pipped you towards the end. Sum up the qualifying session for us. It looked really tricky out there for the drivers.
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it was quite a tricky Qualifying you know, it was raining drying, so you had to be at the track at the right time. But I think overall the car was working really well you know. In Q3 it’s always a bit of a lottery sometimes, you know, when you have to put the fastest lap in. But I got a bit hindered in my final lap with the yellow flag unfortunately. But I think still to be on the front row it’s very good for us and we have a good race car I think in the dry and in the wet.
Q: When it comes to the recent form, Red Bull have been on a bit of a roll between you and Sergio winning the last six races. Obviously tomorrow is where the points count so what are your plans go into the first couple of quarters? How aggressive do you plan to be with trying to get the move down on Carlos if you can?
MV: Well, I mean it’s not only about the first lap it’s all about the race. I think, like I said, we have a good race car. It’s all about the tyre management as well. So yeah, looking forward to tomorrow.
Q: Charles Leclerc, obviously qualifying has just happened, it looked tricky out there, P3 for you. Qualifying has normally been your strong suit, so are you slightly disappointed that today you didn’t manage to get the top step.
Charles Leclerc: Yeah, I am, but happy for Carlos. He did a great job today. Yeah, I spun in that last lap. I knew it was the lap where I had to put everything together and I didn’t as a driver, so I didn’t deserve to be on pole. But P3 is still a good position to start in for tomorrow’s race and hopefully putting everything together we can come back.
Q: Last year in the race, you narrowly lost out on the race victory to Lewis Hamilton who is a home favourite here at Silverstone but looking to tomorrow’s race starting from P3, what’s your plan? You’ve obviously got a little bit of ground to make up in the championship after a tough couple of races for yourself. So how do you plan on bouncing back and making those points up tomorrow?
CL: Well, I think the pace is there, so if we have a clean race then everything should go well. A good start and then obviously tyre management will be a thing too. I think the strategy is a bit mixed between one and two stops. So it will be interesting to see whoever is going for the one stop or the two stops. But hopefully we’ll make the right choice and we can come back to where we want to be.
Q: Are you confident with the strategy and the tyre degradation? That, again, earlier in the season was something that troubled you guys.
CL: I don’t think it was a problem in the last few races. Obviously we couldn’t show it because we’ve had some issues but hopefully tomorrow is the day.
Q: Congratulations to the top three qualifiers for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 British Grand Prix. In third place Charles Leclerc. In second place, Max Verstappen. And taking his first pole position in Formula 1 in his 150th Grand Prix, our pole-sitter, Carlos Sainz. Carlos, very well done. Now you’ve had a few minutes to reflect on what you’ve done today, what’s the overriding emotion?
CS: Obviously, emotional first pole position. It’s always special and especially to do it in in Silverstone in the wet, I don’t know, it just feels very good. It wasn’t easy out there. It was very, very tricky conditions, especially in Q3 I found it particularly tough to put the lap together on the intermediate. A lot of standing water on the racing line and difficult to get the tyres up to temperature. I kept it cool through the session and then towards the end, I decided to push for a couple of laps and put a decent lap on the board. That didn’t feel amazing, but it turned out to be pole position, so good.
Q: How easy is it to read a session like that?
CS: It’s tricky, because there’s not one single lap where the track conditions are the same as the previous lap. Every lap that you open, it’s a bit of a new adventure, especially with intermediate tyres, raining, you never know how much standing water you’re going to find, you never know how easy or how difficult it’s going to put the tyre into temperature. Personally, I particularly struggled with the with the rears, just getting them to give me the traction that I wanted. But towards the end, those last two laps, they started to switch on and I managed to put a couple of laps that were decent, but it was a big challenge.
Q: Carlos, let’s look ahead tomorrow. Fifty-two laps to do. How much confidence do you have going into the race? And what are your biggest concerns?
CS: Confidence is high. If I look back to FP2 the pace was there and I was feeling at home with a car and I’m pushing well on the tyres. I don’t know, if the feeling is like in FP2 then I’m confident that I can hold on to a lead and try to do my own race, pushing from the beginning. If the balance and the car is like FP3 then I think it could be a bit more tricky, but we’ve changed a few things since FP3, because we found ourselves with some issues that we didn’t expect and it looked like in Quali we improved a bit, so hopefully the car is back like it was in FP2 and I can do my own race.
Q: Max, coming to you, perhaps we just pick up where Carlos left off. Can we just talk about the race tomorrow? How much confidence you have in yourself and particularly your car?
MV: Yeah, I think it’s going to be good. The car was very nice in FP3, better balanced than FP2 and that’s, of course, important that you find that right balance. Tomorrow, it’s a bit of a question mark. The track will probably be quite green, because of the rain. How the tyres are going to last, but I have good confidence that our cars should be quick.
Q: And Max, you’ve done so much racing against the guy on your left, right now. How much are you looking forward to lining up on the front row of the grid with him?
MV: It’s gonna be good! I am happy for Carlos, of course, to take his first pole position and I think already the whole year we’ve been battling. And it’s so tight all the time, every single qualifying or in the race, like last time, so I hope we can all have a fun race.
Q: Just talking about your qualifying session now, it was the middle sector that seemed to cost you on that final lap Can you just talk us through it?
MV: I had a yellow flag.
Q: And what about the pace of the car in Q3 – because it looked pretty… well, you were getting very aggressive with the throttle on that first lap certainly.
MV: I was warming the tyres. That’s why I did the 360° as well. To put a bit more heat in them!
Q: About the session as a whole then. Q1, Q2, you seemed all over it. Just Q3…
MV: Q3 was fine. Just my final lap, I had the yellow flags, I lifted, not to have any issues and then you end up just being behind in qualifying but overall the car was good. So, it doesn’t matter. Of course, a shame to miss a pole position but I also know that tomorrow are the points and that’s what I like on a Sunday, to go racing, and especially when you have a good feeling with the car.
Q: Charles, coming to you now. Many congratulations as well. Just how competitive was your car today and how comfortable did you feel in those conditions?
CL: I actually felt very good. Unfortunately, I did the mistake in that last lap in Q3, where I knew it was the lap I had to put together and I just didn’t do a good enough job. I lost it in Turn 14, I think it was. There was quite a lot of standing water and lost it there. But apart from that, I think the car was quite competitive in those conditions, which is important to see because obviously, I keep repeating it every time we drive in those conditions this year, but the last few years, weren’t easy in those conditions. So, it’s good to see that we found a bit of a consistency in rainy conditions.
Q: We haven’t had that much dry running so far this weekend. Are you happy with your car in dry conditions?
CL: Much happier this morning, compared to yesterday. Yesterday, it was very, very difficult to put a lap together. But this morning, I felt quite confident with the car. So yeah, I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR.
Q: (Keith Collantine – racefans.net) Congratulations, Carlos, on your pole position. You sounded genuinely surprised when your race engineer told you where you were. What did you think you’d achieved? Where do you think you’d qualified? And what’s it going to feel like tomorrow leading a field of cars around for the first time as a Ferrari driver? I think your first pole since 2014.
CS: Honestly, I had no idea where I was going to qualify because the conditions were so changeable that I didn’t even know what was the lap-time to beat in Q3. I didn’t know what lap-time I had to do on that lap to go pole. It didn’t feel amazing, because I did a small mistake in Turn Three, which threw me out of line into Turn Four, then I remember going through the high speed and thinking I should have maybe pushed a bit more, then running out of battery into 15 and 16. And I said, well, I have the lap on the board which through the corners, which is not too bad, but missing the battery and everything in the last couple of straights, I was convinced that maybe it was not going to be enough. But then, it turned out to be enough. And I was pretty happy to hear that. But that’s what I meant: that the lap wasn’t perfect because of all these couple of things. But in the end in these conditions, a lot of times it’s about putting it together, or putting a decent lap on the board. Not the most optimal, perfect love of your life.
Q: And Carlos just leading the cars around tomorrow…
CS: Good. I mean leading a formation lap will feel great in Ferrari, I guess and first time I will do it. I think I haven’t forgot since I led a formation lap in World Series by Renault. I think I’ve led a couple of races in Formula 1. I think it was Portimão, and it felt great, so that’s a target, to do it again.
Q: (Frédéric Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to the Ferrari drivers. Charles, would helping Carlos to win tomorrow, his first victory, could be the target of the race? And Carlos, would you accept if it happens, to let Charles win if you are leading the two of you, ahead of the Red Bull?
CL: If I’m happy to help Carlos to win his first race tomorrow? I think of course, I will be very happy if Carlos wins the race tomorrow, but I’m not going to hide that I want to win too. But I think what is most important is that we finished one-two, whatever way around it is, and if we can play strategic moves in between the cars, I’m pretty sure that we will. So, let’s see how it goes tomorrow. But again, I feel confident with the car. So let’s wait and see.
CS: I agree. Yeah, I think we will work as a team like we’ve done all season. And I’m pretty sure that between Charles and me we can put a good battle with Max, and obviously not forgetting about Checo that will be also attacking. They were very quick in FP3, both Red Bulls. So I think if we can work like we worked all year, we can achieve a one-two. That is the main target.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Max, you were booed by the crowd after qualifying. Is it disappointing to hear those boos, and why do you think you’re being booed by the crowd here?
MV: It was a bit disappointing, because I couldn’t really understand Billy, and it was a bit of a problem. But the rest I mean, if they want to boo, they do that. I mean, for me, it’s not going to change anything. I am happy to always be here. You know, it’s a great track, it’s great atmosphere in general. Maybe some of them, they don’t like me, but I mean, that’s fine. They all have their own opinions. I don’t care.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Carlos, you said in Canada you felt like you’d made a breakthrough with the 2022 Ferrari after the work you and the team had done to get you more confident with it but you also said you wanted to experience it on a different kind of track, just to confirm that. Now that you’ve driven in the dry, yesterday and this morning and now on pole, have you got that assurance that you needed?
CS: Yes, certainly in FP2 I felt on it. I felt confident and if I compare my FP2 pace to, for example, Barcelona, race and qualifying, I am much happier, both with the car and with my driving. FP3 was a challenging session in which we took a step back. We know why, we just don’t understand if we have fixed the problems completely going into tomorrow but in the wet I felt good, it was just about making the tyres work but when the tyres were working I felt comfortable. So yeah, let’s see tomorrow how the race pace is, but I want to believe that there has been some good steps done recently.
Q: (Jerôme Bourret – L’Equipe) Max, with the gap you have over these two guys in the championship, should you have a conservative approach tomorrow, or is it really too early in the season to be conservative?
MV: The target is always to score points and always, of course, as many as you can and that’s how I’ve approached every single race until now, so I don’t see why this race suddenly needs to be different. If I have an opportunity to go for it, I will definitely go for it. It’s how it goes in F1. There are still so many races left where you need to score a lot of points, to have a chance to win the championship.
Q: (Simon Abberly – Nevis Radio) Question to Carlos and Charles: Carlos, you mentioned in FP2 you were a bit happier with the balance. Charles you mentioned FP3. However, Max’s pace in every session has seemed to be pretty fast. Do you think tomorrow in the dry you’ve got enough pace and reliability for you guys to do something possibly with the strategy to win this?
CS: Yeah, I think we’ve been quick in every race this year so there’s no reason to believe that we shouldn’t be quick enough. It is true that the Red Bull is always as quick as us sometimes quicker sometimes a tenth slower but in the end those races where it is so tight it’s won by the details. So what we need to focus on is in getting the details right tomorrow with the strategy, the tyres, the management and if we get these things right and we have very good track position then we should try and stay ahead. And also, I think, working also well, together we can beat the two Red Bulls.
CS: Yeah, overall, I think the pace was quite good in FP3. Max was definitely quick, but I felt like… Obviously, we had a bit of margin on our side, which I’m pretty sure they did too but we’ll have to wait and see for tomorrow but the feeling was really good in FP3 so I’m quite confident we can be as quick tomorrow.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Carlos, if you could just pick up on the balance issues you had; was that oversteer, understeer? And then a question to all: Did you have the wrong deltas for that final bit qualifying and how far out were they? And what sort of effect does that have when you don’t really know what you’re aiming for on the steering wheel?
CS: Well, the first question is about balance in the car today? In FP3, it was not a balance issue, it was more… A bit of a balance issue but some extra… bouncing in the car that we didn’t expect, let’s say, for the changes that we did. But apart from that the balance has been good in both sessions. It was just I was giving up too much lap time in high speed due to this issue, so hopefully it will be better tomorrow in race trim. And the second question, yeah I went out in Q3 and because the fastest lap was done in Q1, in your delta you have that as a reference and obviously, Q1 the track was a lot drier or a lot less wet. And it gets me super frustrated to see… well I think it gets us super frustrated to see that you’re three seconds off your own pace. And at some point in one straight I asked my engineer to reset my delta on the steering, because I was getting really angry about this and frustrated and we did a switch change, it reset it and from there on I could just improve on myself looking at the dash. It helps.
MV: Yeah, my delta was still on. Of course, lap after lap, I was getting closer to it but yeah, of course it was always on the plus side. But at one point you figure out a bit of the trend of where you’re losing time, but in general that session in Q3 there was a lot more standing water, so a tiny, like, a few centimetres left or right it could push you a lot wider than normal. I have a big moment so you had to be a lot more precise compared to like Q1.
CS: Yeah, same as Max, I still had the delta of Q1 which is not great because to look at the reference, you always like a second up but yeah, no big deal.
Q: (Carlos Miguel – Marca) Carlos, do you think that pole… What part of this pole is your normal talent to regular talent in wet conditions? And what part is your hard work to be more comfortable with the Ferrari?
CS: A pole in the wet for sure always feels good but, yeah, it is true that I’ve always been very competitive in wet conditions, but so are my fellow drivers here, I think. In Formula 1, there are 20 drivers and the 20 of them are normally one of the best in the wet in the categories that they’ve been through, so in Formula 1 it’s a lot more difficult to make the difference in the wet. I found that in other categories it was super easy to just go out there and in the wet pole position by half a second because the level was maybe not as high as in Formula 1. But then you arrive to Formula 1, you think you’re the best in the rain, and then you suddenly find yourself with the likes of Max, Charles, Lewis, what to say about Lewis, and other drivers that are very, very, very good in the wet and it’s super difficult to make a difference or make one tenth of a difference. And today was a good example of how tight it was between us again, as tight as in the dry, because every lap is a fight, like it is in the dry, and it’s a little more difficult to make the difference. And the balance in the wet was good, it was all about the tyres, honestly if I make tyres work I am fast, if not it’s a lot trickier.