Post qualy quotes and press conference featuring pole winner Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), second-placed Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing) and third-placed Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).
Parc Ferme Interviews conducted by Naomi Schiff
Q: Congratulations, Charles, incredible lap there in front of this incredible crowd here in Singapore. For everyone here and for everyone at home, take us through that lap. Charles Leclerc: I didn’t hear the end. But yeah, definitely an amazing crowd. And it’s great to see so many people attending the event. It’s been a very, very tricky qualifying – Q1, Q2 with the inters, then in Q3, we didn’t really know what to do. We went for the soft at the very last minute. And it paid off. I mean, it was really, really tricky. I did a mistake on my last lap, so I thought we wouldn’t get pole, but it was just an off. So really, really happy.
Q: It was a challenging start to the weekend for you this weekend. What are the positive thoughts for tomorrow with the data you’ve collected so far? CL: Yeah, I’m very happy with today’s result, especially considering the Friday that we’ve had. We had a very limited amount of laps yesterday, for some issues, but we recovered well. We don’t have much data for the race run. But, yeah, if we do the perfect execution, I’m sure we can win.
Q: OK, the first question I asked you was to take us through this lap for everyone here and for everyone at home. CL: It was really, really special. I mean, every qualifying on street tracks are super on the limit. And even more when it’s damp like that, there are some parts of the track that are wet, so you lose the rear. But overall I managed to do quite a clean lap. And it worked well.
Q: Thank you very much. Congratulations. Checo, your first front-row start here in Singapore. What are you looking forward to the most tomorrow? Sergio Perez: To that start. I think there’s a good opportunity tomorrow already from the start to attack Charles and go for the win. It’s quite disappointing to miss out on pole by two hundredths. But at the end of the day this is a great team result. My team did a fantastic job – the right calls out there and yeah, pretty happy and a solid job.
Q: Constantly changing conditions and as you mentioned the margins were so tight. What do you think you have on them to get to them tomorrow? SP: Yeah, I mean, it was so tricky to learn the conditions today, and tomorrow, again, it can be wet at any time. So it will be so important and crucial not to make any mistake and just progress with the race. That will be critical for us.
Q: Congratulations, Lewis, you kept us on your toes in that QUALIFYING session. There was a moment when we thought you might have pole position, but it wasn’t to be today. Talk us through what this track is like for you and how special it is. Lewis Hamilton: Well, firstly, hi everyone in Singapore. I was pushing so hard, it was so, so close. I was trying so hard. These guys are always so quick. But I really thought maybe just with a perfect lap, it was really hard to get that, we could be fighting for first place. But I just didn’t have the grip on the last lap. But nonetheless, I’m grateful to be on a second row and I’m grateful to the team for continuing to push and you know, we just keep our heads down and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.
Q: But for the margins to have been as close as they were and for you to have kept us on your toes, it’s got to be a sign of the progress that your team has made. LH: Yeah, we didn’t know how close we would be this weekend. We knew that the car would be stronger than it was in Monza. But we didn’t know how close it would be but yeah, to lose out by that bit, yeah, it’s okay. We just get up and fight again tomorrow.
QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE
Q: Taking the 18th pole of his career and his ninth of this 2022 campaign our polesitter Charles Leclerc. Charles, it is also your second consecutive pole position here in Singapore. So which one was harder? 2019 or the one you’ve just done? CL: No, this one, for the conditions, especially, obviously, Q1 and Q2 with the intermediates and we were really quick. And then you restart a bit everything from zero in Q3 when you finally go on slicks. But it was very, very tricky out there. So yeah, this one was more difficult.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about the track conditions during qualifying because it wasn’t consistent all around the lap was it? CL: No, it wasn’t. There was the last sector that was quite tricky, because there were quite a lot of damp parts. Also, Turn 13 was quite tricky. So it was not the same everywhere. So you had to adapt and also go with the track improvements. But yeah, my… Not my last lap, but the one just before was really good and was the lap for pole. And my last lap, unfortunately I did a mistake. It wouldn’t have changed anything. But maybe if Max had finished the lap, we probably would have lost pole for this mistake. But overall, it’s been a positive Saturday.
Q: And how confident were you that dry tyres were the way to go in Q3, because it looked like there was a last-minute change in the garage for you? CL: Yeah, we were discussing it and then in the very last moment I saw that everybody basically was going out on softs, so I had a doubt and I went back to my original choice, which was to start with the soft.
Q: Now, practice wasn’t the smoothest for you. Do you feel like you’re going into the race a little bit unprepared? Just give us your thoughts ahead of the 61-lap Grand Prix? CL: Overall, I think the feeling with the car has been great all weekend long. So yes, we are missing a little bit of data for the race tomorrow but that doesn’t concern me too much. We just need to try and do everything perfect. And I’m pretty sure the result will be there.
Q: Best of luck with that. Checo, coming to you now. Congratulations on your first front-row start here in Singapore. You were so close to pole. Can you picture where you lost out to Charles in qualifying? SP: Yeah, I think once… in such a long lap once you are two hundredths away from pole, you definitely lost in a few areas, but conditions were super tricky today. Yeah, I had a big moment into Turn 13. We’ve been struggling a lot with the driveability and I had a massive moment under braking, which I’m happy just to complete the lap because I lost quite a bit of lap time. But at the same time, I could have lost more. So yeah, it’s a bit disappointing to be so close to pole. But on the other hand, it’s a good result and I think we are in a good position to fight from there.
Q: Well, give us your thoughts on the race tomorrow because like Charles you had a compromised practice session? SP: Yeah, well, basically, we’re going blind tomorrow. We don’t have much information on the long run. So yeah, it will be interesting. I think it’s a place where deg seems to be really high and obviously the conditions – we are expecting a bit of rain just before the race, so there are still a lot of unknowns. But yeah, certainly we don’t have much information so we will find out tomorrow.
Now Checo, you haven’t had the easiest run recently. Just how good does it feel to be right on the pace again? SP: Yeah, certainly it’s nice to be back on the pace. It’s been a bit of a struggle, the last few races. So I’m pleased. Especially after the day we had yesterday, where it looked like another poor start with no information, so we basically had a really poor Friday. So yeah, I’m pleased that that we’re back to where we belong.
Q: Lewis, welcome, first time we’ve seen you in here after Qualifying this year. How do you reflect on what just happened out there? LH: This is the highest I’ve qualified? I didn’t realise! Oh, it was incredibly close. And a really exciting session in general. The car felt a lot better today. We did a lot of great work overnight, back at the factory, but also here and a really clean qualifying session. And obviously, competing for front row constantly. So, I think at the end, it was so difficult to get that lap perfect. And I was hoping for some sort of lap like 2018 but the car definitely doesn’t want to drive like that one, so you know, I gave it everything. And to be so close between a top three, I think is still great. So, let’s hope we can do something in the race tomorrow. It’s very hard to overtake here, but maybe we can have a better strategy than these guys.
Q: Lewis, you say you did a lot of work overnight before qualifying. Just how confident were you coming into the session? LH: Well, everyone had a wet session in P3, so I couldn’t say that I had confidence. After P2, it looked like we were half-a-second behind these guys. And the car didn’t feel good in P3, quite a big gap to these guys and all of a sudden, in those damp conditions we were right with them. So that was a bit of a surprise. And in that moment, I was like ‘okay, it’s on’. Maybe this is our moment, maybe finally we have a chance to fight for the front row, fight for pole. So, I was giving it my all but I think for all of us, just very tricky conditions. For them, it was Turn 13; for me it was Turn 16, was a bit of a handful, lost a bit of time there, but I still have to be grateful to be on the front row (sic). And yeah, we’ll see what we can do from here.
Q: Lewis, after the season you’ve had, what does it feel like to have a car that you can compete for pole position with in qualifying? LH: It feels incredibly rewarding, I think, for everyone in the team. We’ve really started with a real handful, difficult deck of cards that we’ve created for ourselves and reshuffling, and lots and lots of work. Everyone staying really positive, or as positive as possible and everyone just being incredibly diligent and never giving up. So, it’s been an inspiring year for me, witnessing what my team do and being a part of that and yeah, I so badly want to… naturally the will and desire to get a good result for them, to pay them back for all their great work is part of it. Also, my fans have been the most incredible this year, on and off track. And we couldn’t have survived the year without them. So, I also want it for them. But I think we’ve got a great turnout here this weekend. And I hope that tomorrow we can give them a good show.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frédéric Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to the three of you: Last time we ran in Singapore, the winner won it Thanks to the undercut. Do you think that the undercut will work tomorrow? Like the last time? CL: Well, strategy’s going to be very important. I think we are in a bit of a different situation compared to 2019 with the strategy, but it should make it more exciting – but undercut will definitely be a thing tomorrow.
Q: Checo? SP: Yeah, I think the deg will be high, so there will be a point as soon as there is a window, I believe people will start to pit.
Q: Lewis, any thing from you on this. Undercut? LH: Same.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Question. Lewis. Understand you’ve got to go and see the stewards before qualifying. I think this may be related – you might be able to confirm – whether it’s to do with your nose stud. I’ve noticed you’ve got your piercing in. Could you tell us: did you forget? Is it on purpose? Are you making a point? I’d also like to follow it up: Charles, I’ve noticed you’re wearing a ring. You either got married or have you just put this on before coming up here? LH: Did you get married? CL: I think when you get married it’s on the left?
Q: Well, normally yes… you’re allowed to wear it if you’re married. CL: No, no, nothing to do with this.
Q: would you be in breach if you were wearing it in the car? CL: No, no, I wasn’t. I always take them off and put them on again once it’s done.
Q: Lewis? LH: I was not trying to make a statement. No. Basically we had this… obviously, I’ve had this… my jewellery and my nose stud for years. And obviously, we had that whole commotion at the beginning of the year. At the time it was, like soldered in. So it didn’t come lose. They gave me at the time, for many races, they gave me, not therapeutic use, but like an exemption, until I could find a solution. And then went and got it taken out and tried to find solution, put it in and put it out. It got infected because of that. And I was just continuing on with this infection. And I had a blood blister and I was going on about it. So just had quite a sore on my nose. Then I went back and saw the… this is all stuff I’ve told them before qualifying. And then went back and had to have the… disgustingly, but the blood blister fixed because there was like pus and blood and stuff. And then put this in and the last two weeks it’s started to heal and they’ve asked that I keep it in. So it’s crazy that we’re obviously having to talk about something so small. I take everything else out. And yeah, at this point, I don’t really care to be honest.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) A couple of questions to Charles, please: first of all the lap that got you pole position, why was it so good? How did you feel on that particular lap? And also, you mentioned a mistake on your final lap. What was it? What happened there? CL: Yeah, I think the second last lap – is that the way you call it? Yeah – was good, especially for the track conditions at that time. It was all about building up for that last lap. Unfortunately, in the last lap, I locked up in… I did a first mistake in turn 13, which cost me quite a bit of time, in turn 16, I went straight. And that was it, basically. But yeah, apart from that, I think we’ve been very competitive the whole qualifying session, which is great to see, especially in conditions like this. And again, the car feels good so it’s been a positive qualifying session. Just a shame. I couldn’t put everything together on the last lap.
Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) Lewis, just wanted to get your reaction please to the allegations that have emerged over the weekend that Red Bull potentially overspent the budget cap last year, and that there is a chance – even quite slim – that potentially the 2021 season isn’t yet concluded or the winner may change or… just your views on it, please. LH: I’m not really giving it much attention, to be honest. It’s all whispers at the moment, I don’t know enough about it to be able to make a sensible comment. I’m not thinking particularly anything. I’m proud of my team for the diligence that they’ve done to run to the rules. And I honestly, I have full confidence in Mohammed in the way that he’s conducted himself to this point and in terms of being strict and being clear with the rules. The rules are rules and for those sort of things, which can lead to real alterations in terms of car performance, those sorts of things, we definitely have to take it seriously. But as I said, I don’t know if it’s true or not so we’ll see.
Q: (Niharika Ghorpade – Sportskeeda) Lewis, you were one of the few drivers who was able to get the tyres working in the temperature window during qualifying, much more quickly than the others. What was the difference? It’s not been your team’s strong point this year. And also, George seemed to have a different weekend in Singapore. Is there any particular reason behind it? LH: I can’t speak for George. I don’t know what happened with him in the session but again, I don’t know why, the car was we’re just working. You arrive one weekend and it doesn’t work, you have no idea why and then other weekends it does and then one session it works and it just depends what mood the car’s in, I guess. But today, it was good that we’re able to get temperature in the tyres and that enabled us to have the confidence to push and fight with these guys. So it was definitely tricky, though. Definitely wasn’t anywhere near easy to keep up with their sort of pace. They’re always so quick, these guys.
Q: (Laurie Vermeersch – F1only.fr) Charles, last time we were here you had chances to win the race and then the strategy of the team was not in your favour, let’s say, and you miss the chance. We all remember that you were obviously not happy with this strategy and it was frustrating for you. Do you still have this race in mind? And does it give you – let’s say – extra motivation for tomorrow, to win tomorrow? CL: Well, obviously I was frustrated that day, I remember it very, very well. Looking back it was probably the right choice for the team because it helped us to do a one-two which probably wouldn’t have been possible without that. Having said that, if it happens again tomorrow I will probably be as frustrated as 2019 because I’m here to win and the only thing I want to do is to win tomorrow so I’ll try my best and let’s see what we’ll do.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia EFE) Checo you missed pole by very little but you’re also very close to celebrating tomorrow maybe another win. I know if you’re mad, if you’re happy. Which are your thoughts about this? SP: It’s never nice to be so close to pole because it always brings you back to your lap and especially in such a long lap, you know that you could have done better here or there. But I guess it’s the same for everyone. With these tricky conditions, I think we all put in a tremendous effort to put the laps with it and, yeah, at the end of the day, Charles did a better job than us today and his team, and I think starting P2 we still can fight for the race.
Q: (Filippo Rocchi – NewsF1.it) Charles, you are back on pole here after three years, but conditions not only in qualifying seem more like the ones we have seen in Monaco this year. So are you a bit worried about the possibility of the rain tomorrow for the race? CL: No, I’m not. I think our performances have been very, very strong. Also in the rain, in FP3 and in Q1, Q2. So I think in terms of performance, we are good. As I was saying, before coming to this weekend, our focus for the last part of the race is to improve on the Sunday execution so we’ll put all our effort to have a two hour clean Sunday and if we do then I’m pretty sure the performance will be there.
Q: (Fred Ferret – L’Equipe) Charles, is it important for you to postpone one more week the possible crown of Max? CL: Not really. Not really. It is important for me to win as many races as possible until the end of the season, then, yeah, again, realistically, I think it’s a matter of time before Max gets his title. So yeah, we’ll just focus on ourselves, try to use these last races in the best way possible, maximise our package. This is important to me. The rest is… I don’t care.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Another one for Lewis. Just on the going back to the nose ring if I can. Were the stewards accepting of the reason that you gave? Do you think that’s the end of the matter? Or do you think you might get fined for wearing it? That’s in the rules. LH: I really don’t know. I really don’t know, man. And I’ve got a letter from my doctor. I’ve tried my best and I was just saying to Charles, you know, we’ve got the… One of the excuses I was given a long time ago was about heat and if you’re in a fire and it’s metal that conducts heat, but our suit is covered in… You know, we’ve got… Our belts, our zip is metal, our buckle around, our helmet is metal, we’ve got the wires that we have [they] have metal in there. So I don’t know, it’s a little bit silly. Hopefully, though, they will be sensible and, you know, and the stewards should be there to keep us safe most importantly, but this is not a safety issue.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Lewis, just about your final lap in Q3. I think you just set a fastest sector in the middle sector, then obviously, you ended up third in the final results of qualifying. Was there any particular slide or mistake or the tyres giving up. How did that lap end for you? LH: Thanks. Turn 16 I had a bit of an oversteer moment, I went a bit wide in 16. Then the rest of their sector just wasn’t that great. So a bit of time for sure was lost last there, which is obviously frustrating.